George N. H. Peters (1825-1909)
George N. H. Peters (1825-1909) is one of the most mysterious and fascinating premillennial scholars of the nineteenth century. Giving most of his life to a study of the return of the Lord, he penned the classic three-volume work, The Theocratic Kingdom. The title actually continues: . . . of our Lord Jesus, The Christ, as Covenanted in The Old Testament and Presented in The New Testament. Why he was so driven in his premillennial convictions (yet being a Lutheran), is not fully known, except he was apparently influenced by the great Lutheran prophecy scholar, Dr. S. S. Schmucker. Schmucker also taught and inspired Joseph A. Seiss.
Peters attended and later graduated from Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio, in 1850. He held pastorates in Xenia and Springfield. How and when he began writing The Theocratic Kingdom is not clear. But he must have read hundreds, if not thousands, of references in theology (especially prophecy), history, science, and literature. Years must have passed before the 2,100 pages (some in small print) were completed. Amazingly, Peters has over four thousand quotes in this work. The "author lived and worked in an oblivion that seems almost mysterious, and experienced so little recognition at the time of the [first] publication of his work that one must almost believe that there was an organized determination to ignore its appearance" (Smith).
Though Peters lived during a period when there was an explosion of interest in Bible prophecy both in America and England, there was great opposition to such studies in the circles within which he lived. Peters writes of "deep despondency" because of criticism from brethren who opposed him. For many years in Springfield, a hundred laymen and pastors met for weekly prophecy studies. But he writes, his love of the prophetic Word brought upon him bitter and unrelenting abuse. Peters never fully explains the nature of the opposition. He writes that "his motive is assailed, his piety is doubted, his character is privately and publicly traduced, his learning and ability are lowered." All in "the defense of the truth."
In the introduction to The Theocratic Kingdom, Peters writes that all things are "tending toward the kingdom to be hereafter established by Christ, that the dispensations from Adam, to the present are only preparatory stages for its coming manifestation." He adds "that we cannot properly comprehend the Divine economy. . . unless we . . . consider the manifestation of its ultimate result as exhibited in this [coming] kingdom." Peters believed that modern rationalists had given untrustworthy definitions to the kingdom and we must return "to accept of the old view of the kingdom as the one clearly taught by the prophets, Jesus, the disciples, the apostles." Finally, Peters writes, after long investigation he was compelled with a sense of duty to publish his work. He notes he tried to set forth "the Millenarian views of the ancient and modern believers, and [to be] paving the way for a more strict and consistent interpretation of the kingdom, this itself would already be sufficient justification for its publication."
The Theocratic Kingdom may be one of the most complete compilations of quotes from all the writings of the last two thousand years dealing with the kingdom and the literal return of Christ to earth.