Gaius was a presbyter in Rome living in the early third century who wrote against another Christian named Cerinthus. He may be the first mainstream Christian to write specifically against the kingdom coming on earth. His reason for denying an earthly hope resulted from his own cultural bias. Here is what Gaius wrote:

…Moreover, Cerinthus, through revelations supposedly penned by a great apostle, offers us false tales of wonders allegedly shown to him by angels. After the resurrection, he says, the kingdom of Christ will be on earth, and humanity living at Jerusalem will again be enslaved to lusts and pleasure. He is the enemy of the Scriptures of God and, in his anxiety to deceive, claims that the marriage festivities will last a thousand years…(Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.28, trans. Paul L. Maier, 2007)

According to Gaius, Cerinthus believed that the kingdom would be on earth after the resurrection with people living in Jerusalem. This aligns quite well with dozens of scriptures from the prophets. For example consider this text from Micah:

Micah 4.1-2 [ESV]
1 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, 2 and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Why should Gaius oppose such a biblical idea? We don’t have to wonder; he tells us himself. He is concerned with lusts, pleasure, and marriage festivities. In the ancient world, many people thought that all pleasure was inherently evil, an idea called asceticism. This notion is not native to the Jews or the bible, but was very common in the Greco-Roman world. Although Gaius embraced an ascetic mindset, it is clear from the scriptures that God is not against pleasure, whether the enjoyment that accompanies eating rich foods, drinking alcohol, or even marital intimacy. From the Garden of Pleasure (Eden means pleasure) to the bold poetry of the Song of Songs, to Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana, the bible affirms the goodness of both our bodies and the built-in pleasures our bodies experience while at the same time placing boundaries on our enjoyment. To learn more about how asceticism influenced some Christians to reject the kingdom, read How the Kingdom Was Lost 2: Too Hedonistic.

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