Session 25: Calvin’s Theology of the Future
John Calvin, who lived from 1509 to 1564, concurred with Augustine’s interpretation of Revelation 20. He, too, rejected a future millennium based on a literal interpretation of Revelation 20 and believed that the reign of Christ had indeed begun. A leader of the Protestant Reformation, Calvin believed that those seated on thrones to rule over Christ’s kingdom were Protestant church and civil rulers instead of Catholic church and civil rulers.
Augustine and Calvin did not see a future for the restoration of the nation of Israel. Unrepentant Israel will never be restored to the Promised Land during the messianic kingdom. Since the Jews rejected their Messiah, God permanently abandoned the Jews. The Gentiles have believed in Christ, so the covenant of a messianic kingdom has shifted to the Gentile nations, which are now heir of the messianic promises. The messianic kingdom is a spiritual-civil covenant, with Godly men and women ruling over the spiritual and civil affairs of the nations.
Calvin modeled this Christian theocracy on Israel’s theocracy. He saw the faithful Jewish kings as role models for how the Christian civil rulers should govern the affairs of the church and state. The Christian civil rulers have a God-given duty to establish his theocratic kingdom on this earth. Just as there was no religious freedom in Israel, Calvin believed that there should be no religious freedom in the Christian nations. Those deemed heretics should be treated as criminals. The misinterpretation of Revelation 20 by Augustine and Calvin resulted in the tragic loss of religious liberty in Europe for centuries.