Home>Developed Systematic Postmillennialism – Dr. Daniel Whitby

Dr. Daniel Whitby

Developed Systematic Postmillennialism

“He was born at Rushden, Northamptonshire, in 1638, and was eminent for ability and honesty throughout his life.”

A Paraphrase and Commentary on The New Testament History of New Testament Research: Michaelis / Grotius / Lightfoot / Whitby | Annotations on the New Testament: Compiled from the Best Critical Authorities (1829) | A Treatise on the True Millennium

Preterist Commentaries By Modern Preterists

(On Matthew 8:11)
“To lie down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, doth not signify to enjoy everlasting happiness in heaven with them, but only to become the sons of Abraham through faith, Gal. iii. 7, and so to be blessed with faithful Abraham, ver. 9, to have the blessing of Abraham coming on them, that they may receive the promise of the spirit, ver. 14, through faith in Christ to be the seed of Abraham and heirs, according to the promise, ver. 29, viz. the promise made to Abraham, Gen. xii. 3, renewed to Isaac, Gen. xxvi. 4, and confirmed to Jacob, Gen. xxviii. 14, and to be, according to Isaac, the children of promise, Gal. iv. 28. This, says Christ, shall be the blessing of the believing Gentiles ; they shall be eons of Abraham, and heirs of the promises made to the patriarchs, and mentioned by all the holy prophets of the Old Testament ; whereas, the unbelieving Jews, wanting the faith of Abraham, shall be deprived of the blessings promised to his seed; for they who seek to enter, and shall not be able, because the Master has shut to his door, Luke xiii. 24, 25, are those Jews who sought for righteousness by the works of the law and not by faith, and therefore found it not, Rom. ix. 31, 32 ; vi. 7 ; who entered not into the rest prepared for them, by reason of their unbelief, Heb. iii. 18, 19 ; iv. 2, 5, 8 ; from whom the kingdom of God was taken away, Matt. xxi. 43 ; they are they who shall say to Christ, “we have eaten and drunk before thee, and thou hast taught in our streets,” Luke xiii. 26, which could be said only by the Jews.” (Com. in loc. )

(On Matthew 10:22)
“And ye also shall be hated of all the men of the world for my name’s sake ; but he that endureth to the end of these persecutions from the unbelieving Jews shall be saved from the dreadful destruction coming on them. But when they persecute you in this city, i. e. in any one city, flee ye into another; for verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel till the son of man be come with his Roman army to destroy that nation, and to burn up their cities.” (Par. in loc.)

(On Matthew 16:18)
“That sheol throughout the Old Testament, and hades in the Septuagint, answering to it, signify not the place of punishment, or of the souls of bad men only, but the grave only, or the place of death, appears, 1st, From the root of it, shoal, which signifies to ask, crave, and require, because it craves for all mea, Prov. xxx. 16, and will let no man escape its hands, Ps. Ixxxix. 48, it is that sheol or hades, whither we are all going, Eccles. ix. 10. The Hebrew sheol, saith Buxtorf, signifies in general the place of human bodies, when they are separated from their souls. The Greeks say, that hades is the place of the dead, saith Dr. Windet: it is o taphos, o tumbos, the tomb or sepulchre, saith Phavorinus. Thus, to go to the gates of hades, in Homer, is, saith the Scholiast, periphrasis thanatou, a description of deatli. He shall knock at the gates of hades, saith Theocritus : toutesti apothaneitai, he shall die, saith the Scholiast. See the note on Matt. xvi. 18.

2ndly, Because it is the place to which the good as well as the bad go, for they whose souls go upwards, descend into it; thither went Jacob, Gen. xxxvii. 35 ; there Job desired to be, chap. xiv. 13, for he knew that sheol was his house, chap. xvii. 13, and that to descend into the dust, was to descend into hades, where Olympiodorus brings him in speaking thus ; is not death common to all men ? is not hades the house of all men ? Hezeki- ah expected to be there after he went hence, for he said, I shall go to the gates of hades, Isa. xxxviii. 30,
that is, saith Jerome ‘ to those gates of which the Psalmist speaks, saying, Thou will lift me up from the gates of death. The ancient Greeks assigned one hades to all that died, and therefore say, pantas omou thnetous hades dechetai. Hades receives all mortal men together ; eis koinon haden panics exonsin brotoi, all men shall go to hades. , ‘

3dly, Had the penmen of the Old Testament meant by hades any receptacle of souls, they could not truly have declared there was no wisdom or knowledge in sheol, Eccles ix. 10, no remembrance of God there, Ps. vi. 6, no praising him in sheol, Isa. xxxviii. 18, for those heathen who looked upon it as the receptacle of souls, held it to be a place in which they would be punished or rewarded.’ Annot. in Acts ii. 27. ‘

The Hebrew sheol, and the Greek hades, which answers to it, in the translation of the Seventy, doth signify both in the Scriptures, the Jewish writers, and the ancient fathers, and more ancient heathens, the place and receptacle of the dead. Haden nekron chorion, ex- ponunt Greci, saith the learned Windate, — the Greeks call the place of the dead, hades. Haides o laphos, hades is the sepulchre, saith Hesychius. By sheol is not meant the place of the damned spirits, saith Mr. Ainsworth, but of all that go out of the world; whence in the Chaldee paraphrase it is styled the house of the grave or the place of burial. Accordingly the ancient Greeks assigned one hades to all that died, whence they so often say, all that die are in hades; all men shall go to hades. En hadon sunechontai psuchai, dikaion ie kai adikon, both just and unjust go to hades, saith Caius, a Roman presbyter.” (Annot. in Matt. xvi. 18.)

(On Matthew 22:7)
“The doctrine of the kingdom of heaven, preached to this nation, is like to find a success answerable unto that of a certain king who made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them who were to be bidden to the wedding, viz., the apostles, and the seventy sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Matt. x. 6, Luke x. 1, and being thus lovingly invited, they would not come. Wherefore he again sent forth other servants, viz., the apostles and the hundred and eight on whom the Holy Ghost fell, saying, Tell them that were bidden, behold I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready ; come, I pray you, to the marriage feast; But they made light of it, the invitation, and went their way, one to his farm, another to his merchandise. And the remnant of them took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew some of them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth, and he sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city ; and so will this spiritual king deal with those of this nation who not only refuse his invitation to partake of the blessings of the gospel, but also kill his messengers: he by the Roman army will destroy them, and their capital city. Then saith he to his servants, the wedding feast is ready, but they who were bidden were not worthy, and therefore shall not taste of this feast. Go ye therefore into the highways, to the dispersion of the Jews, and to the Gentiles, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So these servants went out into the highways, and gathered
together all, as many as they found, both bad and good, and the wedding was furnished with guests, and when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment, i. e., a faith and conversation answerable to the design of the gospel. And he saith to him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment ? And he was as one speechless. Then said the king to his servants, bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into utter darkness ; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth : so shall it be with the Jews, the children of the kingdom, Matt. viii. 12, Luke xiii. 28. For many of the Jews are called, hut few of them are chosen ; i. e., believers in the gospel. See note on 1 Peter, ii. 9.” (Par. in loc.)

(On Matthew 23:39)
“These words, by the connexion of them with the former, thus, behold your house is left unto you desolate, for I say, &c., seem manifestly to relate to the time of the destruction of the Jews, and to bear this sense : You who have now with so much indignation heard the children and people saluting me thus, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, after a while shall lie under so great calamities for the punishment of your infidelity, that you would be glad of a deliverer to whom you might say these words. This may also be gathered from the word api arti, after a while; for after Christ’s ascension they saw him not, till he came to the destruction of Jerusalem, which in the following chapter is so often styled the time of the coming of the Son of man ; the time when ap’ arti, after a while, they should see the Son of man coming in the clouds, Matt. xxvi. 64.” (Annot. in loc.)

(On Matthew 24:12)
“And ye shall be hated of all sorts of men for my name’s sake, but yet possess your souls in patience, Luke xxj. 19; for they that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved out of this calamity. But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, (chap. ix. 27,) standing where it ought not, i. e., the Roman army compassing Jerusalem, Luke xxi. 20, let him that readeth understand that her desolation draweth near ; and then let them that be in Judea flee into the mountains of Perea.” (Par. in Mark xiii. 13, 14. )

(On Matthew 24:42)
“This, by Dr. Hammond, seems to be well referred to the especial providence of God, discernable in those times, in rescuing some, who seemed equally exposed to danger, from the destruction which shall fall on others ; for that it relates not to the final judgment, but to the time of the destruction of the Jews by the Roman army, is evident from the same words recorded by St. Luke, chap. xvii. 35, 36. For there, the disciples ask their Lord, where shall this be ? and Christ answers, ver. 37, that where the carcase (i. e., the Jews,) are, there will the eagles (i. e., the Roman army, whose ensign was the eagle,) be gathered together. And hence it is also evident, that the following words being connected to these by the copulative oun, thus, watch therefore, must refer to the same subject.” (Annot. in loc.)

(On Matthew 24:45)
“Who therefore is that faithful and wise servant, &c., i. e., the servant who continues constant in the service of his Lord, under all the persecutions and abounding iniquities of those times, he shall make him ruler over all his goods; i. e., shall greatly reward his faithfulness, as this phrase signifies, chap. xxv. 21, 23; for that this phrase cannot import his advancement to the highest dignities in the church, is evident from this, that then all that continued faithful to Christ, in those times of trial, must have been made Bishops. The evil servant here mentioned seems to be the apostatizing Jew, who, having deserted the faith himself, was instrumental to smite his fellow-servants, and to betray them to the enemies of Christianity, as our Lord foretold it would be, Matt. x. 21, xxiv. 10.

And that which induced them thus to apostatize, was this very imagination, that our Lord delayed his coming, to deliver them, and execute the judgments here foretold, 2 Pet. iii. 4 ; whence the apostles encourage them to perseverance, by saying, It is but yet a little while, and he that cometh will come, and will not tarry, Heb. x. 27, and that the Judge stands at the door, Jas. v. 9, and the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, ver. 8. And shall cut him asunder: This was the punishment inflicted by Samuel on Agag, the enemy of God’s people, 1 Sam. xv. 33, and by David on the Ammonites, 2 Sam. xii. 31, and by Trajan, the Roman Emperor, on the rebellious Jews. It was by Nebuchadnezzar threatened to the blasphemers of the true God, Dan. iii. 29, and by young Daniel, to the false accusers of Susanna, ver. 55, 59. It was used of old, to those who were false to their creditors, saith Tertullian; to rebels, and betrayers of their country, and that not only in the east, but among the Romans, as we learn from Suetonius, in the life of Caius; from Horace, and from Dio; and by the Greeks, as we learn from Homer, from Sophocles, and from Aristophanes; and in Egypt, as we learn from Herodotus. And therefore this punishment, saith Christ, will I inflict on those who are perfidious in their covenant of baptism, and enemies to my government.” (Annot. in loc.)

(On Matthew 25:14)
“Of this parable, as it respects the master travelling into a far country, and the servants to whom the talents were delivered, see note on Luke xix. 12, where it is also proved that it relates to the Jewish nation, and therefore is here mentioned after Christ’s prediction of the dreadful judgments which should befal that nation, for murdering their Messiah, and not improving the day of their visitation.” (Annot. in loc.)

“The parable here, as it respects our Lord Christ going into afar country to receive a kingdom, and return again, either respects his going to heaven to sit down at the right hand of God in majesty and glory, and so take possession of his mediatory kingdom, and the return to punish the unbelieving and obdurate Jews ; or going by his apostles and disciples to erect a kingdom among the Gentiles, and then coming, as it were, back to punish the Jews, according to these words of his, the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached throughout the world for a testimony to all nations, and then shall the end (of the Jewish polity) come. Matt. xxiv. 14. ‘ This parable doth certainly respect the Jewish nation, as appears, (1.) Because they are here said to reject Christ’s kingdom, saying, we will not have this man to reign over us ; and upon this account are styled his enemies, and devoted to destruction by him, which agrees still only to the Jews, ver. 27. (2.) To them is threatened the punishment of the unprofitable servants, to wit, to be cast out into utter darkness, &c., Matt. viii. 12 ; xxii. 13 ; Luke xiii. 28 ; Matt. xxv. 30. In fine, it is expressly said, he therefore spake this parable to them, because they thought the kingdom of God should immediately appear, vs. 11 and 12.” (Annot. in Luke, xix. 12.)

(On Luke 13:3)
“I tell you nay ; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish, for the same cause, and many of you after the same manner.”  Ye shall likewise perish: That is, says Grotius, among the ruins of the city, of which that tower was a part, they perishing in Jerusalem, verse 4, or rather among the ruins of the towers of the city, and the temple.” (Par. and Note in loc.)

(On Romans 9:22)
“What injustice, therefore, is it, in God, to deal with you as he dealt with an hardened Pharaoh, you having as oft refused to hearken to his voice, as Pharaoh did ‘I Or, what if he long hath, and still at present bears with, such vessels of wrath, filted for destruction, till in a more illustrious manner, and with more signal marks of his displeasure, for thus rejecting the gospel and the promised Messiah, he swallow up their nation, their people, their temple, and their holy city, in one general destruction ? Is it not for the glory of the divine power and wisdom, to reserve the rejectors of the Messiah sent to bless them, and the persecutors of the Christian faith, to be at last cut off with such a remarkable destruction, as shall render it visible to the world, that God’s indignation is incensed against them for this sin, and so shall give to Jew and Gentile a farther motive to believe in Jesus ?” (Annot. in loc.)

(On 1 Thessalonians 2:16)
“Our Lord had said to them, fill ye up the measure of your fathers, by adding to the murder of the prophets, the murder of me, and of those prophets and wise men I shall send to you, Matt. xxiii. 32—35, that upon you of this generation may come all the blood shed from Abel to this present time, Luke xi. 49, 51. This prediction, saith the apostle, is now fulfilled ; and they, by fulfilling it, have filled up the measure of their sins; and God’s wrath is so incensed against them, that it will now destroy their church and nation to the uttermost; so that it shall not be now as formerly, when they were sometimes in bondage, and again in freedom from their enemies — sometimes were captives, and then returned again, after seventy years, to their own land, found God for awhile angry, and anon, reconciled to them. But this wrath shall now remain upon them to the uttermost, till the times of the Gentiles are come in, Luke xxi. 24. See note on Kom. xi. 25. Or, till they be consumed: — so the phrase is used often in the Old Testament, as Num. xvii. 13 ; Josh. viii. 24 ; x. 20 ; i. e., God’s wrath hath begun to fall upon them, and they will still continue under it, till they be consumed by it.” (Annot. in loc.)

(On 2 Thessalonians 2:3)
“The son of perdition: this also perfectly agrees to the Jews, not only because Christ was to smite them with the breath of his mouth, see note on ver. 8, and to smite the land with a curse, Mai. iv. 6, but because they are set forth as vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction, Rom. ix. 22, as men appointed to wrath, 1 Thess. v. 9, to sudden destruction, ver. 4, as men whose end is destruction, Phil. iii. 19. Note also that this agrees exactly to the great whore, who is to go into destruction, Rev. xvii. 8, 11.” (Annot. in loc.)

(On Hebrews 10:25)
“The day approaching, (ver. 25.;) i. e., the day of the Lord’s coming to destroy the unbelieving Jews, and to execute his vengeance on them, for rejecting and crucifying their Messiah, styled by St. Luke, the days of vengeance, chap. xxi. 22. The day of the Lord’s coming which who can bear ? saith the prophet, Mai. iii. 2 ; the day burning like an oven ; the-day coming that shall so burn up them that do wickedly, as not to leave them root or branch, Mai. iv. 1 ; the day of the Lord drawing near, when all the inhabitants of the land shall tremble, Joel ii. 1 ; the great and terrible day of the Lord, vs. 11, 31, the day of the Son of Man. That this is the meaning of the place, will appear from the scope of the apostle, which is to terrify them he writes to, by the consideration of that dreadful day of vengeance threatened to the unbelieving Jews, not only by our Lord, but their own prophets, and now near at hand; as it follows from ver 26, to ver. 31.” (Annot. in loc.)

(On James 2:13)
“For he shall have judgment without mercy, who hath showed no mercy, and so hath highly thwarted the great law of love; and mercy rejoiceth against, or triumpheth over judgment, i. e., enables the man to rejoice, as being free from the judgment of condemnation from that God, who, to the merciful, will show himself merciful, Psalm xviii. 27. ‘ Of this mercy, the Jews were so unmindful, that Josephus having said, they violated the laws of nature, and polluted the divinity with their injustice towards men, he adds, that no good affection was so entirely lost among men, as that of mercy.” (Par. and Annot. in loc.)

(On 1 Peter 4:17)
“For the time is come, that judgment must, according to our Lord’s prediction — Matt. xxiv. 21, 22; Mark xiii. 13; Luke xxi. 16, If—begin at the house of God ; and if it first begin at us — believing Jews, what will be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God'( And if some of the righteous scarcely be saved, i. e., preserved from this burning, ver. 12, being saved, yet so as by fire, 1 Cor. iii. 15— where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear in safety from these dreadful judgments which are coming on the Jewish nation ? Prov. xi. 31.” (Annot. in loc.)

(2 Peter 3 is not about the Destruction of Jerusalem)
“And that it is not true, has been shewn by Michaelis, from the following considerations. First, St. Peter represents the fact for which he argues, as possible, by appealing to the deluge. Now no man would appeal to the deluge, to shew the possibility that a city may be taken and destroyed: but we may very properly argue, that, as the earth has already undergone a material change, so it may undergo another change equally great. And what St. Peter says is consonant to the Jewish theology, in which was taught the doctrine, that the earth was destined to suffer two grand revolutions, the one effected by water, the other to be effected by fire. See Joseph. Ant. 1. iii. 3. Secondly, no one could doubt that Jerusalem would be destroyed merely because the destruction was delayed longer than he expected, and still less because all things continued as they were from the beginning of the creation. This ground of doubt manifestly implies, that the question related to a revolution of the earth. Thirdly, we know of no heretics who called in question Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem. And, even if there were such, it is hardly credible that St. Peter should write an epistle to persons who were bom heathens, and lived in the northern part of Asia Minor, to prove an event with which they had little or no concern. Fourthly, what St. Peter says, ch. iii. 8, that’ One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,’ is not very applicable to an event which was to take place within six or seven years after St. Peter wrote. Lastly, if we explain what St. Peter says, as relating to the destruction of Jerusalem, we must take his expressions in a figurative sense; but figurative language, though it is well adapted to prophecy, such as that which is recorded Matt, xiv, is not very suitable to a plain doctrinal dissertation, especially to one delivered in the form of an epistle.” (II Peter Introduction, vol. iv. p. 357.)


N. Nisbett

J.P. Dabney (1829)
Matthew 10 “23. Till the Son of man be come : Le Clerc supposes that this coming, in the present instance, can only well be referred to the destruction of the Jewish state and of Jerusalem ; and so also Whitby. Grotius would understand it of the full effusion of the Holy Spirit at the day of Pentecost ; while Priestley, less naturally and probably than either, applies it to Christ’s second coming, to raise the dead and judge the world. For this explication, he assigns no reasons.” (Annotations on the New Testament:compiled from the best critical authorities, p. 18)

Matthew 16: “28. Coming to his kingdom : so Wakefield. ” Or, — coming to reign, meaning probably till they shall see the Christian religion established in the world.” Mss. Notes. See Note on Ch. x. 7- This coming of Christ, however, is very variously understood. Hammond refers it to the great destruction of Jerusalem (as in Matt. xxiv. 3) ; Whitby, to the last day, from the similarity of the language used, to that of Matt. xxv. 31; 2 Thes. i. 7 ; Matt. xiii. 41. Grotius supposes it to signify the first manifestation of Christ’s power, by his resurrection, ascension, and sending the Holy Spirit, which our Lord declares would speedily take place. It is the common opinion of critics, that in the minds of the disciples, the destruction of the Jewish state and the final judgment were frequently conjoined, from the near resemblance in the language used by our Saviour, in respect to both. ” (ibid, p. 28)

Henry Alford
“16.On the other hand, some have regarded the prophecy as one already fulfilled.  So Grotius, Wetstein, Le Clerc, Whitby, Schöttgen, Nösselt, Krause, and Harduin.  All these concur in referring the “advent of the Lord” to the coming of Christ in the destruction of Jerusalem“. 

21. Whitby takes the Jewish people for Antichrist, and finds in the apostasy the falling away of the Jewish converts to their old Judaism, alluded to in the Epistle to the Hebrews (iii. 12-14 ; iv. 11 ; vi. 4-6 ; x. 26,27 al. fr.).  His “hinderer” is “the Emperor Claudius, who will let till he be taken away, i.e. he will hinder the Jews from breaking out into an open rebellion in his time, they being so signally and particularly obliged by him, that they cannot for shame think of revolting from his government.”

“All these preterist interpretations have against them one fatal objections :- that it is impossible to conceive of the destruction of Jerusalem as in any sense corresponding to the Lord’s coming, in St. Paul’s sense of the term : see especially, as bearing immediately on this passage, 1 Thess. ii. 19; iii. 13 ; iv. 15 ; v. 23.”  (The New Testament for English Readers, First Thessalonians, Introduction, p 86)

William Whiston
“Dr. Whitby well observes, no small part of the evidence for the truth of the Christian religion does depend upon the ‘completions’ of the prophecies, and it is believed ‘Josephus’ history‘ furnishes a record of ‘their exact completions’ ” (pg. 589)

Daniel Whitby (1638-1726) was an English theologian. An Arminian minister in the Church of England, Whitby was known for being strongly anti-Calvinistic and later gave evidence of strong Arian and Unitarian tendencies. In 1710 he had written his Discourse on the Five Points [of Calvinism] which eventually drew Calvinist responses from English Baptist John Gill in his The Cause of God and Truth (1735) and American Congregationalist Jonathan Edwards in his Freedom of the Will (1754).

Whitby is considered by many to be the one who systemetized postmillennialism although seeds of this millennialist belief were sown long before with persons such as Augustine. Although Whitby may have been an Arminian minister, postmillennialism is now commonly associated with Calvinist and Covenental churches, specifically Reconstructionist churches.

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