Online Bible and Study Tools
Translate || Vine / Schaff || Alts/Vars/Criticism/Aramaic

 
 


End Times Chart


Introduction and Key

BOOKS:  BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)



Church-State Relations and the Book of Revelation
An Introduction to The Parousia: A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of the Lord's Second Coming
by James Stuart Russell (1878) // Written by
Todd Dennis, Curator
 



 

FREE ONLINE BOOKS

 
 
 

Free Online Books

Free Online Books



Apocalyptic | Apocryphal | Archeology | Lectures | Biographies | Dead Sea Scrolls | First Century History | Foreign | Jewish Sources | Josephus

Click For Site Updates Page

Free Online Books Page

Historical Preterism Main

Modern Preterism Main

Hyper Preterism Main

Preterist Idealism Main

Critical Article Archive Main

Church History's Preteristic Presupposition

Study Archive Main

Dispensationalist dEmEnTiA  Main

Josephus' Wars of the Jews Main

Online Study Bible Main

 1-1000

070: Clement: First Epistle of Clement

075: Baruch: Apocalypse Of Baruch

075: Barnabus: Epistle of Barnabus

090: Esdras 2 / 4 Ezra

100: Odes of Solomon

150: Justin: Dialogue with Trypho

150: Melito: Homily of the Pascha

175: Irenaeus: Against Heresies

175: Clement of Alexandria: Stromata

198: Tertullian: Answer to the Jews

230: Origen: The Principles | Commentary on Matthew | Commentary on John | Against Celsus

248: Cyprian: Against the Jews

260: Victorinus: Commentary on the Apocalypse "Alcasar, a Spanish Jesuit, taking a hint from Victorinus, seems to have been the first (AD 1614) to have suggested that the Apocalyptic prophecies did not extend further than to the overthrow of Paganism by Constantine."

310: Peter of Alexandria

310: Eusebius: Divine Manifestation of our Lord

312: Eusebius: Proof of the Gospel

319: Athanasius: On the Incarnation

320: Eusebius: History of the Martyrs

325: Eusebius: Ecclesiastical History

345: Aphrahat: Demonstrations

367: Athanasius: The Festal Letters

370: Hegesippus: The Ruin of Jerusalem

386: Chrysostom: Matthew and Mark

387: Chrysostom: Against the Jews

408: Jerome: Commentary on Daniel

417: Augustine: On Pelagius

426: Augustine: The City of God

428: Augustine: Harmony

420: Cassian: Conferences

600: Veronica Legend

800: Aquinas: Eternity of the World

 


1000-2006

FUTURIST
HISTORICAL
MODERN

1265: Aquinas: Catena Aurea

1543: Luther: On the Jews

1555: Calvin: Harmony on Evangelists

1556: Jewel: Scripture

1586: Douay-Rheims Bible

1598: Jerusalem's Misery ; The dolefull destruction of faire Ierusalem by Tytus, the Sonne of Vaspasian

1603: Nero : A New Tragedy

1613: Carey: The Fair Queen of Jewry

1614: Alcasar: Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocalypsi

1654: Ussher: The Annals of the World

1658: Lightfoot: Commentary from Hebraica

1677: Crowne - The Destruction of Jerusalem

1764: Lardner: Fulfilment of our Saviour's Predictions

1776: Edwards: History of Redemption

1785: Churton: Prophecies Respecting the Destruction of Jerusalem

1801: Porteus: Our Lord's Prophecies

1802: Nisbett: The Coming of the Messiah

1805: Jortin: Remarks on Ecclesiastical History

1810: Clarke: Commentary On the Whole Bible

1816: Wilkins: Destruction of Jerusalem Related to Prophecies

1824: Galt: The Bachelor's Wife

1840: Smith: The Destruction of Jerusalem

1841: Currier: The Second Coming of Christ

1842: Bastow : A (Preterist) Bible Dictionary

1842: Stuart: Interpretation of Prophecy

1843: Lee: Dissertations on Eusebius

1845: Stuart: Commentary on Apocalypse

1849: Lee: Inquiry into Prophecy

1851: Lee: Visions of Daniel and St. John

1853: Newcombe: Observations on our Lord's Conduct as Divine Instructor

1854: Chamberlain: Restoration of Israel

1854: Fairbairn: The Typology of Scripture

1859: "Lee of Boston": Eschatology

1861: Maurice: Lectures on the Apocalypse

1863: Thomas Lewin : The Siege of Jerusalem

1865: Desprez: Daniel (Renounced Full Preterism)

1870: Fall of Jerusalem and the Roman Conquest

1871: Dale: Jewish Temple and Christian Church (PDF)

1879: Warren: The Parousia

1882: Farrar: The Early Days of Christianity

1883: Milton S. Terry: Biblical Hermeneutics

1888: Henty: For The Temple

1891: Farrar: Scenes in the days of Nero

1896: Lee : A Scholar of a Past Generation

1902: Church: Story of the Last Days of Jerusalem

1917: Morris: Christ's Second Coming Fulfilled

1985: Lee: Jerusalem; Rome; Revelation (PDF)

1987: Chilton: The Days of Vengeance

2001: Fowler: Jesus - The Better Everything

2006: M. Gwyn Morgan - AD69 - The Year of Four Emperors

Print and Use For Personal Bookmark or Placement in Bookstores



DISSERTATIONS

Introductory to the study and right understanding of the Language, Structure and Contents of the

APOCALYPSE

Alexander Tilloch

1823

"I think with Grotius, and with Michaelis, (if that continued to be his opinion,) that it was written in the time of Claudius;—-or, at all events, not later than the reign of Nero, as maintained by Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, and others."

CLICK HERE TO READ PDF FILE OF ENTIRE BOOK

INTRODUCTION

About forty years have elapsed since the attention of the Author of these Dissertations was first turned to the Revelation ; and the contents of that wonderful book have, ever since, ranch occupied his thoughts. For some years, like many other persons, be received implicitly, the dicta of those critics who charge the original with solecisms; but, in his endeavors to gain from translations, and from authors who bad written on the subject, some knowlege of the meaning of the prophecy, he found it necessary, occasionally, to have recourse to the original, and, after some time, with such a result, in one or two iustauces, as led him to question the propriety of submitting, without a rigid enquiry, to the decision of those who impute grammatical improprieties to the amanuensis of the Apocalypse. That the book might contain some Hebrew idioms, and also peculiar modes of construction, appeared to him not improbable ; but the more he considered the subject the more reasonable, at length, it appeared to him, to believe it possible that critics might be mistaken, than that a work, written by an Apostle,—by one endowed with the gift of tongues, and writing under Divine inspiration,—should abound in anomalies.

Persuaded that he has discovered the nature of those peculiarities in the composition of the Apocalypse, which have perplexed men of incomparably higher attainments, and have led to the erroneous opinion, so generally entertained, respecting its style, he thinks that he but performs a duty to his fellow Christians in giving publicity to that discovery; and the more so as, from the precarious state of his health, it is very probable that he may not live to finish a larger work,—devoted to the elucidation of the Apocalypse— with which he has been many years occupied:—but whether that work shall ever see the light or not, it is hoped that the other topics, connected with the subject, introduced into this volume, may also prove serviceable to persons engaged in the same pursuit.

Wherever the author has felt himself obliged, in the subjoined pages, lo express bis dissent from tlie opinions of previous writers, he hopes that he will be found not to have treated any one with personal disrespect. Should his language, in any instance, exhibit such a semblance, he begs to disavow the intention; for he can truly affirm, that he is grateful to every laborer who has preceded him in these inquiries.

Differing, as he does, from received opinions, respecting the style of the Apocalypse, the author is aware lhat he exposes himself to criticism: but if dispensed with candour it shall be an excellent oil which shall not break his head; for none will rejoice more than himself in the correction of any error into which he may have fallen; that truth, from whatever quarter it may come, may alone have that influence, which the interests of literature, of religion, and of society so universally deserve, and so imperiously demand.
 


CHAPTER ONE

To ascertain the true date of the Apocalypse is, as will be shown hereafter, a subject of much greater importance than at first view most people may imagine. Critics are by no means agreed as to the time when it was written : indeed they differ so widely, that some make it one of the earliest, while others make it the last published book of the New Testament. Grotius and Sir Isaac Newton ascribe it to the reign of Claudius or of Nero. Mill, Lardner, Bengelius, Woodhouse and some other able critics contend that it was written in the reign of Domitian, A. D. 96 or 97. Michaelis believes that it was written in the reign of Claudius,' who died A. D. 54. and appeals to Sir Isaac Newton, " that prodigy of learning," whose arguments in favor of an early date he considers as generally unexceptionable, (excepting those drawn from allusions to the Revelation, alleged to be found in the first Epistle of Peter, and in the Epistle to the Hebrews.) " I have so high " an opinion (says he) of the divine under" standing of Newton, that I cannot flatter my" self with having discovered a proof in his " positions which was undiscovered by him. " It is therefore with some diffidence that I lay " before my readers some additional arguments " for his opinion, that the Revelation was writ" ten so early as in the time of Claudius or "Nero." His additional arguments are:—1. That when the Apocalypse was written, the governors of the church were still called Angels, a name nowhere else applied to them in the New Testament or in the writings of the primitive fathers. In the Epistles they are called Bishops [«r»Vxo7roi]- " Is it probable (says he) " that John would choose to be singular in " calling those Angels [ayysXo«], who had, by " custom, obtained a different title ? May we "not then conclude, that his Revelation was " written before the title of Bishops was in "use?"1—2. That the Revelation mentions no heresy as flourishing at that time, except only the sect of the Nicolastans : " this sect ex" isted long before Cerinthus, and as John wrote " his Epistle and his Gospel against Cerinthus, " between the years 65 and 68, the Revelation " must have been written considerably earlier." His third argument he rests on what is said respecting Christ coming quickly, (ch. xxii, 20) which he considers as not having reference to the second coming of Christ to the general Judgment, but to the judgment impending over Jerusalem : alleging that John so uses the phrase in his Gospel (ch. xxi, 22); that therefore, it seems probable, the same sense was intended in the Revelation ; and that, " consequently, " the Revelation must have been written before " the destruction of Jerusalem."—Of all the arguments adduced by Newton, none appears more cogent to Michaelis than that which is drawn from the Hebrew style of the Revelation; from which the former concludes, that John must have written the book shortly after he left Palestine, because his style, in a later part of his life, was pure and fluent Greek.

1 Introductory Lectures 1761. 4to. p. 389- But in his 4th Edition (Marsh's Translation 1793. 8vo. Vol. 4.) he seems to hesitate, whether to ascribe it to the reign of Claudius or that of hii successor Nero.

1 Michaelis is mistaken in his belief, that the term Angel is applied to the Presbyters in the Apocalypse only. It is Presbyters, and not spiritual beings, who are alluded to by that term in the Epistle to the Colossians ii. IS. He is right, however, in his general conclusion. The title of Bishop bad come into general use long before the year 96.

Bishop Newton also thinks it more probable that John was banished to Patmos in the time of Nero, than in that of Domitian. Like Michaelis he rests his opinion chiefly on the evidence adduced by the great Newton, to whom he refers both in his text arid notes. The style appears to him an unanswerable argument that the book was written soon after John had come out of Judea. He not only (contrary to the opinion of Michaelis on this point) considers the allusions to the Revelation in the Epistles of Peter, and in Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, to which Sir Isaac had referred, as being correct, but answers a possible objection, ' that St. John ' might borrow from St. Peter and St. Paul, as ' well as St. Peter and St. Paul from St. John:'— " If you will consider (says he) and compare " the passages together, you will find sufficient " reason to be convinced that St. Peter's and " St. Paul's are the copies, and St. John's the " original."

Lardner, on the contrary, opposes the arguments drawn by Sir Isaac Newton from the bearing of ancient testimony ; and, taking it for granted that John had been banished, concludes, that he and other exiles did not return from their banishment until after the death of Domitian, (who died in 96); which is the opinion of Basnage, and likewise of Cellarius and others; and that the Revelation was written in the year 95, 96, or 97.

From the best examination that I have been able to give to this question, I have arrived at a different conclusion from those who contend for a late date for the Apocalypse. I think with Grotius, and with Michaelis, (if that continued to be his opinion,) that it was written in the time of Claudius;—-or, at all events, not later than the reign of Nero, as maintained by Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, and others.

Before submitting to the reader-the evidence on which 1 have come to this conclusion, I shall state briefly the substance of Ecclesiastical tradition, respecting the time at which the Apocalypse was written;—and, secondly, the arguments which have been drawn from the supposed state of the Asiatic churches, with a view to the settlement of this question.

§ 1. Of traditionary Testimony respecting the Date of the Apocalypse.

The opinion that the Apocalypse was written in the time of Domitian, was introduced by Irenaeus; and, indeed, independent of the fact, that such is his testimony, all the other arguments that have been offered, for so late a date, may be considered as mere assumptions, resting on no conclusive evidence. Against the correctness of Irenaeus it is alleged, that he postponed the dates of some other books, and, therefore, it is not impossible that he might be mistaken respecting the date of this, which he chose to place after them. Sir Isaac Newton thinks that he " might perhaps have heard from his master " Polycarp, that he had received this book from " John about the time of Domitian's death ; or, " indeed, that John might himself at that time " have made a new publication of it, whence " Irenaeus might imagine it was then but newly " written." If, however, there be any error in Irenaeus, it is more likely that his work has suffered from the attempts of transcribers to make their copy conform to their own ideas of historical truth, than that there could be any new publication of a work already given to the churches. It has been suggested; and from the facts to be submitted to the reader respecting the early date of the Apocalypse, the idea seems to be not void of all probability ; " that as the " name of Nero, before he was declared Ca?sar " and successor to Claudius, was Domitius, " possibly Irenaeus might have so written it; " and that, by some fatality, this name was " lengthened to Domitianus—the difference be" ing only two letters.'"

Eusebius follows Irenaeus in his Chronicle and Ecclesiastical history, but in his Evangelical Demonstrations he says, "James, the Lord's brother, " was stoned, Peter was crucified at Rome with " his head downward, and Paul was beheaded, " and John banished into an island." That is, as Sir Isaac understands him, " he conjoins the " banishment of John into Patmos, with the " deaths of Peter and Paul," which happened in the reign of Nero. To which Lardner answers ; " he (Eusebius) does not say that all these things " happened in the time of one and the same " Emperor—he is only enumerating persons who " suffered." Sir Isaac remarks that Tertullian also conjoins these events. " True (says Lardner), " but he does not say that all happened in " the same reign."—Some, however, may think it not a little remarkable, if not extremely improbable, that both these writers should, by mere accident, have mentioned the death of Peter and Paul, and John's banishment together, without having any reference whatever to the same period.

1 Bachmair on the Revelation.

Other early writers have also followed Irenseus; but as they refer to him, or to Eusebius who copied him, they are in fact the same authority, and therefore to quote what they say would be encroaching unnecessarily on the time of the reader.

Epiphanius twice names the reign of Claudius, as that during which the Apocalypse was written. In \\isfifty-jirst Heresy he speaks thus : " after "his (John's) return from Patmos, under the Em" peror Claudius ;" and afterwards he says, " when John prophesied in the days of the Em" peror Claudius, while he was in the island of " Patmos." Lardner quotes, with approbation, the opinion of Blondel (who alleges that, " as " Epiphanius is singular, he ought not be regard"ed,") and adds, in two or three pages after, " one would think Sir Isaac Newton had little " reason to mention Epiphanius, when he does "not follow him." But we might with equal justice say, " one would think Lardner had but " little reason to mention either Epiphanius or " Sir Isaac Newton, when he does not follow "either of them :" for Sir Isaac in quoting Epiphanius is showing that, though many have followed the opinion of Irenseus, as expressed in our present copies, the testimony of antiquity, for a date so late as that of Domitian, is not so uniform as some would have it be believed : Nor is the argument drawn from numbers, against the testimony of one historian, so conclusive as Lardner and others have imagined ; for if a thousand should report the testimony of Irenaeus, it is still but one testimony, and would only show that they preferred his authority, while Epiphanius followed some other now lost. But in fact Epiphanius is not " singular" in following some other authority than that of Irenasus. The commentator Arethas, who quotes Irenaeus' opinion, does not follow it. In his explanation of the sixth seal he applies it to the destruction of Jerusalem ; and he does so expressly on the authority of preceding interpreters. Lardner's objection, that " Arethas seems to have been of " opinion that things which had come to pass " long before might be represented in the Revelation," does not apply to the case before us: for Arethas says, and Lardner has himself quoted the words, that " The destruction caused " by the Romans had not fallen upon the Jews, " when the evangelist received these (Apocalyp" tic) instructions. Nor was he at Jerusalem, " but in Ionia, where is Ephesus: for he stayed " at Jerusalem no more than fourteen years—i " And, after the death of our Lord's mother, he " left Judea, and went to Ephesus, as tradition " says : where also, as is said, he had the Reve"lation of future things." These words are quoted by Lardner for the purpose of assailing them. " How can we rely (says he) on a writer " of the sixth century for these particulars; that " John did not stay at Jerusalem more than " fourteen years, that he left Judea upon the " death of our Lord's mother, and then went to " Ephesus: when we can evidently perceive " from the history in the Acts, that in the four" teenth year after our Lord's ascension, there " were no Christian converts at Ephesus : and " that the church at Ephesus was not founded " by St. Paul till several years afterwards ? What " avails it to refer to such passages as these ?"— What avails it! To show that there were other traditions besides that derived from Jrenaeus, and that some preferred them to his. Nor is the fact that others, before Arethas, believed the Revelation to have been given prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, set aside or even weakened by his running into the same sentence other traditions, which might appear incredible to Lardner, or which might even be false. Arethas was not an original commentator, but exhibited a synopsis of what had been advanced by An

drew of Caesarea (who lived about the year 500) and others ; and this very Andrew quotes, in his commentary, the same application of a passage in the Apocalypse to the destruction of Jerusalem, though he rejects it himself. The testimony of Arethas is offered—not as having authority, merely because it is his, but—as evidence, that the opinion which he delivers, was held by other commentators before his time. Michaelis remarks that " we know of no commentators be" fore him but Andrew of Caesarea, and Hippo" litus, who lived at the end of the second " century." This, however, it must be allowed is no proof that his authority was Hippolitus: it might have been one later;—but, it is also possible that it might have been one earlier; for though Michaelis has here overlooked the fact, the Apocalypse was the subject of a treatise written by Melito, Bishop of Sardis, in the early part of the second century, of which nothing remains but its title, which is preserved in Eusebius.1 I stop not to examine the other facts, which Lardner thinks cannot be true ; for, if false, it does not follow that the simple fact, of early commentators having held the opinion, that the Apocalypse was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, must also be false—any more than it will follow, if it can be proved that Iron-urns is wrong, in ascribing the book to the reign of Domitian, that, therefore, his authority is to be questioned on all other points.—But why, after quoting the words of Arethas, has Lardner repeated them, with amplification? Arethas does not say that, on the death of our Lord's mother John left Judea and Then went to Ephesus ; but that, after that event he left Judea and went to Ephesus. It might be some time afier. But what has Ephesus to do with the question ? Could John by no possibility have visited Patmos, "for the word of God," or to preach the gospel, till after he had taken up his residence at Ephesus ?

1 Hist. Eccles. iv. 26.

I mean not, however, to enter into the question, how long John stayed at Jerusalem? for it is possible, though that city might for a long time be his usual place of residence, that, like the other Apostles, he sometimes travelled, preaching the glad news of salvation. Luke's history is confined chiefly to the travels of Paul, which accounts sufficiently for his recording nothing respecting those of John. It is therefore a mere assumption, that John could not be in Patmos before the reign of Domitian, and that he was banished to that island. Could it even be proved, that he was actually banished to Patmos by that Emperor, this would be no proof whatever, that he had not been there before. Nay, more; he must have been in that island long before, if the evidence, to be submitted hereafter to the reader, be well founded.

The title of the Syriac version of the Apocalypse has also been offered as an evidence for a date prior to the reign of Domitian. It runs thus: " The Revelation which was made to John " the Evangelist, by God, in the island of Patmos, " into which he was banished by Nero the Caesar." To this evidence it is objected that the Apocalypse was not in the first Syriac Version, which was made very early. This may be true; but it is equally true that Ephrem the Syrian, who lived about the year 370, several times quotes the Apocalypse in his sermons, which yields a strong argument (though not a positive proof) that a translation must then have been in existence, and known to the members of the Syrian congregations. But even had no translation existed prior to the Philoxenian version, which was made in the year 508, the argument remains, that the tradition of the Syrian churches ascribed the Apocalypse to the days of Nero; and the presumption is, that the Greek manuscripts whence they made their version exhibited the above title.

I will not detain the reader longer on Ecclesiastical traditions respecting the time at which the Apocalypse was written. (Those who wish for farther information on this subject should consult Lardner, who has collected the whole with great labor; also Michaelis' Introduction to the JNew Testament.) But it should be constantly recollected, that, however numerous the authors are, who ascribe it to the end of Domitian's reign, the testimony of all of them may be resolved into that of one individual, whom they copied, namely Irenaeus ; that another tradition placed the date in the reign of Nero ; and another in that of Claudius : and hence it follows, that the true date, if it can be settled, must be ascertained on some other evidence. That is, their conflicting testimonies must, if possible, be tried by some standard on which reliance may be placed, to ascertain which of them should be received as true. It may be proper, however, to examine another argument against an early date, brought forward by Vitringa, also by Lenfant and Beausobre in their preface to the Revelation, and quoted with approbation by Lardner; and this shall be attempted in the next section. I pass unnoticed a fourth tradition, which says that John was banished to Patmos in the reign of Trajan; and a fifth, which places his banishment in that of Hadrian; as both these necessarily pre-suppose that the Apocalypse was not written by the apostle John—a question which has been so well treated of by Newton, Lardiier, Woodhouse, and other British Critics, to say nothing of foreigners, that it does not deserve another moment's consideration.

§2. Of the Arguments for a late Date, founded on the supposed State of the Asiatic Churches when the Apocalypse was written.

Michaelis, alluding to the testimony of Epiphanius, who twice states the Apocalypse to have been written, in the reign of Claudius, says:—" To this single testimony of a writer " who lived three hundred years later than St. " John, two very material objections have been " made. [He means by Blondel, Lardner, and " others.] In the first place no traces are to be " discovered of any persecution of the Christians " in the reign of Claudius: for though he com" manded the Jews to quit Rome, yet this com" maud did not affect the Jews who lived out " of Italy, and still less the Christians."

This argument—often advanced by those who contend for a late date to the Apocalypse—assumes, as not to be questioned, that John's visit to Patmos was by compulsion, in consequence of persecution; but he himself does not say so; he only states that he was there, 8i<% rlv Xo'yov Tou

ou, "for the word of God"—words which, taken

in their strict and proper sense, do not convey that idea; and shall we be content, on a question of this kind, to receive the traditions of men who would have us believe, without giving their authority, that John was cast by order of Nero or of Domitian into a vessel of boiling oil, and came out unhurt ?

Michaelis thus states the second objection that had been made [viz. by Vitringa, Lenfant and Beausobre, and Lardner] : " That the seven "flourishing Christian communities at Ephesus, " Smyrna, &c. existed so early as the reign of " Claudius, is an opinion not easy to be recon" ciled with the history given, in the Acts of the " Apostles, of the first planting of Christianity " in Asia Minor. Besides it is hardly possible " that St. John resided at Ephesus, from which " place it is pre-supposed that he was sent into " banishment, so early as the time of Claudius: " for the account given, Acts xix, of St. Paul's " stay and conduct at Ephesus, manifestly im" plies that no apostle had already founded and " governed a church there. And when St. Paul " left the place, the Ephesians had no Bishop : " for, in an Epistle to Timothy, written for that " purpose, he gave orders to regulate the church " at Ephesus, and to ordain bishops. This ar" gument (he adds) may perhaps be strengthened " by observing, that the second Apocalyptical

" Epistle, ch. ii. 1, is addressed to the angel of " the church of Ephesus, that is, as is commonly " understood, to the bishop."

The objection just stated rests on mere assumptions and on false facts. It is first assumed that John was banished to Patmos; secondly, that he resided at Ephesus before his banishment; thirdly, that he could not have been in Patmos but in consequence of such banishment; fourthly, that there was no bishop (or elder) at Ephesus when Paul left that city; because, fifthly, au epistle was -written to Timothy to ordain bishops there. Now ft is singular enough, that so many facts should be assumed, without offering proof of the truth of any one of them : no, nor can any one of them be proved. We learn from the 18th chapter of the Acts, that when Paul left Athens he came to Corinth, and found there a certain Jew named Aquila; and that this was in the reign of Claudius,—a fact which deserves particular notice ; for the decree of Claudius, which commanded all Jews to depart from Rome, and which was the cause of Aquila and his wife Priscilla leaving Italy and proceeding to Corinth (Acts xviii. 1, 2), was issued in the eleventh year of that Emperor's reign, answering to A. D. 51. We also learn from the Acts of the Apostles, that his stay at Corinth was one year and six months in all, (for the account of

B

the insurrection which dragged Paul before Gallio is only episodical,) and that immediately after this he sailed into Syria, with Priscilla and Aquila, and came to Ephesus, where he left them; but not till after he had himself entered into the Synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. Here we are made acquainted with the fact that the Apostle Paul himself had been preaching at Ephesus, some time before the events that are recorded in ch. xix. had taken place. How long this was I will not presume to decide positively: but thence he sailed to Cesarea (on his way to Jerusalem), after which he went down to Antioch, where he spent some time, and afierwards went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening the disciples. With these facts staring Michaelis in the face, it is difficult to imagine what could have led him to express himself as he has done in the foregoing quotation, when he says, that " the account given Acts xix. "of Paul's stay and conduct at Ephesus, rnani" festly implies that no Apostle had already "founded and governed a church there; and " that when St. Paul left the place the Ephe" sians had no bishop." It is impossible to account for this inaccurate statement, but by ascribing it to mere inadvertence and haste. Paul's visit to Ephesus, spoken of in Acts xix, was in fact his second visit to that city. When this

Apostle quitted Ephesus, after his first visit, he had left Aquila and Priscilla there; -who of course did not remain idle, as we see by the care they took to instruct .Apolios. But even had we not been informed that an Apostle had been at Ephesus,—and that Apostle Paul himself, before the visit mentioned in xix. 1,—the inference of Michaelis would be inadmissible; the presence of an Apostle not being necessary to the founding of a Church of Christ: for wherever men are congregated in his name, should there be only two or three of them, there is he in the midst of them (Mat. xviii. 20). When Paul came to Ephesus (Acts xix), instead of meeting no Christian converts he found disciples there (v. 1), and congregated together too—that is, they were a Christian church. The male members then amounted to twelve (v. 7): and they were a "flourishing Christian community" also, if we may judge from their being thought worthy to receive the miraculous gifts conferred by the Holy Spirit; of which visible manifestation of the divine power they had not even heard till Paul now visited them. When arrived at Ephesus this second time, he continued his visits to the Synagogue for three months, reasoning with the Jews concerning the reign of God ; after which he separated the disciples—that is, organised them as a complete church—and continued at

Ephesus two years longer, disputing daily in the school of Tyrannus; so That All They That

DWELT IN ASIA HEARD THE WORD OF THE LORD.

Paul himself, then, was the founder of the churches in Asia, as he was of a great number of other Gentile churches, and this too chiefly in the reign of Claudius. Michaelis's statement—and others have stated the same thing—that in his first epistle to Timothy, " he gave orders to him " to regulate the church at Ephesus, and to ordain "bishops" is not warranted by any thing in that Epistle. Such an order is indeed stated respecting Titus, when left in Crete (Tit. i. 5); but the reason for Timothy being desired to abide, on some occasion, at Ephesus, is expressly stated to have been, that he might charge them to maintain the doctrine delivered to them by Paul (1 Tim. i. 3), in opposition to the fooleries of the Judaizing teachers; who began to trouble the churches almost as soon as they were established. The instructions given to Timothy (and by means of the Epistle addressed to him, to all Christian churches, in all ages), respecting the character that ought to be found in persons appointed to be bishops, offers no evidence that this was written with an eye to his appointing them for the first time at Ephesus. Timothy was in fact an Evangelist, and was often sent by Paul to assist in arranging matters in different

churches, as may be seen in the Acts and in the Epistles; and it was necessary that he should know how to conduct himself among Gofs family, the church of the living God (1 Tim. iii. 15), in what he was to teach them, respecting the characters that were to be appointed office-bearers in the churches, as well as in every thing respecting the common faith. I mean not to contend that Paul established a church at Ephesus on the first occasion on which he visited that city (Acts xviii. 19) ; or that the disciples whom he found there, on his second visit, (xix. 1), were in perfect church order; for I think the contrary is fairly inferable from the history: but I am decidedly of opinion that the notice taken of his "separating the disciples" (v. 9), is a plain intimation, that they were then put into an organised state, as a church of Christ. This event took place two years before the riot of the shrinemakers ; which happened just at the time that he had purposed to pass through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem (v. 21). It would be of importance if the precise date could be ascertained; hut as this is not indispensably necessary to the present inquiry, I shall only briefly notice, that chronologers have, in my opinion, generally allowed too great an interval between the period of Paul's departure from Athens (ch. xviii. 1), and his departure from Ephesus to go in

to Macedonia (ch. xx. 1). The time that his journey from Athens to Corinth would occupy, could not be long. His whole stay at Corinth was eighteen months (xxviii. 11). The "good while," of v. 18, has been by some considered not merely as subsequent to his appearance before Gallio, as was really the case, but as subsequent to the "year and six months" of v. 11, which is certainly not the fact. The " insurrection," though mentioned after the length of his stay of "a year and six months," happened " a good while" before the expiration of that term, which was the whole duration of his stay there : it is particularly noticed in the history, seemingly for the purpose of accounting for the quiet in which the Apostle was allowed to remain so long in that city. The unbelieving Jews here, as in other places, endeavoured to harass him with law proceedings, and carried him before Gallio; who finding that his accusers could lay no moral turpitude or breach of public law to his charge, did not even call on Paul for his defence, but sent them out of court with a reprimand. He would not allow " a question of words and names" to be construed into a civil offence and a breach of the laws. In this, though it is common with many, in their ill-judged declamations, to cry out against " profane Gallios," he acted the part of an upright magistrate. Paul's departure from Corinth was in the early part of the year, as is evident from the purpose of his journey being named : he wished by all means to keep the approaching passover at Jerusalem, v. 21. After being at Jerusalem he went to Antioch, where he spent some time, and then went over Galatia and Fhrygia, and having thus passed through the upper coasts, came again to Ephesus (xix. 1). How long he stayed at Antioch after he had gone from Cesarea to Jerusalem and come thence to Antioch, is not stated, nor how long he was in passing through Galatia and Phrygia; but it seems obvious enough that all this was within a few months, for his journey was not intended to be lengthened, as is plain from his leaving Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus, with a promise that he would return again (v. 21). Having returned accordingly, his whole stay there on this second visit was, as has been noticed, three months (xix. 8.) and two years (v.9): nor did any farther time elapse before his departure for Macedonia; for the particulars related respecting the vagabond exorcists, the burning of foolish magical books, and the pretendedly religious uproar of Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen, though related after the duration of Paul's stay, belong to the same period. And, therefore, the whole time intervening between Paul's departure from Athens, and his subsequent departure from Ephesus, could hardly exceed four years, if it were even so much. The Bible chronology places Paul's visit to Corinth in A. D. 54,— Macknight, Hales, and some others, with more reason, in the year 51. If to this date we add two of the above four years, this will bring us to the year 53, as that in which the believing Ephesians were put into full church order by Paul himself;—so that it is not impossible that, before the death of Claudius, this church might have so failed in love as to deserve the reproof given in Rev. ii. 1.—" What!" an objector may say, " while Paul himself was residing at Ephe" sus ? for, if his visit to Corinth was not earlier " than the year 51, he must have been in that " city when the Apocalyptic Epistle was sent " to the Ephesians—if sent in the reign of Clau" dius." And why should this be impossible ? Did not the conduct of all the churches, very soon after they were established, call for reproof?—and were they not reproved in the different Epistles of the New Testament, by the Apostles who founded them ?—This naturally leads to the examination of another, and, indeed, what those who employ the argument consider as the principal objection against an early date to the Apocalypse :—

" It appears," say they, " from the book it" self, that there had been already churches for " a considerable time in Asia: for as much as " St. John, in the name of Christ, reproaches " faults that happen not but after a while. The " church of Ephesus had left her first love. That " of Sardis had a name to live, but was dead. The " church of Laodicea was become lukewarm." In brief, it has been objected that the state of the churches in Asia, in the reign of Nero, was different from that described in the second and third chapter of the Apocalypse; and, therefore, the Revelation could not have been delivered to John so early as that reign, and still less in that of his predecessor. To this it has been answered, " What the state of the churches was " in the reign of Nero, can best be decided from f the writings of the Apostles ; for all their " epistles were written during the reigns of ClauDius and Nero The state of the churches

" as described in the Revelation is as follows : "The church of Ephesus is commended for " her sufferings for the name of Christ, for her " patience, for her unweariness in tribulation. She " would not bear the wicked, and discovered those " that were false apostles; she hated the Nico" laitans, whom the Lord hated also; but is " charged with having departed from love and " charity, and is therefore called unto repentance. M —The church of Smyrna was pure, only pes* tered with false apostles.—The church of Per

" gamos \liddfast the name of Christ and his faith " but] had such as held the doctrine of Balaam, " seduping the people to eat such things as were " sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication; " and had also such as adhered to the doctrine of " the JVicolaitans.—The church of Thyatira is " praised [for charily, service, faith, patience, and " good worAj], but at the same time there was fault " found with some of the congregation, for sufler" ing the woman Jezebel to teach and seduce " the people to fornication, and to eat things " sacrificed to idols.—The church of Sardis is " greatly reproved, for having the name of being " Christians while spiritually dead; [but even " in her there were a few names who had not de"filed their garments'}.—The church of Phila" delphia was pure, and nothing laid to her " charge.—The church of Laodicea was found " lukewarm. t.

" If we read the Epistles of the Apostles, we " find the churches in general pestered with all " these evils. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians " about eating those things which were sacrificed to " idols; St. Peter writes against those that held " the doctrine of Balaam. St. Jude did the same. "St. James,greatly incensed against those whose " faith was mere words, and their deeds wicked, " means the Nicolaitans, who afierwards took " upon themselves the proud name of Gnostics, " that is, of wise men. And the false apostles " made their appearance eyery where, and were " complained of by all the Apostles. Love and " charity slackened in many churches ; witness " ch. xiii. of the 2d Epist. to the Corinthians, and

"the whole 1st Epistle of John The

" '2d Epistle of Paul to Timothy, who was " then bishop of Ephesus, which was wrote in

" the year 67 is full of complaints against

" wicked Christians; and he mentions the names "of several of them, who were of the churches " of Asia—Demas, Alexander the smith, Her

" Mogenes, Philetus, and others These

" evils were all in the churches when the Apos" ties wrote their epistles; and they were all "wroteduring the reigns of Claudius and Nero. " Who then will say, that the state of the churches " in Asia, in the reign of Nero, was different " from that described in the Revelation ?'"

The objection to an early date, founded on the state of the churches in Asia at the time when the Apocalypse was written, and which has been met in the manner just quoted, has since been urged by Mr. Wood house (in his Dissertation prefixed to ' The Apocalypse Translated'} as strenuously as if it had never been before proposed or answered. As he is the last writer, I believe, who has taken a part in this controversy, his reasoning—for he has produced no new facts—shall be briefly examined.

' Bachmair on the Revelation.

" There is (says he) no appearance or proba

" bility that the seven churches had exist

" ence so early as in the reign of Claudius ; " much less that they were in that established " and flourishing state, which is described or " inferred in the Saviour's address to them. For " Claudius died in the year 54, some years be" fore the Apostle Paul is supposed, by the " best critics, to have written his Epistle to the " Ephesians, and his first to Timothy. But " from these Epistles we collect, that the church " of Ephesus was then in an infantine and un" settled state. Bishops were then first ap" pointed there by St. Paul's order. But at " the time when the Apocalypse was written, " Ephesus, and her sister churches, appear to " have been in a settled, and even flourishing " state; which could only be the work of time. " There is, in the address of our Lord to them, " a reference to their former conduct. Ephesus " is represented as having forsaken her former " love, or charity; Sardis as having acquired a " name, or reputation, which she had also for11 feited; Laodicea as become lukewarm, or in" different. Now changes of this kind, in a whole "body of Christians, must be gradual, and the " production of many years. Colosse and Hie" rapolis were churches of note in St. Paul's " time; but they are not mentioned in the Apo" calypse, although they were situated in the " same region of Proconsular Asia, to which it " was addressed. They were probably become " of less importance. All these changes require " a lapse of time; and we necessarily infer, that " such had taken place between the publication " of St. Paul's epistles and of the Apocalypse." (p. 9).

" From the time of Claudius to the end of " Nero's reign, we count only fourteen years. "The date of the First Epistle to Timothy is " placed, by Michaelis, about ten years before " Nero's death; by Fabricius, Mill, and " other able critics, much later. The Epistle to " the Ephesians has certainly a later date. So " that it may still be doubted whether changes " which appear to have taken place in the " churches of Lesser Asia, between the date of " these epistles and that of the Apocalypse, could " well be brought about in so short a period of " time, as must be allotted to them, if we sup" pose the Apocalypse to be written in the time of " Nero. But suppose this argument not to be " insisted up'on, to what will the concession " amount ? The question in favor of the Apo" calypse having been written in Nero's reign,

" will gain no internal evidence positively in its "favor." (p. 13.)

Afterwardsthe same argument is thus repeated: " In the three first [first three] chapters of the " Apocalypse, the churches of Asia are described " as being in that advanced and flourishing state " of society and discipline reasonably to be ex" pected; and to have undergone those changes " in their faith and morals, which might have " taken place in the time intervening between " the publication of St. Paul's Epistles and the " concluding years of Domitian." (p. 24.)

I will not attempt to discover what may be the precise ideas meant to be conveyed by this author, when he employs the terms, "established. " and flourishingstate,"—"settled and even flou" rishing state,"—"infantineand unsettled state," "—churches of note,"—"churches of less im" portance,"—" advanced and flourishing state " of society and discipline," as applied to these churches; because they are relative terms, and he has given us no clew by which to discover the standard to which he refers them. The same remark applies, with equal force, to the indefinite way in which he speaks of time. His general inference, however, is intelligible; and it will be sufficient to show that it cannot be admitted.—His whole argument may be reduced to this—" The " churches of Christ could not, so early as the

" reign of Nero, depart in any measure from any "of the institutions or doctrines delivered to them " by the Apostles." Why not so early ? Why should it be less possible that the seven churches in Asia, mentioned in the Apocalypse, should fall into errors and evil practices, than for those churches which are reproved in the epistles addressed to them for similar departures from the truth, before the death of Nero ? " Changes " of this kind, in a whole body of Christians, " must," says Mr. Woodhouse, " be gradual, " and the production of many years."—That is, before the death of Nero a sufficient number of years had not elapsed for such changes;—yet we see like changes in other churches, in the life-time of Paul, who died before Nero ! May it not be asked too, why Mr. Woodhouse extends our Lord's censures to the " whole body" marking the words also in Italics, to give them greater force? Our Lord in fact commends them for many things; but the change, to suit Mr. Woodhouse's argument, must be one that \vou\d require " many years," and therefore the whole body of the believers in Asia must be calumniated.—" Many years /" How many would this writer think sufficient for the establishment of Christianity in the world ? Few or none of the Apostles, who effected this stupendous work, except John, survived Nero.

" Colosse and Hierapolis," says Mr. Woodhouse, " were churches of note in St. Paul's " time ; but they are not mentioned in the Apo

" calypse They were probably become of

" less importance." Can no other reason be assigned for these Asiatic churches not being mentioned in the Apocalypse? How could they be named in a book written before they had existence ? There were but seven churches in Asia at the time when the Revelation was given. The words Tolis iirra. exxXT)<ria»£, Tous ev T>j 'A<ria.to the seven churches, to the [churches] in Asia (Rev. i. 4), by the common construction and usage of the Greek, includes every church in the district named. They are enumerated in the 11 th verse; and, in the 20th, the seven stars are declared to be ayysXoi rtuv eirra. exxXij«r»a»v—the Angels of the seven churches. These passages prove that the Apocalypse was written before there was a church at Colosse or at Hierapolis; for Mr. Woodhouse has not ventured to state that these churches had ceased to exist at the date he assigns to the Apocalypse.

As to these churches having " probably be" come of less importance," Mr. Woodhouse must have been inconsiderate at the moment when he suggested this, as a reason for their not being named in the Apocalypse ; for he cannot surely believe, that the great shepherd and bishop of souls, looks on his churches with the same kind of eye with which the bishops of Antichristian churches look at theirs—disregarding any of them because of their insignificance! He acts far otherwise. Wherever there are even so few as two or three congregated in his name, to observe his ordinances, there is He in the midst of them, of however little importance such a congregation may be held in the estimation of those worldly churches which some people would perhaps describe as in " a settled and flourishing state."

That the Asiatic churches could not,so early as the reign of Nero, exhibit the character ascribed to them in the Apocalypse, is a mere assumption ; for we have seen that other churches were equally censurable, at the time at which the different epistles, addressed to them, were written. Let us apply the same mode of enquiry into character, to the Asiatic churches, by examining the only Apostolic Epistle which we have, addressed to one of the Apocalyptic churches: I mean that sent to the saints at Ephesus.

Paul, in his Epistle to the Ephesians (ch. iii. 17, J9), prays that Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith, that, being Rooted And Grounded In Love, they might know the love of Christ, which excelleth knowlege of any other kind. The

c

Apostle was ever earnest, in his prayers, that all the churches might increase and abound in love yet more and more; but in his subsequent exhortation he more than insinuates a reason for his particular anxiety, on this point, respecting the Ephesians:—" 1 the prisoner of the Lord be" seech you to walk worthy of your calling, with all " lowliness and meekness, with LONG SUFFER" ING, FORBEARING (or bearing with) ONE " ANOTHER IN LOVE; earnestly endeavour" ing to PRESERVE The Unity Of The Spirit "IN THE BOND OF PEACE—one body and " one spirit" (iv. 1—4). Does he not here plainly intimate, that they were now exhibiting a temper and conduct very different from that spirit of love by which Christians ought to be characterised ? He goes on, in the fourth chapter, to remind them of the design of all Christ's gifts to the church, namely, the edification and perfecting of the body of Christ, " that we may no " longer be children, tossed like waves, and carried

" about by every wind of doctrine, butspeak

" ing the truth In Love may grow up into Christ

" the head This I say therefore and charge

" you in the Lord, that ye No Lo Ng E R walk as other

"gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind

" Put away lying, and speak every man truth to his " neighbour: fur ice are members one of another.

" ARE YE ANGRY ! AND WITHOUT

" SIN ?' [impossible]. Let not the sun go down " upon your wrath, nor [thus by your anger] give

"place to the devil Let no corrupt communi

" cation proceed out of your mouth and grieve

"not The Holy Spirit Of God Let all

"BITTERNESS, and WRATH, and AN"GER, and CLAMOR, and EVIL SPEAK"ING be PUT AWAY FROM YOU, and "all MALICE: and BE YE KIND one to "another, TENDER-HEARTED, FORG1V" ING one another, even as God for Christ's " sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore imita" tors of Gon as dear children, and WALK IN " LOVE as Christ hath loved us, and hath given " himself for us' (iv. v).

A departure from their " First Love," is plainly inferable from the whole of this exhortation ; nor can we longer doubt, that such a change in the conduct of some of the members of this church, as Mr. Woodbouse, and those whom he follows, maintain could not possibly take place before the reign of Domitian, had actually occurred before the date of this Epistle (A. D. 61

1 " Be ye angry and sin not," is worse than nonsense : 'QpyiSeaOe, Kal fti) 't:i:tn-i'iri:rr; should be rendered interrogatively. The second person plural of the present imperative and of the present indicative having the same orthography perhaps contributed 1o this error.

according'to the best critics); and, so far, their argument for a late date to the Apocalypse is unfounded. That they should have entirely overlooked the strong reproofs of the apostle to this church—reproofs which fix upon it the same character ascribed to it in the Apocalypse— is surprising; and it is still more surprising that Mr. Woodhouse should so strenuously maintain, and expand the argument, in the face of this direct testimony of Paul, that this church had actually turned from her Jirst lone, before he wrote this epistle.

The reproof to this church, in the Apocalypse, runs thus:

" I have against thee that Thy Love [aya^*],

" THY FIRST [love], THOU HAST LEFT" [or for

saken]. Rev. ii. 4.

Paul, writing to Timothy, says:— " / besought thee to abide at Ephesus that thou " mightest charge some that they teach no other " doctrine. Now the end [or design] of this charge " is Love [otyair*)], out of a pure heart, and of a " good conscience, and of faith unfeigned; From "which SOME HAVING SWERVED, "HAVE TURNED ASIDE TO VAIN "JANGLING." 1 Tim. i. 5.

From this it appears not only possible, that the church at Ephesus could depart from her first love, so early as the time of Nero, but most certain that this church had actually then swerved from it and turned aside. The whole argument, therefore, for a late date for the Apocalypse, drawn from the alleged state of the churches when the Revelation was written, falls to the ground ; for here we have a church—one of the seven Apocalyptic churches too—reproved for the very fault laid to her charge in the Apocalypse, and that more than thirty years before the date which those who ascribe the book to the reign of Domitian would give to this prophecy.

§ 3. Other Arguments, which have been adduced for and against a late date to the Apocalypse, considered.

Another argument has been suggested for a late date to the Apocalypse, which may be briefly noticed. Laodicea was overthrown by an earthquake in the year of Rome 813 (A. D. 60), and the persecution under Nero began in the year of Rome 817 (A. D. 64). "It is not probable " (says Lord Hales1) that St. John would have " addressed the Laodiceans as he does at ver. " 17(ch. iii) had their city been ruined about "Jive years before. This may contribute to sup" port the very ancient tradition, that the Apo" calypse was published under the persecution " by Domitian." His Lordship seems to have understood the verse referred to, literally; as meaning temporal riches—an increase of worldly goods ; or why should he have offered in contrast, the ruined state of the city, after being visited by an earthquake ? But assuredly the language is here figurative. The Laodiceans believed themselves rich in spiritual attainments. This is abundantly evident, from the nature of the remedy held out to them for the removal of the delusion under which they were laboring: "Buy " of me, &c. that thou mayest be richthat thy na" Itedness do not appear ; and anoint thine eyes that " thou mayst see :" that is, " that thou mayst see " thine own wretchedness, poverty and nakedness !— " how much thou hast mistaken thy true charac" ter!"—His Lordship cannot mean, that there was not time, in five years, to collect a church in the formerly, ruined but then renovating city. Could this possibly be his meaning, it might be answered, that, " as there could be no church "in Laodicea from A. D. 60 to A. D. 64, there" fore the Apocalypse must have been written, not " only before the Neronian persecution, but before " the destruction of that city in the year 60."— And such I take to have been indeed the fact; though not for the reason just now suggested. Sir David Dalrymple is, in general, such a close reasoner, that his remark occasions the more surprise : for if we take the passage in v. 17 as meaning, literally, the good things of the present life, and therefore allow that, in five years, they could not have acquired riches and wealth to boast of; why pass on to the reign of Domitian, to allow them time to get rich and increased in goods; when, by only going back a few years, we should reach the period in which Laodicea possessed the accumulated wealth of generations, undinnnished by the calamity of the earthquake I Of the traditions respecting John one yet remains to be noticed, and which by some has been considered as demonstrative that his visit to Patmos—no matter how occasioned—and consequently his publication of the Apocalypse, must have been long prior to the period assumed by those who ascribe the book to the reign of Domitian. Eu/sebius (lib. iii. c. 23) relates out of Clemens Alexandrinus, that John, " some " time after his return to Ephesus out of the Isle " of Patmos" [notice the statement—" after his " return from Patmos"] " being requested, visited " the countries adjoining, partly to consecrate " bishops—partly to organise new churches," &c. In this tour he committed a hopeful young man to the care of a certain bishop, who hereupon

1 Sir D. Dalyrmple's Inquiry into the secondary Causes assigned by Gibbon for the Rapid Growth of Christianity, p. 41. note.

[ocr errors]

received him into his house, brought him up, educated,instructed, and at length baptised him. The young man, it is stated, was for a time so diligent and serviceable that his master distinguished him by some kind of apparel as one of his family. In process of time, however, he became remarkably dissolute, perniciously associating himself with some idle, wicked and vicious young men of his own age, who first introduced him to bad company, and then induced him to steal and rob in the night. In a word (for it would occupy room unnecessarily to quote the whole passage from Eusebius), he became at length the captain of a gang of thieves and robbers who infested a neighbouring mountain and were the terror of all the country: and, saith Chrysostom, " he continued their captain a " long time." ' John, some time after, coming again to the church, to whose bishop he had committed the care of the young man, enquired after him, and being informed what had happened, called for a horse, and rode immediately to the place where he consorted with his associates : and when, out of reverence to his old master, the young man fled on seeing him, John pursued and overtook the fugitive, reclaimed and restored him to the church, &c. &c.

' Cbrysost. ad Thcodorum lapsum.

This is a story of many years ; but between the death of Domitian and that of John there were but two years and a half. In his latter years too, John was so very weak and infirm that with difficulty he could be carried to church, where he could hardly speak a few words to the people.1 The inference seems obvious. His return from Patmos, after which the circumstances related respecting the young man are stated to have happened, must be referred to some earlier period than the reign of Domitian. For John died near 100 years old, and it seems physically impossible that, in his latter years, he could have mounted a horse and rode briskly after a young robber, even were we to suppose that he survived Domitian for a period long enough to have allowed these events to intervene before his own death.

The opinion that the Apocalypse was written very early is, to use the words of Sir Isaac Newton,* "confirmed by the many false Apocalypses, " as those of Peter, Paul, Thomas, Stephen, " Elias and Cerinthus, written in imitation of " the true one. For as the many false Gospels, " false Acts, and false Epistles were occasioned " by true ones; and the writing many false " Apocalypses, and ascribing them to apostles " and prophets, argues that there was a true apos" tolic one in great request with the first Chris" tians: so this true one may well be supposed " to have been written early, that there may be " room in the Apostolic age for the writing of so " many false ones afterwards, and fathering them " upon Peter, Paul, Thomas, and others, who " were dead before John. Caius, who was con" temporary with Tertullian, tells us that Ce" rinthus wrote his Revelations as a great apostle, " and pretended the visions were shown him by " Angels, asserting a millenium of carnal plea" sures at Jerusalem after the resurrection;' so " that his Apocalypse was plainly written in "imitation of John's : and yet he lived so early, " that he resisted the apostles at Jerusalem in " or before the first year of Claudius,1 that is, " twenty-six years before the death of Nero, and " died before John."5

1 Hieron. in Epist. ad Galat. 1. iii. c. 6. 1 Observ. upon Dan. and Apoc. p. 238. 1 Apud Euseb. Eccl. Hist. 1. iii. c. 28. Edit. Valesii. 1 Epiphan. Haeres. 28. 3 Hieron. adv. Lucif.

This argument, which must strike every impartial mind, as very powerful and conclusive against a late date, is generally passed over, without notice, by those who refer the book to the reign of Domitian ; but silence will not set it aside. Cerinthus, who wrote a false Apocalypse, borrowing, altering and corrupting passages from the genuine one, having died before John, it is impossible that John's Apocalypse could have been written so late as the time of the persecution by Domitian.

 

CONCLUSION.

The inference drawn from the state of the Asiatic churches at the time when the Apocalypse was written, as necessarily presupposing that a considerable time must have passed before Ihere could be any such departure from the primitive faith and discipline as to call for the reproofs given to these churches, in the epistles addressed to them respectively in the Apocalypse, rests, as we have seen, on no tenable ground, and is indeed opposed by the evidence of facts. All the Epistles of Paul, James and Peter were written before the death of Nero. .Before they were written, sufficient time had elapsed to introduce, among the different churches, addressed in these epistles, deviations from the purity and obedience required from Christians, and they are reproved accordingly; and yet it has been attempted to be argued, that, among the churches in Asia, no such defections .could take place in the same period ! Such an

argument carries its confutation along with it, to every one disposed to look at plain matters of fact—And why was all this labor undertaken ? Why were the Christians in Asia to be calumniated beyond the words of the text? Why were the virtues and graces for which they were praised by " him who searches the hearts" to be put out of sight ?—Only for the purpose of supporting the tradition delivered by Irenaeus for a late date to the Apocalypse, in opposition to other ancient traditions which assigned to it a much earlier origin. I say, only for the purpose of supporting his single testimony; for we have no other for the late date, however many subsequent writers may have repeated the statement, all of them having done so on his authority. Epiphanius, as we have seen, twice names the reign of Claudius as that during which the Apocalypse was written: Arethas also, who was not ignorant of Irenaeus's statement (for he quotes it), says, on the authority of other interpreters, that the sixth seal had its accomplishment in the destruction of Jerusalem, and of course those whom he followed held that the book was written some time before that period. And that Arethas did not speak without authority, however much Lardner and others might think they had a right to hold him cheap, is proved by the title

to the Syriac version of the Apocalypse; for the churches in Syria could not be ignorant of the date ascribed to this book by Irenaus, and yet they state, in their title, that the Revelation was given to John in the reign of Nero,'—an evident proof that at least they had among them traditions to that effect, if not Greek manuscripts bearing the same title.—But on this I will not longer detain the reader. All that I aim at at present, is to show, that the historical evidence for a late date to the book, is by no means so conclusive as some have contended : and, indeed, when examined dispassionately, the weight of evidence would rather appear to be on the other side.

In one word :—neither Ecclesiastical tradition ; nor the state of the churches in Asia, when the Apocalyptic Epistles were addressed to them; nor any thing recorded in history respecting their secular condition, furnishes any evidence that may be relied on, that the Book of the Revelation was written so late as the reign of Domitian.

But it may be asked, " What possible dif" ference can it make, whether the Apocalypse " was written at an early or late period of the " apostolic ministration ?" At first sight this subject may appear of trivial importance; and

indeed, if the book were really written late, and an opinion should, notwithstanding, be taken up, that it was written early, it may be granted, that this mistake could not be followed by any injurious consequences. The case, however, is far otherwise, if the book was written early, and if, in opposition to this fact, a belief shall be entertained that it was written towards the close of John's life, who survived all the other apostles; for, being a direct revelation from the Head of the church, if written in the reign of Claudius, or early in that of his successor Nero, it must be considered as having been given for the instruction of the apostles themselves, as well as of the other members of Christ's body; and, if so, it must have been often the subject of their meditations; and, not unfrequently, its topics would furnish matter for allusion in their oral addresses, and, most probably, also in their epistles to the churches.—Such, a priori, might be expected as one of the natural consequences of the book having been written very early; but if, contrary to fact, it shall be believed that it was not communicated to the churches, till after all the Epistles of the New Testament, it is obvious that this very belief will, and must, operate to cause Christians to overlook entirely any allusions that may be found (if there be any such)

in these Epistles, to the Apocalypse; and consequently, however numerous such allusions, quotations, or references to the Apocalypse in the Epistles of the New Testament may actually be, they must, under such a belief, elude all observation, and be thus deprived of that elucidation which they would receive by reference to their prototype in the Revelation. It is evident then, that, if the book was the first, or one of the first written of the New Testament, the Christian church may suffer a real detriment by holding a directly contrary opinion ; and therefore some pains should be taken to ascertain, precisely, how the fact stands. If passages can be found in the epistles and in the Apocalypse which the one must have copied from the other —and such it is certain may be found, as will be shown in the next dissertation—it will then only remain to ascertain which is the copy; and this it is believed will not be difficult, if the rules of sound criticism be closely adhered to.

DISSERTATION THE SECOND.

ON THE EVIDENCE FURNISHED BY THE EPISTLES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, RESPECTING THE TIME WHEN THE APOCALYPSE WAS WRITTEN.

Having, in the preceding dissertation, bestowed on Ecclesiastical tradition, and the inferences thence drawn, repeating the period at which the Apocalypse was written, and also on the arguments founded on the supposed state of the churches at the period when the Revelation was given, as much notice as they seem to deserve ; and shown that the whole reasoning, in favor of a late date, rests on unfounded assumptions, partly unsupported and partly contradicted by the real facts, I now proceed to enquire whether the writings of the Apostles furnish any internal evidence of their having been written later than the Apocalypse. If it can be shown that, when they wrote, they had the Apocalypse in their hands, this evidence will completely decide, which of the ecclesiastical traditions, respecting the time at which this prophecy was written, is best entitled to credit: or rather, it will entirely discard tradition, as unworthy of regard.

It was noticed in the preceding dissertation, that this was one of the proofs suggested by Sir Isaac Newton for an early date to the Apocalypse ; and that Bishop Newton was satisfled that the allusions to this prophecy, pointed out by Sir Isaac, in the Epistles of Peter, and the Epistle to the Hebrews, were conclusive. It were to be wished that the Bishop had given the public the particulars of his investigation, instead of the mere result; as a man of his learning would, no doubt, have done the subject more justice than it can receive from the individual who now presumes to pursue the inquiry. Michaelis, too, professes to have examined the allusions pointed out by Sir Isaac, but the result gave him no conviction. If, however, his inquiry was as superficial, and his decision as dogmatical, on this point, as on some others connected with the Apocalypse, his memory will suffer nothing from the suppression of the reasons which left him in doubt. What I particularly allude to is his statement, that—" The true and eternal " Godhead of Christ is certainly not taught in " the Apocalypse so clearly as in St. John's " Gospel."—This shows that, with all his critical skill, Michaelis could not rightly read the Apocalypse. In no book of the New Testament is the doctrine more explicitly declared than in the Revelation. TVay, more : were it necessary to say, that it is more clearly taught in any one book, than another, the Revelation is that book. In examining the question before us, I shall, for the sake of perspicuity, lay before the reader the result furnished by an inspection of each of the Epistles, in separate sections.

§ 1. Of allusions to the Apocalypse, found in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

As Sir Isaac Newton was, I believe, the first who suggested this kind of evidence; and as those who have controverted his historical testimonies, have, generally, passed over without notice all that he has advanced respecting scriptural proofs—the best of all evidence,—I shall enter on this inquiry by laying before the reader, in the first place, the observations offered by that great man, on the allusions to the Apocalypse, that are to be found in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

" The Apocalypse seems to be alluded to " (says he) in the Epistles of Peter and that to " the Hebrews; and, therefore, to have been writ

ten before them. Such allusions, in the Epistle " to the Hebrews, I take to be, the discourse con" cerning the High Priest in the heavenly Taber" nacle, who is both Priest and King, as was " Melchizedec; and those concerning tlie Word "of God, with the sharp two-edged srvord; the " (ro00aTW7toj, or millennial rest; the earth whose " end, is, to be burned, suppose by the lake of fire ; " the judgment and jiery indignation which shall " devour the adversaries ; the heavenly city which " hath foundations, whose builder and maker it " God ; the cloud of "witnesses ; Mount Sion ; " heavenly Jerusalem ; general assembly ; spirits " of just men made perfect, vis. by the resurrection ; " and the shaking of heaven and earth, and re" moving them, that the new heaven, new earth, and " new kingdom, which cannot be shaken, may re" main"

" The Epistle to the Hebrews, since it men" tions Timothy as related to those Hebrews, must " have been written to them after their flight into " Asia, where Timothy was Bishop; and by " consequence after the [Judaic] war began, " the Hebrews in Judea being strangers to

" Timothy."

Peter in his second Epistle mentions, " that " Paul had writ of the same things to them, and " also in his other Epistles. Now as there is no " Epistle of Paul to these strangers besides that " to the Hebrews, so in this Epistle (x. xi. xii.) " we 'find at large all those things of which " Peter had been speaking, and here refers to; " particularly the passing away of the old heavens " and earth, and establishing an inheritance im" moveable, with an exhortation to grace, because " God is a consuming fire (Heb. xii. 25—29)."

On the internal evidence to be found in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in proof of its being written after the Apocalypse, I shall say but little, in addition to what has been quoted, from Sir Isaac Newton, on the contents of that book.

In this Epistle, it is to be remarked, the Apostle seldom employs direct quotations from the Apocalypse, and, therefore, a cursory reader will not easily perceive some of his allusions. They are, however, very numerous ; but the language is often changed and adapted to the scope of the argument where he employs them. Let it be also recollected that, as will be shown in our progress, it was not then a question, at what time the Apocalypse was written? or whether it was a divine work ? for if the book was already in the hands of the church, its topics, of course, were'familiar to believers, and therefore close quotations were not necessary; nor was this the general practice of the inspired penmen.

In Ch. x. 35, 36. he exhorts them to retain their confidence, which hath great recompense of

Reward, having need of patience, that, after doing the will of God, they " might receive The " Promise." That the promise refers to the inheritance, promised by Christ, in the Apocalypse, is plain, from what he adds in v. 37. " For in a very little while o spxtpsvog THE " COMING ONE mill come; yea he will not pro" crastinate"—" Tfie coming one" was a name applied to the Messiah before he appeared on the earth, and is the term employed in Mat. xi. 3. " Art thou The coming one?"(Common version, he that should come-) But the Jews had lost all knowledge of the fact that he was to come twice: nor did even his disciples understand this, till after his ascension. That is, according to their belief, this appellation must have ceased to be any longer applicable to him, after he had once appeared on the earth. But it is again appropriated to him in the Apocalypse, in reference to his second coming. He is there called, o <$v, xal 'a fa KAI 'O 'EPXOMENOZ, and The Coming One, (common version, " him which is to " come") Rev. i. 4. iv. 8; and it is from this second appropriation of this name that Paul employs it, in reference to the promise which will be performed when the Messiah comes again, to receive his people to himself. In one word, " The "coming one" is the Alpha and the Omega of the Revelation, who says, " Behold I come Quickly, " and my Reward w with me ;" (Rev. xxii. 12.)

"I AM 'o »wiux>g, THE COMING

" ONE." Rev. i. 8.

In Heb. xi, 10. it is said thatAbraham "looked "for a city which hath foundations;" but the Greek runs thus: " For he zrpected T^v roij " 9EMEAIOTS s£oo<rav roXiv, THE city having « The FOUNDATIONS,"—exhibiting the article both before "city," and "foundations,"— which the writer could not possibly have done had " the city, having the foundations" not been a subject familiar to those to whom he was writing.

I cannot find that the mode of speech employed in this passage, which is deserving of particular attention, has been critically considered by any of the commentators. They generally confine themselves to an exposition of the sense, which, according to some, has reference only to the superior privileges which the church was to enjoy under the Messiah, when contrasted with those it possessed before his appearance on the earth ;—a view of the passage which can hardly be conceived to apply fully to the case of Abraham or any of the Patriarchs. In anticipating the blessings secured to mankind by the coming of Christ, Abraham's hopes certainly extended to things beyond the grave. Accordingly other exposi

tors remark, that Abraham's views and hopes embraced that future state of peace and bliss which was comprehended in the fulness of the promise. " In thy seed shall all the nations of the " earth be blessed;" and which, in the New Testament, is described under the notion of being admitted to participate in the privileges of the " Heavenly Jerusalem"—" the Jerusalem that is " above,"—and " The city having Ihe founda" tions:" nor can this view of the passage be objected to. But whence did Paul derive the latter expression?

Bishop Middleton, in his learned work on the Greek article, has taken no notice of this passage. Dr. Mack night, one of our more recent commentators, though he introduces the first article in his version—" the city"—offers no remark on its appearance in the passage, but contents himself with stating that " the city " which Abraham expected was that promised " Gen. xxii. 17., Thy seed shall possess the gate "(the city) of his enemies. Now as the promises " had all a figurative, as well as a literal, mean" ing, the enemies of Abraham's seed were not " the Canaanites alone, the enemies of his natu" ral seed, whose cities were given them by this " promise; but the enemies of his spiritual seed, " the evil angels, by whose temptations sin and " death have been introduced and continued

among mankind. If so, the gate or city of " their enemies, which Abraham's spiritual seed "is to possess, stript of the metaphor, is the " state and felicity from which the evil angels " fell. This city is mentioned, Heb. xii. 22., " under the name of the heavenly Jerusalem: and " by the description there given of it, we learn " that believers, after the judgment, shall all be " joined in one society or community with " the angels, called a city which hath foundations "because it is a community which is never to " be dissolved." The passage alluded to by Macknight in Ch. xii. 22., we shall have to notice hereafter. But here it may be asked, Why hath he, in the words just quoted, for " the city" which he rightly exhibits in his translation, substituted " a city ?"—for our present inquiry is not, Why the community of " believers, after the "judgment," is called a city which hath foundations, but Why, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, it is called "the city having The foundations?"

Every one who has paid even the smallest degree of attention to the prophetic style, must be aware that with the prophets it was common to predict the stability and glory of the kingdom of the Messiah under the figure of a great and glorious city in which happiness and eternal peace were to be secured for the inhabitants; and all are agreed that the numerous blessings promised to Jerusalem in the future age of which the prophets spoke, had reference to the good things which God hath provided for the family of which Christ is the elder brother. There is therefore nothing singular in the circumstance of the Christian church being described in the New Testament under the same figure; and but for the peculiar structure of Heb. xi, 10., the mere mention of a city in that passage would not call for any particular attention. But in the Prophets there is no passage to be found from which the mode of expression there employed could have been derived;—and that it had a prototype will be admitted by all who are acquainted with the laws which regulate the use of the Greek article. The only passage in the prophets that exhibits terms at all similar to the one under consideration is in Isaiah liv. 11, 12. " / will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy " foundations with sapphires: and I will make thy " windows oj agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, " and all thy borders of pleasant stones ;"—but the whole structure of these verses excludes the idea of the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews having hence borrowed the terms he employs.

As has been already remarked, the expression in Heb. ix, 10. is very singular—T-jjv rouj To'xiv—" The city having The "foundations,"—a mode of speech which serves to intimate, very plainly, that the terms employed were familiar to those here addressed. In fact they are a quotation from the Apocalypse as close as the use to which they are applied in the passage before us could possibly admit of. The writer alludes directly to the holy city, new Jerusalem (Rev. xxi. 2)>—to " the wall 1% Tto" Xetoj S^qv &Sjt«X»ouj SoiSexa q/"THE CITY HAVING " Foundations twelve"(v. 14). They must, therefore, have had the Apocalypse in their hands, and been well acquainted with its general topics, at the time when this epistle was written ;—so well acquainted with if, that the writer contents himself with a very brief quotation, but quite sufficient to serve as a general reference to the fuller description in the Apocalypse.

In this Epistle there is yet another passage which has every appearance of allusion to matters recorded in the Apocalypse. In Ch. xii. 22, 23. the writer tells the believing Hebrews, " Ye are come to Mount Sign, to The City op

" THE LIVINGGOD,THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM,

" and to an Innumerable Company Of Angels, " /othe General assembly and Church Of The

" FIRST-BORN,WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN HEAVEN,"

&c.—Have not these expressions direct reference to the Lamb standing on Mount Sion, with one hundred and forty-four thousand having his father's name written on their foreheads, Rev. xiv, 1—to the great and high Mountain

the GREAT CITY, THE HOLY JERUSALEM

DESCENDING OUT OF HEAVEN FROM GOD, Rev. Xxi, 10—tO THE BOOK OF LIFE IN WHICH ARE

Written the names of the redeemed, Rev. iii, 5 : xx, 12: xxi, 27, &c—to the Myriads Of MyRiads Of Angels which surround the throne, Rev. v, II—and to the Innumerable MultiTude, which have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, Rev. \ii, 9, 14.1 Comparing the terms employed in the passage that has been quoted from the Epistle to the Hebrews with the passages just referred to in the Apocalypse I cannot entertain the slightest doubt, that the former were taken from the latter.

§ 2. Of Allusions to the Apocalypse found in the Epistles of Peter.

From Sir Isaac Newton I also copy the principal contents of the present section.—" In the " first Epistle of Peter occur these allusions to " the Apocalypse: The Revelation of Jesus " Christ,' twice or thrice repeated; the blood of " Christ as of a lamb ; fore-ordained before the " foundation of the world? the spiritual building " in heaven* 1 Pet. ii. 5. an inheritance incorrup" tible, and undefikd, and that fadeth not away, " reserved in heaven for us who are kept unto the " salvation ready to be revealed in the last time, " 1 Pet. i. 4, 5. the Royal Priesthood,' the holy " Priesthood,4 the judgment beginning at the " house of God,s and the church at Babylon.6— " These are indeed obscurer allusions; but the " second Epistle, from the 19th verse of the " first chapter to the end, seems to be a contin" ued commentary upon the Apocalypse. There, " in writing to the Churches in Asia, to whom " John was commanded to send this prophecy, " he tells them, they have a more sure word of " prophecy to be heeded by them, as a light that " shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the " day-star arise in their hearts, that is, until they " begin to understand it: for no prophecy, saith " he, is of any private interpretation ; the Prophecy " came not in old time by the will of man, but holy " men of God spake as they were moved by the " Holy Ghost. Daniel himself professes, that he " understood not his own prophecies;7 and,there" fore, the churches were not to expect the inter

1 1 Pet. i. 7, 13. iy. 13. and v- 1.

' Rev. xiii. 8. * Rev. xxi. 3 Rev. i. 6. and v. 10. 4 Rev. xx. 6. 5 Rev. xx. 4, 12. « Rev. xvii. 7 Dan. viii. 15, 16, 27. and xii. 8, 9.

 

What do YOU think ?

Submit Your Comments For Posting Here
Comment Box Disabled For Security


 

FREE ONLINE BOOKS

  

Click For Index Page

Free Online Books Historical Preterism Modern Preterism Study Archive Critical Articles Dispensationalist dEmEnTiA  Main Josephus Church History Hyper Preterism Main

Email PreteristArchive.com's Sole Developer and Curator, Todd Dennis  (todd @ preteristarchive.com) Opened in 1996
http://www.preteristarchive.com