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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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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




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 Holy Bible

By Robert Drummelow


The sketch of the purpose of the book will have shown that the 'Preterist' view is at the basis of the present Commentary.

The probability of this view is supported by the analogy of other apocalypses.

And it seems natural to suppose that the book would be meant to be intelligible by those to whom it the language and the figures of the book are found to fit the condition of the early days of Christianity, and to yield, on this system, a consistent and unforced interpretation.



z. The Title. The title of the book varies in the later MSS, though all ascribe it to John. One MS of the llth cent, has ' the Revelation of Jesus Christ given to the theologian John.' The word 'divine' in AV and RV is used in the sense of ' theologian,' ' one who writes on God and the divine nature.' The title in the oldest MSS is' the Revelation (Gk. Apocalypsii) of John.' The writer calls the book ' Apocalypse,' or ' Revelation,' only in 11. Elsewhere he speaks of it as' prophecy' (cp. 18 22 7>10.18 '•), and of himself as a ' prophet' (cp. 10 u 22 *•*). Yet the form which the prophecy has taken is rightly described by the title ' Apocalypse.'

'Apocalypse' (i.e. 'uncovering,' 'unveiling') is a technical term used to denote a particular kind of writing which sprang up among the Jews mainly during the two centuries before Christ. It had its antecedents in such eschatological passages (i.e. passages foretelling the end of the present order of things) as Isa 24-27, Joel, and Zech 12-14. The thoughts and images of such passages as these were dwelt upon and developed in later times into apocalypses. The book of Daniel is an apocalypse. Other writings of an apocalyptic kind are, the 'Apocalypse of Baruch,' the Ethiopic 'Book of Enoch,' the Slavonic ' Book of Enoch,' the 'Ascension of Isaiah,' the 'Book of Jubilees,' the 'Assumption of Moses,' the 'Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs,' the 'Psalms of Solomon,1 the 'Sibylline Oracles.'

Apocalypses were written at times when the righteous suffered oppression by a foreign power. JThe message^f the apocalypse.was that deliverance was" coming, and that the righteous were to wait for it in patience. In this sense an apocalypse differed from prophecy, which, for the most part, warned unfaithful and wicked Israel of the coming of a ' Day of the Lord,' and called for repentance. Moreover, the apocalypse saw in the evil plight of the righteous a sign of the power of Satan in the world, which made it certain that God would soon intervene to overthrow the evil. Apocalypses were written when men were troubled because the promises of good made by the prophet^ seemed to be unftilfilled._ Accordingly, the apocalyptic" wtfteTTSeTout To justify the dealings of God. He 'sketched in outfine the history of the world and of mankind, the origin of evil and its course, and the consummation of all things... The righteous

as a nation should yet possess the earth, either in an eternal or in a temporary Messianic king-' dom, and the destiny of the righteous individual should be finally determined according to his works. For though amid the world's disorders he might perish untimely, he would not fail to attain through the resurrection thejrecomDejjae_ that was his due, in the Messianic Kingdom, or in heaven itself' (R. H. Charles, HDB.).

Apocalypses were characterised by strange and mysterious figures, seen in visions and explained by angels. Sometimes these figures were new, and shaped to represent persons or events of the time. Sometimes they were borrowed or adapted from older apocalypses, or from the OT., or even from remote tradition. It is thought that some of these last traditionary figures may have gradually developed out of creation myths.

Apocalypses were pseudonymous, i.e. they were given forth under the name of some great person of the past, such as Enoch or Moses. It has been suggested that this was caused by the general feeling of despair with which the times were viewed. Prophecy had • ceased, and perhaps no living person could hope for a hearing. But the pseudonym may have had a better justification. The figures and traditions which were used may have been so connected with those old great names, that the apocalyptic writer looked upon his writings as proceeding rather from the heroic saint he reverenced than from himself (see HDB. arts. 1 Apocalyptic Literature' and 'Revelation, Book of').

But although the book we call 'the Revelation of St. John' is one of a class, it does not follow that it has no deeper value for us than the others of its class. The fact that it has been taken into the Canon of Scripture, while they have been rejected, shows that it outshines them all. In this 'the Revelation' is like other books of the Bible. The histories, the Psalms, the Wisdom books of the OT., have been distinguished from others which are left outside the Canon. And Lk 1' shows that our Gospels were not the only memoirs of the life of Christ which existed in the earliest Christian age. Again, the title of the book is evidence that, as regards other apocalypses, it claims to stand above them all. Other apocalypses, as has been said above, professed to come from some great man of the past, as Enoch, and we know that only in a very loose sense could such a profession be justified. Our Apocalypse does not go back to some far distant and hardly more than nominal author. It is not even, as in the title, the Apocalypse of John, for that title is of uncertain date. The true title is given in 1 *. The book is ' The Revelation of Jesus Christ.' The book claims to have Jesus Christ as the author of the revelation it contains. The place St. John assigns to himself is that of a prophet who is able to receive from Christ a revelation and to communicate it to others. Christian believers may be unable to see how there can be any true connexion between Enoch and the book which bears his name. But they do not doubt the reality of the gift of prophecy, or the fact that Christ could and did reyeal Himself to His Apostles.

2. Purpose. The Christians in the western part of Asia Minor, for whom, during the latter part of the 1st cent., the book was specially written, had evidently been undergoing great trials. The purity of their Churches wassullied by teaching which condoned [immoraTTESTneathen practices, and by growing worldliness: op. 32-17'- They had experienced persecution, both from the religious hatred of the Jews (cp. 29 39) and from the Roman government. Tinder the Roman government, religion had become largely identified with Imperialism. Temples had been dedicated, in various places, to Rome and the emperor, and the emperor had been called 1 Lord and God.' To a Christian, worship such as this was blasphemy (cp. 13 12>14 '•), and, rather than join in it, many had died: cp. 213 6» IS" 176 1820. The book was written during a lull in the persecution, which would, however, be temporary: cp. 2M> 611 ll7'. Thus the times were dark and threatening for the Christian Church. Christians were not only shut out from all the splendour and glory of life, from the honours and ambitions, from the riches and festivities which they saw daily in surrounding heathen society, but which they must not taste. They were not even allowed to live their simple lives in their own way. All the power of the empire was being directed upon them in inflexible hostility, and if they would not yield it seemed as if they must be crushed. Christ had promised His perpetual Presence, but they felt no lifting of the weight of the Roman hand. Christ had promised to come again, and they yearned for His coming that He might deliver them, but it seemed as if they yearned in vain. And in this strain and stress came the seducing advice of 'Jezebels' (cp. 2 s0, who bade- them save their lives

J3o, to brace them, to endurance, came thcmessage of the Revelation. Tne^Jlings which were seen, rich and mighty though they appeared, were temporal, about to pass away: but the things which were not seen were eternal and to abide for ever. God was on His throne, and the future of the world was in the hand of Christ. The persecuting empire was inspired and supported by Satan, but God was stronger than Satan. Satan had already been conquered, essentially, by the work of Christ, and his overthrow, and the overthrow of his instruments, would soon be seen openly on earth. Rome, the persecuting empire, the heathen worship and priesthood, and the wicked of the earth, were all to fall before the conquering Christ. Last of all would be the general judgment, and then the incomparable and eternal bliss of the New Jerusalem. In these ways Christ would come, and come quickly.

Therefore let Christians bear manfully their perils and pains. There was nothing strange in the demand that was made upon them. Christ Himself had endured before them. It was by death that He had won His victory, and their victory was to be won in the same manner. Therefore death for Christ was not defeat but overcoming, and great glory with Christ would be the reward of those who so overcame.

3. Interpretation. Our interpretation of Revelation depends upon what view we take as to the period of the Church's history to which the figures and scenes preparatory to the climax of the book refer. There have been three chief schools of interpretation. One school (called the ' Futurist') regards the book as dealing with the end of the world, and with events and persons which will immediately precede that end. The 'Historical' school sees in the book a summary of the Church's history from early days until the end. The ~ 1 Preterists' look back to the past, and interpret the book as having to do with the times in which it originated. A fourth method sees in the book symbolical representations of good and evil principles, common to every age, and to be understood spiritually. According to this last method, the New Jerusalem, e.g.. would be explained as representing the blessedness, even in this earthly state, of true believers whose lives are hid with Christ in God.

The sketch of the purpose of the book will have shown that the ' Preterist' view is at the basis of the present Commentary. The probability of this view is supported by the analogy of other apocalypses. And it seems natural to suppose that the book would be meant to be intelligible by those to whom it the language and the figures of the book are found to fit the condition of the early days of Christianity, and to yield, on this system, a consistent and unforced interpretation. The advocates of the other systems have differed widely among themselves, e.g. explaining the woman (c. 17) and the beasts, now to mean the Roman Church and the Pope, now .the Turks and Mohammed, now the French Revolution and Napoleon. But while this Commentary adapts the Preterist view, it is not denied that, the principles of God's government of the world being always the same, practical use may be made of visions and figures which refer to past circumstances by applying the principles which they reveal to the events with which we ourselves have to do.

and,win security by outward conformity to was addressed, and would have arisen oat of 3»ea.then requirements and'hea'tnen ways. ^- the circumstances of their state. Moreover

The question remains whether those predictions which have to do with the millennium, 'i.e. the thousand years during which Christ would reign on earth (cp. 20•*'•), were meant to be understood literally or spiritually. The earliest interpretation was literal. Those who accepted the book expected a literal reign of Christ on earth. It was for this reason that many, not believing in a literal millennium, would not accept the book as canonical. It was only the spread of spiritual interpretation, by which the ' thousand years' denoted the present/period of the Church, the view advocated by Jerome and Augustine, that enabled the Church as a whole to receive the book.

4. Unity. The structure of Revelation is not what might have been expected. We might have expected a prophecy which passed on in regular course, developing evenly from stage to stage until the end was reached. Instead of this we find progression indeed, but of a rough and uneven nature, and a number of dissimilar and abrupt visions and figures, often not so much flowing one out of another as piled one upon another. During the last twenty years some critics have attempted to account for these features by supposing, either that the book is composed of two or three earlier apocalypses, worked over and fitted together by a Christian editor, or else that the author drew upon various older materials, fragmentary in character, which he has used and incorporated.

The former of these theories seems to be improbable. The book certainly follows out a plan, even though it be roughly. And critics have not agreed in the results of their attempts to dissect the book and to display the joints and lines of union. But it seems more likely that the writer made some use of older materials. It is certain that he made large use of <he OT., especially of Ezekiel and Daniel, e g. cp. lls 4«'- 1311 189'. It is not, on the face of it, unlikely that some of the

figures which cannot be traced to OT. sources may have been derived from lost or traditional materials, eg. chs. llf. We can see, indeed, that Jewish, and even heathen, ideas and beliefs were so used by the writer, and were given a Christian meaning: cp. 217 91*-' u 138,18 !66,7 1716 202-t. However, if this theory be true, we should suppose that the writer's use of such materials would be parallel to his use of the OT. He never slavishly copied from the OT., but employed and adapted OT. language and figures as if they were so familiar to him that he naturally expressed himself by their means. Similarly he may have pondered upon existing apocalyptic materials until they had become part of the furniture of his mind. The striking parallels of Rev. with Mt24 = Mkl3 = Lk21, l?*-^ 1235-*8, seem to show the dependence of the author of Kev. upon the discourse of Christ on the Mount of Olives. E.g. cp 1 l, 'which God gave unto Him,' with Mt24S«; 'shortly come to pass,' with Mt2434; while chs. 2f. show that the situation foretold in Mt24*-14 is present. Cp. also 61-8 with Mt24s'14; 612'17 with Mt 24 29-31 ; 81 with Mt24"i; 8TM2 with

5. The Visions. Supposing that some part of the theories mentioned in the last section be true, how can it be said that St. John received the contents of the book in a vision? The answer is threefold. (1) It is not necessary to understand the book as claiming to have been wholly received, as it stands, in one vision at one time. The first vision was received in Patmos. Others may have followed at subsequent times. (2) It is not necessary to suppose that the very words of the book were taken down, as if from dictation, by the writer. The writer claims to be a prophet (cp. 10 u 226.9), and In the exercise of his gift he may have developed afterwards the facts which were revealed to him by vision. (3) The memory of previously acquired knowledge cannot but have a large share in the apprehension of truths divinely received. Such truths must be rendered into a language previously learned; and if they are rendered into figures previously assimilated, that is only another form of the same process. And the vision itself may, perhaps, be divinely adapted to the language and figures which are already contained in the mind of the recipient of the vision.

6. Authorship. The writer of the book calls himself 'John': cp. 1M.» 22s. No other description or definition is given. To the early Christian Church, 'John' would signify John the Apostle. Besides this, the writer was of account among the Churches of the Roman province of Asia, and was in exile in Patmos. Early Christian tradition asserts both these things of St. John. It would seem, therefore, that the book was written either by the Apostle, or by some one who wished it to be thought the work of the Apostle.

The external evidence for the apostolic authorship is very strong, coming from Fathers in all parts of the Church. The earliest witnesses are Justin Martyr (circ. 140 A.d.), and probably Melito, bishop of Sardis (circ. 170), and Theophilus, bishop of Antioch (circ. 180). Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (circ. 180), who had known Polycarp the disciple of St. John, distinctly says that it was written by the Apostle. The apostolic authorship is also witnessed to by the Muratorian Fragment (circ. 200), Tertullian (circ. 220), Hippolytus, bishop of Ostia (circ. 240), Clement of Alexandria (circ. 200), Origen (circ. 233), and Victorinus, who wrote the earliest extant commentary on Rev., and who was martyred under Diocletian (303).

On the other hand, an Asiatic sect of the end of the 2nd cent., known as the 'Alogi," rejected all the writings of St. John, and among them Rev. They did not .appeal to any knowledge or tradition as to the authorship, but said that they found the book unprofitable, and that there was no Church at Thyatira. Their rejection of St. John's writings was probably caused by their doctrinal views. Caius, a presbyter of Rome (circ. 200), ascribed the book to Cerinthus, a heretical teacher, who lived at Ephesus in the reign of Domitian, in whose system were combined elements derived from Judaism, Christianity, and Oriental speculation, and whose tenets seem to be opposed in the Gospel and Epistles of St. John. Both the Alogi and Caius opposed the Montanists, who appealed to Rev. in support of their views.

Dionysius of Alexandria (circ. 250) denied the apostolic authorship, but wholly on critical grounds, arguing from the language of the book, and from its unlikeness to the Gospel and to the First Epistle. He thought it must have been written by another John, perhaps John Mark, and said that he had heard that there were two tombs at Ephesus, each called that of John. Eusebius of Csesarea tells us that Papias spoke of a 'John the Presbyter,' distinguishing him from the Apostle, and he hazards a guess that possibly this Presbyter waa the John of Revelation.

It will be seen that the evidence of tradition is altogether in favour of the apostolic authorship of the book. Those who rejected it did so on grounds of internal evidence, which we are as competent to judge as they were. The internal evidence, i.e. the matter and style of the book, does at first sight make it difficult to accept the apostolic authorship. The Greek of the other writings of St. John in the NT.

is smooth and free from barbarism, while that of Rev. is the reverse. But this may be accounted for by the character of the book*. The Gospel and Epistles were probably written calmly and meditatively, repeating much that the Apostle had been in the habit, for years, of saying to his flock in Greek-speaking Ephesus. But St. John was a Jew, although a Greek dress had come to surround his thought. In Rev. he is borne along by the rapture of his visions, and the Jew that he was by nature and by upbringing might, not unnaturally, have burst through the Greek veneer. Besides this, it is plain that the writer's mind, at the time of writing, was filled with the Jewish Scriptures, and with Jewish apocalypses, and it may have seemed to him fitting that the style of the new Apocalypse he was producing should be in harmony with other apocalypses which both he and his first readers knew. The Hebraic style may have seemed to him to be almost as much a necessity for an apocalypse as the symbolic and figurative material. There would be nothing forced or unreal about this, for Hebrew was native to St. John, while Greek must have been to him always more or less artificial. This consideration will increase in force if, as is quite likely, eighteen or twenty years were spent by St. John in Greek-speaking Ephesus between the writing of Revelation and the writing of the Gospel and Epistles.

As to the language. It is true that characteristic words and thoughts of the Gospel do not appear in Rev. On the otht-r hand, it is only in the Gospel and First Epistle of St. John and in Rev. that Christ is called 'the Word' (cp. Jn 11 Rev 19 13). The title •Lamb," so frequently applied to Christ in Rev., reminds us of Jn 1 29i 36( though the form of the word is slightly different; the symbol of the Shepherd applied to Christ (cp. Rev 7 17 Jn 10 1.271.2116), and the figure of living water, or water of life, are common to Gospel and Rev.; and there are other striking likenesses, such as the wordstranslated' true' (Rev 3 7, etc.),' overcome,' 'keep,''witness,''testimony.'

On the whole, the difference between the style of the Gospel and Rev., though great, can be accounted for, and does not seem to outweigh the very strong and early testimony to the apostolic authorship of Revelation.


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