Andrew Fuller and the millennium


  • Crawford Gribben


Early Modern History


When, just a few years before his death, the English Baptist minister Andrew Fuller preached the sermons which were posthumously published as Expository discourses on the Apocalypse (1815), he was contributing to an exegetical debate with long antecedents and which had been renewed with great intensity in the aftermath of the protestant reformation.[1] This debate focused on the proper interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10, which appeared to many believers to predict that a period of one thousand years would follow or be followed by the second coming of Jesus Christ, and to suggest that in this period the church would enjoy unusual blessings. After several centuries of enthusiastic patristic discussion, the debate had been closed down by a series of church councils and by the interpretive finality provided by Augustine’s City of God (425), which suggested that the contested passage should be read metaphorically as referring to the entire period of Christian history from the incarnation to the second coming of Jesus Christ.

[1] For a general history of this tradition, see Crawford Gribben, Evangelical millennialism in the trans-Atlantic world, 1500-2000 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).