"By the wrath to come, I understand the overthrow of the Jewish republic, which is called "wrath upon this people," (Luke xxi. 23.)." (Comm. in loc.)
(On Matthew 10:15)
"Whoever shall witness the calamities, which the contumacious Jews shall endure, on account of their rejection of the gospel, shall judge them to have suffered more severely than the inhabitants of Sodom ; and the punishments of the latter to have been more mild, when compared with these." (Com. in loc. )
(On Matthew 10:22)
"Whoever shall constantly and steadfastly endure, shall be saved ; for either their enemies shall abate their hostility, or, being overcome by the Romans, shall be unable any longer to injure them. Luke xxi. 27, 28." (Com. in loc.)
(On Matthew 23:14)
"Ye shall receive the greater damnation.; even in this life, when your own dwellings shall be burned, and your punishment from the Lord and the Romans shall be grievous." (Com. in loc.)
(On Matthew 23:39)
"Christ speaks concerning his coming to take vengeance on the contumacious Jews, at the destruction of Jerusalem, as in chap. xxiv. 3, 30, 34, 44, 46, 50." (Com. in loc.)
(On Matthew 24:40)
"Matt. xxiv. 40. "See Matt. ix. 5, 11 ; xxvii. 27 ; John xviii. 8 ; xix. 16 ; 1 Sam. xi. 1. One shall be taken and carried away captive by the Roman soldiers, but another shall escape beyond all expectation." Com. in loc.
(On Acts 13:40)
"The calamities which the Jews suffered after the days of Habakkuk were similar to those which were about to come on them from the hands of the Romans, especially on them who lived and rebelled in Palestine, but in a degree on all the Jews in their dispersion." (Com in loc)
(On 2 Peter 3:7-10)
"Most interpreters think that the events, here mentioned, are to be accomplished at the time of the general resurrection ; — that then, the earth itself, and the stars, are to be purified by fire, and the whole universe changed for the better: but I prefer the opinion of those who interpret the passage as referring not to a material, but a figurative fire,—not to the end of all things, but to the Jewish war, and the civil war of the Romans, which occurred at the same period, — by which almost the whole world was in a state of conflagration. 1. The doctrine of the conflagration of the world seems rather to be a fable invented by the Stoics ; nor does it appear worthy the wisdom of God to reveal to us those things which in no degree concern us. This conflagration has not affected those who lived on the earth when these things were written ; and after death, they were translated into a quiet and secure place, where they were not troubled by any concern for their forsaken dwellings or fields, or the commotions which might exist.
2. On the other hand, there are very frequent predictions, elsewhere, concerning the Jewish war, and the Roman civil war, such as almost the whole of the Apocalypse, Matt. xxiv., 2 Thess. ii., to which this passage seems to refer, ver. 2. These things, in prophetic style, are described in the same manner, by the stealthy coming, the dissolution of the heavens and earth, the coming of the Lord, and the day of the Lord. See Maimonides More Nevoch. ii. 29. Nor is this calamity improperly compared to the deluge, for it shook the whole earth, and destroyed a multitude of men, as they were destroyed who were drowned in the days of Noah. 3. The world here does not signify the dwelling-place of men, but men themselves, who were to be punished (chap. ii. 5,) and the trial by fire, is the trial of men, 1 Pet. i. f ; iv. 12. By the " last days," (ver. 3,) may sometimes be understood the time present, or near at hand; as Heb. i. 1; 1 John ii 18 ; Acts ii. 17. Nor is this view of the passage opposed by the fact that in ver. 9, it is said that God chooses that men shall repent before that day and the coming of the Lord, while, nevertheless, the greatest number of men were converted to Christ, after the wars were entirely ended : These facts are not contradictory; for the repentance of many did preserve them from ruin, and the subsequent ruin of others [the impenitent] led many more to repentance." (Com. in loc.)
(On the early
dating of Revelation / Late Date)
"The common method of interpretation founded on the hypothesis that the book was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, is utterly destitute of certainty, and leaves every commentator to the luxuriance of his own fancy, as is sufficiently evident from what has been done already on this book." (Gr. Text. vol. ii. p. 889)
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
Johann Peter Lange
"VII. Historico-Critical and Rationalistic Period. Fundamental Tone or Key-note: Predominant Volatilizing of Apocalyptic Eschatology ; especially the Prophecy of the Millennial Kingdom ; amid a constantly gaining confounding of such Prophecy with Chiliasm.
The motive or inciting cause of the period which we are at present examining—a motive whose sketching by Lucke is not distinguished for clearness—was, negatively, that system of criticism which maintained that the Apocalypse consisted of purely supernatural predictions of Church History and church-historical numbers ; and which applied such exegesis to the support of chiliastic extravagances. Positively, it was the felt need of a firm historical and psychological basis for the prophetic glimpses of futurity. The errors of this new critical bent were the issue, in part, of the delight which was occasioned by the novel historical stand-point— historical, it was believed, for the first time in a true sense. For the rest, these errors proceeded from doubt as to the Spirit of Prophecy, as to the authenticity of the Apocalypse, as to the demonic forms of the kingdom of darkness, and as to the reality of Biblical Eschatology.
According to Lucke, Abauzit of Geneva inaugurated this tendency in his Essai sur l' Apocalypse. "The Revelation, written probably under Nero, is nothing—according to its own profession—but une extension de la prophetic du Sauveur sur la ruine de l' Etat Judaique." The German Wetstein was guilty of a curtailing and stinting of the Apocalypse, similar to that attempted by the French Swiss. According to Wetstein, Gog and Magog made their appearance in the rebellion instigated by Barcochba. Harenberg took sides with Abauzit, submitting, however, that the last four chapters of the Apocalypse are eschatological. He believed the Book to have been originally written in Hebrew. Semler thought that the true original spirit of the Apocalypse was Jewish chiliastic fanaticism.
On the common basis of a one-sided criticism, Herder formed an antithesis to Semler in this question as in other and more general respects. The contrast is exhibited in his work entitled: Maran-atha, das Such von der Zukunft des Herrn, des Neuen Testaments Siegel. [Maran-atha; the Book of the Coming of the Lord: the Seal of the New Testament.] The historical perspective of this book is, like that of Abauzit, barren and contracted in the extreme: it consists of Jerusalem and the Jewish war. The formal treatment of the Apocalyptic theme, on the contrary, is enthusiastic, full of idealization, and appreciation of the figurative language of the Orient (see Lucke's commendation). Herder called the Apocalypse : "A picture-book, setting forth the rise, the visible existence, and the future of Christ's Kingdom in figures and similitudes of His first Coming, to terrify and to console." Hartwig, though the disciple of Herder, abandoned the Oriental view for the Greek, holding, with Paraeus, that the Apocalypse was a drama. This dramatical view was subsequently fully carried out by Eichhorn. Others, taking a more general, poetical view of the Apocalypse, made metrical versions of it; of these the chief were those of Schreiber and Munter, and one by a follower of Bengel, Ludwig von Pfeil.
The interpretation already advanced by many, according to which the Apocalypse depicted the downfall of Judaism and heathenism, and the tranquility and glory of the Kingdom of Christ, re-appeared in the writings of Herrenschneider (Tentamen Apocalypseos). Johannsen, in his Offenbarung Johannes, set forth a similar view. Thoroughly novel and original, at variance both with the ancient Church-historical and the modern synchrono-historical view, is the book which appeared under the title of Briefe uber die Offenbarung Johannis. Ein Buch fur die Starken, die schwach heissen, Leipzig, 1784. [Letters on the Revelation of John. A Book for the Strong, who are called Weak]. "The [anonymous] author interprets all specials as generals, relative to the laws, arrangements and developments of nature and of the human life in general; amid, and according to, which laws, arrangements, and developments, God's Kingdom on earth shall one day be perfected." Kleuker maintained once more the eschatological signification of the Revelation (Ueber Ursprung und Zweck, etc. [On the Origin and Design, etc.]). On the other hand, Lucke mentions as followers of the bent of Herder and Eichhorn, Lange, Von Hagen, Lindemann Matthai, Von Heinrichs (p. 1055)." (A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures pp. 68-69)
"As I have scarcely any opinion to give concerning this book on which I could wish any of my readers to rely, I shall not enter into any discussion relative to the author, or the meaning of his several visions and prophecies ; but for general information refer to Dr. Lardner, Michaelis, and others.
Various attempts have been made by learned men to fix the plan of this work ; but even this few agree. I shall produce some of the chief of these : and first, that of Wetstein, which is the most singular of the whole.
He supposes the Book of the Apocalypse to have been written a considerable time fore the destruction of Jerusalem. The events described from the fourth chapter to the d he supposes to refer to the Jewish war, and to the civil commotions which took place in Italy while Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian were contending for the empire. These contentious and destructive wars occupied the space of about three years and a half, during which prorfessor Wetstein thinks the principal events took place which are recorded in this book.
1 these subjects he speaks particularly in his notes, at the end of which he subjoins what calls his Synopsis of the whole work, which I proceed now to lay before the reader.
This prophecy, which predicts the calamities which God should send on the enemies the Gospel, is divided into two parts. The first is contained in the closed book ; the second, in the open book.
I. The first concerns the earth and the third part, i. e. Judea and the Jewish nation.
II. The second concerns many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings, chap. x. 11. i. e. The Roman Empire.
1. The book written within and without, and sealed with seven seals, the bill of divorce sent from God to the Jewish nation.
2. The crowned conqueror on the white horse armed with a bow, chap. vi. 2, is Artabanos, king of the Parthians, who slaughtered multitudes of the Jews in Babylon.
3. The red horse, ver. 4. The Sicarii and robbers in Judea, in the time of the proconsuls Felix and Festus.
4. The black horse, ver. 5. The famine under Claudius.
5. The pale horse, ver. 8. The plague which followed the robberies and the famine.
6. The souls of those who were slain, ver. 9. The Christians in Judea, who were persecuted, and were now about to be avenged.
7. The great earthquake, ver. 12. The commotions which preceded the Jewish rebellion
8. The servants of God from every tribe, sealed in their foreheads, chap. vii. 3. The Christians taken under the protection of God, and warned by the prophets to flee immediately from the land.
9. The silence for half an hour, chap. viii. 1. The short truce granted at the solicited of king Agrippa. Then follows the rebellion itself.
1. The trees are burnt, ver. 7. The fields and villages, and unfortified places of Judea which first felt the bad effects of the sedition.
2. The burning mountain cast into the sea which in consequence became blood, ver. 8.
3. The burning star falling into the rivers, and making the waters bitter, chap. viii. №
11. The slaughter of the Jews at Caesarea and Scythopolis.
4. The eclipsing of the. sun, moon, and stars, ver. 12. The anarchy of the Jewish Commonwealth.
5. The locusts like scorpions hurting men, chap. ix. 3. The expedition of Cestius Gallus prefect of Syria.
6. The army with arms of divers colours, ver. 16, 17. The armies under Vespasian at Judea. About this time Nero and Galba died ; after which followed the civil war, by the sounding of the seventh trumpet, chap. x. 7, 11, xi. 15.
1. The two prophetic witnesses, two olive trees, two candlesticks, chap. xi. 3,4. in the church, predicting the destruction of the Jewish temple and commonwealth.
2. The death, of the witnesses, ver. 7. Their flight, and the flight of the church of Jerusalem, to Pella, in Arabia.
3. The resurrection of the witnesses, after three days and a half, ver. 11. The pretions began to be fulfilled at a time in which their accomplishment was deemed the doctrine of Christ begins to prevail over Judea, and over the whole earth.
4. The tenth part of the city fell in the same hour, and seven thousand names of the slain, ver. 13. Jerusalem seized by the Idumeans ; and many of the priests and nobles, of Annas, the high-priest, signified by names of men, i. e. men of name, slain by the zealots.
5. The woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head, chap. xii. 1. The Christian church.
6. The great red dragon seen in heaven, with seven heads, seven diadems, and ten . The six first Ceasars, who were all made princes at Rome, governing the armies of the Roman people with great authority ; especially Nero, the last of them, who, having killed his mother, cruelly vexed the Christians, and afterwards turned his wrath against the rebellious Jews.
7. The seven-headed beast from the sea, having ten horns surrounded
iiii. 1. Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, who. were shortly to reign, and who were proclaimed emperors by the army.
8. This beast, having a mouth like a lion, the body like a leopard, the feet like a bear, ver. 2. Avaricious Galba; rash, unchaste, and inconstant Otho ; Vitellius, cruel and sluggish, with the German army.
9. One head, i. e. the seventh, cut off, ver. 3. Galba.
10. He who leadeth into captivity shall be led into captivity ; he who killeth with the sword shall be killed with the sword, ver. 10. Otho, who subdued the murderers of Galba, who slew himself with a dagger ; Vitellius, who bound Sabinus with chains, and was himself afterwards bound.
11. Another beast rising out of the earth, with two horns, ver. 11. Vespasian and his two sons, Titus and Domitian, elected emperors at the same time in Judea.
12. The number of the wild beast 666, the number of a man, TEITAN, Titan or Titus : ', 300. E, 5. I, 10. T, 300. A, 1. N, 50, making in the whole 666. [But some very respectable MSS. have 616 for the number; if the N be taken away from Teitan, then the tiers in Teita make exactly the sum 616.]
13. A man sitting upon a cloud, with a crown of gold upon his head, and a sickle in his hand, chap. xiv. 14. Otho and his army, about to prevent supplies for the army of Vitellius.
14. An angel commanding another angel to gather the vintage; the wine-press trodden, whence the blood flows out 1600 furlongs. The followers of Vitellius laying all waste with fire ; and the Bebriaci conquering the followers of Otho with great slaughter.
Then follow the seven plagues :
1. The grievous sore, chap. xvi. 2. The diseases of the soldiers of Vitellius through temperance.
2. The sea turned into blood, ver 3. The fleet of Vitellius beaten, and the maritime taken from them by the Flavii.
3. The rivers turned into blood, verse 4. The slaughter of the adherents of Vitellius, at Cremona and elsewhere near rivers.
4. The scorching of the sun, ver. 8. The diseases of the Vitellii increasing, and their hausted bodies impatient of the heat.
5. The seat of the beast darkened, ver. 10. All Rome in commotion through the torpor Vitellius.
3. Euphrates dried up, and a way made for the kings of the East ; and the three unclean spirits like frogs. The Flavii besieging Rome with a treble army ; one part of which was the bank of the Tiber.
His shame of him who is found asleep and naked. Vitellius, ver. 15. Armageddon, .
Praetorian camps. The fall of Babylon, ver. 19. The
sacking of Rome. .
The whore, chap. xvii. 1. Rome.
The seven kings, ver. 10. CAESAR, AUGUSTUS, TIBERIUS, CALIGULA, CLAUDIUS, NERO,
GALBA. The eighth, which is of the seven, ver. 11. Otho, destined by adoption to be the son
successor of Galba. '. The ten horns, ver. 12—16. The leaders of the Flavian factions. . The merchants of the earth, chap, xviii. 11.; i. e. of Rome, which was then the forum of the whole world.
The beast and the false prophet, chap. xix. 20. Vespasian and his family, contrary to expectation, becoming extinct in Domitian, as the first family of the Caesars, and of three princes, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius.
7. The millennium, or a thousand years, chap. xx. 2. Taken from Ps. xc. 4, appointed by God, including the space of forty years, from the death of Domitian to the Jewish war under Adrian.
8. Gog and Magog, going out over the earth, ver. 8. Barchochebas, the false Messiah, with an immense army of the Jews, coming forth suddenly from their caves and dens, tormenting the Christians, and carrying on a destructive war with the Romans.
9. The New Jerusalem, chap. xxi. 1, 2. The Jews being brought so low as to be capable of injuring no longer; the whole world resting after being expiated by wars; and the doctrine of Christ propagated and prevailing every where with incredible celerity."
Wetstein contends (and he is supported by very great men among the ancients and moderns) that " the Book of the Revelation was written before the Jewish war, and the civil wars in Italy ; that the important events which took place at that time, the greatest that ever happened since the foundation of the world, were worthy enough of the Divine notice, as the affairs of his church were so intimately connected with them; that his method of exposition proves the whole book to be a well-connected certain series of events; but the common method of interpretation, founded on the hypothesis that the book was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, is utterly destitute of certainty, and leaves every commentator to the luxuriance of his own fancy, as is sufficiently evident from what has been done already on this book ; some interpreters leading the reader now to Thebes, now to Atheia, to finding in the words of the sacred penman Constantine the Great; Anus, Luther, Calvin , the Jesuits ; the Albigenses; the Bohemians; Chemnitius ; Elizabeth, queen of England; Cecil, her treasurer; and who not?" See Wetstein's Gr. Test., Vol. II., p. 889. (CLICK HERE TO READ ENTIRE COMMENTARY)
"Wetstein contends, and he is supported by very great men among the ancients and moderns, that the Book of Revelation was written before the Jewish war and the civil wars in Italy. That the important events which took place at that time, the greatest that ever happened since the foundation of the world, were worthy enough of the Divine notice, as the affairs of his church were so intimately connected with them."
"The same Abauzit wrote another treatise which belongs to this place (Essai sur 1'Apocalypse, 1730), in which he tries to show that the book was written under Nero, and is in its prophecy only a development of the sayings of Christ about the fall of Jerusalem; that all refers to the destruction of this Jewish capital and the Roman-Jewish war (ch. xxi. and xxii.); to the more extensive spread of the Christian Church after that catastrophe.
Similar is the interpretation of Wetstein (De Interpretatione libri Apocalypseos) in his New Testament, II. 889 and following; 1752), who refers the main contents to the Romish-Jewish war and the contemporary civil war in Italy, but understands the thousand years (ch. xx.) as the fifty years after the death of Domitian until the insurrection of the Jews under Bar Cochba, and takes the heavenly Jerusalem as a type of the great spread and rest of the Christian Church after the complete subjection of the Jews. " (Lectures on the Apocalypse, pp. 56-57)
"16.On the other hand, some have regarded the prophecy as one already fulfilled. So Grotius, Wetstein, Le Clerc, Whitby, Schöttgen, Nösselt, Krause, and Harduin. All these concur in referring the "advent of the Lord" to the coming of Christ in the destruction of Jerusalem".
18. According to Wetstein, the "man of sin" is Titus, whose army, "while the temple was burning and all around it, taking their standards into the sacred enclosure, and placing them before the eastern gate, sacrificed to them there, and saluted Titus imperator with great cheering." (Josephus.) His "hinderer" is Nero, whose death was necessary for the reign of Titus, and his apostacy, the rebellion and slaughter of three princes, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, which brought in the Flavian family. But this is the very height of absurdity, and surely needs no serious refutation.
"All these preterist interpretations have against them one fatal objections :- that it is impossible to conceive of the destruction of Jerusalem as in any sense corresponding to the Lord's coming, in St. Paul's sense of the term : see especially, as bearing immediately on this passage, 1 Thess. ii. 19; iii. 13 ; iv. 15 ; v. 23." (The New Testament for English Readers, First Thessalonians, Introduction, p 86)