Philip Doddridge
(1702- 1751)


Annotations on the New Testament: Compiled from the Best Critical Authorities (1829) | Google Books | Doddridge Biography

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“Christian writers have always, with great reason, represented Josephus’s History of the Jewish war as the best commentary on this chapter (Matt. xxiv.)

Preterist Commentaries By Historical Preterism

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

(On The Significance of AD70)
“Nor must I, on this occasion, forget to mention the accomplishment of several prophecies, recorded “in the New Testament,” as a farther confirmation given by God to the Gospel.

The most eminent and single instance, under this head, is that of our Lord’s prediction concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, as it is recorded by St. Matthew in his twenty-fourth chapter. The tragical history of it is most circumstantially described by Josephus, a Jewish priest, who was an eye-witness of it; and the description he has given of this sad calamity so exactly corresponds to the prophecy, that one would have thought, had we not known the contrary, that it had been written by a Christian on purpose to illustrate it: [and one can never enough admire that series of amazing providences, by which the author was preserved from the most imminent danger; that he might leave us that invaluable treasure which his writings contain [Joseph. Bell. Jud. lib. iii. cap. 8.] .

We have no need of any farther evidence, than we find in him, of the exact accomplishment of what was prophesied concerning the destruction of Jerusalem: but our Lord had also foretold the long continued desolation of their temple [Matt. xxiii. 38. xxiv. 2.] ; and I cannot forbear reminding you of the awful sanction that was given to that part of the prediction: for it is well known, that a heathen historian has assured us, that when Julian, the apostate, in deliberate contempt of that prediction, solemnly and resolutely undertook to rebuild it, his impious design was miraculously frustrated again and again, and the workmen consumed by globes of fire, which broke out from the foundations [Cum itaque fortiter rei instaret Alypius, juvaretque provinciæ rector, metuendi globi flammarum, prope, iundamenta crebris assultibus crumpentes, seccie locum, exustis aliquoties operantibus, inaccessum; hocque modo, elemento destinatius repellente, cessavit inceptum. Ammian. Marcell. lib. xxiii. sub init. I think one might argue the author to have been a heathen, from this cold way of telling a story so glorious to Christianity: “the element repelling them by a kind of obstinate fatality.” The learned reader will easily observe with how different an air Socrates (Hist. lib. iii. cap. 20) and Sozomen (Hist. lib. v. cap. 22) recount, and most reasonably triumph in it.]” (Evidences)

(On Daniel’s “Weeks Prophecy”)
“On searching these ancient and important records, we find, not only in the general, that God intended to raise up for his people an illustrious Deliverer, who, amongst other glorious titles, is sometimes called the Messiah, or the Anointed One [Dan. ix. 25, 26. Psal. ii. 2.] : but we are more particularly told, that this great event should happen before the government ceased in the tribe of Judah [Gen. xlix. 10.] ; while the second temple was standing [Hag. ii. 7, 9.] ; and a little before its destruction, about 490 years after a command given to rebuild Jerusalem [Dan. ix. 25-27].” (

(On Matthew 23:39)
“Behold, the time is coming when you will see your folly, though too late ; for your sacred house, in which you vainly trust, even this magnificent temple in which you now stand, is so near being utterly destroyed, that it may be said to be even already left desolate to you, so that the few who survive the general carnage shall be forced to sit down and weep over its ruins. For I am now making my last visit here ; and I say unto you, That henceforth, since you treat me so ill, ye shall not see me any more till even ye shall say, as the multitudes lately did, but with sublimer passions and nobler views, Blessed (is) he that cometh in the name of the Lord! that is, till your calamities have taught you eagerly to wish for the Messiah, and divine grace shall have inclined you, as a nation, gladly to receive me under that character ; but you little think through what scenes of desolation, exile, and misery, you must pass for succeeding ages, before that happy time comes. (Compare Luke xiii. 34, 35.)” (Par. in loc.)

(On Matthew 24)
“Christian writers have always, with great reason, represented Josephus’s History of the Jewish war as the best commentary on this chapter (Matt. xxiv.); and many have justly remarked it as a wonderful instance of the care of Providence for the Christian church, that he, and eye-witness, and in these things of so great credit, should (especially in such an extraordinary manner) be preserved, to transmit to us a collection of important facts, which so exactly illustrate this noble prophecy in almost every circumstance.” (Doddridge, An Exposition of the Gospels, I:267, note.; Doddridge’s Family Expositor, vol ii. p. 373)

(On Matthew 24:14)
This gospel—shall be preached in all the world] The accomplishment of this extraordinary prophecy is admirably illustrated by Dr. Arthur Young, On Idolatry, vol ii, p. 216–234. It appears from the most credible records, that the gospel was preached in Idumea, Syria, and Mesopotamia, by Jude; in Egypt, Marmorica, Mauritania, and other parts of Africa, by mark, Simon, and Jude; in Ethiopia, by Candace’s Eunuch, and Matthias; in Pontus, Galatia, and the neighbouring parts of Asia, by Peter; in the territories of the Seven Asiatic Churches by John; in Parthia, by Matthew; in Scythia, by Philip and Andrew; in the northern and western parts of Asia, by Bartholomew; in Persia, by Simon and Jude; in Media, Carmania, and several eastern parts, by Thomas; through the vast tract of Jerusalem round about unto Illyricum, by Paul; as also in Italy, and probably in Spain, Gaul, and Britain; in most of which places Christian churches were planted in less than thirty years after the death of Christ, which was before the destruction of Jerusalem.” (Philip Doddridge’s Family Exposition of the New Testament)

(Paraphrase on Matthew 24)
Immediately after the affliction of those days which I have been describing, the sun shall, as it were, be darkened, and the moon shall not seem to give her usual light; and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens, all the mighty machines and strong movements above, shall be shaken and broken to pieces; that is, according to the sublimity of that prophetic language to which you have been accustomed, the whole civil and ecclesiastical constitution of the nation shall not only be shocked, but totally dissolved. And then shall there evidently appear such a remarkable hand of providence in avenging my quarrel upon this sinful people, that it shall be like the sign of the Son of man in heaven at the last day ; and all the tribes of the land shall then mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming, as it were, in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory; for that celestial army which shall appear in the air, marshalled round the city, shall be a sure token to them that the angels of God, and the great Lord of those heavenly hosts, are set, as it were, in array against them.”

(Regarding the Transition Text)
“Archbishop Tillotson, and Brennius, with many other learned interpreters, imagine, that our Lord here makes the transition from the destruction of Jerusalem, which had been the subject of his discourse thus far, to the general judgment; but I think, as it would be very harsh to suppose all the sufferings of the Jewish nation, in all ages, to be called the tribulation of those days” — [what occasion, by the by, for supposing the sufferings of the Jewish nation in all ages to be treated of at all ?] — “so it would, on the other hand, be equally so to say, that the general judgment, which probably will not commence till at least a thousand years after their restoration, will happen immediately after their sufferings ; nor can I find any one instance in which eutheos (immediately) is used in such a strange latitude. What is said below (in Matt. xxiv. 34, Mark xii. 30, and Luke xxi. 32,) seems also an insuperable objection against such an interpretation. I am obliged, therefore, to explain this section as in the paraphrase ; though I acknowledge many of the figures used may with more literal propriety be applied to the last day, to which there may be a remote, though not an immediate, reference.”

(On Matthew 24:36-)
“I cannot agree with Dr. Clarke in referring this verse to the destruction of Jerusalem, the particular day of which was not a matter of great importance ; and as for the season of it, I see not how it could properly be said to be entirely unknown, after such an express declaration that it should be in that generation. It seems, therefore, much fitter, with Dr. Whitby, (after Grotius,) to explain it of the last day, when heaven and earth shall pass away.”

“Then shall two be in the field,  may allusively be accommodated to the day of judgment, yet he doubts not they originally refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, to which alone they are properly applicable.  I humbly conceive, that the grand transition, about which commentators are so much divided, and so generally mistaken, is made precisely after these two verses.”

(On Mark 8:38-9:1)
“The Son of man cometh in his kingdom.’ Raphelius (Annot. ex Polyb. in loc.) and Albert (Observ. p. 113, 114,) have indeed proved that erchomai is some- times’used for aperchomai, and en for eis; (compare John v. 4 😉 and therefore they, with some other critics, would render this text, Some here present shall not die till they see the Son of man going into his kingdom, that is, ascending to heaven, which the apostles did. (See Acts i. 9.) But it increases the difficulty to suppose both these uncommon senses of the words in question to occur together; nor will Luke xxiii. 42 be allowed as an exact parallel. I choose therefore to adhere to our received version, which may include a reference to the giving the Spirit, and propagating the gospel, but chiefly refers to that providential appearance of Christ for the destruction of Jerusalem, so often called the coming of the Son of man, (Matt. xxiv. 3, 27, 30, 31,) and the day in which he shall be revealed. (Luke xvii. 24, 26, 30.) This sense is the more natural here, especially as our Lord’s manner of speaking intimates that most of the company should be dead before the event referred to; yet his ascension happened in a few months after this.” (Note in loc.)

(On Luke 18:1-8).
‘Thus our Lord discoursed with His disciples of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; and for their encouragement under those hardships which they might in the meantime expect, from their unbelieving countrymen or others, He spake a parable, to them, which was intended to inculcate upon them this great truth, that how distressed soever their circumstances might be, they ought always to pray with faith and perseverance, and not to faint under their trials.’ (Family Expos. on Luke xviii. 1-8)

(On Luke 18:8)
‘Will he find faith in the land ?’ ‘It is evident the word often signifies not the earth in general, but some particular land or country; as in Acts vii. 3, 4,11, and in numberless other places. And the context here limits it to the less extensive signification. The believing Hebrews were evidently in great danger of being wearied out with their persecutions and distresses. Comp. Heb. iii. 12-14; x. 23-39; xii. 1-4; James i. 1-4; ii. 6.’ ( Family Expos. on Luke xviii. 1-8)

(On 1 Thessalonians 2:16)
Bid divine wrath is speedily coming upon them, and will be carried to the greatest extremity, not at Jerusalem only, but every where else in then- various settlements in heathen countries. ‘ Though the remarkable circumstances which attended the destruction of Jerusalem, so particularly represented by Josephus, who was an eye-witness of them, and so exactly corresponding to our Lord’s prediction, (see § 161, p. 281, et seq.) have fixed the attention of Christians chiefly on that catastrophe ; yet it is well known that vast numbers of the Jewish nation were soon after destroyed in other provinces of  the Koman Empire, particularly under Trajan and Adrian : under the former 460,000 men in Egypt and Cyprus, and under the latter above 580,000, as Xiphilinus informs us from Dio ; and the learned Mr. Lowman supposes these events to be referred to in the second apocalyptic seal. Rev. vi. 4.” (Par. and Note in loc.)

(On Revelation 6:12-17)
“Day of his wrath is come, as it appears, by comparing one part of this book with another, that the last seal made way for, and introduced, the trumpets; and the last trumpet the vials; it is justly argued, that there is a reference to a series of events successively following each other, and consequently this passage cannot refer to the final judgment; but to some great and spreading calamity, in which the hand of Christ should appear. And this interpretation is illustrated and confirmed, by the manner in which the destruction of Jerusalem is foretold, Matt. xxiv. Compare Isaiah ii. 19; xiii. 6 ; Hosea x. 8 ; Zeph. i. 14; Luke xxiii. 30. Mr. Lowman interprets the sixth seal, of the great commotions in the empire, from Maximinian to Constantino the Great, who put an end to the persecution of heathen Rome ; from A. D. 304 to A. D. 323, during which time there were many bloody battles between the contending emperors, till Constantine abolished paganism, and established the Christian religion. This interpretation he confirms by apposite passages from Lactantius and the heathen historians ; and it appears the most probable.” (Note in loc.)


Milton Terry (1898)
“When, however, the one school of interpreters attempt to point out the dividing line, there are as many differences of opinion as there are interpreters. In Matt. 24 and 25, for example, the transition from the one subject to the other is placed by Bengel and others at 24:29; by E.J. Meyer at verse 35; by Doddridge at verse 36; by Kuinoel at verse 33; by Eichorn at 25:14, and by Wetstein at 25:31.” (Biblical Apocalyptics, p. 217)

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