That the Roman Power took away the Daily Sacrifice, and cast down the place of its Sanctuary, it is impossible to doubt. Titus, during the reign of his father Vespasian desolated Jerusalem by destroying both the City and the Sanctuary
1509 – 1564
But we are now treating of a profanation of the temple, which should prove, if I may use the phrase, eternal and irreparable. Without the slightest doubt, this prophecy was fulfilled when the city was captured and overthrown, and the temple utterly destroyed by Titus the son of Vespasian. This satisfactorily explains the events here predicted.
“Our readers will remember, that as an expositor of prophecy, Calvin is a Praeterist, and that his general system of interpretation is as remote from the year-day theory of Birks, Faber, and others, as from the futurist speculations of Maitland, Tyso, and Todd. Notwithstanding the disagreement between these Lectures and the writings of Birks, we strongly recommend their perusal by every student who would become thoroughly proficient in the prophecies of Daniel. The first step towards progress, is to surrender all our preconceived notions, and to prepare for the possibility of their vanishing away before the force of sanctified reason and all-pervading truth.” (Calvin was a Preterist)
- Calvin’s Commentaries on the Whole Bible – He makes hence a transition to another exhortation, that we are to lay hold on that kingdom which cannot be shaken; for the Lord shakes us for this end, that he may really and forever establish us in himself.
- 1555: John Calvin, The Seventh Sermon upon the first Chapter of Deuteronomie
- 1555: John Calvin, Harmony on the Evangelists – He makes hence a transition to another exhortation, that we are to lay hold on that kingdom which cannot be shaken; for the Lord shakes us for this end, that he may really and forever establish us in himself.
- 1833: David Thom, Calvinism Identified with Universalism, V1 | V2 (PDF)
- 1852: Calvin was a Preterist — According to his Translator – Calvin, then, was, on the whole, a Preterist. He saw in the history of the world before the times of the Messiah the fulfillment of the Visions of this Book. They extended from Nebuchadnezzar to Nero.
- 1855: G.L. Stone, The Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy – Readers of the following pages who are acquainted with the works of the late Dr. Samuel Lee, on Prophecy, will recognise his views, and sometimes his language. Where the author differs from him, on questions connected with this subject, this will be pointed out, and the reasons given. It may as well be stated also here, that the Professor appears to have been more indebted to Calvin than he seemed to be aware of; while the valuable labours of Grotius and Hammond — indeed, it may be added, of Bossuet and Calmet—immensely helped towards the same conclusion.
- 1890: C.H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries – Of all commentators I believe John Calvin to be the most candid
- 1994: Sang Hwan Lee, The revelation of the Triune God in the theologies of John Calvin and Karl Barth (pdf)
- 2001: H.L. Nigro, Response to the Preterist Position as Outlined in Sproul – Early historians report that false messiahs were epidemic in the first century. For example, John Calvin wrote, “for shortly after Christ’s resurrection, there arose imposters, every one of whom professed to be the Christ…Josephus tells us `the country was full of robbers, magicians, false prophets, false Messiahs, and impostors, who deluded the people with promises of great events.
- 2002: Parnell McCarter, Questions That Should Be Asked of Preterists – John Calvin offers a most insightful explanation of this 490 year period prophesied in Daniel, which he views as expiring in the years immediately following Christ’s resurrection. Here is an extended excerpt
- 2004: Glen Kreider, Jonathan Edwards’s Interpretation of Revelation 4:1-8:1 – David Holwerda notes that “even when a prophecy points to a final future event in the eyes of most interpreters, Calvin usually insists that it is already being fulfilled.. The millennial belief assumes that Christ will reign visibly on the not-yet-renewed earth for a limited period of time. But Calvin believes that the perfected kingdom already exists in Christ, that it is eternal and includes the renovation of the world. Consequently, Christ’s visible appearance can mean only the final revelation of a perfected kingdom.”
- 2008: Jay Rogers, In the Days of These Kings – The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective – Obviously Calvin was a preterist with respect to Daniel. | At Google Books
- 2012: John MacArthur, Calvinism, Prophecy, and Premillennialism – Though Calvin strongly advocated the literal approach, he was inconsistent in the application of that hermeneutic.
MAIN ARTICLE COLLECTION
Typically Organized by Author’s First Name
Some ostensibly Reformed Christians rabidly devour “consistent preterism” (read: consistent heresy) repudiating the physical second Advent of Christ and the physical resurrection of the Christian–it’s the new wave in the Reformed world, somewhat akin to Rap music and body-piercing among modern pagans.
Calvin, then, was, on the whole, a Preterist. He saw in the history of the world before the times of the Messiah the fulfillment of the Visions of this Book. They extended from Nebuchadnezzar to Nero.
the Reformers did not develop the doctrines of eschatology, at least not very far. Witness the fact that neither Luther nor Calvin produced a commentary on the book of Revelation. They basically repeated what the church had held for over a thousand years.
Examples could be multiplied, in every field. The whole rise of Western Civilization—science and technology, medicine, the arts, constitutionalism, the jury system, free enterprise, literacy, increasing productivity, a rising standard of living, the high status of women—is attributable to one major fact: the West has been transformed by Christianity.
Calvin comments that Christ here “threatens the destruction of the temple, and the dissolution of the whole frame of civil government” among those first-century apostates.
There are abundant clues provided in scripture that the Great Day of Judgment would come long after the Apostolic era
He makes hence a transition to another exhortation, that we are to lay hold on that kingdom which cannot be shaken; for the Lord shakes us for this end, that he may really and forever establish us in himself.
That is the cause why he setteth them before us after that fashion. And we see also how our Lord Jesus speaketh of himselfe, in bewayling the destruction of the Citie of Jerusalem
premillennialism is the result of the consistent application of literal hermeneutics. Though Calvin strongly advocated the literal approach, he was inconsistent in the application of that hermeneutic.
Calvin goes on to state that Zechariah is “employing a highly figurative language” by which he “accommodates himself, as I have said, to the capacity of our flesh.”
First, dispensationalists do not deny the Lord was predicting the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in A. D. 70. This is seen in all three Synoptic Gospels.
(On proto-Full Preterism)
“Here we must guard against the diabolical imagination of Servetus, who, from a wish, or at least the pretence of a wish, to extol the greatness of Christ, abolishes the promises entirely, as if they had come to an end at the same time with the Law. He pretends, that by the faith of the Gospel all the promises have been fulfilled; as if there was no distinction between us and Christ. I lately observed that Christ had not left any part of our salvation incomplete; but from this it is erroneously inferred, that we are now put in possession of all the blessings purchased by him; thereby implying, that Paul was incorrect in saying, “We are saved by hope,” (Rom. 3:24). I admit, indeed, that by believing in Christ we pass from death unto life; but we must at the same time remember the words of John, that though we know we are “the sons of God,” “it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is,” (1 John 3:2). Therefore, although Christ offers us in the Gospel a present fulness of spiritual blessings, fruition remains in the keeping of hope, until we are divested of corruptible flesh, and transformed into the glory of him who has gone before us. Meanwhile, in leaning on the promises, we obey the command of the Holy Spirit, whose authority ought to have weight enough with us to silence all the barkings of that impure dog. We have it on the testimony of Paul, that “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” (1 Tim. 4:8); for which reason, he glories in being “an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:1). And he elsewhere reminds us, that we have the same promises which were given to the saints in ancient time (2 Cor. 7:1). In fine, he makes the sum of our felicity consist in being sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Indeed we have no enjoyment of Christ, unless by embracing him as clothed with his own promises. Hence it is that he indeed dwells in our hearts and yet we are as pilgrims in regard to him, because “we walk by faith, not by sight,” (2 Cor. 5:6, 7). There is no inconsistency in the two things—viz. that in Christ we possess every thing pertaining to the perfection of the heavenly life, and yet that faith is only a vision “of things not seen,” (Heb. 11:1). Only there is this difference to be observed in the nature or quality of the promises, that the Gospel points with the finger to what the Law shadowed under types.
“Hence, also, we see the error of those who, in comparing the Law with the Gospel, represent it merely as a comparison between the merit of works, and the gratuitous imputation of righteousness. The contrast thus made is by no means to be rejected, because, by the term Law, Paul frequently understands that rule of holy living in which God exacts what is his due, giving no hope of life unless we obey in every respect; and, on the other hand, denouncing a curse for the slightest failure. This Paul does when showing that we are freely accepted of God, and accounted righteous by being pardoned, because that obedience of the Law to which the reward is promised is nowhere to be found. Hence he appropriately represents the righteousness of the Law and the Gospel as opposed to each other. But the Gospel has not succeeded the whole Law in such a sense as to introduce a different method of salvation. It rather confirms the Law, and proves that every thing which it promised is fulfilled. What was shadow, it has made substance. When Christ says that the Law and the Prophets were until John, he does not consign the fathers to the curse, which, as the slaves of the Law, they could not escape. He intimates that they were only imbued with the rudiments, and remained far beneath the height of the Gospel doctrine. Accordingly Paul, after calling the Gospel “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” shortly after adds, that it was “witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,” (Rom. 1:16; 3:21). And in the end of the same Epistle, though he describes “the preaching of Jesus Christ” as “the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began,” he modifies the expression by adding, that it is “now made manifest” “by the scriptures of the prophets,” (Rom. 16:25, 26). Hence we infer, that when the whole Law is spoken of, the Gospel differs from it only in respect of clearness of manifestation. Still, on account of the inestimable riches of grace set before us in Christ, there is good reason for saying, that by his advent the kingdom of heaven was erected on the earth (Mt. 12:28).” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book Two, Chapter Nine)
(On Genesis 2:3)
“Afterwards, in the Law, a new precept concerning the Sabbath was given, which should be peculiar to the Jews, and but for a season; because it was a legal ceremony shadowing forth a spiritual rest, the truth of which was manifested in Christ. Therefore the Lord the more frequently testifies that he had given, in the Sabbath, a symbol of sanctification to his ancient people. Therefore when we hear that the Sabbath was abrogated by the coming of Christ we must distinguish between what belongs to the perpetual government of human life, and what properly belongs to ancient figures, the use of which was abolished when the truth was fulfilled.” (Commentary on Genesis, 2:3)
(On Hebrews 1:2)
“It is in this sense that the Apostles take the last times and the last days. And Paul means the same when he says, “Upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11.) If God then has spoken now for the last time, it is right to advance thus far; so also when you come to Christ, you ought not to go farther: and these two things it is very needful for us to know. For it was a great hindrance to the Jews that they did not consider that God had deferred a fuller revelation to another time; hence, being satisfied with their own Law, they did not hasten forward to the goal. But since Christ has appeared, an opposite evil began to prevail in the world; for men wished to advance beyond Christ. What else indeed is the whole system of Popery but the overleaping of the boundary which the Apostle has fixed? As, then, the Spirit of God in this passage invites all to come as far as Christ, so he forbids them to go beyond the last time which he mentions. In short, the limit of our wisdom is made here to be the Gospel.” (http://www.ccel.org/c/calvin/comment3/comm_vol44/htm/vii.htm)
(On the Earthly 1,000 Year Reign)
“But a little later there followed the chiliasts, who limited the reign of Christ to a thousand years. Now their fiction is too childish either to need or to be worth a refutation” (3.25.5)
(On the Little Horn)
Why, therefore, does the Prophet say the little horn waged war with the saints? Antiochus certainly made war against the Church, and so did many others; the Egyptians, we know, often broke in and spoiled the Temple and the Romans too, before the monarchy of the Caesars. I reply, this is spoken comparatively, because no war was ever carried on so continuously and professedly against the Church, as those which occurred after the Caesars arose, and after Christ was made manifest to the world; for the devil was then more enraged, and God also relaxed the reins to prove the patience of his people. Lastly, it was natural for the bitterest conflicts to occur when the redemption of the world was carried out; and the event clearly showed this. We know first of all, by horrid examples, how Judea was laid waste, for never was such cruelty practiced against any other people. Nor was the calamity of short duration; we are well acquainted with their extreme obstinacy, which compelled their enemies to forget clemency altogether. For the Romans desired to spare them as far as possible, but so great was their obstinacy and the madness of their rage, that they provoked their enemies as if devoting themselves to destruction, until that dreadful slaughter happened, of which history has sufficiently informed us. When Titus, under the auspices of his father Vespasian, tools: and destroyed the city, the Jews were stabbed and slaughtered like cattle throughout the whole extent of Asia. Thus far, then, it concerns the Jews.
When God had inserted the body of the Gentiles into his Church, the cruelty of the Caesars embraced all Christians; thus the little horn waged war with the saints in a manner different from that of the former beasts, because the occasion was different, and the wrath of Satan was excited against all God’s children on account of the manifestation of Christ. This, then, is the best explanation of the little horn, waging war against the saints. Thus he says, It must prevail. For the Caesars and all who governed the provinces of the empire raged with such extreme violence against the Church, that it almost disappeared from the face of the earth. And thus it happened, that the little horn prevailed in appearance and in general opinion, as, for a short time, the safety of the Church was almost despaired of.”
(On the Coming of Christ)
“..wee must alwayes remember the comming of our lord Iesus Christ. For were it not for this, we should faint euerie minute of an houre.. there is no other meanes to confirme vs to stande stedfastly, and to follow the right way, but onely to know, that our Lorde Iesus Christ will come and restore all things that are now out of square.. True it is, that according to our fleshly senses, it cannot sinke into our heades that the comming of our Lord Iesus Christ is at hand.. And though our flesh be not able to reach vnto it, yet we must beholde it with the eyes of faith.. let vs loue this comming of the Sonne of God..” (Sermons on the Epistles of S. Paule to Timothie and Titus, pp. 994-996)
“By the coming of the kingdom of God we are to understand the manifestation of heavenly glory, which Christ began to make at his resurrection, and which he afterwards made more fully by sending the Holy Spirit, and by the performance of miracles; for by those beginnings he gave his people a taste of the newness of the heavenly life, when they perceived, by certain and undoubted proofs, that he was sitting at the right hand of the Father.”
(On the Resurrection)
“It remains to make a passing remark on the mode of resurrection. I speak thus because Paul, by styling it a mystery, exhorts us to soberness, in order that he may curb a licentious indulgence in free and subtle speculation. First, we must hold, as has already been observed, that the body in which we shall rise will be the same as at present in respect of substance, but that the quality will be different; just as the body of Christ which was raised up was the same as that which had been offered in sacrifice, and yet excelled in other qualities, as if it had been altogether different. This Paul declares by familiar examples, (1 Corinthians 15:39.) For as the flesh of man and of beasts is the same in substance, but not in quality: as all the stars are made of the same matter, but have different degrees of brightness: so he shows, that though we shall retain the substance of the body, there will be a change, by which its condition will become much more excellent. The corruptible body, therefore, in order that we may be raised, will not perish or vanish away, but, divested of corruption, will be clothed with incorruption. Since God has all the elements at his disposal, no difficulty can prevent him from commanding the earth, the fire, and the water, to give up what they seem to have destroyed. This, also, though not without figure, Isaiah testifies, “Behold, the Lore comes out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain,” (Isaiah 26:21.) But a distinction must be made between those who died long ago, and those who on that day shall be found alive. For as Paul declares, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” (1 Corinthians 15:51😉 that is, it will not be necessary that a period should elapse between death and the beginning of the second life, for in a moment of time, in the twinkling of an eye, the trumpet shall sound, raising up the dead incorruptible, and, by a sudden change, fitting those who are alive for the same glory. So, in another passage, he comforts believers who were to undergo death, telling them that those who are then alive shall not take precedence of the dead, because those who have fallen asleep in Christ shall rise first, (1 Thessalonians 4:15.) Should any one urge the Apostle’s declaration, “It is appointed unto all men once to die,” (Hebrews 9:27,) the solution is easy, that when the natural state is changed there is an appearance of death, which is fitly so denominated, and, therefore, there is no inconsistency in the two things, viz., that all when divested of their mortal body shall be renewed by death; and yet that where the change is sudden, there will be no necessary separation between the soul and the body.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, pp. 1111-1114)
“For, lo, I will create new heavens and a new earth. By these metaphors he promises a remarkable change of affairs; as if God had said that he has both the inclination and the power not only to restore his Church, but to restore it in such a manner that it shall appear to gain new life and to dwell in a new world. These are exaggerated modes of expression; but the greatness of such a blessing, which was to be manifested at the coming of Christ, could not be described in any other way. Nor does he mean only the first coming, but the whole reign, which must be extended as far as to the last coming, as we have already said in expounding other passages.” (John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, Vol., 3, Calvin’s Commentaries, 23 volumes, Vol., 8 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, reprinted 1979), 397-398.)
“Sith wee see this, let us learne to magnify the goodnesse and infinite grace of our God better than wee have done heretofore, and let every of us awake and inforce himselfe to consider them throughly. For wherefore is it that our God transfigureth himselfe in such sorte, but to reprove our unthankfulnesse, because we be so over grosse and dullheaded, as we let the benefites slip which he bestoweth upon us, and digest them not to conceive the goodnesse of them, and to take heede of them? That is the cause why he setteth them before us after that fashion. And we see also how our Lord Jesus speaketh of himselfe, in bewayling the destruction of the Citie of Jerusalem (Matt 23:37). Howe oft (saieth he) would I have gathered thy little ones under my winges, and thou wouldest not? There our Lord Jesus speaketh not as man: but sheweth that inasmuch as he is the everlasting God, he played the part of a henne towardes the Jewes, and had his winges stretched out to have brooded them: and that they on their side played the wylde beastes that woulde not bee tamed. When wee shall once have knowen the favour of our God towardes us: let us beware that it be not so defaced as we may justly bee tamed. ” (1555, 7th Sermon on Deut. 1)
“For God had promised two things seemingly opposite; that the throne of David would be eternal, (Psalm 89:29, 36,) and that, after it had been destroyed, he would raise up its ruins, (Amos 9:11😉 that the sway of his kingly power would be eternal, and yet that there should come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, (Isaiah 11:1.) Both must be fulfilled. That supremacy, therefore, which God had bestowed on the tribe of Judah, was suffered by him to be broken down for a time, that the attention of the people might be more strongly directed to the expectation of Christ’s reign. But when the destruction of the Sanhedrim appeared to have cut off the hope of believers, suddenly the Lord shone forth.” (Commentary on the Harmony of the Gospels)
(On Matthew 24:15 | Abomination of Desolation)
“Inconsequence of the obscurity of this passage it has been twisted in a variety of ways. At the end of the ninth chapter I have shewn the impossibility of its referring to the profanation of the Temple which occurred under the tyranny of Antiochus; on this occasion the angel bears witness to such a complete destruction of the Temple, as to leave no room for the hope of its repair and restoration. Then the circumstances of the time convinces us of this. For he then said, Christ shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, and shall cause the sacrifices and oblation to cease. Afterwards, the abomination that stupifieth shall be added,and desolation or stupor, and then death will distill, says he, upon the astonished or stupefied one. The angel, therefore, there treats of the perpetual devastation of the Temple. So in this passage, without doubt;, he treats of the period after the destruction of the Temple; there could be no hope of restoration, as the law with all its ceremonies would then arrive at its termination. With this view Christ quotes this passage in Matthew 24, while he admonishes his hearers diligently to attend to it. Let him who reads, understand, says he. We have stated this prophecy to be obscure, and hence it requires no ordinary degree of the closest attention. First of all, we must hold this point; the time now treated by the angel begins at the last destruction of the Temple. That devastation happened as soon as the gospel began to be promulgated. God then deserted his Temple, because it was only founded for a time, and was but a shadow, until the Jews so completely violated the whole covenant that no sanctity remained in either the Temple, the nation, or the land itself. Some restrict this to those standards which Tiberius erected on the very highest pinnacle of the Temple, and others to the statue of Caligula, but I have already stated my view of these opinions as too forced. I have no hesitation in referring this language of the angel to that profanation of the Temple which happened after the manifestation of Christ, when sacrifices ceased, and the shadows of the law were abolished. From the time,therefore, at which the sacrifice really ceased to be offered; this refers to the period at which Christ by his advent should abolish the shadows of the law, thus making all offering of sacrifices to God totally valueless.From that time, therefore. Next, from the time at which the stupefying abomination shall have been set up. God’s wrath followed the profanation of the Temple. The Jews never anticipated the final cessation of their ceremonies, and always boasted in their peculiar external worship, and unless God had openly demonstrated it before their eyes, they would never have renounced their sacrifices and rites as mere shadowy representations. Hence Jerusalem and their Temple were exposed to the vengeance of the Gentiles. This, therefore, was the setting up of this stupefying abomination; it was a clear testimony to the wrath of God, exhorting the Jews in their confusion to boast no longer in their Temple and its holiness.” (Commentary)
(On Daniel 12:2)
“The angel seems here to mark a transition from the commencement of the preaching of the gospel, to the final day of the resurrection, without sufficient occasion for it. For why does he pass over the intermediate time during which many events might be the subject of prophecy? He unites these two subjects very fitly and properly, connecting the salvation of the Church with the final resurrection and with the second coming of Christ. Wheresoever we may look around us, we never meet with any source of salvation on earth. The angel announces the salvation of all the elect.” (Commentary)
(On Matthew 24:34)
“The meaning therefore is: “This prophecy does not relate to evils that are distant, and which posterity will see after the lapse of many centuries, but which are now hanging over you, and ready to fall in one mass, so that there is no part of it which the present generation will not experience.” (in loc.)
“For within fifty years the city was destroyed and the temple was razed, the whole country was reduced to a hideous desert, and the obstinacy of the world rose up against God.” (Commentary on the Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol. 3, trans. by William Pringle (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949), 151.
(On I Corinthians 7:31)
“Without doubt Paul wrote these words in expectation of a near and approaching transformation of the fashion of the world, and the introduction of the age to come with the kingdom of God.” (in loc.)
(On The Israel of God)
“In a word, he gives the appellation of the Israel of God to those whom he formerly denominated the children of Abraham by faith, (Gal. III: 29), and thus includes all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, who were united into one church.” (Calvin’s Commentaries, vol. XXI, trans. by William Pringle, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, reprint ed. 1979), p. 186.)
(On The Fulfillment of Joel 2:32)
(V.31-32) “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
God declares that the invocation of his name in a despairing condition is a sure port of safety. What the prophet had said was certainly dreadful — that the whole order of nature would be so changed that no spark of life would appear, and that all places would be filled the darkness. What, therefore, he says now is the same as though he declared, that if men called the name of God life would be found in the grave. Since then God invites here the lost and the dead, there is no reason why even the heaviest distresses should preclude an access for us or for our prayers. If there is promised salvation and deliverance to all who shall call on the name of the Lord, it follows, as Paul reasons, that the doctrine of the gospel belongs to the gentiles also. I would have been a great presumption in us to present ourselves before God, except he had given us confidence and promised to hear us. We learn from this place that however much God may afflict his Church, it will yet be perpetuated in the world; for it can no more be destroyed than the very truth of God, which is eternal and immutable.” (in loc.)
(On Ezekiel 5:9-10)
“Now God subjoins, that their punishment should be so severe that no similar example could be found in the world — I will do what I have not done, nor intended to do, that is, I will avenge your contempt of my law in a striking and unexpected manner; for God sometimes so chastises men as not to exceed the ordinary method. But because punishments seem vile and contemptible when they are so common, God is compelled to surpass the ordinary measure, and to punish the wicked signally and portentously, as he says by Moses.(Deuteronomy 28:46.) When therefore he now says, that he would do what he had not done before, and what he would not do again, he signifies a horrible vengeance, which has no similar example. It means nothing else than what, we have quoted from Moses, that the vengeance would be signal and portentous. Interpreters take this metaphorically, but this view cannot be admitted, because in their opinion no history has recorded its fulfillment; hence they fly to allegory and metaphor. But first of all, we know what Josephus says, that mothers were so ravenous that they slew their children and fed upon them, although here a previous siege is referred to, in which God signifies that he would cause fathers to devour their children: I confess it; but even if we receive what they wish, it was not done then; hence Jeremiah is mistaken when he says, that miserable women cooked their children for food. (Lamentations 4:10.) Surely this is a sufficient witness; for to say that we never find that this actually happened is to reject the testimony of Jeremiah. Besides, God had threatened that very thing by Moses; nor can the passage be eluded, because there is weight in the words —
“Men delicate among you, and those accustomed to luxuries,” says he, “shall eat their own children; a man shall envy the wife of his bosom, so that he shall not suffer her to enjoy that nefarious food with him. Then by stealth shall he consume and devour the flesh of his son, so that he shall distribute no part of it to another.” (<052854>Deuteronomy 28:54, 55.)
When Moses uses this language he certainly does not mean that there shall be intestine dissensions, so that disciples shall rise up against their masters, and masters oppress their disciples, as Jerome fancies. But it is necessary to take the words as they sound, namely, that God would not be content with common and customary punishments when the Jews had arrived at the very last pitch of impiety and wickedness, since he blames them so severely. Hence Ezekiel now threatens this; nor is it surprising that the Prophets took such forms of expression from Moses, since they used the language of Moses rather than a new one, that the people might not despise their prophesyings. Now, therefore, we must decide, that the Prophet uses these threatenings against the Jews literally. But if any one now object that what God says will not happen does often happen, a solution must be sought for. For we said that when the Jews were besieged by Titus, such a ravenousness attacked certain women, that they fed by stealth on their own children. But God pronounces that he never would do this again. I reply that this kind of vengeance is not to be restricted to one day, so that God should not often punish the Jews in a similar manner. But we do not read that this was done, except by the Jews, for although this cruelty is related in tragedies — that children were used as food by their parents, yet this barbarity nowhere existed, that a father knowingly and willingly ate his own son; hence this was peculiar to the Jews. And that God had once executed this vengeance on them by means of the Chaldeans, is no obstacle to his again inflicting the same punishment, when he wished to take vengeance on the extreme rebellion of the people. For although in Ezekiel’s time all things were very corrupt, yet we know that when the Son of God was rejected, the Jews cut off from themselves all hope of restoration to the mercy of God. It is not surprising, then, if , again he had suffered sons to be devoured by their fathers, as he now threatens that fathers should be so rabid as not even to spare their own bowels. (in loc.)
(On Daniel 9:26)
the leader of the coming people shall destroy both the city and the sanctuary. He names a coming leader, to prevent the unbelievers from resting secure through self-flattery, as if God would not instantly stretch forth his hand to avenge himself upon them. Although the Roman army which should destroy the city and sanctuary did not immediately appear, yet the Prophet assures them of the arrival of a leader with an army which should occasion the destruction of both the city and the sanctuary. Without the slightest doubt, he here signifies that God would inflict dreadful vengeance upon the Jews for their murder of his Christ. That trifler, Barbinel, when desirous of refuting the Christians, says — more than two hundred years elapsed between the destruction of the Temple and the death of Christ. How ignorant he was! Even if we were to withhold all confidence from the evangelists and apostles, yet profane writers would soon convict him of folly. But such is the barbarity of his nation, and so great their obstinacy, that they are ashamed of nothing. As far as we are concerned, we gather with sufficient clearness from the passage how the angel touched briefly upon the future slaughter of the city and the destruction of the Temple, lest the faithful should be overwhelmed with trials in consequence of Christ’s death, and lest the unbelievers should be hardened through this occurrence. The interpretation of some writers respecting the people of the coming leader, as if Titus wished to spare the most beautiful city and preserve it untouched, seems to me too refined. I take it simply as a leader about to come with his army to destroy the city, and utterly to overthrow the Temple.
He afterwards adds, Its end shall be in a deluge. Here the angel removes all hope from the Jews, whose obstinacy might lead them to expect some advantage in their favor, for we are already aware of their great stupidity when in a state of desperation. Lest the faithful should indulge in the same feelings with the apostates and rebellious, he says, The end of the leader, Titus, should be in a deluge; meaning, he should overthrow the city and national polity, and utterly put an end to the priesthood and the race, while all God’s favors would at the same time be withdrawn. In this sense his end should be in a deluge. Lastly, at the end of the war a most decisive desolation. The word txrjn, nech-retzeth, “a completion,” can scarcely be taken otherwise than as a noun substantive. A plural noun follows, twmmç, shem-moth, “of desolation’s” or “devastation’s;” and taken verbally it means “definite or terminated laying waste.” The most skillful grammarians allow that the former of these words may be taken substantively for “termination,” as if the angel had said: Even if the Jews experience a variety of fortune in battle, and have hopes of being superior to their enemies, and of sallying out and prohibiting their foes from entering the city; nay, even if they repel them, still the end of the war shall result in utter devastation, and their destruction is clearly defined. Two points, then, are to be noticed here; first, all hope is to be taken from the Jews, as they must be taught the necessity for their perishing; and secondly, a reason is ascribed for this, namely, the determination of the Almighty and his inviolable decree.” (in loc.)
(On Daniel 9:27)
“But we are now treating of a profanation of the temple, which should prove, if I may use the phrase, eternal and irreparable. Without the slightest doubt, this prophecy was fulfilled when the city was captured and overthrown, and the temple utterly destroyed by Titus the son of Vespasian. This satisfactorily explains the events here predicted. Some consider the word “abominations” to be used metaphorically, and to signify the overthrow of the city; but this seems to me forced. Others explain it of the statue of Caligula erected in the temple; and others again, of the standard of Tiberius, who ordered the eagles to be placed on the pinnacle of the temple. But I interpret it simply of that profanation which occurred after the gospel began to be promulgated, and of the punishment inflicted upon the Jews when they perceived their temple subject to the grossest forms of desecration, because they were unwilling to admit the only-begotten Son of God as its true glory. Others, again, understand the impious doctrines and superstitions, as well as the perverse errors with which the priests were imbued. But I think the passage marks generally the change which took place directly after Christ’s resurrection, when the obstinate impiety of the people was fully detected. They were then summoned to repentance; although they had endeavored to extinguish all hope of salvation through Christ, yet God stretched forth his hand to them, and tried whether their wickedness was curable or not. After the grace of Christ had been obstinately rejected, then the extension of abominations followed; that is, God overwhelmed the temple in desecration, and caused its sanctity and glory to pass utterly away. Although this vengeance did not take place immediately after the close of the last week, yet God sufficiently avenged their impious contempt of his gospel, and besides this, he shews how he had no longer need of any visible temple, as he had now dedicated the whole world to himself from east to west.
(On Matthew 22:9)
“What the prophets had obscurely foretold about creating a new church is now plainly expressed. This dishonor was the completion of the divine vengeance on the Jews, when God cut them off, and ingrafted wild branches into the stock of the olive-tree, (Romans 11:17😉 when he threw them off, and received the polluted and filthy Gentiles into his house. But if at that time he spared not the natural branches, (Romans 11:21,)
(On Matthew 15:26)
“His chief design was, to make trial of the woman’s faith; but he also pointed out the dreadful vengeance that would overtake the Jews, who rejected an inestimable benefit which was freely offered to them, and which they refused to those who sought it with warmth and earnestness.”
Though they were disfigured by irreligion, crimes, and every kind of infamy, yet they were so blinded by a foolish confidence in the temple, and its outward service, that they thought that God was bound to them; and this was the shield which they had always at hand: “What? Could God depart from that place which he has chosen to be his only habitation in the world? And since he dwells in the midst of us, we must one day be restored.” In short, they looked upon the temple as their invincible fortress, as if they dwelt in the bosom of God. But Christ maintains that it is in vain for them to boast of the presence of God, whom they had driven away by their crimes, and, by calling it their house, (lo, YOUR HOUSE is left o you,) he indirectly intimates to them that it is no longer the house of God. The temple had indeed been built on the condition, that at the coming of Christ it would cease to be the abode and residence of Deity; but it would have remained as a remarkable demonstration of the continued grace of God, if its destruction had not been occasioned by the wickedness of the people. It was therefore a dreadful vengeance of God, that the place which Himself had so magnificently adorned was not only forsaken by Him, and ordered to be razed to the foundation, but consigned to the lowest infamy to the end of the world. Let the Romanists now go, and let them proceed, in opposition to the will of God, to build their Tower of Babylon, while they see that the temple of God, which had been built by his authority and at his command, was laid low on account of the crimes of the people.
39. For I tell you. He confirms what he had said about the approaching vengeance of God, by saying that the only method of avoiding destruction will be taken from them. For that was the accepted time, the day of salvation, (Isaiah 49:8; 2 Corinthians 6:2,) so long as that very person who had come to be their Redeemer, attested and proclaimed the redemption which he had brought. But at his departure, as at the setting of the sun, the light of life vanished; and therefore this dreadful calamity, which he threatens, must of necessity fall upon them.”
(On Matthew 24:2)
This prediction of the destruction of the temple, therefore, opened up a path for the ignorant and weak. Now, though it was advantageous that the temple should be destroyed, lest its services and shadows might exercise an undue influence on the Jews, who were already too much attached to earthly elements, yet the chief reason was, that God determined, by this dreadful example, to take vengeance on that nation, for having rejected his Son, and despised the grace which was brought by him.
(On Matthew 24:5)
“For shortly after Christ’s resurrection, there arose impostors, every one of whom professed to be the Christ. And as the true Redeemer had not only been removed from the world, but oppressed by the ignominy of the cross, and yet the minds of all were excited by the hope and inflamed with the desire of redemption, those men had in their power a plausible opportunity of deceiving. Nor can it be doubted, that God permitted such reveries to impose on the Jews, who had so basely rejected his Son. Though those mad attempts speedily disappeared, yet God determined that disturbances of this kind should arise among the Jews; first, that they might be exposed to infamy and hatred; secondly, that they might altogether abandon the hope of salvation; and, lastly, that having been so frequently disappointed, they might rush to their destruction with brutal stupidity.”
(On The Death of the Devil)
“First, the destruction of the devil, of which he speaks, imports this — that he cannot prevail against us. For though the devil still lives, and constantly attempts our ruin, yet all his power to hurt us is destroyed or restrained. It is a great consolation to know that we have to do with an enemy who cannot prevail against us. That what is here said has been said with regard to us, we may gather from the next clause, that he might destroy him that had the power of death; for the apostle intimates that the devil was so far destroyed as he has power to reign to our ruin; for “the power of death” is ascribed to him from the effect, because it is destructive and brings death. He then teaches us not only that the tyranny of Satan was abolished by Christ’s death, but also that he himself was so laid prostrate, that no more account is to be made of him than as though he were not. He speaks of the devil according to the usual practice of Scripture, in the singular number, not because there is but one, but because they all form one community which cannot be supposed to be without a head.” (Hebrews 2:14)
(On the ‘Millennial Reign’ of Christ)
“But a little later there followed the chiliasts, who limited the reign of Christ to a thousand years. Now their fiction is too childish either to need or to be worth a refutation. And the Apocalypse, from which they undoubtedly drew a pretext for their error does not support them. For the number “one thousand” (Rev. 20:4) does not apply to the eternal blessedness of the church but only to the various disturbances that awaited the church, while still toiling on earth. On the contrary, all Scripture proclaims that there will be no end to the blessedness of the elect or the punishment of the wicked.
“For when we apply to it the measure of our own understanding, what can we conceive that is not gross and earthly? So it happens that like beasts our senses attract us to what appeals to our flesh, and we grasp at what is at hand. So we see that the Chialists (i.e. those who believed that Christ would reign on earth for a thousand years) fell into a like error.” Jesus intended “… to banish from the disciples’ minds a false impression regarding the earthly kingdom: for that, as He points out in a few words, consists of the preaching of the Gospel. They have no cause therefore to dream of wealth, luxury, power in the world or any other earthly thing when they hear that Christ is reigning when He subdues the world to Himself by the preaching of the Gospel. It follows from this that His reign is spiritual and not after the pattern of this world.” – Comm. on Acts 1:8 (Torrance, VI, 32).
(On the Nature of Christ’s Kingdom)
“We shall ever deny …that Christ’s Kingdom is visible. For however the sons of God are dispersed, without any reputation among men, it is quite clear that Christ’s Kingdom remains safe and sure, since in its own nature it is not outward but invisible. Christ did not utter these words in vain, ‘My Kingdom is not of this world.’ (John 18:36) By this expression He wished to remove His Kingdom from the ordinary forms of government.” (Commentary on Daniel, lecture eleven)
(On the Ceremonial Law)
“Now although this ceremonial law does not directly apply nowadays, yet we may gather a very profitable teaching from this place. First of all, let us note that we must not ground ourselves upon something God commanded only for a certain time, as if it ought to be observed forever. But now we have no need for all these things. Why? Because the veil of the Temple is rent asunder, and God shows us His face in the gospel, even in the person of His Son, so that we may now walk as at noonday. So then, let us consider what is everlasting, and what is but temporary, that we make no fond and foolish confusions as the Papists do.” (Calvin, Covenant Enforced, Sermon 148, p. 9)
(Other Misc. Quotes)
“Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?” (pointing to Psalm 93:1 in his Commentary on Genesis)
“[Those who assert that] the earth moves and turns … [are motivated by] a spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding; [possessed by the devil, they aimed] to pervert the order of nature.” (sermon no. 8 on 1st Corinthians, cited in William J. Bouwsma, John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait (1988), quoted from The Talk Origins Archive, “Cretinism or Evilution?: The Evils of Copernicanism“)
(On Matthew 24:14)
This is improperly restricted by some to the destruction of the temple, and the abolition of the service of the Law; for it ought to be understood as referring to the end and renovation of the world. Those two things having been blended by the disciples, as if the temple could not be overthrown without the destruction of the whole world, Christ, in replying to the whole question which had been put to him, reminded them that a long and melancholy succession of calamities was at hand, and that they must not hasten to seize the prize, before they had passed through many contests and dangers. In this manner, therefore, we ought to explain this latter clause: “The end of the world will not come before I have tried my Church, for a long period, by severe and painful temptations” (pp. 129, 130).
(On Matthew 24:34)
“Though Christ employs a general expression, yet he does not extend the discourses to all the miseries which would befall the Church, but merely informs them, that before a single generation shall have been completed, they will learn by experience the truth of what he has said. For within fifty years the city was destroyed and the temple was rased, the whole country was reduced to a hideous desert, and the obstinacy of the world rose up against God. Nay more, their rage was inflamed to exterminate the doctrine of salvation, false teachers arose to corrupt the pure gospel by their impostures, religion sustained amazing shocks, and the whole company of the godly was miserably distressed. Now though the same evils were perpetrated in uninterrupted succession for many ages afterwards, yet what Christ said was true, that, before the close of a single generation, believers would feel in reality, and by undoubted experience, the truth of his prediction; for the apostles endured the same things which we see in the present day. And yet it was not the design of Christ to promise to his followers that their calamities would be terminated within a short time, (for then he would have contradicted himself, having previously warned them that the end was not yet😉 but, in order to encourage them to perseverance, he expressly foretold that those things related to their own age. The meaning therefore is: “This prophecy does not relate to evils that are distant, and which posterity will see after the lapse of many centuries, but which are now hanging over you, and ready to fall in one mass, so that there is no part of it which the present generation will not experience.” So then, while our Lord heaps upon a single generation every kind of calamities, he does not by any means exempt future ages from the same kind of sufferings, but only enjoins the disciples to be prepared for enduring them all with firmness (Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol.3, tr. William Pringle, Eerdmans, 1949, pp. 151, 152).
ON THE JEWS
“Therefore, when we look at such a mirror [the history of the Jews], let us learn to make a good use of it, and let their example serve to seal this doctrine and to confirm it, so that we do not test God, and so that we not continue hardhearted so long that He decides to wrap us up in reproach with all the rest of the nations of the world.” (John Calvin, Deuteronomy sermon 159, p. 192.)
“IN addition to the charge of Judaizing, our author has been accused of dwelling too copiously on our Prophet’s severity towards the Jews. And if we can read the signs of the times in modern publications, there is reason to fear that various delusions are abroad on this subject. There are those who treat, the Jews as in the present day, so peculiarly favored by God, that they invest them with the halo of a special sanctity. Reverencing as Christians thought the designs of the Almighty in past ages, they entertain far too exalted ideas of the personal holiness of the agents by whom those designs were accomplished. Old Testament characters are too often treated as “saints,” when they have few moral or religious qualities which entitle them to that sacred appellation. And regarding the people as a body, it is scarcely possible to find anywhere worse specimens of moral culture. If we estimate responsibility according to the amount of light and guidance and privilege, then, indeed, Tyre and Sidon were far less culpable than Hebron and Jerusalem. How opposite, for instance, is their history to what might have been expected from reading the book of Deuteronomy. Instead of binding their written law “as frontlets between their eyes,” no ancient nation were so careless of its sacred books. The Hindus cling tenaciously to their shasters, while Israel utterly neglected their Mosaic code. One would have supposed that they would have been superstitiously careful of the five books of their inspired leaders. Why should they not have multiplied copies of them? Why not have constituted the Levites the authorized guardians and expounders of them? From the time of Joshua to David there is no notice of the existence of any sacred books which now belong to us: and more than this, reference is made to other records not now existing. And after Solomon’s temple was solemnly dedicated, how soon ten of the tribes relapsed into the grossest idolatry; and even in Judea, how remarkable is the occurrence in Josiah’s time. The very priests seem to have been ignorant of the existence of a written copy of the law. The unexpected discovery of one has such an effect upon the king and the people, that it led to a thorough restoration of the national worship; and you, we find a command that every king should write for himself a copy of the law from that preserved by the priests. Both kings and priests seem to have neglected their duty; and even the prophets do not charge them with this crime among others. The loss of the original autographs is never mentioned; nor have we the slightest inn, of what became of the second original of the two stone-tables. During the short. period of their captivity they lost their spoken language and the characters in which it was written, so that on their return they were obliged to read Hebrew through an interpreter. Was not this an unmatched instance of wan, of reverence for the will of Jehovah? When a nation could act with such deliberate carelessness and irreverence a, various epochs, can we be surprised at their falling into the grossest depths of immoral profanity? When the divine records have been thus despised, all folly and all wickedness is possible for such a people, and both are generated with a fearful rapidity. How different, then, is their real history from what one might expect of a people chosen by the Almighty as his earthly representatives of religion before the heathen! They were miraculously trained to typify and receive the Messiah, and yet they constantly appear to be frustrating the very purpose of their choice. If we speak of the mass of the nation, they seem in every respect to have thrown away their privileges, and to have studiously incurred God’s anger, and to have determined to brave his vengeance. Under such a view of the ancient people, no language of Calvin’s can be too strong; and it is only to obviate the consequences of modern erroneous suppositions that it becomes necessary to defend him. In stimulating the compassion of the Christian Church towards the salvation of Jews at present existing, the most fallacious views are sometimes presented of their past history and their loveliness in God’s sight. To be beloved for their fathers’ sake by no means implies ally innate moral loveliness in the conduct of those fathers; and every erroneous view of Jewish history, and every false interpretation of Jewish prophecy, does but Judaize the Christian Church, and prevent it from going onwards to perfection, by keeping it in trammels to either exploded prejudices or to unwise innovations. False views of the Jewish history are now so very common, that they naturally create a distaste for that emphatic condemnation of their conduct which prevails through these Lectures.” (Commentary on Ezekiel, Dissertation Third.)
Douglas Connelly (2009)
“The position that the Tribulation happened in the past during the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 is called the praeterist view. The term comes from the Latin word praeteritus, which means “gone by” or “past.” Some prominent Christian leaders who have held this view are John Calvin (1509-1564) and Matthew Henry (1662-1714). The modern Christian Reconstructionist movement has been a strong advocate of the preterist view. The main contemporary defenders of the “Tribulation is past” view are R. C. Sproul, Kenneth Gentry, Gary DeMar, and Hank Hanegraaff. Christians who hold to the preterist interpretation of Revelation believe that the 144.000 represent the Jewish Christians who escaped from Jerusalem before the final destruction of the city. The ancient historian Eusebius confirms that the Christians in Jerusalem were warned of the city’s fate by divine revelation and that the whole church family fled to a city across the Jordan River. The vast multitude in Revelation 7 in the preterist view represents, as Quoted in the book Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (edited by Steve Gregg ; Nashville: Nelson, 1997], 134). “the great throng of Gentiles who will be saved as a result of God’s disowning his rebellious wife and children (Israeli and seeking a new family – the church].””(The Book of Revelation for Blockheads: A User-Friendly Look at the Bible’s Weirdest Book, p. 107)
Peter Heylyn (1636)
“The Jews were very much affected to their ancient ceremonies; and Calvin rightly hath affirmed, that a full reformation of that zeal of theirs, as it was full of difficulty, so could it not be done upon the sudden. Therefore it pleased the Apostles, as it is conceived, in their fourth Council holden at Jerusalem, mention whereof is made in the 21st of the Acts, to make it lawful for the Jews to retain circumcision and such legal rites, together with the faith in Christ. As long as the Jewish Temple, and the legal sacrifices in Jerusalem, should continue standing. Not that the faith of Christ was not sufficient of itself for their salvation, but that the synagogue might be laid to sleep with the greater honor. But this, if so it was, was for no long time.
For whereas the third Council holden in Jerusalem, against Cerinthus and his party, was held in Anno 51, and this which now we speak of, Anno 58, the final ruin of the Temple was in 72. So that there was but one and twenty years, in the largest reckoning, wherein the Christian Jews were suffered to observe their Sabbath: and yet not (as before they did) as if it were a necessary duty, but as a thing indifferent only. But that time come, the Temple finally destoyed, and the legal ceremonies therein buried, it was accounted afterwards both dangerous and heretical to observe the Sabbath, or mingle any of the Jewish leaven with the bread of life.” (The History of the Sabbath)
David Holwerda notes that “even when a prophecy points to a final future event in the eyes of most interpreters, Calvin usually insists that it is already being fulfilled… The millennial belief assumes that Christ will reign visibly on the not-yet-renewed earth for a limited period of time. But Calvin believes that the perfected kingdom already exists in Christ, that it is eternal and includes the renovation of the world. Consequently, Christ’s visible appearance can mean only the final revelation of a perfected kingdom.” (Jonathan Edwards’s interpretation of Revelation 4:1-8:1 By Glenn R. Kreider, p. 52)
Francis Nigel Lee (2000)
“Finally Jesus then stated: “Truly, I tell you this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Matthew 24:34. It is true that “within fifty years, the city was destroyed and the temple was rased” Calvin concedes to preterism. But then he also comments, historicistically, that “the same evils were perpetrated in uninterrupted succession for many ages afterwards…. The apostles endured the same things which we see in the present day [A.D. 1555-63]. And yet, it was not the design of Christ to promise to His followers that their calamities would be terminated within a short time. For then, He would have contradicted Himself having previously warned them that the end was not yet!” (The Anti-Preterist Historicism of John Calvin and the Westminster Standards)
John C. Rogers
“First, let me say that Jordan’s preterist interpretation of Daniel is an enormous accomplishment, perhaps greater than all other works on Daniel with the exception of John Calvin’s preterist commentary.”
“It may as well be stated also here, that the Professor (Samuel Lee) appears to have been more indebted to Calvin than he seemed to be aware of; while the valuable labours of Grotius and Hammond — indeed, it may be added, of Bossuet and Calmet—immensely helped towards the same conclusion.” (The Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy; or, All pure prophecy terminated in the Advent of Christ and the establishment of Christianity)
- Date: 02 Sep 2003
- Time: 19:19:31
“Luke adds likewise, ‘earthquakes, and signs from heaven,’ with respect to which, though we have no authentic history of them, yet it is enough that they were predicted by Christ. The reader will find the rest in Josephus, (Wars of the Jews, VI. v. 3.)” — Calvin’s Commentaries Harmony of the Evangelists (Matthew XXIV)
- Date: 10 Sep 2003
- Time: 05:49:01
This Site is a gift from God. Thank you, Thank you so much so much food. This is wonderful Praise God….. Chris
Date: 18 Feb 2006
Calvin wrote a lot of material, it’s surprising to see so little on his eschatology posted here. From what I’ve read in the works of John Calvin he fits a little better in the historicist camp.
Date: 17 Feb 2007
Thanks for putting the Calvin material on the web.