John Wesley was not a systematic theologian and therefore never expounded a systemized
eschatology. Nevertheless, his soteriology and eschatology were inseparably linked. His
belief in the possibility of entire sanctification in the present life of the believer
meant that Christians could be perfected in love on earth as preparation for their eternal
presence with God. Therefore, end-time events were already occurring now. Additionally,
Wesley was an optimist of grace. He envisaged an extensive conversion of mankind
throughout the world before Jesus' second advent, through the preaching of the Gospel.
This led naturally to his belief in a future millennium, for it was during this period
that this spiritual utopia would take place.
However, Wesley adopted much of the strange millennial eschatology of Johann Albrecht
Bengel, who believed in a double millennium. Additionally, Wesley seldom wrote overtly
about the millennia, especially the second 1000-year period. Thus, as an 18th century
evangelist, Wesley should not be so readily labelled using the familiar post-19th century
millennial language which exists today, as previous scholarship has so often done. It is
the conviction of this thesis that Wesley can only safely be described as a `millenarian'
in the broadest definition of that word.
1. John Wesley's Millennial Views in Scholarship
1.1 The Premillennial view
1.2 The Postmillennial view
2. The Eschatological Calculations of Johann Albrecht Bengel
2.1 Bengel's Writings
2.2 Bengel's Chronology
2.3 Revelation and the Millennium
3. John Wesley and the Millennium
3.1 Wesley's Use of Bengel
3.2 The Millennium : Imminent and Literal
3.3 The Millennium in Wesley's Sermons
Eschatological Hope in the Present
4. `Inward and Outward Holiness'
4.1 Thomas a. Kempis, Jeremy Taylor and
William Law Aldersgate
5. Christian Perfection
5.1 Sin and the Believer
5.2 Wesley's Belief in Entire Sanctification
5.3 Wesley's use of the Johannine Literature
6.1 Prevenient Grace
6.2 Eschatology and Social Concern
6.3 Eternity in Time
Appendix A: Eschatological Terminology
Appendix B: A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
The author holds an undergraduate honours degree in History from the University of St
Andrews (1994), and a postgraduate Masters degree in Palaeography and Archive
Administration from the University of Liverpool (1997). The author was also awarded a MTh
in Biblical Studies from The Queen's University, Belfast in 2007 (Belfast Bible College).
The present work represents the author's thesis from his MPhil in Historical Theology,
obtained from the University of Manchester (Nazarene Theological College) in 2011.
The author is an ordained Pastor with the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical
Churches (FIEC). He served as a Pastor in Glasgow in 2011 for four years before taking up
the same role at Fraserburgh Baptist Church in 2015.