The Daniel Papers – Daniel’s Prophecy of 70 Weeks
The below link is to The Daniel Papers a PDF file on the book of Daniel put out by RBC Ministries (Radio Bible Class):
The Daniel Papers: the_daniel_papers
We have used this booklet several times in group studies on Daniel. The website named Daniel: God’s Messenger to the Future no longer has free downloadable PDF of the book. The author has now published a book entitled Daniel: God’s Messenger to Our Times.
Fortunately, I have already download all of the PDF files for myself. Robert Culver’s book Daniel and the Latter Days is probably the best in analysizing the book of Daniel. Even though I could find the Daniel:God’s Messenger to the Future, I did find Robert Culver’s book on Daniel. It may be the copy that is in Wycliff Bible commentary which is not as good as his actual book which was his desertation. Here is the link I found: http://rediscoveringthebible.com/Culver.html
The book happens to be the actual book Daniel and the Latter Days. Click here for a .PDF of Daniel and the Latter Days. Daniel and the Latter Days
Daniel and the Latter days has been in print for 45 years per advertisement. It is an excellent book. I have also inserted the total text of the book below but it may be cumbersome reading online. Like I said I think it is one of the best books written on Daniel. At some point I may upload the PDF files of Daniel: God’s Messenger to the Future. I already have permission from the author to use them in personal Bible studies, but I need to contact him about posting them on this Blog Site. He is now selling his book which I think is great. I am all for free enterprise in most cases. He is entitled to the fruit of his labors.
DANIEL AND THE LATTER DAYS
Robert D. Culver Moody Press Chicago Copyright, 1954
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. But 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 I
have been led to believe is the key to predictive prophecy in the Bible. I say
to test–though candor might force me to say “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 of Christ in the U.S.A. for permission to
quote from The American Standard Version of the Bible, and to all others from
whom such permission has been secured in every case in which permission was
known to be required.
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.
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
II Thessalonians 2:7-10. 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 St. Paul,” Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1956; “The Difficulty of
Interpreting O.T. Prophecy,” Bibliotheca Sacra, July, 1957; The Sufferings and
the Glory of the Lord’s Righteous Servant, Moline: Christian Service
Foundation, 1958; “Daniel,” Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Chicago: Moody Press,
1962; and “Were the O.T. Prophecies Really Prophetic?” Can I Trust My Bible?
Chicago: Moody Press, 1963.
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 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 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 another. If Israel is to be restored to a position of national favor at
the close of the present age, that is one thing. If God is finished with
Israel as a nation, that is still another. To propose an answer to these
questions on which Christians continue to hold divergent opinions is the
purpose of this study. Since I write as a Premillenarian it will require that
I first find a basis for the Premillennial view in the Bible as a whole, and
then, using the original Hebrew and Aramaic of Daniel as the authoritative
source, proceed to show that the Premillennial approach explains the prophecies
of Daniel in the most satisfactory manner. It will be neither convenient nor
necessary to treat everything in the prophecies, but only those portions which
are pertinent to the main question. This question may be phrased, Can
Premillennialism give the best explanation of the predictions of the Book of
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 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.
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
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 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 Premillennialism; 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 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
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
Eccclesiology”–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 Bibliotheca 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 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 the 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
God, XX, 30).
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 Encyclopædia, 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 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 “Ultradispensationalists.”
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.”1
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 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 truth 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 view 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
The essentials of the teachings of the Scriptures on the Millennium may
be summarized in three propositions:
I. 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
II. 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.
III. 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
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 III above. The brethren who
think of the Millennium and the Kingdom as precise equivalents will disagree
with most of II.
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
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.3
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.”
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 Latim 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 three score 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. Actually, there is no convincing, self-evident Biblical
testimony against the literal interpretation of this thousand-year period.1
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 the
text to make their theory fit. They also have theories concerning the future
of the church and Israel which do not fit well into the picture of a Millennium
in which saints reign on earth with Christ and Israel blossoms again. So the
Millennium must go.
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 be 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
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”) 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 living2 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 kingdom of Messiah.
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 examined. [He refers to I 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 e.g. Luke 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” (I 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 II Sam. 7:16; Heb. 1:8; Luke 1:32,33; Rev.
11:15; Isa. 9:7; ii 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 Theocratic Kingdom, Vol. 2,630,631).
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 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
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
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.
Before leaving Hamilton, note that he regards the Millennium not as a
period of time but as a condition of existence, and that it takes place in
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 Judea and would end with the coming of Christ in the year 650,
though he was not dogmatic about that date. He tried to adjust the Millennium
with the sixth millennium of human history, following the Septuagint
chronology, which he interpreted to place the end of the fifth millennium at
about 350 B.C. (City of God, XX,8).
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.3
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
church from 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 φυχαι εζησαν (souls lived) at the first, and the
rest of the νεχροι εζησαν (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 none4 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).
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 everlasting kingdom of
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.1 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.”2 Certainly, they agree, none of them refer to a restored
Israel in a future Millennium.
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 Kingdom of God and the Church). All of these, except Vos, are recent
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 kingdom of God.
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.
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 the church in the present age is the fulfillment in
toto of the kingdom prophecies to Israel. I 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 hath 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 nine 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 Israel?” He made no effort to tell
them that such future restoration would not take place, but informed them once more
only that it was not for them to know “the times or the seasons.” If their
expectation of a future restoration of the kingdom to Israel were a false one, then
Jesus, who said of the fact that He was going to prepare a place for them, “If it
were not so, I would have told you,” would likely have corrected their false
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 kingdom of Messiah predicted in similar terms in
Daniel is here, near the close of the Apostolic Age, still in the eschatological
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 kingdom of Messiah exclusively future in every respect.
Some of these same men have also erred in restricting the future kingdom to the
millennium only, or at least appearing to do so.
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
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 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) 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 the future kingdom of
God on earth and that it is the initial stage of that kingdom, the following
four pieces of Scripture information are submitted.
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 kingdom of God on earth they continue
to do so forever. I refer to the seventh chapter of Daniel. No respectable
interpreter of any school (including the unbelieving higher criticism) denies
that the one who as “one like the Son of man” takes possession of the kingdom
of men, when the history of nations has run its course, is the Jewish Messiah.
Of this, Daniel 7:14 says, “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a
kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion
is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that
which shall not be destroyed.”
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 forever, even forever 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 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 I 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
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 kingdom of Messiah. The facts do not
admit of any other possibilities. The Millennium cannot be previous to the
kingdom, for the saints will not reign (Amillennialists notwithstanding), as
the Millennium passage affirms, until the kingdom is delivered unto Messiah.
The Millennium cannot follow it, for the kingdom age never ends. It must be
during the kingdom.
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 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
(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 judgment of believers for evil, judgment in the penal sense, that is, took
place at Calvary in Christ, all informed orthodox believers will agree.
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 borne by themselves in an eternal and dreadful hell,
that disagreement appears.
Charles Hodge (Systematic Theology, Vol. III, 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
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 Millennium 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 Calvary, then Christians of all Millennial persuasions should
disagree. I suppose that his meaning is that the eternal destiny is publicly
declared at that time.
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
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
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 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.
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.
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 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,
forever, 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.
But though Revelation 19 and 20 may be the simple basis of the doctrine,
it does not want support in other parts of Scripture. That this is the case is
admitted even by Carl Ænotheus Semisch, whose article on “Millenarianism,
Millennium” in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopoedia 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
(20:44 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 Encyclopoedia 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.).
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 II 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
Such statements are very shocking, indeed, when viewed 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 Judah by the Babylonian Captivity real and wholly real? Mr.
Kuyper is being piddling in his arguments! He is saying that no numerical
notation in the Book of Revelation is to be taken literally unless it can be
proven to be so! May I insist with all the force that paper and ink can bear
when inscribed with words that such reasoning is folly–sheer nonsense–unless
we wish to abandon the use of the Bible as a source of information about God
and His ways altogether. If the first rule of Bible interpretation, in all of
Scripture, is not, “Take the words in the primary grammatical sense unless
there are clear contextual reasons for doing otherwise,” then we may as well
abandon the use of the Bible as a divine revelation. It is not revelation but
confusion. These one thousand years are real unless proved otherwise! The
reverse of Kuyper’s statement is the truth.
Thus, without the slightest hesitation, I return to the 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.”
That the 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 Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients
gloriously.” The same is indicated by verse 21, in which of the events
described it is said, “It shall come to pass in that day.” “In that day” is
not uniformly used of the Day of Jehovah, but in the prophecies of the Old
Testament is very nearly always so used. In this connection it is certainly so
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 Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before
his ancients gloriously (Isaiah 24:21-23).
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 23 verses the
apocalyptist John sees in 15 chapters (Rev. 6 to 21). It is as Jennings says
(Studies in Isaiah, in loco), “We must place the two prophecies together in
order to correctly understand either.”
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 along 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 I
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.
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 yamim, 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 forever,
even forever 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 to other nations; hence we cannot
apply it immediately to the church” (Daniel and Revelation, 216).
Auberlen then reports that Roos, Preiswerk, Hofmann, Hitzig, and Bertholdt,
representing both Millenarian and anti-Millenarian schools of thought in Germany
one hundred years ago, are in agreement.
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 cannot 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 II Timothy 2:12; Luke 12:32; I
Corinthians 6:9,10; I Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:55; 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 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 Church of Christ gathered to Him in New Testament times are
necessarily to be cast away. My views do not coincide wholly with those of
some of the brethren of Covenant Theology at this point. On the other hand,
the extremes of some of the brethren with a dispensational emphasis, I think,
are frequently more in error. However, I do not regard this question as
particularly germane to the issue at this point of the discussion. I am merely
affirming what Daniel 7 makes clear about Israel and what the many New
Testament passages cited above make clear about the church–that both shall
share in this reign. I do not know just what the relation of the two bodies
will be during the kingdom.
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 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 II for further discussion).
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
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 rationale 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)
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.
Hamilton (op.cit. 126) remarks that “other resurrection passages must be torn
apart so that this idea, that is, of a millennium, can be inserted somewhere.”
Others contend that Revelation 20 is obscure and ought to be interpreted in the
light of others that are said to be clear.
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
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
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
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 nondisparate,
is that it has pleased an all-wise revealing God to make revelation of details
of the future progressive.3The 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.4 Now, with reference to the atoning death of Christ, the feature of Old
Testament prophecy referred to above was one of the means to that end.
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 dead, and how and when He would rise.
Now, with reference to 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 is one of these. The relation of the same to the future of Israel, the
final Antichrist, and the inauguration of the everlasting kingdom of God on
earth are others.
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 unraveled, 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 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
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 fulfillment 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 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 Premillennialism with their general Biblical basis. To elucidate my
own views on some of these things and then describe my views as essentials held
by all orthodox modern Premillennialists 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 other of modern
Premillennial writers, held in repute, disagreed on some details of these
questions. To insist that some of these were true to essential
Premillennialism 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
(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. 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
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
Kingdom of God among men. At different times in the past this has been
associated with or identified with many current movements.
“Institution of Evil” is an appropriate name for the view that some
institution, as the Roman Empire, is the “Man of Sin” or Antichrist. This is
common among “Praeterist” commentators on the Revelation. Another is the
“Person of Evil” (not personification) view. Advocates of this view hold that
Antichrist is a person. However, throughout the present age Bible interpreters
have identified many different persons with Antichrist.
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 the 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.1
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, labors 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 III, 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 kingdom of
Christ is steadily to enlarge its boundaries, until Jews and Gentiles alike
become possessed of its blessings and a millennial period is introduced in
which Christianity generally prevails throughout the earth. (Systematic
Theology, p. 1008.)
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).
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 II 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 II 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 temple of
God, setting himself forth as God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was
yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know that which
restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. 7 For
the mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only there is one that
restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall be
revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath
of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming;
9 even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all
power and signs and lying wonders, 10 and with all deceit of
unrighteousness for them that perish; because they received not the love
of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God
sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: 12 that
they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in
unrighteousness (II Thessalaonians 2:1-12 A.S.V.).
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” (v.3) and “the lawless one” (v.8) shall some day “be revealed”
(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 αποστασια require.
(d) The Man of Sin will oppose God, exalt himself, demand divine honors
(v.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 (v.7).
(f) The coming of the Man of Sin is being stayed by a certain thing
“which restraineth” (v.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 he was with them. Oh, that we
might have a record of those discourses! How many problems of eschatology it
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” (v.7). (The gender
of the Greek participles, κατεχον, neuter singular, and κατεχων, 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
Just of Jerusalem. The state came to an end and James died in the latter part
of the first century, and after that the Man of Sin in the person of the Roman
emperors had undisputed power to persecute the church. The Jewish state, while
it lasted, did shelter the church. (See Warfield, Biblical and Theological
Studies, chapter xvii.)
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
Riggenbach (in Lange’s Commentary, en loco) lists a number 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 church of Christ, which by advocates of this view is expected to be
taken to heaven by the rapture, before the appearance of Antichrist. Those
passages which speak of the Lord’s people as the “light of the world” and “the
salt of the earth” and various philosophical arguments are marshalled in
support. The Holy Spirit, in the church, is then the “one who restrains.”
Some feel that both the neuter and masculine have reference to the Holy Spirit.
In either case the removal of restraint is presumed to come at the time of the
rapture of the church. This view is advocated in the Scofield Bible
(Introduction to II Thessalonians and note en loco). An able presentation of
the view is that of Henry C. Thiessen (Will the Church Pass Through the
Tribulation?). However, even Dr. Thiessen admits that his argument is
inferential and cumulative, not based emphatically on a single declaration of
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 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
Premillennialist 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, v.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?” (v.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.
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” (I 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 tribulation for Israel is to transpire under
Antichrist’s oppression, from which deliverance will be provided by Christ at
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
Israel. It is something unique in the history of Israel.
Unlike the doctrine of Antichrist, which is quite fully outlined in one
passage of Scripture (II 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
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 Israel in
There are two primary texts which predict the coming of a period of great
tribulation for Israel shortly before that period of the consummation known as
the day of Jehovah.
The earlier is Jeremiah 30:4-11, the most significant portion of which is
verses 4-7, which follows in the American Standard Version:
And these are the words that Jehovah spake concerning Israel and
concerning Judah. For thus saith Jehovah: We have heard a voice of
trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man
doth travail with child: wherefore do I see every man with his hands on
his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness.
Alas! for the day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time
of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
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
Israel–both houses included.
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 kingdom of Christ.
First, observe the similarity of language to passages which describe the
advent of the Day of Jehovah (cf. vs. 6b and 7 with Joel 1:15; 2:11).
Second, note that the remainder of the chapter describes a restoration of
Israel to follow this tribulation, a restoration which is complete and final.
This aspect of the problem will receive more complete treatment in the section
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 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 forever 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, Israel. It can hardly be doubted that
both prophets wrote of the same thing.
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 of the unrighteous, a judgment when the books are open (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” (uvaeth hahi) clearly fixes this
tribulation period in that portion of Israel’s history which is yet future–
and, incidentally, is sufficient proof in itself that God is not yet through
with His people Israel, as a people.
(b) The special character of Israel’s Great Tribulation.
Israel’s suffering will not be without purpose–it will be the infliction
of divine wrath upon the apostate nation, a final “indignation” which will be
the means of eliminating the unrepentant and of bringing about the very
repentance of the repentant.
Both Isaiah 26:20 and Daniel 11:36 speak of a coming time of divine
“indignation” zaam 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 (Israel)
will be spared and of how the inhabitants of the earth will suffer the wrath of
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 Israel shall both suffer and be spared–be
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 Israel to enter the kingdom
of Christ in the Millennial age.
Now, just such an interpretation of the indignation on the nations of
mankind, an indignation which becomes a tribulation for Israel, is set forth in
Ezekiel 20:33-44. There are some admittedly obscure statements in this
passage. I have never felt I understood just what is to be the order of time
in the events described as related to other events of the end-time. There is
some palpable conflict with our faith that Israel shall be restored to the land
while still in unbelief and the statement in verse 38, the “rebels…I will
bring them forth out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter
unto the land of Israel.” I am confident that the fulfillment will make clear
the seeming difficulty. Neither do I understand the reference to “the
wilderness of the peoples,” where a part of the judgment is said to transpire.
Yet I do know that several other prophecies predict that God will have
transactions with Israel in a wilderness in the end-time. So I am prepared to
expect an unraveling in spite of the difficulties. The difficult portions of
the prophecy do not do away with the fact that some of it is very plain. Moses
predicted that prophecy would be like this (vide. Numbers 12:6-8). That God
will bring Israel into tribulation issuing in a separating judgment is clear.
The most significant part of the passage follows:
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 people, 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 land of Egypt.” Nothing of the sort
has been in Israel’s history since Ezekiel’s prophecy; it awaits a future day.
(c) The agency by which the tribulation of Israel shall be brought about.
The passage in Ezekiel 20 to which reference has just been made lays
emphasis on one aspect of Israel’s tribulation which can be brought about only
by God in Christ as the judge of all men (cf. John 5:22). But the Scripture
leads us to believe that most of the peculiar suffering of Israel during this
time of the indignation of God will be brought about by a great evil king of a
Gentile nation, as in the days of old.
Zechariah 12:2 ff. implies a general Gentile war against Israel in the
end-time. Zechariah 14:1 ff. describes the spectacular conclusion to it.
Daniel 11:36-45 reveals how the leader in this opposition at the last will be
the great final Antichrist who will vex the inhabitants of “the glorious land”
of Israel. But the passage that definitely connects Israel’s last agony with
the Antichrist is the prophecy concerning the little horn of Daniel 7:8,11 and
19-22. I shall treat this passage somewhat at length in proper season. Here I
wish only to call attention to the fact made clear therein, that the same final
and last of all Gentile kings, who shall be destroyed utterly by Christ at his
second coming, will also oppress the saints of God. Viewed in the contextual
connection, those saints can be none other than God’s ancient people Israel.
(d) The length of the Tribulation’s duration:
Several passages lead us to believe that the tribulation is of divinely
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 Israel at the end-time. The first is that verse 21 clearly identifies it
with that end-time tribulation described in Daniel 12:1, to which reference has
already been made (see (a) above). Jesus says, verse 21, “For then shall be
great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until
now, no, nor ever shall be.” This identification is clear and unmistakable.
The other reason is that this tribulation is set at the time of “the
abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet”
(Matt. 24:15, cf. Daniel 9:27, 12:11). This same abomination is selected for
further treatment by Paul (II Thess. 2:1 ff.) and there plainly related to the
times of the Antichrist of the end.
So we are fully justified in relating these words of Matthew 24:22 to the
time of Israel’s great tribulation. The statement that “those days shall be
shortened” is admittedly difficult. That the length of each individual day
should be less than our usual twenty-four-hour day seems manifestly a priori
out of the question. The only possible meaning, it seems to me, is that God
already has set definite limits on the number of days it shall last.
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 into 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 Israel in the endtime.
Revelation 12:6 specifies 1260 days and Revelation 11:2, forty-two
months. There are those who will controvert the Revelation passages, insisting
that they have no reference to Israel’s end-time tribulation. I think my view
can be sustained, but even granting that it could not be, the evidence from
Daniel 7:25 remains, and is conclusive.
(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 Israel’s great tribulation begins. There is some
disagreement among Premillennialists on the beginning events of the tribulation
of Israel. This is by reason of the fact that all do not accept the same view
of the Book of Revelation. However, the way in which the period closes is in
no question whatsoever. So necessity is upon me to treat its conclusion, and
it seems best at least to suggest what seems to be the best information about
Two events, it appears, will signalize the beginning of the Tribulation.
One is a divine permission delivering Israel into the hands of Antichrist (Dan.
7:25). The other is the beginning of a final persecution of Israel, to be led
by Antichrist. This will take the form of a requirement of worship of
Antichrist as God, with severe sanctions against disobedience (Dan. 7:25, II
Thess. 2:4). I have no doubt, personally, that this will take place in
Israel’s land in a restored Jewish temple of God which will at that period of
time be owned by God as His own (Rev. 11:1 ff.). I recognize that some of my
Premillennial brethren do not agree on this point, and I do not press it now.
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
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.
(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 fulfillment of the Old Testament covenant promises
distinctive to that nation.
It is probably at this point that Premillennialism enters into sharpest
disagreement with current forms of Amillennialism. Most of the recent writers
of that school (Leupold, Young, Allis, Hamilton, Murray, Pieters) contend that
all promises to Israel in the Old Testament which remained unfulfilled after
the rejection of Messiah were transferred to the church. In his recent, The
Seed of Abraham, Pieters contends that the Jew as a racial entity is wholly a
fiction at the present time–that the Jew is nothing more today, so far as the
promises of God are concerned, than the advocate of the false religion of
With this view Premillennial theology clashes–head on. The Scriptural
evidence for our view is in itself sufficient evidence also for refutation of
this prime negation of Amillennialism.
Postmillennialists have not usually objected to faith in a restoration of
Israel. However, they have not usually presented it as so extensive and
important as Premillennialists conceive it to be. David Brown, probably the
most able defender and exponent of postmillennialism, felt that the nation of
Israel would preserve its national identity and that some day all Israelites
would be saved (Christ’s Second Coming, Will It Be Pre-Millennial? pp.
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 Israel. I cannot present all of them. My method will be to
classify the evidence under twelve arguments and to present representative
strong texts in connection with each. It will not be possible to avoid a
certain amount of overlapping between the arguments. Therefore, the reader
will be asked to regard the various propositions as steps in one cumulative
Biblical argument rather than as distinct and separate. These several steps in
development of the Biblical material follow.
(a) There are numerous Old Testament predictions which treat of a
repentance and restoration of Israel in eschatological times which is distinct
and separate from that which followed the Babylonian captivity.
Perhaps the most precise text on this subject is Hosea 3:4,5, which
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 Israel
will be without the symbols used in the true worship. This fits neither the
period of the Babylonian captivity nor the period after the restoration, but
rather this present age.
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, forever (25); that
God will Himself come to dwell with them (26,27), as John prophesies of the
coming eternal kingdom (Rev. 21,22); that all the nations will be blessed
forevermore in and through this arrangement (28). Such things have never taken
place in Israel’s past, and when viewed in connection with the last three
chapters of the Revelation, can be understood only as taking place after the
return of our Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory.
I would be willing to rest my case right here. This evidence is
sufficient enough–but there is much more.
(b) The perpetuity of the nation of Israel, in spite of repeated
apostasies and restorations after divine chastening, is predicted.
I shall simply present two passages from the Pentateuch and three from
the Prophets of the Old Testament, permitting the Scriptures to speak for
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, O Jacob my servant, saith Jehovah; neither
be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed
from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be
quiet and at ease, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with thee,
saith Jehovah, to save thee: for I will make a full end of the nations
whither I have scattered thee, but I will not make a full end of thee,
but I will correct thee in measure, and will in no wise leave thee
unpunished (Jeremiah 30:10,11, A.S.V.).
But fear not thou, O Jacob my servant, neither be dismayed, O
Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land
of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be quiet and at
ease, and none shall make him afraid. Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant,
saith Jehovah; for I am with thee: for I will make a full end of the
nations whither I have driven thee; but I will not make a full end of
thee, but I will correct thee in measure, and will in no wise leave thee
unpunished (Jeremiah 46:27,28, A.S.V.).
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 house of Israel among all the nations, like
as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon
the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say,
The evil shall not overtake nor meet us. 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.).
(c) There is at least one Old Testament prophecy which in
unmistakable and utterly unambiguous language predicts a national restoration
of Israel in yet future Messianic times.
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 Israel.
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.).
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
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 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 Israel. Observe:
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
Israel. This can refer only to the fact that just as once before, in the times
of Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, God gathered His people (the Hebrew means to
gather, rather than recover) from the nations in which they had been scattered,
so shall He do again. Our Amillennial opponents suppose that this second
gathering was the one under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, and that the first
was the bringing up of Israel out of Egypt into Canaan in the days of Moses and
Joshua. Support for this is supposed to be found in verse 16. However, the
exodus from Egypt was not a “gathering” out from among nations into which they
had been scattered. They were all in Egypt and had grown into a nation there,
concentrated in Goshen, not scattered in the nations. Also, the exodus was not
the rescue of a “remnant,” but the rescue of the whole nation. And, finally,
it must be recognized that the “second” gathering, referred to in verse 11, is
“in that day,” the day of Messiah’s appearing, not the day of the heroes of the
books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The Amillennial objections have not a leg to stand
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 Israel or in the church (granting that it
referred to the church) to the present moment. This must be a future
(d) The Scriptures speak of a restoration of Israel which will be
absolute and permanent.
There are many passages which speak thus; the one now cited is among the
And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel and they
shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant
vineyards, and drink of the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens,
and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and
they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given to
them, saith Jehovah thy God (Amos 9:14,15, A.S.V.).
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 this paper. Israel is to be restored to the land, and the
covenant promises of material and spiritual blessings to that nation, as a
nation, are yet going to be fulfilled.
(e) Jesus predicted events in the future which presuppose the restoration
of Israel to Canaan and the re-establishment of the ancient tribal organization
of the nation.
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, judgment the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28). Jesus
makes mention of the “regeneration,” Greek Palingenesia. It is an unmistakable
reference to the new order of things on earth after the second advent. Now, in
this era, the twelve apostles will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve
tribes of Israel. Our opponents hardly know what to make of this text, for it
is so devastating to all antichiliastic theories. Unless the nation of Israel
is to be revived and restored, this prophecy has no meaning at all.
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 Israel (A.S.V.).
(f) In his most important eschatological address, Jesus suggested that a
period of Jewish rulership of their ancient city, Jerusalem, would follow on
the conclusion of this age, which He called “the times of the Gentiles.”
This famous prophecy is found in Luke 21:24:
And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led
captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the
Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (A.S.V.).
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
Jerusalem, the time of Jesus’ second coming, and the signs of that coming.
Whatever may be said concerning the earlier portions of the address, as to
whether they refer to Jerusalem’s destruction or to Christ’s second coming, it
is certain that in verse 24 our Lord is looking far past that event of A.D. 70.
Now, says Jesus (if we may interpret), this condition in Jerusalem, with
Gentiles in charge of things and using the city for their own purposes, shall
continue to the end of the time God has allotted for Gentile supremacy. But
after that, the return of Jerusalem to its rightful owners shall take place.
This can never happen aside from the repentance, conversion, and
restoration of Israel.
(g) 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 Israel?”
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
“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 kingdom of God.” For forty days the Lord, intermittently of
course, explained to the disciples the “kingdom of God.” This He did to men
whose minds were steeped in the Old Testament promises to Israel in connection
with that kingdom. It were vain, of course, to suppose that the bearings of
that kingdom on the present age were not discussed–but the fact remains that
after forty days of this instruction the Jewish disciples still believed that
some time in the future the kingdom would be restored to them. Jesus did not
tell them that their hope was false. He did not reprove them for a “carnal”
view of the kingdom. He informed them only that it was not for them to know
the time at which the restoration would take place.
It is no mistake that has led countless defenders of the Premillennial
doctrine to this text in defense of it.
(h) The Apostle Paul declared that a time is coming in which “all Israel
shall be saved” and that in such a context that the national repentance and
conversion of the nation, if not national restoration, is a necessary
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 Israel–by way of repentance and conversion–has been
summarized by Alva J. McClain as follows:
Is He, God, done with Israel as a nation? The apostle recoils from such a
suggestion, and proceeds to show that the rejection of Israel is even now not
total, but only partial. And even this partial rejection is not final, but
only temporary. Three facts are adduced to prove that God has not cast off
His people forever. First, there is a PRESENT ELECTION within the nation
(1-10). He has spoken of this before, but he now points to himself, an
Israelite among the saved, as an evidence to this election. Furthermore, the
existing situation is very similar to that in the days of Elijah when in the
whole nation there was but a small remnant who had not bowed the knee to
Baal. So now there is a remnant according to the election of grace. As to
the rest, they have been hardened, and their eyes darkened. Nevertheless, we
are not to suppose that this is the end of Israel’s national hopes. There is
to be a FUTURE RESTORATION of the nation back to the divine favor (11-24).
Israel did not stumble that he might fall irretrievably. There was a
beneficent purpose in permitting all this to take place. Through the fall of
Israel great riches have been brought to the Gentile world, and if his fall
meant much to the world, certainly his future reception back into favor will
mean much more. If, on account of unbelief, certain Israelite branches have
been broken out of the tree of God’s favor and Gentile branches have been
grafted in, we are not to forget that God is able to graft the Israelite back
into the place of favor. For, after all, they are the natural branches;
God’s favor came into the world through Israel. As a matter of fact, they
shall be grafted again into their own tree. There is to be a final
SALVATION for the nation (25-32). (Romans Outlined and Summarized, pp.
Such is the argument of this chapter and the hope of the Apostle Paul.
(i) The Scriptures describe a future time when a temple of God in the
Jewish city of Jerusalem shall be appropriated by God as His own and be
misappropriated by Antichrist.
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 temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship
therein. And the court which is without the temple leave without, and
measure it not; for it hath been given unto the nations: and the holy
city shall they tread under foot forty and two months (A.S.V.).
This prophecy came to John nearly thirty years2after the temple of Herod
was destroyed by the Romans. So the prophecy does not refer to that temple.
It was not the heavenly temple “which the Lord pitched and not man,” for this
is to be desecrated by nations which will also trample the city. It is in
Jerusalem, as the words “holy city” specify. Furthermore, even without taking
into consideration the action of measuring, which many interpreters think
symbolizes God’s appropriation of a rebuilt temple at the beginning of the
seventieth week of Daniel, it is plainly said to be “the temple of God.” So
much for the fact–a Jewish temple is to be built in Jerusalem and appropriated
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.
(j) The Revelation predicts a resumption of God’s dealing with Israel in
the sealing of 144,000 Israelites, organized according to their tribal
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 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 sunrising, 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 sealed, 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 Postmillennial and Amillennial 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.
(k) The prophets speak as if the honor of Jehovah God is at stake in the
restoration of Israel in a final and permanent way.
God has a stake in the restoration of Israel. The honor of His name and
the validity of His covenant-keeping mercy depend on it, according to several
passages. In connection with several chapters in Ezekiel in which the final
restoration is predicted, this appears:
I had regard for my holy name, which the house of Israel had
profaned among the nations whither they went. Therefore say unto the
house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I do not this for your
sake, O house of Israel, but for my holy name, which ye have profaned
among the nations, whither ye went (Ezekiel 36:21,22, A.S.V.).
Peters (The Theocratic Kingdom, II, 53) says in this connection that
evidently the condition of Israel at the time of their future restoration will
be one of unbelief. Only because the time in the plan of God for the
establishment of the Messianic Kingdom shall have arrived will God move in
mercy again to restore the nation.
“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.,
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 Israel and fulfill the
promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In Romans 11:28 Paul writes that Israel is yet “beloved for the fathers’
sake.” This means that God’s present care for His ancient people is, at least
in part, out of respect for the faith of “the fathers” who believed God and
expected Him to fulfill His ancient promises. After writing of the faith of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the writer to the Hebrews observes:
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.).
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 Calvary. But all the
distinctive promises to Israel wait for complete fulfillment. We know that
unbelief and resultant chastening are the cause. But God has made a promise
concerning the overruling of the unbelief, and to this promise Paul must have
turned his mind as he wrote that Israel was still “beloved for the fathers’
sake.” I refer to a passage in the Pentateuch, the portion of God’s Word in
which this series of arguments began. After detailing the dread results of
disobedience–banishment from the land–God says:
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.
The Premillennial Approach to the Book of Daniel
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 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
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 wold 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 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
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).
Analysis and Outline of the Book of Daniel
The writer gave much time to 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 marvelous 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 10:1.) On this principle, the book divides at the end of
(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.
(2) The agency of revelation
In the first six chapters the only1 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 appears to be the angel Gabriel throughout. In
chapter seven (v.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).
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 portion, viz., 7, 8, 9, and
10-13. 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 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 people, Israel. Chapters two through seven are
written in Aramaic. Aramaic was not at the time of Daniel the language of
Israel. We now know that it was then, had been for some time, and continued to
be for several centuries thspan style=”font-size:10.5pt;font-family:LuxiMono;color:windowtext;”e lingua franca of the ancient world. What koine
Greek was to the nations of earth during the Greek age, what Latin has been
among most of the nations of the Western world up to modern times, what French
is to international diplomacy now, Aramaic was to the Neo-Babylonian empire in
some respects and in almost every respect during the Persian period. It is not
only possible, but entirely probable, that Daniel’s book was not issued to the
reading public in the Babylonian era at all, but during the Persian era.
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 favor.
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 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
The second section, chapters two through 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. Israel per se does not
once clearly enter the picture till the very last, and then in rather oblique
and enigmatic references (7:18,21,25,27). As might be expected, the entire
portion is in the common language of the Gentile nations of that area–Aramaic,
the koine of the Middle East till long after the conquests of Alexander and the
prevalence of his Greek.
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 Israel’s future, a future which is intimately
connected with the destruction of all Gentile powers, and in conflict with
those powers to the end. This is appropriately in the Hebrews’ own language.
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”
I. Historical Introduction to the Book (chapter 1)
II. The Nations of the World–their Character, Relation, Succession,
Destiny, etc. (chapters 2-7)
III. 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 Babylon was, in fact, the one to whom God gave the dream of the future.
It concerned the future of Gentile dominion and was presented as a Gentile king
would like to see it–glittering, strong, majestic, and quite human in its
outward aspect. Tregelles says (op.cit., p. 11): “Here all is presented as set
before the king according to his ability of apprehension—the external and
visible things being shown as man might regard them.” The consummation of
these kingdoms in a complete destruction and replacement by a divine kingdom
contains no single hint of any heroic or important role by God’s people Israel.
They do not once enter the scene. Chapter three, chapter four, and likewise
chapters five and six concern chiefly events in historical kingdoms of the
past. The treatment of certain Israelites is prominent but mainly as
revelation of the obdurate unbelief and spiritual ignorance of the Gentile
kings. These kings learn something of the rule of the Most High God in the
history of these chapters. Chapter five concerns the historical close of the
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 Israel, Israel’s God, and Israel’s future in
the center of the scene of interest, takes place. Between verses 18 and 28 of
this chapter, a people known as “saints” or “the people of the saints of the
Most High,” appear no less than five times–chiefly in conflict with the final
representative of and consummate form of Gentile dominion. On any principle of
historical exegesis, these saints can be no other than God’s ancient people
Israel. No worthy exegete claims that Daniel could have had any other primary
understanding of the reference. In the opinion of this writer, it is simple
eisegesis, or reading into the passage what one wants it to mean, to find “the
church” or “the whole body of the redeemed” in this prophecy. That later
prophets may have elaborated prophecy so that some things here affirmed of
Israel (e.g., reigning with Christ) are likewise affirmed of other people of
God may well be true, but the simple fact remains that in Daniel, the saints
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 the 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, Israel remains the
cynosure. The importance of this division to a careful Premillennial treatment
is as yet only partially apparent. That it gives proper place to the future of
God’s elect nation is the most obvious advantage.
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 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 Israel’s history is run
out of covenant union with Jehovah is completely unrevealed. That there is
such a gap or blank is clear. The future of Israel during that blank is
entirely unknown. In due season these features will be developed in the
dissertation. For the present, let it be said only that they do exist.
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 Premillennial theology first demonstrates its
superiority as a method of interpreting the Book of Daniel.
An Amillennialism 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 the kingdom of God which will be established at the coming of
Messiah in power and glory.
A Postmillennialism which in another day regarded the Bible as the Word
of God could not explain this future of Israel either, even though some
Postmillennialists (e.g., Hodge) did believe in a future conversion of the
nation. There is no place in Postmillennialism for an Israel restored to a
position of national favor (as set forth in Romans 11) nor for Christ ruling
over the world from the Jewish throne of the ancient dynasty of David. Recent
Postmillennialism is also usually modernistic, that is, infidel with reference
to the doctrines of the deity of Christ and the inspiration of Scripture, etc.,
so quite naturally has no satisfactory explanation for these prophecies which
is in harmony with the faith of the saints. But Premillennialism recognizes
the futurity of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom and expects the restoration of
Israel to national favor. Therefore a satisfactory explanation for the strange
division of the Book of Daniel and of these other features is possible.
Premillennialists believe that even though in salvation there is now no
difference between men with respect to the favor of God, with reference to the
future government of this world the situation is different. God is expected to
restore Israel to his land and to a position of national favor. The present
age is a hiatus or gap in Israel’s special relationship with God. Thus the
Premillennial interpretation has an explanation for the continuity of Gentile
development seen in the Aramaic, or Gentile section of Daniel, and for the
hiatus in Israel’s development as set forth in the Hebrew section.
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
The answer lies in the purpose of God and the method of God in
The history of the Babylonian period is passed over quite as silently,
except for reference to Nebuchadnezzar as its king. 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 Israel and to termination in
the reign of Messiah that its detailed history appears to be of any interest to
the Spirit of prophecy.
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
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, O 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 ability and
willingness1of 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.
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
(be’achraith yomayya). 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
First, this phrase is an exact Aramaic translation of the Hebrew
be’acharith hayyamim, and is an idea lifted en toto out of the general
prophetical literature of Israel. It is spoken by a Jew who was versed in that
literature. Hence, its meaning is to be determined by its usage in that
literature, not by its meaning in any other.
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.
Third, “the latter days” in the prophetical literature of the Old
Testament refers to the future of God’s dealing 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 “latter 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 Israel in Canaan. Cf. Gen. 49:1 ff.), but the
reach is always beyond those times to Messiah’s times. And let it never be
forgotten that the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah always have in view the
consummation of things in what we now know as Messiah’s second advent. The
importance of this fact cannot be overemphasized in relation to the
interpretation of the second chapter of Daniel.
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 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 Mah di lechewe’ ‘achare denah.
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.
The Details of the Dream
31 Thou, O 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 color 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 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 look 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.”
The Noneschatological Portion of the Interpretation
36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before
the king. 37 Thou, O 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 where as 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
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.
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 Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
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
This paper is addressed to men who believe that the Bible is the Word of
God, hence we shall not labor 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 Babylon, Medo-
Persia, Greece, and Rome is herewith presented. It is clear and unmistakable,
notwithstanding the learned obscurantism of the unbelieving attempts to render
it inconsistent and incomprehensible.
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 kingdom of Babylon as well as Nebuchadnezzar its
king, for in verse 39 the expression, “another kingdom,” requires this, as well
as the well-known fact that all Assyro-Babylonian kings were considered
identical with the state. Further evidence that Babylon is symbolized is the
fact that in other prophecies gold symbolizes that kingdom (e.g. Isa. 14:4).
Also Jeremiah 27:5,6 specifies that world dominion was given to Nebuchadnezzar
at that time.
The breast and arms of silver symbolize Medo-Persia. It is the favorite
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 this 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 the Median king is said to represent the “Medes and
Persians” (Daniel 5:28) and he ruled his kingdom by “the law of the Medes and
Persians” (Daniel 6:26). Furthermore, Daniel 8:20 speaks of Media and Persia
as parts of one realm rather than two separate realms. Not only so, II
Chronicles 36:20 shows that the Bible writers thought Persia followed the
Babylonian kingdom without any intermediate Median kingdom. The Medo-Persian
kingdom was frequently called simply Persian because of the ascendancy of that
side of the coalition. The so-called Median kingdom has its fictional
existence not in the mind of the author of Daniel, but only in the minds of
those Biblical critics who for a priori reasons must find historical inaccuracy
in Daniel. History knows of no Median empire, and neither does the Bible.
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 Greece.
The fourth kingdom is Rome. It is symbolized by the legs of iron with
the feet of iron mixed with clay. This cannot be proved by citing references
in the Bible which say that Rome succeeded to the empire of Greece, for there
are no such references. Rome probably did not exist in the sixth century B.C.
At least, no extensive kingdom of that name existed. However, there is
sufficient evidence that the Rome which history informs us followed the last
stage of the Grecian period is at least included in the fourth empire
envisioned in this prophecy. This evidence owes its existence to the fact that
this one empire, which had no existence at all in Daniel’s time, is given most
detailed treatment herein. This is surely a divine providence.
Observe that though parts, such as the legs, feet, and toes, are
mentioned in the interpretation, they together symbolize only one “fourth
Every detail speaks unmistakably of Rome.2
It is “strong as iron”–iron being the strongest known metal in Daniel’s
day. At its height, Rome stands in history as the strongest of all imperial
powers. The short sword of the Roman soldier and of the Roman mercenaries, was
then the symbol of the greatest power of all time.
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,
Rome not only could but did break up all the other conquered kingdoms and
erased the national and political character of the other kingdoms of the world.
Rome was unique in this respect. Babylonian institutions and culture, to a
great extent, conquered both the Medo-Persians and the Greeks. But when Rome
took over, the world became a Roman world–so Roman, in fact, that the
expanding Western world today still bears the plain mark of its Roman origin.
It is still markedly Roman in character.
Furthermore, of this iron kingdom it is said that it “subdueth all
things.” This also is characteristic of Rome. Gibbon wrote: “The empire of
the Romans filled the world, and when the empire fell into the hands of a
single person, the world became a safe and dreary prison for his enemies. To
resist was fatal and it was impossible to fly.” Two millennia ago, Rome gave
the world the ecumenical unity which the League of Nations and the United
Nations organizations have sought to revive in our time. The modern attempts
are not original at all (as many of our contemporaries suppose), but are
revivals of the ancient Roman ideal which never since the time of Augustus
Caesar has been wholly lost. It is probable that the Pax Romana (Roman peace),
the peace of a well-ordered prison with plenty of iron gates, steel doors,
trained guards, and high walls is the best the world will ever achieve till
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 part of the answer. It is mitharbim, 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–parzel (iron) and chasaph (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 nature 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 dreamimage
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 fulfillment and yet future fulfillment of predictive
prophecy in the final stage of the dream. The writer discerns four principles
(1) A continuous succession of world dominions down to the coming of
As previously noted, the prophecy covers the “latter days,” inclusive of
all time from Daniel’s own down to the consummation. 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 kingdom of Christ.
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
Israel, and that in relation to a period when that people is out of national
favor with God. The writer does not refer to that “lack of perspective”
present in prophecies where continuity is not a subject of revelation. He
insists that continuity is a part of the subject of revelation here–that the
continuity of Gentile world dominion down to the end of it in the establishment
of an Israelitish dominion under King Messiah is predicted.
That the Roman power shall assert itself in a more active way at the end,
and that the old headquarters at Rome may even be restored, may very well be.
But, from the standpoint of this prophecy, that will not be a resurrection of
something now dead but rather a strengthening of something which even now
lives. Many of the most honored names of Premillennial scholarship are of men
who shared this view, among them Tregelles, Seiss, and Ironside.3
Observe that this truth is supported by the division of Daniel advocated
in this paper. A gap that pertains primarily to a period of time when Israel
is out of divine favor would be totally out of gear in a prophecy relating to a
period when Gentiles enjoy the divine favor of world dominion and of which the
subject is Gentile succession.
The force of these facts will grow on the reader as the argument
(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 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 Byzantium, and
West, with capital at Rome. Further, there is the manifold division into ten4
indicated by the toes. This might be thought to refer to the present divided
state of the Old Roman Empire, but it seems more likely to refer to some
situation at the end of Gentile dominion.
(3) A progressive deterioration in the character of the authority of the
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
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,
4 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. Young (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 Israel of God, the church,”
for which there is no exegetical basis whatsoever in this chapter. There is real
evidence for the ten kings, but certainly none at all for Dr. Young’s church.
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 of value in the kind of the
In the second place, the Bible elsewhere describes the kind of rulership
exercised by Nebuchadnezzar as something unique, 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 Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of
the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall
serve him, and his son, and his son’s son, until the very time of his
land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves
of him. And it shall come to pass, that the nation and kingdom which
will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, and will not
put their neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation will I
punish, saith the LORD (Jeremiah 27:5-8).
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
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 Persia outreached
Babylon by far. But in the character of the sovereignty of its rulers, Persia
was inferior to Nebuchadnezzar–and so also with the remaining two kingdoms.
A resumé 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 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 Lincoln so eloquently put it, it is
“government of the people, for the people, and by the people.” Tregelles
discerns the deterioration in the character of the authority of the rulers, but
does not clearly distinguish it from the division of sovereignty in Rome
(op.cit., pp. 14-18).
(4) A progressive improvement in the hardness of the metals and in their
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
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 dénouement. 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.
44 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 forever. 45 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
It is in this section of the oracle that the Premillennial 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 Premillennialists,
who see the fulfillment in the final establishment of the kingdom of Christ at
his second coming, and Amillennialists and Postmillennialists who see the
fulfillment in the first advent and the events of the present age. The chief
differences between the Amillenarians and Postmillenarians being that the
Amillenarians place more emphasis 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 Postmillennial 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 Amillennial 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 kingdom of God does that in part by
the overthrow of the ancient and entrenched wrongs that are characteristic of
all the world powers. Note how feudal systems, slavery, and caste systems–
institutions of the world powers–yield before the Spirit of Christ in His
Church. To some extent this overthrow is still future, for the final victory
of the church coincides with the day of judgment. Then Christ and his saints
shall judge and overthrow whatever of sin or wrong still remains. In this
overthrow there must be included also the gentle victory of the gospel, which
makes its gracious influence felt and conquers, but not with violence and
bloodshed. Though thus engaged in continually overthrowing what the world
constructs, such effort shall not wear out God’s kingdom: “but it shall stand
forever” (Expositions of Daniel, pp. 125,126).
The discerning reader will readily observe that both of these systems
(Postmillennialism and Amillennialism) rest on a theory of church-kingdom
identity–that the kingdom of God and the church are precisely identical. This
is a position which cannot be sustained by Scripture, despite valiant attempts
to make the Bible support it. This subject has been treated in the first
section of this dissertation, and the views of Amillennialism and
Postmillennialism will not be refuted at this juncture, except to observe some
inconsistencies which would seem to be introduced into the Scripture if their
theories were to be adopted.
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 Babylon, Medo-Persia, Macedonia,
and Rome. Even in its outward organization, the church’s members are to be
subject to “the powers that be” and to “render unto Cæsar.” 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
(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
(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. Postmillennialists may consistently
claim to believe that the church will yet conquer the world. But
Amillennialists who share with Premillennialists 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 apostasy at the close of the
(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 Postmillennialism, leaving only Amillennialism to challenge the
Premillennial view seriously.
Dr. Seiss, who wrote in a day when Postmillennialism was a serious
challenge, has well summarized the arguments against that view to be found in
this passage (vide Voices From Babylon, 84-86). Auberlen also has shown the
failure of Postmillennialism to interpret this passage on account of its wrong
view of the present age (op.cit., 216-233).
Amillennialism, 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
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 Premillennial 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 forever.
Any other system of eschatology must spiritualize the passage or else
ignore the plain facts of it.
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 rôle of the church
in the present age and eschatology enter that the disagreement comes. And it
is just at this point that the premillennial eschatology again shows its
It is generally agreed that chapter seven relates to the same subject and
scheme of prophecy as chapter two (exceptions are Hitzig and Bonnar1). 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 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.
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 Israel’s future, it might
be expected that there would be some sign of a transition to that subject in
the last portion of this oracle. This is precisely what does happen. A
shading off which leaves Israel, Israel’s God, and Israel’s future in the
center of the scene of interest takes place. Israel is seen at war with
Antichrist in the closing verses of this prophecy and the prophecy closes with
Israel in possession of the long promised kingdom.
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.
Postmillennialists see the succession of Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece,
and Rome in the four beasts which appear on the scene. They also see the
Messianic Kingdom in the coming of the kingdom of one like the Son of man. The
“little horn,” who blasphemes and makes war on the saints of the Most High, is
conceived to be the Pope or the Papal system, and the saints are conceived to
be the church of the present age. The ten kings (symbolized by the ten horns)
are usually taken to be either ten successive emperors of Rome or ten
contemporaneous kings ruling in various parts of the Roman empire, Different
postmillenarians interpret the ten horns differently, but all agree that they
are historical kings now long dead. The victory of the kingdom of Messiah is
conceived to be gradually accomplished within the present age, but to be
consummated at the second coming of Christ.
Amillennialists (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 Premillennial interpretation, advocated by this writer, holds
that the four beasts are the same four kingdoms set forth by the orthodox
Postmillennialists and Amillennialists. 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 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 (II Thes. 2:1-9; Rev. 13:1-10).
The “saints” 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 kingdom of David with Christ Himself reigning as their
Finally, the kingdom of the Most High, said to be “an everlasting
kingdom,” is none other than the Kingdom of Christ, of which the first stage is
the Millennium, elsewhere treated in this dissertation.
That the Premillennial 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.
The kingdom of Christ is not represented as being established till after
the final beast of the series “was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was
given to be burned with fire.” This is in complete harmony with the prophecy
of chapter two. There the kingdom of the stone does not gradually grow up
during the final stage of the image’s prophetic history, but the stone kingdom
comes with force, destroying violently the image. After the destruction of the
image, after its very dust has been blown away, the stone becomes a great
mountain and fills the whole earth.
This is the basic fact that Amillennialists and Postmillennialists must
face. This fact alone discredits both systems of interpretation. It simply is
not possible to have an earthly kingdom of Messiah present during the Roman
period of Gentile history and harmonize it with the facts of these two
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
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
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 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.
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. 44 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 Amillennialists 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
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 Amillennialists as well as the
majority of Premillennialists recognize to be the final Antichrist, has not yet
appeared among them and uprooted three. Until he does, the kingdom of Messiah
is in a definite and unique sense a future thing.
Related to this fact is still another:
(3) The kingdom of Messiah clearly follows the appearance of Antichrist
and his destruction, which events are still in the future, as explained by the
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, mouth speaking great
things, etc.) and by his actions (making war with the saints).
Nearly all Postmillennialists, Amillennialists, and Premillennialists
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
Postmillennialists 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 II 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
But now we call on our Amillennialist 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
religion kingdom. This utterly does away with the Postmillennial view. It
also militates against the Amillennial view, for though they do allow that in
final manifestation the kingdom will be thus, they postulate a present earthly
kingdom of Christ under the same figure when the figure will not allow it.
They are placed in the unenviable position of trying to have their logical cake
and eat it too. Their church kingdom they try to relate to the “saints” in the
passage, but the saints are clearly not the kingdom here, but the ones who
after a period of suffering receive a kingdom. So even granting (which I do
not) that the saints herein are the New Testament church (Young, Keil,
Leupold), their theory will not fit.
(5) The Kingdom of the Most High is Jewish in some definite sense, just
as our Premillennial doctrine affirms of the coming kingdom of Messiah.
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 20:6,7)
This matter is crucial for the Premillennial view, and needs full
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 Israel, the covenant nation, shall have a place in that kingdom, and in a
real sense possess it? If so, then, a national restoration is in the plan of
God for that nation.
There are five refrerences 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 Israel. Consider the evidence. The
Hebrew adjective equivalent to the Aramaic qaddish, saint, is qadosh. In
Exodus 19:6 it is used of Israel and of Israel only in her peculiar relation to
God as His covenant people. In Leviticus 20:7,26 it is used in the same sense
as also in Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2,21. The Hebrew noun qodesh is also equivalent
to this Aramaic word, and is used of Israel and of Israel only in this special
sense of describing a people peculiar to God. This use appears many times.
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 advocates of the Amillennial 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 quodesh). 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 Israel prophesied in 12:1. There
these folk are called “the children of thy [Daniel’s] people,” and “thy
Dr. Keil, for all his learning and unquestionable piety, is certainly in
error when he writes:
The circumstance that in Daniel’s time the Israel according to the
flesh constituted the “holy people,” does not necessitate our understanding
this people when the people of God are spoken of in the time of the end,
since then the faithful from among all nations shall be the holy people of
God (Commentary on Daniel, 491).
The whole point is that Daniel was ref/spanerring 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
Delitzsch commentaries, regarded it “as an essential progress in prophetic
theology…that the following three ideas are recognized in their intimate
connection:–1. Israel in prophecy is not merely a type of the church; 2. that
Israel has yet a future; and 3. that before the last judgment there shall be a
time of a glorious kingdom of God” (Auberlen, op.cit., 219). With these words
of Dr. Delitzsch, all Premillennialists will heartily agree.
These facts demonstrate sufficiently that Premillennialism, and only
Premillennialism, gives a satisfactory explanation of “the Prophecy of the Four
Beasts and of the Ancient of Days.”
The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks
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
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. Anderson advocated the same decree
but set the date at 445 B.C. West, quite to the contrary, adopted the view
that it was the decree of Cyrus recorded in the first chapter of Ezra and dated
it tentatively at 536 B.C. (Thousand Years in Both Testaments, 129). Auberlen
adopted still another, the seventh year of Artaxerxes, and advocated the
seventh chapter of Ezra as the description of it. The same diversity of
opinion prevails among Premillennial as well as other writers.
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 America and Hofmann in Germany) always has presented
a united front against unbelief which would attempt to find the fulfillment of
the prophecy in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. I caution the reader,
however, not to construe these foregoing remarks to mean that this writer feels
that the terminus ad quem of the full seventy weeks is to be found in any event
near the earthly lifetime of our Lord, for such is not my opinion.
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 Gentileslanted
portion and a Hebrew-slanted portion, the division falling at the
conclusion of the Aramaic section (7:27), 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
people in Babylon.
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 of four Gentile kingdoms to be
succeeded by a fifth and last, the kingdom of God Most High. The seventh
chapter developed around the same grand outline, but enlarged the revelation
concerning the fourth, introducing also the final Antichrist, and presented him
in conflict with God’s holy nation, Israel. It also showed that Israel would
have a peculiar and special place in the kingdom of the Most High. However, as
chapter nine opens, the people of Israel are in dispersion and captivity under
a foreign king–and their land in heathen hands, their holy city Jerusalem a
heap, and their temple a ruin. It will be around the future of that land, that
city, that temple, and the Hebrew people that this chapter’s revelations will
gather. There will be revelation concerning the immediate future, during which
the temple and city will be restored to Daniel’s people; there will be promise
of the coming of their Prince Messiah to consummate that restoration at the end
of a specified time, an enigmatical prophecy of His rejection and death, to be
followed by the destruction of their city, and more remotely by an unhappy and
tragic liaison between Israel and the false Prince, the Antichrist, introduced
in chapter seven.
Omitting the introductory prayer and vision of the prophet, we come
immediately to the apocalypse of Israel’s future given by Gabriel’s mouth to
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 Jerusalem unto the anointed one, the prince, shall
be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again
with street and moat, even in troublous times. 26 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; and the end thereof shall be with a flood,
and even unto the end shall be war; desolations are determined. 27 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 (Daniel 9:24-27, A.S.V.).
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
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 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,
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. The presentation will take the form of five propositions.
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 successively.
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.
5. The seventieth week pertains to a seven-year relationship between the
Antichrist and Daniel’s people Israel, in eschatological times, and concludes
with the second advent of Christ.
(1) The seventy weeks are 490 years, which relate wholly to the then
future of Israel.
The opening words of chapter nine discover Daniel pondering on the
conclusion of a matter which related wholly to the fortunes of his people
Israel. He knew by studying the prophecies of Jeremiah (cf. Jer. 25:11) that
the duration of the Babylonian servitude was to be seventy years. Daniel had a
personal interest in this duration, for (cf. Dan. 1:1 ff.) he himself had been
among the first band of captives which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem
in the year 606 B.C.
He may well have wondered in this, the sixty-ninth or seventieth year
(the fist 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 Jerusalem in 586 B.C. If the
second date were the one intended, then Daniel’s and his people’s release would
have to wait eight or nine more years, till 528 B.C., or, if the third, till
5l6 B.C. One can well imagine that Daniel wondered if he might live to see the
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 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 identify 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, “looking for the consolation of Israel.”
At any rate, Daniel’s pondering and prayer related only to the fortunes
of his people, and he was thinking in terms of a 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 Israel: “Seventy weeks are
decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city.” No reputable interpreter
would claim that Daniel’s people were any other than Israel, according to the
flesh, and that his holy city was other than Jerusalem, the capital of Judah.
This is precisely what would be expected, as previously noted, in this the
distinctively Hebrew portion of Daniel’s prophecies.
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 favor, 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
As to the claim, herein, that the weeks of the prophecy are weeks (lit.
sevens) of years, little really needs to be said, even 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 II 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 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 future of Israel.
(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: “Know therefore and discern,
that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem
unto the anointed one, the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two
weeks” (v. 25). Then later he mentions that one “shall make a firm covenant
with many for one week” (v. 27).
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 Jerusalem
shall be seven weeks”–period. The obvious explanation of the seven weeks, or
forty-nine years, has been recognized by hundreds of critical readers and by
far the majority of evangelical commentators as the period during which, as the
verse goes on to say, Jerusalem “shall be built again, with street and moat,
even in troublous times.” It is true that there is no precise information in
the latter books of the Old Testament as to how long this period of rebuilding
the city was. We do know that even after the decree of Artaxerxes to Nehemiah
(the latest acceptable date for the terminus a quo of the prophecy) there were
delays and much opposition, as we learn in the Minor Prophets as well as in
Nehemiah. I, for one, in the absence of any better information, am fully
prepared to assert that whenever the decree went forth, forty-nine years later
the work was done. The second period of sixty-two weeks, or 434 years, then
covers the period from the completion of the work on the city to “the anointed
one, the prince.” The terms mashiach nagidh are both indefinite, and could
literally be rendered “Messiah, a prince.” I shall not enter into the
arguments for the position that this is a designation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is so generally accepted among the class of commentators whom believing
Christians accept, and so little controverted in current or past Christian
literature of the believing kind, that it is unnecessary. The only real
problem is to establish the event in the life of our Lord to which reference is
made. It is obviously some occasion when His official claims as the anointed
priest-king and ruler among the people should come officially before the
people. There are only two possible occasions, it seems to me (and the
commentators bear this out)–the baptism and the triumphal entry.
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 the
interpretation and the facts of history, there would be strong presumption of
truth in its favor. However, if the reader will examine “The Coming Prince” by
Anderson, whose mass of data is simplified in much more readable form by
McClain (op.cit.), he will find much more precise and striking correspondence
even than this. I am not personally competent to judge Anderson’s scientific
data, nor to say categorically that I am sure his calculations are correct–but
I can say that even if Anderson is wrong on some of the fine points of his
thesis–if we accept the ordinary solar year and the usual date for the decree
of Artaxerxes rather than the revised dates and the prophetic year of 360 days,
the correspondence is too close to be accidental and is a remarkable
confirmation of the view adopted here of the division of the weeks.
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.
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 Israel all of these office. This being the case, it
seems clear that the official position of Christ as the final great prophet of
whom Moses spoke, the great high priest who would in his own self accomplish
the work of bringing the nation to God, and the great “shoot out of the stem of
Jesse” who would consummate the kingship of David’s dynasty, are meant.
Messiah, then, was His primary name with reference to Israel, and He gathers up
all His functions in relation to that people.
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 kings of Israel, being first used of Saul. Significantly, it
is seldom used of any except an Israelitish ruler of Israelites. Usually it is
of “my people,” “Israel,” “the camp,” or some other designation of Israelites.
For this reason is seems likely that it applies to Messiah’s supreme position
among Israelites rather than to His yet future mission to judge and rule the
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 Israel” to whom
alone, in His first advent, our Lord said He came. The events of the second
advent are completely out of sight still at the conclusion of the sixty-nine
As previously indicated, there are some who suppose that the event which
placed our Lord before Israel as their Messiah Nagid was the baptism. But the
baptism had no reference to the presentation of Christ to man–it was rather a
self-dedication of Christ to God, and act which procured for Him the Father’s
approval, but since it had no reference to Israel evoked no response from them
The plain fact is that at no time in His life did Christ plainly and
publicly present Himself to Israel as their Messiah Nagid, except at the time
of the so-called triumphal entry. It is the opinion of this writer that no
other event fits the language of this text and the record of history (so also
Seiss, Ironside, Anderson, McClain, et al.).
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
death, I take it to refer to the crucifixion.1 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 weachare (and
after) does not designate how long after–it could be immediately afterward or
a thousand years afterward–but it must be after.
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 cannot be otherwise, as most agree.
(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.
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 labored at
length to prove that the sixty-two weeks began with some event in the earthly
life of Christ and 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
I do not feel called on to labor at length the view that the destruction
of the city is that of Jerusalem by the Romans in the first and second
centuries A.D. It has been always the prevailing interpretation
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,2 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 of
Jerusalem) in either the period of the sixty-two weeks (Keil and Leupold) or in
the seventieth week (Young and a host of writers in the past) stumble and fall
on the simple language of the text itself. There is but one natural
interpretation–and that is the one which regards the events of verse 26 as
belonging to a period between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks, when God
has sovereignly set aside His people Israel, awaiting a time of resumption of
covenant relationship in the future, after Israel has been restored to the
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 Germany, England, and America
are listed among the advocates of these things. I think of Nathaniel West,
Samuel Tregelles, Joseph Seiss, Sir Robert Anderson (who merits this
distinction)–if we are to ignore the host of popular writers who have given
these views currency in the last several generations. One feels moved to
suggest courteously to Dr. Leupold that there are some writers outside the
Lutheran fold who have written worth-while treatments on Biblical questions,
and that at least a few of them were more versed in English than in his beloved
German. He could profit by giving them some attention.
(5) 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
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.
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 endtime.
“He shall make a firm covenant” etc.–thus the verse opens. A more
literal reading of wehighbir berith 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 indicating 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 “little 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 Israel. His dealings are
larabbim, literally, “with the many.” It is significant that this word rabbim
is used in Isaiah 52:14 of the Jewish nation which rejected Christ at his first
coming, and in Isaiah 53:12 of the same Jewish nation whose sins He bore. But
even aside from this evidence, which, of course, is not conclusive in itself,
the opening words of Gabriel’s prophecy remain–these seventy weeks were
decreed on Daniel’s people Israel, and on Daniel’s city of Jerusalem.
Furthermore, this evil prince is presented in chapter seven as persecuting the
“people of the saints,” who have already been identified in this paper as
Israelites, for a period of “a time, times, and half a time.” The
correspondence of this period (which easily could be interpreted as three and
one-half years) with the three and one-half years of this verse (second half of
the week) during which this prince shall be not a blessed anointed prince but
an abomination, is too close to be accidental. They unquestionably point to
the same thing–persecution of Israel by Antichrist.
In the third place, this verse places a certain blasphemous act of
Antichrist in the seventieth week, which act is elaborated in II Thessalonians
and in the Revelation and definitely placed in an eschatological setting. I
have in mind the word weal kenaph, 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.
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.” Theodotian 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” (II 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 Israel in eschatological times.
A fourth reason for this view is that the last events of the 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
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 preceeding 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 shiqqutsim meshomem 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 kingdom of God on earth.
Gabriel said: “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.”
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 Israel’s
submission to and persecution by Gentile power. This is thought to terminate
with Antiochus. The six blessings are then said to be simply the Messianic
Kingdom, conceived in a Postmillenarian fashion. Another, championed notably
by Barnes among the Postmillennialists, by Young and Mauro among the
Amillennialists, and by Auberlen among the Premillennialists, regards the
seventy weeks as terminating shortly after the death of Christ and the six
blessings as being conferred within the seventy weeks. These men feel that “it
was by the cutting off of Messiah that the six predictions of verse 24 were to
be fulfilled” (Mauro, The Seventy Weeks, 43,44). Mauro states the view
succinctly: “When our Lord ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit descended,
there remained not one of the six items of Daniel 9:24 that was not fully
accomplished” (ibid., 53).
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 favor of the third
In the first place, the seventy weeks are preserved throughout the verse
as a singular subject of all the infinitive clauses. shabuim shibim, “seventy
weeks” is indeed plural, but the verb, nechtakh (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. Seventy weeks IS [not are] determined upon thy people and upon
thy holy city. 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 give 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, limshoach
qodesh qadashim, 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 fact remains, as Keil demonstrates, that the
American Standard Version marginal reading gives the sense of the passage: “to
anoint a most holy place,” that is, a temple of Jehovah God of Israel. The
linguistic evidence is unquestionably in this direction. In only one passage
in the entire Old Testament (I Chron. 23:13) can these Hebrew words be used of
any other than the temple or some one of its parts. It would be exceedingly
strange for Gabriel to depart from the usual meaning here in a passage so
closely tied in thought to the rebuilding of Solomon’s temple.
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 fulfillment, 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
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
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
In 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 Israel, thus
placing that ancient people in an eschatological situation. (3) The
blasphemous act of the prince in desecrating the temple, described in the
words, “For the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate,” is
placed by Paul (II Thes. 2:4) and John (Rev. 11:1 ff.) in an eschatological
setting. (4) The prophecy specifies that the seventieth week will end forever
(v. 27) Jewish idolatry and persecution, or, on the basis of an alternate
translation, with the final undoing of Antichrist–neither one possible short
of the second coming of Christ. (5) Our Lord Himself interpreted this prophecy
as a prediction of events at the close of this age (Matt. 24:15); and (6)
finally, the scope of the prophecy which is said (cf. v. 24) (a) to finish
transgression, (b) to make an end of sins, (c) to make reconciliation for
iniquity, (d) to bring in everlasting righteousness, (e) to seal up vision and
prophecy, and (f) to anoint the most holy, requires that it include end-time
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. Amillennialism fails because it does not wish to recognize
the peculiarly Israelitish flavor of the prophecy, which promises a rich future
for Israel after the return of Christ in glory, and the rôle of Israel in
conflict with Antichrist during the last years of this present age. On the
other hand, our doctrines of Antichrist, of the restoration of Israel, and of
the Great Tribulation find not only support but [also] their chronological
unraveling in this prophecy.
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 marvelous 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,
A large portion of this prophecy has been suspected by many evangelical
scholars as spurious. It is often said to be 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 noneschatological
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
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
I. 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 (20,21
7) The encouragement of the prophet (20,21
II. Prophecies Concerning the Nations as They Move Toward Final Conflict with
Israel (chapter 11)
1) Introduction (1)
2) Prophecy concerning Persia (2)
3) Prophecy concerning Grecia (3,4)
4) Prophecy concerning the historic king of the south and of the north (5-20)
5) Prophecy concerning the vile person, last of the so-called kings of the
6) Prophecy concerning the willful king (36-45)
III. Prophecies Concerning Israel at the time of the end (chapter 12)
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 (ubhaeth
hahi) 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 Persia, then the king of Greece, and next
the kings of Egypt and Syria after the age of Alexander come to view. This
brings us down to verse 20. Commentators are quite in agreement up to that
point. From verse 21 onward, however, there is not this agreement. A
“contemptible person” is introduced in verse 21 and traced through verse 35.
By far the majority of commentators feel that he is none other than Antiochus
Epiphanes–the little horn of chapter eight. A very few think he is the
Antichrist of the end-time. Keil feels that he is primarily and directly
Antiochus and typically Antichrist–just as he feels about the little horn of
chapter eight. Some of these interpreters think that Antiochus is the theme of
the prophecy to the end of chapter 11.
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 willful 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 Israel, and always in
Scripture includes some eschatological reference. This is recognized by the
vast majority of evangelical scholars of all schools of eschatology. Leupold’s
comment (in loco) is quite typical: “In all instance that we know of, this term
reaches out into the Messianic age. Obvious instances are Genesis 49:1;
Numbers 24:14; Isaiah 2:2. We believe that the same is the case in this
instance.” The other expression, “for many days,” is literally “for the days.”
Whether it be taken as referring to the “latter days” or only, as most
commentators allow, to long extended futurity, this expression also counts for
an eschatological reach to this prophecy.
For those who believe in the accuracy of predictive prophecy, it is of
most importance that
(2) the correspondence of the predictions of chapter II 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 fulfillment of the predictions of the willful
king is in eschatological times. “The indignation” is another technical term
out of Israel’s prophetical literature, referring frequently to the wrath of
God on men in the last times. We have previously dealt with the Great
Tribulation of Israel in the end-time. During the time of that tribulation of
Israel, God will be dealing in wrath with the Gentiles also, and frequently
that wrath on the nations of men is called zaam, “indignation.” The word
appears twenty-two times in the Old Testament, and while it does not always
refer to this particular indignation, it sometimes does. Isaiah 26:20 is a
good illustrative passage. It is not conclusive, of course, but it does bear
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 Amillennial school as well
as most of the Premillennial writers agree in this. The behavior of the
“little horn” of chapter seven, the “man of sin” of II Thessalonians, and of
“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 (II
Thes. 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 willful 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 Israel, the resurrection of the dead, and the final
reward of the righteous. It is unquestionably true that if the career of the
willful king and his conflicts with the king of the south and the king of the
north are at the time of these things, then he is none other than the final
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) 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 “little 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 fulfillment 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 willful king is discussed on both sides of the break.
In the second place, as many have noted, the known 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 (Egypt), the king (Antiochus) of the north (Syria),
and their conflicts one with another and with Israel. Here, however, the
willful king is a third party in conflict with both kings.
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 Amillennialism
over three things: first, the predicted conflict of Antichrist with Israel
(11:41,45), the tribulation of Israel (12:1), the resurrection of the dead
(12:2). Few commentators provide extended treatment of these at this stage of
their commentaries, for the same subjects (except for the resurrection) appear
much earlier in Daniel and hence the views have been expressed previously. I
shall follow their example in making my remarks as brief as possible–and for
the same reasons.
(1) The conflict of Antichrist with Israel (11:41,45)
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: Edom, and Moab,
and the chief of the children of Ammon….And he shall plant the tents of
his palace between the sea and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall
come to his end, and none shall help him (Daniel 11:41,45, A.S.V.).
Premillennialists have a reasonable explanation of this passage. The
passage means literally what it says. He (Antichrist) shall seek to destroy
Israel in his own “glorious land” (Palestine) and to obliterate the then
revived worship of Israel in the land. This is the most obvious explanation of
the statements that “he shall enter also into the glorious land,” and that “he
shall plant the tents of his palace between the sea and the glorious holy
mountain.” Most commentators of all schools admit that this is, indeed, the
literal meaning. We further believe that the prophecy, “he shall come to his
end, and none shall help him,” is fully explained in a literal fashion by Paul
(II Thes. 2:2 ff.) and by John (Rev. 19:11 ff.). This interpretation accepts
the doctrines of a final Antichrist, of a restoration of Israel to the land in
the latter part of this age, and of a millennium during which Israel is blessed
to follow this age.
Postmillennialists and Amillennialists have almost nothing but hopeless
guesses to offer by way of interpretation of this section. The Amillennialists
especially, since they generally believe in the literal existence of the
Antichrist in the last days and in a literal interpretation of the willful
king, are hard put to explain these verses.
I submit Dr. Young’s comments on verse 45–hopeless confusion of literal
interpretation, symbolical interpretation, and of pure speculation–as
constituting their own refutation and a demonstration of the inability of
Amillennialism 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 holy mountain of Delight (lit., between seas to
the mountain of the delight of holiness). The plural, seas, is poetic (cf.
Deut. 33:19) and the reference is to the Mediterranean Sea. The glorious
holy mountain is Jerusalem or Zion. Hence, the king is to make his final
stand between the Mediterranean Sea and Jerusalem. This statement cannot
possibly apply to Antiochus, since he died at Tabae in Persia. It should be
noted that in placing the destruction of the great world power which opposes
the people of God near to Jerusalem, Dan. is in harmony with other similar
references (cf. Joel 3:2, 12 ff.; Zech. 14:2). However, inasmuch as such
names as Egypt, Moab, Edom, Ammon, etc., are employed in these verses in a
symbolical sense, so also is this present description employed. Precisely
what is the significance is difficult to determine. At any rate, the great
final enemy of the people of God, the Antichrist, will make his last stand
and will come to his end in territory which is sacred and holy (peculiarly
delighted in by the people of God–note the expression mountain of the
delight of holiness–does this have reference to the church?). His end will
be complete, apparently brought about by the glorious return of the Son of
God from heaven” (op.cit., 253).
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 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 Israel and to their land–in an
eschatological setting–he immediately shifts into a symbolical interpretation.
There is absolutely no justification for interpreting the prophecy of
Antichrist’s end in a literal Palestine and then interpreting “the mountain of
the delight of his holiness” as the church, unless it is a system of theology
which will not accept the restoration of Israel. And I think it is this
prejudice alone which explains this shift. Neither is there any evidence that
the other nations mentioned in the chapter are symbolical only.
In similar fashion, Leupold declares that “the picture is apparently
taken from the location of Jerusalem, and so Jerusalem again appears as the
prototype of the church of the last days” (op.cit., 523). Keil, while
frequently referring to the people of this chapter as the people of God, or
Israel, plainly indicates that it is not the ancient people Israel but the
church of the last days (op.cit., 482). The fact is, the people are not
referred to as God’s people (which could, indeed, taken absolutely, refer to
the church) but as “the children of thy people” and “thy people” (12:1), that
is, Daniel’s people. Everyone knows who they were–the people of Israel.
(2) The tribulation of Israel (12:1, A.S.V.)
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 last days under Antichrist. But, contrary to the
Premillennialists, they transfer all the references to Israel to the church.
My discussion on the tribulation of Israel in the first part of this book and
the remarks just previous on the conflict of Antichrist with Israel pertain
(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 some to shame and everlasting contempt.
This is an important text, and more than passing attention must be given
I think that Gaebelein was gravely in error and most inconsistent when he
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 Israel in that day (The Prophet
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, 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 believing1
interpreters, that physical resurrection is here predicted, to what
resurrection does it refer? Biederwolf (op.cit., in loco) has classified the
views as follows:
(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 Israel.
(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 Amillennialists
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, 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
Without being dogmatic, I advocate the second view as being the one most
acceptable. My reasons are as follows.
(1) The language favors a selective, or limited, resurrection rather than
a general resurrection.
The first clause is werabbim miyyesheme admath aphar yaqitsu, “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. Keil, who, being an
Amillennialist, might have wished that the word were kal, “all,” says that we
cannot “obtrude upon rabbim 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 discloses
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 lost their lives during the period of the tribulation
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 II).
(2) The Hebrew of the passage permits, and according to many of the best
authorities, demands a translation favoring 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 favored 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
In favor 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 elleh, 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
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 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
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 World Dissolution
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 II 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 II 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”
(katakaesatai). The oldest manuscript evidence is for the marginal reading,
though the exact text is not fully certain.
A bit later Peter writes: “According to his promise, we look for new
heavens and a new earth” (II 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 II 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
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 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 kingdom of Messiah since the days of the Old Testament prophets.
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 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 II 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” (II 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” (II 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 II 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 II Peter brings to one’s attention several significant
expressions demonstrating this proposition. They follow: “Where is the promise
of his coming?” (v. 9); “…comes 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 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 (I Cor. 15:23-28), an abolition of the earthly realm is
nowhere promised–unless II Peter 3:10 be the exception. Contrariwise, the
perpetuity of the kingdom is repeatedly asserted in the most positive terms, as
(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
(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 forever, even
forever 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.
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 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 II Peter.
For these reasons I am convinced that the great prophecy of II 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
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–possibilities 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 II 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 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
This statement may be reduced to four propositions.
1. The prophetic dissolution shall consist of a renovation, rather than
(1) In proof is the fact that nowhere in the Bible, unless II Peter 3:10
be treated as an exception, is the annihilation of the cosmos taught.
(2) Further, the words of II 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 katakaesetai (be burned up, if we
adopt the Textus Receptus), the words certainly do not describe 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 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
(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; Isa. 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.
II 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 (II Thes. 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 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 II 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 II 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
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 hosts shall
“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 II 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 our word “rudiments.” If this is the meaning in II
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 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 kingdom. This, I think, has been
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
kingdom, and that he was referring to the same in II 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, Greek
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” (II 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 (I The. 3:13).
This comparison is at once an answer to those who object that if the 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.
These things are well summed up by Paul, when he writes: “For the earnest
expectation of the 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 creation itself also shall be delivered from
the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God”
Will the reader permit a restatement of the main propositions as a
The time of the great coming 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.
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
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
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, topical,
metaphorical, or nonliteral) and the literal interpretations, though, so far as
the thousand years is concerned, such 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 Patmos, at least seven distinct views besides the
Premillennial view are to be discerned. That is, there are at least these
seven which have important differences and have been held by able orthodox
Christian theologians. The views of Swedenborgians, Russellites, Seventh Day
Adventists, and other groups not usually regarded as orthodox do not come
within the limits of this survey.
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
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 lecture1in 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
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
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 the 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,
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
Providence, and ministrations of His church.2
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 Postmillenial 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
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).
Strong feels that the release of Satan (Rev. 20:7) for “a little season”
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
Thus the “little 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 [twentieth] 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 couple.
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 labor (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 God.
Having just now read the entire section in The City of God again several
times, I do not feel that it can be positively asserted that Augustine was
convinced that the thousand years should be taken literally. He seems to say
so, but he is not unequivocal. His nearest approach is in chapter 10. There
he seems to say that the Millennium may be either the last one thousand years
before the consummation, into which the present age falls, or it may be the
entire period of the world’s history, called one thousand years because one
thousand as the cube of ten would be “the number of perfection to mark the
fulness of time” (ibid. XX, 6). He seems to lean toward the first of the two
possibilities. But, in either case, whether he thought the one thousand years
to be literal or a figure, he believed the term stood for a real period of
time, whether one thousand years or six thousand years.
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 (City of God,
XX,7). He specifically rejects the idea that the Millennium is a future age
after the close of the present dispensation.
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