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 already begun. As 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. He saw the messianic kingdom as 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 had a God-given duty to establish his theocratic kingdom on this earth. Just as there was no religious freedom in Israel, Calvin believed there should be no religious freedom in the Christian nations. Those deemed heretics were treated as criminals. The misinterpretation of Revelation 20 by Augustine and Calvin resulted in the tragic loss of religious liberty in Europe for centuries.