“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
. On the Millennium
Berkhof, Louis – Introduction to Eschatology, 1950, 12 paragraphs, from his Systematic Theology
Brown, Charles – Preface to Materials for Daily Intercessory Prayer, 1861, 15 pages, the larger work (of 65 pages) is a reorganization of two papers by the late Robert Wodrow on the future (post-millennial) conversion of Israel. The authors sought to promote Christian’s daily prayer to this end.
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.
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.
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 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 of the other main interpretations of Revelation. Elliott was a historicist premillennial.
The Works of Elliott
Horae Apocalypticae: A Commentary on the Apocalypse, vol. 1, vol. 2, vol. 3, vol. 4
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.
Vindiciae Horariae: or Twelve Letters to the Rev. Dr. Keith in reply to his Strictures on the Horae Apocalypticae, 1848, 296 pages
Elliott gives a further defense of his views of the Seals and the Two Witnesses in the Book of Revelation. ‘Vindiciae Horariae’ means a ‘Vindication of the Hours’
Reply to the Rev. T.K. Arnold’s Remarks on the Horae Apocalypticae, 1845, 78 pages
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 (in order from smallest to largest)
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 is an abridgment of Elliott’s larger four volume work. It 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.
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/Boston/London: 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