Critical Apparatus for this Page
View an Image of this PageCommentary on the Text
Names and Places on this Page
421 [397]

K. Edward. 3.
THE FIFT BOOKE CONTEYning the last 300. yeares from the loosing out of Satan.

MarginaliaThe fift booke. THVS having discoursed  

Commentary   *   Close

This introduction to Book Five, added in the 1570 edition, is of importance as one of the fullest statements of Foxe's apocalyptic interpretation of history given in the Acts and Monuments. Here Foxe clearly sets out his belief, derived from John Bale, that the thousand year binding of Satan described in Revelation 20, is a prophecy of a period of history which not only preceded the second coming of Christ, but also preceded the Reformation. But this introduction - along with Foxe's exegesis of Revelation 13 on 1570, pp. 138-9, 1576, pp. 101-2 and 1583, pp. 100-2 - marks an important break with Bale's and an original contribution to Protestant apocalyptic thought. Bale had interpreted the thousand-year binding of Satan as running from the nativity of Christ until AD 1000. Based on his under-standing of the 42 month period, described in Revelation 13, in which the Beast held dominion, Foxe calculated that the binding of Satan did not begin until the triumph of Constantine around 324 and ended just before the advent of Wiclif a thousand years later. (This had the result of foregrounding the historical significance both Constantine and Wiclif). The periodization of history outlined here not only undergirds the Acts and Monuments, but also the Eicasmi, Foxe's commentary on Revelation, written at the end of his life.

[Back to Top]

Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

in these former Bookes, the order and course of yeares, from the first tying vp of Sathan: vnto the yeare of our Lorde 1360. I haue a little ouerpassed the stint of time in the Scriptures appoynted, for the loosing out of hym againe. For so it is wrytten by S. Iohn Apocal. 20. that after a thousande yeares, Satanas the olde Dragon shalbe let loose againe for a season, &c.

[Back to Top]

For the better explanation of the whych mysterie, let vs first consider the context of the scripture: afterward, let vs examine MarginaliaThe yeares and tyme of loosing out Satan examined. by history and course of times, the meaning of the same. And first to recite the wordes of the Apocal. the text of the Prophecy is this, cap. 23.

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaApoc. 20. And I saw an Aungell descending from heauen, hauing a kay of the bottomlesse pitte, and a great chaine in his hande. And hee tooke the Dragon the olde Serpente, whych is the deuill and Satanas, and bounde hym for a thousand yeares, and put hym in the bottomlesse dungeon and shutte him vp, and signed him with hys seale, that he should no more seduce the Gentiles, till a thousande yeares were expired. And after that he must be loosed againe for a little space of time. And I sawe seates, and they sate vpon them: and iudgement was geuen vnto them, and the soules I sawe of them which were beheaded for the testimonie of Ieus. &c.

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaThe place of the Apocal. 20. Expounded, for the loosing out of Satā. By these wordes of the Reuelation heere recited, three speciall times are to be noted.

1. First, the being abroade of Sathan to deceyue the world.

2. The binding vp of him.

3. Thirdly, the losing out of him againe, after a thousand yeares consummate, for a time.

Concerning the interpretation of whych times, I see the common opinion of many to be deceiued by ignorance of hystories, and state of things done in the church: supposing that the chaining up of Sathan for a thousand yeares, spoken of in the Reuelation, was meant from the birthe of Christe our Lorde.  

Commentary   *   Close

Actually, this was not a common opinion, but it was held by Bale and by Foxe until shortly before this passage was written. (On the first page of the 1570 edition, Foxe declares that the binding Satan began with the nativity of Christ).

Wherein I graunt that spiritually the strength and dominion of Sathan in accusing & condemning us for sinne, was cast downe at the passion and by the passion of Christ our sauiour, and locked up not onely for a thousande yeares, but for euer and euer. Albeit as touching the malitious hatred and furie of that Serpent, against the outward bodies of Christes poore saints (which is the heele of Christ) to afflicte and torment the Churche outwardly: That I iudge to be meant in the MarginaliaWhat the loosing of Satan doth meane in Scripture.Reuelation of S. John, not to be restrained til the ceasing of those terrible persecution of the primitiue Church. At what time it pleased God to pity the sorrowfull affliction of his poore flocke, being so long vnder persecution, the space of three hundred yeares, and so to asswage their griefes and torments. Which is meant by binding vp of Sathan, worker of all those mischiefes: vnderstanding thereby, that for so much as the Deuill prince of thys worlde had now by the death of Christ the sonne of God lost al his power and interest against the soule of man, shoulde turne his furyous rage & malice which he had to Christ against the people of Christ, (which is meant by the heele of the seede. Genes. 3.) in tormenting their outward bodies. Which yet shuld not be for euer, but for a determinate time, when as it shoulde please the Lord to bridle the malice, and snaffle the power of the olde Serpent, and geue rest unto his Church for the terme of a thousand yeares. Which time being expired, the sayd serpent should be suffred loose againe for a certaine or a small time. Apoc.20.

[Back to Top]

And thus to expound this Propheticall place of Scripture I am led by three reasons.MarginaliaThree reasons.

MarginaliaThe first reason.The first is, for that the binding vp of Sathan, andclosing hym in the bottomles pit by the Angell, importeth as much that hee was at libertye, raging and doyng mischiefe before. And certesse those so terrible and so horrible persecutiōs of the primitiue time vniuersally through the whole world, during the space of three hundreth yeares of the Church, do declare no lesse. Wherein it is to be thought and supposed, that Sathan all that time, was not fastened and closed up.

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaThe 2. reason. The second reason moouing me to thinke that the closing vp of Sathan was after the ten persecutions of the primitiue Church, is taken out of the twelft chapter of the Apocalips. Where we read, that after the woman (meaning the Church) had trauailed foorth her man childe, the olde Dragon the Deuill, the same time being cast downe from heauen, drawing the thirde part of the starres wyth him: stoode before the woman with great anger, and persecuted her (that is the Church of God) with a whole floude of water (that is, wyth aboundance of all kindes of torments) and from thence went moreouer to fight agaynst the residue of her side, and floode vpon the sands of the sea, wherby it appeareth that he was not as yet locked up.

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaThe 3. reason. The thirde reason I collect out of the Apocalyps thirteenth Chapter, where it is wrytten of the beast, signifying the Emperiall Monarchie of Rome: that hee had power to make warre fourtie and two monethes. MarginaliaApoc. cap. 13.By the whych monethes is meant no doubt, the tyme that the Dragon, and the persecuting Emperours, should haue in afflicting the Saintes of the primitiue Church. The computation of which fortie two monethes MarginaliaXlij. monethes in the Apocal. cap. 13. examined.(counting every moneth for a Sabboth of yeares, that is for seuen yeares, after the order of Scripture) riseth to the summe (counting from the passion of the Lord Christ) three hundred yeares lacking sixe,  

Commentary   *   Close

Foxe explains this calculation in more detail, and how he arrived at it, on 1570, pp. 138-9, 1576, pp. 101-2 and 1583, pp. 100-2.

at what time Maxentius the last persecutour in Rome fighting against Constantinus, was drowned wyth his souldiours, like as Pharao was drowned persecuting þe children of Israel in the red sea.  
Commentary   *   Close

Actually Maxentius's death (at the battle of the Milvian Bridge) took place in AD 312.

Vnto the which xlij. moneths, or Sabbothes of yeares, if yee adde the other sixe yeares wherein Licinius persecuted in the East: ye shal finde iust three hundred yeres, as is specified before in the first booke of thys volume, pag. 97.

[Back to Top]

After the which fortie and two MarginaliaWhat time Satan was tied vp. monethes being expired, manyfest it is that the furie of Sathan, that is, hys violent malice and power ouer the Saints of Christ, was diminished and restrained vniuersally through the whole world.

Thus then the matter standing euident, that Sathan after 300. yeares, counting from the passion of Christ, began to be chayned vp, at what time the persecution of the primitiue Church began to cease: Nowe let us see, howe long thys binding up of Sathan shoulde continue, which was promised in the booke of the Reuelation to be a thousand yeares, which thousand yeares, if yee adde to the xlij. monethes of yeares, that is, to 294. yeares: they make 1294. yeares, after the passion of the Lord. To these moreouer adde the 30. yeares of the age of Christ, and it commeth to the yeare of our Lord 1324. MarginaliaAbout what time and yeare Satan was let out, by the coūt of the Apocalips. which was the yeare of the letting out of Sathan, according to the prophesie of the Apocalips.

[Back to Top]
A Table containing the time of the persecution both of the primitiue, and of the latter Church, with the count of yeares from the first binding up of Sathan, to his loosing againe, after the minde of the Apocalips.
The first persecution of the primitiue Churche, beginning at the 30. yeares of Christ, was prophecied to continue 42. monthes, that is, An.294.