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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
 



 

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 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

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A Commentary on the Revelation of St. John, the Divine

Thomas Whittemore

1848

"Some recent authors have expressed much surprise, that Universalists of the present day should apply so many passages of the New Testament to the destruction of Jerusalem. To name no other, Rev. Parsons Cooke speaks 'of the credulity of those who embrace the system of Universalism,' in believing 'that so large a part of the Bible should relate to the destruction of Jerusalem.'  'If ever I succeeded,' says he,' in digesting the monstrous absurdity, I would be honest enough to call things by right names, and label the New Testament, "JERUSALEM'S DESTRUCTION FORETOLD."
 

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1858 Edition | 1881 Edition
 

THE Apocalypse has generally been regarded as a very dark and difficult book. This opinion has been so prevalent that it has been thought a mark of wisdom not to attempt to explain it.

One author says, " Calvin was wise, because he wrote not on the Apocalypse." That the work is more difficult for us to understand than it was for those to whom it was originally addressed, we have no doubt. It was to them probably a work of deep interest, of profitable contemplation, and a source of high hope. They had means of understanding it which we do not, and cannot, have. But because we have not all their advantages, shall we not attempt to understand it at all ? What made the book so dark to Calvin, Grasfrus, Whitby, and others ? Perhaps they looked at it under peculiar disadvantages. For our part, we are willing to confess, that if a man believes the Apocalypse was not written until after the destruction of Jerusalem, and if he believes in the common notions concerning the day of God's wrath, the judgment of the dead, the great dragon, the bottomless pit, &c., &c., he cannot understand the book. He will be continually hampered by his pre-conceived system ; and, in harmony with such a system, no probable interpretation can be given. Although Professor Stuart has produced an excellent work upon the Apocalypse, the most consistent and valuable, we think of any we've have ever seen, yet he was manifestly troubled and warped in his judgment in interpreting certain parts by his theological system, or creed, especially his belief in endless misery, and the popular notions of a future judgment. The devotion to creeds has done more to prevent the Apocalypse from being fitly interpreted than any other cause. It has produced the most extravagant and perverted views of it ; and the variety and enormity of these views have led thousands to conclude that the work is altogether inscrutable to human wisdom.

But is this book absolutely dark, so that it is impossible for us to get at the meaning at all ? Is it impossible to do anything to throw light on the chaos ? We think not. If anything can be done, ought we not to do it ? Those preachers who seek to create excitement and alarm who operate upon the fears of the weak and uninstructed do not fail to resort to this book. Its sublime metaphors and allegories, when misapplied, furnish them with rich subjects. Why should not a counter effort be made to explain it ? Let us apply the principles of sound criticism to the interpretation, and we may do something towards bringing out the true sense of the book. Let us gain what light we can now, and wait for the advancing day to bring us more. With these feelings we have entered unon the effort before us.

It is proper here to state, that the first form m which this commentary appeared was in detached articles in a weekly religious paper, conducted by the author. For many years after entering the ministry, we paid little or no attention to the Apocalypse When we glanced at it, as we occasionally aid, it seemed an utter confusion of metaphors Alps rising on Alps without order, without design, and defying the power of man to mterpret it. Whether divine or not, we were persuaded nobody could understand it. But as our attention was drawn more and more to it, in consequence of its repeated use by those who opposed the doctrine of the restitution of all things, we began to see here and there (as we thought) glimpses of its meaning. The first true thought that struck us, and that was many years ago, was this that the account of the judgment of the "dead small and great," in the conclusion of the 20th chapter, must have its reference to things that transpired before the kingdom of God came with power, because the immediately succeeding passage described the descent of the New Jerusalem, and the establishment of the Messiah's kingdom in the world ; this fact gained, formed a basis for others. The next point was brought to our attention by reading an English publication, viz., that the scene described in the 20th chapter is laid on the earth ; for the angel mentioned in the first verse came down from heaven to earth, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand, and therefore the bottomless pit was painted in the scene as being on the earth, or why should the angel have brought the key ? He laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent which is the devil and Satan, (the four terms evidently signifying the same thing,) whom he seems to have found on the earth, and bound him, and, without carrying him away anywhere else, cast him into the bottomless pit. It was the power with which these fretstruck our mind, that led us to write the commentary on the chapter referred to, which was published in our religious journal many years ago. It is now two years since we were called again to explain the 20th chapter of the book. In obedience to that request, we republished our former article on the subject, much enlarged. This sharpened our desire for a more careful perusal of the whole book, and we resolved to begin at the commencement of it, and publish our views as far as we could see the meaning. We begun this plan without any design of republishing in book form; but as we proceeded we were more and more encouraged, and grew more and more interested, until we arrived at the end. Our experience in some respects was like that of Dr. Hammond, which we have described in the commentary under Rev. i. 1.

The articles, as they appeared in our religious journal, were written under many disadvantages. The author had been suffering for some time under a nervous debility, produced at first by too great mental action, and irritated exceedingly by other causes. He strongly suspected, in the summer of 1846, that the end of his earthly career was at hand ; but he still toiled on, believing he was engaged in a good work. In the belief that death was near, he reviewed the labors of his public life ; and although he saw many imperfections in what he had done, he had not a doubt that the doctrines he had defended were the doctrines of the Bible. It was a great satisfaction to him to reflect that he had labored twenty-five years m turning men from darkness to light from the errors of superstition to worthy views of God and his moral government, Let the reader forgive the writer this brief allusion to personal matters. They never can appear to others as they appear to himself. We have spoken of the disadvantages under which some parts of the commentary were written. During the writing the author was obliged to make many journeys into the country. He had no other way than to carry his manuscript with him, and hence different parts were written in different places.

We had one settled principle of interpretation, and that was to Compare Scripture with Scripture. Although we derived large aid from some commentators upon the Apocalypse, we derived much more from the Old Testament, and from the prophecy of the Lord Jesus concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. We always had this encouragement, when we came to a dark passage, that the aid which we needed, if not furnished by other writers in the church, we should in all probability find by a patient examination of the prophets. Scarcely anything tended more strongly to convince us of the divine character of the Apocalypse than the acquaintance which its author manifested with the Old Testament, and the reverence he showed for that book. "

Let the Bible explain itself," was our motto. No commentators upon the New Testament can be of one half the advantage to a student in gaining a knowledge of that book, that a thorough acquaintance with the Old Testament would give him. There are' parts of the Old Testament which we do not understand, but these parts which we can understand convince us that the book is immensely valuable ; and that those who cast it away, or in any manner bring it into disrepute, are unsettling, undesignedly perhaps, the foundation of all revealed religion.

It is scarcely necessary for us to say that the whole commentary has been revised from the form in which it first appeared. Many illustrations, facts, and arguments have been added, and the work thereby has been greatly enlarged. The introduction, containing the essays on the authorship of the work, and also on its date, is entirely new. By the arguments advanced under these heads we know not how others may be affected ; but we are persuaded that the Apocalypse was written by the Apostle JOHN, and that it had its origin before the destruction of Jerusalem. It is in our view a divine book. It bears a striking resemblance to the Old Testament, especially to the book of Daniel, although we are aware it has points peculiar to itself. It is becoming every day better understood, and more highly appreciated. It is of vast importance to the understanding of it, that the date should be rightly fixed ; and it is a matter of sincere gratification, that commentators, without distinction of sect, are coming more and more to believe that it was written prior to the great and last overthrow of the Jewish nation.

We have proceeded upon the belief that the common English version is as correct a translation of the original, taken all in all, as any other ; or, at any rate, that it is sufficiently correct to enable the careful student, even though he be but an English scholar, to gain the sense of the inspired writers. From such a conviction, we have avoided, as far as possible, the sprinkling of our pages with Greek words and phrases. We ivould by no means undervalue a knowledge of the original languages in which the Bible was written ; but we are persuaded that it is not absolutely essential to the knowledge of divine truth. If men will but use the common version to the highest advantage to which it may be put, we have no fear that they will fail to get a proper perception of the meaning of the sacred writers.

With these reflections we submit the work to the public. It has been prepared for publication in this form at the urgent request of many friends. If it shall be the means of doing any good, however small, let the praise be given to Him by whom our life has been spared, and our strength measurably continued.
January 1 1848.

 

"He had not only been deeply studious of the Old Testament Scriptures, but he had also been learned in the school of Christ. Whoever he was, he had heard much, he knew much, and felt much of Christianity. He had sat at the feet of the Lord Jesus. How else could he have known, before the events transpired, the fall of Jerusalem ? (for we shall show in another place that the book was written before the destruction of that city.) He had heard the prophecy uttered by the Lord concerning that series of events. There are points of resemblance between certain parts of the Apocalypse and the prophecy referred to, as given by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which cannot be mistaken. And if the Apocalypse was written previously to either of the gospels, (as we doubt not it was,) it becomes a nice question how the revelator learned his facts concerning the approaching destruction of Jerusalem except by divine communication ? It would seem probable that he was one of the disciples mentioned in Matthew xxiv. 3, to whom Jesus delivered his notable prophecy on this great subject. See Rev. i. 7, and vi. 1217, as instances of imagery borrowed from our Lord's description of the destruction of Jerusalem. It is very singular, if the author of the Apocalypse were a pretender, a cheat, and deceiver of mankind, that he should have followed so closely him whom we call distinctively " the way, the truth, and the life."  (p. 20)

The learned editor of the " Universalist Expositor" published an article on the Apocalypse, in which, although it occupies less than a dozen pages of that work, he treats of the three highly important topics, the authenticity, the date, and the meaning. When he comes to the second topic, he says, " Admitting, then, that St. John was probably the author of the Apocalypse, when was it written ? Were we to judge solely from the allusions of the book itself, we should answer, at once, before the destruction of Jerusalem ; but if from the balance of mere historical testimony, such as it is, we should place its date after that event, and about the year 96. This testimony, however, is not of the most unquestionable character. Eusebius, in the fourth century, is the first to mention the time of St. John's banishment to Patmos, where he saw the Revelation ; and he refers it, on what authority we know not, to the reign of Domitian, and adds that he was liberated on the accession of the emperor Nerva, which took place A. D. 96. There is indeed an ambiguous passage in an earlier and more competent witness, Irenseus, which has been generally understood to authenticate this statement, and to assert that the Revelation was seen at the end of Domitian's reign : but Wetstein and Rosenmuller contend that the language relates to the time when St. John himself lived, and not to the period of his vision. These are all the historical notices concerning the date of the hook which are of any importance, for the statements of Jerome are probably founded on those of Eusebius ; and as to the contrary representations sometimes quoted from Epiphanius, who refers it back to about the year 50, nobody acquainted with the romancing habit of this writer ought to attach the least weight to them." So far the editor of the Expositor. He evidently inclined to the opinion that the Apocalypse was written before the destruction of Jerusalem ; but he allowed that the balance of historical testimony would place it about A. D. 96.

As to the relative weight which is to be given to the balance of historical testimony, on the one side, or the indications as to the date of the Apocalypse, which we find in the book itself, on the other, we decide in favor of the latter. The one is the undesigned testimony afforded by the writer himself; the other is that of other men, living at a distance of time from him, liable to be misinformed, to misunderstand language, and to mislead many others. Thus, the testimony of one man, having no very strong ground himself, perhaps, for the correctness of his opinion, goes by tradition, or record, to others, who help to swell the number of authors in defence of some position ; and yet, after all, we have the testimony of only one man ; and that we have, not from his own lips, or pen, but from the repetitions of others. We feel, therefore, a much stronger confidence in the internal evidences which the Apocalypse furnishes of its date, than we do in the historical testimony. It is for this reason, we think, that the number of those who believe that the Apocalypse was written before the destruction of Jerusalem is steadily increasing, among men of sound learning. Professor Stuart has added the weight of his great learning and influence to the support of that opinion.

Some few years ago, in his- work entitled " Hints on Prophecy," he showed very clearly that the internal evidences proved the book to have been written previously to the fall of Jerusalem ; and in his more recent and larger work on the Apocalypse, he has expressed the opinion more fully and decidedly. It is nighly probable that as the true intent of that book is more and more developed, the opinion will become more generally embraced." (pp. 37-39)

"We might mention other signs which were pointed out by our Lord as presaging the destruction of Jerusalem, but we have no more room to devote to this topic, and we have already considered the principal. Now, if all the signs named by our Lord as marking the approach of the destruction of Jerusalem are referred to in the Apocalypse, and restated and reaffirmed in the peculiar style of that book, as marking an event still future, but close at hand, are we not led with a high degree of probability to the conclusion, that the Apocalypse was written before the fall of Jerusalem ? And let it be added, that all these signs are found in that part of the Apocalypse which is supposed to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem, by those who believe the book to have been written previously to that event.

3. But there is another very strong argument in favor of our position, built on the agreement of the language of the Apocalypse on the one side, and that of all the other books of the New Testament on the other, in respect to the time and circumstances of our Lord's coming. In the Apocalypse we are told, even in the very first verse of it, that the things foretold were " shortly to come to pass." Again, verse 3, " Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear, the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein : for the time is at hand." See also ii. 16 ; iii. 11, and xi. 14. But at the close of the book, as well as at the beginning, the Christians were warned again, that the old dispensation would very speedily pass away ; that the New Jerusalem was about to come down from God out of heaven, and that the coming of the Son of man was about to take place. " Behold I come quickly ; blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book ;" xxii. 7. " Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book : for the time is at hand ;" verse 10. "And behold, I come quickly ; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be ;" verse 12. Again, verse 20, " He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen." A person well versed in the language of the New Testament respecting the coming of Christ cannot fail to be impressed with its agreement with that of the Apocalypse. There are two facts to be observed here : 1st. The immediateness of the coming of Christ ; and, 2d, the rewarding of men according to their works in connection with it. " I come quickly" (pp. 47-48)


 

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