by Larry V. Crutchfield
Hippolytus (d.ca.A.D.236), polemicist and bishop of Rome, held firmly to the year-day (or sexta-/septamillennial) tradition in its basic form. With allusion to Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8, he cited the six days of Creation and the seventh day of rest as representative of the time of man and the kingdom age to come (On Daniel 2.4). And without specifically mentioning it, Hippolytus hinted at an eighth day signifying eternity (On the Psalms 1.4).
Hippolytus's method of working out the chronological timetable (based on the Septuagint) for the 6,000 years of man was unique. He maintained that Christ was born in the year 5500. He arrived at that figure by taking the total measurements of the ark of the covenant (2 1/2 cubits by 1 1/2 cubits by 1 1/2 cubits equals 5 1/2 cubits or 5500 years) as signifying the length of time to elapse before the Savior would appear. This computation, coupled with John's reference to the sixth hour (i.e., a half day; one day equals 1,000 years thus half a day equals 500 years) mentioned in John 19:14, according to Hippolytus, tells us that 500 years "remain to make up the 6000." Christ came in the middle of day six, explained Hippolytus, to allow time for the Gospel to be preached to the whole world. But when the sixth day is completed, Christ will "end the present life" (On Daniel, 2.4-6). and the seventh day of rest or Millennium will begin.
Hippolytus carried forth the teachings of his mentor, Irenaeus. The most remarkable advance made by Hippolytus over his predecessors, however, was his exposition of the prophecies of Daniel. These are contained primarily in his Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, and in the Fragments from Commentaries, On Daniel.
One of the most striking elements of Hippolytus's exposition of Daniel is the placement of a chronological gap between the first sixty-nine weeks of Daniel's prophecy, in chapter 9, and the Seventieth Week (see Daniel 9:24-27). That final week he reserved for the "end of the whole world" (Christ and Antichrist 43) and "the last times" (Appendix to Works of Hippolytus, 21; cf. 36). In this, Hippolytus appears to have been the first to reach the conclusion that the first sixty-nine weeks of Daniel's seventy weeks extended from Darius the Mede to Christ's First Advent, and that only after a gap of approximately fifty years, would the final week of years take place, just prior to Christ's Second Advent. Hippolytus's calculations for the chronology of the world led him to the erroneous conclusion that the end of the world, and thus the time of the Seventieth Week, must be some 500 years from the First Advent, or roughly 250 years from his own day (On Daniel 2.4-6).
Holding to the literal interpretation of prophecy, Hippolytus affirmed that the truth of prophetic utterances would be revealed in all details (Appendix to Works, 2-6; Christ and Antichrist, 2, 5). Later, however, under mounting pressure from the third-century Roman presbyter Caius (or Gaius), an apparent amillenarian who ascribed authorship of the Apocalypse to the heretic Cerinthus, Hippolytus wavered in at least one aspect of his premillennial belief. He came to regard the thousand years in Revelation 20:2-5 as symbolic of the splendor of the kingdom rather than a literal signification of its duration.
Hippolytus believed that the Antichrist would appear to "cause tribulation and persecution to the saints" (On Dan., 2.2). After the Antichrist's three-and-a-half-year reign of terror (On Dan., 2.43), Christ will appear suddenly (Christ and Antichrist, 5) to destroy Antichrist and deliver the saints (Appendix to Works, 32, 35). Then follows the kingdom in which the saints will reign with Christ (On Daniel, 40), general resurrection of the righteous and the wicked, the judgment seat of Christ, and the creation of a new heaven and earth (Appendix to Works, 36-39).