The following list is an examination of some of the people who taught that the world would end 6,000 years from creation. They lived long before Charles Taze Russell came on the scene with his doctrine that the end of the world would culminate soon—in his day—some 6,000 years from the time of creation. In the July, 1879 ZION’S WATCH TOWER, Russell stated the object of its publication was because “we are living ‘in the last days.’”
(This list was compiled from The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Froom, Volumes I-III unless otherwise noted.)
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (1451-1506): Following the earliest teachings of Augustine, thought the world would last 7,000 years. He adopted the creation date of King Alfonso, which date was about 534 years before Christ. He believed that there were only about 150 years remaining until the end of the world.
Talmud: In this Jewish book of instructions, began in the second century and completed by the fifth century, many rabbis believed, on the basis of the creative week recorded in Genesis that the world would last six thousand years and be in chaos the last thousand years.
MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): In 1545 Luther wrote that the world was in its sixth and last thousand years, before the eternal Sabbath rest, typified by the six days of the creation week. He believed the end near, and hoped he might see it in his day. Luther said, “The world cannot stand much longer, perhaps a hundred years at the outside.”
PHILLIPP MELANCHTHON (1497-1560): Was the second leader in the German Reformation. Melanchton believed that the judgment was less than 500 years away. He declared that the great day of God will soon come, and adverting to the six-thousand-year theory, he said, “It is settled that Christ was born about the close of the fourth millennium, and now 1545 years have passed. Therefore we are not far from the end.”
ANDREAS OSIANDER (1498-1552): A co-reformer of Luther. Osiander published in 1544 his Conjectures Concerning the Last Times and the End of the World. In chapters 1 and 2 he cites and supports the 6,000-year expectation held both by the Jews in the Talmud and by certain Christian writers. He drew the analogy of the six days of the creation week – 6,000 years of toil to be followed by the eternal rest in the seventh day made up of 1,000 years.
DAVID CHYTRAEUS (1530-1600): A pupil of Melanchthon and last of the “Fathers of the Lutheran church” believed that the judgment was “not far hence” based on the cumulative evidence of Daniel 2 and 7, Matthew 24 and Mark 13, 2 Thessalonians 2, and Revelation 13. He also connected the six-thousand-year theory and the thought that the seventh thousand years would usher in the eternal state. The second-advent was tied in as the climax of the prophecies.