Historicist Commentaries on Revelation

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Commentaries on Revelation

Partial-Preterism  ⇐ ⇒  Futurism

Bible Commentaries

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For more great historicist commentaries on Revelation, be sure to check:
New Testament Commentaries Whole Bible Commentaries.
Most of the commentaries before 1850 are going to be historicist.

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Order of Contents

What is Historicism?
The Best Commentaries  8
Commentaries
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1500’s  10
.       1600’s  22
.       1700’s  3
.       1800’s  7
.       1900’s  3
On Major Prophetic Portions of Revelation  12
Chapters in Revelation  35

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What is Historicism?

Charles Spurgeon:  “The Apocalyptic prophecies are predictive of progressive history [through the Church age], being partly fulfilled, partly unfulfilled.  Thus Mede, Brightman, Isaac Newton, Woodhouse, Cunningham, Birks, Elliott (and many Germans).”  

The Antichrist is usually taken to be the Papacy (see our page: Antichrist).

Historicism was the nearly universal view of the Reformation, puritans and confessional Reformed Orthodoxy (see WCF 25.6), and as such, is the majority, historic, Reformed view.  Historicism only declined in popularity after the 1850’s.

The strongest, big-picture arguments for Historicism are:

(1)  It is in part by recognizing the fulfillment of Scriptural prophecies through progressive history that we discern that Jesus is the Messiah.

(2)  The book of Daniel is admitted by all evangelicals to be fulfilled through progressive history, and is thus historicist.  Every argument against Historicism is an argument against the book of Daniel.

(3)  Historical fulfillment is not contrary to spiritual symbolism in prophetic imagery, nor is spiritual symbolism contrary to historic fulfillment.  There is no reason to set these principles against each other as mutually exclusive (either/or); rather, they are complementary (both/and).  

(4) New Testament revelation is interpreted in continuity with the light of the Old, and continues thereon, there being one understood method of interpreting prophecy through the whole Bible.  Note that Historicism is taught from the beginning of the Bible (Gen. 3:15; 37:9-10; ch. 49; Num. 24:17-24; Dt. 33; etc.)

We recommend the general framework of Historicism (while not endorsing the details of any one particular author).  The hermeneutic by which one discerns the fulfillment of prophecies in Revelation is the exact same hermeneutic by which one discerns the fulfillment of the prophecies of Daniel, who the Messiah is, or any prophecy in the Bible.

Historicism is consistent with understanding much of the prophecies to have symbolic and spiritual teachings (as most of the O.T. prophecies had), and hence is consistent with a measure of Idealism.  Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Revelation is a prime example of such a blend.  Other recommended interpreters are Patrick Fairbairn, E.W. Hengstenberg and David Steele.  We  declaim all predictive date setting.

Historicism can be further divided into:

Premillennial,

(some of the early Church, J.B. Elliott, Charles Spurgeon, etc.  All forms of Premillennialism are contrary to the Westminster Confession of Faith as they necessarily entail multiple resurrections and judgments, contra WCF 32 & 33)

Amillennial,

(Augustine, Lutherans and others)

and Postmillennial.

(Recommended, many of the Reformed, the Scottish Covenanters, et al.)

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The Best Historicist Commentaries

Introductory

Silversides, David – The Antichrist: a Biblical and Confessional View  Buy  2002  20 pp.

While not a commentary on Revelation, this is one of the best short, easy to read explanations and arguments for the general historicist viewpoint.  Silversides exegetes 2 Thess. 2, 1 John 2:18, and other passages.  He also defends why this doctrine is an important part of the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith.  Siversides is a Reformed Presbyterian of Ireland minister.

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Intermediate

Fairbairn, Patrick

‘An Outline of the General Plan of the Apocalypse, from chs. 5-19’ in Prophecy, pp. 393-431

‘Prophecies in the Apocalypse concerning the Church and the Kingdom of Christ in relation to the Kingdoms of this World’ and ‘The Antichrist as Represented in the Apocalypse, and in regard to its overthrow and final doom’, in Prophecy, pp. 305-337 & 364-393

Fairbairn was a professor in the Free Church of Scotland.  The book is a standard work on Prophecy.  Fairbairn’s exposition is a good example of historicism mixed with idealism.

Ramsey, James – The Spiritual Kingdom, an Exposition of the First Eleven Chapters of Revelation  1873

This work has been reprinted by the Banner of Truth in their Geneva Series of Commentaries.  Ramsey majors on the spiritual teaching of Revelation, but does take a general historicist approach, though unwilling to pin down many specifics (which is not a bad thing).

Steele, David – Notes on the Apocalypse  Buy  1870, 336 pages

This is perhaps the best medium-size historicist commentary on the book of Revelation.  It thoroughly uses scripture to interpret itself, is balanced, is hermenuetically on target, has an easy to discern outline, is brief, is easily consulted, answers all the major questions, and generally gets one in the right ballpark.

While this commentary is excellent and highly recommended, do be aware that Steele was the fountain-head of the ‘Steelites’ who have extreme and dangerous views of ecclesiology and covenanting.  Steele only mentions such views in a few isolated sentences in the book.  This should not detract from the value of the book.

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Advanced

Durham, James – A Learned and Complete Commentary upon the Book of the Revelation   EEBO  Buy  d. 1658

Durham (1622-58) was a Scottish covenanter and writes in the historicist school of interpretation, which was the nearly universal view of the Scottish covenanters, along with the Reformation and puritan era.

** – ‘After all that has been written, it would not be easy to find a more sensible and instructive work than this old-fashioned exposition.  We cannot accept its interpretations of the mysteries, but the mystery of the gospel fills it with sweet savor.’ – Spurgeon

Hengstenberg, William – The Revelation of St. John Expounded, vols. 1 (1-12:17), 2 (12:18-End) Here is the table of contents for both volumes.

Hengstenberg is a good example of historicism mixed with idealism.

**  “Highly esteemed by the best judges.” – Spurgeon

Poole, Matthew – Critical Synopsis of the Bible: Revelation, 3 vols.  Buy

This is different and much larger than Poole’s Annotations on Scripture.  Here Poole gives something of a history of interpretation (from Jewish writers until Christian interpreters of Poole’s own day) on every verse of the Bible.

‘…you will find in Poole’s Synopsis a marvelous collection of all the wisdom and folly of the critics.  It is a large cyclopedia worthy of the days when theologians could be cyclopean, and had not shrunk from folios to octavos.  Query—a query for which I will not demand an answer—has one of you beaten the dust from the venerable copy of Poole which loads our library shelves? 

Yet as Poole spent no less than ten years in compiling it, it should be worthy of your frequent notice—ten years, let me add, spent in Amsterdam in exile for the truth’s sake from his native land.  His work is based on an earlier compilation entitled Critic Sacri, containing the concentrated light of a constellation of learned men who have never been excelled in any age or country.’ – Spurgeon

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The Magnum Opus of all Historicist Commentaries

Elliott, E.B. – Horae Apocalypticae: A Commentary on the Apocalypse, Critical and Historical, Including also an Examination of the Chief Prophecies of Daniel…, vol. 1, 2, 3, 4  2nd ed. 1846

Elliott (1793-1875) wrote here the most exhaustive historicist defense and exposition of the Book of Revelation, building upon all the commentators before him.  The last volume includes a critique of all of the other main interpretations of Revelation.  

Elliott was a historicist premillennial (as was Charles Spurgeon who has commended it).  ‘Horae Apocalypticae’ in the title means ‘of the hours of the Apocalypse’.

***  “The standard work on the subject.” – Spurgeon

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Abridgments of Elliott (in order of shorter to longer):

Pratt, J.H. – Paraphrase of the Revelation of St. John  1862  97 pages

This is a paraphrase of the Book of Revelation, starting at chapter 6, according to E.B. Elliott’s interpretation.  This is a handy way of quickly seeing how Elliott interprets the book without digging through his 4 volumes.

Tucker, H. Carre – Brief Historical Explanation of the Revelation of St. John according to the Horae Apocalypticae of Elliott  1863, 117 pages

E., H.E. – The Last Prophecy: Being an Abridgment of Elliott’s Horae Apocalypticae, to which is subjoined his last paper on ‘Prophecy Fulfilled and Fulfilling  1884, 375 pages

This abridgment of Elliott’s work was intended as a course of lectures in church history for the young, using the outline of Revelation for his method and following Elliott’s interpretation in doing so.

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Historicist Commentaries  (in chronological order)

1500’s

Bullinger, Henry – A Hundred Sermons upon the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ revealed indeed by the angel of the Lord, but seen or received and written by the apostle and Evangelist St. John  1561

Bullinger (1504-1575), the reformer of Zurich, was reformed.

Bale, John – The Image of both Churches after the most wonderful and heavenly Revelation of St. John the Evangelist, containing a very fruitful exposition or paraphrase upon the same.  Wherein it is conferred with the other scriptures, and most authorized histories  d. 1563

Bale was an Anglican reformer.

Fulke, William – Prælections upon the Sacred and Holy Revelation of St. John  1573

Fulke (1538-1589) was a reformed Anglican.

Marlorate, Augustine – A Catholic Exposition upon the Revelation of St. John  (1574)

Marlorat (1506-1562) was reformed.  His commentaries are particularly valuable as they are compendiums of block quotes from some of the best reformed divines of his day on the passages of that particular Biblical book.  See here for an excerpt from his commentary on John. 

**“Marlorate was an eminent French reformer, preacher and martyr.  His commentaries contain the cream of the older writers, and are in much esteem, but are very rare.  He wrote on the whole New Testament, but we have in English only the Gospels [2-3 John] and Jude [and Revelation 1 & 13].” – Spurgeon

Daneau, Lambert – A Treatise Touching Antichrist, wherein the place, the time, the form, the workmen, the upholders, the proceeding, and lastly, the ruin and overthrow of the kingdom of Antichrist, is plainly laid open out of the Word of God: where also many dark, and hard places both of Daniel and the Revelation are made manifest  1589

Napier, John

Napier’s Narration: or an Epitome of his book on the Revelation.: Wherein are divers mysteries disclosed, touching the four beasts, seven vials, seven trumpets, seven thunders, and seven angels, as also a discovery of Antichrist: together with very probable conjectures touching the time of his destruction, and the end of the world. A subject very seasonable for these last times.  (London, 1641)

A Plain Discovery of the Whole Revelation of St. John set down in Two Treatises: the one searching and proving the true interpretation thereof: the other applying the same paraphrastically and historically to the text  1593

Napier (1550-1617) was reformed.  He was the mathematician who invented logarithms.

Gifford, George – Sermons upon the Whole Book of the Revelation  1599  

Gifford (1547-1600) was a Reformed puritan.

Junius, Francis 

Annotations on the Revelation of St. John  1599, in The New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ: Translated out of Greek by Theodore Beza

The Apocalypse: A Brief and Learned Commentary upon the Revelation of St. John the apostle and evangelist, applied unto the history of the Catholic and Christian Church  1592

Junius was a major reformed figure of his day and a professor at the University of Heidelberg.

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1600’s

Cartwright, Thomas – A Plain Explanation of the Whole Revelation of St. John, very necessary and comfortable in these days of trouble and affliction in the Church  d. 1603

Symonds, William – By the Method of the Revelation, Presenting to Public View Those Cananites over whom our Lord Jesus Christ and his holy Church shall triumph after several battles. That which is past is showed in a brief Ecclesiastical history, containing most of the mutations which have befallen the Church, from the year of our Lord 97 unto the year 1603, as they have been showed unto St. John in Patmos, and recorded by such historiographers as are of least suspected faith  1605

Brightman, Thomas – The Revelation of St. John, illustrated with Analysis & Scholions, wherein the same is opened by the Scripture and the events of things foretold, showed by histories. Together with a most comfortable exposition of the last and most difficult part of the prophecy of Daniel.  Wherein the restoring of the Jews and their calling to the faith of Christ, after the utter overthrow of their three last enemies, is set forth in lively colors  d. 1607

Birghtman was a reformed puritan.

*  “Brightman’s admirers called him ‘the English Prophet,’ and this work they styled the ‘Apocalypse of the Apocalypse’; but it survives only as a noteworthy monument of the failure of the most learned to expound the mysteries of this book.  Elliott says ‘his Commentary is one of great vigor both in thought and language, and deservedly one of the most popular with the Protestant Churches of the time.'” – Spurgeon

Dent, Arthur – The Ruin of Rome: or, An Exposition upon the whole Revelation, wherein is plainly showed and proved that the popish religion, together with all the power and authority of Rome, shall ebb and decay more throughout all the churches of Europe…  d. 1607

Dent (1533-1607) was reformed and a puritan.

Broughton, Hugh – A Revelation of the Holy Apocalypse  1610

Broughton (1549-1612) was a reformed Anglican.

Forbes, Patrick – An Exquisite Commentary upon the Revelation of St. John, wherein both the course of the whole book, as also the more abstruse and hard places thereof not heretofore opened; are now at last most clearly and evidently explained  1613

Forbes (1564-1635) was reformed.

Bernard, Richard – A Key of Knowledge for the Opening of the Secret Mysteries of St. John’s Mystical Revelation  1617

Bernard was a reformed, conforming puritan.

Mason, Thomas – A Revelation of the Revelation, wherein is Contained a Most True, Plain & Brief Manifestation of the Meaning & Scope of all the Revelation, and of every mystery of the same, whereby the Pope is most plainly declared and proved to be Antichrist  1619

Mason (1580-1619?) was an Anglican clergyman and writer.

Pareus, David – A Commentary upon the Divine Revelation of the Apostle and Evangelist John  d. 1622  

Guild, William – The Sealed Book Opened: or, a Clear Explication of the Prophecies of the Revelation. Together with the lessons that are to be observed from every chapter thereof, being clearly explained. Intended chiefly for the discovery to all of that Roman Antichrist, and that Rome’s final destruction is surely at hand, by that blessed work of reformation happily begun in the several churches and kingdoms of Europe  1656

Guild was a Scottish divine, who wrote much against Romanism.

Holland, Hezekiah – An Exposition, or short, but full, plain and perfect epitome of the most choice Commentaries upon the Revelation  1650

Holland was reformed.

Mede, Joseph

The Key of the Revelation, searched and demonstrated out of the natural and proper characters of the visions, with a comment thereupon, according to the rule of the same key, with a preface by Dr. Twisse  1643

This is Mede’s most famous work.

**  “There are several other works on the Apocalypse by this author, who, says Elliott, ‘was looked upon and written of as a man almost inspired for the solution of the Apocalyptic mysteries.  Yet I think his success was at first over-estimated as an Apocalyptic expositor.'” – Spurgeon

Remains on Some Passages in the Revelation  1650

Muggleton, Lodowick – A True Interpretation of all the Chief Texts & Mysterious Sayings and Visions Opened of the Whole Book of the Revelation of St. John, whereby is unfolded and plainly declared those wonderful deep mysteries and visions interpreted concerning the true God, the alpha and omega, with variety of other heavenly secrets, which has never been opened nor revealed to any man since the creation of the world to this day, until now  1665

Not Recommended:  Muggleton (1609–1698) was an English religious thinker who gave his name to Muggletonianism, a Protestant sect which was always small, but survived until the death of its last follower in 1979.  He spent his working life as a journeyman tailor in the City of London and was imprisoned twice for his beliefs.  He held opinions hostile to all forms of philosophical reason, and had received only a basic education.  He encouraged quietism and free-thought amongst his followers, whose beliefs were predestinarian in a manner that was distinct from Calvinism.

More, Henry

Apocalypsis Apocalypseos, or, The Revelation of St. John the Divine Unveiled, containing a brief but perspicuous and continued exposition from chapter to chapter, and from verse to verse, of the whole book of the Apocalypse  1680

An Illustration of those Two Abstruse Books in Holy Scripture: the Book of Daniel & the Revelation of St. John, by continued, brief but clear notes, from chapter to chapter, and from verse to verse: with very useful and apposite arguments prefixed to each chapter, framed out of the expositions of Dr. Henry More  (London, 1685)

Paralipomena Prophetica, containing Several Supplements and Defences of Dr. Henry More, his expositions of the Prophet Daniel and the Apocalypse, whereby the impregnable firmness and solidity of the said expositions is further evidenced to the world.  Whereunto is also added Phililicrines upon R.B., his notes on the Revelation of St. John  (London, 1685)

More (1614-1687) was an Arminian, Latitudinarian Anglican.

A French Minister – A New System of the Apocalypse, or, Plain and Methodical Illustrations of all the visions in the Revelation of St. John written by a French minister in the year 1685 and finished but two days before the dragoons plundered him of all, except this treatise  1688

Knollys, Hanserd

An Exposition of the Whole Book of the Revelation  1689  255 pp.

Knollys was a baptist.  The Great Whore of Revelation in ch. 17 is said to be the Papacy and all national Churches (Episcopal, presbyterian, etc.).

Apocalyptical Mysteries, Touching the Two Witnesses, the Seven Vials, and the two kingdoms, to wit, of Christ, and of Antichrist, expounded. Wherein is contained some things necessary for the saints in this present generation to know  (London, 1667)

Anon. – The Book of the Revelation Paraphrased; with Annotations on Each Chapter. Whereby it is made Plain to the Meanest Capacity  (London, 1693)

Cradock, Samuel – A Brief and Plain Exposition and Paraphrase of the Whole Book of the Revelation  1696

**  “Dr. Doddridge and Job Orton were very fond of this old author.  We are not.” – Spurgeon

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1700’s

A’Brakel, Wilhelmus – Not to be Ignored: Commentary on Revelation  Buy  †1711  434 pp.

Daubuz, Charles – A Perpetual Commentary on the Revelation of St. John, with a Preliminary Discourse Concerning the Principles upon which the said Revelation is to be Understood, vol. 1 (Dictionary of Scriptural Symbols), 2 (1-11) , 3 (12-22)  1730  145 pp.  Abridged by Peter Lancaster.

**  “Subsequent writers have drawn much from this work: we have heard it highly commended by competent judges.  There is also a larger unabridged edition, which we have not seen.  This is said to be still more valuable.” – Spurgeon

Murray, James – Lectures upon the Book of the Revelation of John the Divine, vols. 1, 2  1778

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1800’s

McLeod, Alexander – Lectures upon the Principal Prophecies of the Revelation  1813  500 pp.

McLeod was an American Reformed Presbyterian minister in New York.

Fuller, Andrew – Expository Discourses on the Apocalypse  1815  85 pp.  in Complete Works in 2 vols., vol. 2, pp. 1-85

**  “Fuller is too judicious to run into speculations.  The work is both condensed and clear.  Fuller called Faber ‘the Fortune-teller of the Church,’ and there are others who deserve the name.” – Spurgeon

Gauntlett, Henry – An Exposition of the Book of Revelation  1822

Gauntlett (1762-1833) was an evangelical Anglican, a friend of Rowland Hill, and the successor of John Newton and Thomas Scott at Olney.  He wrote against pre-millennialism.

Woodhouse, John Chappel – Annotations on the Apocalypse  1828  470 pp.  in A Series of Comments on the Whole of the New Testament for the Use of Students in Prophetical Scripture  An earlier (1805), more full, version of this work is here.

Chappel was an Anglican.

**  “Bishop Hurd says, ‘This is the best book of the kind I have seen.’  We give no opinion, for we are too much puzzled with these Apocalyptic books, and are glad to write Finis [Latin for ‘The End’].” – Spurgeon  [This was the last book reviewed in Spurgeon’s book.]

Wylie, James Aitken – The Seventh Vial, being an Exposition of the Apocalypse, and in particular of the pouring out of the Seventh Vial with special reference to the Present Revolutions in Europe  1848  390 pp.

Glasgow, James – The Apocalypse Translated and Expounded  1862  660 pp.

Glasgow was an Irish presbyterian and at one time a missionary with Alexander Kerr to India.

**  “We do not care much for the translation, and think some of the interpretations speculative and forced; yet the work is important.” – Spurgeon

Garratt, Samuel – A Commentary on the Revelation of St. John, Considered as the Divine Book of History  1866

**  “This author mainly follows Elliott, but differs as he proceeds.  He is an esteemed author.” – Spurgeon

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Early 1900’s

Beckwith, Isbon Thaddaeus – The Apocalypse of John  1919  790 pp.

This work is at the advanced level.  Beckwith was an American professor of the New Testament in the General Theological Seminary in New York.  This commentary is a mix between Historicist and Idealist.  He takes the Antichristian power to be Rome throughout history.

“A critical and exegetical commentary by a priest in the Protestant Episcopal Church first published in 1919.  Extensive introductory material, followed by over 400 pages of commentary.  A work of impeccable scholarship.  Amillennial.” – Cyril J. Barber

Kuyper, Abraham – The Revelation of St. John  Preview  Buy  †1920  rep. 1999  355 pp.

Lee, Francis Nigel – John’s Revelation Unveiled  2000  325 pp.


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On the Major Prophetic Portions of Revelation

1600’s

Comenius, Johann – The Revelation Revealed, by Two Apocalyptical Treatises, showing: 1. How near the period of the time is wherein the mystery of God shall be fulfilled.  2. What things are already fulfilled, and what shall shortly follow thereupon, as they are foretold in the Revelation.  Translated out of High-Dutch  1651  Has introductory letters by Samuel Hartlib and John Dury.  This work especially treats of ch. 16.

Comenius was reformed, see Wiki.

Sherwin, William – A Scheme of the Whole Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, of very great use: with the following summary of Daniel’s Visions, etc., for the right understanding of the parallel of that Book and the Revelation after[wards] Set Down  (London, 1671)

Sherwin (1607-1687?) was an Anglican minister who held to Christ personally reigning on earth for the millennium (not recommended).

Hayter, Richard – The Meaning of the Revelation, or, a Paraphrase with Questions on the Revelation of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Divine in which the synchronisms of Mr. Joseph Mede, and the Expositions of other interpreters are called in question, and a new exposition given of the prophecies of the Revelation, never heard of before, nor extant in any author whatsoever, from the sixth chapter to the eighteenth, with variety of reasons for the exposition  1675

Hayter was a laymen of unknown theological persuasion.  See DNB.

Jurieu, Pierre – The Accomplishment of the Scripture Prophecies, or, The approaching deliverance of the Church, proving that the Papacy is the Antichristian Kingdom…  that the present persecution may end in three years and-half, after which the destruction of Antichrist shall begin, which shall be finished in the beginning of the next age, and then the kingdom of Christ shall come upon earth  (London, 1687)

Jurieu (1637-1713) was a French, reformed minister and professor of theology and Hebrew at Sedan; he was a grandson of Pierre Du Moulin and was a prolific author.

The revocation of the Edict of Nantes occurred in 1685, which virtually obliterated the reformed Church from having a public face in France.  Jurieu, in this work, predicted that the overthrow of the Papal Antichrist would take place in 1689.  The classic Huguenot historian, H.M. Baird, said that “this persuasion, however fanciful the grounds on which it was based, exercised no small influence in forwarding the success of the designs of William of Orange in the invasion of England,” which resulted in the English, Glorious Revolution in 1689.

Cressener, Drue – A Demonstration of the First Principles of the Protestant Applications of the Apocalypse, Together with the Consent of the Ancients Concerning the Fourth Beast in the 7th of Daniel & the Beast in the Revelations  (London, 1690)

Cressener (1642?-1718) was an Anglican clergyman and theological writer, known as an interpreter of the Apocalypse.

Fleming, Robert – An Epistolary Discourse Concerning the Rise and Fall of Antichrist  1694  200 pp.

Fleming covers many of the chapters in Revelation and their interpretation in his Discourse.

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1700’s

Newton, Sir Isaac – Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John  d. 1727

Newton was the famous scientist and an Anglican who had a penchant for historicist eschatology. 

** – “The author’s name will always keep this book in repute.  The spiritual student will not glean much from it.  Sir Isaac’s fame does not rest on his expositions.  The following extract we cannot forbear inserting in this place:

‘The folly of interpreters has been, to foretell times and and things by this prophecy [the Apocalypse], as if God designed to make them prophets.  By this rashness they have not only exposed themselves, but brought the prophecy also into contempt.  The design of God was much otherwise.  He gave this and the prophecies of the Old Testament, not to gratify men’s curiosities by enabling them to foreknow things, but that after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event; and his own providence, not the interpreter’s wisdom, be then manifested thereby to the world.'” – Spurgeon

Edwards, Jonathan

The History of Redemption, or a Plan Entirely Original, exhibiting the Gradual Discovery and Accomplishment of the Divine Purposes in the Salvation of Man, including a Comprehensive View of Church History and the Fulfillment of Scripture Prophecies  d. 1758

Edwards was a historicist, postmillennialist.

Notes on the Apocalypse  in Apocalyptic Writings in WJE Online, vol. 5

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1800’s

Harrison, Benjamin – Prophetic Outlines of the Christian Church and the Antichristian Power as traced in the visions of Daniel and St. John: in Twelve Lectures preached…  1849

***“We like the manner of this book.  The author has been content throughout to trace the true outline of interpretation without entering on a detailed examination of counter theories; and he has done this in the spirit of Bishop Ridley, who said upon a kindred subject, ‘Sir, in these matters I am so fearful, that I dare not speak further than the very text doth, as it were, lead my by the hand.” – Spurgeon

Hislop, Alexander – The Two Babylons, or the Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and his Wife  1871

Hislop was a minister in the Free Church of Scotland.

The thesis of the book is that the Roman Catholic Church, the Great Whore of Revelation, embodies the pagan syncretism of the old Babylon of the Old Testament and is thus the spiritual Babylon in the book of Revelation (17:5).  Hislop seeks to demonstrate this by documenting historical and etymological links between ancient mythologies and the superstitions of Roman practice and beliefs.

While some of Hislop’s historical claims have been shown to be erroneous (see Ralph Woodrow’s review here and here, as well as his book ‘The Babylon Connection?’  Buy), yet his main thesis is still supportable, that the Roman Catholic Church is the spiritually pagan, syncretic Babylon of the New Testament era and the Book of Revelation.

Peck, Thomas – ‘The Apocalypse: God’s King in Contrast with the World’s King’ & ‘Prophetic Pictures of the Church Visible and Invisible’  in Miscellanies, vol. 2, p. 180 ff.  American, southern presbyterian


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Revelation 1-5

Phelpes, Charles – A Commentary, or an Exposition with Notes on the Five First Chapters of the Revelation of Jesus Christ  (London, 1678)

We do not have any bio info on Phelpes (fl.1670-1682).

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Revelation 1-3

1500’s

Perkins, William – A Godly & Learned Exposition or Commentary upon the Three First Chapters of the Revelation. Preached in Cambridge  1595

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Revelation 1

Marlorate, Augustine – An Exposition of Revelation 1 & 13  d. 1560

Marlorat (1506-1562) was reformed.  His commentaries are particularly valuable as they are compendiums of block quotes from some of the best reformed divines of his day on the passages of that particular Biblical book.  See here for an excerpt from his commentary on John. 

**“Marlorate was an eminent French reformer, preacher and martyr.  His commentaries contain the cream of the older writers, and are in much esteem, but are very rare.  He wrote on the whole New Testament, but we have in English only the Gospels [2-3 John] and Jude [and Revelation 1 & 13].” – Spurgeon

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Revelation 2-3

1600’s

More, Henry – An Exposition of the Seven Epistles to the Seven churches together with a brief discourse of Idolatry, with application to the Church of Rome  1669

More (1614-1687) was an Arminian, Latitudinarian Anglican. 

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1800’s

Cumming, John – Apocalyptic Sketches: Lectures on the Seven Churches of Asia Minor  1854  560 pp.  Cumming has 4 lectures on verses in ch. 1 as well.

**  “Here the views of Elliott [a historicist] are admirably popularized.” – Spurgeon

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Revelation 4-7

Traheron, Bartholomew – An Exposition of the 4th Chapter of St. John’s Revelation… in sundry readings before his countrymen in Germany. Where in the providence of God is treated with an answer made to the objection of a gentle adversary  1558

Traheron (1510?-1558?) was reformed and was a reformer of the Church of England and an exile under Bloody Mary.

Cowper, William – Patmos: A Commentary on the Revelation of St. John, chapters 4-7  1619

Cowper (1568-1619) was reformed.

**  “The simple piety and vigorous style of Cowper have preserved his old-fashioned work, and will preserve it.” – Spurgeon

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Revelation 9-11

1600’s

Burton, Henry – The Sounding of the Two Last Trumpets, the Sixth & Seventh, or Meditations by way of Paraphrase upon the 9th, 10th & 11th Chapters of the Revelation, as containing a Prophecy of these Last Times  (London, 1641)

Burton (1578-1648)was an Independent, English puritan.

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Revelation 9

Guild, William – Antichrist… the Popes of Rome proven to be that Man of Sin…  1655  see chs. 4-6, 8, 11, 13-15 regarding Rev. 9, 13 & 17-18.

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Revelation 11-18

Du Moulin, Pierre – The Prophecies contained in Rev. 1112, 13, 14, 17, 18and prophecies scattered throughout the Apocalypse speaking of the Pope and his seat  1613

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Revelation 11, on the Two Witnesses

Quote

Samuel Rutherford

A Peaceable & Temperate Plea  (1642), pp. 126-7

“So Rev. 11, in that universal apostasy under Anti­christ, when the gentiles tread upon the outer court of the Temple and the holy City, God stirs up two wit­nesses to prophesy in sackcloth; that is, some few pastors (for two is the smallest number) and they prophesy and are slain, and yet they rise again.  We need not apply this to men in particular, as to John Huss and Jerome of Prague; but certainly, some few spake against Babylon and they were borne down and oppressed and killed, and men of that same spirit rose and spake that same truth as if the very two men who were slain had risen within three days again.”

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Books, 1600’s

Woodcock, Thomas – The Two Witnesses: Discovered in [12] Several Sermons upon the Eleventh Chapter of the Revelation, wherein, after the Prophesy Opened, the Great Question of These Times. Viz. Whether the Two Witnesses are Slain, Yea or No, is Modestly Discussed. April, 1643  (London, 1643)

Woodcock (1614-1651) was a Westminster divine.

I.E. – The Two Olive Trees: or, The Lord’s Two Anointed ones, which always stand before Him, the ruler of the whole earth, Zech. 4, described also Rev. 11, by the names of Two Witnesses, Two Olive Trees, two candlesticks, two prophets.  And showing what they are in their own true nature, differing from all the new fancied ones, and in what manner they always prophesy.  How they are said to finish their testimony.  How they were to be killed by the Beast, and when. How long their corpse should lie in the streets of the Beast’s great city, dead and unburied.  And when the spirit of life from God should enter into them, and they stand upon their feet again.  And what great things should follow after the same to the end, and thence for ever.  (London, 1645)

T.P. – A Sober Guess Concerning Several Dark Prophesies in the Revelation, especially the 11th Chapter, Extracted out of Several Authors, Expositors on the Apocalypse  (London [1662])

T.P. was a minister of the Gospel and references reformed writers.

“These two Witnesses prophecying, were not two individual persons, Enoch and Elias, as Bellarmine and other Papists affirm: But a succession of holy men, not in private, but in public station, stirred up all that time to testify the truth of Christ against Antichrist.

By the two Witnesses in general are meant (says Mr. Mede) all the interpreters and assertors of divine truth, who should by their daily complaints bewail the foul and lamentable pollution of Christs Church:  And in particular it is conceived by the two Witnesses to be meant (say learned expositors) the faithful teachers and governors of the Church, both ecclesiastical and political: More especially say the London Ministers in their Jus Divinum Ministerii Anglicani) the true ministers of Jesus Christ, who are called Witnesses of Christ, Acts 1:8, and whose proper office it is to bear witness to truth and holiness, against all heresies, blasphemies, idolatries and ungodliness of Antichrist.

To these witnesses power is given, i.e. authority and commission; yea, the power of Christ is bestowed upon them, by which they are enabled not only to pray and to mourn, but to prophesy, not so much by prediction of things future, as by preaching the everlasting Gospel.  It was a mighty power from on high that a few condemned, persecuted ministers should have gifts to be able, and power to be couragious to preach against the Son of Perdition, when all the world wondered after the beast.” – pp. 143-144

Hooke, William – A Discourse Concerning the Witnesses, Relating to the Time, Place, & Manner of their Being Slain  (London, 1681)  48 pp.

Hooke (1600 or 1601-1678) was an Anglican clergyman and domestic chaplain to Oliver Cromwell.  He was born in London and graduated from Oxford, and spent several years in New England as a pastor.  He returned to England in 1656, becoming the domestic chaplain and advisor for his friend Oliver Cromwell and running the Savoy hospital.  He remained an advisor to Cromwell’s son Richard until the collapse of the Protectorate.  He published several tracts and sermons.

Muggleton, Lodowick – A True Interpretation of the 11th Chapter of the Revelation of St. John, and other texts in that book, as also many other places of Scripture, whereby is unfolded and plainly declared the Whole Counsel of God concerning Himself, the Devil and all mankind, from the Foundation of the World to all Eternity  1753

Not Recommended:  Muggleton (1609–1698) was an English religious thinker who gave his name to Muggletonianism, a Protestant sect which was always small, but survived until the death of its last follower in 1979.  He spent his working life as a journeyman tailor in the City of London and was imprisoned twice for his beliefs.  He held opinions hostile to all forms of philosophical reason, and had received only a basic education.  He encouraged quietism and free-thought amongst his followers, whose beliefs were predestinarian in a manner that was distinct from Calvinism.

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Revelation 12-14

1500’s

Herbert, William – A Letter Written by a True Christian Catholic, to a Roman pretended Catholic wherein upon occasion of controversy touching the Catholic Church the 12th, 13th, and 14th Chapters of the Revelation are briefly and truly expounded, which contain the true estate thereof, from the birth of Christ to the end of the world  1586

William Herbert (1553-1593).

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1600’s

Du Moulin, Pierre – The Prophecies contained in Rev. 1112, 13, 14, 17, 18and prophecies scattered throughout the Apocalypse speaking of the Pope and his seat  1613

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Revelation 12

Taylor, Thomas – Christ’s Victory over the Dragon: or Satan’s Downfall showing the glorious conquests of our Savior for his poor Church, against the greatest persecutors. In a plain and pithy exposition of the Twelfth Chapter Revelation. Delivered in Sundry Lectures… Perfected and finished a little before his death  1632

Taylor (1576-1632) was a reformed puritan.

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Revelation 13

1500’s

Marlorate, Augustine – An Exposition of Revelation 1 & 13  d. 1560

Marlorat (1506-1562) was reformed.  His commentaries are particularly valuable as they are compendiums of block quotes from some of the best reformed divines of his day on the passages of that particular Biblical book.  See here for an excerpt from his commentary on John. 

**“Marlorate was an eminent French reformer, preacher and martyr.  His commentaries contain the cream of the older writers, and are in much esteem, but are very rare.  He wrote on the whole New Testament, but we have in English only the Gospels [2-3 John] and Jude [and Revelation 1 & 13].” – Spurgeon

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1600’s

Wilkinson, John – An Exposition of the 13th Chapter of the Revelation of Jesus Christ  1619

Cotton, John – An Exposition upon the 13th chapter of the Revelation  d. 1652

Cotton was one of the leading early New England puritans.  He was a historicist.

Guild, William – Antichrist… the Popes of Rome proven to be that Man of Sin…  1655  see chs. 4-6, 8, 11, 13-15 regarding Rev. 9, 13 & 17-18.

I.W. – A Discovery of the Beasts, being an Exposition of the 13th Chapter of the Revelation of Jesus Christ: wherein all True Christians (yet in Babylon) are Admonished to Come out, and the anti-Christians Foretold what their Plagues will be  ([London] 1641)

The author interprets the Antichrist to be the rise and continuation of the Papacy, the traditional protestant view.  The work appears to be helpful.

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Revelation 15

1600’s

Burton, Henry – The Seven Vials or a Brief and Plain Exposition upon the 15th and 16th chapters of the Revelation, very pertinent and profitable for the Church of God in these last times  1628

Burton (1578-1648) was a reformed puritan.

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Revelation 16

Cotton, John – The Pouring out of the Seven Vials, or, An Exposition, with Application of the 16th chapter of the Revelation  1642

Cotton was one of the leading early New England puritans.  He was a historicist.

Parker, Robert – The Mystery of the Vials Opened: being a Short Exposition upon the Pouring out of the Four Last Vials Mentioned in the 16th Chapter of the Revelation: wherein diverse things relating to times present, past & to come are discovered: as the ruin of Antichrist and the several degrees thereunto; and the shadowing out these times wherein we live are generally surveyed  (London, 1650)  EEBO says the work is by ‘John Parker’, but this appears to be an error.

Parker (c.1564–1614) was an English Puritan clergyman and scholar.  He became minister of a separatist congregation in Holland where he died.  Cotton Mather wrote of Parker as “one of the greatest scholars in the English Nation, and in some sort the father of all Nonconformists of our day.”

Comenius, Johann – The Revelation Revealed, by Two Apocalyptical Treatises, showing: 1. How near the period of the time is wherein the mystery of God shall be fulfilled.  2. What things are already fulfilled, and what shall shortly follow thereupon, as they are foretold in the Revelation.  Translated out of High-Dutch  1651  Has introductory letters by Samuel Hartlib and John Dury.  This work especially treats of ch. 16.

Comenius was reformed, see Wiki.

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Revelation 17-18

1600’s

Du Moulin, Pierre – The Prophecies contained in Rev. 1112, 13, 14, 17, 18and prophecies scattered throughout the Apocalypse speaking of the Pope and his seat  1613

Guild, William – Antichrist… the Popes of Rome proven to be that Man of Sin…  1655  see chs. 4-6, 8, 11, 13-15 regarding Rev. 9, 13 & 17-18.

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Revelation 17

Garrett, Walter – Demonstratio Luculenta, Nova, or, A New Method of Demonstrating that Rome Christian (and not, Heathen) is the Woman, called ‘Babylon’, in the 17th Chapter of the Revelation  (1700)

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Revelation 19-22

1600’s

Sherwin, William – The Saints’ First Revealed & Covenanted Mercies, Shortly Approaching: As being the main scope of Revelation-Prophesy; opened & resolved by Christ’s Divine Key of Prophesy in the Four Last Chapters Thereof  (London, 1676)  12 large pages

Sherwin (1607-1687?) was an Anglican minister who was a Chilialist, holding to Christ personally reigning on earth for the millennium (not recommended).

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1800’s

Cumming, John – Apocalyptic Sketches, or Lectures on the Book of Revelation, vol. 2 (chs. 19-22)  1854

**  “Here the views of Elliott are admirably popularized.” – Spurgeon

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Revelation 20-21

Sherwin, William – Chronoi Apykatastaseåoz Panton, or, The Times of Restitution of all Things with their near approach upon the ruin of the Beast: manifest by two Tracts on Rev. 20:5 & Rev. 21:5 containing the main scope of all Revelation prophecy…  which said two last tracts may fitly be Entitled, An Alarm to this Present World…  (London, 1675)

Sherwin (1607-1687?) was an Anglican minister who was a Chilialist, holding to Christ personally reigning on earth for the millennium (not recommended).

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Revelation 20

1600’s

Baillie, Robert – On Rev. 20, ‘The Thousand Years of Christ’s Visible Reign
upon Earth, is Against Scripture’  1645  71 paragraphs, being ch. 11 of his Dissuasive from the Errors of the Time

Hall, Joseph – The Revelation Unrevealed Concerning the Thousand-Years Reign of the Saints with Christ upon Earth.  Laying forth the weak grounds and strange consequences of that plausible and too-much received opinion…  (London, 1650)

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1800’s

Fairbarin, Patrick – ‘The Millennial State as Represented in Old Testament Prophecy and as Represented in the Apocalypse’  in Prophecy, pp. 446-464  

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Related Pages

Whole Bible Commentaries

Old Testament Commentaries

New Testament Commentaries