John Calvin
(1509- 1564)


“The study of Revelation either finds a man mad, or leaves him that way.”

Annotations on the New Testament: Compiled from the Best Critical Authorities (1829) | ‘Calvin is a Praeterist’ – His Translators | The Non-Preterist Historicalism of Calvin and Westminster

“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)

“..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)

Preterist Commentaries By Historical Preterism

“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))

  • Commentary on the Harmony of the Gospels(1555) “For God had promised two things seemingly opposite; that the throne ofDavid 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.”

(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 addedand 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 timetherefore, at which the sacrifice really ceased to be offeredthis 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 upGod’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.” (

(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.(<052846>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. (<250410>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 againI 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 sanctuaryHe names a coming leaderto 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 delugeHere 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 leaderTitus, should be in a delugemeaning, 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 delugeLastly, at the end of the war a most decisive desolationThe word txrjnnech-retzeth, “a completion,” can scarcely be taken otherwise than as a noun substantive. A plural noun follows, twmmçshem-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.”

(On Matthew 23:38,39)
38. Lo, your house is left to you desolate. He threatens the destruction of the temple, and the dissolution of the whole frame of civil government.

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.121 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).


“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.)

Dissertation Third.


“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)

Isaiah 14: Calvin’s Interpretation
14. ”Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign.” Ahaz had already refused the sign which the Lord offered to him, when the Prophet remonstrated against his rebellion and ingratitude; yet the Prophet declares that this will not prevent God from _giving the sign_ which he had promised and appointed for the Jews. But what sign? 

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive.” This passage is obscure; but the blame lies partly on the Jews, who, by much cavilling, have labored, as far as lay in their power, to pervert the true exposition. They are hard pressed by this passage; for it contains an illustrious prediction concerning the Messiah, who is here called _Immanuel_; and therefore they have labored, by all possible means, to torture the Prophet’s meaning to another sense. Some allege that the person here mentioned is Hezekiah; and others, that it is the son of Isaiah. 

Those who apply this passage to Hezekiah are excessively impudent; for he must have been a full-grown man when Jerusalem was besieged. Thus they show that they are grossly ignorant of history. But it is a just reward of their malice, that God hath blinded them in such a manner as to be deprived of all judgment. This happens in the present day to the papists, who often expose themselves to ridicule by their mad eagerness to pervert the Scriptures. 

As to those who think that it was Isaiah’s son, it is an utterly frivolous conjecture; for we do not read that a deliverer would be raised up from the seed of Isaiah, who should be called _Immanuel_; for this title is far too illustrious to admit of being applied to any man. 

Others think, or, at least, (being unwilling to contend with the Jews more than was necessary,) admit that the Prophet spoke of some child who was born at that time, by whom, as by an obscure picture, Christ was foreshadowed. But they produce no strong arguments, and do not show who that child was, or bring forward any proofs. Now, it is certain, as we have already said, that this name _Immanuel_ could not be literally applied to a mere man; and, therefore, there can be no doubt that the Prophet referred to Christ. 

But all writers, both Greek and Latin, are too much at their ease in handling this passage; for, as if there were no difficulty in it, they merely assert that Christ is here promised from the Virgin Mary. Now, there is no small difficulty in the objection which the Jews bring against us, that Christ is here mentioned without any sufficient reason; for thus they argue, and demand that the scope of the passage be examined: “Jerusalem was besieged. The Prophet was about to give them a sign of deliverance. Why should he promise the Messiah, who was to be born five hundred years afterwards?” By this argument they think that they have gained the victory, because the promise concerning Christ had nothing to do with assuring Ahaz of the deliverance of Jerusalem. And then they boast as if they had gained the day, chiefly because scarcely any one replies to them. That is the reason why I said that commentators have been too much at their ease in this matter; for it is of no small importance to show why the Redeemer is here mentioned. 

Now, the matter stands thus. King Ahaz having rejected the sign which God had offered to him, the Prophet reminds him of the foundation of the covenant, which even the ungodly did not venture openly to reject. The Messiah must be born; and this was expected by all, because the salvation of the whole nation depended on it. The Prophet, therefore, after having expressed his indignation against the king, again argues in this manner: “By rejecting the promise, thou wouldest endeavor to overturn the decree of God; but it shall remain inviolable, and thy treachery and ingratitude will not hinder God from being, continually the Deliverer of his people; for he will at length raise up his Messiah.” 

To make these things more plain, we must attend to the custom of the Prophets, who, in establishing special promises, lay down this as the foundation, that God will send a Redeemer. On this general foundation God everywhere builds all the special promises which he makes to his people; and certainly every one who expects aid and assistance from him must be convinced of his fatherly love. And how could he be reconciled to us but through Christ, in whom he has freely adopted the elect, and continues to pardon them to the end? Hence comes that saying of Paul, that all the promises of God in Christ are Yea and Amen. (2 Corinthians 1:20.) 

Whenever, therefore, God assisted his ancient people, he at the same time reconciled them to himself through Christ; and accordingly, whenever famine, pestilence, and war are mentioned, in order to hold out a hope of deliverance, he places the Messiah before their eyes. This being exceedingly clear, the Jews have no right to make a noise, as if the Prophet made an unseasonable transition to a very remote subject. For on what did the deliverance of Jerusalem depend, but on the manifestation of Christ? This was, indeed, the only foundation on which the salvation of the Church always rested. 

Most appropriately, therefore, did Isaiah say, “True, thou dost not believe the promises of God, but yet God will fulfill them; for he will at length send his Christ, for whose sake he determines to preserve this city. Though thou art unworthy, yet God will have regard to his own honor.” King Ahaz is therefore deprived of that sign which he formerly rejected, and loses the benefit of which he proved himself to be unworthy; but still God’s inviolable promise is still held out to him. This is plainly enough intimated by the particle {_lachen_} _therefore_; that is, because thou disdainest that particular sign which God offered to thee, {_hu_}, _He_, that is, God himself, who was so gracious as to offer it freely to thee, he whom thou _weariest_ will not fail to hold out _a sign_. When I say that the coming of Christ is promised to Ahaz, I do not mean that God includes him among the chosen people, to whom he had appointed his Son to be the Author of salvation; but because the discourse is directed to the whole body of the people. 

”Will give you a sign.” The word {_lachem_}, _to you_, is interpreted by some as meaning _to your children_; but this is forced. So far as relates to the persons addressed, the Prophet leaves the wicked king and looks to the nation, so far as it had been adopted by God. He will therefore give, not _to thee_ a wicked king, and to those who are like thee, but _to you_ whom he has adopted; for the covenant which he made with Abraham continues to be firm and inviolable. And the Lord always has some remnant to whom the advantage of the covenant belongs; though the rulers and governors of his people may be hypocrites. 

”Behold, a virgin shall conceive.” The word _Behold_ is used emphatically, to denote the greatness of the event; for this is the manner in which the Spirit usually speaks of great and remarkable events, in order to elevate the minds of men. The Prophet, therefore, enjoins his hearers to be attentive, and to consider this extraordinary work of God; as if he had said, “Be not slothful, but consider this singular grace of God, which ought of itself to have drawn your attention, but is concealed from you on account of your stupidity.” 

Although the word {_gnalmah_}, _a virgin_, is derived from {_gnalam_}, which signifies _to hide_, because the shame and modesty of _virgins_ does not allow them to appear in public; yet as the Jews dispute much about that word, and assert that it does not signify _virgin_, because Solomon used it to denote a young woman who was betrothed, it is unnecessary to contend about the word. Though we should admit what they say, that {_gnalmah_} sometimes denotes _a young woman_, and that the name refers, as they would have it, to the age, (yet it is frequently used in Scripture when the subject relates to _a virgin_,) the nature of the case sufficiently refutes all their slanders. For what wonderful thing did the Prophet say, if he spoke of ”a young woman” who _conceived_ through intercourse with a man? It would certainly have been absurd to hold out this as a _sign_ or a miracle. Let us suppose that it denotes a young woman who should become pregnant in the ordinary course of nature; [F101] everybody sees that it would have been silly and contemptible for the Prophet, after having said that he was about to speak of something strange and uncommon, to add, ”A young woman shall conceive”. It is, therefore, plain enough that he speaks of _a virgin_ who should conceive, not by the ordinary course of nature, but by the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit. And this is the mystery which Paul extolls in lofty terms, that God was manifested in the flesh. (1 Timothy 3:16.) 

”And shall call.” The Hebrew verb is in the feminine gender, _She shall call_; for as to those who read it in the masculine gender, I know not on what they found their opinion. The copies which we use certainly do not differ. If you apply it to the mother, it certainly expresses something different from the ordinary custom. We know that to the father is always assigned the right of giving a name to a child; for it is a sign of the power and authority of fathers over children; and the same authority does not belong to women. But here it is conveyed to the mother; and therefore it follows that he is conceived by the mother in such a manner as not to have a father on earth; otherwise the Prophet would pervert the ordinary custom of Scripture, which ascribes this office to men only. Yet it ought to be observed that the name was not given to Christ at the suggestion of his mother, and in such a case it would have had no weight; but the Prophet means that, in publishing the name, _the virgin_ will occupy the place of a herald, because there will be no earthly father to perform that office. 

”Immanuel.” This name was unquestionably bestowed on Christ on account of the actual fact; for the only-begotten Son of God clothed himself with our flesh, and united himself to us by partaking of our nature. He is, therefore, called ”God with us”, or _united to us_; which cannot apply to a man who is not God. The Jews in their sophistry tell us that this name was given to Hezekiah; because by the hand of Hezekiah God delivered his people; and they add, “He who is the servant of God represents his person.” But neither Moses nor Joshua, who were deliverers of the nation, were so denominated; and therefore this _Immanuel_ is preferred to Moses and Joshua, and all the others; for by this name he excels all that ever were before, and all that shall come after him; and it is a title expressive of some extraordinary excellence and authority which he possesses above others. It is therefore evident that it denotes not only the power of God, such as he usually displays by his servant, but a union of person, by which Christ became God-man. Hence it is also evident that Isaiah here relates no common event, but points out that unparalleled mystery which the Jews labor in vain to conceal. 

15. ”Butter and honey shall he eat.” Here the Prophet proves the true human nature of Christ; for it was altogether incredible that he who was God should be born of _a virgin_. Such a prodigy was revolting to the ordinary judgment of men. To hinder us from thinking that his fancy now presents to us some apparition, he describes the marks of human nature, in order to show, by means of them, that Christ will actually appear in flesh, or in the nature of man; that is, that he will be reared in the same manner that children commonly are. The Jews had a different way of rearing children from what is followed by us; for they used _honey_, which is not so customary among us; and to this day they still retain the custom of causing a child to taste _butter and honey_, as soon as it is born, before receiving suck.

 ”That he may know.” That is, until he arrive at that age when he can distinguish between good and evil, or, as we commonly say, ”till the years of discretion”; {_lamed_} denotes the term and period up to which he shall be reared after the manner of a child; and this contributes still more to prove the reality of his nature. He therefore means _understanding_ and _judgment_, such as is obtained when the period of childhood is past. Thus we see how far the Son of God condescended on our account, so that he not only was willing to be fed on our food, but also, for a time, to be deprived of _understanding_, and to endure all our weaknesses. (Hebrews 2:14.) This relates to his human nature, for it cannot apply to his Divinity. Of this state of ignorance, in which Christ was for a time, Luke testifies when he says, And he grew in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and with man. (Luke 2:52.)

 If Luke had merely said that Christ _grew_, he might have been supposed to mean _with men_; but he expressly adds, _with God_. Christ must therefore have been, for a time, like little children, so that, so far as relates to his human nature, he was deficient in understanding. 

16. ”Before the child shall know.” Many have been led into a mistake by connecting this verse with the preceding one, as if it had been the same child that was mentioned. They suppose that it assigns the reason, and that the particle {_ki_} means _for_. [F102] But if we carefully examine the Prophet’s meaning, it will quickly be apparent that he leaves the general doctrine, to which he had made a short digression, and returns to his immediate subject. After having founded the hope of the preservation of the city on the promised Mediator, he now shows in what way it will be preserved. 

”The child.” I interpret this word as referring, not to Christ, but to all children in general. Here I differ from all the commentators; for they think that the demonstrative {_h_} points out a particular child. But I view {_hannagnar_}, so that {_h_} is indeed added for the purpose of making it more definite, but is intended to point out the age, and not any particular child; as when we say, _The child_, [F103] and add the article _The_ [F104] for the purpose of giving greater definiteness. This is very customary in Scripture. If he had pointed out a particular child, he would have added {_hazzeh_}, as is frequently done in other passages. It is not probable that this promise of the overturn of the kingdoms of Syria and Samaria, which immediately followed, would be deferred for five hundred years, that is, till the coming of Christ; and, indeed, it would have been altogether absurd. The meaning therefore is, “Before the children, who shall be born hereafter, can distinguish between good and evil, the land which thou hatest shall be forsaken.” 

”The land.” By _the land_ I understand Israel and Syria; for though they were two, yet on account of the league which had been formed between the two kings, they are accounted one. Some understand by it Judea; but that cannot agree on account of the plural noun which follows, _her_ _kings_. That these things happened as they are written may be easily inferred from the sacred history; for when Ahaz called the Assyrians to aid him, _Rezin_ was slain by them. (2 Kings 16:9.) Not long afterwards, Pekah, king of Israel, died, in the twelfth year of King Ahaz, and was succeeded by Hoshea, the son of Elah. (2 Kings 15:30; 17:1.) Thus, before the children who should afterwards be born were grown up, both countries would be deprived of their kings; for before that time both Rezin and Pekah were removed out of the land of the living. Now the discourse is addressed to Ahaz, and God promises to him, by way of consolation, that he will inflict punishment on the enemies of Ahaz, but for no other purpose than to render him more inexcusable. 

”Which thou hatest.” As to the word _hatest_, Syria and the land of Israel are said to be _hated_ or _abhorred_ by King Ahaz, because from that quarter he was attacked by invading armies. He therefore promises that those kings will soon perish. Some render {_mippenei_}, _on account of_; [F105] and I admit that this word is generally used in this sense. But I adopt here a more natural rendering, as if he had said, ”It shall be forsaken from the face or from the presence of the two kings,” and shall be left by them, so that they shall no more be seen. And by these words it is sufficiently evident that this must be understood as referring to both kingdoms.” (Isaiah 14: Calvin’s Interpretation)


Francis Nigel Lee
The Anti-Preterist Historicism of John Calvin and the Westminster Standards (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!” 

‘Calvin is a Præterist’
….According to his Translators

From Daniel: Translation Of The Text And Copious Indices,
By Thomas Myers, M.A., Vicar Of Sheriff-Hutton, Yorkshire


In attempting to determine the intrinsic value of these Lectures, it becomes necessary to compare Calvin’s Prophetic Interpretations with those of the Divines who preceded and have followed him. The scheme proposed for interpreting, these Visions may be classed generally under this threefold division, viz., the Præterist, the Anti-Papal, and the Futurist ViewsThe first view is that usually adopted, with some slight modifications, by the Primitive Church and the Earlier Reformers. The second, sometimes called rite “Protestant” System, supposes the Papal power to be prominently foretold by both Daniel and Sir John; while the Third System defers the accomplishment of many of these Prophecies to times yet future. If these three Systems be borne distinctly in mind, it will become easy to understand how the most popular modern explanations differ for in those of the earlier period of the Reformation. The Primitive Church has, with few exceptions, agreed in considering The Head of Gold to mean, either the Babylonian Empire or the person of Nebuchadnezzar; the Silver denoting the Medo-Persian; the Brass the Greek; and the Iron the Roman; while the mixture of the Clay denotes the intermingling of Conquered Nations with the power of Heathen Rome. In interpreting the Four Beasts, the Lion denotes the Babylonian Empire; the Eagle Wings relate to Nebuchadnezzar’s ambition; the Bear to the Medo-Persians; the Leopard to the Macedonians; and the Fourth Beast to the Romans. The Ten Horns were differently explained; some referring them to Ten individual Kings, and others to Ten Divisions, of the Empire; some supposing them to commence with the Roman sway in the East, others not till the Fourth or Fifth Centuries after Christ.

Calvin differs slightly from the earlier, and most materially from the later Commentators. Supposing the Fourth Boast to typify the Roman Empire, “The Ten Kings,” he says, “were not persons succeeding each other in dominion, but rather the complex Form of the Government instead of a unity under one head.” The number “ten” is, he thinks, indefinite, for “many,” and the Sway of a Senate instead of a Monarchy is the true, fulfillment of the Prophecy. The rise of one King and his oppressing three, refers to the two Caesars, Julius and Octavius, with Lepidus and Antony. How unconscious was Calvin that succeeding Protestant Writers would determine The “Little Horn” to be the Pope, and the Three Kings, the Exarchate of Ravenna, the Kingdom of Lombardy, and the State of Rome. Here the multitude of modern commentators differ most materially from the author of these Lectures. The “Time, Times, and Half a Time” of this chapter, Calvin refers to the persecution of the Christian Church under Nero, and similar tyrannical Emperors of Rome, and gives not the slightest countenance to any allusion in these words to a specified number of years. “Time and Times” are with him a long undefined period; and “Half a Time” is added in the spirit of the promise to shorten the time, for the Elects sake. Those modern Writers, who think the Year-Day theory essential to the full exposition of the Visions of Daniel, will be disappointed by the opinion of our Reformer. He takes no notice of either the 1260 years of the Papacy, or the 1290 years for the reign of Antichrist. Again, there are Writers who deny the Fourth Beast to refer to Rome at all. Rosenmuller and Todd are instances; and each of these has his own way of interpreting the concluding portion of this chapter. The former asserts it to be fulfilled in the Greek Empire in Asia after Alexander’s death, and the latter supposes it to be yet future. According to Dr. Todd and the Futurists, it has yet to be developed. Its fulfillment shall be the precursor of The Final Antichrist, whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his Personal Advent. This Antichrist shall tyrannize in the world for the “Time, Times, and Half a Time,” that is, for the definite space of three years and a half, till the Ancient of Days shall proclaim The Final Close Of The Gentile Dispensation.

The three views, then, of the Interpretation of these Prophecies are thus clearly distinguished. The Præterist view treats them as fulfilled in past historical events, taking place under the several Empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Heathen Rome. The modern Anti-Papal view treats “The Little Horn” as the Pope, and the drays as years; and this stretches the predictions over the Twelve Centuries of European struggle between the Ecclesiastical and the Civil Powers. The Futurist is dissatisfied with the Year-Day theory he cannot agree with the past fulfillment of these glowing images of future blessedness. Hence, instead of either AntiochusMahometNero, or the Pope, he sees a future Antichrist in the Eleventh Horn of the seventh chapter, in The Little Horn of the eighth chapter, and The Willful King of the eleventh chapter. He rejects entirely the Year-Day explanation, and every assertion which is based upon it,; he takes the days literally as days, and supposes them yet unfulfilled. The “Toes” of the image, and the “Horns” of the beasts, are not to him Kingdoms or Successions of Rulers of any kind, but single individual persons. The phrase, The Pope, as equivalent to a “Horn,” is to him a fallacy as it does not mean one person, like an Alexander or a Seleucus; or a single despotic Antichrist — but a long succession of Rulers, one after another. f44 Faber, for example, interprets “the Scriptures of Truth,” chapter 11, by extending it throughout all history, till the end of the Gentile Dispensation. Dr. Todd refers it solely to its close, and contends very strongly against the usual explanation of the Fourth verse. Elliott, again, (Horae Apoc., volume 3,) expounds this chapter to the 35th verse with great propriety and clearness, but passes at once from the Ptolemidae and Seleucidae to the Pope, as signified by “The Willful King.” The Days then become Years, and. the various phases of the Papacy throughout many centuries are supposed to be predicted here, and fulfilled by the decrees of Justinian, persecutions of the Waldenses, French Revolutions, and catastrophes and convulsions yet to come. Our American brethren have adopted similar theories. Professor Bush in his “Hierophant,” has inserted an able exposition of the “Little Horn,” as unquestionably the Ecclesiastical Power of the “Papacy,” f45 and introduced the Goths and Charlemagne as fulfilling their own portions of this interesting Vision. Professor Stuart, however, of Andover, and some of his followers, have returned to the simplicity of the Earlier Expositors f46


Calvin, then, was, on the whole, a Præterist. He saw i 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 Saints of the Most High” were to him either the Hebrew or the Christian Church under heathen persecutors. the had a glimpse indeed of the times of the Messiah, and expressed his views in general language; but he rejected the idea of any series of fulfillment’s through a succession of either Popes or Sultans. He saw in these four-footed beings, neither Mahomet, nor Justinian, nor the Ottoman Empire, nor the Albigensian Martyrs. Heathen Rome, and its Senate, and its early Caesars, were to him what Papal Rome, and its Priesthood, and its Gregories, have been to later Expositors.

Our Second Volume, which contains The Prophetical Portion of the Book, will be illustrated by many Dissertations, which will condense the sentiments of later Expositors. Ample scope will then be given to important details. Extracts will be made from the most approved Moderns, and copious references to the best sources of information. IT will be sufficient here to insert the reply of Professor Bush of New York to Professor Stuart of Andover, as illustrating the importance of the difference between those who adopt the Year-Day theory and those who do not “Denying in toto, as I do, and disproving, as I think I have done, the truth of your theory in regard to the literal import of Day, I can of course see no evidence, and therefore feel no interest in your reasonings respecting the events which you consider as the fulfillment of these splendid Visions. If a Day stands for a Year, and a Beast represents an Empire, then we are imperatively remanded to a far different order of occurrences in which to read the realization of the mystic scenery from that which you have indicated. As the Spirit of Prophecy has under his illimitable ken the most distant future as well as the nearest present, I know nothing, in reason or exegesis, that should prevent the affairs of the Christian economy being represented by Daniel as well as by John. As the Fourth Beast of Daniel lives and acts through the space of 1260 years, and as the Seven-headed and Ten-horned beast of John prevails through the same period, and puts forth substantially the same demonstrations, I am driven to the conclusion that they adumbrate precisely the same thing — that they are merely different aspects of the same really — and this, I have no question, is the Roman, Empire. This you deny; but I submit that the denial can be sustained only by shewing an adequate reason why the Spirit of God should be debarred from giving such extension to the Visions of the Old Testament Prophets. Until this demand is satisfied, no progress can be made towards convincing the general mind of Christendom of the soundness of your Expositions. The students of Revelation will still reiterate the query, Why the oracles of Daniel; should be so exclusively occupied with the historical fates of Antiochus Epiphanes? If I do not err in the auguries of the times, a struggle is yet to ensue on the prophetic field between two conflicting parties, on whose banners shall be respectively inscribed, Antiochus and Antichrist. f47

The followers of Mede have met with a formidable antagonist, and the adherents of Calvin a staunch supporter in the late Regius Professor of Hebrew in the University of Cambridge. Dr. Lee, in his pamphlet on the Visions of Daniel and St. John F50 has stated his reasons for adhering to the Older Interpreters, thus adopting the principle of the Præterists, and entirely discarding the slightest reference to the Pope and the Papacy. His conclusions may be exhibited in a few word. Respecting Nebuchadnezzar’s Image, “the feet must of necessity symbolize Heathen Rome in its last times.” “Papal Rome cannot, therefore, possibly be any prolongation of Daniel’s Fourth Empire.” “These Kings,” represented by the Toes, “may, therefore, be supposed in a mystical sense to be, as the digits ten, a round number, and signifying a whole series.” F52 “The Little Horn” is said to be Heathen Rome — its persecuting Emperors from Nero to Constantine fulfilling the Prophetic conditions. The phrase “a Time, Times, and a Half,” is said to refer to the “latter half (mystically speaking) of the Seventieth Week of our Prophet.” “Daniel’s Week of seven days — equivalent here to Ezekiel’s period of seven years — is, we find, divided into two parts mystically considered halves, or of three days and a half.” F54 … “That the Roman Power took away the Daily Sacrifice, arid 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.” Thus in his general principles of Exposition, this celebrated Hebraist pronounces his verdict in favor of Calvin and his interpretation.


“The Fourth Beast of this verse has so usually been treated as the Roman Empire, that it simply becomes necessary to cite the exceptions to this opinion. Rosenmuller records an attempt to refute this interpretation by J. C. Becman, in a dissertation on the Fourth Monarchy, published in 1671, at Frankfort-on-the-Oder, and gives a slight sketch of his argument. Dr. Todd, in his able “Lectures on Antichrist,” has made use of every possible argument against applying this to the Roman Empire, and his theory has been fairly stated and ably opposed by Birks in his “First Elements of Sacred Prophecy.” London, 1843. With reference to this fourth beast, Dr. Todd believes it to be still future; and hence his expositions are classed with those of the Futurists. Our readers will remember, that as an expositor of prophecy, Calvin is a Præterist, 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.


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)

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