Alexander Brown
(1814- 1896)

Minister of St Paul’s Evangelical Union Church, Aberdeen ;
President of that denomination in 1896

“He does not anticipate any catastrophe at “the end of the age,” but a steady progress on the part of Christianity until at length, in spite of occasional retrogressions, it achieves a universal victory”

Alexander Brown Index // The Great Day of the Lord: A Survey of New Testament Teaching on Christ’s Coming in His Kingdom, the Resurrection, and the Judgement of the Living and the Dead

God’s Great Salvation : Practical and Expository Lectures on the first ten chapters of the Epistle to the Hebrews. By the Rev. Alexander Brown, author of ” The Great Day of the Lord,” “Christian Baptism,” and “The Doctrine of Sin.” Aberdeen

The Great Day of the Lord: A Survey of New Testament Teaching on Christ’s Coming in His Kingdom, the Resurrection, and the Judgement of the Living and the Dead (1890)  “To sum the whole into a sentence — with the fall of Jerusalem, the then existing age was ended, the dead were judged, the saints were raised to heaven, and a new dispensation of a world-wide order instituted, of which Christ is everlasting King, and ever present with His people, whether living here or dead beyond.” (p. 257)

(On John 6:39)
“‘The last day’ is easily interpreted. It is the last day of the age, the Judaic age then running, and was a popular phrase for the time when the higher Messianic privileges would be given to the people of God.” (p. 266)

On Matthew 25:31)
“The judgment scene must take its beginning in the period immediately succeeding the downfall of Jerusalem.” (p. 319)

(On 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
“Ama (together) may express the idea of place as well as of time, and in the New Testament most frequently carries the idea of identity of quality, and might well be translated ‘ likewise.’ The word is radically identical with the Sanscrit samd, Latin simul, Gothic sama, English same.   In this light, it is seen that Paul instructs the Thessalonians only to this effect, that they, though not dead at the second coming, will afterwards be caught up in similar manner to the dead, to meet them and be for ever in their blessed society.” (p. 220)

(On Jerusalem)
“In Jerusalem, however, many dark and horrible deeds had been perpetrated. The pious people had often been strangely wicked. Idolatry had been cherished where there ought only to have been the worship of the living God. Heathen abominations had stalked unreproved by the side of the holy things of Jehovah; and interdicted marriages with the idolatrous nations around had been sanctioned in high quarters, and widely practised. Amid unblushing lawlessness in varied forms, the voice of the prophets was frequently heard, and almost as frequently unheeded or wickedly rejected. The call to reformation was often drowned in the blood of the faithful witnesses. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were notorious for the murder of their prophets (Matt. 23:34,35-37). Last of all they rejected their Messiah. They reverenced not the Son. They would have neither His teaching nor His rule. They killed the Holy and Just One..” (Beginning in Jerusalem)

(On the Millennial Reign)
“Let us not forget that once in the Church’s history it was the common belief that John’s 1000 years were gone. Dorner bears witness that the Church up to Constantine understood by Antichrist chiefly the heathen state, and to some extent unbelieving Judaism (System iv.,390). Victorinus, a bishop martyred in 303, reckoned the 1000 years from the birth of Christ.

Augustine wrote his magnum opus ‘the City of God’ with a sort of dim perception of the identity of the Christian Church with the new Jerusalem. Indeed we know that the 1000 years were held to be running by the generations previous to that date, and so intense was their faith that the universal Church was in a ferment of excitement about and shortly after 1000 A.D. in expectation of the outbreak of Satanic influence. Wickliff, the reformer, believed that Satan bad been unbound at the end of the 1000 years, and was intensely active in his day. That this period in Church history is past, or now runs its course, has been the belief of a roll of eminent men too long to be chronicled on our pages of Augustine, Luther, Bossuet, Cocceius, Grotius, Hammond, Hengstenberg, Keil, Moses Stuart, Philippi, Maurice.” (Alexander Brown, Great Day of the Lord, p. 216.)

‘What need to tell you again how it purified a society which was rotten through and through with lust and hate, how it rescued the gladiator, how it emancipated the slave, how it elevated manhood, how it flung over childhood the aegis of its protection, how it converted the wild, fierce tribes from the icy steppes and broad rivers of the North, how it built from the shattered fragments of the Roman Empire a new-created world, how it saved learning, how it baptized and recreated art, how it inspired music, how it placed the poor and sick under the angel-wings of mercy and entrusted to the two great archangels of reason and conscience the guidance of the young! ‘ ” (Farrar Quoted by Alexander Brown, Great Day of the Lord. pp. 217,231.)

(On Genesis)
“The peculiar style in which the narrative is couched makes it somewhat difficult of interpretation. Gesenius has divided the different modes of interpretation into four—the historical, the figurative, the allegorical, and the mythical. We cannot rank ourselves with any of these schools. We take the narrative to be in the main historical, but with its more spiritual elements shrouded in the veils of symbol. In Semitic thought the supersensual and the metaphysical are almost of necessity expressed by metaphor; and if the narrative of the fall is invested with mystery or wonder, it arises from the sheer necessities of primitive thought, and the hieroglyphic forms in which early history was inscribed. Picture-symbol was the written language of the world’s childhood ; and we have no reason to believe that it was otherwise with the aborigines of the Hebrew stock. ” (Doctrine of Sin, p. 70)


G.R Beasley-Murray (1954)
Among others we may name Alexander Brown, whose exposition The Great Day of the Lord deeply impressed James Hastings (the latter thought its interpretation of the Book of Revelation the most satisfying that had appeared)” (Jesus and the future: an examination of the criticism of the eschatological discourse, Mark 13, with special reference to the little apocalypse theory, p. 169)

Bibliotheca Sacra
“The Great Day Of The Lord: 
A Survey of New Testament Teaching on Christ’s Second Coming, the Resurrection, and the Judgment of the Living and the Dead. By the Rev. Alexander Brown, Aberdeen. London: Hamilton, Adams & Company, (pp. 272. $%x3/4-)

This seems to us the most sensible exposition of the Apocalypse which has appeared in recent years. We wish that it might be published as a tract for free distribution, to counteract the effect of a large quantity of literature in circulation on this and kindred subjects. To many to whom the Apocalypse is now -‘ a sealed book or a stumbling-block,” this little volume seems suited to make it *’one of the most suggestive and comforting portions of the word of God” (p. 4).

It insists that the words with which the book opens, mean what they imply, and what the New Testament repeatedly states, that the revelation is to be seen in “the things which must shortly come to pass” (p. 5). Rejecting the theory that the seven Asiatic churches are emblematic of the history of the church to the end of time, he shows that ” the time of Christ’s coming is described as urgent and immediate to each individual church; to the last, no more so than the first” (p. 18); and hence is now long since past. The end of the age is that of the Jewish Church and Nation. “The host of heaven was dissolved, and heaven rolled away as a scroll in the day of God’s vengeance upon Edom (Isa. xxxiv. 4). All the lights of heaven were made dark when Babylon was destroyed by Media (Isa. xiii. 10); and when the star of Egypt set (Ezek. xxxii. 7-8)” (p. 48). The use of like figures for the end of the Jewish Nation was natural and appropriate. The author has none of the “wasted sympathy” which ” nothing will please but that the Jew must be visited with some magnificent favour in the future development of God’s kingdom; so that he shall stand upon the shoulders of the Gentile and lord it over him” (p. 54); but believes in the New Jerusalem (p. 232 seq.), the Christian church, in which there is no respect of persons, and in which “he is a Jew who is one inwardly.” This, indeed, has always been the true Israel. “The woman (chap, xii.) is the church as continuously existing throughout Jewish history. It is elect humanity as loved, comforted, and made fruitful by the grace of God; the daughter of Zion in her beautiful array; that spiritual remnant of whom Christ as to the flesh was born”

Thus the author interprets the first portion of of the book as referring to Judaism, and the latter portion to the Roman government. The number 666 refers to Nero Caesar {p. 138), the emperor who was or lately had been persecuting the church at the time the book was written. The beast that was, and is not, and is to come, is Nero, ” redivivus” as Domitian, who, to quote Eusebius. “established himself as the successor of Nero in his hostility to God,” and was called in Rome ” the bald Nero” (p. 188).

The coming of Christ “is in the outgoings of his power, the enforcement of his authority, the punishment of his enemies, and the establishment of his gospel kingdom” (p. 158). The notion of a corporeal coming is unscriptural, and its influence through these nineteen centuries has only been mischievous—breeding the most reptilian sectarianism, and sneering infidelity (p. 157).

The first resurrection was past when John wrote. “Every Christian soul in the intermediate state was called up to the Father’s house.” The saints who die later ” will have no reason to regret that they are not dead before the coming of the Lord to take his saints to heaven, because Christ has abolished Hades for his people, and given them victory over death’s most sharp and bitter sting” (p. 219). Thus they do not ” go down into Hades,” but are ” caught up to meet the Lord.” The millennium has begun. The rule of the church of Christ upon earth is beginning, while the resurrected paints reign with him in heaven.

This is a most imperfect outline of the book. It is hardly necessary to say that we do not agree with all the opinions expressed in it, but we believe that its errors are such as will do little harm, while its excellencies will be apparent to all exegetes of the Praeterist school, at least. It deserves a wide circulation.” (Bibliotheca Sacra. Volume 47 (October 1890)

The British Friend
The Great Day of the Lord: A survey of New Testament teaching on Christ’s Second Coming, the Resurrection, and the Judgment of the living and the dead; by Alexander Brown, Aberdeen; Hamilton Adams <fc Co. London, 3s 6d

This work consists mainly in a review of the Apocalypse: it is an endeavour to explain the meaning of the Book of Revelations, as it bears on the last days of tho Jewish Age, and the Advent of the Christian Era. It gives evidence of earnest thought, and has much suggestive interpretation and comment. Without endorsing all its conclusions, it deserves to be carefully read.” (Vol. 1, p. 73)

Samuel Cox
“The book of Revelation still attracts commentators; and the Rev. Alexander Brown, of Aberdeen, has published a thoroughly sensible guide to its interpretation. Proceeding on the understanding that the encouragements of the book were intended for the writer’s contemporaries, and that these contemporaries would understand the symbolic language used, Mr. Brown finds the fulfilment of its predictions in the generation that saw the fall of Jerusalem. In applying this key to the meaning of particular passages he is remarkably successful. Sobriety and sense characterize the interpretation throughout, and no one can read the small volume without feeling increased hopefulness about the understanding of a book which is virtually sealed to most readers. The Great Day of the Lord is published by Messrs. Hamilton, Adams & Co., and deserves to be widely read. ” (The Expositor, p. 154)

The Critical review of theological and philosophical literature, Volume 5
“We have also to hand a second and enlarged edition of the Rev. Alexander Brown’s treatise on The Great Day of the Lord,1 a book which advocates, indeed, a method of interpretation in our opinion too limited to cover the general New Testament doctrine of the End, but which gives the results of a thoroughly independent study, is written with much vigour, and is to be welcomed, as all honest attempts to set old opinions in new lights should be welcomed.” (p. 90)

The London Quarterly Review on the First Edition (1890)
“Mr. Brown holds that ” the practical fruits of the most popular theory of the Advent are especially deplorable. The Church is harassed on every side by little sects that make a hobby of the subject, and vie with each other in creating feverish expectations which are never likely to be realised.” He reaches the conclusion that prevalent methods of interpretation are condemned by their results. His own aim is to show that the Book of Revelation and other Scriptures are thoroughly in harmony, and must be interpreted according to the natural sense of the words. He protests against the notion of a corporeal descent of Christ in the twentieth century. For him “the coming of Christ to this outer world is but phenomenal and dispensational in the signs of a providential judgment and a quickened Church.” He holds that the prophecy of a millennial reign is introduced to check utopian views, and to show that evil will still exist on the earth. We are now living, he says, in the thousand years. The book affords much matter for thought, and, in many parts, we cordially accept and endorse it, but it has the sin of most books on the subject. Mr. Brown is right: all who differ from him have gone astray.” (The London Quarterly and Holborn Review, Volume 74, p. 363)

The London Quarterly and Holborn Review on the Second Edition (1894)
The Great Day of the Lord. A Survey of New Testament Teaching of Christ’s Coming in His Kingdom, the Resurrection, and the Judgment of the Living and the Dead. By the Rev. Alexander Brown. Second Edition, enlarged. London: E. Stock. 1894.

We welcome a second edition of a book – which is a sensible and acute investigation of the Apocalypse. The additions to the first edition consist chiefly of a more careful examination of the eschatological passages in the other books of the New Testament, with a view to discover whether the proposed interpretation of the Apocalypse is in harmony with inspired teaching elsewhere. Mr. Brown’s theory is, in brief, that the coming of Christ’s kingdom is the abolition of the Old Testament religion in its corrupted form, such an event having been accompanied by transcendent changes in the world, and being liable to no reversion in the future. He does not anticipate any catastrophe at “the end of the age,” but a steady progress on the part of Christianity until at length, in spite of occasional retrogressions, it achieves a universal victory. At death Christ’s people do not pass into any intermediate state, but are caught up at once to meet the Lord; and their resurrection “consists in the spirit being clothed upon with a form from heaven, with superior essences that enable it to find its suitable environment in God’s heaven.” These are held to be inferences from the teaching of the Apocalypse, which is thus expounded as relating primarily to the substitution of Christianity for Judaism, and to the changes and perils that immediately followed. Mr. Brown has much to say in support of his exposition, and his work must be classed amongst the possible solutions of what is the greatest perplexity in exegesis. Any student of the Apocalypse will do well to consult this book. It is entirely free from the qualities that so often render such literature unreadable, and is characterised throughout by sobriety and independence. The author evidently possesses the requisite scholarship for his work; and it is equally obvious that he has made himself familiar with the views of all the principal exegetes. He is charitable towards those who differ from him, alive to the actual bearings of his subject upon faith and practice, and the writer of a book which helps and pleases, even where it fails to convince.” (The London Quarterly and Holborn Review, Volume 84, p. 161)

The Literary World
“In The Great Day of the Lord, Mr. Brown has given us an exceedingly able and forcible discussion of ‘the last things,’ free from the wild vagaries which mar so many treatises on this subject. The little volume deseres careful study.” (The Literary World, vol. 42; 263)

Quoted in Dr. Peter Bluer – 373 a Proof Set in Stone
“Another work which takes a similar line is Alexander Brown, The Great Day of the Lord (1894). A scholar who was much influences by Brown was Daniel Lemont, Professor in Edinburgh University, whom I knew. After his death in 1950, a volume of his – Studies in the Johannine Writings – was published in which he maintained that the Parousia took place 40 years after the resurrection of Jesus, that it was not identical with the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, but an event in the unseen world which took place at the same time (and which included the resurrection of the just; since then, believers at death have gone immediately into the Lord’s presence, receiving their ‘spiritual bodies’ forthwith.

The Last Things

By Joseph Agar Beet


Note B, on p. 89.—In a work entitled Parousia, J. Stuart Russell endeavours to prove that all the prophecies in the New Testament about the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the judgment of all men, and the dissolution of nature, were fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

On p. 82, in a note on Matt. xxiv. 29-31, he says, ” We may go further than this, and affirm that it is not only appropriate as applied to the destruction of Jerusalem, but that this is its true and exclusive application. We find no vestige of an intimation that our Lord had any ulterior and occult signification in view.” His argument is that Christ foretold that He would come during the lifetime of some of His hearers; that no other event in that generation, except the fall of Jerusalem, can be identified with His coming; and that therefore unless He referred to this event His solemn words have fallen to the ground.

So on p. 548, in a summary of the work: “As the result of the investigation we are landed in this dilemma: either the whole group of predictions, comprehending the destruction of Jerusalem, the coming of the Lord, the resurrection of the dead, and the rewarding of the faithful, did take place before the passing away of that generation, as predicted by Christ, taught by the apostles, and expected by the whole Church; or, else, the hope of the Church was a delusion, the teaching of the apostles an error, the predictions of Jesus a dream.” This argument, he repeats again and again throughout the whole work.

The destruction of Jerusalem was undoubtedly “a day of Jehovah” in the sense in which, as we saw in Lect. III., that phrase is used in Joel ii. 1 and elsewhere frequently in the Old Testament. For this great catastrophe was a conspicuous punishment, after much longsuffering, of the nation which had consummated previous disobedience by the murder of Christ. But nowhere else is the abundant and definite teaching of the New Testament about the Second Coming of Christ placed in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem except in Matt. xxiv. and its parallels in Mark and Luke. And even here the two events are easily distinguished. In Matt. xxiv. 3 the disciples ask Christ about the time of the destruction of the temple and about the sign of His coming and of the completion of the age. But this question does not imply that the fall of Jerusalem was identical with the coming of Christ. The two events are clearly distinguished in v. 29, where Christ says that “immediately after the affliction of those days” shall be the darkening of the sun and moon, His own appearance coming on the clouds, and the gathering together by the angels of His chosen ones from one end of heaven to the other. For this immediate sequence by no means implies identity. And nothing happened at the capture of Jerusalem which can, by the wildest stretch of imagination, be described by language used in vv. 29-31.

The only passage in which there seems to be any actual blending of the fall of Jerusalem with the coming of Christ is Matt. xxiv. 27, where Christ supports an exhortation about the earlier event by a reference to the latter. But this reference is found only in the First Gospel, where the early return of Christ is much more conspicuous than elsewhere in the New Testament.

The vision of judgment in Matt. xxv. 31-46 contains no reference whatever to the destruction of Jerusalem, and has nothing in common with it. But it is forced into the iron shoe which Mr. Russell has invented. He understands (on p. 105) “all the nations” to mean “all the nations of Palestine, or all the tribes of the land.” And, stranger still, he gives the same meaning to the same phrase in Matt. xxviii. 19, “make disciples of all the nations.” He supposes (see p. 112) that the terrible words “depart ye cursed into everlasting fire” were heard only in the unseen world unheeded by the nations of the earth and unrecorded by human historians. And, while we wonder at this strange exegesis, our author falls upon us, as with a sledgehammer, and says, on p. 113: “We are placed, therefore, in this dilemma—either the words of Jesus have failed, and the hopes of His disciples have been falsified; or else these words and hopes have been fulfilled, and the prophecy in all its parts has been fully accomplished. One thing is certain, the veracity of our Lord is committed to the assertion that the whole and every part of the events contained in this prophecy were to take place before the close of the existing generation.”

In reference to John v. 28, 29, vi. 39, 40, 44, xi. 24, xii. 48, Mr. Russell says, on p. 126: “Since our Lord Himself distinctly and frequently places that event within the limits of the existing generation, we conclude that the Parousia, the resurrection, the judgment, and the last day, all belong to the period of the destruction of Jerusalem.”

The same treatment is extended to 1 Thess. i. 10, ii. 19, iii. 13, iv. 15-18, v. 2-11, 2 Thess. i. 6-10, ii. 1, 8. He supposes that Paul comforts the mourners at Thessalonica by reminding them that a catastrophe is at hand which will submerge the Jewish state, and that then, in some invisible manner, the dead in Christ will rise and His living servants be caught up to meet Him in the air. Since this resurrection is in 1 Thess. iv. 14 compared to that of Christ, we ask whether after the fall of Jerusalem the graves of the dead Christians were found empty as was His grave on the third day; and how it was that the rapture to heaven of all the followers of Christ in Macedonia, Greece, Rome, and elsewhere, including the Apostle John, made no break in the continuous history of the Church on earth.

The same method is applied to 1 Cor. xv. The description of the bodies of the risen ones given in vv. 35-49 is scarcely referred to. But Mr. Russell supposes [v. 51) that the ” last trumpet” sounded 1800 years ago. Unfortunately, so far as we know, no one heard it. All hesitation is banished (on p. 211) by the familiar argument: “Right or wrong, the apostle is committed to this representation of the coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the transmutation of the living saints, within the natural lifetime of the Corinthians and himself. We are placed therefore in this dilemma —1. Either the apostle was guided by the Spirit of God, and the events which he predicted came to pass; or 2. The apostle was mistaken in this belief, and these things never took place.”

The teaching in Rev. xx. 1-10 about the Millennium is a serious difficulty to our author. For he is compelled to say on p. 523: “The result of the whole is, that we must consider the passage which treats of the thousand years, from v. 5 to v. 10, as an intercalation or parenthesis. The Seer, having begun to relate the judgment of the dragon, passes in v. 7 out of the apocalyptic limits to conclude what he had to say respecting the final punishment of ‘the old serpent,’ and the fate that awaited him at the close of a lengthened period called ‘a thousand years.’ This we believe to be the sole instance in the whole book of an excursion into distant futurity; and we are disposed to regard the whole parenthesis as relating to matters still future and unfulfilled.” This confirms my statement on p. 69 that Rev. xx. 1-6 contains teaching not found elsewhere in the Bible.

After dropping out of the consecutive order vv. 5-IO, Mr. Russell joins on, at the close of v. 4, the tremendous vision of judgment in vv. 11-15. But, strange to say, he supposes that this judgment has already taken place, i.e. that earth and heaven have already fled from the face of Him who sits on the throne. On p. 525 he writes: “If the judgment scene described in this passage be identical with that in Matt. xxv., it follows that it is not ‘the end of the world’ in the sense of its being the dissolution of the material fabric of the globe and the close of human history, but that which is so frequently predicted as accompanying the end of the age, or termination of the Jewish dispensation.”

In other words, our author asks us to believe that the great event for which the early Christians were waiting, and for which we still wait as the goal of our highest hopes, took place in A.D. 70 in some sort of invisible connection with the fall of the Jewish state. He does this because only thus can he interpret a few passages in the Synoptist Gospels, and especially in the First Gospel, which seem to assert or imply that Christ would return to judge the world during the lifetime of some of His hearers. Like Mr. Guinness, but with much greater violence, he sacrifices the abundant and plain teaching of the New Testament to a small portion of it.

NOTE C, on p. 89.—The same exposition is given by Prof. E. P. Gould, D.D., in the International Critical Commentary on St. Mark, pp. 241-253. But since Matt. xxv. 31-46, John v. 28, 29, 1 Thess. iv. 15-18, 2 Thess. i. 6-10, Rev. xx. 11-15 have no parallels in the Second Gospel, he is not compelled to face the difficulties involved in the position he has taken up. Relying on parallels in the Old Testament, and especially on Dan. vii. 13, he supposes that the words in Mark xiii. 26, “then shall they see the Son of Man coming in clouds,” were fulfilled at the taking of Jerusalem. Much safer would it be to interpret Dan. vii. 13, “there came with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man,” as an Old Testament anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ which occupies so large a place in the prophecy of the New Testament; and to expound such passages as Isa. xiii. 10, xxxiv. 4, Joel ii. 30 as distinct and dim anticipations of a catastrophe which some day will overwhelm the whole material universe.

The exposition of any one passage in the New Testament needs the light afforded by all others on the same subject. But, in dealing with a very difficult eschatological passage, Prof. Gould has scarcely referred to the eschatology of the rest of the New Testament.

NOTE D, on p. 89.—The same teaching, with exceptions in details, is given by the Rev. Alex. Brown in a book entitled The Great Day of the Lord. Nearly two-thirds of this volume are given to the Book of Revelation, leaving only one-third for the important eschatology of the Synoptist Gospels and of Paul.

The writer emphasises the statement in Rev. i. 1, xxii. 6, 7, 12, 20 that the prophecy speaks of ” things which must need take place shortly ;” but asserts that we are now living in the Millennium, thus giving to the visions of the book an extension to our own time. He accepts Mr. Russell’s suggestion that the Millennium is an intercalation, and that Rev. xx. 11 must be joined on to v. 4. So on p. 223: “John’s glance forward a 1000 years is no part of his original purpose, but only an interjected note of needful warning which breaks the continuity of his leading course of thought. Again we say, what John does not see, but is only told and tells again to us, lies out of the direct line of his teaching, and is to be understood as parenthetical. We must, therefore, as the method of the book demands take the vision of v. 11, and link it on to the vision of v. 4, because the right concatenation of John’s thought lies along the line of what is made visible to the seer, and not along the explanatory by-paths into which he may digress.”

The prediction of judgment in John v. 28, 29, and the prophetic vision in Rev. xx. 11-15, Mr. Brown supposes to have been fulfilled in the unseen world at the fall of Jerusalem. Touching the solemn words “from whose face fled the earth and the heaven, and place was not found for them,” he says, on p. 227, “one can only smile when expositors gravely find here a destruction of heaven and earth. John merely tells us, in a touch of unparalleled sublimity, that from his sight the old familiar earth has disappeared; and even the accustomed heaven is gone.” In a reference to Matt. xxv. 31-46 he says, on p. 319, “In view of the demands of faithful exegesis, this judgment scene must take its beginning in the period immediately succeeding the downfall of Jerusalem.”

Mr. Brown finds insuperable difficulty in Mr. Russell’s suggestion that the announcement, in 1 Thess. iv. 17, that at the coming of Christ His surviving servants will be caught up to meet Him in the air has already been fulfilled in the unseen world. He asks, on p. 349f, “Is it possible that at a time when the Church is confessedly weak the Lord is going to deplete it of its richest blood and either destroy it or leave it helpless? … In short, this idea of ‘rapture,’ though fondly held by multitudes, involves Paul’s teaching on ‘last things’ in the most flagrant inconsistencies, and makes a science of eschatology on any understanding quite impossible. . . . Surely the second-rate Christians who were left after the ‘rapture’ to rule the Church were competent enough to chronicle so startling an event as the sudden disappearance of the more illustrious leaders.” It would have been more to the point to say that Paul’s words in 1 Cor. xv. 51f imply that all the servants of Christ who survive His coming will be at once caught up, leaving only the godless behind.

This difficulty, Mr. Brown endeavours to evade by finding fault with the rendering given both in AV. and RV. to the Greek adverb a/ia, which they translate “together with them.” He says, on p. 351, “This rendering inevitably suggests identity as to time. But while the word may have this temporal reference, it never carries it in the writings of St. Paul, but some other identity, of place, quality, or manner.” It never denotes identity of manner; but always close companionship, this involving, if the idea of time be present, coincidence in time. The words here used, afia ai>v avroU, can only mean that two sets of people, the risen ones and the survivors, shall be together caught up to meet Christ.

Mr. Brown also endeavours to weaken the definiteness of the teaching of the New Testament about the Second Coming of Christ by giving to the word irapovala the meaning presence. But, as I have shown on p. 25, this looser meaning cannot be allowed.

Without the slightest reason Mr. Brown translates, on p. 370, Paul’s words recorded in Acts xxiv. 15, “having hope in God that there IS SOON TO BE a resurrection both of the just and the unjust;” and, resting upon these words and “the coming judgment” in v. 25, he says, ” it is evident that he (Paul) was still strong in the expectation of a parousia close at hand.” But of the nearness of the resurrection and judgment, Paul’s words in these two passages convey no hint. They simply note futurity.

The theory now before us is an attempt to remove a real difficulty in the New Testament, viz. the expectation expressed in a few passages that the return of Christ for which His early followers were waiting would take place during the lifetime of some of His contemporaries. But the explanation suggested is impossible. For it involves a violence to the plain grammatical meaning of a great part of the New Testament which would destroy the meaning of language and throw open to doubt the most definite assertions. Relief from an acknowledged difficulty cannot be purchased at this price.

The Expository Times, Volume 2

 By James Hastings
pp. 230-235

1. Vision of the Ages: Lectures on the Apocalypse.

By B. VV. Johnson. London: Office of the Christian Commonwealth. Cr. 8vo, pp. xiv, 360, 48.

2. The Revelation of St. John; The Baird Lecture,

1885. By William Milligan, D.D., Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism in the University of Aberdeen. London : Macmillan & Co. Cr. 8vo, pp. xix, 343. 1886, 75. 6d.

3. The Expositor’s Bible. The Book of Revelation.

By William Milligan, D.D., Professor of
Divinity and Biblical Criticism in the University
of Aberdeen. London : Hodder & Stoughton.
Cr. 8vo, pp. viii, 392. 1889, 75. 6d.

4. The Great Day of the Lord: A Survey of New

Testament Teaching on Chris fs Coming in His Kingdom, the Resurrection, and the Judgment of the Living and the Dead. By the Rev. Alexander Brown, Aberdeen. London: Hamilton, Adams, & Co. Cr. 8vo, pp. x, 260. 1890, 33. 6d.

5. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

The Revelation of St. John the Divine, mik
Notes and Introduction. By the late Rer
William Henry Simcox, M.A., Rector of
Harlaxton. Cambridge: At the University
Press. Cr. 8vo, pp. Ix, 174. 1890, 35.

6. The Practical Teaching of the Apocalypse. By

the Rev. G. V. Garland, Rector of Binstead Isle of Wight. London: Longmans, Green. & Co. 8vo, pp. x, 498. 1891, i6s

7. The Apocalypse: Its Structure and Primary

Predictions. By David Brown, D.D., Principal of the Free Church College, Aberdeen. London: Hodder & Stoughton. Cr. 8vo, pp. xi, 224. 1891, 55.

In respect of all books on the Apocalypse, the first question still is, What is their system of interpretation? There are three systems of interpretation, the Preterist, the Continuous, and the Futurist; to which, however, it now seems necessary to add a fourth, which may be called tk Idealist The words explain themselves. According to the Preterist system, the Apocalypse describes events of the writer’s own time, in particular the fall of Jerusalem and heathen Rome. These events are past for us. Some well-known commentators have held this view, as Ewald, Liicke, Moses Stuart, Maurice, S. Davidson, and Desprez. According to the Continuous (or Historical) system, the Apocalyptic visions relate to events which are spread over the whole history of the Church. Some have been fulfilled already, some are in process of fulfilment now, some await their fulfilment yet. It is a continuous prophecy, a foresight of the history of the world in respect at least of its great events. Bengel, Hengstenberg, Elliot, Wordsworth, Alford, Lee, are amongst the “Historical” interpreters. The Futurist theory has had few advocates of the first rank, the best known being Isaac Williams. The fulfilment of the prophecies in the Apocalypse still lies, it is said, in the future, beyond the second advent of Christ. Some separate the first three chapters of the book, though some look for their fulfilment also in the events of the Parousia. The Idealist method is comparatively recent, at least as a distinct consistent scheme of interpretation. The Apocalyptic visions are not predictions of definite events either in the past, present, or future. They are symbolic representations of great ideas or principles, which will manifest themselves in every age of the Church under every variety of circumstance.

Dr. Milligan of Aberdeen, if he has not invented the Idealist system of interpretation, has certainlybrought it into the rank of a regular system, and has identified himself very closely as an expositor with it. Besides the exposition of the Apocalypse in Schaff’s Commentary, he has written the two books named in the list above. The Baird lecture contains the principles of his interpretation, the Expositor’s Bible applies them in a series of discourses. His own words as to the scheme followed are these: “While the Apocalypse embraces the whole period of the Christian dispensation, it sets before us within this period the action of great principles and not special incidents. . . . This book thus becomes to us not a history of either early or mediaeval or last events, written of before they happened, but a spring of elevating encouragement and holy joy to Christians in every age” (Baird Lecture, p. 155). The system has not met with support hitherto. Indeed, it has been frequently and sharply criticised. But it is manifest that the value of Dr. Milligan’s books does not depend upon the validity of the system. The great principles are great principles, and are in the Apocalypse whether they are of\\. or not, and many passages of great beauty and eloquence will be found devoted to their elucidation and application.

Mr. Johnson is a “continuous” interpreter, and a more fearless and definite exponent of that scheme is not to be found. The first seal (Rev. vi. 2-4) describes “the glorious period of Roman history, A.d. 96 to A.d. 180.” The fifth vial (Rev. xvi. 10, n) represents “the uprising of Italy and the overthrow of the States of the Church, 1866 to 1880.” The events of the seventh vial (Rev. xvi. 18-21) “are yet future, and are followed by the total overthrow of Babylon, and the Millennium.” These are three instances chosen out of many where the time and event are equally precise. The system, as Dr. Davidson recently said, is not in favour at present,—though Principal Brown’s book (noticed elsewhere by Professor Banks) is historical also, but without the minuteness and precision of Mr. Johnson,—yet it has a great fascination. Dr. Milligan’s system, with all his skill, is dull reading in comparison. Mr.

Johnson is an American writer, and not only has thorough confidence in his method, but does actually bring about many most surprising results, so that it is by no means easy to avoid agreeing with him, and quite impossible to escape a keen interest in the progress of the work.

Mr. Simcox and Mr. Brown are Preterists. Mr. Simcox’s book was reviewed in The Expository Times for May by Professor A. B. Davidson. Mr. Brown’s deserves more notice than it is possible to give it. Outwardly most unattractive, it is in itself an exceedingly able and deeply interesting study of this strange book on the lines of interpretation which most prevail at present. Mr. Brown is both a scholar and an independent thinker, nor is his style less vigorous than his thought. He exposes the weak places in other schemes mercilessly, and he is watchful over the dangers which beset his own.

The last book on our list is Mr. Garland’s Practical Teaching of the Apocalypse. It is difficult to place; for it does not follow wholly any of the systems named. Its leading principle is undoubtedly idealist, for it discovers in the visions of the seer great principles to warn and guide the Church in every age. But it is not purely idealist, since it frequently finds these principles incarnated in actual events of past, present, and future ages. Of future ages also, for Mr. Garland becomes himself in some sense a seer, as when he sees rising out of the present political position in Ireland an establishment of the Roman Catholic religion over the British Isles. The practical teaching of the Apocalypse is, as Dr. Milligan also would say, teaching equally suited for every age of the world, and there are many earnest counsels in this volume for the end of the nineteenth century. But sometimes the practical teaching rests upon so surprising an interpretation, that one forgets the personal application in wonder at the ingenuity of the method which secures it.


The Apocalypse: its Structure and Primary Predictions. By David Brown, D.D. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1891. 55.

The venerable author gives us here some last words on the last and most difficult book of Scripture. He does not profess to give a complete exposition, but simply hints and key-words. Still, we are not left in doubt as to the line which a full exposition from his hands would take. He stands on the old ways with regard both to the date and the interpretation of the Apocalypse. The reasons

which satisfy Dr. Brown are stated with great clearness and vigour. All the features of the book for him tell against an early date. His conclusion is, “For myself I cannot believe it.” The difference in style is due to the difference of the subjectmatter (p. 11). So, as to the meaning of the book, Dr. Brown holds by a Pagan and a Papal persecution as the two fixed quantities. Expositors will scarcely go back to this position. But no satisfactory theory has yet been suggested in lieu of the old one. Certainly the “descriptive” interpretation, favoured by Dr. Milligan and others, is not likely to gain acceptance. The elementary truths which the book is supposed to teach “are themselves infinitely plainer than the book which we are told was written to enforce them.”

Dr. Brown reprints a reply which he wrote years ago to Sir W. Hamilton’s attack on the Apocalypse. “My only reason for reprinting it here is that it gives a number of curious and interesting biographical facts which it took me a good deal of time to hunt out, and which should not go quite out of sight.” The essay was worth reprinting also for other reasons. It is a capital specimen of hardhitting polemics.

Our author also is not sorry to break a lance with the Revisers over some of the readings they have accepted. He evidently thinks that Westcott and Hort’s canons have had too great influence. He discusses at length the “impossible” and “repulsive” reading in xv. 6 (p. 219). In other cases also Dr. Brown prefers the Authorised to the Revised reading, always assigning reasons. In one instance he differs from both versions, arranging xiii. 8 thus: “All whose names are not written from the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb that hath been slain.” The independence of treatment and vivacity of style are admirable throughout.—J. S. Banks.


The following Authors may be consulted with profit, although some of them are not in entire agreement with the views presented in this work :—

Abauzit—On the Apocalypse. London, 1730.

AhCASAR—Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocalypsi. 1614.

Bleek—Vorlesungen iiber die Apocalypse. 1862.

Bossuet—V Apocalypse. 1690.

Cowles, Prof. Henry, Oberlin, U.S.A. — The Revelation of John.

Crosby, Alpheus, D.D., Boston, U.S.A.

Desprez, P. S. — The Apocalypse Fulfilled. 1861.

De Wette—Kurze Erklarung, etc. 1862.

DiiSTERDIECK — Kritisch. Exeget. Handb. (Meyer’s Series). 1877.

ElCHHORN — Com. in Apocalypsin. 1791.

Ewald—Die fohan. Schriften. 1862.

Farrar, F. W., D.D.—The Early Days of Christianity. 1882.

Gebhardt—Doctrine of the Apocalypse.

Goodhart, C. A., M.A. — The Christian’s Inheritance. 1891.

Grotius, H.—Annotations. 1644.

Hammond—Annotations. 1653.

Hampden-cook, E., M.A. — The Christ Has Come. 1893.

Harenberg—Erklarung, etc. 1759.

Harris, J. Tindall—The Writings of the Apostle fohn. 1889.

Hartwig—Apologie der Offenbarung. 1759.

Herder—Maranatha. 1799.

Herrnschneider—Commentary, etc. 1786.

Hooper, F. J. B., B.A.— The Revelation of fesus Christ. 1861.

Lee, S., D.D.—On Prophecy. 1849.

Lucke—Com. on St. fohn. 1820-32.

Maurice, F. D., W.A. — The Apocalypse. 1861.

Newton, Thomas, D.D.—Dissertations, etc. 1754.

Renan, Ernest—L’Antechrisl. 1873.

Reuss, E., ~D.Y).—L’Apocalypse. 187S.

Russell, J. S., D.D. — The Parousia. 1878.

Stark, Robert— Order and Course of Divine Revelation. 1851.

Stephenson, J. A., M.A. — Christology. 1838.

Stuart, Moses, D.D. — The Apocalypse. 1864.

Townley, Robert—The Second Advent. 1845.

Warren, J. P., D.D. — The Parousia. 1878.

Wilkinson, W. J. P., of Exeter—Various Pamphlets.

ZiiLLlG—Die Offen. Johannis. 1834.

If the reader cares to go back to the earlier centuries he will find much to interest in the writings of Victorinus, TicHONius, I.actantius, and in Augustine’s City of God.

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