Preface [Page 11]
One of the first indications of the purpose of the dreams and visions of the book of Daniel is that it is to give light on things “hereafter” and during “the latter days.” So it is no surprise to learn before one reads far in the book that Daniel is devoted largely to revelation of the future.
It is for this cause that Daniel never fails to attract the interest of the reader, whether he be worldly curious or devoutly faithful. A flood of literature on Daniel has been the inevitable result.
The “interest factor” is probably one of the strongest elements in my desire to prepare this my second treatise on the Book of Daniel. ut the most important element in the desire was, and is, to test in the crucible of the entire written Word of God the Premillennial system of interpretation which Ihave been led to believe is the key to predictive prophecy in the Bible. I say to test - though candor might force me to lay “to justify” or “to substantiate.” For convictions of many years, based, I felt, on clear pronouncements of the Bible, have probably rendered the study something less than completely unprejudiced. Nevertheless, I have tried to be objective. How successful I have been will be judged by the reader.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to The Division of
Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches [Page 12] of Christ in the
May the Holy Spirit bless these efforts and those who read, that they, like Daniel, may have their rest and stand in their lot at the end of the days.
R. D. C.
* * *
Preface to Second Edition
The present edition of Daniel and the Latter Days is essentially the same as previous printings except for correction of misprints, refinement of one or two points of exegesis, and a change of view with regard to interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2: 7‑10 (pp. 185, 186). Although new literature on the “millennial question” has continued to appear, the last decade has not been especially fruitful - only enough to show that scholars have not forgotten about it. No evidence or argument has come to the author’s attention which did not appear in earlier publications in similar form.
The author has supplemented
his argument by “A Neglected Millennial Passage from
September 18, 1964
* * *
Introduction [Page 13]
NEARLY FIFTY YEARS AGO A VERY LEARNED AND DEVOUT BIBLICAL critic wrote: “The commentaries on Daniel are innumerable. On no other book, save the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, has so much worthless matter been written in the shape of exegesis” (Charles H. H. Wright, D.D., Ph.D., An Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 197). A recent critical writer (H. H. Rowley, Darius the Mede and The Four World Empires) lists over 400 works consulted in investigation of one historical and one expositional problem in Daniel. Each year witnesses the publication of new commentaries on all or parts of the book. In view of all this one might reasonably ask, Why another book on Daniel?
In the first place, let it be said that the fact that so much is being written and read on the subject manifests a continuing lively interest in the Book of Daniel. Furthermore - and this is the real occasion for this treatise - there is a great need today for just such a work as the writer hopes this one will prove to be. To my knowledge no work of this type has ever been written in recent times. I have in mind a work that will first of all frankly take the Premillenarian approach, lay a sound basis for acceptance of that position in the whole of Scripture, and then proceed to show that this method of exposition alone can satisfactorily explain the Book of Daniel. Such a work should do justice [page 14] to the linguistical data of the book and should approach the book in the original Aramaic and Hebrew. Several such works from Amillennial and Postmillennial writers are available - some quite recent, but nothing of the sort by a Premillennialist. Many Premillennial commentaries on Daniel have been written, to be sure, many of them of very superior quality, some of them less than worthless. It has not suited the purpose of any I have read to explain first the Premillennial eschatological position assumed, nor to show why it had been adopted. This is not blameworthy - it simply did not suit the purpose of the author to do so.
But a time has come when Premillennialists had better examine the foundation of their peculiar faith. Others are examining it and think they find it wanting in many respects. Pious men of unquestioned Christian faith are vigorously sponsoring other systems of eschatology. It will not do to ignore these men - it would not be honest to do so, nor would it exemplify the courtesy we expect from them. Neither can we “cast them out of the synagogue” of orthodoxy simply because they do not agree with us in some aspects of eschatology. The proper thing to do is to hear what they have to say, learn what we can from them, and then judge their sermons and their books as we judge our own - by the light of God’s Word. To do so will be a wholesome experience for us all. It is a craven kind of Christian faith which fears to examine the content of its creed in the light of honest criticism.
The writer has tried to do just this and has learned much. He hopes that this book, which represents a part of the fruit of his research, will be of real aid to others who earnestly desire to know the truth of God about the future as revealed in the Scriptures.
Some time I hope to write a commentary on all of
Daniel - a commentary on every verse, giving proper attention to the critical,
doctrinal, and practical aspects. But
now my purpose is different. I wish to provide
a basis for a consistent explanation of the book. If all the predictions concerning the nations
[Page 15] culminate in Antiochus
Epiphanes in the second century B.C., that is one thing. If they converge upon the events of the
lifetime of our Lord in the first century following His first advent, that is
another. If, however, prophecy of the
nations is carried down to the end of the present age, that is still
It is taken for granted that not everyone who may read this treatise will be pleased. Not the liberal critics, for I will treat this book with the reverence due a work inspired of God and hence accurate in historical details. Not the unconvinced Postmillennialists and Amillennialists, for I hope to show them that on the points at which we differ they are wrong. Not all Premillennialists, for I have been convinced that our critics and opponents have in the last couple of generations found many weak points in the writings and sermons of some of the less cautious and uncritical of our number, and have uncovered not a little of unfounded prejudice, pride of opinion, error, and even of fanaticism in our midst. For this I can give them nothing but the heartiest of thanks and pray that all my Premillennial brethren will do the same.
R. D. C.
* * *
PART ONE [Pages19-34]
The Premillennial View
It is always precarious to attempt a definition. There is always the possibility of excluding an essential or of including too much. This is true whether the area be politics, philosophy, religion or anything else. It is particularly true when the term to be defined has historic connections or has been a subject of controversy.
Yet definitions are necessary. For example, the whole world is agreed that democracy seems to be a good thing, but there is no general agreement on what democracy is. Something like this is true in millennial discussions. There must be some agreement, at least provisional agreement, as to what a millennium is before it can be decided whether it is not taught in Scripture (Amillennialism), or that Christ will come after it has run its course (Postmillennialism), or that Christ will come before it begins (Premillennialism).
But a difficulty arises - opinions of individuals within Premillennialism differ on details. Another difficulty follows - both the names and details of interpretation have changed over the centuries. At the present time there are some differences of thought within Premillennialism over reference to certain aspects of the doctrine. So one can hardly hope that even all Premillennialists will agree in all points of a definition.
An even greater difficulty is encountered because of the fact that in the last several generations the millennial issue has been [Page 20] woven into the expressions of two orthodox but distinct theological systems. I refer to what is sometimes called dispensational theology and to the so-called covenant theology. Dispensationalists frequently suppose that the Premillennial viewpoint is exclusively held by their own school; contrariwise, some covenant theologians appear to believe that Amillennialism is a necessary adjunct to their system. The writer has even met some who suppose that Calvinism is opposed to Prenlillennialism; and, at the opposite extreme, a fairly recent work (Modern Premillennialism and the Christian Hope, p. 112) by an Arminian opponent of Premillennialism contends that the Premillennial view is really Hyper-Calvinism! Some express themselves as if one’s stand on the Millennium determines his views on Christian ethics, salvation, and the church. It is true that it often does, but that there is no necessary connection the contemporary situation manifests, for among most shades of Protestant theological opinion (Calvinism, Arminianism, Covenant Theology, Dispensational Theology, etc.), there are both strong Premillennialists and Amillennialists, and probably a few Postmillennialists.
Now, this writer is not inclined to shrug his shoulders at all theological differences among Christians - though I do believe that sometimes they are overzealously championed. I do have strong convictions on all of these issues. But I do also most strongly affirm that the millennial issue, even though it may lead to differences in many areas, ought to be permitted to stand by itself for judgment. It ought not to be unnecessarily clouded by other issues. I insist that the question of the millennium in both the Bible and history of interpretation is essentially a question of eschatology, and that it ought to be permitted to remain so. It is true, to be sure, that some have interpreted the millennium as an aspect of the present age. But it will be the burden of this paper to show that view to be false - that the coming of the millennium is indeed an eschatological event.
I realize that it will not be easy to dissociate the millennial [Page 21] question from some of the theological bearings in which it is often placed. Theologians, like philosophers, are system makers. So it was to be expected that this Christian doctrine should become imbedded in a theological system. But, lo, the unexpected has happened, and it is embodied in various forms in several systems.
In view of this fact, the writer is inclined to take issue with a recent writer from the Premillennial school who speaks at length of “Amillennial Bibliology,” “Amillennial Theology Proper,” “Amillennial Angelology,” “Amillennial Anthropology,” “Amillennial Soteriology,” “Amillennial Ecclesiology” - all in the same plane of what he calls “Amillennial Eschatology.” I think it mars what is otherwise one of the most scholarly and acceptable discussions of the millennial problem and of dispensationalism to appear in many years. (See Bib liotheca Sacra, Vol. 107, Number 426, sixth in a series on the millennium by John F. Walvoord.) When Amillennialism has been championed by large sections of such theologically diverse bodies as the Roman Catholic Church, branches of the Lutheran Church, sections of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches, Methodists, Southern Baptists, and notably by the Church of God (Winebrennarian group) it is sheer folly to create the fiction of a distinctive “Amillennial system of theology.” It would be equally foolish to attempt a definition of a “Premillennial system of theology.”
This writer does not claim to be immune to system
making. Theology ought to be systematic,
that is, it ought to manifest harmony in its various parts. But systematic theology as a rigid framework
in which every difficult verse must fit will cost us much in error and
controversy. So, even though for many
years I have had very definite opinions in the field of Christian theology, I
have made a conscious effort in this treatise to be unbiased by the system, as
such, to which I hold. I am not inclined
now to say a great deal about it at this juncture. Rather, without taking a polemical partisan
attitude, would I follow the lead of
Edward Bickersteth, a noted
Premillennial writer of [Page 22] over a century ago, who
says in the preface to the sixth edition of his Practical Guide to The Prophecies: “The author
commends the subject with affection and humility to the attention of his
beloved brethren in the ministry, and fellow Christians of every
denomination. He trusts that his mind is
open to conviction on being shown a more excellent way” (cf. also Augustine, City of
The investigation represented by this work has not confirmed quite everything I once accepted. Yet more and more it has become plain to me that the simple, literal, grammatical method of interpretation which led my teachers in my childhood and youth to the Premillennialist position will lead anyone to the same position, provided he leaves his biases behind. I am quite certain that I am a more convinced Premillennialist and have a better and more Biblical Premillennialism than ever before.
What is Premillennialism? The shortest, most concise definition by any scholar of note is probably that given by W. G. Moorehead (International Standard Bible Encyclopxdia, art. “Millennium [Premillennial View”]). He first sets forth the proposition that the Millennium will be that time when “the kingdom of God shall have universal sway over the earth, and … righteousness and peace and the knowledge of the Lord shall everywhere prevail,” then reduces the distinctive view of Premillennialism to the proposition that “the Millennium succeeds the second coming of Christ.” This statement, it should be added, is that of an advocate of Premillennialism. Moorehead wrote before the Amillennial doctrine had been revived in its present vigorous form. His definition of the Millennium itself is entirely inadequate for the field of Millennial controversy today. In fact, his definition and doctrine are not too acceptable to Amillennialism.
Very near the same brevity is attained by S. H. Kellogg (Schaff‑Herzog Ency. of Rel. Knowledge, art., “Premillennialism”).
The most elaborate analysis and enumeration of the tenets [Page 25] of Premillennialism to be set forth recently comes from a Premillennialist converted, he says, to Amillennialism during his last year in seminary and twenty years of service on a foreign mission field. I refer to The Basis of Millennial Faith (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1942) by Floyd E. Hamilton. He first sets forth what he believes to be “The General Theory,” then treats in turn, “Historic Premillennialism,” “Pre-Tribulationists,” and “Ultra‑dispensationalists.” His ten pages (21‑30) do present a quite adequate survey of the situation. Yet his enumerations and formulations are intended to include all that which is, and has been, taught by most orthodox Premillennialists and not necessarily by the Bible itself. He has included the broadest latitude of opinion and hence mentions some views as distinctive to Premillennialism in general and to dispensational Premillennialism in particular which many of the best advocates do not hold. Further, they are stated in such a fashion that they may be most adaptable to refutation later in his book. For these reasons I cannot adopt his definition of the doctrine. I shall make no effort to state, defend, or refute any doctrine of eschatology, soteriology, ecclesiology, etc., held by any Premillenarian past or present except as it harmonizes with what may be derived from clear teaching of Scripture. Too long now we have been quoting authorities at one another to determine the “thus saith the Lord.”*
[* Enumerations of tenets of Premillennialisrn will
also be found in Schaff‑Herzog
Ency. of Religious Knowledge, art., “Millennium,” C. A. Semisch; The Millennium in the Church, D. H. Kromminga, 242ff. Eerdmans, Grand
Rapids, 1945; Millennial Studies, G.
L. Murray, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids. 1948, and in Prophecy and the Church, 0. T. Allis, Presbyterian and Reformed
It was Johann Albrecht Bengel of Germany (1687‑1751) who gave Premillennialism respectability in scholarly and ecclesiastical circles in the modern era by adopting an energetic Premillennialism himself and advocating it in his writings (cf. evaluation of Bengel in The Prophecies of Daniel and The Revelations of St. John, Carl August Auberlen, Eng. trans. Adolph Saphir, pp. 365‑379). Contemporary writers have a way [Page 24] of supposing that Premillennialism in modern forms roots in the Plymouth Brethren movement. Such is not the case. Bickersteth (op. cit.), whose date is 1839, lists hundreds of books on eschatology, most of them favorable to the Premillenarian view, and almost all coming before the rise of the Plymouth Brethren but after Bengel. Yet, as Auberlen points out, Bengel was in error in many of his views of eschatology (for instance he believed in two eschatological millennia and set the date for the beginning of the first Millennium in the year 1836). But he was right in insisting on the central truths of the Premillennial doctrine. Yet how dreadful would have been the results to Christianity since Bengel if preachers and scholars had felt that all the views of Bengel had to be defended. Our twentieth century has in fifty years produced some sound expositors of Premillennial doctrine. Yet how few of them have fully avoided Bengel’s error of date-setting. How few of them have written no words which will appear foolish a generation hence. Eschatology is especially susceptible to wild speculation. The eschatological portions of Scripture are most susceptible to fanciful exegesis. Would that expositors might stick to the task of exposition and application and not attempt to add to revelations of Almighty God by intuition and speculation.
So, in enumerating what I believe to be the teachings of Scripture concerning the Millennium, I shall try to avoid making any affirmation which is not derived from the “thus saith the Lord” of Bible revelation.
My procedure shall be first to state the doctrine and then to present the Biblical evidence.
The essentials of the teachings of the Scriptures of the Millennium may be summarized in three propositions:
1. The Millennium is specifically (1) the period of time between the resurrection of the just and of the unjust, and (2) the period of Satan’s imprisonment.
2. The Millennium is further qualified as (1) an initial stage of the everlasting kingdom of Christ, (2) a period begun by the visible return of Christ in glory to judge and rule the [Page 25] nations, (3) a period closed by the final eradication of all evil from God’s universe at the final judgment of the wicked, and (4) a period during which the saints of the first resurrection will be associated with Christ in His reign.
3. In connection with the inauguration of the Millennium it is revealed that (1) the closing days of the present age shall witness the restoration of Israel to the land and the conversion of the nation, to be followed in the Millennium by the fulfillment of the Old Testament covenant promises distinctive to that nation, (2) a final personal Antichrist shall appear near the close of this present age who will become master of the world and will be destroyed by Christ at His coming, and (3) a period of great tribulation for Israel is to transpire under Antichrist’s oppression, from which deliverance will be provided by Christ at His coming.
Some will question why certain particular teachings often emphasized by some Premillennialists are not included in the list. The explanation is the limitation of purpose. It is my intention to present only the essentials of doctrine for a consistent and Biblical premillennial eschatology - to list the essentials of the premillennial view which would be accepted by the majority of orthodox* Premillennialists.
[* Contra Russellites, Latter Day Saints, et al.]
Some Premillenarians will, of course, disagree as to the list of essentials. If so, I can say only that I think them mistaken. The Premillennialist brethren who feel that Antichrist is the Pope, for instance, will not agree with the second and third parts of 3 above. The brethren who think of the Millennium and the Kingdom as precise equivalents will disagree with most of 2.
Some Premillenarians will think I have not included enough as essential. The pre-tribulationist who some years ago refused to sit on a Bible conference platform with a speaker who advocated the doctrine of a post-tribulation rapture would, no doubt, want the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture included. However, I have no doubt that reasonable and informed [Page 26] Premillennialists will all agree that some of the details of doctrine in this area must be based on inferences from passages rather than plain statements of “thus saith the Lord.” Also some of the passages which concern questions of a secret or public rapture, the precise relation of the saints of the Old Testament to the saints of the New in the coming Kingdom, are capable of variant interpretation. There ought to be room for legitimate difference of opinion among the Premillennial brethren on these points.*
[* Cf. English, “Rethinking the Rapture,” art. no. 6, Our Hope, Dec. 1949.]
It is my sincere prayer that those who read the pages to follow will be convinced that these propositions are true. They are now presented with the most important Biblical evidence. I cannot present all of it, for even Augustine (City of God, XX, 30), after several times cutting short his arguments on eschatology, as he said, lest he should be “unduly prolix,” finally adds, “There are many passages of Scripture bearing on the last judgment of God, - so many, indeed, that to cite them all would swell this book to an unpardonable size.”
* * *
CHAPTER 1 [Pages 27-34]
The Millennium - Specific Reference
The Millennium is specifically (1) the period of time between the resurrection of the just and of the unjust, and (2) the period of Satan’s imprisonment.
The word “millennium” (derived from Latin mille, thousand, plus annus, year) is simply a Latin translation of chilia etee in the Greek text of Revelation 20: 2, 3, etc. The word means, simply, a thousand years.
That it should be necessary to affirm here that it refers to a “period of time” seems odd. Yet it is necessary, for it has been vigorously advocated that it does not refer to a period of time at all. There are those who insist that there is no primary reference to either a literal period of a thousand years ushered in and closed by definite events or to an ideal period which is a symbol of something else.
The Book of Revelation makes mention of several periods of time - of “silence in heaven about the space of half an hour” (8: 1); of four angels “prepared for an hour and a day, and a month, and a year” (9: 15); of “the holy city” to be trodden “under foot forty and two months” (11: 2); of two witnesses who “shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days” (12: 6). There is no clear evidence that any of these is to be taken in any other sense than a literal period of time. And, even if there were, each case would have to be settled individually.
[Page 28] Actually, there is no convincing, self-evident Biblical testimony against the literal interpretation of this thousand-year period.*
[* See Appendix 2 for discussion of nonliteral interpretations.]
It would take a large book to treat completely the
various devices which have been invented to avoid the clear literal teaching of
Revelation 20: 1-7, concerning a future
period of one thousand years of time between the second coming of Christ and
the final consummation of all time. I do not hesitate to attribute all of them
to the strong tendency in some system-making theology to force difficult but
clear texts out of their true shape to fit a system. Augustine
had a theory of politico-ecclesiastical government to maintain, so, while
admitting the literality of the years, he placed them in the present age out of
their eschatological connection. Modern
Amillenarians (Kuyper, Allis, Hamilton, Murray, Hendriksen, Warfield, Milligan, and others)
have a theory that the eschatological future consummation must take place in a
very short period of time, as man counts time, and hence must remove the
strictures of this text to make their theory fit. They also have theories concerning the future
of the church and
That they are conscious of their difficulty in so disposing of the passage is clear from their writings. Many of them admit that the literal teaching of the passage is that the proposition of which this section is a discussion is a true one - that the Millennium is a one-thousand-year period during which Satan shall he bound, and which separates the resurrection of the just from the unjust. I have been much impressed by the obvious Christian devotion of some of these men and their plain faith that the Bible is indeed the Word of God. When I have permitted this portion and some other plain portions of Scripture to be shunted out of the center of discussion (where they must remain) I have even been impressed with the seeming cogency of their arguments. I am not even disposed to dispute their finding a much closer relationship between O.T. prophecy and the church in the present age. Nor does there seem to me to be any serious objection to the claims of many Amillenarian brethren that the Bible speaks of a present reign of the saints with Christ in heaven. However, as one of their own fellows in the Covenant Theology to which most of the contemporary Amillennialists adhere has observed: “I am deeply interested in what my Amillenarian brethren may present as counter arguments; but I am convinced that hitherto neither Augustine nor his followers have adequately dealt with this material in Scripture or as much as dented the millenarian argument which is involved in this material” (D. H. Kromminga, The Millennium).
So, in the complete absence of convincing contrary evidence, I assert that the Millennium is a period of one thousand years of time and insist that it is one of the clear teachings of Scripture.
I have asserted that the Millennium is specifically the period of Satan’s imprisonment and the period between the resurrection of the just and of the unjust. The thousand years are mentioned six times in the first seven verses of Revelation twenty. Three of these occurrences (vs. 2, 3, and 7) apply it to the period of Satan’s imprisonment. Once, in verse five, it refers to the period between the resurrections. The other two apply it to a period of time during which saints shall reign. But these references to the reign of the saints are in a different class from the others. The thousand years will complete the whole history of Satan’s binding as well as of the resurrections of dead men. It will be only a preliminary stage in the reign of the saints in Christ’s everlasting kingdom.
It is not an uncommon misconception among
Premillennial believers that Christ’s kingdom, the reign of Christ, and the
reign of the saints are restricted to a one-thousand-year period. Revelation 20: 4
(“and they lived and reigned
with Christ a thousand years”) and 20: 6 (“they shall be priests of God and of Christ,
and shall reign with him a thousand years”) [Page 30] have been thought to teach
that the reign of the saints and of Christ shall come to an end at the close of
the Millennium. How foolish it is to
cite these verses in proof of such an assertion is seen at once in a close look
at verse four. “Lived” and “reigned”
are both in the same person, gender, and number, and tense in the Greek. There is no punctuation mark of any kind
between them. Clearly, then, the
thousand years modifies both the living* of the saints and their reigning. To insist on a reign of only one thousand
years on the basis of this verse would require
equal insistence on a living of only one thousand years, which simply will not
do. And contrariwise, there are many
passages which speak of the perpetuity of the reign of the saints in the
[*I have not been greatly impressed with the view of Alford and others that [the Greek word … translated] (‘they lived’) is the equivalent of “they arose from the dead,” i.e., were resurrected - even though such meaning might strengthen the Premillennial position. The condition described as “they lived” is certainly a result of resurrection but does not constitute resurrection.*]
[* NOTE. The author’s view arises when The Intermediate State and Place of the Dead in Hades – “in the heart of the earth” - is disbelieved. See Matt. 16: 18; 12: Matt. 12: 40. -Ed]
On this point, and in relation to these verses, George N. H. Peters has written the truth, as follows:
It is asserted by some (as e.g. Calvin, Inst., B. 3, ch. 25) that our doctrine limits the reign of Christ only to the one thousand years. This is incorrect. While some Millenarians
explain the “delivering up of the Kingdom” somewhat similar to our opposers, yet
even nearly all - if not all - of these, so far as we have any knowledge of
their writings, affirm that Jesus continues to reign in the same Kingdom, subordinately to the Father, after the close of the thousand years. The reasons for the perpetuity of Christ’s Kingdom will now be
presented, and the only passage that seems to militate against it will be
refers to 1 Corinthians 15:24.] ... While the words “eternal,” “everlasting,” “forever,” are sometimes employed to denote
limited duration (i.e. duration
adapted to the nature of the thing of which it is affirmed), yet such words as
applied to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ cannot be thus restricted, because
an unending duration intended by them is stated in explanatory phraseology (as
1: 32 “of his kingdom there shall be no end,” etc.). The thousand years are specifically mentioned as the period of Satan’s binding and of the time existing between the two resurrections, and of this era
it is also asserted that Christ and His saints shall reign. The declaration of their reigning during this
period does not limit the reign
to it, but is added to indicate that the reign is already commenced and extends
through this Millenary age. Jesus is not
merely the king of “an
age” but of “the
ages” (1 Tim. 1: 17 Greek),
and His Kingdom is united, not merely to “an age” but to “the age of ages” of “eternal ages,” thus indicating
its extension onward through the vast succession of time in an unending
series. Hence the perpetuity of the
Kingdom is freely declared in 2 Sam. 7:16; Heb. 1: 8; Luke 1: 32, 33;
Rev. 11: 15; Isa. 9: 7; 2 Pet. 1: 11, etc., and
this is explained, Dan. 2: 44, to be “a
kingdom that shall never be destroyed,” and in Dan. 7: 14, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Indeed,
so expressive are these and kindred passages that even those who advocate a
transfer of the Kingdom to
the Father and some kind of an ending of the Kingdom, are still forced, by
their weight and concurrence, unhesitatingly to acknowledge, in some form (as Barnes, etc.) “the perpetuity of Christ’s
Kingdom and His eternal reign.” Hence this reign, beginning at the
Millennial era, is not terminated by the
close of the thousand years ... (The
It is not true, as both Amillennialists and Postmillennialists are wont to affirm, that a period of time between the resurrection of the just and of the unjust is affirmed by Scripture in this passage alone. There is at least one Old Testament passage [Page 32] which mentions a long period at the time of the consummation during which certain “high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth” shall “be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited” (Isa. 24: 22, 23). No satisfactory explanation of this strange passage was afforded until Revelation 20: 1-10 was written, and even then only as the literal Premillennial interpretation was adopted. Dr. Nathaniel West possibly went too far in asserting dogmatically that several other Old Testament passages refer to the Millennium. He asserted this of Ezekiel 38: 8; 37: 25, 26, 28; Hosea 3: 4, 5; Psalm 72: 7. Some of these may refer to the Millennium. Only Isaiah 24: 22, 23 must refer to it, in my opinion.
But, granting the objection to our doctrine: that it is supported by one passage alone, the fact remains that one passage does clearly teach it and one is enough.
Amillennialists have various methods of handling the reference to a “first resurrection” of the just and a final resurrection of the unjust mentioned in Revelation 20. The most common is that advocated recently by Floyd E. Hamilton, and very clearly stated by him:
The amillennialist ... believes that the first resurrection is the new birth of the believer which is crowned by his being taken to heaven to be with Christ in His reign during the interadventual period. This eternal life, which is the present possession of the believer, and is not interrupted by the death of the body, is the first resurrection and participation in it is the millennial reign. (The Basis of Millennial Faith, pp. 118, 119).
Like most of the Amillennialists, ancient and modern, he traces support for this view from several other Biblical passages which speak of a spiritual resurrection of believers at new birth. In John 5: 24-29 he, following Augustine, even finds (and rightfully so) a spiritual and a physical (in that order) resurrection of believers in one paragraph. Yet for two simple reasons his argument is completely worthless. The first is that interpretation of what he calls a symbol in Revelation 20 must have a sound basis in the passage itself. It will not do to run off somewhere else and, finding a spiritual resurrection, cry, “See, Revelation 20: 4-6 speaks of spiritual resurrection.” This kind of exegesis leads to no certain results. And it is fortunate that [Page 33] most of our orthodox but Amillennial friends do not frequently use this method of exegesis except where the doctrine of Millennium is concerned. The second reason, suggested now already, is that no connection can be traced between even one of his references and Revelation 20: 4-6.
Augustine, who is of importance to the
discussion as the first acceptable exponent of Amillennialism, had a slightly
different view of the nature and location of the Millennium. He placed the Millennium on earth during the present age. He felt that it consisted in the binding of Satan by the progress of the
church. He thought it began with the
first missionary expansion of the church from
Thus, to Augustine, the Millennium is a period of time, and is the period of Satan’s imprisonment, but by placing it in the present age, and by making the reign of the saints ecclesiological instead of eschatological his view is totally unacceptable. It simply does not fit the plain requirements of the passage in Revelation twenty.*
[* Augustine, after mentioning the view which he later calls Chiliast or Millenarian, seems to admit that he once held the chiliastic view. He also admits that it is only a sensual interpretation of the Millennium that is objectionable in Chiliasm (op. cit. xx, 7).]
[Page 34] The comments of a great scholar, recognized by Christian scholars of all schools of thought as a worthy interpreter of Scripture, I deem to be worthy of note in concluding on this point.
I refer to Henry Alford, churchman, New Testament critic, scholar, and Christian. Commenting on Revelation 20:1 ff. he says,
It will have been long ago anticipated by the readers of this commentary that I cannot consent to distort words from their plain sense and chronological place in the prophecy on any considerations of difficulty, or any risk with it. Those who lived next to the Apostles, and the whole of church for 300 years, understood them in the plain literal sense: and it is a strange sight in these days to see expositors who are among the first in reverence of antiquity complacently casting aside the most cogent instance of consensus which primitive antiquity presents. As regards the text itself, no legitimate treatment of it will extort what is known as the spiritual interpretation now in fashion. If, in a passage where two resurrections are mentioned, where certain [See the Greek, translated] (‘souls lived’) at the first, and the rest of the … (‘dead lived’) only at the end of a specified period after the first - if in such a passage the first resurrection may be understood to mean spiritual rising from the grave - then there is an end of all significance of language, and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to any thing. If the first resurrection is spiritual, then so is the second, which I suppose none* will be hardy enough to maintain: but if the second is literal, then so is the first, which, in common with the whole primitive Church and many of the best modern expositors, I do maintain, and receive as an article of faith and hope (Greek Testament with a Critically Revised Text, etc. Vol. IV, pp. 732 733).
[* Alford was overpresumptuous. David Brown.(Christ’s Second Coming. Will It Be Pre‑Millennial?) for one argued at considerable length that both the resurrections of Revelation 20 are figurative or “spiritual.” The first refers, says he, to the ultimate victory of the church in and over the world; the second, to a recrudescence of evil just before the final judgment (see pp. 234‑239). Carroll (The Book of Revelation, Broadman Press, Nashville, 1916, 1942; pp. 231, 232) shares this view.]
* * *
CHAPTER 2 [Pages 35-59]
The Millennium - Further Qualifications
The Millennium is further qualified as (1) an initial stage of the everlasting kingdom of Christ, (2) a period begun by the visible return of Christ in glory to judge and rule the nations, (3) a period closed by the final eradication of all evil from God’s universe at the final judgment of the wicked, and (4) a period during which the saints of the first resurrection will be associated with Christ in His reign.
(1) The Millennium is an initial stage in the
It is inevitable that conflict with the Amillennial view should be engaged at this point.
Amillennialists, in general,
hold that the Millennium is a symbol of the present age, that the binding of
Satan took place at the beginning of the present age and that he will be
unbound a short while before the close of this age.* They believe that all the Bible prophecies
concerning the prodigious events to take place in connection with the coming of
Christ will be seen by the living church before the Rapture. The Rapture is held to be simultaneous with
the revelation of Christ in power to judge the wicked nations. The eternal state, without any transitional
Millennium, will begin immediately upon the coming of Christ. They also hold
that many of the kingdom prophecies of the Bible in Old and New Testaments
alike refer to the church in this present, the “Millennial
Age.”** Certainly, they agree, none of them refer to a restored
[* This period, when Satan is unbound, is assigned by some Amillennialists to Daniel's seventieth week.
** Keil and Leupold, e.g., hold that the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem in the prophecy of the 70 weeks are symbolical of the New Testament Church.]
36] The arguments amassed to support these views fill
entire books. The interested student
will find them well expressed in able presentations by Murray (Millennial Studies), Hamilton (The Basis of Millennial Faith), Allis (Prophecy and the
Church), Geerhardus Vos (The Teachings
of Jesus Concerning the
It would take another book to respond to the men “blow by blow.” But that kind of an answer is not the most convincing, anyway, even if the limitations of this treatise would permit it.
Therefore, I shall confine
myself to presentation of the Biblical evidence for the Premillennial view that
the Millennium is, indeed, an initial
stage in the everlasting
This can be shown to be true by demonstrating the truth of the following propositions: First, there is an everlasting kingdom promised to Christ (Messiah) in the Old Testament. Second, Christ claimed those promises for Himself when He came. Third, Christ and the apostles made it clear that in certain important aspects that kingdom was entirely future up to the time of our Lord’s ascension and would remain so till the second coming. Fourth, the Bible places the future Millennium within that future kingdom, and places it at the very beginning of it.
[Page 37] The first two of these propositions are not opposed by any serious students of any conservative theological school of opinion so I shall merely state them with Bible references and move on to the last two, which are subjects of controversy.
(a) An everlasting kingdom is promised to Christ in the Old Testament. The following clear passages make this evident: Daniel 2. 34, 35, 44; Daniel 7: 13, 14; Isaiah 11: 1 ad fin.; Isaiah 65:17 ad fin.; Isaiah 66: 22 ad fin.; Zechariah 14: 1 ad fin. These are only examples of classes of passages which add up to hundreds of verses.
(b) Christ claimed these promises for Himself when He came. The following passages are cited: Luke 1: 31-33; Matthew 1: 1-3: 7; Matthew 11: 2-6. These verses are enough to establish the claim here made. That some spiritualize the Old Testament promises in favor of a different kind of kingdom from that which a literal interpretation gives us, and seek to find support for such spiritualization is not important to the discussion just yet. The fact remains that those Old Testament predictions of an everlasting kingdom for Messiah are claimed for Jesus Christ in the New Testament. To this all believing scholars agree, so far as I know. It is difficult to see how one could be a believer in Christ as Saviour and view the matter otherwise.
(c) Christ and the apostles made it clear that in certain respects that kingdom was still future at the time of our Lord’s ascension and would remain so till the second coming.
There are several passages which demonstrate the futurity of Christ’s kingdom during His natural life. When He taught His disciples to pray, it was, “Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6: 10), and it was associated with a time when God’s will would be done on earth just as in heaven, which from our perspective puts it in the then remote future. When certain of His disciples “thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Luke 19: 11), our Lord gave a parable which is conclusive in this discussion, and, I think ought to silence forever those who teach that “there is no trace in the Gospels of the so-called chiliastic expectation of a provisional political kingdom,” i.e., an earthly millennium of chiliastic kind (Vos, The Kingdom of God and the Church, p. 68), and those who say that [Page 38] the church in the present age is the fulfillment in toto of the kingdom prophecies to Israel. 1 cite the parable in part.
He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received his kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound bath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities (Luke 19:12-17).
Then, after description of further judgment of his professed servants, the parable concludes,
But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me (Luke 19: 27).
Taken by itself, this proves that our Lord expected a long period of time to transpire, during which His rejection, crucifixion, ascension, and return would transpire before his kingdom should be established. Compare it with the parable of Matthew 25: 14-30 and this certainly becomes a double certainty. Nothing else can be derived from a discerning reading of these passages.
That this futurity of his kingdom remained after the
death of Christ and before the ascension is indicated by Acts 1: 6-8.
It will do no harm here to repeat what of necessity has been said often,
that when the disciples asked Jesus if He would “at this time restore again the kingdom to
Then, over half a century after the ascension, John
wrote of a day when “the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in
heaven saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord
and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever’” (Rev. 11: 15).
This is eschatological prediction, as many of our Amillenarian friends
agree. This being the case, it is indeed
difficult to avoid the conviction that the
Much more could be written on this point, but these facts I deem to be sufficient to establish that “Christ and the apostles made it clear that in certain respects the kingdom was still future at the time of our Lord’s ascension and would remain so till the second coming.”
I think that some of the modern Premillennialists
have gone too far in the direction of making the
The fact that believers in the present age are “translated into the kingdom” (Col. 1: 13), that born-again believers appear to have entered the kingdom of God (John 3:1 ff.) , that the course of the present age is traced as the history of “the kingdom of heaven” (parables of Matt. 13), and that kingdom aspects seem to be attached even to the ministry of the gospel during the church age (cf. Acts 8: 12; 15: 13-18; 20: 24-27; 28: 23) forbid that we declare every aspect of the kingdom future.
God is in the present calling out a “spiritual aristocracy,” so to speak, who shall have positions of leadership in that future kingdom (cf. Acts 15: 14, Luke 22: 28-30). These people [Page 40] own Christ as king and are governed even now by the principles of heaven. In that sense the kingdom now promised to Christ is already His. And though it was suffering violence during our Lord’s earthly life (Matt. 11: 12), and continues to suffer violence from “the violent,” who would take it by force (cf. parables of leaven, tares and wheat, etc., of Matt. 13), there is a present aspect of the kingdom. There is an area among saved men on earth where Christ reigns supreme.
But in the full sense the kingdom awaits establishment for the simple reason that the king is absent and away from the scene of that kingdom.
I am acquainted with the fact that some will scoff at what they call a carnal interpretation of the kingdom - with a literal throne, living men as subjects, glorified saints as rulers. But the word carnal has both good and bad senses. Carnal as applied to existence in human bodies and government in literal human ways is not necessarily bad. The Bible never says it is. Carnal as applied to the sin nature and all it stands for is bad. It was Bengel who said,
They who believe that the Millennium is coming will be found to have the true meaning, rather than those who contend that this period present age has been the Millennium; nor do they delay the course of the sun, who speak against it. ... There is no error, much less danger, in saying that the thousand years are future, but rather in interpreting these years, whether future or past, in a carnal sense (Gnomon of the New Testament, p. 920).
And if to admit the literal meaning of Revelation 20: 1-10, applying it to a future kingdom of Christ on earth, is carnal, then let us all be carnal, for it was Jesus who said to His own disciples: “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22: 28-30). It is small wonder that Vos (op. cit., 70) [Page 41] declares of this that “the words are figurative.” His Amillennialism is just simply inconsistent with a literal interpretation. So, wherever a literal interpretation is inconsistent with the system, a figurative one is substituted.
(d) The Bible places the future Millennium within that future kingdom, and places it at the very beginning of it.
This is an important step in our argument - one that I do not recall ever being taken by the Premillennial writers whom I have read. One can prove that there is a Millennium future and that there is a kingdom future, but he must still establish some sort of relationship between the two before kingdom prophecies and Millennial prophecies can be correlated.
Please observe that the view adopted here does not equate the Millennium and the kingdom. The Bible nowhere does that. Complete identification of the two has given Amillennialists some of their best ammunition (see Allis, Prophecy and the Church, 236‑242). If, as we have shown, the Millennium is a period of only one thousand years, and is specifically the period of time between the two resurrections and the period of Satan’s binding, of which period it is affirmed that the saints do reign, then it is not identically the same as the kingdom of Messiah which lasts forever.
Now, to demonstrate that the Millennium is within
First, we are twice informed (Rev. 20: 4, 6) that the saints reign with Christ during the Millennium.
Second, we are also informed in
unmistakable terms that when Christ and the saints once begin to reign over the
Observe that Messiah’s “dominion is an everlasting dominion.” The Aramaic word here twice rendered dominion is sholtan. The evidence furnished by the usage of this word is that it has reference to dominion in the sense of sovereignty (right to rule) rather than of realm (area of rule). It is the word used several times in Daniel of God’s sovereignty as well as that of kings and sub-rulers. In this case, then, it is affirmed that Messiah’s sovereignty over His kingdom is eternal. Some might object that the word “eternal” can mean only as durative as the nature of the thing it describes, and hence limit the duration. But the verse also affirms that this sovereignty “shall not pass away” and of the realm in which he exercises sovereignty that “his kingdom” is “that which shall not be destroyed.” It is hard to conceive of terminology which would more adequately and unequivocally express unending rulership.
Concerning the relationship of Messiah’s saints to that kingdom, Daniel 7: 18 tells us, “The saints of the most High shall take the kingdom [A.S.V., “receive the kingdom”], and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” Discussion of the Aramaic words used here would only confirm that the strict meaning of the English translation is also the strict meaning of the original. It describes active reception of the kingdom, and rulership in the same, forever. The same is affirmed once more in verse 27 of the same chapter in very similar terms.
Two points have now been established - that the saints will reign with Christ during the Millennium and that when once they begin to reign they do so forever. At this point the temptation is acute to treat the passages which speak of the close of the Millennial age and others which are supposed by some to refer to the close of the Millennial age and which are [Page 43] thought to be in conflict with these views of the continuity and perpetuity of the saint’s reign. I beg the indulgence of the reader to let me pursue my argument, believing the clear passages cited to be sufficient to establish my main point. An unpublished paper on the subject, “The Cosmic Dissolution,” which I wrote in 1942, treats the objections quite fully. A condensation of that paper appears in Appendix 1 at the close of this book, for the benefit of the inquiring readers. Premillennialists will find therein a view of the close of the present and of the Millennial age not usually advocated by recent Premillennial writers.
In the third place, it follows that since
we are told that the saints do reign during the Millennium, and since they
continue to reign when once they begin to reign in the kingdom age, there is
only one place to put the one thousand years, and that is during the
Fourth, and finally, the Millennium must be placed at the very beginning of the kingdom age, because, once it is settled that it is in the kingdom age of the future, the facts of reason and of the structure of the Book of Revelation will allow no other place for it.
Reason would lead us to assume that when once the kingdom of Christ has been firmly established and been long in process there could be no recrudescence of evil such as takes place late in the one thousand years (Rev. 20: 7‑10). Neither would it be reasonable to suppose that the final judgment of the wicked at the close of the Millennium should be indefinitely postponed.
But, aside from reason, the structure of the Book of Revelation, whether the parallelistic, continuous-historical, or [Page 44] futuristic interpretation be taken will allow no place for the future Millennium except immediately after the Son of God returns with His saints as King of kings and Lord of lords. This coming is described in Revelation 19: 11-21. Immediately there follows the story of the initiation of the Millennium. Establish the futurity of the Millennium in the kingdom age, as we have already done, and, by any reasonable interpretation, it will fit the structure of this book only at the beginning of the kingdom age.
This will be elucidated in the development of the sections which now follows.
(2) The Millennium is a period begun by the visible return of Christ in glory
to judge and rule the nations.
It has been seen that the Millennium is an initial stage of the Kingdom and that the inauguration of the Millennium and of the Kingdom are synchronous. Once this is seen, the establishment of this proposition is only a matter of citing passages. Perhaps the best of all is the second Psalm, which, in unmistakable terms, declares that when Jehovah places His “Son” (v. 12) and sets His “king upon my holy hill of Zion” (v. 6), He will also give His son the “heathen” (nations) for an inheritance (v. 8), and to His king He declares, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
Any reader who is in doubt about this matter should read Psalm 72, Isaiah 11, Joel 3, Zechariah 14, and Matthew 25. Nothing that could be written here would be as convincing as the content of these chapters from the Bible itself.
(3) The Millennium is a period closed by the final eradication of all evil from God’s universe at the final judgment of the wicked.
Premillennialists, in common with all Christian believers, recognize that God will bring every deed of men and angels into judgment. Rewards for good deeds and punishments for evil deeds are a necessary part of a world which Christians recognize as being moral in its constitution and government. That all [Page 45] judgment of believers for evil, judgment in the penal sense, that is, took place at Calvary in Christ, all informed orthodox believers will agree.*
[* NOTE. There is no mention here for judgment upon unforsaken wilful sin after conversion. See (Heb. 10: 26-31) – Ed.]
It is on the time, place, and circumstances of the final judgment, when believers whose sins already have been punished in Christ are separated from those whose sins must be born by themselves in an eternal and dreadful hell, that disagreement appears.
Charles Hodge (Systematic Theology, Vol. ill, pp. 845-851) lists the following doctrines concerning the final judgment of all men which he says always have been shared by all parties and geographical and ecclesiastical divisions of orthodox Christianity.
1. The final judgment is a definite future event (not a protracted process), when the eternal destiny of men and of angels shall be finally determined and publicly manifested. ...
2. Christ is to be the judge. ...
3. This judgment is to take place at the second coming of Christ and at the general resurrection. ...
4. The persons to be judged are men and angels. ...
5. The ground or matter of judgment is said to be the “deeds done in the body.” ... So far as those who hear the gospel are concerned, their future destiny depends on the attitude which they assume to Christ. ...
6. Men are to be judged according to the light which they have severally enjoyed....
7. At the judgment of the last day the destiny of the righteous and of the wicked shall be unalterably determined.
Now, there is probably small doubt that Dr. Hodge
has outlined correctly the general teaching of the church. That his summary is true in general, even Premillennialists ought to agree. However, while not fomenting any quarrel over
the term, “general resurrection,” I insist that
Premillennialists should require a different understanding of it to allow a [Page
46] Millennium - [and
also a resurrection of reward (Luke 14: 14; 20: 35;
Phil. 3: 11; Heb. 11: 35b; Rev. 20: 4-6)] -
to stand between the resurrection of the
just and of the unjust. And, if Dr.
Hodge means by his seventh proposition that the eternal destiny of the saved
man is not “unalterably determined” the moment
he puts his faith in a finished work of Christ at
The essential difference between the three common views of the Millennium in relation to the judgment are as follows:
Postmillennialists believe that there is to be one resurrection of all men to be preceded immediately by the coming of Christ and to be followed immediately by one judgment before which all men shall appear. This resurrection and judgment shall follow an earthly Millennium during which the earth shall be covered with the gospel message and the majority of men will be saved.
Amillennialists believe the same as to resurrection and judgment, except that they, in general, have a more pessimistic view of the course of the world down to the coming of Christ, and deny the existence of any future earthly Millennium.
Premillennialists share the views of Amillennialists concerning the general course of the present age, but disagree on the other details. Premillennialists believe that at the second coming of Christ there will be a resurrection of the [“considered worthy” (Luke 20: 35, N.I.V.] saints only, that at His coming He will destroy the wicked living, that the righteous will enter the Millennium to people the earth during the Millennium and that the glorified saints of former ages shall join with a restored Israel in ruling the world during the Millennium. At the close of the Millennium the resurrection and final judgment of the wicked* will take place.
[* Keep in mind, the word ‘wicked’ is used throughout scripture to describe some of the regenerate within the Church, (Num. 16: 25; cf. “Expel the wicked man from among you,” says Paul describing a “brother” who was “sexually immoral” and “inside” the “Church of God in Corinth”: (1 Cor. 5: 10,-12; 1: 2, N.I.V.)]
This view is not without its difficulties. Premillennialists may be asked where the righteous living shall come from to people the earth during the Millennium if all the righteous are translated at its inception. They may be asked whence arises the rebellion at the end of the Millennium if only saved people enter the Millennium. The parable of the tares and wheat, and of the drag-net in Matthew 13 are presented as objections to a removal of the righteous by resurrection before the wicked are removed in final judgment.*
[* See 1 Thes. 1., and note Paul’s words of encouragement in the perseverance of holy living, and also of warning to those he describes as “brothers” at Thessalonica. By using the word ‘and’as a disjunction, we see two groups of people being described by the apostle – the unregenerate and the regenerate. In verses 5, 8b, 9b, 10, 11, we have a description of what can happen to the regenerate, if they, by their behaviour become unrighteous, when they “… do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be … shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power ON THE DAY HE COMES TO BE GLORIFIED IN HIS HOLY PEOPLE… With this in mind, we constantly pray for YOU, that our God MAY COUNT YOU WORTHY of His calling…” Hence the urgent need of a high standard of personalrighteousness to enter “the kingdom of the heaven[s]” (Matt. 5: 20).]
It is the writer’s firm conviction that these questions cannot be answered except as the view of the Seventy Weeks of Daniel 9 herein defended (see p. 135 ff.) is adopted. A Premillennial system of eschatology without the seventieth week of Daniel (see chapter on the seventy weeks) as the structure of premillennial end-time events is, in my opinion, unable to answer these embarrassing questions of the Amillennial school.
Now, the Premillennialist believes in this order in the end of the affairs of this world primarily because it is taught in Revelation 19 and 20. These chapters present, first, the coming of Christ, then the judgment of wicked men with Antichrist and his false prophet. Now appears the binding of Satan, followed by the thousand years during which saints of a “first resurrection” are said to reign. At the end - and not till the end - of the thousand years, the judgment of the “Great White Throne”, is said to transpire. In this judgment there is not the slightest trace of the presence of saved men, at least not in the capacity of the judged. There is not the slightest evidence that in this judgment even one person shall be declared righteous and sent into eternal life.* The wicked among the inhabitants of earth at Millennium’s end are led by a released Satan to rebel against God. But they are destroyed by fire from heaven, the devil is cast into the lake of fire, for ever, and then these now dead wicked rebels are resurrected together with the wicked dead of all ages to stand before God, and receive condemnation to the everlasting fire of hell which has so recently swallowed their father the Devil. The righteous are not mentioned in the judgment. It must be admitted that they are not expressly excluded. But they do not need to be - the information given in chapter 19 and in 20: 1-6 adequately settles the question of their destiny.
[* The words, “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire,” would suggest that there will be those from amongst the regenerate whose name will be found ‘written in the book of life,’ and are therefore excluded from the rest. That is, those not ‘considered worthy of taking part in that (kingdom) age’ by Christ will not ‘inherit the kingdom’ (Gal. 5: 21; Eph. 5: 5, 6) at the time of the ‘First Resurrection.’]
But though Revelation 19 and 20 may be the simple basis [Page 48] of the doctrine it does not want support in other parts of Scripture. That this is the case is admitted even by Carl Enotheus Semisch, whose article on “Millenarianism, Millennium” in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopwdia of Religious Knowledge is one of the most antagonistic and vitriolic to be found in any Protestant literature. Nevertheless, opposed to the doctrine as he was, his admissions very nearly constitute a capitulation. His remarks follow:
There are, however, passages, which if interpreted strictly, and exclusively according to the letter, afford some ground for the millenarian doctrine; as, for example, the sitting at the table with the patriarchs in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 8: 11), the drinking of the fruit of the vine (Matt. 26:29), and the eating of the passover in the kingdom of God (Luke 22:16), etc. Finally, it cannot be disputed that the Book of Revelation (20: 4 sqq.) contains the fundamental characteristics of millenarianism. The explanation of Augustine, that the thousand years (Rev. 20: 4) had begun before his day is ruled out by the fact that this period is put after the destruction of Antichrist (19: 19 sqq.). Nor is the first resurrection (20: 4), which is set over against the state of the other dead not yet resurrected (20: 12 sqq.), to be explained of the first stage of blessedness in heaven (Hengstenberg), or of regeneration (Augustine). It can refer only to a bodily resurrection (Schaff‑Herzog Encyclopcedia of Religious Knowledge, art. “Millenarianism, Millennium”).
Semisch thus rightly rejects all Amillennial explanations of the separation between the resurrection of the just and unjust by the Millennium. What explanation does he, then, propose? None whatsoever. His quite helpless admission immediately follows:
In view of the difficulty of separating figure from real fact, we conclude that the millenarianism of the Book of Revelation is a hieroglyph, whose meaning has not yet been satisfactorily solved (ibid.).
[Page 49] Abraham Kuyper (The Revelation of St. John, pp. 275 ff.) is not so frank as Semisch, but quite as unsuccessful in interpreting the one thousand years. After rather vague argument from Psalm 90: 4 and 2 Peter 3: 8, 10, he reaches the conclusion that “the ‘thousand years’ in connection with the Consummation are not a literal but a symbolical indication.” An astounding and quite unbelievable declaration then follows:
In other writings a sixfold repetition of a thousand years would require a careful explanation, but such a necessity can never apply to the doings of God, and hence in the Book of Revelation, where it concerns not the doings of men, but of Almighty God, it is out of the question. ... When we have a writing in hand in which the rule applies that the numbers have no numerical, but a symbolical significance, one has no right to surmise the opposite use of the number, unless this modified use is very clearly indicated.
Such statements are very shocking, indeed, when
viewd in their bare meaning. Does not
Moses clearly suppose that the six days of God’s activity in creating to have
been real (cf. Ex. 20: 8-11)? Were the seventy years by which God punished
Thus, without the slightest hesitation, I return to the [Page 50] proposition: The Millennium is a period (of one thousand years begun by the resurrection of the righteous dead and characterized by the reign of the saints), closed by the final eradication of all evil from God’s universe at the final judgment of the wicked. I base this assertion squarely upon the twentieth chapter of Revelation and challenge the opposers to show us why I should not so do.
This doctrine is required also by the twenty-fourth chapter of Isaiah, which has been aptly called “The Little Apocalypse.”
prophecy is eschatological in its reach is clearly indicated by the last verse
in the chapter (v. 23) for it speaks of the
time “when the LORD of hosts shall reign in
Now, following a description of events (vs. 1-20) which are very nearly exactly duplicated in the judgment predictions of Revelation 6-19 these striking words appear:
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and
the kings of the earth upon the earth.
And they shall be gathered together in the pit, and shall be shut up in
the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the
sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in
Delitzsch (Commentary on Isaiah) says
of verse 23: “What
the apocalyptist of the New Testament describes in detail in Revelation 20: 4, 20: 11
sqq., and 21,
the apocalyptist of the Old Testament sees here condensed into one fact.” And such is precisely the case. We would extend the reference back to verse 1 and say that what the apocalyptist Isaiah
sees in one chapter of [Page 51] 23
verses the apocalyptist John sees in 15
chapters (Rev. 6 to 21). It is
The crisis of Isaiah’s prophecy (vs. 20-23 above) corresponds precisely with Revelation 19: 11-21: 1 ff. First, the Lord punishes the hosts of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. These “hosts of high ones” can be none other than the angelic spirits of wickedness which in Daniel are seen standing behind the nations of men, and who are represented in Revelation 12: 9 as being cast out of the heavens by Michael and his angels into the earth (12: 13). Once on the earth they “and the kings of the earth upon the earth” are shortly “gathered together into the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison.” This is Old Testament language for incarceration in Sheol or Hades. C. Von Orelli writes of these words (Prophecies of Isaiah, 142, 143), “The figure is taken from State prisoners, who at first have been imprisoned without regard to the degree of their guilt, but then on the day of judgment are condemned or acquitted according to its extent.” This punishment and incarceration is exactly parallel to the destruction of the armies of Antichrist as described in Revelation 19: 11 ff., and to the binding of Satan in the bottomless pit (Rev. 20: 1, 2). “And after many days shall they be visited,” says Isaiah. Orelli translates, “and they are shut up together as captives in a dungeon, and kept in ward, and visited after a long time.” The Hebrew umerobh yamim, literally, and from a multitude of days, does mean a long time. The visitation described is a divine visitation according to the uniform Hebrew usage, and can be for either deliverance or judgment. In this case it appears that both usages are united in one reference - visitation in the sense of deliverance, because we learn not only from Revelation 20: 12-14 but also from 1 Corinthians 15: 22-24 and John 5: 28, 29 that the wicked dead are to be raised from the dead. But it is a “resurrection of damnation,” as John 5: 29 specifies, so the sense of visitation for judgment is also involved. [Page 52]
I do not regard this prophecy in Isaiah as mere confirmation of a Premillenarian interpretation of Revelation 20. By itself it requires an explanation of the eschatological future that is similar to, if not identical with, the Premillennial doctrine in the specific length in years, of that period which is at once the final age of time and the first age of the eternal kingdom of heaven and earth. The only specification is that the time be of some great length, as is required by robh ydmim, many days. We must refer to Revelation 20 to learn how many days.
(4) The Millennium is a period during which the saints of the first resurrection
will be associated with Christ in His reign.
This doctrine has been mentioned in several steps of our previous discussions of Millennial doctrines. Now some of the more particular facts must be presented.
There are two principal passages on which this doctrine is based. The earlier is Daniel 7, which reveals that
the saints of the most High shall ... possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. ... And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions shall serve and obey him (Daniel 7: 18, 27).
For reasons which I shall develop fully in the chapter on the Prophecy of the Four Beasts and the Ancient of Days I am quite convinced that Gabriel had just one group of saints in view here - saved people from the covenant nation Israel. I am in agreement with Auberlen, who writes:
By the “people of the saints of the Most High,” to whom dominion is then to be given (Dan. 7: 18-27), Daniel evidently could only understand the people of Israel, as distinguished from the heathen nations and kingdoms which were to rule up till then (2: 44); nor have we, according to strict exegesis, a right to apply the expression [Page 53] to other nations; hence we cannot apply it immediately to the church” (Daniel and Revelation, 216).
Auberlen then reports that Roos, Preiswerk, HofInann, Hitzig, and Bertholdt, representing both
Millenarian and anti-Millenarian schools of thought in
Of the saints’ participation in the reign of Christ in His future kingdom there are many direct references in the New Testament. That these who participate are the church of the Pauline epistles there can not be the slightest doubt. References to such begin at Matthew 5: 5 and continue throughout the New Testament. Among some of the clearest references are 2 Timothy 2: 12; Luke 12: 32; 1 Corinthians 6: 9, 10; 1 Corinthians 15: 50; Galatians 5: 21; Ephesians 5: 5; James 2: 5.
However, the principal passage, that passage in the New Testament which compares in strength and significance to Daniel 7 in the Old, is Revelation 20: 4‑9. This must now have our consideration:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the [Page 54] beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
With these passages before us, what information do we seem to have about the reign of the saints with Christ? The paucity of information on certain aspects of the question forbids that we make any statements that are very minute in scope. But the following seem to be quite distinctly revealed.
First, the saints of
both Old and New Covenants shall share in the reign of Christ. I do not intend that this doctrine be
construed to mean that all distinctions between the people of God gathered to
the Lord in Old Testament times and the
But, in the second place, it seems clear that both groups shall be associated in the administration of the reign. The passage in Revelation 20 makes no distinctions, yet does indicate that all [martyrs] shall share in the same resurrection and reigning with Christ. In much the same way that “they also which pierced him” are selected for special mention among the people of the whole world that shall see Christ when He comes (Rev. 1: 7) the martyrs are selected by way of eminence among the saints of the resurrection. Resurrection has a special meaning for them (see Rev. 20: 4; cf. 6: 9-11), just as the appearance of Messiah at His second advent will have a special meaning for the nation that “received him not” at His first advent. However, the fact that the martyr saints of the first resurrection are set in opposition to “the rest of the dead” which “lived not again until the thousand years were finished,” all of whom are unsaved and destined for damnation,* makes it evident that all the righteous dead from Abel onward are included in this resurrection, and hence also in the life and reign of the Millennium and presumably of the ages to follow (see Appendix 2 for further discussion).
[* Note. The author has overlooked the conditional passages addressed to regenerate believers here. See Christ’s promises to the overcomers in Revelation chapters 2. & 3.]
Two passages in Matthew require this feature - 8: 11, which speaks of how “many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven,” and 19: 28, which informs us that the apostles of the New Testament Church shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel “in the regeneration.” It seems that it is in their capacity as apostles and not just as Jews that this shall take place. So he would be a hardy man, indeed, who would dogmatically state just what distinctions are to prevail between the groups of the redeemed in that day. The author has some opinions, but must confess that they are founded mostly on conjecture.
Now, before we leave this discussion of the characteristics of this last transitional age between time and eternity, the writer would like to venture an answer to the anti-Millennial teaching which has beset these doctrines in modern times. Kuyper, Murray, Hamilton, Allis, Vos (all of the Amillennial persuasion) use different types of rational and Biblical arguments, but the one most commonly appearing is that the insertion of one thousand years between the beginning of the consummation and the completion of it is out of harmony with the clear passages in earlier portions of the Bible, which are said to teach that the consummation shall transpire in one uninterrupted series of events at the second advent. Kuyper (The Revelation of St. John, pp. 271, 272) says:
Christ’s teachings with respect to this, both in St. Matthew 24 and other parts of the Gospels, contain nothing that even remotely suggests any such interval, and directly contradict it. One does not tally with the other. In the Gospels and apocalyptical writings the parousia is not presented as the succession of a series of events of long duration, but as a drastic action which is immediately connected with the resurrection of all the dead, with the last judgment, with the destruction of this world and the rise of a new world on a new earth under a new heaven. It is inconceivable therefore that between the parousia of Christ and the Consummation there would again ensue so tremendous an interval of a thousand years.
Now, there is a certain amount of truth to these contentions. The entire picture of the events which shall close human history, as such, is very frequently presented in such a way that one might receive the impression that all would happen at once. This is particularly true of most of the Old Testament prophecies.
But as men so well versed as most of these writers well know, this is due, not to the fact that God made it a matter of revelation that the events were to be of short duration, but to the fact that the element of time simply is not usually present in the prophecy, and time was not the subject of revelation.
There have been various ways of describing this characteristic. As to cause, on the human level, the explanation lies in the fact that the prophets were primarily seers, that is, men who saw revelations. What they saw they described. But, time is one element that cannot be put in a picture, either of past or future events. The element of space, or depth, is difficult to transcribe on a picture. So, while the prophets were given to know the nature of coming events, they were not usually given the time of them. This feature of Bible prophecy has been frequently called the lack of perspective. Many of my Premillennial brethren who know this fact have not taken proper cognizance [Page 57] of it and hence sometimes make some incautious (at best) statements about prophecy. Dr. Gaebelein, following Seiss (The Last Times, I have lost the page reference), declares that “prophecy is history prewritten” (The Prophet Daniel, 1). Pettingill entitles his commentary on Daniel, “History Foretold.” Now, if history concerns anything it is the precise relations of events in time and, that certainly in past time. So prophecy, even though it does predict historical events, certainly is not a preview of history taken in the strict sense. Even where time is made a subject of revelation, as for instance in the prophecy of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 and of the thousand years in Revelation 20, great gaps in chronology are omitted, which disqualify these prophecies for the technically historical character sometimes assigned to them.
Another, and more important, reason why events that turn out to be disparate and successive are presented in prophecy as single and non-disparate, is that it has pleased an all-wise revealing God to make revelation of details of the future progressive.* The prophecies of the Old Testament did not make clear that there would be two advents of Messiah. They predicted both the suffering and the glory, and even the order of them, but not the interval which separated and continues to separate them. There were wise reasons for this in the hidden counsels of God. We see some of them now in a way that even our Lord’s apostles did not see them till after Jesus ascended into heaven. Somewhere there is a divine decree to the effect that contrary to justice, Messiah be crucified for sins He did not commit, in order that we should not die for the sins we do commit. If Old Testament prophecy had been full and complete, and in exact perspective, with reference to this fact, it is doubtful that the decree of God would ever have been carried out. But God’s decrees are all carried out - only because the same God who ordains the end ordains also the means.** Now, with [Page 58] reference to the atoning death of Christ, the feature of Old Testament prophecy referred to above was one of the means to that end.
[* In a sense, this is only the face of that truth of which lack of perspective is the obverse.
**As Dr. A. J. McClain, my teacher of systematic theology, often said, ‑“Contingency of human act is no sign of contingency in the divine plan.”]
Yet prophecy moves onward from Genesis to Revelation. The perspective is improved and the details, even with reference to time, progress toward a complete picture in three dimensions of space and in the fourth dimension, time. All reputable Biblical scholars recognize this fact. As the death of Christ drew near, He explained that He would die, how He would die, how long He would stay [in Hades the place of the] dead, and how and when He would rise.
Now, with reference to the order of events, and as to the separation of details concerning the close of the ages of time, God’s Word in no place lifts the veil completely. There are some questions which will never be settled until history has run its course and time proceeds no longer. But, on the other hand, there are some others on which a little light is given in the early Old Testament prophecies, and still more in the apocalypses of Jesus recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. Then in the Epistles some of these subjects are lifted up for more complete explanation. And, finally, in Revelation a few features are given such complete treatment that not only the nature of certain events, but also their precise order and space in time are clearly delineated.
In the opinion of this writer the order of the resurrections
of good and evil men is one of these.
The relation of the same to the future of
All objections to the literal interpretation of Revelation 20 on the basis of supposed lack of harmony with the nature of Bible prophecy root in a misunderstanding of these basic facts.
Everything about prophecy would teach us to expect that if anywhere some of the enigmas of eschatology would be unravelled it would be exactly where they are - in the last portion of the final book of Scripture - just a few words from the end of [Page 59] the book, and just before the holy pen of divine inspiration of Scripture would be laid down forever.
Now I proceed to my final proposition in explanation of the Premillennial View.
* * *
CHAPTER 3 [Pages 60-90]
The Millennium - Related Events
In connection with the inauguration of the Millennium it is revealed that (1) a final personal Antichrist shall appear near the close of the present age who will become master of the world and will be destroyed by Christ at His coming, (2) a period of great tribulation for Israel is to transpire under Antichrist’s oppression, from which deliverance will be provided by Christ at His coming, and (3) the closing days of the present age shall witness the restoration of Israel to the land and the conversion of the nation, to be followed in the Millennium by the fulfilment of the Old Testament covenant promises distinctive to that nation.
Before I write further, may I beg the indulgence of any of my brethren who may read this with some disappointment over what may be omitted from the list of things commonly believed among us. What of the Rapture of [‘careful’ and ‘able to escape,’ (Luke 21: 34, 36 N.I.V.) of] the church, the great Apostasy, the Seventieth Week of Daniel, etc.? Why in discussing events which are said to be connected with the inauguration of the Millennial reign of Christ are these not mentioned? Once more, attention is called to the purpose of this section of the book - to set forth the basic tenets of all orthodox Pre-millennialism with their general Biblical basis. To elucidate my own views on some of these things and then describe my views as [Page 61] essentials held by all orthodox modern Pre-millennialists would immediately bring upon me the unwanted charge of bigotry. W. G. Moorehead, C. A. Auberlen, S. P. Tregelles, Nathaniel West, A. J. Gordon, A. C. Gaebelein, H. A. Ironside, Robert Anderson, David C. Cooper, Edward Bickersteth, Joseph A. Seiss, and others of modern Premillennial writers, held in repute, disagreed on some details of these questions. To insist that some of these were true to essential Pre-millennialism while others were not is not mine to say. I think they all were sound in the faith and true to the basic teaching of the Scripture on eschatology. So at this point I am not treating some of these doctrines, deeming them not distinctive features of Premillennial eschatology.
Later in these pages I intend to show how the Premillennial system alone satisfactorily explains the Book of Daniel. In process of doing so I intend to take my stand on some of these questions - not as an arbiter of orthodoxy, but as an interpreter of Scripture. I shall explain what I think some plain, and some rather obscure, passages of Scripture have to say on these subjects. But, at the same time, I will not deny the possibility that some others who take contrary views, and yet maintain the essential framework, are quite as true to Premillennialism as I. Of course, I will not think they are as accurate in their interpretations as I; otherwise I would join them.
Now, to address attention to our threefold final proposition, consider first, that
(1) A final personal Antichrist shall appear near the close of the present age who will become master of the world and will be destroyed by Christ at His coming.
This particular proposition will not require extensive treatment - not because there is any paucity of Biblical material on the subject; indeed, the very contrary is true, but because it is not a matter of necessary disagreement among the various schools of Biblical Eschatology. That is, while it is an essential feature of Premillennialism and, I think, receives its best exposition in Premillennialism, it is not peculiar to Premillennialism. [Page 62] On the other hand, the view stated here is not common to all exponents of Christian theology. In all branches except the Premillennial there are those who disagree.
In general, there have been four diverse views of the doctrine
of Antichrist. There has been what we
may call the “Principle of Evil” view. Advocates of this view propose that
Antichrist is only an ideal personification of the evil powers of the world,
always till the end in opposition to the
“Institution of evil” is an appropriate name for the view
that some institution, as the
Still another view combines portions of these two views into what I call an “Organic View.” This is that since the fall of man both good and evil have had their representatives and have been manifested in two lines of development, always in opposition. It is further believed that each reaches an ultimate manifestation in a member of the human race, the one in Christ, the other in Antichrist. These shall meet in final conflict at the close of this present age, our Lord slaying Antichrist at His parousia.
Not uncommon among unbelieving critics is the view that at the time of the writing of New Testament there was a belief current among the Jews and Christians that a final personal Antichrist would appear. But, contend advocates of this “Popular Fallacy” view, the current view was false, and John in his first epistle made reference to it only to try to correct it.
The Premillennial view is the Organic View. Amillennialists, agreeing as they do with Premillennial teachings concerning the course of the present age, also frequently agree in general with this view of Antichrist.* Postmillennialists naturally find such a doctrine embarrassing, but not infrequently admit belief in such a doctrine. Deane, in Ellicott’s Old Testament Commentary, gives a Postmillennial interpretation of the prophecy of the image and the stone in Daniel 2, yet, in commenting on the conduct of the little horn of Daniel 7: 25, says, “It appears that the little horn, the Antichrist of the last days, or the beast, will be successful for a time in his blasphemies and persecutions, but in the end he will be destroyed.” Charles Hodge, whose lucid expositions of Christian doctrine are justly famous, labours hard to make Antichrist other than a final person who is victorious over the people of God in the period just before the coming of the Son of man. That he is not completely satisfied with his own efforts is manifest, and he rather despairingly says in comment on one of the passages, “We do not pretend to be experts in matters of prophecy” (Systematic Theology, 111, 825).
Dr. A. H. Strong was a strong advocate of the Postmillennial view in his day, and his Systematic Theology is still a standard. He summarizes his view of the Millennium as follows:-
Through the preaching of the gospel in all the world, the
Yet, in spite of this postmillennial doctrine of a Christianity steadily expanding to final triumph, he adds:-
There will be a corresponding development of evil, either extensive or intensive, whose true character shall be manifest not only in deceiving many professed followers of Christ and in persecuting true believers, but in constituting a personal Antichrist [italics mine] as its representative and object of worship (ibid., p. 1008).
[Page 64] This writer is ready to admit that this is an entirely too brief and limited survey of the views of Antichrist to give a complete picture. There is far more diversity of opinion even among Premillennialists (some of whom have believed that the papacy is the Antichrist) than it is possible to treat fully here. Yet I think it has been made sufficiently clear that our doctrine of Antichrist is well enough grounded in the Bible itself so that many serious students of all orthodox eschatological schools have taught in effect that “a final personal Antichrist shall appear near the close of the present age who will become master of the world and will be destroyed by Christ at His coming.”
The cornerstone of the doctrine we teach is 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-12. Many other passages speak of Antichrist, but the ones which precede this important passage in holy Writ awaited the information therein for their full explanation. Just as Revelation 20 is the cornerstone of the doctrines of resurrection and of judgment, so is 2 Thessalonians 2, the cornerstone of the doctrines of Antichrist. The passage reads as follows:-
Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the coming of
our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him; 2
to the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your
mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from
us, as that the day of the Lord is just at hand; 3 let no man beguile you in any wise:
for it will not be, except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be
revealed, the son of perdition, 4 he that
opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is
worshipped; so that he sitteth in the
An examination of these verses, as they appear before us in the American Standard Version (much to be preferred to the A.V.), yields the following information about Antichrist:
(a) A notable evil person called “the man of sin,” and “the son of perdition” (verse 3) and “the lawless one” (verse 8) shall some day “be revealed” (verse 3).
(b) The revelation of this Man of Sin is to take place before “the day of the Lord.” This is presumably quite shortly before the day of the Lord.
(c) Associated with his revelation as the Man of Sin will be “the falling away.” This falling away can be interpreted only as an apostasy from true religion as the unmistakable testimony of the lexicons and the testimony of the New Testament and Septuagint uses of the Greek word … require.
(d) The Man of Sin will oppose God, exalt himself, demand divine honours (verse 4), and in a general way consummate in himself a full embodiment of opposition to God and His Christ.
(e) The coming of the Man of Sin will be the fruition of the working of evil forces, called “the mystery of lawlessness,” now in operation (verse 7).
(f) The coming of the Man of Sin is being stayed by a certain thing “which restraineth” (verse 6) that his coming may be “in His own season.” Just what this thing which restrains is, the passage does not explain, but it is clear from the language (“and now ye know that which restraineth,” etc.) that the Apostle Paul expected his readers to understand. Verse five relates that Paul had informed the Thessalonians orally while [Page 66] he was with them. Oh, that we might have a record of those discourses! How many problems of eschatology it might settle!
Before discussing this further, note:-
(g) The coming of the Man of Sin will not take place till the removal “out of the way” of a certain person “that restraineth now” (verse 7). (The gender of the Greek participles, …, neuter singular, and …, masculine singular, fully justifies the distinguishing of two restrainers, one impersonal and one personal.)
Now, who are these? Let it be freely admitted by all that to the present time no one has brought forward a fully satisfactory explanation, though many from Tertullian on to the present moment have expressed opinions. The writer has noted at least six different views.
B. B. Warfield writes that he is convinced that the
“thing which restrains” was the Jewish state
and that the “one who restrains” was James the
Tertullian, and a host since his time, have felt that the prophecy was fulfilled in the Roman state and the emperors, who as the representatives of human government put a restraint on evil.
Alford, Ellicott, and Riggenbach (in Lange’s Commentary) are representative of the many who have thought that the restraining thing is human government, in general. The rulers, by this view, are usually determined to be the “person who restrains,” or, as in the view of Ellicott, the person is only a verbal personification of government. There is much that commends itself to this writer in this view - it accords well with the disintegration of sovereignty in the rulers pictured in the clay, of the prophecy of Daniel (chapter two).
Riggenbach (in Lange’s Commentary, en loco) lists a number [Page 67] of German and Swiss commentators who held the restraining powers to be religious, rather than political. The Apostle Paul himself, the Apostles generally, the proclamation of the gospel, and the church itself, have all been proposed.
Similar to these views, is the conception that the “thing which restrains” is the
Still another view is simply that the restraining thing and the restraining one are the same, and that it is to be identified as the decree or providence of God. By this view, that which chiefly restrains lawlessness and the coming of the Man of Sin is the decree of God which has set the time and circumstances. If this is the correct view it accords well with the language of Revelation 6: 1-7, wherein the going forth of the four horsemen in each case comes only after a divine order to “Go” (A.S.V.).
And now my inquiring reader wants to know what my own opinion is. My “cradle faith” about the question was the doctrine of Scofield and of the host of American Premillennialists of the past generation. I am not now ready to oppose it. I am, however, ready to confess that I feel that the precise relation of the rapture of the church to the coming Great Tribulation has [Page 68] been purposely veiled by the Lord for moral reasons. I have heard and read the arguments of the Pre-, Mid-, and Post-Tribulationists, and have been much impressed by many of them, to say nothing of the evidence of Scripture which I have been bound to survey in the preparation of this book. I have the personally expressed opinion of the heads of at least three Pre-millennial schools of higher learning that any just presentation of this subject by a Pre-millennialist must recognize these three respectable opinions. This irenic spirit I think will come to prevail. E. S. English’s recent series in Our Hope Magazine entitled “Rethinking the Rapture” was, I think, a harbinger of more gracious understanding of our differences in matters of this sort.
I have mentioned these last two facts (f and g), not because they are essential to maintenance of the Premillennial view of Antichrist, but because they appear in this foundational text and cannot be ignored in such a treatment. Our position neither stands nor falls upon the particular interpretation given them. They have been and will probably continue to be moot among Premillenarians.
(h) The success of the Man of Sin shall be accomplished by means of Satanic power and divine providence (9-12). It has always been Satan’s intention to organize all humanity against God. It shall be the purpose of God in the time of the Man of Sin to permit him to do so.
(i) The Man of Sin shall not prevail forever, but he shall be slain by Christ “with the breath of his mouth” by Christ’s own “manifestation” at his “coming” (parousia, verse 8).
One could easily wish that Paul had added the information to which he refers when he says, “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” (verse 5). Then we might know for certain what the thing which now restraineth, and the person whose removal shall permit the Man of Sin to rise, will be. We know enough, however, to gain a grasp of the general doctrine of the Man of Sin.
[Page 69] It is not necessary at this point to develop the doctrine further. It is enough to affirm that the same doctrine is found with reference to one called “The Antichrist” (1 John 2: 16), “The Beast” (Revelation 13: 1 ff.) in the New Testament, and “the little horn” (Daniel 7: 8), the “prince that shall come” (Daniel 9: 26), and “the king” who does according to his will (Daniel 11: 36), of the Old Testament. Christ referred to him as one who would come in his “own name” (John 5: 43).
The second part of the proposition is that, -
(2) A period of great
This doctrine is to be distinguished from the teachings found
in Scripture to the effect that the present age is to progress in evil and
lawlessness to the end, true as that may be.
It is also to be distinguished from the many judgments which have
fallen, and continue to fall, on apostate
Unlike the doctrine of Antichrist, which is quite fully outlined in one passage of Scripture (2 Thess. 2: 1-12), this general doctrine is presented in many seemingly detached fragments. Yet there can be small doubt, indeed, that they do relate to one event (or series of events) commonly known as the Great Tribulation.
I shall present the doctrine in relation to (a) testimony to the fact, (b) the special character of it, (c) the agency by which it is brought about, (d) the length of its duration, and (e) the method of its termination.
(a) Testimony to
the fact of a great tribulation for
There are two primary texts which predict the coming of a
period of great tribulation for
The earlier is Jeremiah 30: 4-11, the most significant portion of which is verses 4-7, which follows in the American Standard Version:
[Page 70] And these are the words that
Jehovah spake concerning
This is sufficient in itself to prove that in Jeremiah’s time
a period of great tribulation, unique in all their history, was yet ahead for
the nation of
That this was to take place in what we now know would be very
remote times is also clear. I mean to say that this tribulation can be
only that associated with their return to the land in times immediately
antecedent to the establishment of the
First, observe the similarity of language to passages which describe the advent of the Day of Jehovah (cf. verses. 6b and 7 with Joel 1: 15; 2: 11).
Second, note that the remainder of the chapter describes a
Now, these prophecies of Jeremiah were well known to Daniel (vide. Daniel 9: 2). So the revelation given to him on the subject of Jacob’s coming trouble was not the introduction of a new subject. Observe the clear lines of the second of these references and the advance in detail. This also is cited from the American Standard Version, as follows:
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people, and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in [Page 71] the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12: 1-3).
Observe that here, as in the Jeremiah passage, the absolute
uniqueness of the coming time of Jacob’s trouble (Hebrew tsarah is used in both passages).
In the one case it is said to be “so that none
is like it,” and in the other, “such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.” In the first case, it is Jacob’s trouble, and
in the other, the time of trouble for “thy people,”
that is, Daniel’s people,
That it is something final, to take place in eschatological times I regard as completely demonstrated by the context following. Observe the connection between the last part of verse one and verse two. Having just mentioned the coming time of trouble, Daniel continues: “And at that time [italics mine] thy people shall be delivered, everyone that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and* some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Here are all the main events of eschatology - a resurrection of the righteous and [afterwards] of the unrighteous, a judgment when the books are opened (vide. Rev. 20: 12, 15) is set, and rewards both for good and for evil are given out (cf. further Daniel 12: 3). Now, all this is joined in time (it is one of the clearest revelations about time in Old Testament prophecy) with the time of Jacob’s trouble. “And at that time” (uva'eth hahi') clearly fixes this tribulation period in that portion of Israel’s history which is yet future - and, incidently, is sufficient proof in itself that God is not yet through with His people Israel, as a people.
[* Note. The ‘and’ here is a disjunction, separating the righteous from the unrighteous. Hence two resurrections with ‘a thousand years’ between them. See Luke 14: 14; 20: 35, etc. – Ed.]
(b) The special character of
Both Isaiah 26:20 and Daniel 11: 36 speak of a coming time of divine “indignation” za’am
which is presumed to be something which all men will suffer. Yet Isaiah 26: 20
(cf. also Jer. 10: 10) also speaks of how
God’s people (
Other passages in the Old and New Testaments predict hard times for men in general immediately before and during a part of the Day of the Lord.
How can these facts - that
I think the answer is to recognize that the Bible presumes a
restoration of Israel to their ancient land while still in unbelief, that in
their land they will suffer the same distresses which all men in that dreadful
day of God’s indignation will suffer, that for Israel it will be a peculiar
refining process by which the incorrigibles will be removed and those willing
to be saved will be gathered in to God.
Some such transaction will be necessary to bring about the conditions
necessary for a restored
Now, just such an interpretation of the indignation on the nations
of mankind, an indignation which becomes a tribulation for
As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, surely with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I be king over you. And I will bring you out from the peoples, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out; and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face. Like as I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you, saith the Lord Jehovah, And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; and will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me; I will bring them forth out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah (Ezekiel 20: 33-38 A.S.V.).
A divine judgment coupled with a spiritual transaction which
will remove the rebels and bring the rest into spiritual harmony with God by
means of a covenant is predicted. It
will be something just as striking and significant as that at Sinai in the “wilderness of the
The agency by which the tribulation of
The passage in Ezekiel 20
to which reference has just been [page 74] made lays emphasis on one aspect of
Zechariah 12: 2 ff. implies a general Gentile war against
[* Note. ‘The saints of God’, must also include some regenerate believers. See Luke 21: 34-36; Rev. 3: 10. – Ed.]
(d) The length of the Tribulation’s duration:
Several passages lead us to believe that the tribulation is of divinely limited duration.
The first passage, in order of presentation, if not of
importance, is Matthew 24: 22, which reads:
“And except those days had been shortened, no flesh
would have been saved: but for the elect’s
sake those days shall be shortened” (A.S.V.). There are two reasons why this certainly
refers to the tribulation of
So we are fully justified in relating these words of Matthew 24: 22 to the time of
The precise number of those days is given to us (as was
recognized as early, at least, as Augustine) as 1260 days, also given as
forty-two months, and as three and one-half times (years). The passages are Daniel
7: 25, Revelation 11: 2 and 12: 6, 14.
The first (Dan. 7: 25) reveals that
Antichrist (the little horn) “shall wear out the saints of the Most High ... and they shall be given unto his hand until a time and times
and half a time.” That this must
be three and one-half times is evident. Keil writes (Commentary, in loco), “The
plural word ‘iddanim (times) standing between time and half a time
can only designate the simple plural, i.e., two times used in the dual sense,
since in the Chaldee the plural is often used to denote a pair where the dual
is used in Hebrew.” In Revelation 12: 14 the exact Greek equivalent of “time, times and half a time” is used with reference to
the persecution of
(e) The terminal events of the Great Tribulation:
It might satisfy the requirements of this treatise to ignore
the question of how the period of
Two events, it appears, will signalize the beginning of the
Tribulation. One is a divine permission
A third event, which seems evident to me will happen at this time, will be a standing up of Michael, the Archangel, to fight on behalf of God and His people Israel against Antichrist. It seems to me that this takes place in a spiritual realm, and may well be quite invisible to living men on earth. At any rate, both Daniel 12: 1 and Revelation 12: 7 speak of such an occurrence in this connection.
Those who find an outline of end-time events in the prophecy of the seventieth week, Daniel 9: 27, find these events introduced by the breaking of Antichrist’s covenant in the midst of the week.*
[* See my treatment of this, p. 135ff.]
(3) The closing days of the present age shall witness the restoration of
It is probably at this point that Premillennialism enters into
sharpest disagreement with current forms of A-millennialism. [page 77]
Most of the recent writers of that school (Leupold, Young, Allis, Hamilton, Murray, Pieters) contend that all promises to
With this view Pre-millennial theology clashes - head on. The Scriptural evidence for our view is in itself sufficient evidence also for refutation of this prime negation of A-millennialism.
Postmillennialists have not usually objected to faith in a
The Biblical material on this subject is immense. Many pages could be filled with quotations of
Scripture passages which promise or imply the future restoration of
(a) There are numerous Old
Testament predictions which treat of a repentance and restoration of
[Page 78] Perhaps the most precise text on this subject is Hosea 3: 4, 5, which reads:
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king, and without prince, and without sacrifices and without pillar, and without ephod or teraphim; afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek Jehovah their God, and David their king, and shall come with fear unto Jehovah and to his goodness in the latter days (A.S.V.).
These words suppose that
for a long period of time the children of
A genuine, sincere, and effective return of all the people to the worship of Jehovah, and a cherishing of the Davidic house (if not David himself) is also involved in the prophecy. This provision of the prophecy is quite as foreign to the period of captivity and restoration as the ones mentioned above.
Finally, this return is said to take place “in the latter days.” A later discussion of this technical phrase, in the treatment of the prophecy of Daniel 2, in the second part of this dissertation, establishes that the consummation of the affairs of men in eschatological times is always included in the measure of time specified by this phrase. This being the case, it is to be supposed that the same is true here, and that some future final restoration is in view.
Of no less importance is Ezekiel
37. In this chapter (vs. 11-28),
Ezekiel prophesies that both the northern and southern divisions of the nation
will be brought back (21, 22), something
which did not take place in the return from Babylon; that the Davidic dynasty
will be restored and given dominion over both houses (22-24),
that the restoration will be permanent, for ever (25);
that God will Himself come to dwell with
them (26, 7), as John prophesies of the
coming eternal kingdom (Rev. 21, 22); that
all the nations will be blessed for ever more in and [page 79] through this arrangement (28). Such things have never taken place in
I would be willing to rest my case right here. This evidence is sufficient enough - but there is much more.
The perpetuity of the nation of
I shall simply present two passages from the Pentateuch and three from the Prophets of the Old Testament, permitting the Scriptures to speak for themselves:
And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them; for I am Jehovah their God; but I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am Jehovah. (Leviticus 26: 44, 45, A.S.V.).
For from the top of the rocks I see him,
And from the hills I behold him:
Lo, it is a people that dwelleth alone,
And shall not be reckoned among the nations
(Numbers 23: 9, A.S.V.).
Therefore fear thou not, 0 Jacob my servant, saith
Jehovah; neither be dismayed, 0
[Page 80] But fear not thou, 0 Jacob my servant, neither be dismayed, 0
Behold, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are upon the
sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; save that
I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith Jehovah. For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old. ... And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith Jehovah thy God (Amos 9: 8-11, 15, A.S.V.).
There is at least one Old Testament prophecy which in unmistakable and utterly
unambiguous language predicts a national restoration of
I refer to the prophecy of Isaiah 11: 1 - 12: 6, one of the
most complete oracles in the whole Bible concerning the future of Messiah and
The passage begins with a prediction which seems to point primarily to his first advent:
And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah (Isaiah 11: 1, 2, A.S.V.).
[Page 81] Then there follows prediction in which the first and second comings seem to blend at first, and then the second alone appears.
And his delight shall be in the fear of Jehovah; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins (Isaiah 11: 3‑5, A.S.V.).
Now, it is perfectly clear after the end of the third clause in this passage, that the parousia, that is, the second advent, has taken place. Verses six to nine following describe conditions in that final kingdom of earth’s history, the Millennial kingdom. It is a time of universal peace and prosperity among all of God’s creatures. Verse 10 adds that the peoples of the earth shall seek Christ, in that day - something, by the way, which can never, and will never, take place during this present [evil] age.
After this recitation, clearly a recitation of kingdom (or Millennial) conditions, appears this significant statement:
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, that shall remain, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea (Isaiah 11: 11, A.S.V.).
Most writers of every school rightfully regard this as the
strongest single text in the entire Old Testament supporting the Premillennial doctrine of the restoration of
In the first place the events described are “in that day,” that is, in the day of Christ’s parousia described in the context immediately preceding.
In the second place, there will be a second gathering of a “remnant” of
In the third place, this restoration is of a “remnant,” after chastening and judgment, described elsewhere in Scripture, not of the entire nation, as was the case in the exodus.
Finally, the remainder of the prophecy (11: 12 - 12: 6) describes conditions which have never prevailed either in
The Scriptures speak of a restoration of
There are many passages which speak thus; the one now cited is among the clearest.
And I will bring back the captivity of my people
[Page 83] This is clear unequivocal language. No straightforward, literal, objective treatment
of the passage can derive any meaning from it contrary to the one advocated in
Jesus predicted events in the future which presuppose the restoration of
Peter had just reminded our Lord that His followers had
remained with Him during the years at great personal cost. And He responded by telling Peter: “Verily I say to you, that ye who
have followed me, in the regeneration when
the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon
twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of
Another passage with the same general meaning is Luke 22: 28, 29:
But ye are they that have continued with me in my temptations; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father
appointed unto me, that ye may eat and
drink at my table in my kingdom; and ye
shall sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of
In his most important eschatological
address, Jesus suggested that a period of Jewish rulership of their ancient
This famous prophecy is found in Luke 21:24:
[Page 84] And they shall fall by the edge of
the sword, and shall be led captive into all nations: and
There is not space in this treatment for a thorough discussion
of what is often called the Olivet Discourse.
Suffice it to say that the address was given in answer to questions
addressed concerning the promised destruction of
This can never happen aside from the repentance, conversion, and restoration of Israel.
It was the plain belief of the apostles, even after the death and resurrection
of Jesus, that the kingdom would be restored, as of old, to
This belief is expressed plaintively in Acts 1: 6, “Lord, dost
thou at this time restore the kingdom to
I think the precise significance of this question is often
missed, because the immediately preceding context is ignored in referring to
it. Luke informs us that the Lord
appeared to the disciples in the days following the resurrection. Now, the important thing to note is the
subject of His conversations with them.
Luke gives us that in Acts 1: 3,
which I present in full: “to whom he also showed
himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the
space of forty days, and speaking the
things concerning the
It is no mistake that has led countless defenders of the Pre-millennial doctrine to this text in defence of it.
The Apostle Paul declared that a time is coming in which “all
The paragraph which summarizes Paul’s teaching is Romans 11: 25, 26:
For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant of this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved: even as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob (A.S.V.).
The context of this promise, which requires that we understand
the national restoration of
Is He, God, done with
Such is the argument of this chapter and the hope of the Apostle Paul.
The Scriptures describe a future time when a
There are two passages of New Testament Scripture involved in this argument. The first is Revelation 11: 1, 2:
And there was given me a reed like
unto a rod: and one said, Rise, and measure the
[Page 87] This prophecy came to John nearly thirty years* after the
[*This argument is valid, of course, only on the ground that the late date of composition of Revelation is the correct one. It seems to the writer that the late date is correct, but, if not, the loss of this argument does not do away with the others.]
Now, Paul predicts that this temple (it could hardly be another) shall be misappropriated by Antichrist for his own blasphemous worship. After pointing out to the believers at Thessalonica that the “man of sin ... the son of perdition” shall be revealed before the day of the Lord, he adds concerning this wicked man that he “opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God.”
This agrees precisely with what the Revelation says concerning the “Beast” (or Antichrist) in the thirteenth chapter of that book.
This is another truth supporting the teaching that the nation is to be restored to their land and their God as in the days of old.
The Revelation predicts a resumption of God’s dealings with
I recognize that there are problems in connection with this fact. The tribal names, for instance, are peculiar and differ from the usual. No one seems to be very sure of the reason why. Yet this does not justify our saying - what in effect the anti-millenarian [page 88] interpreters of Revelation do say - that the passage is totally without known meaning, being wrapped in unreadable symbolism. The passage is still in Revelation, chapter 7, and certainly means something. I quote:
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that no wind should blow on the earth, or on the sea, or upon any tree. And I saw another angel ascend from the sun-rising, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a great voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we shall have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. And I heard the number of them that were scaled, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel (Revelation 7: 1-4, A.S.V.).
In the four verses which follow it is specified that 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes were sealed.
Let our Post-millennial and A-millennial friends explain this for us. They find many faults in our explanation that this applies to 144,000 Jewish servants of God in the Tribulation period. Let them tell us when it is if it is not then. It could not be in the period before John, for history bears no record of it and it would be completely anomalous in that time. In the centuries since it has not happened. The facts are that it fits no known period except the future, at the end of this present age.
The prophets speak as if the honour of Jehovah God is at stake in the
God has a stake in the restoration of
I had regard for my holy
name, which the house of
[Page 89] Therefore say unto the house of
“Because” the nation has been overthrown and its uplifting is a necessity, “because” the heathen ridicule the Covenant and its promises, God will perform this work, and, by an astonishing process, bring this rebellious nation to heart-felt obedience and most fervent allegiance” (Peters, ibid., 53).
This is related to the following final argument, and that which concerns the next argument applies with equal force on this one.
(l) The Bible
reveals that the very worthiness of God as the object of the faith of the
patriarchs requires that He yet restore
In Romans 11: 28 Paul writes
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Hebrews 11: 13, A.S.V.).
[Page 90] Not all of the promises of God to the patriarchs have been
fulfilled yet. Of course, as the New
Testament makes clear, some of the promises have come true in Christ, in the
benefits of His redeeming work at
[* And this same divine principle of judgment will apply also the disobedient regenerate believers during the Kingdom Age, (Gal. 5: 13-21; Eph. 5: 3-5.)]
They shall confess ... then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. The land also shall be left by them, and it shall enjoy its sabbaths. ... And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them; for I am Jehovah their God; but I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am Jehovah (Leviticus 26: 40, 42-45, A.S.V.).
I can think of nothing more utterly compelling and appropriate with which to close my remarks on this theme than the prophecy of Jeremiah 33: 25, 26.
Thus saith Jehovah: If my covenant of day and night stand not, if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob and of David my servant, so that I will not take of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and will have mercy on them.
* * *
PART TWO [Pages 93&94]
The Premillennial Approach to
The Book of Daniel
Plan of Treatment
As was pointed out at the beginning of this dissertation, the primary thesis is that the Premillennial system of eschatology is taught by the Scriptures themselves, and that the Premillennial system alone can satisfactorily interpret the eschatological portions of the Book of Daniel. In the foregoing section I have sought to establish as fact the proposition that the general teaching of the whole Bible supports the Premillennial eschatology. That the Bible teaches one system of doctrine, not many, must be the faith of all who believe it to be the saving Word of God. This being the case, we may reasonably expect that the Premillennial eschatology, developed in general outline in the previous section, will, if correct, provide the key to understanding of the details of eschatology presented in the Book of Daniel. Contrariwise, any other system should meet impassable obstacles and create unmistakable confusion in interpreting so eminently eschatological a book as Daniel.
Except as deemed absolutely necessary, I have not made great use of Daniel’s predictions in the previous section. This was because it was felt that it would be best to treat all the pertinent portions of Daniel consecutively and separate from the general discussion of Premillennialism.
The place to treat Daniel’s prophecies has now appeared.
It will not be necessary to treat all of the book. The [page 94] chapters which are primarily predictive in their most significant portions are two, seven, nine, and ten to twelve (really one prophecy). Of these four distinct sections, large portions deal with incidental facts related to the revelation of the material and to predictions which were fulfilled before and during the lifetime of our Lord Jesus Christ. These portions are not germane to our discussion. Evangelical Christians of all shades of eschatological opinion are in quite general agreement (there are a few exceptions) on these portions as far as interpretation is concerned. Therefore treatment of large portions will be omitted entirely, and treatment of some other portions will be complete enough only to prepare the reader for the portions at issue. It is the writer’s purpose to eliminate all matter irrelevant to the main point at issue.
The discussion must begin with an analysis of the entire book. This will be followed by treatment of:-
The Prophecy of the Great Metallic Image and of the Stone which struck it (2: 28, 29, 31-45.)
The Prophecy of the Four Great Beasts and of the Ancient of Days (7: 2-27.)
The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks (9: 23-27.)
The Prophecy Concerning Daniel’s People among the Nations, especially at the Time of the End (10: 14; 11: 36-45; 12: 1-12.)
* * *
CHAPTER 1 [Pages 95-104]
Analysis and Outline of the Book of Daniel
The writer gave much time to the study of the book of Daniel over a period of several years without discerning the crucial importance of the structure of the book to an accurate interpretation of it. I am now quite convinced that the almost indispensable key to the book is the structure. This structure is at once the most obvious and elusive feature of the book.
Although the book contains much history and is accurate in its historical statements, an outline according to historical sequence of the events described is out of the question. The oracles are not in chronological order. Even if rearranged in chronological order they would not admit of logical arrangement or analysis in such position.
There are two possible outlines - one according to the languages used (and I believe according to the argument of the book), another according to some more mechanical features of the book, namely, the standpoint of the writer, the character of the contents, and the agency of revelation. Though the author held to the second for several years, he was led to part with it through reading the writings of Carl August Auberlen (The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelations of St. John). He is now convinced that this treatment which divides the book in two parts, at the end of chapter six, has bases that are only obvious, not real - that it really obscures the marvellous [page 96] development of the thought of the prophecy. Because of the prevalence of this treatment, however, I shall now present it and then present the one which in my own opinion should replace it.
1. Outline According to the Standpoint of the Author, the Character of the Contents, and the Agency of the Revelation
(1) The standpoint of the author.
In all of chapters, one through six, and in verse one of chapter seven, the writer of Daniel speaks in the third person. Not once therein does Daniel refer to himself in the first person, even though he represents others as referring to themselves in the first person (vide. 4: 4, 13, 18, et al.). Even when it appears that it might have been convenient to present himself in the first person (e.g., 2:14, 16; 4: 8, 19) he does not do so. Beginning with chapter seven, verse two, and throughout the remainder of the book, Daniel almost always speaks in the first person (vide. 7: 2, 8, 9, 15; 8: 1, 3; 9: 2, 3, 4; 10: 2; 12: 5). (An exception is found in 10: l.) On this principle, the book divides at the end of chapter six.
(2) The character of the contents.
The same first six chapters which are written in the third person with reference to the author are quite uniformly historical in character. There are predictions (chapter 2), but prediction is secondary and presented almost incidentally to the narrative. On the other hand, chapters 7 through 12, all written in the first person, are uniformly predictive. There are brief historical statements, but these are subordinate to the predictive element, and used chiefly for the dating of the oracles.
(3) The agency of revelation.
In the first six chapters the only* agency of prophecy is the writer himself, empowered, of course, by the Holy Spirit. No divine beings appear as purveyors of divine revelation. But in the last six chapters the agency is supernatural. The revelator [page 97] appears to be the angel Gabriel throughout. In chapter 7:16 he is introduced only as “one of them that stood by” and he is a part of the vision itself. In chapter eight (v. 16) Gabriel is introduced by name, not this time, apparently, as a part of the vision, and from there on Gabriel is clearly the agent of revelation and the interpreter of Daniel’s vision (cf. 9: 21).
[* Nebuchadnezzar, even though he saw a dream which Daniel interpreted, was not an agent of prophecy. Actually, both the dream and the interpretation were given to Daniel. See chapter two of Daniel.]
Thus, the outline, by this system, appears to be (1) Daniel’s historical record, revealed by Daniel and written in the third person, chapters one to six; (2) Daniel’s predictive record, written in the first person, and revealed by Gabriel, chapters seven to twelve.
In spite of these striking facts, observe that the seeming symmetry of the division into two portions of exactly six chapters each is only palpable, not real. Each of the first six chapters is, indeed, a distinct portion, but the last six chapters consist of only four distinct portions, viz., 7, 8, 9, and 10-12. Observe also that the three phenomena on which the divisions are based do not concern the meaning of the passages involved at all. I think that these phenomena are incidental, perhaps even accidental, not related to the argument of the book.
As I think of the many commentators on Daniel whose works I have read, I do not recall that one of them based any important aspect of his interpretation on this widely accepted analysis. Evidently the advocates of this analysis do not attach great importance to it. Its chief usefulness has been as a convenient framework on which to hang the twelve chapters, that is, chiefly as an aid to the memory. As such, I have no objection to it.
There is another phenomenon of the book, however, which cannot be accidental, and which this writer thinks is not incidental. He believes it was intended by the divine Author as the key to the interpretation. I refer to the languages of the book.
2. Outline According to the Languages of the Book.
Chapter one (and to verse 4 of chapter
2, where a change comes at a very natural break) and chapters eight through [page 97] twelve are written in Hebrew. Hebrew was the language of Daniel’s people,
the language in which the oracles of God were made known to the covenant
It will be seen, then, that chapter one and chapters eight to twelve are in Hebrew, appropriate for a message concerning and addressed to the Hebrew people. Chapters two to seven are in Aramaic, appropriate for a message concerning Gentile people and kings, and though addressed to God’s people, is instructive also for those same Gentile peoples and kings.
The most ingenious current higher critical explanation of the phenomenon of the languages (originated by C. C. Torrey) is that chapters one to six are earlier in composition than the last six chapters, and originally were written in Aramaic; that later, about 165 B.C. another author wrote chapters seven to twelve in the Hebrew language; that these two portions were issued to the public by this second author as one work, and that the two parts were joined and the joint covered by translating chapter seven into Aramaic and chapter one into Hebrew. This, it is said, was to give the whole an appearance of unity. The chief lack of this theory is one shred of evidence in its favour.
The explanation which I wish to offer is that the author of Daniel had two related but distinct kinds of messages to deliver. One was a message of judgment and final defeat to the [page 99] Gentile world, of whom the chief representatives of the time were Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus. The other was a message of hope and deliverance for God's oppressed, but precious holy people, the Hebrews. The appropriate language for the first was Aramaic, the appropriate language for the second was Hebrew.
The first section, then, is chapter one (and a very brief portion of chapter 2) written in Hebrew. Chapter one is obviously an introduction to the whole book explaining (1) the circumstances giving rise to the history of the book, (2) the identity of the author and his associates, and (3) the events which placed the author in the position he holds in the history of the book. These facts, in themselves, are sufficient reason for making the chapter a separate division of the book. It is separated from the portion immediately following by the change in language. The use of the Hebrew language is justified fully by the fact that the events told have no connection or meaning with the future of Gentile history - rather with an heroic episode in Hebrew history.
The second section, chapters two to seven, forms a distinct section in subject
matter. Every portion of the section
primarily concerns a Gentile nation per se and its rulers, relations, and history.
The third section, chapters eight through twelve, which constitute the final section
of the book is another distinct portion in subject
matter. It has primary reference to
[Page 100] By this analysis Daniel falls in logical order as follows:
Title: “Daniel’s Prophecies Concerning the Nations of the World and the Future of Israel in Relation to Them”
1. Historical Introduction to the Book (chapter 1)
2. The Nations of the World - their Character, Relation, Succession, Destiny, etc. (chapters 2-7)
3. The Nation of Israel - its Relation to Gentile Dominion and its Future in the Plan of God (chapters 8-12)
It should be added that several Premillenarians have taken cognizance of this structure of the book without seeing also the distinctive features of it. On reading Tregelles (Remarks on the Prophetic Visions in the Book of Daniel) again I observe that he has not only seen the Gentile and the Jewish sections as such, but also traced some of their special significance (vide. pp. 7-9).
My reasons, in summary, are chiefly (1) the languages of the book and (2) the subject matter, which need no further explanation, and (3) the progress of doctrine. This third reason I now wish to treat at somewhat more length.
Chapter two is clearly a Gentile dream for Gentiles. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of
This same Gentile-centered thought prevails through chapter
seven also, except that near the end of this chapter, the end of the Gentile
portion of Daniel, a shading off which leaves
Now, the significant thing is, that here at the end of the
Aramaic section, precisely where one might expect the most detailed description
of the consummation of Gentile dominion (as it is in treatment of the fourth
beast, the ten horns, and the little horn), the future of Israel is first woven
into the story. From thence to the close
of the book,
Of even greater importance is the fact that certain
differences in prophetic method and divine
chronological method are to
be discerned prevailing in the two sections.
The progress [page 102] of Gentile dominion is given in
continuous succession in chapters two and seven, the two predictive portions of
the Aramaic section. I mean to say that
there are no breaks or gaps in the prophecy hinted or suggested. And so long as it is seen that here God is
giving an Old Testament prophecy of the Gentile rulership of world government
down to, and including, the present age, the principles of the most strict
Premillennial and Dispensational interpretation of Scripture are not violated
and need not be brought to bear to insert a gap which the facts of the prophecy
do not show. On the other hand, in
chapters eight to twelve, in which three distinct oracles concerning Israel
appear, there are at least two in which it is clear that Israel’s prophetic
future is not seen in complete perspective.
The beginning, in conflict with the nations, but in covenant union with
Jehovah, is clearly seen. But an
unlimited period of time when
And since they do exist, let it be added that only a Premillennial theology can give any satisfactory explanation of the strange but natural division of the book and these strange features of the divisions. It is precisely at this point that the Pre-millennial theology first demonstrates its superiority as a method of interpreting the Book of Daniel.
An A-millennialism which joins itself to the notion that all the promises of the Old Testament to Israel as a nation are now transferred to the church, and which supposes that God is now through with Israel as a nation, must face the fact that Daniel does not regard the nation so. Indeed, having traced the future of the nations of earth down to the coming of Christ in His kingdom, the same Book of Daniel reveals the existence of Israel as a nation at the time of the consummation of Gentile history and predicts a glorious future for Israel as a nation in [page 103] the kingdom of God which will be established at the coming of Messiah in power and glory.
A Post-millennialism which in another day regarded the Bible
as the Word of God could not explain this future of
It may be asked, Why, if there is no gap in the predictions of Gentile dominion, is the whole present age passed over almost without a single identifiable event - especially when this has been the age of the supremacy of Gentile power?
The answer lies in the purpose of God and the method of God in revelation.
The history of the Babylonian period is passed over quite as
silently, except for reference to Nebuchadnezzar as its king. [Page 104] In fact, except for the mere notices of the rule
passing from one to another of the succession of kingdoms, there are few
identifiable events in any of the prophecies.
It is only as the Gentile power comes into conflict with
Further discussion of this aspect of the prophecies of Daniel will be given in connection with the prophecy of the great metallic image of chapter two.
* * *
CHAPTER 2 [Pages 105-124]
The Prophecy of the Great Metallic Image
and of the Stone Which Struck It
DANIEL 2: 28, 29, 31-45
THE ARAMAIC PORTION OF THE BOOK OF DANIEL BEGINS IN THE midst of verse four of chapter two and extends to the end of chapter seven. So the verses now before the reader are in the Aramaic language. The writer has prepared a translation of the entire Aramaic section. Occasional references, with proper notice, will be made to this translation. The principle quotations, however, will be made from the American Standard Version. Where there is real advantage in doing so, recourse to the original Aramaic will be made.
The Scope and Nature of the Prophecy
28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and he hath made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed are these: 29 as for thee, 0 king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter; and he that revealeth secrets hath made known to thee what shall come to pass (Daniel 2:28, 29, A.S.V.).
Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which he used to test the [page 106] ability and willingness* of his staff of wise men to interpret. When none of them could either tell him what his dream was or reveal what it meant, opportunity was finally given Daniel to tell and interpret the dream. This he did, the record relates, by the power of God working on his behalf.
[* The linguistic evidence, supported by rational arguments, is to the effect that Nebuchadnezzar did not forget his dream at all, as the Authorized Version indicates. Rather, because he had not forgotten the dream he could use it as a test of his wise men. One may imagine what a story the king might have heard if the wise men had supposed he had forgotten the dream! So agree most critical commentators and A.S.V. margin.]
These two verses are among the opening words of the prophet in telling the dream and interpreting it.
These verses are of importance to this study because of the fact that they indicate what the nature and scope of the revelation to follow would be.
The first significant statement is that it was the purpose of God to make “known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.” This means that the scope of this dream-revelation of the future includes at least some events within that period of time known as “the latter days,” and there is at least a possibility that all will take place in that period.
The actual Aramaic expressions translated “in the latter days” is (…). A literal translation is “in the latter part of the days,” though it is doubtful that the usual translation can be much improved. About this phrase as used here there are several important observations to be made.
First, this phrase is an exact Aramaic translation of the
Hebrew …, and is an idea lifted en
toto out of the general
prophetical literature of
Second, “the latter days” cannot be restricted in meaning to the understanding which the heathen king Nebuchadnezzar may have had of it. This restriction some have tried to make, but the very phrase selected by Daniel was one already pregnant with meaning for any informed Jew.
[Page 107] Third, “the latter days” in the prophetical literature of the Old Testament refers to the future of God’s dealings with mankind as to be consummated and concluded historically in the times of the Messiah. Some commentators have sought to prove that the term refers to the future in general (Havernick, et al), but without success. Whenever the scope of an Old Testament prophecy is measured by these words, either in the Hebrew or Aramaic sections, the times of Messiah are always within the scope of that prophecy.
The expression appears in the following passages, each one a predictive prophecy: Genesis 49: 1; Deuteronomy 4: 30, 31: 29; Numbers 24: 14; Jeremiah 23: 20, 30: 24, 48: 47, 49: 39; Ezekiel 38: 16; Daniel 2: 28, 10: 14; Hosea 3: 5; Micah 4: 1. An examination shows that while many events previous to eschatological times are within the scope of the prophecies limited by the expression “1atter days,” in not one is the conclusion of all human history in the consummating events connected with the yet future establishment of the Messianic Kingdom on earth out of sight. Otherwise, the events would be only in future time, not necessarily in “the latter days.”
It is not true that Messianic times alone are denominated
thus. Many events of what is now Old Testament
history are placed “in the latter days”
(as e.g., the tribal divisions of
Fourth, this term in Greek translation is used by the New Testament writers with the same meaning. Peter regarded the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost next after Jesus’ resurrection as an event of “the latter days” (Acts 2: 17-21. Cf. Joel 2: 28 ff). Again, in his second Epistle (3: 1-4), Peter prophesied of the coming of men who would in this present church [page 108] age scoff at Biblical eschatology. This, he said, using a very literal Greek translation of the Hebrew words, would take place “in the last days.”
Fifth, interpretation of “the latter days” must allow it to include not only the first advent and the second advent with the coming of Messiah’s future kingdom, but also the age intervening between the advents in which we now live. We are now, and have been since Jesus came, in the latter days (cf. passages under fourth, above).
Sixth, and finally, the term, “the latter days,” is to be distinguished from “the time of the end,” which is mentioned in Daniel. The ideas are related but not identical, as will be seen later.
Now, there is no reason whatsoever for believing that Daniel was using this technical term in any other than its usual meaning. So eschatological prediction is to be expected in the prophecy of chapter two.
The second significant statement of Daniel in preparing the mind of the king to receive the prophecy was that the contents of it would relate to “what should come to pass hereafter.” The Aramaic is … . More literally translated, it is “what things [thing] should be which are after these things [this thing].”
The best explanation, that elaborated by Keil (op. cit., in loco), is that the king had gone to sleep with the affairs of his kingdom on his mind. He wondered, what any thoughtful king like the great Nebuchadnezzar might have wondered, how his reign would end, and how his dynasty, founded by his father, Nabopolassar, would fare. Nebuchadnezzar’s own affairs of state were “these things” after which other “things” would take place and concerning which God was to make revelation. Hence, a recital of the succession of rulers and kingdoms to follow Nebuchadnezzar was to be expected.
To sum up, Daniel 2: 28, 29 leads us to expect, in the prophecy to follow, a recital of the course of the nations from Nebuchadnezzar’s own time down to the setting up of the final Messianic kingdom.
[Page 109] The Details of the Dream
31 Thou, 0 king, sawest, and, behold, a great image. This image, which was mighty, and whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the aspect thereof was terrible. 32 As for this image, its head was of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass, 35 its legs of iron, its feet part of iron and part of clay. 34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces. 35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, so that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (Daniel 2: 31-35, A.S.V.).
These five verses are a recital of the actual dream of Nebuchadnezzar, evidently shown by divine revelation to Daniel also. The objects seen consisted of a great image of a man “mighty” in size, “bright” in colour or sheen, and “terrible” in aspect. Details of the image specifically mentioned were the head of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass (or copper), the legs of iron, the feet of iron and clay mixed. (No toes are specifically mentioned at this point.) Also, a stone was seen - a stone cut out from a mountain by no human hands; “the wind” is mentioned, and finally, the earth.
The action involved in the dream was simple but very impressive. The polymetallic image did nothing - it simply stood where set, shining and terrible to behold - and the king looked and continued to look at it. Then, quite dramatically, the stone appeared. Some commentators speak of it as a rolling stone, but it is not said to be such in the text. It is simply related that the stone struck the image upon the feet. Upon this, the image collapsed, disintegrated into fine particles like chaff, and then “the wind” (it is not said what wind) removed the particles. The stone which struck the image then expanded into a “great mountain and filled the whole earth.”
[Page 110] The Noneschatological Portion of the Interpretation
36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. 37 Thou, 0 king, art king of kings, unto whom the God of heaven hath given the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the glory; 38 and wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens hath he given into thy hand, and hath made thee to rule over them all: thou art the head of gold. 39 And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee; and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron that crusheth all these, shall it break in pieces and crush. 41 And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, it shall be a divided kingdom; but there shall be in it of the strength of iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. 42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43 And whereas thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron doth not mingle with clay (Daniel 2: 36-43, A.S.V.).
The terms eschatology and eschatological have been used several times in this dissertation, and now appears “non-eschatological.” The basic term “eschatology” refers to the study or science of last things, that is, the last events in connection with the current age. From the standpoint of the present church age all eschatological events are yet future. From the standpoint of the Old Testament believer all events connected with Messiah’s coming - whether the first one or the second (as we now discern) - were eschatological. To us the events of the first advent are historical and only those of the second are eschatological. When I refer to non-eschatological portions, therefore, I refer to portions relating to events previous to the second advent and previous to other events associated with the close of this present age.
[Page 111] There are problems aplenty and disagreements many about the details of interpretation in this portion. However, most of the differences of opinion are between the interpretation of evangelical believing Christians and that of the unbelieving, anti-supernatural, higher criticism. I am speaking particularly of the contemporary situation, though, historically, the lines of battle usually have been so arrayed.
Among Christian interpreters, as long as there has been any
record of opinion, the almost uniform identification
of the four successive kingdoms has been
The unbelieving higher criticism always has taken exception to this, owing to the fact that if Rome is the fourth kingdom, then even by the latest date any scholar has ever dared to propose for the composition of Daniel (ca. 165‑164 B.C.), the book still contains valid, supernatural, predictive prophecy.
This paper is addressed to men who believe that the Bible is
the Word of God, hence we shall not labour extensively
to answer the arguments of unbelief. As Tregelles has written, “To understand the Scriptures aright, we have no occasion to
go beyond the limit of the Scriptures themselves” (Remarks on the Prophetic Visions in the Book of Daniel, pp. 11, 12). The primary Biblical evidence for the view
that the four historical kingdoms are
The head of gold represented the king Nebuchadnezzar and his
kingdom. “Thou art the head of gold” (Daniel
2: 36) settles that matter. Verses 37 and 38
specify that Nebuchadnezzar’s was a world-wide kingdom - in divine grant - even
though this energetic king, during a long reign, never got to the point of
taking possession of all of it. It is
also certain that the symbolism of the head of gold included the
The breast and arms of silver symbolize Medo-Persia. It is the favourite claim of unbelieving higher critics that Daniel’s author, presumed to have lived in the second century B.C., had an entirely mistaken view of the history of the Middle East and the Near East during the sixth to third centuries B.C., and ignorantly supposed that the Medes were a separate second kingdom which supplanted Babylon (they cite Daniel 6: 1), the Persians a separate third kingdom which supplanted the Medes (they cite Daniel 10: 1), the fourth and last being the Greek. During the Greek prevalence, according to their theory, Daniel was written, and hence the Roman could not have been foreseen. It is said that the author expected the Messianic age to follow immediately after the Greek.
However. the facts of
Daniel are plainly otherwise. A kingdom
containing two elements, known respectively as Medes and Persians, succeeded
the Babylonian kingdom. Darius the Mede
took the kingdom from the last Babylonian king (Daniel
5: 30), but that Median king is
said to represent the “Medes and the Persians” (Daniel 5: 28) and he ruled his
kingdom by “the law of the Medes and
6: 8, 12, 15). He is mentioned with “Cyrus the Persian” as if head of the same realm as that
which Cyrus ruled (Daniel 6: 26). Furthermore, Daniel
8: 20 speaks of Media and
The belly and thighs of copper symbolize the Graeco-Macedonian
empire, founded by Alexander and continued by his successors. Attempts to identify this with Persia have
failed and the latest, by Rowley (Darius and the Four World Empires in the
Book of Daniel, University of Wales Press Board, Cardiff, 1935) is no less
a failure than the others.
Correspondence between the Medo-Persian empires of chapter two,
symbolized by the breast and arms of silver and the two-horned ram of chapter
eight is unmistakable. That ram is specifically said to ,be “Media and Persia,” and the he-goat
kingdom of chapter eight, which succeeded it, is said to be Greece.
The Bible clearly identifies the third kingdom as
The fourth kingdom is
Observe that though parts, such as the legs, feet, and toes, are mentioned in the interpretation, they together symbolize only one “fourth kingdom.”
Every detail speaks unmistakably of
[* By “Rome” I do not mean necessarily the specific government with headquarters in Italy, but simply that system which Rome began and which became imbedded in what is today called “the West.”]
It is “strong as iron” - iron
being the strongest known metal in Daniel’s day. At its height,
Like iron, it “breaketh in pieces.” Iron was also
the hardest known metal in Daniel’s time, and could be used to cut copper,
silver, or gold. And,
Furthermore, of this iron kingdom it is said that it “subdueth all things.”
This also is characteristic of
Of great significance, also, is the fact that the iron of this kingdom is in its later stages mixed with clay. This is interpreted to mean that “they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron does not mingle with clay” (v. 43).
This interpretation, however, requires some interpretation. Who are “they” who mingle themselves? The Aramaic word translated “they shall mingle themselves” will furnish [page 115] part of the answer. It is mith'arbim, a reflexive participle. Aramaic participles have gender and number, this one being masculine plural. It appears to be so in agreement with the two masculine singular nouns of the preceding clause - pdrzel (iron) and cha,saph (clay). Hence, the conclusion (the only possible one, I think) is that the participle modifies the two nouns. So the best interpretation is that the “they” of our English version refers to the iron and clay, and that the whole sentence means that whatever the iron symbolizes in the fourth kingdom shall be thoroughly but incohesively mixed with “the seed of men” (clay) in that kingdom. “The seed of men” can hardly refer to anything other than mankind in general as opposed to some king or dynasty within the kingdom.
Anyone who is acquainted with Roman history can hardly avoid the conclusion that this refers to the influences of the masses which grew in the Roman state. During the days of the Republic it was an orderly and lawful influence. As the nation matured, and grew more corrupt, it became something close to mob rule. This was something that Daniel could hardly have named. It could be described only if it was to have meaning.
The Salient Principles of Interpreting History of the
Nations to Be Seen in the Great Dream-Image
Before moving on to the last, the eschatological portion of the dream-image and its interpretation, some attention must be given to some general conclusions and principles which seem to prevail in proper interpretation of the whole. We may expect that conclusions regarding earlier portions will hold for the later portions, and thus some light from that which is now history will shine on what is partial fulfilment and yet future fulfilment of predictive prophecy in the final stage of the dream. The writer discerns four principles which prevail.
(1) A continuous succession of world dominions down to the coming of Messiah’s kingdom
As previously noted, the prophecy covers the “latter days,” inclusive of all time from Daniel’s
own down to the consummation. [Page
116] Verse 44
speaks of the “kings,” obviously in
the sense of the realms they ruled, as being destroyed at the end. If this
refers to the four, then in some
sense the four kingdoms endure to the consummation. There is no hint of any gap or hiatus in the
picture. And if Jesus’ reference to the
“times of the
Gentiles” (Luke 21: 24) is to the same period and aspect of
history as this prophecy (and it can hardly be doubted), then no other kingdom
than these four is to be expected before the final
Now, this writer recognizes that in some prophecies of the
future of a people an unseen gap or hiatus does sometimes interrupt the
continuity. He is convinced, however,
that this occurs only in the case of the prophecies of
That the Roman power shall assert itself in a more active way
at the end, and that the old headquarters at
[* Since completing the manuscript of this book, there has come to the writer’s hands a fine work on Daniel, in the British premillennial tradition, by Mr. G. H. Lang. In this work of 238 pages (The Histories and Prophecies of Daniel, Third edition, 1942) the author adopts the same views of the continuity of succession, and very much the same view of the nature of the fourth kingdom. His views on this point are to be found on pages 24-38 of his book. The writer of this book is grateful for this confirmation, coming from a quite independent source. He is sorry that it was not known earlier in the preparation, that full attention might have been given to it.]
Observe that this truth is supported by the division of Daniel advocated in this paper. A gap that pertains primarily [page 117] to a period of time when Israel is out of divine favour would be totally out of gear in a prophecy relating to a period when Gentiles enjoy the divine favour of world dominion, and of which the subject is Gentile succession.
The force of these facts will grow on the reader as the argument proceeds.
(2) A progressive division of sovereignty, reaching a climax in the ten-toed stage of the image prophecy
This is to be seen not only in the symbolism of the image, but
also in the events and movements of which it is a prediction. The details of the image reveal progressive
multiplication of the significant parts.
There is, first, one head symbolizing one absolute ruling element. There is, next, a division into two arms and two breasts - reflected
historically in the coalition of Medes and Persians in the empire of
Cyrus. The belly and thighs reveal more
plurality in the Aramaic original than in the English translation, for miohi, belly, is a plural word, possibly better translated, bowels. In the Grecian kingdom there was further
division of sovereignty - traditionally considered to be fourfold. In the Roman stage, symbolized by the legs,
feet, and toes, there is, first, a twofold and then a tenfold division, that
is, two legs, two feet, then ten toes. Taking
the key of progressive division of sovereignty within the world-kingdom this
must refer to the twofold division of the Roman empire
which prevailed after the division into East, with capital at
[* I derive “ten”
as the number of toes on the image.
There is not absolute proof that “those kings”
of verse 44 refers to ten toes, but it seems
likely. Mr. Yoking (The Prophecy of
Daniel) objects that “this view must be rejected as
exegetically untenable. It makes too
much of the symbolism” (p. 78).
However, Mr. Young does not
think it making too much of the symbolism to arbitrarily introduce “the true
[Page 118] (3) A progressive deterioration in the character of the authority of the ruler
A deterioration is indicated by four things in the image and interpretation - at least one of them of unquestionable divine intention. They are, first, deterioration in the worth of the metals: gold, silver, copper, iron (and clay); second, deterioration in position from the head to base of the image; third, a divinely certified indication of growing deterioration in the words of verse 39, “and after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee.” A fourth is suggested by Tregelles from the fact that the specific gravity (or mass per unit of volume) decreases from head to foot. His words are:
It may be worthy of observation that the metals in the image lessen in their specific gravity as they go downwards: iron is not so heavy as brass, and thus their weight is so arranged as to exhibit the reverse of stability, even before we reach the mixture of clay and iron (op. cit., 15).
These four phenomena I take to be indicative of the importance of this aspect of the prophecy, even granted that some of them may be accidental.
One may well wonder just what elements in Gentile history were to grow progressively inferior. Extent of territory could not be meant, for each of the four kingdoms grew progressively larger in area. And if the view advocated herein (see later exposition) is correct, it continues to grow. Neither is the deterioration with respect to strength, for that also grew with each kingdom.
Several considerations lead to the conclusion that it is the character or quality of the authority in rulership that is intended.
In the first place, the deterioration of the metals is primarily in quality or value. This would be matched by quality or value in the kind of the ruler’s authority.
In the second place, the Bible elsewhere describes the kind of rulership exercised by Nebuchadnezzar as something unique, [page 119] not likely to appear again in the non-Babylonian successors to the world rulership. The words follow:
I have made the earth, the man and the beast that
are upon the ground, by my power and by my outstretched. arm,
and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. and
now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of
In the same vein are the words of Daniel to Belshazzar:
The Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father the kingdom, and greatness, and glory and majesty: and because of the greatness that he gave him, all the peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew, and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he raised up, and whom he would he put down (Daniel 5: 18, 19, A.S.V.).
In the third place, the very language of Daniel 2: 39 indicates a deterioration in relation to the position or authority of the king. The kingdom of silver was to be “another kingdom inferior to
thee.” It was not to be a kingdom inferior to his kingdom. That it was not, for
A resume of the history of world dominion from Nebuchadnezzar onward will present to the reader’s mind precisely what is involved in deterioration of character of authority and [page 120] also support the conclusion that such is the kind of deterioration involved in the imagery.
Nebuchadnezzar ruled by divine right as an absolute
monarch. The Medo-Persian kings who
succeeded the Babylonians were not above the law as Nebuchadnezzar was, but
were subject to the laws of their own realm - bound by the legal entanglement of their own decrees (cf. Daniel 6: 14, 15).
Alexander and his Greek successors ruled
by no dynastic or royal right at all, but solely by virtue of great personal
gifts and powers which enabled them to organize and control great armies. The Roman emperors,
and even the early kings who reigned before the republican and imperial
periods, ruled largely by the will and
choice of the populace.
Republicanism, which followed the monarchial period, soon degenerated
into something like mob rule, especially after it merged into the imperial
period. Some of the greatest emperors were affected by the passing opinions of
the Roman mobs. In our own times,
which if they appear in the prophecy must be in the fourth period, government
in the West has tended to become nearer to the dead level of socialism, and
even “the dictatorship of the proletariat.” Our American republic (ofttimes miscalled
democracy) is based on the supposition that sovereignty rests in the people - that government is only by the consent of the governed. As
(4) A progressive improvement in the hardness of the metals and in their strength
The one seeming exception is the clay, which, though in a vitrified form, is harder than iron, but is not very strong. However, this element is introduced as an extraneous element in an otherwise unbroken progress in strength. This is reflected in the increasing strength and prevalence of each of the kingdoms. I take it that while the clay represents the ultimate in [page 121] debasement of the character of sovereignty, it does not represent the ultimate in the strength of the kingdoms.
The Eschatological Portion of the Interpretation
Now comes the denouement. The last, or eschatological portion of the prophecy is reached. When the final, that is, the Roman, age of Gentile history is prevailing, when a climax of division of sovereignty has been reached, presumably many nations being organized into some kind of a loose union in which all men give their authority to a ruler or head of some kind, when Gentile power is at its height of strength (though dangerously brittle by reason of a low grade of sovereignty, then the end comes.
And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure” (Daniel 2: 44, 45, A.S.V.).
It is in this section of the oracle that the Pre-millennial system of eschatology makes its initial challenge and shows its superiority.
All students, whether believing or unbelieving, recognize this as prophecy of the founding of the Messianic kingdom. Believing students in recent times have been divided in interpretation between the Pre-millennialists, who see the fulfilment in the final establishment of the kingdom of Christ at his second coming, and A-millennialists and Post-millennialists who see the fulfilment in the first advent and the events of the present age. The chief differences between the A-millenarians and Post-millenarians being that the A-millenarians place more emphasis [page 122] on the place of Christ’s judgment on the nations at the end of this age.
Thomson pretty well sums up the view of our Post-millennial opponents when he writes: “Whenever the setting up of this Messianic kingdom is placed, whenever it is held as occurring, it is certain it fits most naturally the Christian Church” (Pulpit Commentary, Daniel, p. 73).
Leupold makes the A-millennial position quite plain when he says of the kingdom of the stone:
It shall, in fact, be a
force that will be operative in the overthrow of all the kingdoms that the
world produces – “All these kingdoms,” for it “shall crush and bring to an end.”
The discerning reader will
readily observe that both of these systems (Post-millennialism and
A-millennialism) rest on a theory of church-kingdom identity - that the
If, as it is contended, the smiting of the image by the stone, and the subsequent actions predict the establishment and growth of the Christian Church in the present age, observe what inconsistencies and objections follow.
(1) The church, which clearly is not a political
establishment, is made to be a political establishment just as were
Even in its outward organization, the church’s members are to be subject to “the powers that be” and to “render unto Caesar.” To adopt the church-kingdom theory in interpreting this passage, one ought rightly to adopt the Roman Catholic religion, which claims that the church is a political establishment.
(2) It substitutes a quiet imperceptible growth of the church in gradual conquering of the fourth kingdom for a violent, catastrophic sudden destruction of the kingdom of the Gentiles.
Some of our opponents speak occasionally of the stone as a rolling stone, and suppose a progressive destruction of the image. Others speak of quiet growth of the stone in replacing the kingdom of the image. But in the Scripture (and let all interpreters stick by it) the stone smites the image with a single, violent, catastrophic blow; forceful winds remove the fragments, and the stone then, after the removal of the Gentile kingdoms, becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth. If it is possible for words to describe violence these are they!
(3) It postulates that the church either has overcome the Gentile kingdoms or will yet do so, when, as a matter of fact, it never has done so, and, according to the Bible, never will.
Post-millennialists may consistently claim to believe that the church will yet conquer the world. But A-millennialists who share with Pre-millennialists the view that good and bad will grow together throughout this age, and even with them (though on the basis of some different Scripture passages) expect great [page 124] apostasy at the close of the present age, are in a position of gross inconsistency.
(4) The view that the smiting act is the spread of the gospel is utterly out of harmony with what is known of the Christian ethics of the New Testament.
Christians are not to supersede the authority of those that rule, but are to be subject to them. Their place is to suffer, if necessary, at the hand of rulers rather than to destroy and replace them.
Recent history, with the downward trend of human events, has all but destroyed Post-millennialism, leaving only A-millennialism to challenge the Pre-millennial view seriously.
Dr. Seiss, who wrote in a day when
Post-millennialism was a serious challenge, has well summarized the arguments
against that view to be found in this passage (vide Voices From
A-millennialism, on the other hand, except for the church-kingdom theory adopted by many of its advocates, is less out of harmony with the Scriptures at this point and hence the present writer’s duty is less with respect to its refutation.
I add only that Young’s argument that the teaching in verse 44 (that the kingdom is eternal excludes the doctrine of a one-thousand-year kingdom) has no weight at all against the view of the millennium adopted herein. The view of this writer is - that the millennium is only an initial stage of an everlasting kingdom (vide Appendix I).
The Pre-millennial view alone permits a natural interpretation of this chapter. There is to be no Messianic kingdom established on earth until the governments of Gentile nations have run their course. When the kingdom comes it will be entirely of divine establishment, without human agency; it shall replace the Gentile political establishment with a divine political establishment, and shall stand for ever.
Any other system of eschatology must spiritualize the passage, or else ignore the plain facts of it.
* * *
CHAPTER 3 [Pages 125-134.]
The Prophecy of the Four Great Beasts
and of the Ancient of Days
As in the case of chapter two, portions of this chapter and questions not related intimately to eschatology will not receive any extended treatment. We may rejoice that in general all schools of believing opinion agree on the large part of the chapter. It is only where variant views of the ro1e of the church in the present age and eschatology enter that the disagreement comes. And it is just at this point that the pre-millennial eschatology again shows its superiority.
It is generally agreed that chapter seven relates to the same subject and scheme of prophecy as chapter two (exceptions are Hitzig and Bonnar*). The correspondences are too close to be missed or explained away. The differences between the dream prophecy of chapter two and the vision prophecy of chapter seven are chiefly as follows: (1) The dream was not seen originally by a man of God but by a heathen monarch, hence it was something that would appeal to such a man and which might be readily [page 126] explicable to his intellect. The vision was seen by a holy man of God, and hence in terms more readily explicable to his intellect. (2) The first presented the history of nations in their outward aspect - majestic, splendid; the second in their inward spiritual aspect - as ravening wild beasts. This ,might be elaborated to say that the first is a view of the history of nations as man sees them, the second as God sees them.
[* I am indebted to rather full presentation of the views of Hitzig and Bonnar by Thomson in his volume on Daniel in the Pulpit Commentary. I have not been able to locate Das Buch Daniel by Hitzig and The Great Interregnum by Bonnar for my own reading.]
Since the same general subject is treated in this vision as in the dream of chapter two it is natural that the same general principles present in that prophecy should follow here - the same series of powers, the same continuity of rule, degeneration in character of authority, division of sovereignty, and increasing strength of the kingdoms.
However, it is not to be expected that this will be mere repetition of the prophecy of chapter two under different figures. We might expect some elaboration and enlargement of details. And, this is just what does take place in chapter seven. The fourth (Roman) kingdom which in chapter two is given no more particular treatment than the first three is here picked out for special treatment. Furthermore, the final Antichrist who does not appear at all in chapter two is here introduced - (as a “little horn”) and identified as the final king of the fourth kingdom.
Since, as has been pointed out,
chapters two to seven relate particularly to Gentile affairs, but chapters
eight to twelve to
I shall not burden the reader with the inclusion of a particular commentary on the main details of the vision of Daniel. The chapter should be clearly in the reader’s mind, however, if he is to appreciate the difficulties and understand the arguments.
Post-millennialists see the succession of Babylonia,
A-millennialists (I am citing the views of Young) see the same succession of four kingdoms in the four beasts. However, the beast with his ten horns, and finally with a little horn, is said to represent three stages of the Roman kingdom: The first stage, indicated by the beast itself lasts till the destruction of the Roman empire, say about the middle of the fifth century; the ten horns represent merely that a number of kingdoms will succeed to the Roman kingdom and shall rule; the little horn represents a final Gentile king who shall be destroyed by the Lord at His second coming. The “saints” of the vision are the church of the New Testament, who will suffer special persecution near the close of this age.
The strict Pre-millennial interpretation, advocated by this writer, holds that the four beasts are the same four kingdoms set forth by the orthodox Post-millennialists and A-millennialists. In this the major believing schools of thought agree. But thereafter the agreement disappears. We hold that the horns represent Roman kings, that those kings are contemporaneous within the Roman period, that they are not yet known but are the same as those symbolized by the ten horns on the first beast of Revelation 13:1 ff. We hold the identity to be practically demonstrated by the obvious similarity of the visions and the principle of progressive revelation of divine truth. It is hardly likely that two such similar figures would symbolize different [page 128] principle of progressive revelation of divine truth. It is hardly likely that two such similar figures would symbolize different things. Of these ten, John specifically says (Rev. 17: 12), “And the ten horns that thou sawest are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet; but they receive authority as kings with the beast, for one hour.” This, I think, settles the fact of their contemporaneousness. Furthermore, the connection of Revelation 17, even apart from a futuristic interpretation of Revelation in general - the connection, I say, with obviously eschatological events settles the futurity of these ten kings and places them in an eschatological context.
The “little horn” we hold (in common with most commentators) to be the Antichrist. Antichrist I hold to be a person who will arise in the end of this age, who will gain mastery over the whole world for a brief period, and will be destroyed by the Lord at His second coming (2 Thess. 2: 1-9; Rev. 13: 1-10).
I hold to be no different from “the people of the saints” in the passage before us (see
below).* They are the Israelites of the
end time who will at last inherit the
[*This, appears to me to teach, that that resurrected Christians will not
inherit the kingdom in the same sense as resurrected Jews! Or, that Christians ‘accounted
worthy” to inherit the “
Finally, the kingdom of the Most High, said to be “an everlasting kingdom,” is none other than the
That the Pre-millennial interpretation alone is a satisfactory explanation is demonstrated by the following:
(1) The facts of the prophecy demand that the kingdom of Messiah follow the kingdom of the Gentiles‑that its very establishment awaits the destruction of those kingdoms, being at no point of its history contemporaneous with those kingdoms.
This is the basic fact that A-millennialists and
Post-millennialists must face. This fact
alone discredits both systems of interpretation. It
simply is not possible to have an earthly
Related to this is another:
(2) The kingdom of the Most High succeeds a final form of the Roman kingdom, a form in which that kingdom has not to the present moment appeared.
The Roman kingdom is symbolized by a diverse beast which, in addition to other less significant features had on its head ten horns. These ten horns are “ten kings” (v. 24). Among these ten horns another “little horn” arises. That he arises while the ten are still prevalent is required by the fact that this little horn uproots three of them (vs. 8, 24). He arises later than the ten, and in this sense is “after them” (v. 24), but while they still prevail as kingdoms.
Furthermore, if three of these were plucked up by one on his arising it is obvious that the horns are intended to represent contemporaneous, not successive, kingdoms.
This same final stage of tenfold division is symbolized also in the prophecy of chapter two. True it is latent there, not specific, but it is there nevertheless. In the first description of the image no further division of details is made after the mention of the feet (2: 33). But in the interpretation it is further specified that “thou sawest the feet and toes” (2: 41). It sounds to me slightly like sophistical reasoning to hear it said that no mention is made of ten toes (Young). Anyone who ever counted the toes of a normal man would know that if this image of a man had toes there would be ten of them. That the toes were to symbolize kings is the evident meaning of verse 44a. I present the portion to make this clear.
[Page 130] And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron doth not mingle with clay. And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed ... (Daniel 2: 42-44, A.S.V.).
To argue with the A-millennialists that “those kings” of verse 44 are the four successive kingdoms is out of harmony with the facts of the symbols and their interpretation. In only one case, the head of gold, are the king (Nebuchadnezzar) and the kingdom equated. Furthermore, the connection of the “toes” in verse 42 and of the “kings” in verse 44 is too close to allow any conclusion except that the toes do represent the kings destroyed by the coming Christ.
Now, to the present moment, the Roman kingdom has not assumed
this form. Grant even that the number
ten is intended only to represent a large but indefinite division of the empire
(which may possibly be true) and the fact remains that the “little horn” whom many A-millennialists as well
as the majority of Pre-millennialists recognize to be the final Antichrist has
not yet appeared among them and
uprooted three. Until he does, the
Related to this fact is still another:
Auberlen says: “Here for the first time in the development of revelation, the idea of Antichrist is clearly unfolded, because here for the first time the entire course of the development of the godless and God-opposing world is clearly surveyed down to its end” (op. cit., 39). Observe further that in this first clear unfolding of the doctrine of Antichrist, his personal existence is at least suggested by his description (eyes of a man, [page 131] mouth speaking great things, etc.) and by his actions (making war with the saints).
Nearly all Post-millennialists, A-millennialists, and Pre-millennialists unite in affirming that the Man of Sin of Paul and the Antichrist and first Beast of John are the same as this “little horn” of Daniel seven.
Innumerable reasons can be advanced for rejecting the prevalent view of Post-millennialists that the Pope or the Papal system is Antichrist. However, there is one grand reason which makes all the others unnecessary. That reason is that Paul makes it clear in the second chapter of 2 Thessalonians that the appearance of the Antichrist is an eschatological event to take place only at the end of this present age. As we have shown elsewhere in this paper, his coming is associated with certain events which at the present moment are still future. (Please refer to the discussion of Antichrist in the first section of this dissertation.)
But now we call on our A-millennialist friends to look, and to look steadily for a moment, at the fact that the kingdom of Messiah which they contend was established at the beginning of the present age is in this chapter specifically predicted to appear after the appearance and destruction of Antichrist, and only after the appearance and destruction of Antichrist.
In the next place:
(4) The kingdom established by Messiah at His coming is a kingdom of power and glory, not one of suffering and cross-bearing.
This is evident in both chapters two and seven. The
language is applicable only to an all-prevailing, irresistible, glorious, civil
as well as religious kingdom. This utterly
does away with the Post-millennial view.
It also militates against the A-millennial view, for though they do
allow that in final manifestation the kingdom will be thus, they postulate a present earthly
(5) The Kingdom of the Most High is Jewish in some definite
sense, just as our Pre-millennial doctrine affirms of the coming
In verse 14 it is affirmed that “one like unto a son of man” is to receive the world dominion, and that this is the final everlasting dominion. Commentators, almost with one voice, agree that this is Christ possessing His kingdom. But let it be remembered that Christ or Messiah is a Jewish conception and the very name specifies His office as Jewish King.
In the verses following 14 it is four times affirmed that the “saints” shall possess the kingdom, presumably Messiah’s kingdom. The identity of these “saints” or holy people is the important question. In my opinion Auberlen was precisely correct when he wrote:
By the “people of the saints of the Most High,” to whom dominion is then to be given (Dan. 7: 18-27), Daniel evidently could only understand the people of Israel, as distinguished from the heathen nations and kingdoms, which were to rule up till then (2: 44); nor have we, according to strict exegesis, a right to apply the expression to any other nations; hence we cannot apply it immediately to the church. ... The prophet’s words refer to the re-establishment of the kingdom to Israel, concerning which the disciples asked our Saviour immediately before His ascension; and our Lord, though refusing to reveal to them the date or chronology, did in no way negative the subject matter of their question, and thereby confirmed it (Acts 20: 7, 6, 7) (op. cit. 216, 217).
This matter is crucial for the Pre-millennial view, and needs full examination.
[Page 133] The fact that the church of the New
Testament is to be joined with Christ in the rulership, as set forth in Revelation 20, is irrelevant to the question. That is a New Testament revelation. The question is, Does
this chapter affirm that
There are five references to this group (v. 18): “the saints of the Most High,” qaddishe elyonin, the same expression is used in verses 22 and 25. In verse 22 they are also simply called “saints,” qaddishim, and in verse 27, “the people of the saints of the most High” 'am qaddishe elyonin.
To one versed in the Old Testament Scriptures these can be
understood in only one fashion - of the covenant nation
However, one need look no farther than the Book of Daniel itself to find who the “saints” or “holy people” are. Chapter eight may contain eschatological material, viewed in a typical fashion, but most interpreters of every school of eschatology unite in regarding it as primarily a prophecy of the conflict of the Jewish people with the Greek kingdom of history, especially as it developed between the Jews and Antiochus Epiphanes. Now, in verse 24 the Jewish people are called by this name: 'am qedoshim, in the English versions translated, “the holy people” but in the Hebrew literally (cf. A.S.V. margin) “the people of the saints.” This is as near a linguistical equivalent of the name given the people of Daniel 7: 27, “the people of the saints of the Most High,” as is possible. Even Dr. Keil, Dr. Leupold, and Dr. Young, whom I regard as the leading [page 134] advocates of the A-millennial approach to Daniel, think that this expression refers to the Israelites in chapter eight. Why not, then, the same in chapter seven? There is only one answer. It does not harmonize with the exigencies of their eschatological system.
Again, Daniel 12: 7
mentions the “holy
people” ('am qodesh).
There also, as in chapter seven, they suffer for three and one-half
times (or years). The correspondence
with the suffering of the saints of chapter seven for the same period of time (7: 25) is unmistakable. Neither can it be seriously questioned that
this refers to the same tribulation of
Dr. Keil, for all his learning and unquestionable piety, is certainly in error when he writes:
The circumstance that in Daniel’s time the
The whole point is that Daniel was referring to his own people when he used these terms, and whatever the New Testament may add does not contradict this simple fact.
Dr. Delitzsch, the famous collaborator with Keil on the Keil and Deliusch
commentaries, regarded it “as an essential progress in
prophetic theology ... that the following three ideas are recognized in their
intimate connection:- 1.
These facts demonstrate sufficiently that Pre-millennialism, and only Pre-millennialism, gives a satisfactory explanation of “the Prophecy of the Four Beasts and of the Ancient of Days.”
* * *
CHAPTER 4 [Pages 135-160]
The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks
DANIEL 9: 24-27
The difficulty of the verses which now lie before us is evident to anyone who has even attempted a cursory examination of them. As they stand in the Authorized Version they are more than enigmatical. Pick up almost any two commentaries from the same school of eschatology and it is not likely that there will be agreement on the meaning of all the details of interpretation. Premillennial writers of two or three generations ago were very far apart on the details. Much of the same diversity appears in Premillennial contemporary writers.
[Page 135] For example, take only what is usually called the terminus a quo of the prophecy. Tregelles
thinks it was the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the Persian king, 454 or 455
B.C. (Remarks, 99), and that it is
the decree of Artaxerxes recorded in the second chapter of Nehemiah.
These difficulties manifest in the diversity of opinion among devout and learned men have not,
however, prevented general agreement on the main significance of the
prophecy. Interpreters of all schools
have conceded, “notwithstanding all minor differences
as to the details of this prophecy, that the central meaning of the seventy
weeks was to be sought in the life of Christ; and the diversities in the
interpretation of details may all be reduced to those that flow from three
sources, a difference in the starting point, a difference in the chronology of
the life of Jesus, a difference in the chronological methods selected by the
various commentators as a basis” (Havernick,
quoted by Auberlen, op. cit., 92). Thus belief (with rare exceptions like Stuart in
I mean to say only that the 490 years of the prophecy run at least to the lifetime of Jesus, in which case the prophecy puts to rout the unbelieving higher criticism which sees nothing of minute prediction in the book beyond the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.
In full harmony with the division of the Book of Daniel into a
Gentile-slanted portion and a Hebrew-slanted portion, the division falling at
the conclusion of the Aramaic section (7: 28),
this oracle concerns Daniel’s people and them alone. It is given in answer to the very Hebrew
prayer of a Hebrew prophet in very Hebrew style. Furthermore, in the mind of the prophet it
develops out of the problem of the seventy years of captivity of the Hebrew
Now, as we come to the prophecy itself, we may expect that
details of former oracles of the book will be enlarged and some of the
mysteries cleared up. Chapter two gave
the grand outline [page 137] of four Gentile kingdoms to be succeeded by a fifth, and last the
Omitting the introductory prayer and vision of the prophet, we
come immediately to the apocalypse of
24 Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon
thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make
reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to
seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. 25 Know therefore and discern, that from the going
forth of the commandment to restore and to build
It is difficult to attempt any scientific discussion of these verses in the space of a chapter in a dissertation. Many books have been written to set forth particular interpretations. Several have been written within the last ten or fifteen years. To attempt to evaluate this literature which runs into the hundreds of volumes is impossible, and probably useless also. Therefore, my procedure will be to learn what can be learned from the Scriptures themselves, largely without reference to other works - not that the other works are without value but because it is simply beyond the scope of this book to treat them.
Many Premillenarian scholars have found nothing in these verses which requires any interpretation essentially distinctive to Premillennial eschatology. To illustrate, though Amillennial Dr. Young views the weeks as symbolical periods - not specifically either days or years, Postmillennial Dr. Barnes views the weeks as of years, and Premillennial Dr. Auberlen also views the weeks as years, the three men are in general agreement as to the full scope of the prophecy. They think that the seventy weeks run their full course by the time the history of the early chapters of the Book of Acts has run its course. Auberlen thinks it was at the time of the death of Stephen or thereabouts. It was signalized by the turning of the apostolic witness from the Jews to the Gentiles. In this Barnes agrees approximately. And though Young would frequently disagree with Auberlen’s Premillenarian views on other matters, he announces no essential disagreement on this score, merely expressing a rather hopeless ignorance of any event with which the conclusion of the seventy weeks may be said to occur.
There are, however, some features of this prophecy which [page 139] cannot be placed in the past - there are some which are unmistakably eschatological. Dr. Keil, who certainly had no Premillennial leanings and devotes many pages to refutation of the Premillennialism of Auberlen and Hofmann, saw a prediction of Antichrist in the “prince that shall come” (v. 26).
But, while recognizing that there did seem to be an eschatological element in the prophecy, Keil could not offer a satisfactory explanation of the bearings of the whole prophecy on eschatology, though he devoted sixty-five pages of his commentary to these four verses. His contention is that the terminus ad quem of the seven weeks is the appearance of Christ and that the appearance of Christ is also the terminus a quo of the sixty-two weeks, the cutting off of Messiah (interpreted as defeat of Christianity at the close of this age) being the terminus ad quem of the sixty-two and the terminus a quo of the seventieth and last. The sixty-two weeks then cover the present age, except for the one week at the end, which will close with the second coming of Christ to destroy Antichrist. This, I submit to the readers, is something close to nonsense, supported neither by an objective treatment of the passage nor by judicious examination of many better explanations.
Premillennialism, and only Premillennialism, has a better explanation to offer. For long ages past there have been those who saw a better explanation of the passage, and they have been Chiliasts or, as we now say, Premillenarians.
In pursuance of the purposes of this book, I now present the features of the book which require the Premillennialism I support for a rational explanation. This presentation will take the form of five propositions.
1) The seventy weeks are 490 years, which relate wholly to the
then future of
2) The seventy weeks are divided into three periods of seven, Sixty-two, and one, which follow one another and run successively.
3) The first sixty-nine weeks ran out during the lifetime of Messiah and before His crucifixion. [Page 140]
4) The death of Christ and the destruction of
5) The seventieth week pertains to a seven-year relationship
between the Antichrist and Daniel’s people
(1) The seventy weeks are 490 years, which relate wholly to the then future
The opening words of chapter nine discover Daniel pondering on
the conclusion of a matter which related wholly to the fortunes of his people
He may well have wondered in this, the sixty-ninth or
seventieth year (the first year of Darius was probably about 536 B.C.) of his
own captivity, if God meant to begin counting the seventy years from the date
of his own captivity (in 606 B.C.) or if one of two other possible dates might
be intended. A king (Jehoiachin) had
been taken captive with a large group, including the prophet Ezekiel, in 598 (cf. Ezek. 1:
1 ff.). And it was about twelve
years after this that the Judaean kingdom came to an end with the deposing of
Zedekiah and the destruction of
It is to be observed (if we may anticipate the details of the
prophecy) that Daniel was in somewhat the same position as the saints in the
years shortly before and after the birth of Jesus. If they knew the prophecy of the 490 years -
483 of them [page 141] to run out before the appearance of
Messiah - they may well have wondered if the starting point when the command
went forth to “restore and to rebuild” was the decree of Cyrus (536 B.C., Ez. 1: 1
ff.), the first decree of Artaxerxes (Ez. 7:1
ff.) or the second decree of Artaxerxes (I do not choose to discuss here the
identity of the king or kings) described in the first chapter of Nehemiah. The difference in time between the first of
these and the last is no less than ninety years. I think this explains the quiet expectancy of
Simeon (Luke 2:25 ff.) and of others at the
time of Christ’s birth, “1ooking for the consolation of
At any rate, Daniel’s pondering and prayer related only to the fortunes of his people, and he was thinking in terms of an Hebrew prophecy of seventy years. No doubt - and I think there is no room to doubt it - he wondered also if the end of the seventy years would usher in the advent of the long-promised Messiah Prince to save Israel and rule the nations.
When the answer of the Lord came, by way of the mouth of
Gabriel, the answer also is specifically said to relate to
Let the Postmillennial and Amillennial commentators look long and steadily at this fact. This prophecy is a prophecy for Daniel’s people and Daniel’s city. No alchemy of Origenistic spiritualizing interpretation can change that. This prophecy must be something which promised the restoration of the people to the divine favour, return to their land, revival of their capital city and restoration of the ancient line of kings who reigned there. The specific details of the latter part of the prophecy serve only to emphasize this truth.
As to the claim, herein, that the weeks of the prophecy are weeks (lit. sevens) of years little really needs to be said, even [page 142] though volumes have been written on the subject. I have examined many commentaries on the subject and have yet to find one serious commentator who taught otherwise, unless he had some private theory to defend by interpreting otherwise.
The most untenable view of all is the one that these sevens are only symbolic periods (Keil, Young, Leupold, et al.). This makes the assigning of proportional lengths to the divisions into seven, sixty-two, and one, mean precisely nothing, whereas I hold it to be obvious that a precise value was to be assigned. Anything else would make the Scriptures misleading to readers who expect the Bible to make sense. Even symbols should make sense - but a view (Like Keil’s) that lets seven equal approximately 560 years, sixty-two something more than 1900 years, and one a wholly unknown number of years is not sense. It is nonsense.
Dr. Alva J. McClain (Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks) has aptly summarized the evidence for the view that the weeks referred to are sevens of years. After pointing out that there is nothing in the passage to indicate that the “week” is a seven of days, as the English versions seem to suggest, and that the Hebrews had a “week” or “seven” of years which was just as familiar to them as the week of days, he presents the following reasons for believing that Daniel had reference to the seven of years. I quote:
In the first place, the prophet Daniel had been thinking not only in terms of years rather than of days, but also in a definite multiple of “sevens” (10 x 7) of years (Dan. 9: 1, 2). Second, Daniel also knew that the very length of the Babylonian captivity had been based on Jewish violation of the divine law of the Sabbatic year. Since, according to 2 Chronicles 36: 21, the Jews had been removed from off the land in order that it might rest for seventy years, it should be evident that the Sabbatic year had been violated for 490 years, or exactly seventy “sevens” of years. How appropriate, therefore, that now at the end of the judgment for these violations the angel should be sent to reveal [page 143] the start of a new era of God’s dealing with the Jew which would extend for the same number of years covered by his violations of the Sabbatic year, namely, a cycle of 490 years, or “Seventy Sevens” of years (Dan. 9: 24).
Furthermore, the whole context of the prophecy demands that the “Seventy Sevens” be understood in terms of years. For if we make the “sevens” of days, the entire period would extend for merely 490 days or a little over one year. Considering now that within this brief space the city is to be rebuilt and once more destroyed ... it becomes clear that such an interpretation is altogether untenable.
McClain’s last argument rests on the fact that in the book of Daniel, wherein the word “week” appears in only one other passage (10: 2, 3), it is stated that the prophet mourned “three full weeks,” the meaning is obviously weeks of days - but is indicated by the addition of days yamim to the word shabhuim, weeks. This, he rightly argues, indicates that a change from the usage in chapter nine is meant.
The arguments are valid. And, I repeat, most of the best commentators of every school recognize that whatever the problems of adjusting the seventy weeks to the facts of subsequent history, weeks of years are probably meant.
Thus a basis for exposition of the prophecy is laid in the
fact that the seventy weeks are 490 years, which relate wholly to the then
(2) The seventy weeks are divided into three periods of seven, sixty-two, and one, which follow one another and run successively.
Some of the proof for this statement must of necessity await
the development of the following propositions.
Yet, the statement is needed at this point in the argument, if only as
an observation as to the simplest and most obvious meaning of the text. Says Gabriel:
and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to
I think it is perfectly clear to the unbiased reader that
Gabriel intended Daniel to know and discern that there would be two periods of
the seventy weeks before “the anointed one, the prince,” and one afterward. There is a comma after “seven weeks” in the English versions, indicating
a break in thought. There is also an athnach in the Hebrew at
this point, indicating (sometimes) a break in thought. But neither the comma nor the athnach are sufficient to require the
conclusion that a complete break in thought is intended at that point. If so, then (as Keil insists) the angel meant that “from the going forth of the commandment to
restore and to build
Now, the significant thing about this period of 483 years
(seven plus 62 weeks) is that if our accepted calendars and chronologies are
correct, it is almost exactly 483
years from the latest possible date for the beginning of the weeks (decree of
Artaxerxes to Nehemiah) to the closing years of Christ’s life, which brings us
very close to the time of the baptism and triumphal entry. If there were no further evidence than this remarkable
correspondence between our interpretation and the facts of history there would
be strong presumption of truth in its favour. However, if the reader will examine “The Coming Prince” by
The final week of the seventy is mentioned in verse 27. It appears strangely after a verse which seems to describe events not belonging to any of the weeks. The details of these verses will be treated under the propositions which now follow.
(3) The first sixty-nine weeks ran out during the lifetime of Messiah and before His crucifixion.
Having now seen that the sixty-nine weeks have as their point of termination “the anointed one, the prince,” more special attention must now be given to this terminal point.
[Page 146] Neither the A.S.V. translation nor the Authorized (“the Messiah, the prince”) is wholly satisfactory. The Hebrew words are used absolutely, that is, they are without prefixes, suffixes, articles, or modifiers of any kind and are in what is called the absolute state. They stand in immediate juxtaposition, as follows: mashiach naghidh.
Leaving this passage, for the present, in every use of the word mashiach, anointed (adjective, masculine, singular), except three, it is used substantively with a pronominal suffix (that is, a possessive pronoun) or with a possessive noun. It is in all these cases “his anointed,” “mine anointed,” etc., or “the Lord’s anointed,” etc. In the three other cases the word is used attributively, and hence they do not bear on the use in our passage where the word is a substantive in use.
This being the case, it can hardly be otherwise intended than
as a descriptive proper name - Messiah, or, translated into English, Anointed. Priests, and kings (and on
at least one occasion a prophet also) were by Hebrew custom inducted into
office with the anointing ceremony. Prophecy
assigned to the coming deliverer of
The other word in the series, naghidh (A.S.V., the prince) is translated captain,
ruler, leader, governor, prince, and is frequently used of the function of the
[Page 147] So, the terminus
of this prophecy of sixty-nine weeks is the appearing of Christ as the Messiah-leader
of “the lost
sheep of the house of
As previously indicated, there are some who suppose that the
event which placed our Lord before
The plain fact is that at no time in His life did Christ
plainly and publicly present Himself to
The crucifixion it could not be. Important in time and eternity as that event was, it certainly was not a presentation of Christ as the Messiah Nagid of Israel - and all the attention given by some writers to Pilate’s inscription on the cross does not make it so. The fact that settles this is the language of our prophecy. The terminus of the sixty-nine weeks is described as Messiah Nagid in verse 25. It is clearly some presentation of a person that is meant - not an era within the sixty-nine weeks. Then verse 26 plainly goes on to say, “And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing.” These words have been interpreted in various ways. Some think that the cutting off refers not to the death of Christ, but to His loss of that which was rightly His as Messiah (so Keil) and is equivalent to “shall have nothing” in the same verse. This may very well be true, but if so the crucifixion was merely the final step in that loss, if such it is. With the majority of the commentators, therefore, and also in harmony with the first meaning of Karath to “cut off,” which usually specifies a violent kind of [page 148] death, I take it to refer to the crucifixion.* Note that this death of Christ was to take place “after the threescore and two weeks” (v. 26). There can be no honest difference of opinion about that - the cutting off of Messiah is "after" the sixty-two weeks. It is not the concluding event of the series of sixty-two weeks. Neither is it said to be the opening event of the seventieth. It is simply after the seven plus sixty-two weeks. The Hebrew … (and after) does not designate how long after - it could be immediately afterward or a thousand years afterward - but it must be after.
[* The word Karath is used almost without exception of one of two things: either the making (cutting off) of a covenant or of the violent death of man or beast. There is no sound reason for departing from the usual idea of violent death here. A different word gazdr “cut off,” but with nearly identical meaning, is certainly used of the death of Christ in Isaiah 53: 8, where it is said, “He was cut off (nighzar) from the land of the living.”]
It should not be necessary to discuss whether the Messiah Nagid of verse 25 and the Messiah of verse 26 are the same. By any fair consideration of the obvious meaning of the passage they can not be otherwise, as most agree.
(4) The death of Christ and the destruction of
It will not be necessary to repeat the evidence for stating that the death of Christ was to take place after the conclusion of the sixty-ninth week.
Attention must now be directed to the statement following the reference in verse 26 to Messiah’s being cut off. The whole statement is as follows: “And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.”
It is of utmost importance to see that whatever is meant by the destruction of the city and sanctuary, it is joined in time with the cutting off of Messiah as “after the threescore and two weeks.” Dr. Keil laboured at length to prove that the sixty-two weeks began with some event in the earthly life of Christ and [page 149] that they end with the last strokes of victory for the church in this present age, the church being the “city” which the angel predicts will be built. Leupold, reflecting an interpretation common in his church, holds the same view. However, Young, Amillennial in his theology like Keil and Leupold, rejects this interpretation of the prophecy as untenable and frankly admits that the seven plus sixty-two weeks come to an end before the death of Christ and maintains that the death of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem described in verse 26 take place in the seventieth week.
But the language of verse 26, both in the Hebrew and in the English of the American Standard Version, clearly specifies that the cutting off of Christ and the destruction of “the city” by “the people of the prince that shall come” not only follow the close of the sixty-ninth week but precede the beginning of the seventieth.
I do not feel called on to labour at length the view that the
destruction of the city is that of
Neither is there any difficulty with our Amillennial friends over the identity of “the coming prince,” or, as the version has it, “the prince that shall come.” Keil and Leupold recognize him as the final Antichrist, said to be “coming” because already selected for prophecy in direct language in chapter seven as “the little horn,” and in type in chapter eight as “the little horn.” Young thinks otherwise, but is outweighed on his own “team.”
That the opening of the seventieth week is subsequent to the
events of verse
26 is manifest by the
text itself. The seventieth week is not
picked up for mention till verse 27 is reached. When that point is
reached it is introduced by a waw consecutive,* indicating that the contents of verse 27 are subsequent and consequential in
relation to verse 26. All attempts to place the events of verse 26 (the cutting off of Christ and the
destruction [page 150] of
[* Waw consecutive is the conjunction “and” prefixed to a verb in such a way as to indicate a close consequential relation to a preceding verb.]
This writer cannot help but reflect on the possible explanation
for a man like Dr. H. C. Leupold,
who issued a lengthy, and in many respects valuable, commentary on the Book of
Daniel in 1949 without so much as a reference to this “gap,”
“hiatus,” or “intercalation”
in this prophecy. Surely he knows that
some of the greatest names in Biblical study in
(5) The seventieth week belongs to a seven-year relationship between
Antichrist and Daniel’s people
This is required by the language of the last verse of this prophecy, verse 27, which reads as follows:
And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate; and even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate.
[Page 151] To develop this proposition in full would require a book at least as great in bulk as this book. The reader who is informed in eschatological matters will recognize that here the writer must for the sake of brevity deny himself the privilege of following the theological trails very far beyond the strict limitations of the text before us. Indeed, it is not necessary to go beyond the verse itself to demonstrate the truth of this proposition.
In the first place, the ordinary rules of grammar establish that the leading actor of this verse is the Antichrist - the great evil man of the end-time. “He shall make a firm covenant” etc. - thus the verse opens. A more literal reading … is: “And he shall cause to prevail a covenant.” If the pronoun “he” were present in the Hebrew a case might possibly be made for the introduction of an entirely new personality into the story at this point. However, there is no pronoun - only the third masculine singular form of the verb indicates that an antecedent is to be sought, and that of necessity in the preceding context. There is only one antecedent admissible, according to the accepted rule that the last preceding noun which agrees in gender and number and agrees with the sense is the antecedent. This is unquestionably the naghidh habo, “the coming prince” of verse 26. He is a “coming” prince, that is, one whom the reader would already know as a prince to come, because he is the same as the “1ittle horn” on the fourth beast of chapter seven. He is a Roman prince because he is of the people who destroyed Daniel’s city after the restoration of the first seven weeks, and also because the “little horn” of chapter seven can be only a Roman prince. He is Antichrist, because Paul and John clearly identify this personage of Daniel’s prophecy as a final evil personage - the final Antichrist.
In the second place, the parties with whom the Antichrist of this
verse deals, can be identified only as Daniel’s people
In the third place, this verse places a certain blasphemous act of Antichrist in the seventieth week, which act is elaborated in 2 Thessalonians and in the Revelation and definitely placed in an eschatological setting. I have in mind the words … rendered in the common English version, “and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate.” The American Standard Version renders it, “and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate.” Leupold renders it, “and upon the wing of abominable idols shall the destroyer come.” Young translates it, “and upon the wing of abomination (is) one making desolate!”
The record of discussion of the translation of these words is simply tremendous. The translation which appeals best to me recognizes the same person, Antichrist, as the subject of all the verbs in the verse down to the last clause, and which would then translate the whole verse: “And he shall cause to prevail a covenant with the many for one week, and at the middle of the week he shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease, and upon the wing of detested things desolating, even unto consummation, and that determined shall be poured out on the desolator.” More will be said of this translation later.
[Page 153] The important thing to know is that almost every reputable commentator of every school, and that includes even the unbelieving higher critics, discovers an act of desecration of the Jewish temple either specifically prophesied or shaping the form of language used. There are almost no exceptions. The Greek translations, both of the Seventy and of Theodotian, whose translation has for many centuries replaced the version of the Seventy in the Greek Old Testament, plainly imply the same. The Greek of the Seventy is epi to hieron bdelugua tes eremoseos, rendered by Boutflower, “over the temple there shall be an abomination of desolations.” Theodotion is the same except for the singular number of the last word. Furthermore, this is connected immediately in the verse with an act of Antichrist said to take place in connection with Antichrist’s causing “sacrifice and oblation” to cease.
Now, it should be clear to everyone that such acts as these cannot take place except that Jewry be worshiping in a rebuilt Jewish temple under some kind of an arrangement or league with Antichrist. It also seems clear that just such an arrangement is predicted in the words of our text: “And he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week.”
Now will the reader observe that the future existence of a Jewish temple is predicted in Revelation 11: 1, 2; that the same passage also predicts that for forty-two months (the three and one-half years of Daniel 9: 27) the holy city shall be trodden under foot. The correspondence with this prophecy can hardly be accidental. Furthermore, in a passage whose interpretation cannot be questioned, Paul predicts that just before his destruction by Christ at his second advent Antichrist shall sit “in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God” (2 Thes. 2: 4).
These predictions of Paul and John can hardly be wrested from
their obvious relationship to Daniel 9: 27, and I say this demonstrates the truth of our
proposition that the seventieth week belongs to a seven-year relationship
between Antichrist and Daniel’s people
A fourth reason for this view is that the last events of the [page 154] seventieth week are said to be: “even unto the full end, and that determined, shall wrath be poured out upon the desolate.” A better translation of the last phrase is “upon the desolator.” If the first translation be adopted, a full end of idolatry and persecution of God’s people is specified; if the second, then the final destruction of Antichrist. In either case, the concluding event of the week must be the coming of Christ in glory to destroy Antichrist and to rescue his people.
A fifth reason, not based on my own fallible interpretation of the text, nor on the tracing of a connection of this text with similar events in the eschatological portions of Paul’s and John’s inspired writings, but upon what appears to be the interpretation of Christ Himself, is this: that our Lord interpreted the event which marks the mid-point of this seventieth week to be in the period of time immediately preceding His own advent in power and glory.
The Septuagint translation of this passage, as already noted, contains the expression bdelugma ton eremoseon, intended quite evidently as a translation of … in the Hebrew text. It is not a very good translation, it must be admitted, but it does not distort the essential meaning of the text, which is evidently a reference to some consummate act of sacrilegious idolatry. Now, our Lord made reference to this phrase in His Olivet discourse and quoted it almost exactly as it appears in the Septuagint. It is true that Daniel contains the same expression in the Septuagint rendering of 12: 11. But I see no reason for asserting that Daniel referred to one of these in particular (as Tregelles does), for it seems quite obvious that the reference is to the same event in both cases. The taking away of the regular sacrifices is connected with the setting up of this abomination of desolation in both passages. I think he had both texts in mind.
The important thing may easily be lost in the confusion about the translations. But it need not be, for it is as obvious as can be. Jesus simply said in this, the most extensive of his eschatological discourses, “When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (Matt. 24:15). He said this to indicate that the appearance of this abomination of desolation would be a sure sign of the immediate end of the age and of His coming in glory. He had just said, “But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto the nations; and then shall the end come” (v. 14). In such a context, I repeat, the setting up of the abomination must be understood as a sign of the immediate end of the age. This is further emphasized in the words which follow.
These verses (16-28) describe a time of tribulation and persecution for God’s people. Verse 22 adds that the time will be shortened, that is, limited. (This must have reference to the fact that it will extend for only the three and one-half years of Daniel’s prophecy.) Then verses 29 and 30 add, “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man ... coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
I regard this as incontrovertible evidence that Jesus placed the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy in the last seven years of this present age, thus specifying that it would be the last seven years of human history before His own return in power and glory.
The sixth and final reason for believing that
the seventieth week is yet future and
ends coincidentally with the coming of Christ in His kingdom is that the scope
of the prophecy set forth by Gabriel (Daniel 9: 24) requires that the last week terminate no earlier
than the coming of Christ in His
kingdom at the second advent. I mean
to say it presupposes the rule of God
among men and the establishment of the
Gabriel said: “Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an [page 156] end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.”
There are six infinitive clauses: (1) to finish transgression, (2) to make an end of sins, (3) to make reconciliation for iniquity, (4) to bring in everlasting righteousness, (5) to seal up vision and prophecy, (6) to anoint the most holy.
Three common views have been adopted among believing
commentators concerning the scope of these six clauses. The least acceptable one, advocated notably by
Stuart, is that which views all six
of these blessings as following the conclusion of the seventy weeks, which
conclusion is said to be in the events connected with the destruction of
Antiochus Epiphanes. The idea is that
the seventy weeks specifically concern the remaining years of
A third position, adopted by Thomson (Daniel, Pulpit Commentary) among the Postmillennialists, by Keil and Leupold among the Amillennialists, and by almost all the Premillennialists of the past seventy-five years (West, Anderson, Gaebelein, Kelly, Tregelles, Seiss, Ironsides, McClain, Cooper, Brooks, Larkin, Chafer, Bauman and many others) is that these six blessings arrive in full only at the termination (immediately after) of the seventieth week. These men generally recognize that the basis was laid in the grand providence of God which took place at the death of Christ but contend that the full effecting of these blessings comes only at the second advent.
The following considerations settle the matter in the favour of the third view.
In the first place, the seventy weeks are preserved throughout the verse as a singular subject of all the infinitive clauses. shdbu'zm shib'im, "seventy weeks" is indeed plural, but the verb, nechtdkh (simple degree, passive voice, third person, masculine gender, singular number), translated "decreed," shows that Gabriel regarded the seventy weeks as a single unit in the divine determination. Graphically presented, the structure of the verse is:
This being the case, if the accomplishment of one of these six can be fixed at the second coming of Christ, the full accomplishment of them all awaits the same event.
In the second place, it can be shown that at least the last of these six awaits its accomplishment at the second advent of Christ. Keil devotes five pages to proof of this point. Leupold also gives much attention to the same point. The promise is “to anoint the most holy,” or, according to the American Standard Version Margin, “to anoint a most holy place.” The Hebrew, … is literally “to anoint a holy of holies.”
Now, Young disposes
of all of Keil’s weighty and cogent
argument, as well as the linguistic evidence, with a single stroke of the pen. But this cannot rightly be done. The simple [page 158] fact remains, as Keil demonstrates,
that the American Standard Version marginal reading gives the sense of the
anoint a most holy place,”
that is, a
And “if thus the anointing of a most holy is here announced, then by it there is given the promise, not of the renewal of the place already existing from of old, but of the appointment of a new place of God’s gracious presence among His people, a new sanctuary. ... Since this statement is closely connected with those going before, and they speak of the perfect setting aside of transgression and of sin, of the appearance of everlasting righteousness, and the shutting up of all prophecy by its fulfilment, thus of things for which the work of redemption completed by the first appearance of Christ has, it is true, laid the everlasting foundation, but which reach their completion in the full carrying through of this work of salvation in the return of the Lord” (Keil, op. cit., 348, 349).
As an Amillennialist, Keil’s views of the course of events after the second advent naturally differ from mine. But his arm and pen are mighty in proof of the essential contention here, namely, that the blessings of these seventy weeks promised in the passage arrive at the conclusion of the series of seventy, a conclusion which is marked by the second advent of Christ in power and glory.
For these six reasons, furnished almost entirely by the language of the text of Daniel itself, it is evident that our proposition is correct, that, indeed, the seventieth week belongs to a seven-year relationship between Antichrist and Daniel's people Israel, in eschatological times, and concludes with the second advent of Christ. [Page 159]
In summation on the prophecy of the seventy weeks, five facts appear: that (1) the seventy weeks are 490 years, which relate wholly to the then future of Israel; (2) the seventy weeks are divided into three periods of seven, sixty-two, and one, which follow one another and run consecutively; (3) the first sixty-nine weeks ran out during the lifetime of Messiah and before His crucifixion; (4) the death of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem, both mentioned in the prophecy, are events which follow the close of the sixty-ninth week and precede the beginning of the seventieth week, and (5) the seventieth week pertains to a seven-year relationship between Antichrist and Daniel’s people Israel, in eschatological times, and concludes with the second advent of Christ.
support of the crucial fifth of the propositions cited above six arguments have
been set forth, as follows: (1) the grammar of the passage indicates that the “prince” of verse 26 is none other than the AntiChrist of
end-time prophecy, and it is he who makes a covenant, thus associating the
prophecy with eschatological events. (2) The “many” with whom this prince makes a covenant are shown to be none
other than Daniel’s people
Finally, it appears that only a Premillennial
system of eschatology can approach a full explanation of the details of this
prophecy or utilize all the facts of it. Postmillennialism fails because of its wholly wrong view of the course of this age.
Amillennialisin fails because it does
not wish to recognize the peculiarly Israelitish flavour of the prophecy, which
promises a rich future for
* * *
CHAPTER 5 [Pages 161-176]
The Prophecy Concerning Daniel’s People Among the Nations Especially At the Time of the End
DANIEL 10:14; 11: 36-45; 12:1-3
The last three chapters of Daniel are one oracle, not three. In this respect the chapter divisions of Daniel do not do the book justice. Up to the end of chapter nine the chapter divisions do separate distinct prophecies, but the chapter divisions between chapters 10, 11, and 12 serve only to confuse the reader, for the section is one prophecy. If the parts were united they would compose one chapter of seventy-nine verses (chapter two has 49).
The prophet’s experience herein is a marvellous culmination of growing spiritual experience in the life of Daniel, and in his function as a prophet and seer. In chapters two and four he interprets the dreams of another; in chapter five he interprets a divine writing; in chapters seven, eight, and nine he sees visions of his own and in the rapt state one (Gabriel) appears to interpret his dream to him. But in this last culminating prophetical experience he seems to see visions in the natural state - divine revelations evidently are brought before him in his ordinary waking condition (vide. 10: 4-7).
A large portion of this prophecy has been suspected by many evangelical scholars as spurious. It is often said to be [page 162] overlaid with a Targum. Suspected portions are 10: 1, 15-21; 11: 1, 5-25. No convincing textual evidence, however, has ever been produced against these sections. Really, about all this criticism has done has been to sort out most of the non-eschatological material.
In harmony with the procedure in the previous portions of this dissertation, I shall treat in detail only those portions which relate to eschatology. Here, however, a real problem arises. How much of these chapters is eschatological?
Before entering into a formal discussion of this problem a sketch of the whole prophecy is in order. This I shall present in the form of an outline.
OUTLINE OF THE PROPHECY
1. The Introductory Revelation (chapter 10)
1) The circumstances of the Revelation (1-4)
2) The description of the revealer (5, 6)
3) The effect of the revelation (7-9) - on Daniel’s companions (7) - on Daniel (8, 9)
4) The reason for the granting of the revelation (10-12)
5) The scope of the prophecy (13, 14)
6) The strengthening of the prophet (15-19)
7) The encouragement of the prophet (20, 21)
2. Prophecies Concerning the Nations as
They Move Toward Final Conflict with
1) Introduction (1)
1) Prophecy concerning
2) Prophecy concerning Grecia (3, 4)
3) Prophecy concerning the historic king of the south and of the north (5-20)
4) Prophecy concerning the vile person, last of the so-called kings of the north (21-35)
5) Prophecy concerning the wilful king (36-45)
3. Prophecies Concerning Israel at the time of the end (chapter 12) [page 163]
1) Concerning the great tribulation (1)
2) Concerning the resurrection of the dead (2)
3) Concerning the final reward of the just (3)
4) Concerning the disposition of the prophecy (4)
5) Concerning final questions (5‑12)
Conclusion to the Prophecies of Daniel, final words to the prophet (13)
Eschatological Sections of the Prophecy
There is small doubt in the minds of any except a very few that the first portion of chapter 12 is prophecy concerning “last things” - in the theological nomenclature, “eschatology.” Events connected with the resurrection of the dead and final rewards and punishments can hardly be otherwise.
If there were a clean break in thought between chapters 11 and 12 it might be possible to say that all of the previous section of the prophecy relates to events of now past history. But such a break does not exist. Rather, a chronological connection is clearly provided between the last of chapter 11 and the first of chapter 12 by the opening words of chapter 12. Referring to the destruction of a certain king whose career is predicted in the last part of chapter 11, chapter 12 opens thus: “And at that time … shall Michael stand up,” etc. Thus a clear connection with the eschatological prediction of chapter 12 is established for the last portion, at least, of chapter 11.
On the other hand, the predictive portion of the prophecy,
which begins with 11: 2, deals with ancient
kings and kingdoms throughout the early portion of the chapter. First, the kings of
My own opinion (following the majority of recent Premillennial commentators) is that the prediction relates to Antiochus from verse 21 to verse 35, but that beginning with 36, Antichrist, by the designation of “the king who shall do according to his will,” is the theme of the prophecy, to the close of chapter 11. With the view mentioned above, that Antiochus is described in verses 21-35, and that the history detailed is typical of Antichrist’s future career, I have no quarrel. Yet I do contend that verses 36-45 are directly predictive of the career of Antichrist and of him alone.
In pursuance of this contention I present a brief of the evidence that the prophecy concerning the wilful king in Daniel 11: 36-45 is an eschatological prediction relating to the career of the final Antichrist:
(1) The scope of the prophecy, as indicated by the angelic
revealer permits, if it does not demand, an eschatological element in the
prophecy. I have reference to Daniel 10: 14, which reads:
“Now I am come
to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days; for the
vision is yet for many days.” There are two expressions here,
designating the scope of the vision – “latter days” and “for many days.” The first is a technical term
taken out of the previous prophetical literature of
For those who believe in the accuracy of predictive prophecy it is of most importance that
(2) the correspondence of the predictions of chapter 11 with now past history breaks down at the end of verse 35. I mean to say that if verses 36-45 were intended to refer to Antiochus, the last great Seleucid king, then the author appears to be guilty of introducing error into the Scriptures. There is nothing known in history which corresponds to the prediction of Daniel 11: 36-45. Evidence of this is the utter confusion in the commentaries of those who insist that Antiochus is the chief figure down to the end of the chapter.
(3) The statement in 11: 36
that “he shall
prosper till the indignation be accomplished” suggests that the fulfilment of the
predictions of the wilful king is in eschatological times. “The indignation” is another technical term out of
Of greater weight is the fact that
(4) this predictive section corresponds so precisely with other unquestionable predictions of Antichrist that the identity of the reference can hardly be doubted. Leupold, Young, and Keil of the A-millennial school as well as most of the Premillennial writers agree in this. The behaviour of the “little horn” of chapter seven, the “man of sin” of 2 Thessalonians, and of [page 166] “the beast” of Revelation 13 is so strikingly similar that on this basis of correspondence alone a strong case could be built. This king not only does according to his will, but he “shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods” (11: 36), just as John reveals (Rev. 13: 6) of “the beast.” He also “shall magnify himself above all” (11: 37), just as Paul says of the man of sin (2 Thess. 2: 3 ff.). He meets his end at the end of “the indignation” (11: 36, 45) and that in an unusual manner, just as Revelation 19: 20 says the “beast” will come to his end. Each one of these features is found, as indicated above, also in chapter 7 in relation to the “little horn.”
(5) Another expression, “at the time of the end” (11: 40), seems to indicate eschatological times. I do not feel that this evidence, taken by itself, can be pressed too far, for obviously the end of whatever series of events is in the mind of the author is designated by the expression, “time of the end.” This is not necessarily a series reaching on to the consummation of the ages. However, it is quite clear from 10: 14, which fixes the scope of the prophecy to include “the latter days,” that the “time of the end” in this prophecy is with reference to the period consummated by the establishment of the Messianic kingdom.
(6) The conclusive and decisive evidence for an eschatological
setting of the prophecy of the wilful king (Dan.
11: 36-45) is (as noted in passing above) the phrase at the opening of chapter 12. This phrase is, “and at that time.” Then follows a listing of
three of the most important events of eschatology - the great tribulation of
But, having settled that some of the last portion of Daniel 11 refers to Antichrist, it remains to show that the portion begins at verse 36.
Tregelles was convinced (though not without qualifications) [page 167] that the prophecy shifted to Antichrist with the mention of “a contemptible person” (v. 21). The parallel of the history of this person in chapter 11 with the history of the “1ittle horn” of chapter eight led Tregelles in this direction, inasmuch as he regarded the little horn of chapter 8 as Antichrist. That there is much to lead one in this direction is clear. Verse 35, for instance, places the persecuted saints of this section in the “time of the end,” and this is called “the time appointed” in both verses 27 and 35. Furthermore, there is much obvious parallel between the respective careers of Antiochus and of Antichrist. So, while I feel that Antiochus’ career (chapter 8, 11: 21-35) is adumbrative of Antichrist’s, it also appears that the prophecy of Antichrist (11: 36-45) may be reflected backward to Antiochus. To one acquainted with the technique of the prophets this will not appear strange. It is one of the commonest of phenomena to find events of similar nature, but separated widely in time, united in one prophetic oracle. Barnes calls it the “law of prophetic suggestion.” Delitzsch said that prophecy is “apotelesmatic.”
This being the case, Keil is correct when he says: “These circumstances ... show that in the prophetic contemplation [Daniel 11:20-45] there is comprehended in the image of one king what has been historically fulfilled in its beginnings by Antiochus Epiphanes, but shall only meet its complete fulfilment by the Antichrist of the end” (Commentary, 462, 463). The interested reader will find a very good history of the interpretation of Daniel 11:36‑45 in Keil’s Commentary, 461, 462.
My reasons for dividing off the directly eschatological prediction at the beginning of verse 36 are four.
In the first place, a natural break in the thought appears at this point - a break which sets off the last ten verses from the previous narrative. This break is noted by the American Standard Version. The same version also makes a break at the end of verse 39, but the obvious sense of the passage is that the same wilful king is discussed on both sides of the break.
In the second place, as many have noted, the known [page 168] correspondence of the history of the past (during the age of Antiochus) breaks off at the end of verse 35. Since nothing in the past is known to correspond with verses 36-45, it is quite proper to look for such correspondence in the future.
In the third place, a totally new subject is introduced at the beginning of verse 36. Up to that point, the immediate portion of the
chapter is dealing with the king of the south (
In the fourth place, since this fourth party may be identified by correspondence with other predictions of Antichrist, as Antichrist, it seems most likely that the point at which his career is begun in the prophecy (v. 36) is the place at which to begin the eschatological interpretation. Begin somewhere it must, and it is not possible to introduce it later in the chapter.
The Crucial Eschatological Data
In a commentary, all portions of this eschatological section would call for attention. However, the purpose of this dissertation, to establish that Premillennialism alone can adequately explain all the book, requires that we turn our attention only to the verses which occasion disagreement among the various schools of eschatology.
With the main portion of the prophecy of Antichrist (11: 36-45) there is no necessary quarrel either with Amillennialists or with Postmillennialists. Reputable representatives of both these schools join with Premillennialists in recognition of the fact of Antichrist, and of the general character of his person and career. Neither is there any disagreement over the final reward of the righteous (12: 3). All Christians are in agreement on this.
The conflict arises chiefly with the recent expressions of
A-millennialism over three things: first, the predicted conflict of Antichrist
(1) The conflict of Antichrist with
The passages involved are now presented, as follows:
He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many
countries shall be overthrown; but these shall be delivered out of his hand:
Premillennialists have a reasonable explanation of this passage.
The passage means literally what it
says. He (Antichrist) shall seek to
Postmillennialists and A-millennialists have almost nothing but hopeless guesses to offer by way of interpretation of this section. The A-millennialists especially, since they generally believe in the literal existence of the Antichrist in the last days, and in a literal interpretation of the wilful king, are hard put to explain these verses.
I submit Dr. Young’s comments on verse 45 - hopeless [page 170] confusion of literal interpretation, symbolical interpretation, and of pure speculation - as constituting their own refutation and a demonstration of the inability of A-millennialism to interpret this passage.
The tents of his pavilion is about equivalent to his royal pavilion. This
he will plant (note that the future is employed. We are dealing with the language of predictive
prophecy) as one plants a tree, i.e., he will establish between the sea and the
I rejoice, of course, that Mr. Young plainly affirms his belief in the validity of predictive prophecy here. It gives me assurance that I read the writing
of one who believes in a supernatural Christianity and a divine Christ - one
with whom I can have true Christian fellowship. His affirmation that Antichrist is the king
herein gives added fellowship in the Word and [page 171] leads me to believe that we share the “Blessed Hope.” I do not rejoice, however, that while insisting
on the literal meaning of the prophecy down to the mention of things which
plainly pertain to God’s people
In similar fashion, Leupold
declares that “the picture is apparently taken
from the location of
(2) The tribulation of
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
Precisely the same situation prevails with reference to this
prediction that holds concerning the
one just treated. The recent Amillennial
writers follow Keil in admitting, what Premillennialists also believe, that
this describes conditions of the [page 172] last days under Antichrist. But, contrary to the Premillennialists, they transfer all the references to
(3) The resurrection of the dead (12: 2, A.S.V.)
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and sonic to shame and everlasting contempt.
This is an important text, and more than passing attention must be given to it.
I think that Gaebelein was gravely in error, and most inconsistent when he wrote:
Physical resurrection is not taught in the second
verse of this chapter; if it were the passage would be in clash with the
revelation concerning resurrection in the New Testament. ... We
repeat, the passage has nothing to do with physical
resurrection. Physical resurrection is,
however, used as a figure of the national revival of
The thing so utterly unacceptable about this is that Gaebelein adopts the very “spiritualizing” or “symbolizing” principle of interpretation which our opponents adopt - and that in the midst of a passage where everything else is esteemed (by Gaebelein and all Premillennialists) to be literal, not figurative. He does with this passage precisely what the Postmillennialists and Amillennialists do with the reference to a first resurrection in Revelation 20. Thus he throws away the hermeneutical advantage of Premillennialism. Gaebelein’s categorical assertion is so utterly without foundation that it does not merit further attention. As Robinson says: “If a resurrection of the body is not here declared, it will be difficult to find where it is, or to imagine words in which it can be” (quoted by Biederwolf, Millennium Bible, 236). Tregelles asks, “If the language of this verse be not declaratory of a resurrection of the dead, [page 173] actual and literal, is there any passage of Scripture at all which speaks of such a thing as a resurrection?” (op. cit., 168).
Now, granting, with the almost unanimous support of all believing* interpreters, that physical resurrection is here predicted, to what resurrection does it refer? Biederwolf (op. cit., in loco) has classified the views as follows:
[* Rationalistic interpreters think it predicts a resurrection immediately after the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, but that Daniel was mistaken.]
(1) To the general resurrection at the end of all things.
(2) To a limited resurrection immediately after the tribulation, and prior to the last and general resurrection, and one confined to lsrael.
(3) To a resurrection of the righteous just before Christ’s second coming, and of the wicked at the end of time, no notice being taken by the angel of the hiatus between them.
(4) To a resurrection of all that sleep in the dust after the time of great tribulation; the good, at that very time (immediately after), and the wicked later, at the end of all time, with no notice taken by the angel of the hiatus or intervening time.
The first of these views, that the reference is to the so-called general resurrection at the end of all things, is championed by many A-millennialists and Postmillennialists. The second, third, and fourth views are views adopted by different Premillennialists. Several of the rationalistic commentators as well adopt view 2.
The second view is acceptable to pre, mid, and post-tribulation rapturists (among the Premillenarians). So also is the third view. The fourth is distinctive to the post-tribulationists. Nathaniel West (Daniel’s Great Prophecy, 197) adopts approximately the same view as the fourth, though he seems to see no prediction of the resurrection of the wicked here.
Now, it must be frankly admitted, by all except the most narrowly partisan, that any one of these four general views is exegetically admissible. The simple fact is that this verse is only the first in a long series of Biblical revelations which directly, [page 174] and in clear language, predict the resurrection of the dead. This being the case, the questions of Premillennialists concerning the order of the resurrection of the righteous in relation to the tribulation and the millennium cannot be expected to be answered here. It must be admitted, however, that the close connection (joined by waw, and) of verses one and two gives West, Reese, and other advocates of a post-tribulation rapture strong support.
On the other hand, if the second view is adopted, no question concerning the relation of the rapture of the church and tribulation even enters the picture.
Without being dogmatic, I advocate the second view as being the one most acceptable. My reasons are as follows.
(1) The language favours a selective, or limited, resurrection rather than a general resurrection.
The first clause is … “And many from the sleepers of the land of dust shall arise.” “Many” rabbim is less than all. Some insist (without Warrant) that Jesus expanded this to mean all in John 5: 28. But the word rabbim remains. And Dr. Keill who, being an Amillennialist, might have wished that the word were kal, “all,” says that we cannot “obtrude upon rdbbim the meaning of all, a meaning which it has not and cannot have, for the universality of the resurrection is removed by the particle min, which makes it impossible that rabbim = haribbim, hoi polloi = pantes (cf. Rom. v. 15 with v. 12)” (op. cit., 482). Keil’s reference to min, “from” is correct. I quote him again, on this point:
The partitive interpretation of min is the only simple and natural one, and therefore with most interpreters we prefer it. The rabbim can be rightly interpreted only from the context. The angel has it not in view to give a general statement regarding the resurrection of the dead, but only disclosures on this point, that the final salvation of the people shall not be limited to those still living at the end of the great tribulation, but shall include also those who have [page 175] lost their lives during the period of the tribulation (op. cit., 481).
If the reader will revert to my comments on the resurrection of the martyr saints of Revelation 20:4 he will see how well this view coincides with our doctrine of the resurrections and the Millennium (vide. also Appendix 11).
(2) The Hebrew of the passage permits, and according to many of the best authorities, demands a translation favouring this view.
The translation, brought to the attention of the English reading public by Tregelles (op. cit., 162 ff.) and advocated before him by Jewish commentators Saadia Haggaon (10th century) and Aben Ezra (12th century), was favoured by Seiss and Fawsett, and was fully adopted by Nathaniel West. As given by Tregelles, it is: “And many from among the sleepers of the dust of the earth shall awake; these shall be unto everlasting life; but those the rest of the sleepers, those who do not awake at this time, shall be unto shame and everlasting contempt.”
In favour of this translation is the plain fact (already advanced) that the resurrection is to be selective. And it may be added, so far as the specific language of verse three is concerned, it is only of righteous people. If the resurrection of “all” were intended, rabbim would have to be changed to kal. The main question is, Does the Hebrew demonstrative which appears at the head of each of the last two clauses, bear the meaning of “these ... those”? It must be admitted that this does not appear in either of our common English versions. However, the Brown, Driver, and Briggs Lexicon (most authoritative in the English language) gives this as one of the possible uses, and lists Deuteronomy 27:13; Joshua 8:22; Isaiah 49:12; and Psalm 20: 8 as illustrations. This being the case, the proposed translation seems to be acceptable.
My closing remarks on this verse I wish to be that the case of Premillennialism is not in the least affected by it. Taken in [page 176] the usual translations of our English Bibles, it is capable of natural interpretation in a Premillenarian fashion. If Daniel 12: 2 were the only verse in the Bible on the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, a case for a “general resurrection” at the end of time might be constructed. But, as the facts stand, the doctrine of two resurrections taught clearly in the New Testament remains as the best interpretation of Daniel 12: 2 and I think the only acceptable one.
With these remarks the case is rested with the reader. I think the thesis of this book has been sustained: that the whole Bible teaches a Premillennial eschatology, and that eschatology alone can satisfactorily explain the predictions of the prophet Daniel.
* * *
The Time and Extent of the Coming
It is commonly taught by orthodox protestant theologians of about every variety of millennial persuasion that before the final age begins there shall be drastic changes in the present natural order.
Several texts are thought to relate to such a change, but, without controversy, the most graphic is 2 Peter 3: 10. In order to clarify some of the Biblical material relating to the consummation of the ages and to round out some details of my own premillennial views this discussion of the subject matter of 2 Peter 3:10 is added. As originally prepared in a monograph, these lines extended to over one hundred pages. I have tried to compress and condense the material as much as possible here.
The passage follows as it appears in the American Standard Version: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
It should be observed that the A.S.V. margin renders the last part of the verse “shall be discovered” (eurethesetai) instead of “shall be burned up” (katakaesetai). The oldest manuscript evidence is for the marginal reading, though the exact text is not fully certain.
[Page 178] A bit later Peter writes: “According to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13). The promise to which he refers can hardly be any other than that of Isaiah 65:17 and 66: 22, wherein a new heavens and a new earth are twice predicted.
THE PROBLEMS INVOLVED
Two main problems are involved in interpreting 2 Peter 3: 10 and these related texts: (1) When does this event (or when do these events) occur - at the beginning of the Millennium, or at the close of it? and (2) What are the extent and nature of the changes involved - are they an annihilation or a renovation, and, if renovation how drastic are the changes involved?
Most readers will be acquainted with the fact that the majority of modern Premillennialists have identified (or at least synchronized) this conflagration with the judgment of the great white throne described in Revelation 20. Amillennialists and Postmillennialists generally merely associate the event with the second advent of Christ and with the so-called “general judgment.”
The view advocated herein is that as to time the new heavens and new earth anticipated by Peter and the other prophets are to appear at the beginning of the Millennium, and that in nature and extent the conflagration which introduces the new heavens and new earth shall consist of a strictly limited renovation rather than annihilation of the existing natural order. The recent Premillennialists who advocate this view are not numerous. However, George N. H. Peters, whose exhaustive work entitled The Theocratic Kingdom etc., sets forth his views, is a notable advocate of it. To him the present writer owes a debt of thanks for suggesting many of the arguments now to follow.
THE TIME OF THE CONFLAGRATION
To conserve space and words, the views of the writer with the evidence for them, will be briefly stated. The reader will [page 179] kindly attribute what may seem to be excessively terse or dogmatic forms of statement to the present desire to conserve space, words, and the reader’s time.
The time of the great conflagration is to be at the beginning of the Millennium, during the period immediately adjacent to that aspect of the second coming of Christ known as the revelation.
Evidence for this statement follows:
1. The Old Testament prophets uniformly declare that a judgment of fire, similar to the one Peter describes, shall immediately precede the establishment of the future Messianic Kingdom.
One is faced with a problem in selecting only the plainest passages, they are so very numerous. Joel 2: 30, 31 is an example: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke ... before the great and terrible day of Jehovah cometh.”
Another of this type is Malachi 3: 1-3: “…and the Lord, whom ye seek will suddenly come to his temple. ... But who can abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap.”
A third is Malachi 4: 1: “For, behold, the day cometh, it burneth as a furnace; and all the proud, and all that work wickedness, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up.”
This scriptural evidence renders it certain that when Peter
wrote of the coming Day of the Lord with its attendant fiery judgments he was
broaching no new subject - as is indicated by his words: “seeing that ye look for
these things.” The Jews had been looking for such consuming
fire to presage the coming
2. The Old Testament repeatedly states that disturbances in the material heavens, of a type identical with those described by Peter, shall transpire immediately before the establishment of the kingdom.
What has just been shown to be true of the “fire” of Peter’s prophecy is now shown to be true also of the [page 180] heavenly disturbances – “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise.”
A good representative of passages on this subject is Isaiah 34: 4 in a context clearly associated with the beginning of the coming Messianic Kingdom: “All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll,” etc. Such words as these are frequent in the Old Testament. The astonishing thing is that Premillennialists generally unite in applying them to events at the beginning of the Millennium without seeing any connection with 2 Peter 3: 10 or considering their possible relation to the new heavens and new earth of Revelation 21 and 22. Other passages are Haggai 2: 6, 7; Joel 3: 16; Isaiah 13: 13; Isaiah 51: 6.
If anyone should argue that some of the passages speak of disturbances at the beginning of the Millennium and others of disturbances at its close he should read Hebrews 12: 26 (quoting Hag. 2: 6), in which the Lord distinctly promises, “Yet once more [not twice] will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also the heaven.”
Thus the Old Testament (dispensational and prophetic charts and teachers notwithstanding) places the coming cosmic disturbances at the beginning of the coming kingdom, not at some point one thousand years along the course of it.
3. New Testament writers are just as definite in placing a judgment of fire at the inception of the kingdom as are the Old Testament writers.
Most convincing is Paul’s testimony: “And to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thes. 1: 7, 8). Another is Revelation 16: 8, 9, which portrays a fiery judgment under the fourth vial. Most Premillennialists of today feel that this event transpires in a period shortly before the inception of the Millennium. No one can read these plain words with an unprejudiced mind, it seems to me, and not feel that the New Testament predicts a judgment of fire at the commencement of the coming Kingdom.
4. The Bible declares that the coming kingdom shall occupy a regenerated earth from its beginning; therefore the purifying effects of this prophetic dissolution must be at the beginning, rather than at the close of the Millennium.
The two most important passages are Isaiah 65: 17-25 and 66: 22-24.
The first begins with a presentation of the new heavens and earth, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth.” Then follows a description which Premillennialists almost unanimously unite in saying to be Millennial.
The second is similar. It begins, “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I make, shall remain before me, saith Jehovah.” Then, again, follows a Millennial scene, viz.: “so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith Jehovah. And they shall go forth, and look upon the dead bodies of the men that have transgressed against me,” etc. Hold in mind that this is all related to the new heavens and new earth. It was this same which Peter expected “according to his promise” (2 Peter 3: 13).
I do not see how the conclusion can be avoided that the Spirit of prophecy in Isaiah intended that the impression be conveyed that the coming Messianic Kingdom shall occupy from the first “new heavens and [a] new earth.”
5. The immediate context of 2 Peter 3:10 indicates that Peter had in mind something which would occur at Christ’s second coming, and not in a period still remotely future at the revelation of Christ.
A hasty reading of the third chapter of 2 Peter brings to one’s attention several significant expressions demonstrating this proposition. They follow: “Where is the promise of his coming?” (v. 9); " ... come as a thief” (v. 10); “ … ye look for these things” (v. 14). These brief notices indicate that Peter did not question the possibility that people whom he then addressed might live to see the inauguration of [page 182] the very things he describes in verse 10. How inconsistent such statements are with the view that verse 10 describes events known to be at least a thousand years away needs only to be noted to be appreciated.
6. A perpetual and continuous kingdom such as is repeatedly promised demands that no such destruction as is often urged be placed at the end of the Millennium to interrupt the continuity of that kingdom.
It should be remembered that even though a change in the mediation of rulership of that kingdom is predicted (1 Cor. 15: 23-28), an abolition of the earthly realm is nowhere promised - unless 2 Peter 3: 10 be the exception. Contrariwise, the perpetuity of the kingdom is repeatedly asserted in the most positive terms, as follows:
(1) The angelic announcement to Mary, the human mother of the Messianic King, carefully specifies that “of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1: 32, 33).
(2) The saints of the Lord are commonly associated with Christ in an eternally enduring kingdom, as, for example, in Daniel 7: 18, “The saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”
(3) The scriptures further specify the perpetual continuity of the kingdom itself, per se. Daniel 2: 44 states: “And in the days of those kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people ... but it shall stand forever” (cf. also Dan. 7:14).
(4) The limit of a thousand years, which is by premillennial interpreters of Revelation 20 frequently attached to the “kingdom” as such, is not a limit on the reign of Christ or of His saints, but rather the limit of the imprisonment of Satan and of the period between the resurrections (see pages 30 and 31).
7. Christians are exhorted on the basis of this predicted dissolution as if it were something they should expect to see if they should live to the end of the present age, rather than as [page 183] if it were something at least a millennium away.
The entire third chapter should be read to appreciate this fact. The most significant portions are the phrases in verses 11-14: “looking for and earnestly desiring the coming ... beloved, seeing that ye look for these things,” etc. Is this not the same hope of the second coming of Christ with the same attendant moral lessons as those set forth in Mark 13: 32-37; Matthew 24: 42-51; and Luke 21: 25-36? The inquiring reader will be rewarded by comparing these chapters with the third chapter of 2 Peter.
For these reasons I am convinced that the great prophecy of 2 Peter 3: 10, and many other predictions of the coming dissolution with the resultant new heavens and new earth refer to events at the inauguration of Messiah’s kingdom. That there may be further changes at the conclusion of the thousand years, perhaps in connection with the judgment of the great white throne (Rev. 20: 7-15) is entirely possible. However, if so, the Bible seems to be silent about it.* This view is not without its difficulties, but I believe that many of them are dissipated as proper consideration is given the question of the extent of the predicted dissolution and the nature of the new heavens and new earth.
[* On the contrary, the Bible is not silent relative to ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ AFTER the “Age” (Luke 20: 35) to come has ended, and after “the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Rev. 21: 1): and, as distinct from this present creation, we are informed: “there is no longer any sea.”]
THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE COSMIC CHANGES
If the coming conflagration is to be at the time of a “general judgment” certain possibilities exist - possibi1ities which no one will expect to find explained and defended in this premillennial treatment of eschatology. If it is to come at the end of the Millennium certain others exist. And if it is to come (as I have sought to show) at or near the beginning of the millennial period, then still other possibilities appear.
Briefly, as I have considered the possibilities it seems that -
the cosmic disturbances described in 2 Peter 3:10 shall consist of a limited renovation involving the death of all living wicked men at the revelation of Christ and such changes in the realms of inanimate material, of vegetable, animal, and human [page 184] life as are necessary to produce conditions [upon this earth] which the prophets declare shall prevail during the coming kingdom age.
All this is best described, to use Jesus’ own word for it, as a “regeneration.”
This statement may be reduced to four propositions.
1. The prophetic dissolution shall consist of a renovation, rather than an annihilation.
(1) In proof is the fact that nowhere in the Bible, unless 2 Peter 3: 10 be treated as an exception, is the annihilation of the cosmos taught.
(2) Further, the words of 2 Peter 3: 10 do not in any sense require annihilation. “Shall pass away” translates pareleusontai, the root of which is parerchomai. The Authorized Version translates this come, come forth, go, pass, pass over, transgress, and past. The standard lexicons offer about the same shades of meaning. Never does it mean annihilate, so far as I have been able to determine. The meaning is rather to pass from one position in time or space to another. And, even granting the most destructive ideas as the meanings of luthesetai (be dissolved) and katakaesetal (be burned up, if we adopt the Textus Receptus), the words certainly do not describe annihilation.
(3) The many passages which assert or imply the perpetual continuity of the earth and the heavens require that this be regarded as something much less than obliteration out of existence. Let the reader examine the following passages if he is not convinced of this assertion: Psalm 104: 5, Jeremiah 31: 35, Psalm 148: 36 (on the perpetuity of the earth); Psalm 89: 34-37 (on the permanence of the heavenly order of nature).
(4) Observe also that the evidence previously advanced for a premillennial occurrence of the dissolution argues that it must be renovation, not annihilation.
2. The prophetic dissolution is by Scripture confined to a strictly limited renovation, affecting certain aspects of the cosmos only.
(1) In the first place, to insist that the materials of earth must be cremated to remove sin is to insist on an erroneous [page 185] doctrine of sin - that the seat of sin is in matter rather than in the spirits of free agents.
(2) Further, the Bible declares categorically that so long as the earth remains, the order of nature will stay constant and without interruption. I cite Genesis 8: 22: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (cf. also v. 21).
(3) The several passages in the Bible which seem to require or imply absolute dissolution of the earth or destruction of the order of nature are in every case limited by the context to less drastic changes. An example is Genesis 6: 17 (see also 6: 7, 13), “And I, behold, I do bring the flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh ... everything that is in the earth shall die” (italics mine). Yet the context shows that eight human beings and a ship loaded with animals and provender, and of course, specimens of all water life, escaped. (Similar phenomena occur in Deut. 32: 22; Nah. 1: 5; Micah 1: 4; Isa. 13: 9-14; lsa. 24: 19, 20; Amos 9: 9, and others.)
3. The future conflagration at the coming of Christ shall involve
the destruction of Antichrist and his forces.
2 Thessalonians 1: 7-10 predicts a fiery destruction of wicked men at the revelation of Christ. Fire is mentioned in connection with the destruction of Antichrist at our Lord’s return (Rev. 19: 20). There is no good reason for separating these things.
Is it possible that the Lord may destroy all wicked men at His appearing? It is asserted by Paul (2 Thess. 1: 7-10) that “at the revelation of the Lord Jesus ... in flaming fire” He shall “render vengeance to them that know not God ... who shall suffer ... eternal destruction.” These words promise a truly dreadful judgment. But if they are applied to the destruction of all men at our Lord’s second coming, they prove too much. Amillennialists will be quick to ask who will populate the earth during the Millennium if at its inauguration the righteous are all glorified and the wicked are killed.
If one adopts the pretribulational view of the Rapture he [page 186] can suppose the formation of a new group of saved men during the tribulation to enter the Millennium in natural bodies and to propagate the race during the 1,000 years. Many pretribulationists, however, postulate another “rapture” and resurrection for tribulation saints only at the end of the tribulation. This would still leave no people to live as natural men on earth during the Millennium.
If one adopts the posttribulational view of the Rapture then there certainly would be no people to live as natural men on earth during the Millennium. The saved would all be in glorified bodies, in which condition Jesus said there would be no function of propagation. If the judgment on the wicked of 2 Thessalonians 1: 7-10 is to be regarded as universal, then the wicked would all be dead.
Two live possibilities appear as solutions. One is to interpret this statement in 2 Thessalonians 1: 7-10 in a limited sense, applying it only to Antichrist, his armies and possibly other incorrigible rebels against the Lord. A number of passages (Zech. 12-14 especially; Matt. 25, etc.) appear to fall in line in support of this view. Another possibility suggested by a recent writer is that the eye of Paul, here functioning as a “seer,” is including a whole series of events in his line of prophetic vision and has included elements of the final judgment after the 1,000 years. This has strong appeal, though proof is lacking.
Whichever of these possibilities is adopted (and the present writer prefers the former), the possibility of a Millennium remains. The proposition affirming the destruction of Antichrist and his forces at Christ’s coming is true in either case.
Perhaps the advance of Biblical studies in the hands of reverent scholars will give us more certain light at this point. Problems like this one should give all prophetical interpreters “humble pause” as they seek to teach the Bible.
4. The renovation of the cosmos at the coming of Christ will involve such changes in the realms of inanimate material; of vegetable, human, and animal life as are necessary to produce conditions which the prophets declare shall prevail during, the coming kingdom age.
The Old Testament prophets (especially Isaiah) are replete with predictions of the beauty and perfection of that coming age. The whole of nature and of society is to be restored as it was (or would have become) before the fall. There is not space here to treat those prophecies, save to say that society will be full of joy and gladness. Sin and rebellion are said to be repressed till the close of the thousand years, when (according to Rev. 20) it will be interrupted for a short time, after which earth, entirely cleansed of every vestige of sin, shall continue in uninterrupted peace forever.
However, it is also predicted that the introduction of these improvements will be attended by numerous unusual supernaturally superintended physical wonders in the earth (earthquakes, etc.) and in the heavens (stars falling, etc.) - all directed toward moral ends. That is, these natural wonders (described, I think, in much detail in Revelation 6 to 19) shall be judgments on men living at that time, and constitute what is called the Indignation.
Now, if Peter’s great prophecy is to be fulfilled at the beginning of the Millennium, then it must have reference to these phenomena. “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise” must refer to the same event as Isaiah 34: 4, a clear millennial passage, “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all their host shall fade away.”
“The elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat” is more difficult to understand - because of questions about the meaning of “elements” (stoicheia). If as the A.S.V. margin suggests, and a host of commentators likewise, it refers to heavenly bodies, then it may have reference to the same heavenly changes set forth in the preceding clause. However, this word is used five times in the New Testament outside of 2 Peter 3. In every one of these it has clear and unquestionable reference to false moral and spiritual principles, and hence is also translated by [page 188] our word “rudiments.” If this is the meaning in 2 Peter 3: 10 and 12, then it would seem to refer to the coming judgments on false religion, false philosophy, etc., as set forth in Revelation 17, 18 and 19.
If the word has reference to the actual elements of the matter of terrestrial earth, it could be applied to the widespread physical changes which shall precede the establishment of the [millennial] kingdom.
Which of these three meanings (all of which have precedents in classical Greek literature) is the correct one does not seem possible to determine finally. It is not necessary to determine. All that is incumbent on us is to show that it is nothing more than the prophets frequently affirm will take place at the inception of Messiah’s coming [millennial] kingdom. This, I think, has been done.
The “works” which shall be “discovered” are undoubtedly the works of man: literature, art, architecture, etc., all of which will be subject to the searching discrimination and judgment of the Son of God when He shall come.
It is quite remarkable that the same Peter who made this prophecy spoke definitely of this subject on another occasion, and in a fashion which fully harmonizes with the interpretation just now placed on his words in the epistle. I refer to his words to the Jews at the temple, as recorded in Acts 3. After calling for repentance and referring to the second coming of Christ, Peter says: “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been from of old.” Christ will remain in heaven until He comes again, when He will restore all things which the Old Testament prophets predicted. I think there can be small doubt, indeed, that Peter (in Acts 3:21, above) had reference to the very changes which the prophets indicate shall introduce the coming [millennial] kingdom, and that he was referring to the same in 2 Peter 3: 10 and 12.
4. Finally, this whole affair is best described and integrated by the name “regeneration,” the word which our Lord Himself used of it.
Jesus used this word of His coming kingdom when He told the apostles: “Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed me, in the regeneration [Gr. palingenesia] when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19: 28). The word means new birth. A standard lexicon says it is “that signal and glorious change of all things (in heaven and earth) for the better, that restoration of the primal and perfect condition of things which existed before the fall of our first parents, which the Jews looked for in connection with the advent of the Messiah, and which the primitive Christians expected in connection with the visible return of Jesus from heaven” (Thayer, Creek English Lexicon of the N. T.).
Observe that Paul uses the same word of the believer's new birth (Titus 3: 5), that in reference to the same fact he also speaks of it as a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5: 17), and further specifies that old things have passed away, and that all things have become new.
Everyone knows, though, that even after new birth the believer still has sin in him. This will be removed completely at death or at the rapture of the saints (1 Thess. 3: 13) .
This comparison is at once an answer to those who object that if the [eternal] new heavens and new earth begin at the inauguration of the kingdom, then there can be no sin at all in it, as is described in Revelation 20 [21: 1].
These things are well summed up by Paul, when he writes: “For the earnest expectation of the [present] creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the [present] creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:19-21). [Page 190] Will the reader permit a restatement of the main propositions as a summary?
The time of the great coming conflagration is to be at the beginning of the Millennium, (luring the period immediately adjacent to that aspect of the second coming of Christ known as the revelation.
The great cosmic disturbances described shall consist of a limited renovation involving the death of all living wicked men at the revelation of Christ and such changes in the realms of inanimate material, of vegetable, animal, and human life as are necessary to produce conditions which the prophets declare shall prevail during the coming kingdom age. All this is best described, to use Jesus’ own word for it, as a “regeneration.”
* * *
Interpretations of the Millennium
REVELATION 20: 1-7
Throughout this treatise I have sought to conserve the reader’s time and to retain his interest by excluding discussion of matters not precisely germane to the points under discussion.
Nevertheless, in the interests of fairness to opponents, and in order to demonstrate more fully the truth of my proposition that “the Millennium is specifically (1) the period of time between the resurrection of the just and of the unjust, and (2) the period of Satan’s imprisonment” this appendix is added.
It becomes more evident, after examination of many treatments of Revelation 20: 1-7, that the literal interpretation is self-evidently the only acceptable one. And this is said with due respect to the names of many great men in the field of Biblical exegesis who insist, on the contrary, that little or nothing in these seven verses is to be taken literally - some of whom insist even that there is no numerical notation in the entire Book of Revelation which is to be taken literally.
It will not be convenient to classify the views of the “thousand years” or Millennium simply as Postmillennial, Premillennial, or Amillennial. Nor will a division be made solely between the figurative (or spiritual, tropical, metaphorical, or nonliteral) and the literal interpretations, though, so far as the thousand years is concerned, such a classification is feasible. The method to be followed will be to classify the different views according to the specific interpretation given the Greek words chilia etee, translated, “a thousand years” in the English versions. Then, in connection with each of these views of the thousand years, the variations in interpretation of the details of the prophecy will be added. I have excepted the Premillennial interpretation from treatment in this appendix, inasmuch as this view is adopted and explained in the entire book.
Without pretending to have exhausted the number of variations
of interpretation of the “thousand years” of Revelation
20, advocated since John
wrote the words on
It would be a hopeless task to attempt exhaustive description of every variation of a view. Therefore the course followed will be to name, state, and describe each view as set forth by its leading advocate or advocates. The effects of the view of the interpretation of the rest of the passage will be presented also. Most of the refutation is reserved for a brief treatment of the linguistic arguments at the close.
For want of any more descriptive term, I label the simplest, and probably least acceptable, of all views as
1. The Agnostic View.
The “thousand years” are an unintelligible hieroglyph.
This view has been unconsciously adopted by the many preachers and writers who either explicitly or implicitly pass by the entire Book of Revelation as if it were totally incomprehensible. However, at least one has specifically adopted this, in a formal way, as his view of the Millennium.
After surveying the Biblical support for the Chiliastic doctrine, he admits that “there are ... passages, which, if interpreted strictly and exclusively according to the letter, afford some ground for the millenarian doctrine” (art. “Millenarianism, Millennium,” C. A. Semisch, Schaff-Herzog Ency. of Rel. Knowledge, third ed. revised and enlarged). He adds, “It cannot be disputed that the Book of Revelation (20: 4 sqq.) contains the fundamental characteristics of millenarianism.” Then, after rejecting the views of Hengstenberg and of Augustine, he states his own view as follows:
In view of the difficulty of separating figure from real fact, we conclude that the millenarianism of the Book of Revelation is a hieroglyph whose meaning has not yet been satisfactorily solved (ibid.).
The writer recently heard a very learned gentleman from New Zealand give a lecture* in which he asserted that probably the Book of Revelation was a “cryptic letter” from the “concentration camp” on Patmos, and that as read to the seven churches of Asia was furnished with some sort of key to the symbols - a key which unfortunately, has been lost and is probably beyond recovery. In the lecture he did not apply this theory to the text now under consideration, but it may be presumed that if the occasion arose he would do so. His view, probably shared by others, seems to be essentially agnostic so far as the symbolism goes.
[* I have
since seen a small work by this writer, Mr.
E. M. Blaiklock, in which his view is rather fully set forth (The Seven Churches, An Exposition of
Revelation, chapters two and three.
There is something to commend about this view. There is certainly more in the Book of Revelation, and specifically in 20:1-7, that any one interpreter is likely to discover. Yet there is nothing essentially esoteric or cryptic about the passage as it stands. The problems are no greater than those which prevail in most apocalyptic and predictive sections of the Bible. It is not likely that many will care to associate themselves permanently with Semisch’s agnosticism.
2. The Postmillennial View:
The “thousand years” are a literal period of time at the latter part of the present age, to be terminated some time before the second advent of Christ.
An explanation must be offered quickly. Though all Postmillennialists agree that the “thousand years” of Revelation 20 refer to a literal period of time, they do not all agree that there will necessarily be one thousand literal years of it. That is, some suppose that the “thousand years” stand figuratively for a long period of time.
Postmillennialism is of comparatively recent origin. Several of the best advocates of the view
attribute its origin to Daniel Whitby
(1638-1726), an English Arminian theologian who near the end of his life
adopted Arian views of the Godhead. A. H. Strong, for example (Systematic Theology, 1014), writes: “Our
own interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10, was first given, for substance, by
The best known statement of the Postmillennial position is probably that of A. A. Hodge (Outlines of Theology, 450 ff). With his customary force, skill, and brevity, Mr. Hodge has presented the case as follows:
What is the Scriptural doctrine concerning the millennium?
1st. The Scriptures, both of the Old and New
Testament, clearly reveal that the gospel is to exercise an influence over all
branches of the human family, immeasurably more extensive and more thoroughly
transforming than any it has ever realized in time past. This end is to be gradually attained through
the spiritual presence of Christ in the ordinary dispensation of
[* I have omitted Hodge’s lengthy list of Scripture references.]
2nd. The period of this general prevalency of the gospel will continue a thousand years, and is hence designated the millennium.
3rd. The Jews are to be converted to Christianity either at the commencement or during the continuance of this period.
4th. At the end of these thousand years, and before the coming of Christ, there will be a comparatively short season of apostasy and violent conflict between the kingdoms of light and darkness.
5th. Christ’s advent, the general resurrection and judgment, will be simultaneous, and immediately succeeded by the burning of the old, and the revelation of the new earth and heavens.
Hodge, then, seems to feel that the “one thousand years” are a literal period of one thousand years, and that they will run their course in the latter portion of this present age.
However, David Brown, certainly the most voluminous writer in support of Postmillennialism, has taken a slightly different view. He writes:
One remark, however, I must request the reader to bear in mind. ... I attach no importance, in this argument, to the precise period of a thousand years. It occurs nowhere in Scripture but in one solitary passage. There are reasons for taking it definitely and literally; but to some these reasons appear slender. They think it means just a long indefinite period; agreeing with us, however, as to its being yet to come (The Second Advent, 27, 28).
There are variations in the minor points among Postmillenarians but most would agree on the general scheme of Hodge above. Another orthodox and scholarly advocate of Postmillennialism was A. H. Strong. I cite his views as characteristic of most orthodox Postmillennial doctrine.
The binding of Satan is presumably the restraint put on the devil by the ultimate prevalence of Christianity throughout the earth - when Jew and Gentile alike became possessed of Christianity’s blessings (Systematic Theology, 1008).
The first resurrection (Rev. 20: 4-6) is
not a preliminary resurrection of the body, in the case of departed saints, but a period in the latter days of the church militant, when, under special influence of the Holy Ghost, the spirit of the martyrs shall appear again, true religion be generally quickened and revived, and the members of Christ’s churches become so conscious of their strength in Christ that they shall, to an extent unknown before, triumph over the powers of evil both within and without (ibid. 1013).
The resurrection is only of “the spirit of sacrifice and faith,” and the statement of Revelation 20: 5 that “the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years should be finished” means only that the “spirit of persecution and unbeief shall be, as it were, put to sleep” (ibid. 1013).
Strong feels that the release of Satan (Rev. 20: 7) for “a little season” indicates that
at the close of this millennial period, evil will again be permitted to exert its utmost power in a final conflict with righteousness. This spiritual struggle, moreover, will be accompanied and symbolized by political convulsions, and by fearful indications of desolation in the natural world (ibid. 1009).
Thus the “1ittle season” is the great tribulation period.
The destruction of Satan, Gog and Magog, the general resurrection and the general judgment of the great white throne are held to be at the second advent. some time after the close of the millennium.
It should be seen that Postmillennialists have not generally held that the second advent closes the Millennium, for by Strong’s view, the “little season” is said to intervene. It is after the Millennium - but how long after is not declared.
It needs to be added that many advocates have felt that neither the church nor the world may be conscious of either the beginning or the close of the Millennium. Brown makes this clear:
Let no one suppose I expect that the beginning and end of this period will be so clearly discernible as to leave no room for doubt on any mind. On the contrary, I think there can hardly be a doubt that it will follow the law of all Scripture dates in this respect of Daniel's “seventy weeks,” and of the “twelve hundred and sixty days” of Antichristian rule. The beginning and end of the former of these periods is even yet a matter of some controversy, etc. (op. cit., 28).
The period during which Postmillennialism was at its height of acceptance was the latter half of the nineteenth century and during the first quarter of the present century. Among the great theologians of this era, Strong, C. A. Hodge, A. A. Hodge, C. A. Briggs were Postmillennial. Postmillennial writers of the more popular sort were Albert Barnes (Commentaries on the New Testament) and David Brown, to mention only a few. Snowden (The Coming of the Lord, 1919) and Carroll (The Book of Revelation, 1916) are among the most recent thorough-going Postmillennial orthodox writers. During the “golden age” of American Protestant Modernism, which came to an end with World War II, Modernists adopted a kind of Postmillennialism to which earlier advocates would have given no approval (e.g., Rall, Modern Premillennialism and the Christian Hope). It was based more on the theory of evolution and humanism than on any interpretation of the Bible, and need not occupy our attention here. The present heirs of Modernism, the Neo-orthodox and Neo-liberal people, are scarcely more optimistic about the course of the present era than Premillenarians, and so are not inclined to Postmillennialism.
Postmillennialism has no strong, vocal present-day advocates. But it is not likely that it is dead. It seems probable that any period of prolonged peace in the world would provide the climate in which a revival of Postmillennialism might take place.
3. Augustinian Amillennialism:
The “thousand years” are probably a literal designation of the length of the present age, to be closed by the second advent of Christ. The reference is to the course of the church on earth during this period.
Note the word “probably.” I think Augustine would have approved the use of this word in this connection. As will be seen, he had a wholesome restraint in stating his views on some features of Bible prophecy which could well continue to be emulated.
Augustine’s views on eschatology, among many other subjects,
are set forth in The City of God, the
result of thirteen years of labour (A.D. 413‑426). The part which relates to the Millennium is
Book XX, chapters 6 to 15. This will be
found in “The Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers, Second Series,” volume II, translated by Marcus Dods. It is safe to
assert that until this section of Augustine’s great work is mastered one cannot
fully appreciate the millennial discussions which have followed since his
day. It is almost, if not wholly, true
that all Amillennial and Postmillennial systems have been postscripts to “The City of
Having just now read the entire section in “The City of
At any rate, he believed the whole present age to be in the Millennium
and that the termination of the present age and of the Millennium would be
approximately synchronous. It also
appears that he followed the Septuagint chronology (it is believed that he did
not know Hebrew) and thought the sixth thousand years of human history to be
well in progress when the present dispensation began. He also evidently believed that at the end of
six thousand years of history, Christ would come again and end the current age
Later on, he makes it clear that he feels the Millennium refers to the course of the church in the world, and the reign of saints to be a present situation on earth, except insofar as the unity of the church living and dead involves a secondary reference to the saints in heaven as well.
His basic position on the Millennium is clarified as he goes on to give his views on the rest of Revelation 20.
“The first resurrection” (Rev. 20: 4 - 6) he holds to be a spiritual resurrection - the same as that “resurrection” or “regeneration” described in John 5: 26, 27. It is the same as personal salvation. It is participated in only by the saved, as he says, “in the first resurrection none have a part save those who shall be eternally blessed” (Ibid. XX, 6).
The second resurrection described in Revelation 20 is a physical resurrection of all men, according to Augustine. He speaks of it as a resurrection “of judgment” (XX, 6) almost as a Premillennialist, but he goes on to clarify his statement and show that he means only that the saints, all of whom participate in spiritual regeneration (first resurrection), shall not be “judged” (damned) in this second or physical resurrection at the consummation, even though they do participate in the resurrection.
So are there these two resurrections, - the one the first and spiritual resurrection, which has place in this life, and preserves us from coming into the second death; the other the second, which does not occur now, but in the end of the world, and which by the last judgment shall dismiss some into the second death, others into that life which has no death (ibid. XX, 8).
On the binding of Satan, he asserts that it has regard to the nations (as Rev. 20 says) but that this means “no doubt, those among which the church exists.” Later he clarifies this to mean that Satan will not be able to seduce the elect of the church militant. This binding took place at the beginning of the present age when Christ first bound the “strong man” in order that he might “spoil his goods” (he cites Mark 3: 27). This binding he seems to conceive of as a judicial act of God rather than of some specific historical event such as the death of Christ, the founding of the church, the work of the first missionaries, etc.
On the loosing of Satan, he writes that it refers to revived ability of Satan to seduce the non elect of the church visible. He seems to relate the Biblical references to a final great tribulation, the great apostasy, and the Antichrist to the “little season” during which Satan is to be loosed. This he places at the end of the present age but before the consummation (i.e., before the “general resurrection” judgment, etc. Ibid. XX, 8). He leaves the problem as to whether the “little season” is within the one thousand years or immediately afterward an open question (Ibid. XX, 13).
These are the main features of Augustine’s view. It bears repeating that his views are of utmost importance to present-day millennial discussions, for about every orthodox Amillennial or Postmillennial view since Augustine has embodied some of the main features of his view. Indeed, the very passages of Scripture which Augustine used in support of his arguments appear often in contemporary amillennial literature.
To recapitulate the main features of Augustine’s view: The
thousand years is an expression, whether figurative or literal he is not
certain, standing for a literal period of time.
The Millennium relates to the present age - either this age is the
Millennium or is contained in it; the present age and the Millennium terminate
approximately synchronously. The reign
of the saints is during this age and it is on earth through the appointed
leaders (clergy, etc.) of the visible church.
The first resurrection is spiritual and is the regeneration of the
individual believers whereby they become members of the body of Christ, that
is, of the
It remains to be added that in the main Augustine’s view is, and has been, the view of the Roman Catholic church.*
[* A footnote in the official Roman Catholic Bible in English (The Holy Bible Douay‑Rheims Version) on Rev. 20: 3 reads: “... the souls of the martyrs and saints live and reign with Christ in heaven, in the first resurrection, which is that of the soul to the life of glory.”]
Amillennialism, the Modified
The “thousand years” is a figurative expression designating the course of the present age from the death of Christ to the second advent. The reference is to the reign of the saints with Christ in heaven.
It will be seen at once that this is the Augustinian view with one major change and a few minor ones, The major change is that the reign of the saints in the Millennium is said to take place in heaven rather than on earth, as in the view of Augustine. An important minor change is that recent Amillennialists have clearly broken with the idea that the Millennium is to be taken as a literal designation of a literal length of time. Instead of setting any particular date, precise or approximate, for the end of the Millennium, the length of the Millennium is simply conceived to be the length of the present age. Some adjustment of this kind was inevitable in Amillennialism when once A.D. 1000 was passed.
An able contemporary representative of the school is Hendriksen, whose views are set forth in a recent book (More Than Conquerors, an Interpretation of the Book of Revelation). Following the “recapitulation” or “Parallelistic” method of interpreting the Apocalypse he believes that with Revelation 20 the prophecy returns to the beginning of the present age. The “order of events” has the following “sequence.” He says, “Christ’s first coming is followed by a long period during which Satan is bound; this in turn is followed by Satan’s little season; and that is followed by Christ’s second coming, that is, His coming unto judgment” (page 222). Concerning the binding of Satan, he writes: “this work of binding the devil was begun when our Lord triumphed over him in the temptations in the wilderness.” Then, after citing and discussing Matthew 4: 1-11; Luke 4: 1-13; Luke 10: 17, 18; John 12: 20-32; Colossians 2: 15; Revelation 12:5ff., he asserts that the “binding and casting out or falling of Satan is ... associated with the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He feels that it consists of reducing Satan’s power to keep the nations from the light of divine revelation and the saving gospel - almost unrestricted till Jesus came. Satan has been so bound that Christ may, in this age, draw men of every nation unto Himself (Ibid. in loco).
This school dissociates itself completely from the Postmillennial optimism which expects a kind of literal Millennium in this age. Hendriksen makes it clear that he believes the binding of Satan is only in certain limited respects. The imprisonment (or binding) has respect to earth and living men; the reign of saints has respect to heaven and dead believers.
The first resurrection is the “translation of the soul from this sinful earth to God’s holy heaven” at the death of the believer (Hendriksen, ibid. in loco). The second resurrection is the resurrection of the bodies of all men at the consummation.
The “1ittle season” during which Satan is loosed is related to a coming time of apostasy, tribulation, etc., at the end of this age, and just before the consummation.
Some of the recent writers who hold this modified Augustinian view of the Millennium, though disagreeing somewhat on details, are A. T. Allis, G. L. Murray, Floyd Hamilton, W. Hendriksen. There are many others whose expressions are friendly to this view but who, to the knowledge of the present writer, have not made published statements specifically upon interpretation of the “thousand years.”
5. Modern Amillennialism‑B.
The “thousand years” is a figurative expression signifying the “Intermediate state.” It is a kind of literary figure of speech whereby the present age is viewed from the standpoint of its enjoyment by the dead saints in glory.
Warfield’s views are set forth in the last chapter of a posthumous collection of his writings entitled, Biblical Doctrines. On account of his importance in twentieth century theology, and because there are some distinct features in his Amillennialism, his view deserves special classification. I have called Warfield an Amillennialist because he denies any connection of the “thousand years” with a reign of Christ or His saints on earth, either after Christ’s second coming or before it. It may be true, as former students of his classes have told me, that he regarded himself as a Postmillennialist.
While his theories are ingenious, they are not convincing. I know of no prominent writer who has heartily endorsed and adopted his views of Revelation 20. A system such as his which makes both a “little season” and “a thousand years” stand for the present age is not impressive to most minds. Likewise, having declared that the one thousand years stand for the condition of the disembodied saints in glory [‘the intermediate state’], he presently has the same expression stand for the duration of the present age also. Except that this view was expressed by a noted scholar, whose expositions of Christian doctrine in some other areas are justly famous, it is doubtful that his view of the Millennium would have made any impression on the Christian public.
6. Modern Amillennialism
The “thousand years” is a figurative designation of the idea of completeness or perfection. This perfection has reference to the salvation of the saints in their present state on earth, and to the present binding of Satan.
Milligan’s views are rather well known and generally highly regarded even among those who disagree with him. The fact that he is the writer on Revelation in the commentary on the Scriptures known as The Expositor’s Bible has served to give his views great currency. His views were adopted by A. Plummer, who cites and quotes Milligan at some length in his exposition of the Book of Revelation in the commentary set known as The Pulpit Commentary. It should be noted that in The Expositor’s Bible Milligan presents his view as suggestive rather than dogmatic. His words are as follows:
The thousand years mentioned in the passage express no period of time. They are not a figure for the whole Christian era, now extending to nearly nineteen hundred years. Nor do they denote a certain space of time, longer or shorter, it may be, than the definite number of years spoken of, at the close of the present dispensation, and to be in the view of some preceded, in the view of others followed, by the second Advent of our Lord. They embody an idea; and that idea whether applied to the subjugation of Satan or to the triumph of the saints is the idea of completeness or perfection. Satan is bound for a thousand years, that is, he is completely bound. The saints reign for a thousand years, that is, they are introduced into a state of perfect and glorious victory (The Expositor’s Bible, Revelation, 913).
Like Warfield, Milligan feels that the “1ittle season” is the whole Christian age, when, as regards the nations, Satan is loosed. This is quite contrary to the more common Amillennial view that during this period he is bound as regards the nations. With minor differences, Milligan’s views on other details are pretty much the same as the common Amillennial view.
7. Modern Amillennialism
The “thousand years”
is a figurative expression signifying (according to Swete)
“a great epoch
in human history.” The reign of
saints has reference to the triumph of Christianity which began with the
victory of the church over paganism in the
This view was advocated notably by Henry Barclay Swete (The Apocalypse of St. John, second ed., 1907) and more recently in this country by Albertus Pieters (Studies in the Revelation of St. John, 1943, 1950) among orthodox scholars.
Most of our contemporary Amillennialists draw a sharp break between chapters 19 and 20, but, like the Premillennialists, the advocates of the Preterist View recognize that the first resurrection, the binding of Satan, and the one thousand years follow the defeat of Antichrist related in chapter 19. In respect to most of the details of the prophecy the views are similar to the Postmillennial scheme. Details of interpretation are very similar to those of David Brown and B. H. Carroll, Postmillennialists. In fact, except that this system finds the fulfilment of the prophecy of the binding of Satan and the first resurrection in the past, it would have to be called Postmillennial.
Swete thinks that the Millennium began with the break-up of the Beast (“Roman world power”) and the False Prophet (“pagan system of priestcraft and superstition”). This is followed by a long period of “Christian supremacy during which the faith for which the martyrs died would live and reign.” The war with Gog and Magog to follow is the recrudescence of evil at the end of the present age (op. cit., 266).
“The binding of Satan is the divine restraint put upon the devil so that he was unable any longer to ‘deceive the nations,’ that is, to bring about a restoration of that paganism” (Pieters, op. cit., 307).
“The three and a half years stand for the period of struggle with paganism, and the thousand years for the succeeding period of uninterrupted triumph of Christianity over it” (ibid. 307).
To my mind, this is the most satisfactory of all views, except the Premillennial interpretation. It has the least inconsistency and has regard to the place of Revelation 20 in the order of events in the Book of Revelation.
Yet it has in it all the weaknesses of the various varieties of the Augustinian view, and for that reason is to be rejected.
In concluding this survey, let it be observed that all of these views reject the possibility of a future reign on earth of Christ and/or His saints lasting one thousand years. It bears repetition that many advocates of these views admit that, taken literally, the chapter does teach such a doctrine. Let it be observed also that even though some of those described accept a literal meaning for “one thousand years,” not one of them attempts an interpretation which could be called “literal.” No one, of course, feels that every last word is to be taken literally. The “key” and “chain” of verse 1 are self-evidently figures of some kind. So, as Dr. Albertus Pieters says:
… the most prominent line of cleavage among interpreters is between those who, with due allowance for figures of speech, take the vision literally, and those who consider it a symbol. The former see here a description of events that must come to pass substantially as written, at some future time: The latter understand it to be a symbolical presentation of some spiritual truth, or of events that happened long ago (op. cit., 282).
Thus, with allowance for some oversimplification, it can be said that on the one side are the nonliteral or symbolical interpretations and on the other the literal interpretations. Some Post and Amillennial writers have held to a literal one thousand years, while holding to a figurative interpretation of the remainder of the details, and for that reason must be classed as advocates of a figurative interpretation.
Most of the really significant arguments against the literal interpretation and in favour of various figurative ones relate to five expressions in the passage before us. Besides these, there are numerous subsidiary arguments, given different emphasis by different writers. However, these five, which are generally supposed to find foundation in the language of the passage, appear over and over again in the literature on the subject. These must now be treated briefly.
1. The use of the word “soul” (psyche) in Revelation 20:4:
John writes that following his vision of the binding of Satan he “saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20: 4).
Many of the Amillennial writers argue from the use of the word
“soul” as does
... the first resurrection is the new birth which reaches its culmination and consummation when the soul of the believer leaves the body and goes to reign with Christ in heaven. The deliberate choice of the word “soul,” which almost universally means soul as distinct from the body, as applying to the believers now [supposedly] reigning with, Christ in glory, seems to make it plain that the first resurrection is just that (The Basis of Millennial Faith, 132).
The answer to this will not be in denial that the word “souls” does probably refer to disembodied souls. The obvious connection with Revelation 6: 9-11 where disembodied souls is clearly meant, makes it very likely that the same is meant here. Rather, the answer will be found in determination of the relationship of these “souls” to the group who are said to have “lived and reigned.”
Observe that whoever the “souls” are, the ones of whom it is said at the end of verse 4, “they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years,” are obviously the same persons of whom John says in the beginning of verse 4, “I saw thrones and they sat on them, and judgment was given unto them.” Who are these? Who are the ones entered as subject of the verb ekathisan (they sat) and who must be the antecedent of the pronoun autois (unto them)? They are not the devil (20: 2) or the angel (20: 1) or the slain beasts and their armies (19: 19-21). They can hardly be other than those described in 19: 14 as follows: “the armies which are in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and pure.”* Commentators unite in recognizing these as the redeemed of the ages. The clear necessity for some antecedent to the pronominal subject of the first verb, and to the pronoun “them” in verse 4, is the reason why the “recapitulation” theory cannot be adduced to make a break between chapters 19 and 20. So whoever the “souls” are, they are certainly not the total of participants in the first resurrection. They are mentioned only by way of eminence, to show the fulfilment of their prayer for deliverance and vindication before their enemies (6: 10).
[* Are there no angelic creatures in God’s army? Is it not the angels who accompany Christ at the time of His return, and who root out of His kingdom all who do iniquity? And when do the ‘dead in Christ’ arise from the underworld, if not at the time of His descent to this earth?]
This argument is not only without force but easily becomes an occasion for a true understanding of a better explanation of the Book of Revelation.
2. The use of “resurrection” (anastasis) [and an understanding of what happens]
in Revelation 20: 5:
After relating the events above, John adds that “the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” and then, evidently referring to those before who “lived and reigned with Christ,” says, “This is the first resurrection” (Rev. 20: 5).
Now, say those who interpret figuratively, this resurrection is that of the soul spiritually dead in trespasses and sins unto spiritual life in Christ, that is, the first resurrection is essentially the new birth, followed by spiritual exaltation with Christ at death.
This argument is discussed on pages 32 and 33. This much only I add here. The word anastasis (resurrection) is never elsewhere in the New Testament used of anything except physical resurrection, except Luke 2: 34, in which the context furnishes another meaning. The word appears forty-two times in the New Testament. Of the thirty-nine appearances outside this chapter thirty-eight have clear reference to physical resurrection. It will surely require overwhelming evidence to establish spiritual resurrection as the meaning of the word anastasis in Revelation 20. A few who accept the literal physical resurrection view suppose that John described a physical resurrection but intended it as a symbol of a spiritual resurrection. But the burden of proof rests with these. If this view is taken, the argument will have to be supplied from some source other than the idea of resurrection or the word anastasis.
3. The binding of Satan in Revelation 20:
Amillennialists point out that Satan had deceived all the
The Amillennialists’ basic text in explaining the binding of Satan described in Revelation 20, and in equating it to these historical facts, has been Mark 3: 27 (see page 199). Other passages speak of Satan’s “falling” (Luke 10: 17, 18), his being “cast out” (John 12: 31), of Christ’s “despoiling” Satan (Col. 2:15). All these are properly associated with the first coming of Christ. Thus the reasoning is, to use the words of Hendriksen:
Hence, in close harmony with all these Scriptural passages - and our exegesis must always be based upon the analogy of Scripture! - we conclude that also here in Rev. 20: 1-3 the binding of Satan and the fact that he is hurled into the abyss to remain there for a thousand years indicates that throughout this present Gospel Age, which begins with Christ’s first coming and extends nearly to the second coming, the devil’s influence on earth is curtailed so that he is unable to prevent the extension of the church among the nations by means of an active missionary program (op. cit., 226).
It must be readily admitted that the analogy of Scripture
cannot be ignored in interpretation.
However, it has a limited bearing on interpretation. For example, the “lion of the tribe of
4. The statement that “they ... reigned with Christ” (Rev. 20: 4):
Those who adopt a symbolical interpretation of these words claim that the Scriptures speak of the reign of the saints with Christ as prevailing now, not in the future after Christ’s second coming. Passages frequently cited are Romans 5: 21 (“even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life”), which is thought to make that eternal life in Christ the one and only reign of the saints, and 2 Timothy 2: 12, 1 Peter 2: 9, and Colossians 1: 17.
My comment and answer must be brief - and I do not intend to be curt. Certainly there is such a present relationship with Christ as “reigning with him” which does exist. But that does not prove that such was what John was talking about. As noted elsewhere in this book, I do recognize that there is an important sense in which the saints of this age do now participate in Christ’s present kingdom. That this is the precise equivalent of the reign of the saints in Revelation 20, or in the numerous passages in the Old Testament (vide. Dan. 7:14, 22, 27) in which the saints of God are promised universal and eternal dominion must be specifically denied (see my comments on Daniel 7 herein). There is nothing in Revelation 20 or elsewhere which requires such a view.
5. The statement that “they lived (ezesan) ... with Christ”:
It has been frequently pointed out by those who interpret this passage in a figurative way that the word “lived” is a form of the Greek word zao, which means “to live” rather than to be resurrected or to live again. Such being the case, it is argued that the word is very fitting for spiritual exaltation rather than physical resurrection. Barnes (Commentary, in loco) argues at length for a spiritual significance for the word, as do others.
It must be readily admitted that the Greek word does sometimes, even in the book of Revelation, have such a meaning, for example, “Thou hast a name that thou livest and art dead” (Rev. 3: 1). The same may be true of the same word in Revelation 7: 17, and some think also in 13: 14. Yet in other passages physical life is meant (e.g., Rev. 19: 20; 16: 3). So, as far as the general use of the word is concerned, it may be used either of physical or of spiritual life.
In my opinion, both literal and symbolical interpreters have generally erred in treating this word. The evidence does not prove (as some Premillennialists think) that the word means to live again. When Jesus spoke of the impartation of eternal life (“and they that hear shall live,” John 5: 25), He used this word. But He did not mean “live again,” for natural men have never been alive spiritually. He meant that they would come into possession of spiritual life. It might be better to say that the state of being alive came to pass for them. Thus the word essentially means to be alive, not to become alive. If this were not the case, John would not write, using the same word with achri “again,” that “the rest of the dead lived not again” (Rev. 20: 5).
Now, in Revelation 20, John sees the hosts who return with the Son of God alive and reigning with Christ.* It is true that he makes no reference to their “becoming alive.” It makes no difference that he did not; it is necessary that a resurrection shall have taken place, as the statement in verse five that certain others [now in Hades], in contrast with these “lived not again” until after the Millennium, shows. And, in the case of the martyrs at least, beheaded and dead, resurrection would be necessary (see following) .
[*The ones who return with Christ, must be those who were “able to escape,” and “to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21: 36, N.I.V.) - (in heaven, presumably) - before the Great Tribulation events set in by being rapt alive into heaven.]
Consider also that where a bit later it is said that “the rest of the dead lived not again” until after the Millennium that physical resurrection is necessarily understood. They are the wicked* dead, and hence spiritually as well as physically dead. Since they never had spiritual life, they can not be said to live “again” spiritually.
[* Not necessarily all who are without spiritual life. See 1 Cor. 5: 13. cf. Mark 13: 12; Num. 16: 25.]
So, though the word ezesan (they lived) does not specify resurrection of the body, it certainly does not militate against it.
The following facts may be admitted to show that the resurrection of the bodies [and souls] of the righteous dead is involved in verse 4. (1) ezesan (they lived) is a form of the word that is used at least twice in the Revelation of our Lord in His resurrection body – “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive forevermore” (Rev. 1: 18, cf. also 2: 8). (2) In each of these cases the word ezesan is parallel with the expression in Greek “became dead” (egeneto [or egenouen] nekros), which suggests that His being alive was the result of “becoming” also. (3) Most importantly, what “they” who live and reign do is “with Christ” and presumably in the same sense. In the same sense that Christ is alive, they are alive. In His case it is in the resurrection body, and, therefore, in their case the same. All recognize that resurrection of the body is eschatological. We may expect that the events of this verse, then, are likewise eschatological. There are other arguments used by those who reject the literal interpretation - some rational, some Biblical. It is beyond the scope of this effort to treat them more than they have been treated in the main body of the book. With this, therefore, I close.