If anyone tries to allegorize prophecies of this kind [Isa. 11:6-9; 30:25-26], they will not be found consistent with themselves in all points . . . . The resurrection of the righteous takes place after the coming of Antichrist and the destruction of all nations under his rule. In that resurrection the righteous will reign in the earth, growing stronger in the sight of the Lord. In him they will become accustomed to partake in the glory of God the Father, and in that kingdom they will enjoy interaction and communion with the holy angels (the spiritual beings), as well as with those whom the Lord will find in the flesh awaiting him from heaven, who have suffered tribulation and escaped the hands of the wicked one. . . . . (5:35,1)."
After citations of Rev 20:12-15; Matt 25:41; Rev. 21:1-4; Isaiah 65:17-18; 1 Cor. 7:31; and Matt. 24:35), Irenaeus says,
Neither the substance nor the essence of the creation will be annihilated, for the one who established it is faithful and true, but ‘the present form of this world is passing away’ [1 Cor 7:31]—that is, all that in which transgression has occurred and humankind has aged. . . . But when this present fashion of things passes away, and humanity has been renewed and flourishes in an incorruptible state, which will preclude the possibility of becoming old, then the new heaven and the new earth will be, in which a new humanity will remain forever, always communing with God. . . . (5:36,1)
John distinctly foresaw the first ‘resurrection of the righteous’ [Luke 14:14] and the inheritance in the kingdom of the earth; what the prophets have prophesied concerning it harmonizes with his vision. The Lord also taught this when he promised that he would drink the cup new with his disciples in the kingdom [Matt 26:29]. The apostle also has confessed that the creation will be free from the bondage of corruption and will pass into the liberty of the children of God [Rom 8:21].
In all these things, and by them all, the same God the Father is manifested, who fashioned humanity and promised the inheritance of the earth to the fathers, who will bring humankind forth at the resurrection of the righteous, and who fulfills the promises about the kingdom of his Son. He will in due course bestow in a paternal manner what ‘no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived’ [1 Cor 2:9]. For there is one Son, who accomplished his Father’s will; and one human race in which the mysteries of God are accomplished—’things into which the angels long to look’ [1 Pet 1:12]. But they are not able to search out the wisdom of God, through which his handiwork, confirmed and incorporated with his Son, is brought to perfection—that his offspring, the first-begotten Word, should descend to the creature (that is, to what had been made) and should be contained in it; and, on the other hand, that the creature should contain the Word and ascend to him, passing beyond the angels, and be made after the image and likeness of God (5:36,3).
James R. Payton, Jr. Irenaeus on the Christian Faith: A Condensation of Against Heresies (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011), 193-94.