Home>Albert Barnes

Albert Barnes
(1798- 1870)

AMILLENNIALIST | AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN | Graduated at Hamilton College, Princeton Theological Seminary | Ordained as a Presbyterian minister by the presbytery of Elizabethtown, New Jersey | Tried (not convicted) for heresy in 1836

“One of the most influential American Presbyterian clergymen during the middle third of the nineteenth century and a central figure in the Old School-New School controversy that led to the 1837 denominational division. Born in Rome, New York, he graduated from Hamilton and Princeton. While serving his first charge in Morristown, New Jersey, he attracted attention because of an 1829 revival sermon entitled “The Way of Salvation,” which denied the doctrine of original sin and insisted that man was a free moral agent who could choose for or against Christian salvation.” (From EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY edited by Walter Elwell, Copyright 1984, by Baker Book House Company.)

Preterist Commentaries By Historical Preterism

Dividing Line Between Destruction of Jerusalem and General Judgment – Matthew 24:36

(On Isaiah 14:12)
“The comparison of a monarch with the sun, or the other heavenly bodies, is common in the Scriptures.” (in loc.)

(On the ‘Heavens and Earth’ Prophecies of Isaiah 24:27)
“On the whole, it seems to me that the prophecy relates to the calamities that would come upon the nation by the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar, and the carrying away to Babylon, and the subsequent deliverance from the oppressive bondage, and the joy consequent on that. According to this interpretation, the twenty-fourth chapter is occupied mainly with the description of the calamities that would come upon the land by the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar” (Barnes, Isaiah, Vol. I, pp.388,389)

(On Matthew 10:23)
Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, &c. That is, in fleeing from persecutors from one city to another, you shall not have gone to every city in Judea till the end of Jewish economy shall come.” (in loc.)

(On Matthew 24:15)
“This is a Hebrew expression, meaning an abominable or hateful destroyer. The Gentiles were all held in abomination by the Jews. Ac. x. 28. The abomination of desolation means the Roman army, and is so explained by Lu, xxi. 20. The Roman army is further called the abomination on account of the images of the emperor, and the eagles, carried in front of the legions, and regarded by the Romans with divine honours” (p. 254)

(On Matthew 24:16 | Pella Flight Tradition)
“It is said that there is reason to believe that not one Christian perished in the destruction of that city, God having in various ways secured their escape, so that they fled to Pella, where they dwelt when the city was destroyed.”

(On Matthew 24:27 ; Nature of Christ’s Return)
“The coming of the Son of man. It has been doubted whether this refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, or to the coming at the day of judgment. For the solution of this doubt, let it be remarked,

(1.) that those two events are the principal scenes in which our Lord said he would come, either in person or in judgment.
(2.) That the destruction of Jerusalem is described as his coming, his act, for their great crimes.
(3.) That these events–the judgment of Jerusalem and the final judgment –in many respects greatly resemble each other.
(4.) That they will bear, therefore, to be described in the same language. And,
(5.) therefore, that the same words often include both events, as properly described by them. The words, therefore, had doubtless a primary reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, but such an amplitude of meaning as also to express his coming to judgment.

Verse 28. Wheresoever, etc. The words in this verse are proverbial. Vultures and eagles easily ascertain where dead bodies are, and come to devour them. So with the Roman army. Jerusalem is like a dead and putrid corpse. Its life is gone, and it is ready to be devoured. The Roman armies will find it out, as the vultures do a dead carcass, and will come around it, to devour it. This proverb also teaches a universal truth. Wherever wicked men are, there will be assembled the instruments of their chastisement. The providence of God will direct them there, as the eagles are directed to a dead carcass.

This verse is connected with the preceding by the word “for,” implying that this is a reason for what is said there, that the Son of man would certainly come to destroy the city, and that he would come suddenly. The meaning is, he would come by means of the Roman armies, as certainly, as suddenly, and as unexpectedly, as whole flocks of vultures and eagles, though unseen before, suddenly find their prey, see it at a great distance, and gather in multitudes around it. Travellers in the deserts of Arabia tell us that they sometimes witness a speck in the distant sky, which for a long time is scarcely visible. At length, it grows larger; it comes nearer; and they at last find that it is a vulture, that has from an immense distance seen a carcass lying on the sand. So keen is their vision, and so aptly does this represent the Roman armies, though at an immense distance, yet spying, as it were, Jerusalem, a putrid carcass, and hastening in multitudes to destroy it.

Verse 30. The sign of the Son of man. The evidence that Christ is coming to destroy the city of Jerusalem. It is not to be denied, however, that this description is applicable also to his coming at the day of judgment. The disciples had asked him, Matthew 24:3 what should be the sign of his coming, and of the end of the world. In his answer, he has reference to both events, and his language may be regarded as descriptive of both. At the destruction of Jerusalem, the sign or evidence of his coming was found in the fulfillment of these predictions. At the end of the world, the sign of his coming will be his personal approach with the glory of his Father and the holy angels, 1 Thessalonians 4:16Luke 21:27Matthew 26:64Acts 1:11.

All the tribes of the earth mourn. This is, either all the tribes or people of the land of Judea shall mourn at the great calamities coming upon them, or all the nations of the world shall wail when He comes to judgment. All the wicked shall mourn at the prospect of their doom, Revelation 1:7. The cause of their wailing at the day of judgment shall be chiefly that they have pierced, killed, rejected the Saviour, and that they deserve the condemnation that is coming upon them, John 19:37Zechariah 12:12.

And they shall see the Son of man. The Lord Jesus coming to judgment. Probably this refers more directly to his coming at the last day, though it may also mean that the evidence of his coming to destroy Jerusalem shall then be seen.

With power. Power, manifest in the destruction of Jerusalem, by the wonders that preceded it, and by the overturning of the temple and city. In the day of judgment, power manifest by consuming the material world, 2 Peter 3:7,10,12 by raising the dead, John 5:29301 Corinthians 15:52 by changing those who may be alive when he shall come; that is, making their bodies like those who have died, and been raised up, 1 Thessalonians 4:171 Corinthians 15:52 by bringing the affairs of the world to a close, receiving the righteous to heaven, Matthew 25:341 Corinthians 15:57 and by sending the wicked, however numerous or however strong, down to hell, Matthew 25:41,46John 5:29.”

(On Matthew 24:28)
“This verse is connected with the preceding by the word ‘for,’ implying that this is a reason for what is said there-that the Son of man would certainly come to destroy the city, and that he would come suddenly. The meaning is that he would come, by means of the Roman armies, as certainly, as suddenly, and as unexpectedly as whole flocks of vultures and eagles, though unseen before, see their prey at a great distance and suddenly gather in multitudes around it … So keen is their vision as aptly to represent the Roman armies, though at an immense distance, spying, as it were, Jerusalem, a putrid carcass, and hastening in multitudes to destroy it” (Albert Barnes Commentary on Matthew 24:28).

(On Matthew 24:34 ; Forty Years and that Generation)
This generation, &c. – This age; this race of men. A generation is about thirty of forty years. The destruction of Jerusalem took place about forty years after this was spoken. See Notes on Mat. 16:28.” (Notes, 
Matthew 24:34)

(On I Corinthians 15:53)
“Must put on. The word here used (enduno) properly means to go in, to envelope, to put on as a garment; and then to put on any thing; as the soul is, as it were, clothed with, or invested with a body; and here it menas, must be endued with, or furnished with. It is equivalent to saying that this corruptible must become incorruptible, and this mortal must become immortal.” (in loc.)

(On James 5:8)
“”For the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Comp. Rev. xxii. 10, 12, 20; Notes, I Cor. xv. 5 1. It is clear, I think, from this place, that the apostle expected that that which he understood by ‘the coming of the Lord’ was soon to occur; for it was to be that by which they would obtain deliverance from the trials which they then endured. See ver. 7. Whether it means that he was soon to come to judgment, or to bring to an end the Jewish policy and to set up his kingdom on the earth, or that they would soon be removed by death, cannot be determined from the mere use of the language. The most natural interpretation of the passage, and one which will accord well with the time when the epistle was written, is, that the predicted time of the destruction of Jerusalem (Matt. xxiv.) was at hand; that there were already indications that that would soon occur; and that there was a prevalent expectation among Christians that that event would be a release from many trials of persecution, and would be followed by the setting up of the Redeemer’s kingdom.” (in loc.)

II Thessalonians 2:2 (Using as proof-text that Parousia was distant)
“If Paul here refers to his former epistle, —which might easily be understood as teaching that the end of the world was near,—we have the authority of the apostle himself that he meant to teach no such thing.” (Notes, in loc.)


“Albert Barnes takes a third approach. He views the four ‘angels’ as enacting the will of God but does not suppose the ‘angel’ to be any kind of being; instead the picture is symbolic of an effect that would have been ‘as if’ angels had been standing upon the four corners of the earth acting in this manner.

“Commenting upon verse 11 Albert Barnes refers back to his notes on Rev 5:11 where he does see the angels around the throne as literal. He still cannot bring himself to view the numbers as literal yet he does seem to believe angels exist. It is a strange approach to interpretation when the same word in the same scene is taken both literally and symbolically for no apparent reason.”  (Who Can Stand?)


“There is no evidence from this passage [Colossians 2:16] that he [Paul] would teach that there was no obligation to observe any holy time, for there is not the slightest reason to believe that he meant to teach that one of the ten commandments had cease to be binding on mankind. If he had used the word in the singular number, ‘The Sabbath,’ it would then, of course, have been clear that he meant to teach that the commandment had ceased to be binding, and that a Sabbath was no longer to be observed. But the use of the tem in the plural number, and the connection, show that he had his eye on the great number of days which were observed by the Hebrews as festivals, as a part of their ceremonial and typical law, and not to the moral law, or the ten commandments. No part of the moral law—no one of the Ten Commandments—could be spoken of as a ‘shadow of good things to come.’ These commandments are, from the nature of moral law, of perpetual and universal obligation.” Notes on Colossians 2:16


    [on Gal. 5:16] Live under the influences of the Holy Spirit; admit those influences fully into your hearts . . . . If a man would yield his heart to those influences, he would be able to overcome all his carnal propensities; and it is because he resists that Spirit, that he is ever overcome by the corrupt passions of his nature . . . . If we live under the influences of that Spirit we need not fear the power of the sensual and corrupt propensities of our nature [p.381].

    [on Romans 7:14-25] I regard it as describing the state of a man under the gospel, as descriptive of the operations of the mind of Paul subsequent to his conversion., Epistle to the Galatians; Harper & Brothers, 1849


” (1) It is the most obvious meaning of the language, and it would doubtless be thus understood by those to whom it was addressed. At a time when polygamy was not uncommon, to say that a man should “have but one wife” would be naturally understood as prohibiting polygamy. (2) The marriage of a second wife, after the death of the first, is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as wrong. The marriage of a widow to a second husband is expressely declared to be proper (1 Cor 7:39); and it is not unfair to infer from that permission that it is equally lawful and proper for man to marry the second time. But if it is lawful for any man it is right for a minister [bishop, ler] of the gospel. No reason can be assigned against such marriages in his case, which would not be equally valid in any other. (“1 Tim 3:2,” Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

What do YOU think ?

Submit Your Comments For Posting Here
Comment Box Disabled For Security

17 Aug 2003


I agree with his approach to the Sabbath, and did not know of any other person who had looked at it as he did. I have come to the same conclusion. He also believed in the ability of a Christian to walk in holiness by faith, etc. Unfortunately, tradition has put us all in and under sin, and such sins, that are not said to be sin in the bible. Good material. Vern Manson www.peacekey.com

Date: 06 Aug 2007
Time: 12:16:18


It is little wonder that most of the early Church Fathers were rabid anti-Semites. Can this Preteist theological anti-Semtism be anything less than a complete disregard of the Apostle Paul’s warning ‘to boast not against the branches’ in his letter to the believers in Rome.

Date: 21 Nov 2009
Time: 18:57:11

Your Comments:

No part of the moral law—no one of the Ten Commandments—could be spoken of as a ‘shadow of good things to come.’ These commandments are, from the nature of moral law, of perpetual and universal obligation.” Notes on Colossians 2:16

Believers do keep the Sabbath commandment. We have fully ceased from all our labour. We have completely entered our rest in Christ. All Israel is at rest and abiding in Christ.
Israel is not a piece or property but a Person. He is the Joshua that givescomplete rest to His people.
I always keep the Sabbath, I am at rest, in christ.

Alan Braun