What view of the tribulation do Calvinists generally tend to take?

I am aware of the eschatology espoused in the Westminister Confession , but I don't see anything related to the tribulation there.

The reason that I ask for a "Calvinist perpective of Tribulation" is that I believe in pre-destination / TULIP.

I do not know if this belief supports / contradicts certain views of the tribulation, and would like to better understand this subject.

So, what is the Calvinist perpective on the tribulation?

  • 2
    Your question is a little flawed at the outset. One's view on soteriology is not directly related to the same person's view on eschatology. It's like asking to which political party do biologists belong. Commented Jul 30, 2012 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


As a Calvinists and someone who has mostly read books from the 1500 to 1700s I have never encountered any other view beside Christ's second coming as the end of the world.   In other words there is no talk about a rapture other than the final one at the end of the world. (I am not saying there is none to be found, just that among the main Calvanists leaders I have never encountered it). Sorry I have not listened to the audio you linked.

What I have noticed in reading old commentaries for around 30 years now, is that there is a general expectation that we will one day experience a great revival and this will be related to the Jews accepting Christ as their Savior. (Romans 11:25) Not all believe this but it is a strong trend, especially with someone like Jonathan Edwards.  Secondly, I have noticed a general common trend that when Christ does return there will be few Christians on the earth, and that after the revival, their will be a great Apostasy before he comes.  This is typically associated with Christ saying the world will be 'like the days of Noah' during the second coming. (Mathew 24:37)

What this final tribulation means, someone like Edwards is again a good reference and he sees it as the world surrounding the church and ready to persecute it but actually before any real harm is done Christ returns to save the church and judge the world.

In summary a common reformed idea is that a great revival will occur in Christianity most likely caused by the shock of the majority of Jewish people turning to Christianity.  This great time might continue for a long period, but then suddenly the church will fall away during some unknown generation.  This will trigger the world to unite against Christians in the most apocalyptic way, but before any real action is made, Christ returns to judge the living and the dead.

I have not provided proofs to my answer as it would begin to amass a very long post, I am only speaking from the point of being a Calvinists and having read many thousands of pages of Luther, Calvin, John Owen and Jonathan Edwards, which represent very key leaders of Calvinism through the period of 1500-1800. 

I am not sure if this is of any help to you, but that is all I can really say about end times tribulation from a traditional perspective. Matthew Henry seems to do a pretty good job in capturing typical views in his commentary on Revelation if you would like more detailed accounts on end times perspectives from standard historical Calvinists.

Note: I should add, once we leave the 'traditional Calvinists' around the late 1700 and early 1800s and arrive at modern day Churches, many who are Calvanistic in their view of salvation do not hold traditional views about a symbolic millennium. In stead many believe in a literal millennium and tribulation with a rapture before or after and whatever other possible combination. In this sense a Calvinistc view can be anything even though Calvin himself thought the idea of a literal millennium as 'too childish either to need or to be worth a refutation'.

  • Since my understanding is primitive, is the view you explained amillenium (no literal thousand years)?
    – user1694
    Commented Jul 30, 2012 at 22:23
  • @user1311390 - Yes Calvin and the next few hundred years of Calvanists and many Calvanists today, are amillennialism, including myself. This means the thousand years was a symbolic period that we live in now. It was not meant to be understood literally.
    – Mike
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 2:15
  • I believe John Piper + John MacArthur both believe in predestination + hold the premellinial view, the latter having written a book to defend the view. Can you recommend any book for the amellinial view?
    – user1694
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 4:34
  • @user1311390 - I would start studying revelation with what it meant to its first readers and then think about it in a forward looking view after. For its first meaning J. Nelson Kraybill: 'Apocalypse and Allegiance: Worship, Politics, and Devotion in the Book of Revelation' is good. For a general view that also is a little 'forward looking' I would start with Matthew Henry's Commentary on Revelation and 'History of Redemption' and 'Notes on Revelations' by Jonathan Edwards. Expect to find various differences of opinion regarding the future as it is meant to be sketchy until it occurs.
    – Mike
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 7:34

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