[quote=John Joseph]By literal interpretation I’m assuming you are referencing to such prophetic passages as Daniel and Zechariah.
As well as prophetic passages in Ezekiel, Isaiah, the minor prophets and certainly we can’t leave out Jeremiah. Not only the prophetic writings but the unconditional covenants God made with national Israel which MUST be fulfilled. Also there is plenty of prophecy in the N.T. to warrant God’s future, prophetic program with His covenant nation, which reaffirms the O.T. prophetic writings and Biblically opposes the later idea by men that the Church has replaced national Israel.
There were certainly Premillenialists during the first 400 years of the Church, but I am of the belief that most of them subscribed to hard dating Christ’s second coming.
What’s your source? Most simply believed that Christ would set up His Millennial Kingdom on earth at His 2nd Advent. For instance, Justin Martyr wrote:
But I and whatsoever Christians are orthodox in all things do know that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, and a thousand years in the city of Jerusalem, built, adorned and enlarged, according as Ezekiel, Isaiah, and other prophets have promised. For Isaiah saith of this thousand years (ch. 65:17) ‘Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind; but be ye glad and rejoice in those which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem to triumph, and my people to rejoice,’ etc. Moreover, a certain man among us, whose name is John, being one of the twelve apostles of Christ, in that revelation which was shown to him prophesied, that those who believe in our Christ shall fulfil a thousand years at Jerusalem; and after that the general, and, in a word, the everlasting resurrection, and last judgment of all together. Whereof also our Lord spake when He said, that therein they shall neither marry, nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal with the angels, being made the sons of the resurrection of God."
The current open ended end of times beliefs espoused by modern day Rapturists only dates back a few hundred years.
The formal development of the doctrine, yes. But the teaching is rooted in N.T. Scripture. The argument that it’s a “new” doctrine does not warrant it’s rejection.