BOOK TWO Prophesy and References
The Antichrist by St. Hippolytus
St. Hippolytus was a disciple of St. Irenaeus, who was
a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was a disciple of
1. As it was your desire, my beloved brother Theophilus, to be thoroughly informed on those topics which I put summarily before you, I have thought it right to set these matters of inquiry clearly forth to your view, drawing largely from the Holy Scriptures themselves as from a holy fountain, in order that you may not only have the pleasure of hearing them on the testimony of men, but may also be able, by surveying them in the light of (divine) authority, to glorify God in all. For this will be as a sure supply furnished you by us for your journey in this present life, so that by ready argument applying things ill understood and apprehended by most, you may sow them in the ground of your heart, as in a rich and clean soil. By these, too, you will be able to silence those who oppose and gainsay the word of salvation. Only see that you do not give these things over to unbelieving and blasphemous tongues, for that is no common danger. But impart them to pious and faithful men, who desire to live holily and righteously with fear. For it is not to no purpose that the blessed apostle exhorts Timothy, and says, "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith." And again, "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me in many exhortations, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." If, then, the blessed (apostle) delivered these things with a pious caution, which could be easily known by all, as he perceived in the spirit that "all men have not faith," how much greater will be our danger, if, rashly and without thought, we commit the revelations of God to profane and unworthy men?
2. For as the blessed prophets were made, so to speak, eyes for us, they foresaw through faith the mysteries of the word, and became ministers of these things also to succeeding generations, not only reporting the past, but also announcing I the present and the future, so that the prophet might not appear to be one only for the time being, but might also predict the future for all generations, and so be reckoned a (true) prophet. For these fathers were furnished with the Spirit, and largely honored by the Word Himself; and just as it is with instruments of music. so had they the Word always, like the plectrum, in union with them, and when moved by Him the prophets announced what God willed. For they spoke not of their own power (let there be no mistake as to that ), neither did they declare what pleased themselves. But First of all they were endowed with wisdom by the Word, and then again were rightly instructed in the future by means of visions. And then, when thus themselves fully convinced, they spoke those things which were revealed by God to them alone, and concealed from all others. For with what reason should the prophet be called a prophet, unless he in spirit foresaw the future? For if the prophet spoke of any chance event, he would not be a prophet then in speaking of things which were under the eye of all. But one who sets forth in detail things yet to be, was rightly judged a prophet. Wherefore prophets were with good reason called from the very first "seers." And hence we, too, who are rightly instructed in what was declared aforetime by them, speak not of our own capacity. For we do not attempt to made any change one way or another among ourselves in the words that were spoken of old by them, but we make the Scriptures in which these are written public, and read them to those who can believe rightly; for that is a common benefit for both parties: for him who speaks, in holding in memory and setting forth correctly things uttered of old; and for him who hears, in giving attention to the things spoken. Since, then, in this there is a work assigned to both parties together, viz., to him who speaks, that he speak forth faithfully without regard to risk, and to him who hears, that he hear and receive in faith that which is spoken, I beseech you to strive together with me in prayer to God.
3. Do you wish then to know in what manner the Word of
God, who was again the Son of God, as He was of old the Word, communicated His
revelations to the blessed prophets in former times? Well, as the Word shows
His compassion and His denial of all respect of persons by all the saints, He
enlightens them and adapts them to that which is advantageous for us, like a
skilful physician, understanding the weakness of men. And the ignorant He loves
to teach, and the erring He turns again to His own true way. And by those who
live by faith He is easily found; and to those of pure eye and holy heart, who
desire to knock at the door, He opens immediately.† He casts away none of His servants as
unworthy of the divine mysteries. He does not esteem the rich man more highly
than the poor, nor does He despise the poor man for his poverty. He does not
4. For whereas the Word of God was without flesh, He took upon Himself the holy flesh by the holy Virgin, and prepared a robe which He wove for Himself, like a bridegroom, in the sufferings of the cross, in order that by uniting His own power with our moral body, and by mixing the incorruptible with the corruptible, and the strong with the weak, He might save perishing man. The web-beam, therefore, is the pass on of the Lord upon the cross, and the warp on it is the power of the Holy Spirit, and the woof is the holy flesh wrought (woven) by the Spirit, and the thread is the grace which by the love of Christ binds and unites the two in one, and the combs or (rods) are the Word; and the workers are the patriarchs and prophets who weave the fair, long, perfect tunic for Christ; and the Word passing through these, like the combs or (rods), completes through them that which His Father wills.
5. But as time now presses for the consideration of the question immediately in hand, and as what has been already said in the introduction with regard to the glory of God, may suffice, it is proper that we take the Holy Scriptures themselves in hand, and find out from them what, and of what manner, the coming of Antichrist is; on what occasion and at what time that implores one shall be revealed; and whence and from what I tribe (he shall come); and what his name is, which is indicated by the number in the Scripture; and how he shall work error among the people, gathering them from the ends of the earth; and (how) he shall stir up tribulation and persecution against the saints; and how he shall glorify himself as God; and what his end shall be; and how the sudden appearing of the Lord shall be revealed froth heaven; and what the conflagration of the whole world shall be; and what the glorious and heavenly kingdom of the saints is to be, when they reign together with Christ; and what the punishment of the wicked by fire.
6. Now, as our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also God, was
prophesied of under the figure of a lion, on account of His royalty and glory,
in the same way have the Scriptures also aforetime spoken of Antichrist as a
lion, on account of his tyranny and violence. For the deceiver seeks to liken himself
in all things to the Son of God. Christ is a lion, so Antichrist is also a
lion; Christ is a king, so Antichrist is also a king. The Savior was manifested
as a lamb; so he too, in like manner, will appear as a lamb, though within he
is a wolf. The Savior came into the World in the circumcision, and he will come
in the same manner. The Lord sent apostles among all the nations, and he in
like manner will send false apostles. The Savior gathered together the sheep
that were scattered abroad, and he in like manner will bring together a people
that is scattered abroad. The Lord gave a seal to those who believed on Him,
and he will give one like manner. The Savior appeared in the form of man, and
he too will come in the form of a man. The Savior raised up and showed His holy
flesh like a temple, and he will raise a temple of stone in
7. Now the blessed Jacob speaks to the following effect
in his benedictions, testifying prophetically of our Lord and Savior: "
8. Knowing, then, as I do, how to explain these things in detail, I deem it right at present to quote the words themselves. But since the expressions themselves urge us to speak of them. I shall not omit to do so. For these are truly divine and glorious things, and things well calculated to benefit the soul. The prophet, in using the expression, a lionís whelp, means him who sprang from Judah and David according to the flesh, who was not made indeed of the seed of David, but was conceived by the (power of the) Holy Ghost, and came forth from the holy shoot of earth. For Isaiah says, "There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall grow up out of it." That which is called by Isaiah a flower, Jacob calls a shoot. For first he shot forth, and then he flourished in the world. And the expression, "he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lionís whelp," refers to the three daysí sleep (death, couching) of Christ; as also Isaiah says, "How is faithful Sion become an harlot! it was full of judgment; in which righteousness lodged (couched); but now murderers." And David says to the same effect, "I laid me down (couched) and slept; I awaked: for the Lord will sustain me; " in which words he points to the fact of his sleep and rising again. And Jacob says, "Who shall rouse him up? "And that is just what David and Paul both refer to, as when Paul says, "and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead."
9. And in saying, "A ruler shall not depart from Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until he come for whom it is reserved; and he shall be the expectation of the nations," he referred the fulfilment (of that prophecy) to Christ. For He is our expectation. For we expect Him, (and) by faith we behold Him as He comes from heaven with power.
10. "Binding his ass to a vine: "that means that He unites His people of the circumcision with His own calling (vocation). For He was the vine. "And his assís colt to the vine-tendril: "that denotes the people of the Gentiles, as He calls the circumcision and the uncircumcision unto one faith.
11. "He shall wash his garment in wine,"
that is, according to that voice of His Father which came down by the Holy
Ghost at the
12. "His eyes gladsome with wine." And what are the eyes of Christ but the blessed prophets, who foresaw in the Spirit, and announced beforehand, the sufferings that were to befall Him, and rejoiced in seeing Him in power with spiritual eyes, being furnished (for their vocation) by the word Himself and His grace?
13. And in saying, "And his teeth (shall be) whiter than milk," he referred to the commandments that proceed from the holy mouth of Christ, and which are pure (purify) as milk.
14. Thus did the Scriptures preach before-time of this
lion and lionís whelp. And in like manner also we find it written regarding
Antichrist. For Moses speaks thus: "Dan is a lionís whelp, and he shall
15. That it is in reality out of the tribe of Dan, then, that that tyrant and king, that dread judge, that son of the devil, is destined to spring and arise, the prophet testifies when he says, "Dan shall judge his people, as (he is) also one tribe in Israel." But some one may say that this refers to Samson, who sprang from the tribe of Dan, and judged the people twenty years. Well, the prophecy had its partial fulfillment in Samson, but its complete fulfillment is reserved for Antichrist. For Jeremiah also speaks to this effect: "From Dan we are to hear the sound of the swiftness of his horses: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing, of the driving of his horses." And another prophet says: "He shall gather together all his strength, from the east even to the west. They whom he calls, and they whom he calls not, shall go with him. He shall make the sea white with the sails of his ships, and the plain black with the shields of his armaments. And whosoever shall oppose him in war shall fall by the sword." That these things, then, are said of no one else but that tyrant, and shameless one, and adversary of God, we shall show in what follows.
16. But Isaiah also speaks thus: "And it shall
come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed His whole work upon
17. And again he says in another place: "How bath
the exactor ceased, and how hath the oppressor ceased! God hath broken the yoke
of the rulers of sinners, He who smote the people in wrath, and with an
incurable stroke: He that strikes the people with an incurable stroke, which He
did not spare. He ceased (rested) confidently: the whole earth shouts with
rejoicing. The trees of
18. Ezekiel also speaks of him to the same effect, thus: "Thus saith the Lord God, Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the sea; yet art thou a man, and not God, (though) thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God. Art thou wiser than Daniel? Have the wise not instructed thee in their wisdom? With thy wisdom or with thine understanding hast thou gotten thee power, and gold and silver in thy treasures? By thy great wisdom and by thy traffic hast thou increased thy power? Thy heart is lifted up in thy power. Therefore thus saith the Lord God: Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God: behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, plagues from the nations: and they shall draw their swords against thee, and against the beauty of thy wisdom; and they shall level thy beauty to destruction; and they shall bring thee down; and thou shall die by the death of the wounded in the midst of the sea. Wilt thou yet say before them that slay thee, I am God? But thou art a man, and no God, in the hand of them that wound thee. Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord."
19. These words then being thus presented, let us observe somewhat in detail what Daniel says in his visions. For in distinguishing the kingdoms that are to rise after these things, he showed also the coming of Antichrist in the last times, and the consummation of the whole world. In expounding the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, then, he speaks thus: "Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image standing before thy face: the head of which was of fine gold, its arms and shoulders of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass, and its legs of iron, (and) its feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest, then, till that a stone was cut out without hands, and smote the image upon the feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to an end. Then were the clay, the iron, the brass, the silver, (and) the gold broken, and became like the chaff from the summer threshing-floor; and the strength (fulness) of the wind carried them away, and there was no place found for them. And the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth."
20. Now if we set Danielís own visions also side by side with this, we shall have one exposition to give of the two together, and shall (be able to) show how concordant with each other they are, and how true. For he speaks thus: "I Daniel saw, and behold the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first (was) like a lioness, and had wings as of an eagle. I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a manís heart was given to it. And behold a second beast like to a bear, and it was made stand on one part, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it. I beheld, and lo a beast like a leopard, and it had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl, and the beast had four heads. After this I saw, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; it had iron teeth and claws of brass, which devoured and brake in pieces, and it stamped the residue with the feet of it; and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I considered its horns, and behold there came up among them another little horn, and before it there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots; and behold in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things."
21. "I beheld till the thrones were set, and the Ancient of days did sit: and His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool: His throne was a flame of fire, His wheels were a burning fire. A stream of fire flowed before Him. Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood around Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake, till the beast was slain and perished, and his body given to the burning of fire. And the dominion of the other beasts was taken away."
22. "I saw in the night vision, and, behold, one like the Son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and was brought near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and honor, and the kingdom; and all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed."
23. Now since these things, spoken as they are with a mystical meaning, may seem to some hard to understand, we shall keep back nothing fitted to impart an intelligent apprehension of them to those who are possessed of a sound mind. He said, then, that a "lioness came up from the sea," and by that he meant the kingdom of the Babylonians in the world, which also was the head of gold on the image. In saying that "it had wings as of an eagle," he meant that Nebuchadnezzar the king was lifted up and was exalted against God. Then he says, "the wings thereof were plucked," that is to say, his glory was destroyed; for he was driven out of his kingdom. And the words, "a manís heart was given to it, and it was made stand upon the feet as a man," refer to the fact that he repented and recognized himself to be only a man, and gave the glory to God.
24. Then, after the lioness, he sees a "second
beast like a bear," and that denoted the Persians. For after the
Babylonians, the Persians held the sovereign power And in saving that there
were "three ribs in the mouth of it," he pointed to three nations,
viz., the Persians, and the Medes, and the Babylonians; which were also
represented on the image by the silver after the gold. Then (there was)
"the third beast, a leopard," which meant the Greeks. For after the
Persians, Alexander of Macedon obtained the sovereign power on subverting
Darius, as is also shown by the brass on the image. And in saying that it had
"four wings of a fowl," he taught us most clearly how the
25. Then he says: "A fourth beast, dreadful and
terrible; it had iron teeth and claws of brass." And who are these but the
Romans? which (kingdom) is meant by the ironóthe kingdom which is now
established; for the legs of that (image) were of iron. And after this, what
remains, beloved, but the toes of the feet of the image, in which part is iron
and part clay, mixed together? And mystically by the toes of the feet he meant
the kings who are to arise from among them; as Daniel also says (in the words),
"I considered the beast, and lo there were ten horns behind it, among
which shall rise another (horn), an offshoot, and shall pluck up by the roots
the three (that were) before it." And under this was signified none other
than Antichrist, who is also himself to raise the kingdom of the Jews. He says
that three horns are plucked up by the root by him, viz., the three kings of
26. After a little space the stone will come from heaven which smites the image and breaks it in pieces, and subverts all the kingdoms, and gives the kingdom to the saints of the Most High. This is the stone which becomes a great mountain, and fills the whole earth, of which Daniel says: "I saw in the night visions, and behold one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and was brought near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom; and all peoples, tribes, and languages shall serve Him: and His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed." He showed all power given by the Father to the Son, who is ordained Lord of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and Judge of all: of things in heaven, because He was born, the Word of God, before all (ages); and of things on earth, because He became man in the midst of men, to re-create our Adam through Himself; and of things under the earth, because He was also reckoned among the dead, preaching the Gospel to the souls of the saints, (and) by death overcoming death.
27. As these things, then, are in the future, and as the ten toes of the image are equivalent to (so many) democracies, and the ten horns of the fourth beast are distributed over ten kingdoms, let us look at the subject a little more closely, and consider these matters as in the clear light of a personal survey.
28. The golden head of the image and the lioness denoted the Babylonians; the shoulders and arms of silver, and the bear, represented the Persians and Medes; the belly and thighs of brass, and the leopard, meant the Greeks, who held the sovereignty from Alexanderís time; the legs of iron, and the beast dreadful and terrible, expressed the Romans, who hold the sovereignty at present; the toes of the feet which were part clay and part iron, and the ten horns, were emblems of the kingdoms that are yet to rise; the other little horn that grows up among them meant the Antichrist in their midst; the stone that smites the earth and brings judgment upon the world was Christ.
29. These things, beloved, we impart to you with fear, and yet readily, on account of the love of Christ, which surpasseth all. For if the blessed prophets who preceded us did not choose to proclaim these things, though they knew them, openly and boldly, lest they should disquiet the souls of men, but recounted them mystically in parables and dark sayings, speaking thus, "Here is the mind which hath wisdom," how much greater risk shall we run in venturing to declare openly things spoken by them in obscure terms! Let us look, therefore, at the things which are to befall this unclean harlot in the last days; and (let us consider) what and what manner of tribulation is destined to visit her in the wrath of God before the judgment as an earnest of her doom.
30. Come, then, O blessed Isaiah; arise, tell us
clearly what thou didst prophesy with respect to the mighty
31. Which of you, then, shall I esteem more than thee?
Yet Jeremiah, too, is stoned. But if I should esteem Jeremiah most, yet Daniel
too has his testimony. Daniel, I commend thee above all; yet
32. Speak with me, O blessed Daniel. Give me full
assurance, I beseech thee. Thou dost prophesy concerning the lioness in
33. After this again thou hast told me of the beast dreadful and terrible. "It had iron teeth and claws of brass: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it." Already the iron rules; already it subdues and breaks all in pieces; already it brings all the unwilling into subjection; already we see these things ourselves. Now we glorify God, being instructed by thee.
34. But as the task before us was to speak of the
harlot, be thou with us, O blessed Isaiah. Let us mark what thou sayest about
35. "I was wroth with my people; I have polluted
mine inheritance, I have given them into thine hand: and thou didst show them
no mercy; but upon the ancient (the elders) thou hast very heavily laid thy
yoke. And thou saidst, I shall be a princess for ever: thou didst not lay these
things to thy heart, neither didst remember thy latter end. Therefore hear now
this, thou that art delicate; that sittest, that art confident, that sayest in
thine heart, I am, and there is none else; I shall not sit as a widow, neither
shall I know the loss of children. But now these two things shall come upon
thee in one day, widowhood and the loss of children: they shall come upon thee
suddenly in thy sorcery, in the strength of thine enchantments mightily, in the
hope of thy fornication. For thou hast said, I am, and there is none else. And
thy fornication shall be thy shame, because thou hast said in thy heart, I am.
And destruction shall come upon thee, and thou shalt not know it. (And there shall be) a pit, and thou shalt
full into it; and misery shall fall upon thee, and thou shalt not be able to be
made clean; and destruction shall come upon thee, and thou shalt not know it.
Stand now with thy enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, which
thou hast learned from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to be profited.
Thou art wearied in thy counsels. Let the astrologers of the heavens stand and
save thee; let the star-gazers announce to thee what shall come upon thee.
Behold, they shall all be as sticks for the fire; so shall they be burned, and
they shall not deliver their soul from the flame. Because thou hast coals of
fire, sit upon them; so shall it be for thy help. Thou art wearied with change
from thy youth. Man has gone astray (each one) by himself; and there shall be
no salvation for thee." These things does Isaiah prophesy for thee. Let us
see now whether
36. For he sees, when in the isle Patmos, a revelation
of awful mysteries, which he recounts freely, and makes known to others. Tell
37. "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and the ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder (whose name was not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world) when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet shall be.
38. "And here is the mind that has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not ye come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was and is not, (even he is the eighth,) and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
39. "And he saith to me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest, and the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil His will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
40. "After these things I saw another angel come
down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his
glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying,
41. "Reward her even as she rewarded (you), and
double unto her double, according to her works: in the cup which she hath
filled, fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived
deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I
sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her
plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be
utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. And the
kings of the earth, who have committed fornication, and lived deliciously with
her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her
burning, standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas!
that great city
42. "Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye
angels, and apostles, and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And a
mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea,
saying, Thus with violence shall that great city
43. With respect, then, to the particular judgment in the torments that are to come upon it in the last times by the hand of the tyrants who shall arise then, the clearest statement has been given in these passages. But it becomes us further diligently to examine and set forth the period at which these things shall come to pass, and how the little horn shall spring up in their midst. For when the legs of iron have issued in the feet and toes, according to the similitude of the image and that of the terrible beast, as has been shown in the above, (then shall be the time) when the iron and the clay shall be mingled together. Now Daniel will set forth this subject to us. For he says, "And one week will make a covenant with many, and it shall be that in the midst (half) of the week my sacrifice and oblation shall cease." By one week, therefore, he meant the last week which is to be at the end of the whole world of which week the two prophets Enoch and Elias will take up the half. For they will preach 1, 260 days clothed in sackcloth, proclaiming repentance to the people and to all the nations.
44. For as two advents of our Lord and Saviour are
indicated in the Scriptures, the one being His first advent in the flesh, which
took place without honour by reason of His being set at nought, as Isaiah spake
of Him aforetime, saying, "We saw Him, and He had no form nor comeliness,
but His form was despised (and) rejected (lit. = deficient) above all men; a
man smitten and familiar with bearing infirmity, (for His face was turned
away); He was despised, and esteemed not." But His second advent is
announced as glorious, when He shall come from heaven with the host of angels,
and the glory of His Father, as the prophet saith, "Ye shall see the King
in glory; " and, "I saw one like the Son of man coming with the
clouds of heaven; and he came to the Ancient of days, and he was brought to
Him. And there were given Him dominion, and honour, and glory, and the kingdom;
all tribes and languages shall serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting
dominion, which shall not pass away." Thus also two forerunners were
indicated. The first was
45. He, on hearing the salutation addressed to
Elisabeth, leaped with joy in his motherís womb, recognising God the Word
conceived in the womb of the Virgin. Thereafter he came forward preaching in
the wilderness, proclaiming the baptism of repentance to the people, (and thus)
announcing prophetically salvation to the nations living in the wilderness of
the world. After this, at the
46. But since the Saviour was the beginning of the resurrection of all men, it was meet that the Lord alone should rise from the dead, by whom too the judgment is to enter for the whole world, that they who have wrestled worthily may be also crowned worthily by Him, by the illustrious Arbiter, to wit, who Himself first accomplished the course, and was received into the heavens, and was set down on the right hand of God the Father, and is to be manifested again at the end of the world as Judge. It is a matter of course that His forerunners must appear first, as He says by Malachi and the angel, "I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before the day of the Lord, the great and notable day, comes; and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, lest I come and smite the earth utterly." These, then, shall come and proclaim the manifestation of Christ that is to be from heaven; and they shall also perform signs and wonders, in order that men may be put to shame and turned to repentance for their surpassing wickedness and impiety.
48. But as it is incumbent on us to discuss this
matter of the beast more exactly, and in particular the question how the Holy
Spirit has also mystically indicated his name by means of a number, we shall
proceed to state more clearly what bears upon him.
49. By the beast, then, coming up out of the earth, he
50. But now we shall speak of what is before us. For
such measures will he, too, devise, seeking to afflict the saints in every way.
For the prophet and apostle says: "Here is wisdom, Let him that hath
understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man, and
his number is six hundred threescore and six." With respect to his name,
it is not in our power to explain it exactly, as the blessed
51. But not to confine ourselves to these words and
arguments alone, for the purpose of convincing those who love to study the
oracles of God, we shall demonstrate the matter by many other proofs. For
Daniel says, "And these shall escape out of his hand, even
52. In those times, then, he shall arise and meet
them. And when he has overmastered three horns out of the ten in the array of
war, and has rooted these out, viz., Egypt, and Libya, and Ethiopia, and has
got their spoils and trappings, and has brought the remaining horns which
suffer into subjection, he will begin to be lifted up in heart, and to exalt
himself against God as master of the whole world. And his first expedition will
53. These things, then, shall be in the future, beloved; and when the three horns are cut off, he will begin to show himself as God, as Ezekiel has said aforetime: "Because thy heart has been lifted up, and thou hast said, I am God." And to the like effect Isaiah says: "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven: I will be like the Most High. Yet now thou shall be brought down to hell (Hades), to the foundations of the earth." In like manner also Ezekiel: "Wilt thou yet say to those who slay thee, I am God? But thou (shall be) a man, and no God."
54. As his tribe, then, and his manifestation, and his destruction, have been set forth in these words, and as his name has also been indicated mystically, let us look also at his action. For he will call together all the people to himself, out of every country of the dispersion, making them his own, as though they were his own children, and promising to restore their country, and establish again their kingdom and nation, in order that he may be worshipped by them as God, as the prophet says: "He will collect his whole kingdom, from the rising of the sun even to its setting: they whom he summons and they whom he does not summon shall march with him." And Jeremiah speaks of him thus in a parable: "The partridge cried, (and) gathered what he did not hatch, making himself riches without judgment: in the midst of his days they shall leave him, and at his end he shall be a fool."
55. It will not be detrimental, therefore, to the course of our present argument, if we explain the art of that creature, and show that the prophet has not spoken without a purpose in using the parable (or similitude) of the creature. For as the partridge is a vainglorious creature, when it sees near at hand the nest of another partridge with young in it, and with the parent-bird away on the wing in quest of food, it imitates the cry of the other bird, and calls the young to itself; and they, taking it to be their own parent, run to it. And it delights itself proudly in the alien pullets as in its own. But when the real parent-bird returns, and calls them with its own familiar cry, the young recognise it, and forsake the deceiver, and betake themselves to the real parent. This thing, then, the prophet has adopted as a simile, applying it in a similar manner to Antichrist. For he will allure mankind to himself, wishing to gain possession of those who are not his own, and promising deliverance to all, while he is unable to save himself.
56. He then, having gathered to himself the unbelieving everywhere throughout the world, comes at their call to persecute the saints, their enemies and antagonists, as the apostle and evangelist says: "There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city, who came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her."
57. By the unrighteous judge, who fears not God, neither
regards man, he means without doubt Antichrist, as he is a son of the devil and
a vessel of Satan. For when he has the power, he will begin to exalt himself
against God, neither in truth fearing God, nor regarding the Son of God, who is
the Judge of all. And in saying that there was a widow in the city, he refers
58. And in like manner Moses, knowing beforehand that the people would reject and disown the true Saviour of the world, and take part with error, and choose an earthly king, and set the heavenly King at nought, says: "Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? In the day of vengeance I will recompense (them), and in the time when their foot shall slide." They did slide, therefore, in all things, as they were found to be in harmony with the truth in nothing: neither as concerns the law, because they became transgressors; nor as concerns the prophets, because they cut off even the prophets themselves; nor as concerns the voice of the Gospels, because they crucified the Saviour Himself; nor in believing the apostles, because they persecuted them. At all times they showed themselves enemies and betrayers of the truth, and were found to be haters of God, and not lovers of Him; and such they shall be then when they find opportunity: for, rousing themselves against the servants of God, they will seek to obtain vengeance by the hand of a mortal man. And he, being puffed up with pride by their subserviency, will begin to despatch missives against the saints, commanding to cut them all off everywhere, on the ground of their refusal to reverence and worship him as God, according to the word of Esaias: "Woe to the wings of the vessels of the land, beyond the rivers of Ethiopia: (woe to him) who sendeth sureties by the sea, and letters of papyrus (upon the water; for nimble messengers will go) to a nation anxious and expectant, and a people strange and bitter against them; a nation hopeless and trodden down."
59. But we who hope for the Son of God are persecuted
and trodden down by those unbelievers. For the wings of the vessels are the churches; and the sea is the world,
in which the Church is set, like a ship tossed in the deep, but not destroyed;
for she has with her the skilled Pilot, Christ. And she bears in her midst also
the trophy (which is erected) over death; for she carries with her the cross of
the Lord. For her prow is the east, and her stern is the west, and her hold is
the south, and her tillers are the two Testaments; and the ropes that stretch
around her are the love of Christ, which binds the Church; and the net which
she bears with her is the layer of the regeneration which renews the believing,
whence too are these glories. As the wind the Spirit from heaven is present, by
whom those who believe are sealed: she has also anchors of iron accompanying
her, viz., the holy commandments of Christ Himself, which are strong as iron.
She has also mariners on the right and on the left, assessors like the holy angels,
by whom the Church is always governed and defended. The ladder in her leading
up to the sailyard is an emblem of the passion of Christ, which brings the
faithful to the ascent of heaven. And the top-sails aloft upon the yard are the
company of prophets, martyrs, and apostles, who have entered into their rest in
60. Now, concerning the tribulation of the persecution
which is to fall upon the Church from the adversary,
61. By the woman then clothed with the sun," he meant most manifestly the Church, endued with the Fatherís word, whose brightness is above the sun. And by the "moon under her feet" he referred to her being adorned, like the moon, with heavenly glory. And the words, "upon her head a crown of twelve stars," refer to the twelve apostles by whom the Church was founded. And those, "she, being with child, cries, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered," mean that the Church will not cease to bear from her heart the Word that is persecuted by the unbelieving in the world. "And she brought forth," he says, "a man-child, who is to rule all the nations; "by which is meant that the Church, always bringing forth Christ, the perfect man-child of God, who is declared to be God and man, becomes the instructor of all the nations. And the words, "her child was caught up unto God and to His throne," signify that he who is always born of her is a heavenly king, and not an earthly; even as David also declared of old when he said, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." "And the dragon," he says, "saw and persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child. And to the woman were given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent." That refers to the one thousand two hundred and threescore days (the half of the week) during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church, which flees from city to city, and seeks conceal-meat in the wilderness among the mountains, possessed of no other defence than the two wings of the great eagle, that is to say, the faith of Jesus Christ, who, in stretching forth His holy hands on the holy tree, unfolded two wings, the right and the left, and called to Him all who believed upon Him, and covered them as a hen her chickens. For by the mouth of Malachi also He speaks thus: "And unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings."
62. The Lord also says, "When ye shall see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand), then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains, and let him which is on the housetop not come down to take his clothes; neither let him which is in the field return back to take anything out of his house. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved." And Daniel says, "And they shall place the abomination of desolation a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand two hundred and ninety-five days."
63. And the blessed Apostle Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, says: "Now we beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together at it, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letters as from us, as that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means; for (that day shall not come) except there come the falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped: so that he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now letteth (will let), until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: (even him) whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." And Esaias says, "Let the wicked be cut off, that he behold not the glory of the Lord."
64. These things, then, being to come to pass, beloved, and the one week being divided into two parts, and the abomination of desolation being manifested then, and the two prophets and forerunners of the Lord having finished their course, and the whole world finally approaching the consummation, what remains but the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ from heaven, for whom we have looked in hope? who shall bring the conflagration and just judgment upon all who have refused to believe on Him. For the Lord says, "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." "And there shall not a hair of your head perish." "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together." Now the fall took place in paradise; for Adam fell there. And He says again, "Then shall the Son of man send His angels, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds of heaven." And David also, in announcing prophetically the judgment and coming of the Lord, says, "His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His circuit unto the end of the heaven: and there is no one hid from the heat thereof." By the heat he means the conflagration. And Esaias speaks thus: "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chamber, (and) shut thy door: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation of the Lord be overpast." And Paul in like manner: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth of God in unrighteousness."
65. Moreover, concerning the resurrection and the
kingdom of the saints, Daniel says, "And many of them that sleep in the
dust of the earth shall arise, some to everlasting life, (and some to shame and
everlasting contempt)." Esaias says, "The dead men shall arise, and
they that are in their tombs shall awake; for the dew from thee is healing to
them." The Lord says, "Many in that day shall hear the voice of the
Son of God, and they that hear shall live." And the prophet says,
"Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give
thee light." And
66. Concerning the resurrection of the righteous, Paul also speaks thus in writing to the Thessalonians: "We would not have you to be ignorant concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive (and) remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice and trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive (and) remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
67. These things, then, I have set shortly before thee, O Theophilus, drawing them from Scripture itself, in order that, maintaining in faith what is written, and anticipating the things that are to be, thou mayest keep thyself void of offence both toward God and toward men, "looking for that blessed hope and appearing of our God and Saviour," when, having raised the saints among us, He will rejoice with them, glorifying the Father. To Him be the glory unto the endless ages of the ages. Amen.