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Notes on Daniel: Calvin's Commentary on Daniel

By Jay Rogers
Published July 28, 2019

In reading Calvin’s Commentary on Daniel, a few ideas come to mind.

First, I am always amazed at how readable and lucid Calvin is – even for a 16th century theologian translated into English from Latin.


In the Days of These Kings (Book)

Perfect-bound Paperback — 740 pages

The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

The overarching message of Daniel is that Jesus the Messiah is even now ruling over the nations. He is the King of kings. Daniel tells us that Messiah’s kingdom will advance in the whole world from “generation to generation” (Daniel 4:4,34). Christ’s dominion is “given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Daniel 7:22). Our purpose then is to see “all people, nations, and languages … serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:14,27).

This comprehensive work offers a fascinating look at the book of Daniel in preterist perspective. Great attention is paid to the writings of ancient and modern historians and scholars to connect the dots and demonstrate the continuity of Daniel’s prophecy with all of Scripture.

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Second, I see a few minor discrepancies in Calvin’s approach to Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 that I would disagree with. Regarding the ten kings of Daniel 7 (and the seven kings of Revelation 13) Calvin does not see “ten” as a finite number, but as a symbolic number. He also sees the “Little Horn” of Daniel 7 as the period of persecution under all the Caesars – especially Nero through Titus. I differ in that I would say the Little Horn refers specifically to Nero. Calvin also does not make “time, times and half a time” to mean exactly three-and-a-half years, but rather several years or even several decades. I am in full agreement with Calvin that the kings of Daniel 7 must be the Roman Caesars of the first century. The thrust of the whole prophecy of Daniel is to point to the time of the birth of the Messiah – “in the days of these kings” (Daniel 2:44).

Third, with regard to Daniel 7, Calvin is solidly a preterist. I explain this above – he never deviates from this method of interpretation when dealing with Daniel. The “ten kings” are the Roman Caesars.

Fourth, Calvin sees parallels between Daniel 7, Matthew 24 and Revelation 13. Even though Calvin never wrote a commentary on Revelation, we can easily see from the commentary below that Calvin became a more solid preterist toward the end of his life.

As long, therefore, as the cruelty of the Caesars oppressed God’s Church, it was committed into their hands. We have already seen how many Caesars were enemies of the true Church. First, of all, Nero raged most cruelly, for he burnt some thousands of Christians at Rome, to extinguish the infamy which raged against himself. The people could not endure his barbarity; for, while the fourth part of the city was destroyed by Nero, he was enjoying his pleasure and rejoicing so mournful a spectacle! As he feared the popular tumult against himself, he laid hold of many Christians, and offered them to the people as a kind of expiation. Those who followed him, did not cease to pour forth innocent blood, and those who seemed to be endued with some degree of clemency and humanity were all at length seized with a diabolic fury. Trajan was esteemed a very excellent prince, and yet we know how he commanded the Christians everywhere to be slain, since he thought them obstinate in their error. And others were more savage still. No wonder, therefore, the angel predicts, even for “a time, and times, and the division of a time” [Daniel 7:25], that license would be given to the tyrants and enemies of the Church to pervert all things, to despise God, and set aside all justice, and to execute a cruel and barbarous slaughter. This ought to be predicted for two reasons: first, lest through length of time the faithful should fall away, because when “the time” a space of about ten years had passed, they would come to the times, consisting of about fifty or a hundred years.

This, then, was one reason why God admonished the faithful concerning the “time and times.” But he wished also to mitigate their sorrow by adding “half a time,” thus promising some moderation and ending to such great calamities. The language of our Lord to his Apostles concerning the various commotion of the earth, corresponds very well with this view. “There shall arise wars and rumors of wars, and no end as yet,” says he. He announces them as the preludes to greater evils, when the whole of Judea should be devastated with wars and other slaughters. He afterwards adds, “Unless those days had been shortened” [Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7; Luke 21:9]. This shortening of the days is here noticed as if the Lord cut short; a continued succession of them. For when the possession of the tyranny appeared fierce, then suddenly and beyond the expectation of all, God at length snatched away his Church, and then the evangelical doctrine emerged, and was celebrated everywhere. God, therefore, then shortened the days on account of his own elect, and this is understood by the last clause, a division of a time (Calvin, Commentary on Daniel 7:25).


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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

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This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 200 pages

A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism

Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

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Abortion Clinic 911 Calls (DVD)

Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!

These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.

Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.

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— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter

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The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death (DVD)

Download the free Study Guide!

Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?

This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.

Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.

The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?

As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).

Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.

Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!

Running Time: 195 minutes

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The Abortion Matrix DVD: Update

The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
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