Adam Clarke: Commentary on the Whole Bible (1832)

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Every thing which our Lord foretold should come on the temple, city, and people of the Jews, has been fulfilled in the most correct and astonishing manner; and witnessed by a writer who was present during the whole, who was himself a Jew, and is acknowledged to be an historian of indisputable veracity in all those transactions which concern the destruction of Jerusalem.

Adam ClarkeCommentary on the Whole Bible

By Adam Clarke

“I conclude, therefore, that this prophecy has not the least relation to Judas Maccabeus. It may be asked, to whom, and to what event does it relate? .. to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish polity; which in the Gospel is called the coming of Christ and the days of vengeance, Matthew 16:28; Luke 21:22.” (Isaiah 65, p. 513)

Adam Clarke was born in Ireland in 1762.

Clarke became a Methodist in 1778, and was in a succession an exhorter, local preacher, and regular preacher. His first circuit was that of Bradford, Wiltshire, to which he was appointed in 1782. He served in various places and traveled throughout Great Britain, achieving fame as a preacher, and being president of the British Conference in 1806, 1814, and 1822.

After 1805 he held an appointment in London, where he was a member of the committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society for several years, and one of the advisers of its Oriental publications. He resigned from this task in 1819, having retired four years previously, due to his impaired health, to Millbrook, Lancashire, where he resided until his return to the vicinity of London in 1823. He was also active in the service of the Wesleyan Missionary Society from its inception in 1814, making two missionary journeys in 1826 and 1828 to the Shetland Islands.

The most important of his numerous works was his Commentary on the Bible (originally published in eight volumes, 1810-26), which had a long and extensive circulation and took Clarke over four decades to produce. He also published a Biographical Dictionary (1802) and its supplement, The Biographical Miscellany (1806). His Miscellaneous Works were edited in thirteen volumes by J. Everett (1836-37). Adam Clarke died in London on Aug. 28, 1832. He is perhaps the most famous Methodist/Wesleyan commentator to date.  (New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge.)


As I have scarcely any opinion to give concerning this book on which I could wish any of my readers to rely, I shall not enter into any discussion relative to the author, or the meaning of his several visions and prophecies ; but for general information refer to Dr. Lardner, Michaelis, and others.

Various attempts have been made by learned men to fix the plan of this work ; but even this few agree. I shall produce some of the chief of these : and first, that of Wetstein, which is the most singular of the whole.

He supposes the Book of the Apocalypse to have been written a considerable time fore the destruction of Jerusalem. The events described from the fourth chapter to the d he supposes to refer to the Jewish war, and to the civil commotions which took place in Italy while Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian were contending for the empire. These contentious and destructive wars occupied the space of about three years and a half, during which prorfessor Wetstein thinks the principal events took place which are recorded in this book.

1 these subjects he speaks particularly in his notes, at the end of which he subjoins what calls his Synopsis of the whole work, which I proceed now to lay before the reader.

This prophecy, which predicts the calamities which God should send on the enemies the Gospel, is divided into two parts. The first is contained in the closed book ; the second, in the open book.

I. The first concerns the earth and the third part, i. e. Judea and the Jewish nation.

II. The second concerns many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings, chap. x. 11. i. e. The Roman Empire.

1. The book written within and without, and sealed with seven seals, the bill of divorce sent from God to the Jewish nation.

2. The crowned conqueror on the white horse armed with a bow, chap. vi. 2, is Artabanos, king of the Parthians, who slaughtered multitudes of the Jews in Babylon.

3. The red horse, ver. 4. The Sicarii and robbers in Judea, in the time of the proconsuls Felix and Festus.

4. The black horse, ver. 5. The famine under Claudius.

5. The pale horse, ver. 8. The plague which followed the robberies and the famine.

6. The souls of those who were slain, ver. 9. The Christians in Judea, who were persecuted, and were now about to be avenged.

7. The great earthquake, ver. 12. The commotions which preceded the Jewish rebellion

8. The servants of God from every tribe, sealed in their foreheads, chap. vii. 3. The Christians taken under the protection of God, and warned by the prophets to flee immediately from the land.

9. The silence for half an hour, chap. viii. 1. The short truce granted at the solicited of king Agrippa. Then follows the rebellion itself.

1. The trees are burnt, ver. 7. The fields and villages, and unfortified places of Judea which first felt the bad effects of the sedition.

2. The burning mountain cast into the sea which in consequence became blood, ver. 8.

3. The burning star falling into the rivers, and making the waters bitter, chap. viii. №

11. The slaughter of the Jews at Caesarea and Scythopolis.

4. The eclipsing of the. sun, moon, and stars, ver. 12. The anarchy of the Jewish Commonwealth.

5. The locusts like scorpions hurting men, chap. ix. 3. The expedition of Cestius Gallus prefect of Syria.

6. The army with arms of divers colours, ver. 16, 17. The armies under Vespasian at Judea. About this time Nero and Galba died ; after which followed the civil war, by the sounding of the seventh trumpet, chap. x. 7, 11, xi. 15.

1. The two prophetic witnesses, two olive trees, two candlesticks, chap. xi. 3,4. in the church, predicting the destruction of the Jewish temple and commonwealth.

2. The death, of the witnesses, ver. 7. Their flight, and the flight of the church of Jerusalem, to Pella, in Arabia.

3. The resurrection of the witnesses, after three days and a half, ver. 11. The pretions began to be fulfilled at a time in which their accomplishment was deemed the doctrine of Christ begins to prevail over Judea, and over the whole earth.

4. The tenth part of the city fell in the same hour, and seven thousand names of the slain, ver. 13. Jerusalem seized by the Idumeans ; and many of the priests and nobles, of Annas, the high-priest, signified by names of men, i. e. men of name, slain by the zealots.

5. The woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head, chap. xii. 1. The Christian church.

6. The great red dragon seen in heaven, with seven heads, seven diadems, and ten . The six first Ceasars, who were all made princes at Rome, governing the armies of the Roman people with great authority ; especially Nero, the last of them, who, having killed his mother, cruelly vexed the Christians, and afterwards turned his wrath against the rebellious Jews.

7. The seven-headed beast from the sea, having ten horns surrounded

iiii. 1. Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, who. were shortly to reign, and who were proclaimed emperors by the army.

8. This beast, having a mouth like a lion, the body like a leopard, the feet like a bear, ver. 2. Avaricious Galba; rash, unchaste, and inconstant Otho ; Vitellius, cruel and sluggish, with the German army.

9. One head, i. e. the seventh, cut off, ver. 3. Galba.

10. He who leadeth into captivity shall be led into captivity ; he who killeth with the sword shall be killed with the sword, ver. 10. Otho, who subdued the murderers of Galba, who slew himself with a dagger ; Vitellius, who bound Sabinus with chains, and was himself afterwards bound.

11. Another beast rising out of the earth, with two horns, ver. 11. Vespasian and his two sons, Titus and Domitian, elected emperors at the same time in Judea.

12. The number of the wild beast 666, the number of a man, TEITAN, Titan or Titus : ‘, 300. E, 5. I, 10. T, 300. A, 1. N, 50, making in the whole 666. [But some very respectable MSS. have 616 for the number; if the N be taken away from Teitan, then the tiers in Teita make exactly the sum 616.]

13. A man sitting upon a cloud, with a crown of gold upon his head, and a sickle in his hand, chap. xiv. 14. Otho and his army, about to prevent supplies for the army of Vitellius.

14. An angel commanding another angel to gather the vintage; the wine-press trodden, whence the blood flows out 1600 furlongs. The followers of Vitellius laying all waste with fire ; and the Bebriaci conquering the followers of Otho with great slaughter.

Then follow the seven plagues :

1. The grievous sore, chap. xvi. 2. The diseases of the soldiers of Vitellius through temperance.

2. The sea turned into blood, ver 3. The fleet of Vitellius beaten, and the maritime taken from them by the Flavii.

3. The rivers turned into blood, verse 4. The slaughter of the adherents of Vitellius, at Cremona and elsewhere near rivers.

4. The scorching of the sun, ver. 8. The diseases of the Vitellii increasing, and their hausted bodies impatient of the heat.

5. The seat of the beast darkened, ver. 10. All Rome in commotion through the torpor Vitellius.

3. Euphrates dried up, and a way made for the kings of the East ; and the three unclean spirits like frogs. The Flavii besieging Rome with a treble army ; one part of which was the bank of the Tiber.

His shame of him who is found asleep and naked. Vitellius, ver. 15. Armageddon, .

16. The Praetorian camps. The fall of Babylon, ver. 19. The sacking of Rome. .
The whore, chap. xvii. 1. Rome.
GALBA.  The eighth, which is of the seven, ver. 11. Otho, destined by adoption to be the son
successor of Galba. ‘. The ten horns, ver. 12—16. The leaders of the Flavian factions. . The merchants of the earth, chap, xviii. 11.; i. e. of Rome, which was then the forum of the whole world.

The beast and the false prophet, chap. xix. 20. Vespasian and his family, contrary to expectation, becoming extinct in Domitian, as the first family of the Caesars, and of three princes, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius.

7. The millennium, or a thousand years, chap. xx. 2. Taken from Ps. xc. 4, appointed by God, including the space of forty years, from the death of Domitian to the Jewish war under Adrian.

8. Gog and Magog, going out over the earth, ver. 8. Barchochebas, the false Messiah, with an immense army of the Jews, coming forth suddenly from their caves and dens, tormenting the Christians, and carrying on a destructive war with the Romans.

9. The New Jerusalem, chap. xxi. 1, 2. The Jews being brought so low as to be capable of injuring no longer; the whole world resting after being expiated by wars; and the doctrine of Christ propagated and prevailing every where with incredible celerity.”

Wetstein contends (and he is supported by very great men among the ancients and moderns) that ” the Book of the Revelation was written before the Jewish war, and the civil wars in Italy ; that the important events which took place at that time, the greatest that ever happened since the foundation of the world, were worthy enough of the Divine notice, as the affairs of his church were so intimately connected with them; that his method of exposition proves the whole book to be a well-connected certain series of events; but the common method of interpretation, founded on the hypothesis that the book was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, is utterly destitute of certainty, and leaves every commentator to the luxuriance of his own fancy, as is sufficiently evident from what has been done already on this book ; some interpreters leading the reader now to Thebes, now to Atheia, to finding in the words of the sacred penman Constantine the Great; Anus, Luther, Calvin , the Jesuits ; the Albigenses; the Bohemians; Chemnitius ; Elizabeth, queen of England; Cecil, her treasurer; and who not?” See Wetstein’s Gr. Test., Vol. II., p. 889.

What do YOU think ?
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Date: 30 May 2006
Time: 07:38:32

Wise And though provoking.
I am currently studying Internet based MRS course via which is a university without walls, through which I was referred to Adam Clarke Commentary as additional Internet sourced reading.
God Bless.
Yours faithfully
Hercolena Oliver

Date: 02 Oct 2006
Time: 22:12:14

Glad this is on line. For nigh on seventy years, I have been taught that this is all to be fulfilled in the so-called “Great Tribulation” – yet to come. I have found out this is error, along with all the other End-Time teachings so many millions follow. I have spent forty years throwing off all the errors and coming at last to what I can see is all the truth.
Perhaps forty years ago I may not have believed what is on your web. Perhaps I may have. At last, I can understand – because basically we did not really know the history of O.T. or Matthew 24. I hope many others, like myself, can come to see the Truths of the Gospel and not have Truths mixed with error.

Date: 05 Nov 2006
Time: 08:39:33

Your comments on Verse 15 about the Roman army has to be incorrect for 2 reasons. (1) This warning by Jesus was given to the desciples so that they would get out of Jerusalem before the city was destroyed (the Romans in the Most Holy Place). So the Abomination had to be there before the Romans even begain the seige, else it could not have been a warning. (2) That which made the Most Holy Place desolate was the absence of the Holy Spirit from the Most Holy Place which took place at the time of the Cross. I refer you to the instructions of God given to Moses about how and why he was to construct the Temple with the Most Holy Place in it. When Christ died the covering over the Most Holy Place was ripped in half, signifying the desertion of the Holy Spirit. It was at this instant that the Holy Spirit entered a different “Most Holy Place”, the body of the Believer as our Lord declared for the same reson He was in the M. H. Place in the Temple; to direct His people.

Troy Mullins Nov. 5, 2006

Date: 20 Apr 2009
Time: 11:17:36

When I was a new believer, I learned about “dispencionlism” until I stated studing more escatology.
Clarck’s commentariy on Matthew 24 is right on.
I strongly support this possition.
Daniel Garrido

Date: 10 Nov 2010
Time: 09:43:35


Date: 09 Feb 2013
Time: 11:17:35

This is not helpful. No way to go to a particular chapter and verse.  [Ok.  Will try to fix this year.]

Date: 19 Jun 2012
Time: 04:26:12

This time of tribulation has not yet occured-which was to occur before Christ’s return and so far he hasn’t. mat:24:21-then shall be great tribulation such has never been since the beginning of the world to this time and no nor ever shall be.

v/22a time when no flesh would be saved.-(ALIVE)

Date: 08 Jun 2013
Time: 14:09:09

I am Brazilian and I am translating the review on Adam Clarke Old Testament, and I wonder how can I Bibliography review on Adam Clarke, because I need to put on the copy I am translating since oo review on that iternet in this, do not have the bibliography, if you can help in my e mail – jose.roberto4281 @ Thanks, I’ll be waiting!