“I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days.”
“when ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel… whoso readeth let him understand…”
“Behold, I have told you before…”
Order of Contents
Berkhof, Louis – Introduction to Eschatology in Systematic Theology (1950) 12 paragraphs
Turretin, Francis – 4. ‘Can anything certain and determinate be held concerning the time of the end of the world? And are certain signs to precede it? The former we deny; the latter we affirm.’ in Institutes of Elenctic Theology, tr. George M. Giger, ed. James Dennison Jr. (1679–1685; P&R, 1994), vol. 3, 20th Topic, p. 583 ff.
Durham, James – ch. 20, Lecture 4 in A Commentary upon the book of the Revelation… (Edinburgh: Higgins, 1658), pp. 722-29
Durham held that he was in the millenium, it having started, if he had to put a date on it, in 1560, when Europe’s nations sided with the Protestants. He thought the Reformation would proceed at the same rate as it had been. The period of the millenium was consistent with the vials of Revelation being poured out. The last few vials, including the final destruction of the Antichrist and Islam, and the bringing in of the Jews and the fulness of the gentiles, would happen soon.
a Brakel, Wilhelmus – ch. 20 in Not to be Ignored: Rev. Wilhelmus a Brakel’s Commentary on Revelation Buy (†1711; 2016), pp. 344-47 This work is in a Brakel’s A Christian’s Reasonable Service.
Fentiman, Travis – Postmillennialism & the Imminent Return of Christ (2018) 22 pp.
A major share of the Reformation and puritan era held to post-millennialism, that only after the majority of the nations convert to Christianity (in the Millennium, Ps. 22:26-31; Isa. 2:2-5; Rev. 20:4; etc.) will Christ come again.
It is sometimes posed as an objection to this that Christ may come back at any time; therefore post-millennialism is not true. Yet most of Church history has recognized from Scripture that there are prophecies which must occur before Christ comes again; hence Christ cannot come at any time.
This article demonstrates from the Scriptures that the Lord’s standing at the door and coming quickly is consistent with a robust postmillennialism.
On the Post-Reformation
Johnson, Charles – ‘Postmillennialism & the Second Helvetic Confession’ (2020) 9 paragraphs
The 2nd Helvetic Confession, a widely influential confession of the second generation Reformation, is sometimes quoted against postmillennialism. Johnson shows from primary sources that this is misconstrued.
On the Future Conversion of Ethnic Israel, Rom. 11
Brown, Charles – Preface to Materials for Daily Intercessory Prayer (1861) 15 pp. The larger work (65 pp.) is a reorganization of two papers by Robert Wodrow on the future (post-millennial) conversion of Israel. The authors sought to promote Christian’s daily prayer to this end.
Voet, Gisbert – Select Theological Disputations (Utrecht: Waesberg, 1655), vol. 2
6. ‘Of the General Conversion of the Jews, on Rom. 11:25-27’, pp. 124-43
7. ‘Of the Same, Appendix’, pp. 143-55
Order of Contents
A significant portion of the reformed in the Post-Reformation held the millennium, taking palce on earth with outward visible effects relating to the extent and prosperity of the Gospel and Christians, to be already past, typically from either the first century or the era of Constantine, to a period in the Middle Ages before the full height of Papal Antichrist.
Technically this view, which can be distinguished from amillennialism, is postmillennial, as Christ comes after the millennium, yet their prospect for the future of the Church was pessimistic (outwardly speaking). Pastmillennialism is an apt lable for this view.
Eventually this section will be more fully built up.
van Mastricht, Peter – ch. 3, section L in Theoretical Practical Theology (RHB), vol. 6, bk. 8
Order of Quotes
Geneva Bible Notes
Supputatio annorum mundi 1541 in WA 53
p. 152, col. 1
“The millennium of salvation is over. The millennium of the Satan is unleashed: the bishop of Rome is the Antichrist, likewise it is a time of the sword.”
p. 154, col. 1 On Hildebrand:
“Hellbrand, the mask of the devil, also called Gregory VII, is the Monster of Monsters, the very first Man of Sin and Son of Perdition.”
A Hundred Sermons upon the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ... (London: John Day, 1561), 87th sermon, p. 593-94 & 598-600
“I know that the opinions of the expositors touching these thousand years be diverse. I know how the heresy of the Chiliasts or Millenaries by Papias, authour hereof, as Eusebius recites in the 3rd book [ch. 39.12] of the Ecclesiastical History, was taken hereof. I will not here stand about to confute the opinion of others, which also would be overlong and tedious, and not of so great profit. I wil only utter my own to be weighed of the godly readers, then will I leave it free for every man to follow that thing which he shall think most agreable to the truth and profitable for the godly.
And I understand plainly and simply that St. John speaks of a thousand years which ran on by continual course from the time of Christ until the last corrupting of the evangelical preaching and church of Christ.
Neither am I very scrupulous in searching out the term of the supputation of these thousand years. Simply I appoint the beginning of the reckoning in the open preaching of the Gospel and what time the Word began now to be received, and was now received of the gentiles. I suppose therefore that there may be three terms or times appointed, which nevertheless shall come all to one reckoning, differing little or nothing amongst themselves or having small diversity, not passing half a year more or less.
Ye may therefore, if you please, begin the supputation of the thousand years from the 33rd year of Christ’s birth, wherein Christ also ascended into heaven and Paul being called to the ministry and drawing the gentiles into the felloweship of God’s people by the preaching of God’s Word, began to restrain Satan. And you shall come to the year of our Lord, 1034, and to the bishopric of Pope Benedict IX, which after he come by unlawful means into the chair of St. Peter, as they call it, practiced art-magic and was joined in league with the Devil: of whom he was carried away also, what time he had sold his bishopric before the Pope Gregory VI… Thou wilt say then, that about that time the Devil brake loose again and seduced the people, especially by Popes.
Or begin the supputation of the thousand years from that time wherein Paul, being bound for the gospel at Rome, testified that the gospel was preached throughout the world. That was about the year of our Lord, 60; from thence accompting a thousand years, you shall come to the year of our Lord, 1060, when Nicholas II was Pope, under whom it is written that the verity was diversely tempted and corrupted and that Gregory VII did then also by his crafts and enterprises trouble the whole world.
Or begin the supputation from the destruction of Jerusalem, what time the Jews [were] cast off, the gentiles in great number entered and were received into the place of the Jews rejected, which was the year of our Lord 73, and thou shalt attain to the year of our Lord 1073, even to Pope Gregory VII: in the which time not a few historiographers write that the Devil himself reigned. Doubtless never man hurt godliness or more stoutly advanced impiety than did this Gregory, otherwise called Hildebrand. Of him I have spoken before in the 13th chapter. Where also I admonished you that Cardinal Benon did accompt those thousand years from the birth of the Lord and concluded [the same] in Sylvester II. It is evident therefore that the gospel has had a notable place in the world, neither has [it] been quenched for the space of a thousand years: that is to say, from the time of the apostles until the year of our Lord was reckoned 1073 or there about…
St. John assigned to Antichrist a certain number of years, to wit 666. Whereof we might understand the name of Antichrist. But therefore it follows not that the Devil was then quite loosed or the light of the Gospel utterly extinguished. For the apostle in his time, speaking of him: ‘The mystery,’ says he, ‘of iniquity now works.’ Antichrist therefore has his seeds, he has his beginning, he has his rising up, his growing and increases.
But after a thousand years, he went to work most impudently and most boldly which before also had uttered his maliciousness: but now most venomously of all he spews out his poison, oppressing kings and all that speak never so little against him. We know moreover that in these thousand years past the Devil has reigned in many by murder, perjury and innumerable and unspeakeable evils. But if you consider what has been done since those thousand years, and what is done at this day: you will say those ages of the thousand years to have been golden and silver worlds and ours now for these five hundred years to be of brass, iron, lead and clay.
Lactantius in the seventh book of Institutes, the 15th chapter, towards the last end of the world, says he, the state of worldly matters must needs be altered and iniquity prevailing to incline to the worse: so that these our times, in the which iniquity and mischief is grown to the highest degree, yet in comparison of that uncurable evil may be accompted fortunate and in manner golden ages. For justice shall than wear so thin, ungodliness, covetousness, wilfulness and lust shall be so common, that if there shall be then haply any good men, they shall be a pray to the wicked, and everywhere vexed of the unrighteous… By all the which our days now seem to be painted lively.
But what is that, which is annexed, that the Devil must be loosed for a little season? seems this a little season which continues now five hundred years? And this place we expound so as that same in the gospel: unless those days were shortened, no flesh should be saved. For it is evidently by stories that neither the Devil, nor Antichrist has enjoyed that his kingdom long quiet. For evermore and in all ages have sprung up some holy and learned men, which being illumined and comforted of God, like Enoch and Helie [Elijah?], haue resisted the ungodly and ungodliness, and have maintained the true religion…
Therefore both Satan and the Pope could enjoy these matters but a small season. For immediately after the thousand years sprang up the Waldenses which constantly impugned the Pope and his ungodliness. The Lord has raised up certain kings amongst whom be the Fridericks, German Emperors, Lewis of the house of Bauier, and many others. The Popes also have been at dissension amongst themselves whilst many have been chosen, and every one of them wil be the vicar of Christ, and so tear all that ecclesiastical body of theirs with schisms. There rise up against these preachers earnest and vehement, Wyclif, Huss, Jerome of Prague and diverse others. What is done at this day and has been now these 30 years and more against superstitions and idolatry, against the Pope, and all his clergy, the Papists themselves cry out and all parts of the world can testify. Therefore is the Devil loosed a little season. The Lord Jesus tread him under our feat shortly.”
“6. …Yea, he bound that malicious Satan and made him sure for a thousand years’ space, to make of the vessels of wrath the vessels of mercy. This did he by his strong word of covenaunt, whom he made for a thousand generations. And a full performance it is of God’s first promise for man’s behove, that Christ should tread down the head of the serpent. For a thousande years was this restraint.
Mark besides the mystery, the time from the ascension of Christ unto the days of Silvester the second bishop of Rome of that name, and ye shall all find that it was from Christ’s nativity a complete thousand, after all the historiographers. By such necromancy as he learned of a Sarazin in Spain obtained he the papacy, and as witnesses John Wycliff in his book, De solutiōe sathane, in Christ’s vicarship he loosened that devil who Christ had afore shut up, and set him again at large to deceive afresh. Con∣sider for the time that he was thus bound, the constaunt says of the Christians, and the invincible hearts of their martyrs, and ye shall find them far different from them which has been since. He was then so weak, so infatuate and babish, that not only wise men, learned men, and strong men, did set him light, but also young maidens, children, and tender infants in a manner did laugh him to scorn, and set all his subtle sleights at nought. Evident will this be to all them that shall read the lives of the holy martyrs and saints of the primative Church…
8. …Neither was he able to pluck them from Christ’s faith by flattering prosperity, nor yet by urgent adversity. Neither could tyrannies nor heresies for that time prevail against the Gospel.
12. And where as it is here said that after these thousand years Satan must be let loose again for a certain time…
In the end of these thousand years reigned in the papacy at Rome the aforenamed necromanser Silvester, which was both a black monk and also a Frenchman born. This beastly Antichrist boasting himself not only to be Christ’s vicar in earth, but also to be equal with him in majesty and power, set first the Devil at large by his necromancy, which took from the hearts of men the living Word of the Lord lest they should be saved.”
Prælections upon the Sacred & Holy Revelation of St. John (1573), on Rev. 20, p. 131-32 Fulke (1538-1589) was a reformed Anglican.
“When as the Devil had walked at liberty through all nations almost from the beginning of the world, and had filled the whole world with all kind of wickedness and heinous sins, at length in the coming of Christ, which had chosen to Himself a Church and much people among the gentiles, his licenciousness is bridled…
he was caught I say and bound with that great chain of sincere doctrine, that he cannot range abroad at liberty as he was wont…
But the time which here is compassed in the space of a thousand years, in which the Devil should be kept bound in prison, does signify a long time, and uncertan to men. In which space of time the pure doctrine of the Gospel should flourish in the world, and many men out of all nations should be taken into the eternal inheritaunce of Christ and we see that almost by the space of a thousand years after Christ some light of sincere doctrine remained in the world, at the least many did consent upon the points of Christian religion which were chief and most necessary to salvation: until at length the doctrine of Antichrist being brought in, of merits, of satisfactions, of the sacrifice of the mass and other monsters, the only foundation of faith and free justification of faith was taken away. In that whole space of time therefore, the power of Satan was bound, so long as by faith in the merits of Christ alone, the way was open for men to heaven. And we must note that Satan is said to be bound, and shut in prison, so long as he does not seduce the greatest multitude to eternal destruction….
For after that he must be loosed for a litle season, etc. When as now the pestilence of the Mahumet, and the Pope waxed strong and increased. He must be loosed for a litle time, that he may seduce the nations into idolatry, as he seduced the whole world before the birth of Christ. For after a thousand yeares whiles the Turks in the East, and the papists in the west possessed all with there dotages, we may rightly conjecture that Satan was loosed out of prison. But this evil shall not endure long, for the end of the world is at hand, and the truth of the gospel being restored again to the world, has disclosed the falsehoods of both the enemies.”
A Catholic Exposition upon the Revelation… ([London] Binneman ), on Rev. 20, p. 274
“For his heart would have served him too seduce all nations, and to hold them still in the pestilent errors of idolatry, yea and in all kind of horrible misdeeds. But God has plucked them out of the power of darkness, and removed them into the kingdom of his dear beloved Son, Col. …13, till the thousand years be fulfilled. That is to say, till Antichrist be come. And after that he must be let loose.
This thing came to pass after that the dominion as well of Mahumet as of the Romish bishop was so increased in strength that they became terrible to all kings and princes of the earth, for as much as they were able, not only to grieve them when they listed, but also to cast them from their seats, and to tread them quite under foot, until they submitted their necks to false religion and rightless laws: which thing is done yet still at this day, according as Paul foretold. 2. Thess. 2. b. 11.”
A Treatise Touching Antichrist… (1589), ch. 21, pp. 89-90
“Yet I will speak what I think, and which, after advised consideration had of all things, touching that place, I suppose is to be determined thereof, namely, that those thousand years (as is evident, most manifestly, even by the event) do not a whit concern or set out the time of the coming of Antichrist: but rather that they are to be reckoned and accompted, after that the said number of years of 666 were once expired…
For before the said thousand years were to take place, those things should be accomplished which were spoken of ch. 16:12, namely, that Euphrates should be dried up, and a way opened for the kings of the East to come and make invasion upon those territories and countries, which were before subject to the Romish jurisdiction. Which surely is come to pass: For undoubtedly those kings of the East, which passed through Euphrates, being dried up, (that is, which gave them easy passage through the midst of her channel) and surprised the segniories that belonged to the Romane Empire, were the Turks. Therefore it must needs be that the Turks’ empire should first be raised before those thousand years could be fulfilled.
But if we begin to compt those years from the time of Christ’s suffring: then assuredly before the ori∣ginal of the Turks (which is reckoned to be about the year after Christ one thousand two hundred) those thousand years will be fully expired, and so the Apocalypse, that is, the prophecy of the Spirit of God, shall seem false…
Wherefore, I am still of the mind I was of, and begin to reckon those 1000 years from the year six hundred sixty-six: which two numbers being put together amount unto one thousand six hundred sixty-six. After which term of time, those things are then to come to pass and be fulfilled: which the Spirit of God in the 19th of the Reuelation, and the chapters following has laid open:”
Geneva Bible Notes (Francis Junius) 1599
On Rev. 20, verse 2
“The first of which (continuing this history with the end of the second chapter) in the 36 years from the passion of Christ, when the Church of the Jews being overthrown, Satan attempted to invade the Christian church gathered from the Gentiles, and to destroy part of her seed, Rev. 12:17.
The thousandth year falls precisely on the times of that wicked Hildebrand, who was called Gregory the seventh, a most damnable necromancer and sorcerer, whom Satan used as an instrument when he was loosed out of bonds from then on to annoy the saints of God with most cruel persecutions and the whole world with dissentions, and most bloody wars: as Benno the Cardinal reports at large. This is the first victory gained over the dragon in the earth.”
A Commentary upon the Divine Revelation of the Apostle & Evangelist John… tr. Elias Arnold (d. 1622; Amsterdam: C.P., 1644), ch. 20, pp. 508 & 510
“II. Where these thousand yeers have their beginning and ending.
Such as understand the thousand yeers definitely are diversly minded about their beginning, as by and by I will show. I suppose it best to take their beginning from the angel’s descension: because otherwise the determination of the thousand yeers, so often repeated, should be uncertain and vain: I say, in case they should have an indeterminated beginning elsewhere: Now the descension of the angel was in the incarnation of the Son of God, as before we showed. Notwithstanding Satan was not bound presently upon his nativity: because the Son of God did not immediatly exercise his power in his childhood. But the true beginning is understood from the cause why the dragon should be bound: which was that he should deceive the nations no more: to wit, by keeping them in paganism and turning them from the Gospel of Christ. Therefore when the Dragon began to desist from deceiving the nations, then he was bound.
Now he desisted from seducing the nations any longer, not presently, at the beginning of the ministry, or resurrection of Christ, or of the preaching of the apostles (although the angel did then begin to cast the great chain upon the dragon) but especially after the dispersion of the Jews and the destruction of the Jewish temple, and worship by the Romans: for before that time, the beginnings of the gentiles’ conversion to Christ were but small: because the dragon never ceased to hinder the gentiles from the Gospel of Christ by means of the turbulent Jews, as the history of the Acts of the Apostles testifies. But afterward, Jerusalem being destroyed, the Jews were rejected and dissipated, and in their room the Gentiles were called and added to the Church, as Paul teaches, Acts 13:46; Rom. 11:11, etc. Then at length it appeared that Satan was bound, because he was not able to seduce the nations any longer or uphold paganism. But that was in the year of our Lord 73. This year therefore we make the beginning of the thousand years of Satan’s binding.
From hence unto the year of our Lord 1073 are a thousand years, at which time Pope Gregory VII, a Celtiberian monk, and diabolical juggler, poisoning Alexander II, invaded the Papacy by most wicked arts: who sitting on the papal chair, the devill began again to be loosed and to rage tumultuously, filling the Christian world in a horrible manner with wars and slaughters by the means of this his cursed instrument….
Thus I have laid down my judgement, agreeing with other most learned interpreters before me, as Bullinger, Junius, etc. not that I do tie any man unto it, but leave it to consideration: but they who begin the thousand years from Christ’s nativity, as Aretius, or from his resurrection, as Chytraeus [a Lutheran]: or from the time of universal Christianism under Constantine the Great, as Brightman, Napier, etc. although they differ a little in the terms, yet all have this common with us, that the first thousand years from Christ’s birth is to be ascribed to Satan’s imprisonment and that the dragon is now long ago loosed out of prison.”
Dutch Annotations (1637), on Rev. 20:3
“Some take these thousand years for the total time of the first coming of Christ unto His second coming, as this word thousand signifies sometimes in Scripture a certain number for an uncertain. See Ps. 91:7; 105:8; Dan. 7:10.
But forasmuch as verses 7 and 8, Satan is let loose again after those thousand years, the same cannot be, as neither the opinion of some others who desire to have these thousand years end before the coming of the Antichrist. Seeing in verse 4, even during these thousand years mention is made of some who did not worship the beast nor his image, then Antichrist must also needs have been before the end of the thousand years.
Therefore others begin the binding of Satan, that he would deceive the nations no more from the time that Christ, by the preaching of the Gospel and the power of His Spirit by His apostles, has brought the pagan nations in the world everywhere unto repentance; which for the most part was fulfilled about the time of the desolation of Jerusalem and the eradication of the Jews, that is, about the year 70, and end them with the time of pope Gregory VII, who was a strong instrument of the devil to bring the Antichrist’s reign to the highest, and to cause all nations to worship him who sat in the chair about the year 1070.
Though some, by reason of the persecutions which Satan raised against the Christians more than two hundred and fifty years after the destruction of Jerusalem, begin these thousand years somewhat later, namely, from Constantine’s time, and continue them till about the year 1300, when the antichrist not only caused the state of Christians to decline more and more, when Boniface VIII reigned over this realm, but also the Turks and Tartars were most set on by Satan to subdue the christian nations in the East and West, and destroyed many kingdoms and Christian churches, not only in Asia, but also in Africa and Europe, as the present condition thereof shows.”
The Sealed Book Opened: or, a Clear Explication of the Prophecies of the Revelation... (1656), on Rev. 20, pp. 305-7 Guild was a Scottish divine.
“That old Serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, as he is likewise so stiled, ch. 12:9. and bound him a thousand years, which binding up or restraining was from such open rage of persecution as was used by the heathen emperors, but especially for that end which is spoken of in the next verse, to wit, that he should deceive the nations no more, which is to be understood, not absolutely from all sort of deceiving, but from that sort which he used before the preaching of the Gospel amongst the gentiles, by the responses of his hellish oracles, and such gross idolatry whereinto he drew them, and which by the preaching of the Gospel and conversion of the gentiles was silenced and abolished, and he (as it were) bound up therefrom.
…During the time then wherein he was bound up from that sort of gross and paganish deceiving, he was never busier, by the vicar of his power, to whom he resigned his throne, as ch. 13:2, to deceive in a more subtil way, changing himself into an angel of light, and under presence and profession of the Christian name, to suppress and overthrow the truth of Christ Jesus, which thing to be true, may be seen, 1. By the great success of this manner of deception these thousand years, which he had, as we may see, ch. 13:16, so that all the world followed the beast, whose names were not written in the book of life. 2. By this, that v. 4. John saw the souls of these that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and had not worshipped the beast nor his image, living and reigning with Christ these thousand years, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which v. 1. are called, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, without any article, to shew that he means these thousand years that Satan is bound up himself from the first sort of deceiving, yet is let loose as it were, in the vicar of his power to deceive after another manner and to kill the faithful witnesses spoken of, ch. 11:3.
Verse. 3… Now for accommodation of history, to know the time when the Dragon was thus bound up, and the thousand years spoken of began, and thereafter ended and had their accomplishment.
1. The dragon was fully then bound up, when by Constantine’s conversion, heathenish and open persecution of the Gospel ceased, and the Christian religion by laws was every where established, for from that time the dragon had no loose chain for open rage as before, or paganish seduction; and this was about the three hundreth year of Christ, which leads us also to the point of his losing, which falls out about the one thousand three hundreth year of God, in the time of Boniface VIII, that monster of men, of whom their stories records, that he entred like a fox, lived like a lion and died like a dog, (Fascic. temp in vita Bonif. 8)…
In whose time also, to evidence yet more Satan’s loosing, there was (as the same Platina reports) a sudden, general, and so huge an earthquake throughout all Italy, which lasted many days, as the like was never seen before, and which every where overthrew many houses. There appeared likewise (says he) a huge great comet portending some great calamity thereafter to fall out, so that heaven and earth gave signs and witnesses of the loosing of this dragon. And from the times of which Boniface many bloody persecutions against the professors of the truth were raised, who were called, Waldenses, Lollards, Hussites, and of late Lutherans, Calvinists, Huguenots and the like, many cruel plots hatched, and many bloody massacres acted and practiced. At this time also began that Ottoman race, and so Satan was let loose.”
A Compendious History of the Catholic Church from the year 600 untill the year 1600, showing her Deformation & Reformation: together with the rise, reign, rage, and begin-fall of the Roman Antichrist... (Hague: Adrian Vlack, 1657), Preface, p. 2
“The Fifth Age is of the Church reverting, and Antichrist raging, until this present age when Reformation was aimed at and begun in the West, Antichristian pride was detected and the number of true believers did increase.
Then Satan was let loose again, the thousand years of his binding, from the days of Constantine, being expired: then persecutions were frequent; Antichrist foamed and opened his mouth wide to devour the sheep of Jesus. But he who preserved the Woman in the wilderness is the stronger, so that the gates of Hell were not able nor shall be able to prevail against her; yea by the breath of his mouth and preaching of the Word her enemies are scattered, Antichrist is revealed and true Christians are multiplied.”
Commentary on Rev. 2, verse 2
“‘And bound him;’ From the open slaughtering of the saints, as he had done by the heathen emperors; or, from molesting and mischiefing of God’s people, otherwise he is not bound one hour, Job 1:6-12 1 Peter 5:8. And how his vicegerent the beast has bestirred him during the thousand years, who knows not?
‘A thousand years;’ Hos explicate fateor trepide me aggredi, says [David] Pareus. He begins the thousand at the destruction of the temple, A.D. 73, and so it ends in Pope Hildebrand, who stepped into that chair of pestilence, A. D. 1073. Others begin it at the birth of Christ, and end in Sylvester II. Others at Christ’s passion, and end in Benedict IX.
But they do best, in my opinion, that begin at Constantine and end in Boniface VIII, who is of his own said to have entered like a fox, reigned as a lion, and died as a dog. He excommunicated the French king, and published this decree, that the Bishop of Rome ought to be judged of none, although he should carry innumerable souls with him to hell.”
Synopsis of the Critics in The Exegetical Labors of… Poole, vol. 82, on Rev. 15-22 ed. R. Andrew Myers (VA: Master Poole Publishing, 2010), p. 214, on Rev. 20:2 Note that Poole in his Annotations, another work, takes a future view of the millennium.
“Now, here that exousia / power / authority is here to be understood as liberty, concerning which it was treated in Rev. 13:2, of exercising his rage against Christians through Roman idolatry, or through idolatrous princes; and therefore the beginning of those thousand years ought to be taken from the Edict of Constantine, which is in Eusebius, in which mention is made of the bound dragon. Now, the kings followed the example of the Roman Emperor, some quickly, some slowly, just as previously they had imitated the rage of the emperors against the Christians.”
Voet, Gisbert – 78. ‘On Rev. 20:4-6, of the Millennial Reign’ in Select Theological Disputations (Utrecht: Waesberg, 1655), vol. 2, pp. 1248-66
On p. 1255 (mid) Voet says he is greatly pleased with the judgments that the 1,000 years began in either AD 73 (final destruction of the Temple) or 316 (Constantine), he preferring the former.
Sections 5-7 (to the end), pp. 1256-66, are spent refuting Chiliasm.
Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church 3rd rev. (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928), vol. 1, Apostolic Christianity, 1st Perdiod, ch. 12, section 101, ‘The Apocalypse’, p. 839
“Another important division of historical interpreters is into Post-Millennarians and Pre-Millennarians, according as the millennium predicted in Rev. 20 is regarded as past or future.
Augustine committed the radical error of dating the millennium from the time of the Apocalypse or the beginning of the Christian era (although the seer mentioned it near the end of his book), and his view had great influence; hence the wide expectation of the end of the world at the close of the first millennium of the Christian church.
Other post-millennarian interpreters date the millennium from the triumph of Christianity over paganism in Rome at the accession of Constantine the Great (311); still others (as Hengstenberg) from the conversion of the Germanic nations or the age of Charlemagne.”
Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church 3rd rev. (NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928), vol. 1, Apostolic Christianity, 1st Perdiod, ch. 12, section 101, ‘The Apocalypse’, p. 849
“Luther struck the key-note of this anti-popery exegesis. He had at first a very low opinion of the Apocalypse, and would not recognize it as apostolic or prophetic (1522), but afterward he utilized for polemic purposes (in a preface to his edition of the N.T. of 1530).
He dated the one thousand years (Rev. 20:7) with Augustine from the composition of the book [of Revelation], and the six hundred and sixty-six years from Gregory VII [c. 1015 – 1085], as the supposed founder of the papacy, and understood Gog and Magog to mean the unspeakable Turks and the Jews. As Gregory VII. was elected pope 1073, the anti-Christian era ought to have come to an end A.D. 1739; but that year passed off without any change in the history of the papacy.”
On the Post-Reformation
A Commentary upon the book of the Revelation… (Edinburgh: Higgins, 1658), ch. 20, Lecture 4, p. 723
“Those who make it fully past, begin at four periods, 1. some at Christs birth, and end at Pope Sylvester II, a magician. 2. Some at His death, and end at Benedict III, suffocated by the devil. 3. Others, at the destruction of Jerusalem, and so end it in Gregory VII, or Hildebrand. 4. Most begin it at Constantine’s reign, making this contemporary with that of Satan’s being cast from heaven, ch. 12. This is also ended, anno 1300, in Boniface VIII, when the wars against the Waldenses began. [John] Prideaux, De mille annis Apoc. does thus sum those of that opinion.”
Dilday, Steven – The Eschatology of George Gillespie: An Introductory Analysis & Evaluation Buy (2016) 23 pp.
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 and is easily consulted, is brief, and yet it answers all the major questions. 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 sentences in the book.
E.B. Elliott’s Works
Elliott (1793-1875) wrote the most exhaustive historicist defense and exposition of the Book of Revelation, including a critique of all the other main interpretations of Revelation. Elliott was a historicist premillennial.
The Works of Elliott
This is Elliott’s monumental historicist commentary on Revelation. ‘Horae Apocalypticae’ in the title means ‘of the hours of the Apocalypse’. See below for a one volume abridgment of this work and an even more concise paraphrase on Revelation according to Elliott’s interpretation.
Elliott gives a further defense of his views of the Seals and the Two Witnesses in the Book of Revelation.
Shortly after Elliott’s monumental commentary on Revelation was published, T.K. Arnold published a critique of it, chiefly relating to 5 points wherein Arnold argued that the Papacy was not the Antichrist. Elliott here responds to Arnold and defends his position that the Papacy is the Antichrist.
Abridgments of Elliott’s Main Work (from smallest to largest)
Pratt, J.H. – Paraphrase of the Revelation of St. John (1862) 97 pp.
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 pp.
This work was intended as a course of lectures in church history for the young, pertaining to the events of the Book of Revelation.
Petris, Alexander – A Millennial Lashing [Chiliasto-Mastix]: or the Prophecies in the Old & New Testament Concerning the Kingdom of our Savior Jesus Christ, Vindicated from the Misinterpretations of the Millenaries, & specially of Mr. Maton in his Book Called Israel’s Redemption… The Epistle Shows the Ground & Pedigree of the Mistake (Rotterdam, 1644) 70 pp. “To show the original of an error is the convincing of it.”
Petrie was a minister of the Scottish Church in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
van Mastricht, Peter – ch. 8, section XIX in Theoretical Practical Theology (RHB), vol. 4, bk. 5
Syllabus of Theological Problems (Utrecht, 1643), pt. 1, section 2, tract 6 Abbr.
Appendix: 4, Of the Resurrection of the Martyrs, Rev. 20 [& Premillennialism]
2. Of the Millennial Reign & Many Questions Inept & Absurd
Select Theological Disputations (Utrecht: Waesberg, 1655), vol. 2
sections 5-7 (to the end) in 78. ‘On Rev. 20:4-6, of the Millennial Reign’, pp. 1256-66
79. Appendix to the Disputation on the Millennial Reign, pp. 1266-72
Voet here refutes a book (1642) by the Chiliast and English/Dutch, independent John Archer (d. c. 1642). Archer was the same person who wrote a book defending that God was the author of sin, which the Westminster Assembly had burned.
“Only fools and madmen are positive in their interpretations of the Apocalypse.”
“All portions of Scripture ought to be approached with deep humility and earnest prayer for the teaching of the Spirit. On no point have good people so entirely disagreed as on the interpretation of prophecy; on no point have the prejudices of one group, the dogmatism of a second and the extravagance of a third done so much to rob the church of truths which God intended to be a blessing.”
The Whole of Church History
Kirsch, Jonathan – A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible [Revelation] Changed the Course of Western Civilization (HarperSanFrancisco, 2006)
“Kirsch attempts to reveal how the book of Revelation has been
appropriated for dubious purposes. He argues that the book is and always has been ‘a potent rhetorical weapon in a certain kind of culture war, a war of contesting values and aspirations, that has been waged throughout human history.'” – John H. Duff
ed. Walls, Jerry L. – The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)
The Medieval Church
McGinn, Bernard – Visions of the End: Apocalyptic Traditions in the Middle Ages in Records of Civilization: Sources and Studies, 96 (Columbia University Press, 1998; reprint)
Lamont, William – ch. 28, ‘Richard Baxter, the Apocalypse & the Mad Major’ in ed. Webster, Charles – The Intellectual Revolution of the Seventeenth Century in ed. Trevor Aston, Past and Present Series (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974)
Ball, Bryan W. – A Great Expectation: Eschatological Thought in English Protestantism to 1660 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975)
“In chapter 2 he examines the interpretations given to Daniel and Revelation offered by John Napier, Brightman, Arthur Dent and Mede.” – John H. Duff
Firth, Katharine R. – The Apocalyptic Tradition in Reformation Britain 1530-1645 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979)
“Though apocalyptic is her broad category, a significant portion of the study covers the interpretation of Revelation. Firth’s chief interest lies in how certain writers saw the relationship between the prophecies of
Revelation and historical events. The bulk of the work deals extensively with John Bale, John Foxe, John Napier, John Knox, Hugh Broughton, Thomas Brightman, Walter Raleigh and George Hakewill.” – John H. Duff
Kyle, Richard – The Last Days Are Here Again (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998)
Historical Theology on the Millennium
The Whole of Church History
Kromminga, D.H. – The Millennium in the Church: Studies in the History of Christian Chiliasm (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1945)
“He traces chiliastic ideas from the patristic writers to the first half of the twentieth century. His treatment of sixteenth and seventeenth-century millenarian thought is limited to its political manifestations of the time—mainly the Anabaptists on the Continent and the Fifth Monarchy Men in England.” – John H. Duff
Weber, Eugen – Apocalypses: Prophecies, Cults & Millennial Beliefs through the Ages (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999)
“Acknowledging that he is offering more of a narrative than an interpretation, Weber’s treatment of the seventeenth century consists of cataloging the signs of the eschatological fervor of the times: self-proclaimed prophets and messiahs preached the end of the age, speculations about the millennium abounded, and identifications of the Antichrist centered on the Pope.” – John H. Duff
Medieval Church through the 1600’s
McGinn, Bernard – ‘Apocalypticism Explained: Joachim of Fiore’ at PBS.org
“Joachim divided human history into three successive stages, one belonging to the Father (already past), one belonging to the Son (present and drawing to a close) and one belonging to the Spirit (beginning to dawn). McGinn claims that Joachim of Fiore’s commentary on Revelation broke new ground by tying actual historical events to the visions of the book and anticipating the imminent arrival of the age of the Spirit
once Antichrist was defeated.” – John H. Duff
Cohn, Norman – The Pursuit of the Millennium (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974)
“A classic study of northern and central European medieval millennial hopes… His study focuses on the eleventh-sixteenth centuries with an appendix devoted to the Ranters in seventeenth-century England, who were the heirs of the Free Spirit heresy.” – John H. Duff
1500’s to 1600’s
Ball, Bryan W. – A Great Expectation: Eschatological Thought in English Protestantism to 1660 in ed. Heiko A. Oberman, Studies in the History of Christian Thought, vol. 12 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975)
Bauckham, Richard – Tudor Apocalypse: Sixteenth Century Apocalypticism, Millennarianism & the English Reformation: From John Bale to John Foxe & Thomas Brightman being vol. 8 of The Courtenay Library of Reformation Classics (Oxford: Sutton Courtenay Press, 1978?)
“Bauckham concludes that Tudor Protestants in the sixteenth century were ‘apocalyptic but not millenarian.'” – John H. Davis, Bauckham, p. 208
“[t]his pessimistic outlook on the historical future we have seen to be that of the consensus of Tudor theology.” – p. 209
“Bauckham argues that it is this pessimistic outlook on history that underwent some adjustment in the seventeenth century. He maintains that a more optimistic approach to the future emerged and he identifies four roots to this new optimism:
1) the influence of Joachim’s idea of the age of the Spirit,
2) the reinterpretation of the book of Revelation as a continuous sequential narrative covering the flow of history,
3) the belief that God had miraculously intervened on England’s behalf in the defeat of the (Catholic) Spanish Armada and thus England had a special role to play in the defeat of the Antichrist, and,
4) the expectation that a Jewish conversion of mass proportions was to be expected before history’s end.
In sum, the prospects for the church did not appear as troublesome to divines in the seventeenth century as they did in the sixteenth century. God was beginning the work of destroying Romanism and converting his ancient people, and all of this optimism could be supported, at least partially, by the exegetical efforts of men such as Brightman, Mede and Alsted, respected scholars who advanced the belief in a future millennium of peace for the church.” – John H. Duff
eds. Laursen & Popkin – Continental Millenarians: Protestants, Catholics, Heretics (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2001)
ed. Webster, Charles – The Intellectual Revolution of the Seventeenth Century in ed. Trevor Aston, Past and Present Series (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974)
ch. 27, ‘Godly Rule & English Millenarianism’, Bernard Capp
ch. 29, ‘The Millennium & Eschatology in England’, Bernard Capp
Hotson, Howard – Johann Heinrich Alsted 1588-1638: Between Renaissance, Reformation & Universal Reform (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000), pp. 182-222 Alsted was Premillennial.
ed. Toon, Peter – Puritans, the Millennium & the Future of Israel: Puritan Eschatology 1600 to 1660 (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co. Ltd., 1970)
“These essays chronicle the shift from a dominant Augustinian historicist approach to the millennium to the belief in a future millennium, accompanied by a conversion of the Jews and collapse of the papacy.” – Joh H. Duff
Holstun, James – A Rational Millennium: Puritan Utopias of Seventeenth-Century England & America (Oxford Univ. Press, 1987) IA
Gilsdorf, Joy – The Puritan Apocalypse: New England Eschatology in the Seventeenth Century in ed. John Murrin, Outstanding Studies in Early American History (New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1989)
“…her chief concern being how their apocalyptic orientation significantly shaped their conceptions of church polity and philosophy of history. Gilsdorf offers useful background material for understanding Thomas Brightman and Joseph Mede as well as the general apocalyptic tenor of England and especially New England in the seventeenth century. In addition, she provides a helpful discussion of the influence of the commentaries on Revelation written by Brightman, Patrick Forbes, and Henry Alsted.” – John H. Duff
eds. Antognazza & Hotson – Alsted & Leibniz: On God, the Magistrate & the Millennium in Wolfenbutteler Arbeiten zur Barockforschung 34 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1999)
Hotson, H. – Paradise Postponed. Johann Heinrich Alsted & the Birth of Calvinist Millenarianism (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2000)
Gribben, Crawford – The Puritan Millennium (Portland: Four Courts Press, 2000)
1600’s to 1700’s
Van Asselt, W.J. – ‘Chiliasm & Reformed Eschatology in the Seventeenth & Eighteenth Centuries’ in Christian Hope in Context, ed. A. van Egmond & D. van Keulen (Mienema: Zoetermeer: 2001), pp. 11-29
Davidson, James West – The Logic of Millennial Thought: Eighteenth-Century New England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977)
“…he does not exclude some forays into intellectual antecedents in the seventeenth century. His research focuses on whether the book of Revelation and its interpretation in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries ‘disposed people to think or act in certain consistent ways.’… he describes the view of Charles Chauncy [New England puritan, d. 1672] who held to the belief that the earth was the home of the saints in eternity.” – John H. Duff
Smolinski, Reiner – The Kingdom, the Power, & the Glory: The Millennial Impulse in Early American Literature (Dubuque, IA: Kendall-Hunt, 1998)
Newport, Kenneth – Apocalypse & Millennium: Studies in Biblical Eisegesis (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000)
“Newport examines the interpretation of the book of Revelation between the years 1600-1800. His focus is on Baptist, Methodist, English Anglican and Roman Catholic readings. He specifically states that his work is not within the genre of the history of biblical interpretation or the genre of the history of biblical research.
‘Rather, we are concerned here with the history of popular exegesis and the interaction between the biblical text and the non-critical interpreter of it.’
Newport provides some background to the interpretation of Revelation as a whole during the seventeenth century, but never studies the interpretation of Revelation. One of Newport’s key themes is that Revelation was subject to considerable eisegesis, providing a scriptural foundation for the demonization of particular social or religious groups.” – John H. Duff
1600’s to 1800’s
eds. Connors & Gow – Anglo-American Millennialism, from Milton to
the Millerites in ed. Robert J. Bast, Studies in the History of Christian Traditions, 63 (Brill, 2004)
De Jong, James A. – As the Waters Cover the Sea: Millennial Expectations in the Rise of AngloAmerican Missions 1640-1810 (Laurel: Audubon Press, 2006)
“[w]hile most Protestants concurred with Calvin’s condemnation of the extreme chiliasm of some of the church fathers and Anabaptists, they were nevertheless optimistic about the course of history in the sixteenth century.” – p. 7
“Anticipation of the approaching fall of the Roman Catholic and Turkish Antichrists; hope for the conversion of the Jews and many heathen to the Reformed faith; predictions of an age of peace, unity among Christians, and a great decline in the power of Satan and evil; the belief in the destined wealth and prestige of the Protestant powers.” – p. 7