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EARLY CHURCH Teaching of the Post-Tribulation Return of Jesus Christ

 Early Church Teaching of the Post-Tribulation Return of Jesus Christ

Clement of Rome (ca. 30 – 99)

Clement of Rome was a disciple of Paul (Phil. 4:2).  Late in the first century, he wrote to the Corinthians: ‘For this reason righteous and peace are now far departed from you, because everyone abandons the fear of God and has become blind in His faith, nor walks in the ordinances of His appointment, nor acts a part becoming a Christian, but walks after his own wicked lusts…’.  Clement wrote about ‘the precious blood of Christ,’ on ‘repentance,’ ‘holiness,’ good ‘servants,’ ‘presbyters (elders),’ and of the ‘hope’ according to Christ’s ‘promise’ that we ‘shall rise again.’  In his writings, he quoted scriptures vastly from both the Old and New Testaments, and for about 200 years his letter was an appendix to the New Testament itself.  In his letter to the Corinthians, he wrote:

‘…Let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes.  Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation.  …the greatest and most righteous pillars of the Church have been persecuted and put to death.  Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles.  Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labors, and when he had finally suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. …Paul obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned.  After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects.  Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience (see: 1 Cor.11; Acts 21:13).’

Pseudepigrapha; ‘The Book of Enoch

Pseudepigrapha refer to a collection of Jewish-Christian writings that are not included among the books of the Bible, the Apocrypha, or rabbinic literature.  About 50 AD, the Book of Enoch was in circulation.  The following is from a translation of the work (note: Jude 14, 15 quotes this in part):

“The words of …Enoch, to …the elect and righteous, who will be living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked …are to be removed.  …Concerning the elect, I said, ‘…the Holy Great One will come forth from His dwelling, and the eternal God will tread upon the earth… the high mountains shall be shaken… and shall melt like max before the flame …and all that is upon the earth shall perish, and there shall be a judgment upon all (see 2 Peter 3:10).  But with the righteous, He will make peace.  And will protect the elect, and they shall all belong to God…

Behold, He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones (angels: see Ezek. 9:2-6; Matt. 13:49; Rev. 14:15-20; etc.) to execute judgment upon all and to destroy all the ungodly, and to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodlinessandthings which sinners have spoken against Him.  …When the congregation of the righteous shall appear, and sinners shall be judged for their sins, and shall be driven from the face of the earth: and when the Righteous One shall appear before the eyes of the righteous, whose elect works hang upon the Lord of Spirits, and light shall appear to the righteous and the elect who dwell upon the earth, where then will be the dwelling of the sinners… who it had been good for them if they had not been born …The secrets of the righteous shall be revealed and the sinners judged, and the godless driven from the presence of the elect, and from that time those that possess the earth shall no longer be powerful and exalted, and they shall not be able to behold the face of the holy, for the Lord of Spirits has caused His light to appear on the face of the holy, righteous and elect… In those days Shoal shall give back that entrusted to it… and the elect shall dwell with the elect’.”

Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 35 – 107)

Ignatius died 107 or 117; in which year he, the bishop of Antioch, wrote seven letters which greatly influenced the early Church.  Ignatius is said by some to have been appointed by Peter.  Nevertheless, he was a friend of Polycarp, a disciple of John, who followed Ignatius into martyrdom.  Many of Ignatius’ teachings are found in the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church.  In his letters, we find the first use of the term ‘Catholic.’  His teachings on the Eucharist (Lord’s supper), and on the position of the ‘bishop’ that ‘as the Lord does nothing without the Father … neither presbyter, nor deacon, nor layman, do anything without the bishop,’ are still practiced by several denominations today.

In his letter to ‘the Ephesians,’ Ignatius wrote: “Take heed, often to come together to give thanks to God and show forth His praise.  For when you assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith…”.

Just before he was martyred in Rome, he warned in several letters: ‘Beware of false teachers… and doctrines;’ and wrote ‘If we are not in readiness to die for the truth into Christ’s passion, His life is not in us.’  As he was being taken to Rome for execution, he asked his brethren not to asked him to recant, and prayed, oh that ‘I may attain to God and Jesus Christ (through death) …When I suffer, I shall be the freedman of Jesus Christ, and shall rise again emancipated in Him.’

Concerning our faith, he wrote to the Church in Smyrna, Asia: ‘Let no man deceive himself.  Unless he believes that Christ Jesus has lived in the flesh, and shall confess His cross and passion, and the blood which He shed for the salvation of the world, he shall not obtain eternal life…’.

Epistle of Barnabas

In this letter from about 100 AD, the Jewish convert from Alexander of Cyprus, in reference to the end of the age, wrote:

“‘Greetings …in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  …The doctrines of the Lord are three: the hope of life (our faith) …righteousness …and love.  …Let us not give liberty unto our soul that it should have leave to run with sinners and evil men, neither let us be made like unto them.  The tribulation being made perfect is at hand, concerning which Enoch said, ‘For to this purpose the Lord hath cut short the times and the days, that His beloved might make haste and come into His inheritance.’  And the prophet also said, ‘Ten kingdoms shall reign upon the earth; and there shall rise up after them a little king who shall humble three of the kings under one.’  In the same way, Daniel prophesied, ‘I saw the fourth beast, evil and strong and harder than all the beasts of the earth; and I saw how there grew up from him ten horns, and from among them a little horn… (Dan. 7:7,8).’

‘…Now, of the Sabbath in the beginning of the creation: God made in six days the works of His hands, and finished on the seventh day, and rested in it and sanctified it.  Consider, my children, what signify the words, He finished them in six days.  They mean this: that in six thousand (6,000) years the Lord will make an end of all things, for a day is with Him as a thousand years.  And He himself bears witness unto me, saying; ‘Behold, this day a day shall be as a thousand years…’  Therefore, my children, in six days, which is in 6,000 years, shall all things be brought to an end.  And the words, ‘He rested on the seventh day’ signify this: After that His Son has come, and has caused to cease the time of the wicked one, and has judged the ungodly, and changed the sun and moon and the stars, then shall He rest well on the seventh day …then we shall be able to rest well …having received the promise, when iniquity exists no longer, but all things have been made new by the Lord… Concerning the temple …behold they that have destroyed this temple shall rebuild it.  And it happen, for through their war it has been destroyed by the enemy, and now both they themselves and the servants of their enemies shall rebuild it…’.”

Polycarp (ca. 69 – 155)

In his ‘Epistle to the Philippians,’ written about 108 to 117, he wrote: “Polycarp, and the presbyters with him, to the Church of God …at Philippi:  …Mercy to you, and peace… Serve the Lord in fear and truth, as those who have forsaken the vain… and error of the multitude and believed in Him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead… To Him all things… are subject (Col. 1:16).  Him every spirit serves.  He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead (2 Tim.4:1; 1 Pet. 4:5).  His blood will God require of those who do not believe in Him.  But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will and walk in His commandments… keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking…”.    Before being burned at the stake for his faith, it is said that when Polycarp was asked to recant Christ, he said, ‘Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He never once wronged me.  How then shall I blaspheme my King who has saved me?’

The ‘Didache (‘Teachings’)

This letter, written between 80 and 150, teaches on the baptism, bishops, deacons, the Lord’s Day and the Eucharist.  The ‘Didache’ was an appendix to early codexs.  Concerning the coming of our Lord, it states:  “Watch for your life’s sake.  Let not your lamps be quenched …but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come.  But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time.  For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver (Antichrist) as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do so iniquitous (evil) things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning.  Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but those who endure in their faith shall be saved (Matt. 24:13) from under the curse itself.  And then shall appear …the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet.  And third, the resurrection of the dead…”.

Shepherd of Hermas

Likewise, about 120, the Shepherd of Hermas taught the same, writing: ‘Blessed are ye, as many as endure patiently the great tribulation that cometh, and as many as shall not deny their life…’.

Justin Martyr (ca. 100 – 165)

About 155, Justin wrote his ‘First Apology to Emperor of Rome’ and the Second about 160.  He was martyred in 165.  He addressed his Apology; ‘To Emperor Titus… petition in behalf of those of all nations who are unjustly hated… Christians.’  He defended Christian manners and explained many doctrines, including: faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, the Eucharist, meeting on ‘Sunday,’ the resurrection, and the judgment.  In his lengthy letter to Trypho, a Jew staying in Corinth, he wrote:  “…So you ought to repent before the great day of judgment, wherein all those of your tribes who have pierced Christ shall mourn…  As I have frequently remarked, this very Christ is the Judge of all living and the dead.  …Ezekiel says of Him, ‘There shall be no other Prince in the house but He (Ezek. 45:3).’ …Isaiah says, He is the chosen Priest and eternal King and speaks of sacrifices …presented to Him …(after) His second advent (Isa. 66).”

Concerning freewill, Justin wrote: “God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness; possessing reason that they may know by whom they are created… and with a law that they should be judged by Him, it they do contrary to right reason… unless we repent first.  …God foreknows they would be wicked, but not because God had created them so.  If they repent… they may obtain mercy from God…  I exhort you to give all diligence in this great struggle for your own salvation, and to be earnest in setting a higher value on the Christ of the Almighty God than on your own teachers.”

In his letter, Dialogue with Trypho (chapters 80,81,110) Justin wrote:  “I pointed out to you that some who are called Christians, but are godless …teach doctrines that are blasphemous and foolish.  (Teaching no resurrection)… For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines by Him.  …I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned and enlarged, as the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.  Isaiah said concerning this thousand years, ‘For, behold, I make Jerusalem a rejoicing, and My people a joy; and I shall rejoice over Jerusalem the voice of weeping shall be no more (Isa. 65:18, 19).’

‘…When Christ comes, He shall become manifest and glorious, then it shall be known who He is.  …Two advents of Christ have been announced: the one, in which He set forth as suffering… and crucified; but the other, in which He shall come from heaven with glory, when the man of apostasy (Antichrist) who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christianswhothough beheaded, crucified, thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and other  torture, we do not give up our confession…’.”

Irenaeus (ca. 125 -202)

Irenaeus was born in or near Smyrna.  He was a disciple of Christ through Polycarp; and became the bishop of Lyons.  In 202, he was martyred.  He is called by Catholics, a Father of the Church.  He is quoted often in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994).  Irenaeus is the first great Catholic theologian, a champion of orthodoxy against Gnostic heresy, and did mediate between the Eastern and Western churches.  In his known writings are scriptures from every book in the New Testament, except Philemon, II Peter, III John, and Jude.  He valued Clement and Pastor Hermas.  Late second century, he wrote his lengthy discourses (hundreds of pages) ‘Against Heresies.’  Irenaeus wrote against men who ‘have not sufficient brains,’ who are in ‘error,’ twisting doctrines of Christ and the apostles, and doing so in a way that ‘it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress… to make it appear …more true than truth itself.’  He listed the Marcions and Valentinians as such.

In ‘Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book IV,’ he wrote, “…The whole world must pass away… so that the fruit indeed may be gathered into the garner, but the chaff, left behind, may be consumed by fire?  ‘For the day of the Lord comes as a burning furnace, and all sinners shall be stubble – they who do evil things, the day shall burn them up (Mal. 4:1).’   In ‘Irenaeus Against Heresies, Book V,’ he wrote: “…As many as fear God and trust in His Son’s advent (return), and who through faith do establish the Spirit of God in their hearts… shall be called ‘pure,’ and ‘spiritual…’  For as the Lord testified, ‘the flesh is weak …the Spirit is willing (Matt. 26:41).’  …The martyrs bear their witness, and despise death, not after the infirmity of the flesh, but because of the readiness of the Spirit…’.

‘(Book V) …The Maker of all things, the Word of God …called Lazarus, saying ‘Come forth (John 11:43);’ and he that was dead came forth… that Christ’s words concerning the future resurrection may be believed …when the Lord utters His voice, by ‘the last trumpet (1 Cor. 15:52),’ and the dead shall be raised, as He Himself declares: ‘The hour shall come, in which all the dead which are in the tombs shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth; those that have gone good to the resurrection of life, and those that have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (John 5:28, 29).’

“…Heretics …are blind to truth, and deviate from the right way… they desert the preaching of the Church …As blind men are led by the blind, they shall deservedly fall into the ditch of ignorance lying in their path, ever seeking and never finding out the truth (2 Tim. 3:7).  Avoid their doctrines, and take careful heed lest we suffer any injury from them; but flee to the Church and …be nourished with the Lord’s Scriptures.  For the Church has been planted as a garden in this world; thus says the Spirit of God, ‘Thou may freely eat from every tree of the garden…’ but ye shall not eat …or touch any heretical discord…

The Hebrew word ‘Satan’ signifies an apostate …his power consists  in sin and apostasy, and with these he binds man; and so …it is necessary that …he shall be bound, in order that man be set free and return to His Lord… For ‘none can enter a strong man’s house and spoil his goods, unless he first bind the strong man (Matt.12:29; Mark 3:27).’  …The devil is a liar form the beginning and the truth is not in him (John 8:44) …he is the apostate angel, yet, can only go to this length… to deceive and lead astray the mind of man into disobeying the commandments of God, and gradually to darken the hearts of those who would endeavor to serve God, to the forgetting of God, and to the adoration of himself as God…  And not only by the particulars already mentioned, but also by means of the events which shall occur in the time of Antichrist, who being an apostate and a robber, is anxious to be adored as God; although a mere slave (to Satan – as Rom. 6:16; 1 John 3:8;), he wishes himself to be proclaimed as a king.  For he being endued with all the power of the devil, shall come, not as a righteous king… but …lawless …and murderous; as a robber, concentrating in himself all satanic apostasy, and setting aside idols to persuade men that he himself is God… having in himself the diverse errors of the other idols.   This he does, that they who do now worship the devil by means of abominations, may serve him by this one idol, of whom the apostle Paul thus speaks …to the Thessalonians, ‘(The Day of the Lord shall not come) …unless there shall come a falling away first, and the man of sin shall be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he sits in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God (2 Thes.2:3,4).’

‘(Book V) …The Antichrist will endeavor in a tyrannical manner to set himself forth as God.  Moreover, the apostle pointed out this which I have shown in many ways that the temple in Jerusalem was made by the direction of the true God.  …And for the purposes which I have already mentioned, in the temple, the enemy shall sit, endeavoring to show himself as Christ, as the Lord also declares: ‘But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, which has been spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, then let those who are in Judea flee into the mountains; and he who is upon the house-top, let him not come down to take anything out of his house: for there shall then be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall be (Matt. 24:15, 21).’

‘And Daniel too, looking forward to the end of the last kingdom, the ten last kings, amongst whom the kingdom of those men shall be partitioned, and upon whom the son of perdition shall come, declares that ten horns shall spring from the beast and that another little horn shall arise in the midst of them… Daniel says, ‘Behold, eyes were in this horn as the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things, and his look was stouter than his fellows.  I was looking, and this horn made war against the saints, and prevailed against them, until the Ancient of days came and gave judgment to the saints of the most high God, and the time came, and the saints obtained the kingdom… The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall excel all other kingdoms, and devour the whole earth, and tread it down and cut it in pieces.  And its ten horns are ten kings which shall arise; and after them shall arise another, who shall surpass in evil deeds of all that were before him, and shall overthrow three kings; and he shall speak words against the most high God, and wear out the saints of the most high God and shall purpose to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and a half time… (Dan. 7:8-25);’ that is, for three years and six months, during which time he shall reign over the earth.  Of whom also the Apostle Paul again, speaking in the second Epistle to the Thessalonians… says: ‘And then shall the wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the spirit of His mouth, and destroy by the presence of His coming; whose coming (the wicked one’s) is after the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and …lies, and with all deceivableness of wickedness for those who perish; because they did not receive the truth, but gave consent to iniquity (2Thes.2:8).’  The Lord …spoke, ‘I have come in My Father’s name, and ye have not received Me: when another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive (John 5:43);’ calling the Antichrist ‘the other,’ because he is alienated from the Lord.  This is also the unjust judge ‘…who feared not God, neither regarded man… (Luke 18:2) …he shall sit in the temple of God, leading astray those who worship him, as if he were Christ.’

‘(Book V) To this purpose Daniel says again: ‘And he shall desolate the holy place; and sin has been given for a sacrifice, and righteousness been cast away in the earth, and he has been active, and gone on prosperously (Dan. 8:12,13).’  The angel Gabriel explained his vision with regard to this person: ‘And towards the end of their kingdom a king of a most fierce countenance shall arise, one understanding dark questions, and exceedingly powerful, full of wonders, and he shall corrupt, direct, influence, and put strong men down, the holy people likewise; and his yoke shall be directed as a wreath; deceit shall be in his hand, and he shall be lifted up in his heart; he shall ruin many by deceit, and lead many to perdition(Dan. 8:23-25).’ Then Daniel points out the time that his tyranny shall last, during which the saints shall be put to flight… ‘in the midst of the week, the sacrifice …shall be taken away, and the abomination of desolation shall be brought into the temple: even unto the consummation of the time shall the desolation be complete (Dan. 9:27).’

‘Now three years and six months constitute the half-week.  …These passages reveal …the particulars of the apostasy, and the works him who concentrates in himself every satanic error…  Behold, what Daniel prophesied concerning the end has been confirmed by the Lord, when He said, ‘When ye shall see the abomination of desolation, which has been spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Matt. 24:15).’

‘…In a still clearer light has John, in the Apocalypse, indicated to the Lord’s disciples what shall happen in the last times…  He teaches us what the ten horns shall be which were seen by Daniel, telling us that … ‘And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet, but shall receive power as kings one hour with the beastThese have one mind, and give their strength and power to the beast.  These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, because He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings (Rev. 17:12-14).’  …Of these kings, (the Antichrist) …shall slay three and subject the remainder to his power, and he shall be the eighth among them.  And they shall lay Babylon waste, and burn her with fire, and shall give their kingdom to the beast, and put the Church to flightAfter that they shall be destroyed by the coming of our Lord.  For that …must …come to ruin, the Lord says: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand (Matt. 12:25).’  Daniel says particularly… ‘ten toes …part iron …part clay… (Dan. 2:41).’  The ten toes …are these ten kings… some strong and active, others …sluggish and useless, and shall not agree… (see Dan. 2:42,43). And since an end shall take place, he says: ‘And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven raise up a kingdom which shall never decay… It shall break in pieces and shatter all kingdoms, and shall itself be exalted forever.  As thou saw that the stone was cut without hands from the mountain and brake in pieces the …clay, the iron… (Dan. 2:44,45). {Note: the ‘stone’ is Christ: Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; 1 Peter 2:6-8; Psa. 118:22, 26.}’

‘(Book V) If therefore the great God showed future things by Daniel, and confirmed them by His Son; and if Christ is the stone which is cut out without hands, who shall destroy temporal kingdoms and introduce an eternal one, which is the resurrection of the just; as He declares, ‘The God of heaven shall raise up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed (as Luke 1:33; Isa.9:7) – let those confuted come to their senses, who reject the Creator, and  who do not agree that the prophets were sent before-hand from the same Father from whom also the Lord came… ministering to His Father’s will, and completing His dispensations with regard to the human race…’.

‘Truly has Justin (Martyr) remarked: ‘That before the Lord’s appearance Satan never dared to blaspheme God, inasmuch as he did not yet know his own sentence, because it was contained in parables and allegories; but after the Lord’s appearance, when he had clearly ascertained from the words of Christ and His apostles that eternal fire has been prepared for him as he apostatized from God of his own freewill, and likewise for all who unrepentantly continue in the apostasy (Matt. 25:41), he now blasphemes, by means of such men (who sin)…’.

‘…At the advent of Christ… ‘(He will) come to set a man against his father and the daughter against the mother… (Matt. 10:25);’ and when ‘two are in one bed; one will be taken and the other shall be left; and two women shall be grinding at the mill; and one shall be taken, and the other left… (Luke 17:34,35; Matt. 24:41).’  At the time of the end,   He will order the reapers (‘angels’) to collect first the tares together, and bind them in bundles, and burn them with unquenchable fire, but shall gather up the wheat (‘the elect’ – Mark 13:27) in the barn (Matt. 13:30; 24:31). …He will call the lambs into the kingdom prepared for them, but send the goats into everlasting fire… (Matt. 25:32-34).  …The advent of the Son comes indeed alike to allfor the purpose of judging and separating the believing from the unbelieving, since, as those who believe do His will by their own choice, and …by their own choice, the disobedient do not consent to His doctrine; it is manifest that He Father has made all in a like condition, each person having a choice of his own, and a free understanding… (see Rom. 1:20; Ezk. 18:20) ‘making His sun to rise upon the evil and on the good, and sending rain upon the just and unjust (Matt. 5:45; as Mal. 4:2).’  And to as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him.  Communion with God is life and light, and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store.  But on as many as, according to their own choice, depart from God, He inflicts that separation from Himself which they have chosen of their own accord…’.

‘(Book V) …Therefore, the Lord declared, ‘He that believeth in Me is not condemned,’ that is, not separated from God, for he is united to God through faith.  On the other hand, He says, ‘He that believeth not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God;’ that is, he separated himself from God of his own accord.  ‘For this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light (because their deeds were evil).  For every one who does evil hates the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that does truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest… (John 3:18-21).’

‘…In this world some persons betake themselves to the light and by faith unite themselves with God, others shun the light and separate themselves from God…  And for this reason the apostle says: ‘Because they received not the love of God (‘the truth’), that they might be saved, God shall also send them the operation of error (‘strong delusion’), that they may believe a lie, that they all may be judged (‘damned’) who believed not the truth, but consented to unrighteousness… (2 Thes. 2:10).’  For when he (Antichrist) is come, and of his own accord concentrates in his own person the apostasy, and accomplishes whatever he shall do according to his own will and choice, sitting also in the temple of God, so that he dupes may to adore him as the Christ; wherefore, shall he deservedly ‘be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20).’

‘…John described this in the Apocalypse: ‘And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet …as a bear, and his mouth as …a lion; and the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great might (‘authority’).  And one of his heads was as it were slain unto death; and his deadly wound was healed, and all the world wondered after the beast.  And they worshipped the dragon because he gave power to the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto this beast, and who is able to make war with him?  And there was given to him during 42 months.  And he opened his mouth for blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.  And power was given him over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation.  And all who dwell upon the earth worshipped him, whose name was not written in the book of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.  If any one have ears, let him hear.  If any one shall lead (another) into captivity, he shall go into captivity: he that kills with the sword must be killed with the sword.  Here is the patience and the faith of the saints     (Rev. 13:2-10).’

‘…Another beast came up… he had two horns like a lamb, and spoke as a dragon.  He exercised all the power of the first beast… and caused the earth, and those that dwell therein, to adore the first beast…  And he perform great wonders …cause fire to descend from heaven… and led the inhabitants of the earth astray (Rev. 13:11-14).’

‘(Book V) Let no one imagine that he performs these wonders by divine power, but by the working of magic.  And we must not be surprised if, since the demons and apostate spirits are at his service, he through their means performs wonders and …leads astray.  John says further: ‘And he shall order an image of the beast to be made, and …give breath to the image, so that the image shall speak; and he shall cause those to be slain who will not adore it.  And he will cause a mark to be put in the forehead and in the right hand, that no one may be able to buy or sell, unless he has the mark of the name of the beast or the number of his name …666 (Rev. 13:14-18);’ that is, six times a hundred, six times ten, and six units …summing up the whole of that apostasy which has taken place during six thousand years; for in as many days as this whole was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded.  And for this reason the Scriptures says; ‘Thus the heaven and the earth were finished… upon the sixth day… and God rested upon the seventh… (Gen. 2:2).’  This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come.  For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years (2 Pet. 3:8) and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, thus, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.’

‘…The chaff …the apostasy (shall) be cast away, but the wheat, those who bring forth fruit to God in faith, shall be gathered into the barn.  And for this cause tribulation is necessary for those who are saved, that having been after a manner broken up, and rendered fire, and sprinkled over by the patience of the Word of God, and set on fire for purification, they may be fitted for the royal banquet.  As a certain man of our (Ignatius to the Romans) said, when he was condemned to the wild beasts because of his testimony with respect to God, ‘I am the wheat of Christ, and am ground by the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of God.’

‘…When this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day; and restoring to Abraham the promised inheritance, in which kingdom the Lord declared, that ‘many coming from the east and west should sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt. 8:11).’  Thus the promise of God …to Abraham remains steadfast…: ‘Lift up thine eyes, and look …towards the north and south, and east and west.  For all the earth which thou see, I will give to thee and to thy seed, even for ever (Gen. 13:13,14).’  …Yet Abraham did not receive the inheritance… but was always a stranger and a pilgrim therein (Acts 7:5; Heb. 11:13).’

‘(Book V) …Thus he waited patiently the promise of God, and was unwilling to receive it from men, what God had promised …saying, ‘I will give this land to thy seed, from the river of Egypt even unto the great river Euphrates (Gen. 15:13).’  If, then, God promised him the inheritance of the land, yet he did not receive it during all the time he sojourn there, it must be, that together with his seed, that is, those who fear God and believe in Him, he shall receive it at the resurrection of the just.  For his seed is the Church, which receives the adoption to God through the Lord, as John the Baptist said, ‘For God is able from the stones to raise up children of Abraham (Luke 3:8).’ Thus the apostle says …to the Galatians: ‘Brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise (Gal. 4:28).’ …And …to they who have believed in Christ do receive in Christ, the promise to Abraham, ‘The promises were spoken to Abraham, and to his seed; He does not say, ‘and of seeds,’ as if He spoke of many, but as of one …thy seed, which is Christ (Gal. 3:16).’  And confirming his former words, Paul says, ‘Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.  Know ye therefore, that they which are of the faith are the children of Abraham (Gal. 3:6-9).’  Thus, then, they who are of faith shall be blessed with faithful Abraham… the inheritancethey shall receive it at the resurrection of the just.  For God is true and faithful; and on this account He said, ‘Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5).’

‘For this reason, when about to undergo His sufferings, that He might declare to Abraham and those with him the glad tidings of the inheritance… Christ, after He had given thanks while holding the cup, and had drunk of it, and given it to the disciples, said, ‘Drink ye all of it: this is My blood of the new covenant, which shall be shed of many for the remission of sins.  But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of this vine, until that day when I will drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom (Matt.26:27).’  Thus, then, He will Himself renew the inheritance of the earth, and will re-organize …as David say, ‘He who hath renewed the face of the earth (Psa. 104:30).’

‘…And …of the kingdom… ‘let the nations serve Thee and kings bow down to Thee… (Gen. 27:28).’  …the days will come, in which vines shall grow, each having ten thousand branches… with clusters of grapes…  …Papias, …a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book… says, ‘When the traitor Judas asked, ‘How can things about to bring forth so abundantly be wrought by the Lord?’ the Lord declared, ‘They who shall come to these times shall see.’  Thus, prophesying of these things, Isaiah says, ‘The wolf shall feed with the lamb… the, lamb and the lion shall eat together… the infant shall trust his hand into the adder’s brood (snake pit); and they shall do no harm, nor have power to hurt anything in My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord…  (Isa. 11:6-9; 65:25).’

‘(Book V) …Isaiah has plainly declared that there shall be joy of this nature at the resurrection of the just, when he says, ‘The dead shall rise again …and those who are in the earth shall rejoice; for the dew from Thee is health to them (Isa. 26:19).’  And Ezekiel also says, ‘Behold, I will open your tombs, and will bring you forth out of your graves… And I will put breath in you, and you shall live; and I will place you on your own land, and ye shall know that I am the Lord (Ezek. 37:12).’  And he says: Thus says the Lord, ‘I will gather Israel from all nations… and I shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the sons of the nations, and they shall dwell in their own land… in peace, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards… when I shall cause judgment to fall among all who have dishonored them, among those who encircle them round about, and they shall know that I am the Lord their God, and the God of their fathers (Ezek. 28:25).’  Now I have shown …that the church is the seed of Abraham; and …(the Lord) …will gather …those that shall be saved from all the nations, as Jeremiah says, ‘Behold, the days come, …from every region whither they have been driven; He will restore them to their own land… (Jer. 23:6,7).’

‘…The Lord will heal ‘the pain of the stoke (Isa. 30:26),’ …when He raises us from the dead, and restores the inheritance of the fathers, as Isaiah says, ‘…He will cause thee to pass over the whole earth, and feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father (Isa. 58:14).’  This is what the Lord declared: ‘Happy are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching… He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to eat, and will come forth and serve them(Luke 12:37).’  And John says the same in the Apocalypse: ‘Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection (Rev. 20:6).’  Also Isaiah declared…’ ‘Lord, how long; until the cities be wasted without inhabitantand the earth be left a desert (Isa.6:11)? Thus Daniel says, ‘And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of those under the heaven, is given to the saints of the Most High God, whose kingdom is everlasting, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.  …But go thou thy way till the end; for thou shall rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days (Dan.7:27; 12:13).’

‘The promises were not only to the prophets… but to the Churches …in the nations, whom the Spirit terms ‘the islands’ …in the midst of turbulence …a harbor of safety to those in peril…, Jeremiah thus declares, ‘…to the isles afar off; say, the Lord that scattered Israel, He will gather them as one feeding His flock of sheep.  …They shall come and rejoice in Mount Zion… a land of wheat, wine… animals and …they shall hunger no more… and I will satisfy the souls of the priests the sons of Levi; and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness… (Jer. 31:10-14).’  …All the disciples of the Lord are Levites and priests…’.

‘(Book V) Then …of Jerusalem, and Christ, Isaiah declares, ‘Happy is he who hath seed in Zion, and servants in Jerusalem.  Behold, a righteous king shall reign… (Isa. 31:9; 32:1);’ ‘…Behold, I make Jerusalem a rejoicingweeping shall be no more in her… And they shall build houses, and inhabit them, and shall plant vineyards and eat the fruit (Isa. 65:18-22).’  If any shall seek to allegorize prophecies of this kind, they shall not be found consistent… and shall be in error…  And Isaiah says, the day of the Lord comethfull of fury and wrath, to lay waster the city of the earth, and to root sinners out of it… (Isa. 13:9).’  And when these things are done, Isaiah says, ‘…And they shall build houses, and shall inhabit them and plant vineyards,’ for these and other words were unquestionably spoken in reference to the resurrection of the just, which takes place after the coming of Antichrist, and the destruction of all nations under his rule, in the times of which the resurrection of the righteous shall reign in the earth… and through Christ they shall …partake in the glory of God the Father and shall enjoy in the kingdom communion with the holy angels …and with those who …in the flesh, await Him… and who have suffered tribulation and escaped the hands of the Wicked one.’

…And as many believers as God has prepared for this purpose, to multiply those left upon earth, should be under the rule of the saints at Jerusalem… saying, ‘Lord around Jerusalem towards the east… Thy sons shall come from the east unto the west… O Jerusalem, put off thy robe of mourning and affliction, and put on that beauty of eternal splendor from God… place the crown of eternal glory on your head; for God will show thy glory to the whole earth… (Apocrypha; Baruch; from chapters 4 & 5).’

Now all these things …cannot be only to super-celestial matters; ‘for God,’ it is said, ‘will show (Jerusalem’s) glory to the whole earth…’.  …And in the Apocalypse, John saw this New Jerusalem descending upon the new earth (Rev. 21:2).  For after the times of the kingdom, he says, ‘I saw a great white throne, and Him who sat upon it, from whose face the whole earth fled away, and the heaven; and there was no more place for them (Rev. 20:11).’  And he sets forth, too, the things connected with the general resurrection and the judgment, mentioning ‘the dead, great and small (Rev. 20:12).’

The sea,’ he says, ‘gave up the dead which it had in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead that they contained; and the books were openedthe book of life was opened, and the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the books, according to their works; and death and hell were sent into the lake of fire, the second death (Rev. 20:12-14).’  This is what is called Gehenna, which the Lord styled eternal fire (Matt. 25:41).  Any one not found written in the book of life, he was sent into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).

‘After this, John says, ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earthAnd I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven, as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice… saying, ‘the tabernacle of the God is with men, and He will dwell with them; and they shall be His people, and God Himself …their God.  And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither …pain, because the former things have passed away (Rev.21:1-4).’  Isaiah declares this: ‘There shall be a new heaven and a new earth… in it joy and exultation (Isa. 65:17, 18).’  This is what was said by the apostle: ‘for the fashion of this world passes away (1Cor.7:31).’ …The Lord also declare, ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away… (Matt. 24:35).’

‘…The fashion of the world passes away (1 Cor. 7:31).’ …This present fashion has been formed temporary… but when it passes away and man is renewed …in an incorruptible state, so …shall there be the new heaven and earth, in which the new man shall remain, always holding fresh converse with God.  And these things shall continue without end as Isaiah declares, ‘For as the new heavens and the new earth which I do make, continue in My sight, says the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain (Isa.66:22).’  And as the presbyters (elders) say, then those who are deemed worthy of an abode in heaven shall go there, others shall possess the splendor of the city; for everywhere the Savior shall be seen according as they who see Him shall be worthy.  They say, this is the distinction between the habitation of those who produce a hundred-fold, …sixty-fold, and thirty-fold: the first will be taken up into the heavens, the second will dwell in paradise, the last will inhabit the city; and so Christ declared, ‘In My Father’s house are many mansions (John 14:2).’

‘…John, therefore, did foresee the ‘resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14),’ and the inheritance in the kingdom of the earth; and what the prophets have prophesied concerning it harmonized with his vision; for the Lord taught these things …and Paul, too, has confessed that the creation shall be free from the bondage of corruption, so as to pass into the liberty of the sons of God (Rom. 8:21).  …God the Father …(shall free) the creature from bondage at the resurrection of the just, and fulfill the promises for the kingdom of His Son… who accomplished His will… the First-begotten Word… who descended to the creature… (that) the creature (Mark 16:15) should contain the Word and ascend to Him, passing the angels and being made after the image and likeness of God…”


He was a disciple of Justin Martyr in the mid-second century.  He wrote on many topics such as: freewill, demons, the resurrection, the Holy Spirit, and against philosophers.  Concerning the resurrection he wrote, ‘…We believe that there will be a resurrection of bodies after the consummation (end; Matt. 24:3) of all things; not, as the Stoics affirm, according to the return of certain cycles… but a resurrection once for all, when our periods of existence are completed… and when the Creator, God Himself, becomes the arbiter (Judge)…’.


He was a second century philosopher and Christian.  In his work to the Athens, ‘On the Resurrection of the Dead,’ amidst much reasoning, he wrote, ‘That God’s power is sufficient for the raising of dead bodies, is shown by the creation of these same bodies…’.

            Clement of Alexandria

He was a pupil to Tatian, and head of the school at Alexandria about 190; he is called by some ‘the founder of Christian Literature.’  He wrote many works, including: ‘On Prophecy,’ ‘Angels,’ ‘the Devil,’ ‘Origin of the Universe,’ ‘the Church,’ ‘On bishops, elders and deacons,’ ‘the Soul,’ ‘Marriage,’ ‘Fasting,’ ‘Ecclesiastical Canon,’ ‘On Easter,’ ‘Against Heresies,’ ‘Salvation,’ and of course ‘On the Resurrection.’  Most of his writings have been lost or destroyed.  In his work, ‘The Instructor,’ he wrote, ‘Now the Lord Himself will feed us as His flock forever.  Amen.  But without a shepherd, neither can sheep nor any other animal live, nor children without a tutor.  …As Isaiah gives unimpeachable witness, ‘He will feed His flock… He will gather the lambs… (Isa. 40:11).’  …Our instructor is the holy God Jesus, the Word, who is the guide of all humanity…’.

In his work, ‘The Stromata,’ in book 4, Clement writes, ‘…We call martyrdom perfection, not because the man comes to the end of his life, but because he has exhibited the perfect work of love (Possibly as in 1 John 3:16; definitely as in Matt. 10:28).’

Tertullian (ca. 155 – 230)

Tertullian is called a ‘Father of the Latin Church.’ He was a bishop of Carthage in North Africa from about 195 to his death in 230.  He was a teacher of Cyprian and influenced theologians after him, including Augustine and Jerome.  Quintus Tertullianus wrote many works that addressed every major doctrine of the early church.  He wrote thousands of pages.  He believed in freewill, repentance, and the Trinity.  He was a great apologist, from who we get the famous words ‘To the Rulers of the Roman Empire,’ concerning their killing and abusing and hating Christians, ‘…Nor does your cruelty avail you; it is rather a temptation to us.  The more often we are mown down by you, them more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed’.  Some translate it, ‘in the blood of the martyrs lies the seed of the church.’

Though Tertullian offers a few questionable teachings, he confessed the apostle’s doctrines concerning Christ, the resurrection and the judgment to come.  In error he taught that the ‘temple’ that the Antichrist would defile (Matt. 24:15) is the church, and that the ‘trump of God’ is the ‘gospel;’ also, as many of the early church fathers he taught that ‘he that restrains (2Thes. 2:7)’ was the Roman Empire, after which would come the Antichrist; and thus, he did not teach an ‘any time’ return of Christ.  In his work, ‘On the Resurrection of the Flesh,’ written about 208, he wrote:

“…In Thessalonians we read, ‘For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Is it not even you in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at His coming (1 Thes. 2:19)?’  …At the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the whole company of His saints (1Thes.3:13; holy ones) …He teaches them that they must ‘not sorrow concerning them that are asleep (1Thes.4:13),’ and at the same time explains to them the times of the resurrection, saying ‘For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus shall God bring with Him;that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of our Lord, shall not prevent them that are asleep. The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord (1Thes.4).’

‘What archangel’s voice, what trump of God is now heard, except it be in the entertainments of the heretics?  For, allowing that the word of the gospel may be called ‘the trump of God,’ since it was still calling men, yet they must at that time either be dead as to the body, that they may be able to rise again; and then how are they alive?  Or else caught up into the clouds…?  They are ‘who in this life only (1 Cor. 15:19)’ shall be found to have hope.  …Paul says, ‘…But of the times and the seasons brethren, there is no necessity for my writing unto you.  For you know perfectly, that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night; for when they shall say, ‘Peace,’ and ‘All things are safe,’ then sudden destruction shall come upon them (1Thes. 5:1-3).’  Again, in the second epistle he addresses them with even greater earnestness: ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, by (concerning) the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, nor be troubled, either by spirit, or by word,’ that is, the word of false prophets, ‘or by letter,’ that is, the letter of false apostles, ‘as if from us, as that the day of the Lord is at hand.  Let no man deceive you by any meansFor that day shall not come, unless indeed there first come a falling away,’ he means indeed of this present empire, ‘and that man of sin be revealed,’ that is to say, Antichrist, ‘the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God.  Remember ye not, that when I was with you, I told you these things?  And now ye know what detained, that he might be revealed in his time.  For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now hinders must hinder, until he be taken out of the way (2 Thes. 2:1-7).’  What obstacle is there but the Roman state, the falling away of which, by being scattered into ten kingdoms, shall introduce Antichrist upon its ruin?   ‘And then shall be revealed the wicked one, whom the Lord shall consume with the brightness of His coming… (2Thes. 2:8).’

‘In Revelation of John, the order of these times is spread out to view, which ‘the souls of the martyrs (Rev. 6:9)’ are taught to wait for beneath the altar, while they earnestly pray to be avenged and judged; in order that the world may first drink to the dregs the plagues that await it out of the vials of the angels, and that the city of fornication may receive from the ten kings its deserved doom, and that the beast Antichrist with his false prophet may wage war on the Church of God; and that, after the casting of the devil into the bottomless pit for a while, the blessed prerogative of the first resurrection may be ordained from the thrones; and then again, after the consignment of him to the fire, that the judgment of the final and universal resurrection may be determined out of the books (Rev. 20:12).

‘…(Now to those who) object, saying that the Scriptures are allegorical, I have still one answer to make – that it is open to us to defend the bodily character of the resurrection by means of the language of the prophets, which is equally figurative… ‘Earth thou art, and to earth shall thou return (Gen. 3:19);’ in respect …to his fleshly substance, which had been taken out of the ground, and which was the first to receive the name of man… Likewise …David said, ‘The Lord is King, let the earth be glad (Psa.97:1),’ meaning, the flesh of the saints, to which appertains the enjoyment of the kingdom of God.  Then David says, ‘The earth saw and trembled; the mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord… (Psa. 97:4-6),’ meaning, the flesh of the wicked; likewise it is written: ‘they shall look on Him whom they pierced (Zech. 12:10).’  If indeed it will be thought that both these passages were pronounced simply of the element earth, how can it be consistent that it should shake and melt at the presence of the Lord, at whose royal dignity it before exulted?  So again in Isaiah, ‘Ye shall eat the good of the land (Isa. 1:19),’ the expression means the blessings which await the flesh when in the kingdom of God it shall be renewed; and made like the angels, and waiting to obtain the things ‘which neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man (1 Cor. 2:9).’

‘…In this way the Jews lose heavenly blessings, by confining their hopes to earthly ones, being ignorant of the promise of heavenly bread… and the wine of the Spirit, and of that water of life… of Christ.  …They consider the special soil of Judea to be that very holy land, which ought rather to be interpreted of the Lord’s flesh , which in all those who put on Christ, is thenceforth the holy land; holy indeed by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, truly flowing with milk and honey by the sweetness of His assurance, truly Judean by reason of the friendship of God; for ‘he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, but he who is one inwardly (Rom. 2:28).’  In the same way it is that both God’s temple and Jerusalem (meant) when it is said by Isaiah: ‘Awake, awake, O Jerusalem!  Put on the strength of thine arm; awake, as in thine earliest time (Isa.51:9);’ that is to say, in that innocence which proceeded the fall into sin…’

‘We have also in the Scriptures robes mentioned as allegorizing the hope of the flesh.  Thus John said, ‘these are they which have not defiled their clothes with women (Rev. 14:4)’ …eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.  Thus, they shall be ‘clothed in white raiment (Rev. 3:4; 19:8),’ that is, in the bright beauty of the unwedded flesh (more so: that is righteousness and holiness – true purity).  In the gospel even, ‘the wedding garment’ may be regarded as the sanctity of the flesh…  When Isaiah tells us ‘…thy light break forth as the morning… (Isa. 58:8),’ …he declared the resurrection after its fall in death.  Thus, we are furnished even with an allegorical defense of the resurrection of the body.  When, then, we read, ‘Go, My people, enter into your closets for a little season, until My anger is past (Isa. 26:4),’ we have in the closets graves, in which they will have to rest for a little while (Rev. 6:11), who shall have at the end of the world departed this life in the last furious onset of the power of Antichrist

‘…It appears that by the very phrase which he uses, ‘until His anger pass away,’ which shall extinguish Antichrist, he shows that after that indignation the flesh will come forth from the sepulcher (grave), in which it had been deposited previous to the bursting out of the anger.

‘…Concerning the resurrection of the flesh …the actual substance of the body …Ezekiel said, …the Lord set me in the midst of a plain which was full of bones; and …said to me, ‘Son of man will these bones live?’  And I said, ‘O Lord God, You know.’  He said to me, ‘Prophesy upon these bones …and say, ‘bones, hear the word of the Lord …I bring upon you the breath of life and you shall live.’ …And the spirit entered into the bones, and they lived.  And the Lord said to me, ‘these bones are the whole house of Israel (Ezek. 37:1-14).’  …Some say this is in the allegorical sense… the state of the Jews …very dry and dispersed over the plain of the world.  Thus, they see the image of a resurrection is allegorically applied to their state…’

‘However, in fact …this event will happen to the bones themselves…  The Lord tried the prophet’s own faith: ‘…Can these bones ever live?’   …God would not have tried the prophet’s faith on a point which was never to be a real one.  …And in the concluding sentence the Lord says, ‘And you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed these things (Ezek. 37:14),’ intending of course to do that which He had spoken… And concerning the body and soul …if any one shall violently suppose that the destruction of the soul and the flesh in hell (Matt. 10:28) amounts to a final annihilation of the two substances and not to their penal treatment, let him recollect that the fire of hell is eternal – expressly announced as an everlasting penalty (Dan.12:2; Isa. 66:24; Matt. 25:30; Rev. 22:15).  [Note: Jehovah Witnesses’ official Website, article ‘The Reality of Hell (2008);’ they do not believe in an eternal hell, but ‘annihilation’ of the body, spirit and soul.  Likewise, Seventh-Day Adventists teach ‘annihilation’ and deny an eternal hell.]

‘…Christ says, ‘…the flesh profits nothing, but it is the spirit that gives life (John 6:63).’  …Therefore, He has thrown light on the object which receives as well as the subject which gives the ‘profit.’  Thus …the Spirit gives life to the flesh which has been subdued by death; for ‘the hour,’ says He, ‘is coming when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live (John 5:25).’  …What is the ‘voice of God’ but the Word?  And what is the Word but the Spirit, who shall justly raise the flesh…: ‘Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:28, 29)…’.

‘…The Acts of the Apostles, also, attest the resurrection…  (They) explained the Old Testament and confirmed the New, above all, preaching God in Christ.  Consequently they introduced nothing new concerning the resurrection, besides announcing it to the glory of Christ… and without encountering any other opponents than the Sadducees (Acts 23:8).  …Paul confessing his faith before the chief priests …among the Sadducees and Pharisees, said, ‘Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; of the hope of the resurrection of the dead I am now called in question of you… (Acts 23:6).’  He confirmed the views of the Pharisees, rejecting the views of the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection.  And in like manner, he says that he was advancing ‘none other things than those which the prophets had announced (Acts 26:22).’

‘…Just as the Lord promises us many mansions as of a house in His Father’s home… in heaven (John 14:2) …having a manifest reference to the flesh… the apostle makes a distinction, when he goes on to say, ‘For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven, if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked (2 Cor. 5:2, 3);’ which means, before we put off the garment of the flesh, we wish to be clothed with the celestial glory of immortality.’

‘Now the privilege of this favor awaits those who shall at the coming of the Lord be found in the flesh, and who shall, owing to the oppression of the time of Antichrist, deserve by an instantaneous death, which is accomplished by a sudden change, to become qualified to join the rising saints; as he writes to the Thessalonians: ‘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… with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God; the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we too (1 Thes. 4:15-).’  …Paul explains this to the Corinthians, ‘…we shall all indeed rise again in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump… the dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed …this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality… (1Cor.15:52, 53).’

‘…And after the apostle says, ‘They who are in the flesh cannot please God,’ he immediately …adds, ‘But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit (Rom. 8:8, 9).’  …Now, being …servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and in the end everlasting life; ‘for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:23).’  …And that you may not suppose that this is said merely of that life which we have to walk in the newness of, through baptism, by faith, the apostle …adds:  ‘if we have been planted together in the likeness of Christ’s death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection (Rom. 6:5).’

‘By a figure we die in our baptism, but in a reality we rise again in the flesh, even as Christ did, ‘that, as sin has reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness unto life eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 5:21).’  But how so, unless in the flesh?  …If the dominion of death operates in the dissolution of the flesh, in like manner, death’s contrary – life, ought to produce the contrary effect, the restoration of the flesh…; ‘O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory (1Cor.15:55)?’ Thus ‘grace shall there much more abound, where sin once abounded (Rom.5:20).’

‘…The apostle teaches the Philippians, ‘we have our citizenship, from whence also we look for our Savior Jesus Christ, who shall change our body of humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body (Phil. 3:20, 21)’ – of course after the resurrection, because Christ Himself was not glorified before He suffered.  These must be ‘the bodies’ which he ‘beseeches’ the Romans to ‘present as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God (Rom. 12:1).’  But how is it a living sacrifice, if these bodies are to perish? … (Paul says) ‘And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly…  may your whole body, and soul, and spirit be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord (1Thes.5:23)…’

‘But you say, ‘flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50).’  We are quite aware that this too is written; but although our opponents place it in the front of the battle, we have intentionally reserved the objection until now  …The apostle …summed up the substance of his own gospel, and of their belief in an exposition of the Lord’s death and resurrection…  ‘Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain …because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.  For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins, and they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished (1 Cor. 15:12-18).’

‘…We come now to the very gist of the whole question: What are the substances, and of what nature are they, which the apostle has disinherited of the kingdom of God?  For it is not the resurrection that is directly denied to the flesh and blood, but the kingdom of God, which is incidental to the resurrection; for there is a resurrection of judgment also.  …They, to which it is granted to enter the kingdom of God, will have to put on the power of an incorruptible and immoral life…; flesh and blood …by them fails to obtain the kingdom of God.  But inasmuch as ‘this corruptible’ flesh ‘must put on incorruption, and this mortal,’ that is the blood, ‘must put on immortality (1Cor.15:53),’ by the change which is to follow the resurrection, it will… happen that flesh and blood, after that change and investiture, will become able to inherit the kingdom of God – but not without the resurrection.  …Jesus is still sitting there at the right hand of the Father, as man, yet God – the last Adam, yet the primary Word – flesh and blood, yet purer than ours – who ‘shall descend in like manner as He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9).’

‘…Paul says ‘…the last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:26).’  In this way, then, it is that corruption shall not inherit incorruption; in other words, death shall not continue.  When and how shall it cease?  In that ‘momentat the last trump, when the dead shall rise incorruptible (1 Cor.15:52).’  What are these, if not they who were corruptible before – our bodies… flesh and blood?  In the case of Lazarus …the flesh lay prostrate in weakness… almost putrid in the dishonor of its decay, it stank in corruption, and yet it was as flesh that Lazarus rose again – with his soul, no doubt.  But that soul was incorrupt; nobody had wrapped it in linen swathes; nobody had deposited it in a grave; nobody had yet perceived its ‘stink;’ nobody for ‘four days (John 11:40)’ had seen it sown.  …This whole end of Lazarus, the flesh indeed of all men is still experiencing, but the soul of no one.  Thus, that substance, to which the apostle’s whole description manifestly refers …must be both the natural or animate body when it is sown and the spiritual body when it is raised again.’

‘…(In) Adam …flesh …the natural body became the living soul…  The flesh …was joined by the soul, and became the natural or animate body…  The apostle says, ‘Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual (1 Cor. 15:46).’  …It is in respect of the flesh that they are both man… ‘the first man of the earth, and the second of heaven;’ though He is ‘of heaven’ in respect of the spirit, He is yet man according to the flesh.  …Thus ‘…the first man becoming a living soul, and the last a quickening spirit.’ …Thus, of the flesh Paul wrote: ‘That which is sown is the natural body, and it rises again as a spiritual body the first Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam a life-giving spirit (1 Cor. 15:44-47).’

‘…According to their proper meanings; death is one thing, and mortality is another. …Death is incapable of immortality, but ‘…mortality must put on immortality,’ and how is this possible…?  It is only just and right that death should be swallowed up in utter destruction…  Death, says the apostle …is ‘swallowed up in victory… (1 Cor. 15:55).’  …So, life, too, as the great antagonist of death, will in the struggle swallow up for salvation what death, in its struggle, had swallowed up for destruction.   So one (death) destroys and the other (flesh) changes…  Paul said: ‘who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body (Phil.3:21).’ But to those who maintain that a transfiguration and a conversion amounts to annihilation of any substance, then it follows that …Satan, when ‘transformed into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14; in appearance),’ loses his own proper character.  Such is not my opinion.  So likewise changes, conversions and reformations will necessarily take place to bring about the resurrection, but the substance of the flesh will still be preserved safe.  If, they say, it be actually the selfsame substance which is recalled to life with all its form, and lineaments, and quality, then why not with all its other characteristics?

‘…Thus our flesh shall remain even after the resurrection …but liberated by the Lord…  Thus Isaiah says, ‘Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads… (Isa. 35:10).’ The angel echoes the same to John: ‘…God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death… the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:4).’  …Isaiah says, ‘All flesh shall see the salvation of God (Isa. 40:5)’.  …They will be preserved for judgment, ‘that every one may receive the things done in his body (2 Cor. 5:10);’ for the ‘judgment-seat’ of God requires that man be kept entire.

‘…To this discussion, our Lord’s declaration puts an effectual end: ‘they shall be equal unto the angels (Luke 20:36).’  As by not marrying, because of not dying, so, of course, by not having to yield to any like necessity of our bodily state; even as the angels, too, sometimes were ‘equal unto’ men, by eating and drinking… having clothed themselves in human guise, without the loss of their own intrinsic nature.  If angels, when they became as men, submitted in their own unaltered substance of spirit to be treated as if they were flesh, why shall not men likewise, when they become ‘equal unto the angels,’ undergo in their unchanged substance of the flesh the treatment of spiritual beings?  ‘…And so, the flesh shall rise again, wholly in every man, in its own identity, in its absolute integrity… in safe keeping in God’s presence, through that most faithful ‘Mediator between God and man, the Man Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5),’ who shall reconcile both God to man, and man to God; the spirit to the flesh, and the flesh to the spirit…”

Origen (ca. 185 – 255)

Origen was born into a Christian home.  He was a student of Clement of Alexandria, and took his place as head of the school in Alexandria from about 203 until about 250.  Many scholars such as Jerome visited the school to learn and debate with other students and lecturers.  Origen’s influence has been great upon the Church.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) quotes Origen nine times as an authority.  Some call him, ‘the father of theology,’ for Origen wrote thousands of pages of commentaries on the Bible, in addition to his famous Hexapla, a six-columned bible with six translations, including Hebrew and Greek.  Most of his writings, including ‘On the Resurrection,’ ‘On Free Will,’ and ‘On the Trinity,’ have been lost.  Whether by Roman Emperor Aurelian, in 270, or by Muslim invaders, about 641, the great library of Alexandria, the largest in the world at the time was destroyed and nearly all of its collection burned.  Though fragments of his works are quoted by other early church writers, only two of Origen’s writings have been preserved.  His influence can also be seen in certain works of Ambrose and others, and, of course, was greatly upon his students and fellow Christians.

In one of his saved fragments, ‘Epistle to Avitus,’ Origen wrote, ‘At the end and consummation of the world, when souls and rational creatures (receive judgment)…; since all are possessed of free-will, and of their own accord admit either of good or evil (John 5:29), the latter (evil) will be in a worse condition than they are at present, while the former (good) will advance to a better state of things…’.

In his work, ‘The Principles,’ book III, Origen writes, ‘When the end of the world is already imminent and near, and the whole human race is verging upon the last destruction… the Creator Himself is required to restore… the laws of rule and government which have been corrupted, …thus, ‘all things shall be made subject to Him(1 Cor. 15:28; Isa. 9:7).’

In his work, ‘Our sixth book to …Celsus,’ a man who philosophized with Plato’s reasoning, Origen wrote, ‘There is to be found in the writings of Moses and of the prophets, who are older not only than Plato, but even than Homer and the invention of letters among the Greeks, passages worthy of the grace of God bestowed upon them, and filled with great thoughts, to which they gave utterance, but not because they understood Plato as Celsus imagines.’

In this same ‘…sixth book to …Celsus,’ Origen replies to other errors of Celsus and Stoics (followers of certain Greek philosophers), saying:

“Celsus accordingly, not understanding the doctrine relating to the Spirit of God …weaves together such a web as pleases himself, imaging that we, in calling God a Spirit, differ in no respect in this particular from the Stoics among the Greeks, who maintain that ‘God is a Spirit, diffused through all things, and containing all things within Himself.’  Now, the superintendence and providence of God does extend through all things, but not as that spirit does according to the Stoics.  Providence indeed contains all things that are its objects, and comprehends them all, but not as a containing body includes its contents; because they also are ‘body,’ but as a divine power does, it comprehends what it contains.  According to the philosophers of the Porch, who assert that principles are ‘corporeal (bodily),’ and who on that account make all things perishable, and who venture even to make the God of all things capable of perishing.  The very Word of God, who descends even to the lowest of mankind, would be …nothing else than a ‘corporeal’ spirit; whereas, in our opinion, we who endeavor to demonstrate that the rational soul is superior to all ‘corporal’ nature, and that it is an invisible substance and incorporeal, (know that by) God the Word, all things were made… (Col. 1:16).  The Stoics may consign all things to destruction by fire; we, however, know of no incorporeal substance that is destructible by fire, nor do we believe that the soul of man, or the substance of ‘angels,’ or of ‘thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers (Col. 1:16),’ can be dissolved by fire.”

In his ‘eighth book (against) Celsus,’ Origen wrote:

“Celsus would have us offer prayer to demons: it is not to be listened to for a moment; for our duty is to pray to the Most High God alone, and to the Only-begotten, the First-born of the whole creation, and to ask Him as our High Priest to present the prayers which ascend to Him from us, to His God and our God, to His Father and the Father of those who direct their lives according to His word.  And as we would have no desire to enjoy the favor of those men who wish us to follow their wicked lives, and who give us their favor only on condition that we choose nothing opposed to their wishes, because their favor would make us enemies of God… can never wish to obtain their favor.’

Also in this book he wrote, “…It seemed good to the apostles of Jesus and the elders assembled together …and, as they themselves said, ‘to the Holy Spirit (Acts15:6, 28),’ to write a letter to the Gentile believers, forbidding them to partake of those things from which alone they say it is necessary to abstain, namely, ‘things offered to idols, things strangled, and blood (Acts 15:29; ‘and from fornication’);’ for that which was offered to idols is sacrificed to demons, and a man of God must not join the table of demons.  As to things strangled, we are forbidden by Scripture to partake of them, because the blood is still in them (Lev. 17:14)…  And we are indeed to abstain not only from the flesh of animals, but from all other kinds of food, if we cannot partake of them without incurring evil, and the consequences of evil; for we are to avoid eating for gluttony, or for the mere gratification of the appetite, without regard to the health and sustenance of the body.  …If we abstain at times from eating the flesh of animals, it is …not for the same reason as Pythagoras; for it is the reasonable soul alone that we honor, and we commit its bodily organs with due honors to the grave.  …In regard to the question, ‘How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?’  We have already answered it briefly, as our purpose required.”

Concerning the subject of ‘eternal punishment,’ also in this work Origen said:  “Celsus, after referring to the enthusiasm with which men will contend unto death rather than abjure (reject) Christianity, adds strangely enough some remarks, in which he wishes to show that our doctrines are similar to those delivered by the priests at the celebration of the heathen mysteries.  He says, ‘Just as you believe in eternal punishments, so also do the priests who interpret and initiate into the sacred mysteries.  The same punishments with which you threaten others, they threaten you.  …But if we require proofs, the priests of the heathen gods produce many that are clear and convincing, partly from the answers given by oracles, and various other modes of divination.’  Celsus would have us believe that we and the interpreters of the mysteries equally teach the doctrine of eternal punishment… The truth lies with those who are able to induce their hearers to live as men who are convinced of the truth of what they have heard.  And Jews and Christians have been thus affected by the doctrines they hold about what we speak of as the world to come, the rewards of the righteous, and the punishments of the wicked…  For surely the purpose of this …doctrine was not only to reason upon the subjects of punishments, and to strike men with terror of them, but to induce those who heard the truth to strive with all their might against those sins which are the causes of punishment.  And those who study the prophecies with care… will find them such as to convince the intelligent and sincere reader that the Spirit of God was in those men, and that with their writings, there is nothing in all the works of demons, responses of oracles, or sayings of soothsayers, for one moment to be compared.’

‘…And Celsus makes an unfounded charge against us when he ascribes to us the opinion that ‘there is nothing in our complex nature better or more precious than the body;’ for we hold that far beyond all bodies is the soul, …for it is the soul, and not the body, which bears the likeness of the Creator.  …But Celsus considers that we are inconsistent when we count the body worthy of honor from God, and thus hope for its resurrection, and yet at the same time expose it to tortures as though it were not worthy of honor.  But surely it is not without honor for the body to suffer for the sake of godliness, and to choose afflictions on account of virtue; the dishonorable thing would be for it to waste its powers in vicious indulgence…’.

Later in another section, Origen wrote: “…Those who govern in the Church, and are called rulers of the divine nation, this is, the Church-rule, they rule in accordance with the divine commands, and never suffer themselves to be led astray by worldly policy.  It is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a diviner and more necessary service in the Church of God – for the salvation of men.  And this service is at once necessary and right.  They take charge of all of those that are within, that they may day by day lead better lives, and of those that are without, that they may come to abound in holy words and in deeds of piety; and that, while thus worshipping God truly, and training up as many as they can in the same way, they may be filled with the word of God and the law of God, and thus be united with the Supreme God through His Son the Word, Truth, and Righteousness, who unites to God all who are resolved to conform their lives in all things to the law of God.

‘…In eight books we have embraced all that we considered it proper to say in reply to that book of Celsus which he entitles ‘A True Discourse.’   And now it remains for the readers of his discourse and of my reply to judge which of the two breathes most of the Spirit of the true God, of piety towards Him, and of that truth which leads men by sound doctrines to the noblest life… GLORY BE TO THEE, OUR GOD; GLORY BE TO THEE.”

Hippolytus (early third century theologian)

Hippolytus was a student of Irenaeus, and about 200, he became a priest in Rome.  Later he became a bishop, and some say the Anti-pope of Rome.  His works include speaking on the ‘Canons’ of the ‘Catholic Church.’  The canons (rules; laws; standards) included instructions on church government and principles of living.  He wrote about ‘the Twelve Apostles,’ and it is said that he wrote the list of ‘Seventy Apostles,’ from James, bishop of Jerusalem, to Trophimus, who was martyred with Paul.  Teaching on the verse, ‘Call no man you father… (Matt. 23:9),’ he uses the word ‘papa,’ which over time became associated with the bishop of Rome and ‘pope.’  When Callistus, a liberal, was elected to the papacy, Hippolytus protested.  He separated from full communion with the Church for several years.  Nevertheless, he and Pope Pontianus, Callistus’ successor, did suffer side by side during a wave of persecution.  They died together for their faith in the mines of Sardinia in 235.

Hippolytus, as his teacher Irenaeus, and as the writer of the ‘Epistle of Barnabas,’ and many other priests and rabbis, looked for the return of the Lord six thousand years after the creation of the earth and Adam.  However, as many, Hippolytus misinterpreted his present year and time in prophecy.  ‘On Daniel,’ he wrote:

“…The first appearance of our Lord in the flesh took place in Bethlehem, under Augustus, in the year 5,500; and He suffered in the 33rd year.  And 6,000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day ‘on which God rested from all His works.’  For the Sabbath is the type and emblem of the reign with Christ, when He comes from heaven, as John says in his Apocalypse; for a ‘day with the Lord is as a thousand years (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8).’  Since, then, in six days God made all things, it follows that 6,000 years must be fulfilled.  And they are not yet fulfilled, as John says, ‘five are fallen, one is,’ that is the sixth, ‘the other is not yet come (Rev. 17:10; Note: this is bad reasoning; for not only was John speaking of ‘kings’ to come, but in the next verse 17:11, calls the ‘beast’ the eighth, certainly not speaking of another millennium:).’ …But someone may say, ‘How will you prove to me that the Savior was born in the year 5,500?  Learn that easily, O man; for …under Moses …the tabernacle, were types ‘…thou shall make an ark… length of it two cubits and a half, and the breath …one cubit and a half, and a cubit and a half the height (Exo. 25:10),’ which …make five cubits and a half, so that the 5,500 years might be signified thereby…   The Persians …ruled 230 years, and …the Greeks …for 300 years, of necessity the fourth beast …mightier than all …will reign 500 years: When the times are fulfilled and the ten horns spring from the beast in the last times, then Antichrist will appearand make war against the saints and persecute them, then may we expect the manifestation of the Lord from heaven.’

‘…After the return of the people from Babylon there was a space of 434 years until the birth of Christ… and since the first covenant was given to the children of Israel after 434 years, if follows that the second covenant also should be defined by the same period of time… and be easily recognized by the faithful.  …For when Christ came …fulfilling the law and the prophets …it was necessary that the things spoken by them should be confirmed in order that at the coming of the Lord …should be brought to light…’.

‘…War was made by Ptolemy against Antiochus, and Antiochus met him.  For thus says the Scripture, ‘And the king of the South shall stand up against the king of the North (Dan. 11:6).’  ‘…There shall be a time of trouble… such as has not been from the foundation of the world… (Dan. 12:1)’ and the abomination (antichrist) shall war against them everywhere… and endeavor by every means to destroy them of the world, and they shall not be able any longer to sell their own property, nor to buy from strangers, unless one keeps and carries with him the name of the beast, or bears its mark… (Rev. 13:16, 17).  For then they shall all be driven out from every place, and dragged from their own homes and hauled into prison, and punished with all manner of punishment, and cast out from the whole world.  And ‘these shall awake to everlasting life (Dan. 12:2).’  That is, those who have believed in the true life, and who have their names written in the book of life (Dan.12:1; Rev. 20:12).  ‘And these to shame (Dan. 12:2),’ that is, those who are attached to Antichrist, and who are cast with him into everlasting punishment (Rev.20:14,15). ‘And they that are wise shall shine (Dan. 12:3).’

‘And the Lord has said the same thing in the Gospel: ‘Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun (Matt. 13:43).’  ‘For a time, times and a half (Dan. 12:7);’ by this he indicated the three and a half years of Anti-Christ.  …These are the ‘1,290 days’ of which Daniel prophesied (Dan. 12:12).  ‘…The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end; when many shall be chosen and tried with fire (Dan. 12:4, 9, 10). And who are they who are chosen, but those who believe the word of truth, so as to be ‘made white’ thereby, and to cast off the filth of sin, and put on the heavenly, pure, and glorious Holy Spirit, in order that, when the Bridegroom comes, they may go in straightway with Him?  ‘The abomination of desolation shall be set up (Dan. 12:11; Matt. 24:15).’  Daniel speaks, therefore, of two abominations: the one of destruction, and the other universal, when Antichrist shall come; as Daniel says, he too shall be set up for the destruction of many…”.

In Hippolytus’ work ‘On Christ and Antichrist,’ he wrote:

“As it was your desire, my beloved 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.  …By these, too, you will be able to silence those who oppose and gainsay the word of salvation.  Only 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… Thus the blessed apostle exhorts Timothy, ‘…keep that which is committed to thy trust.’ ‘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 (I Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:1, 2).’  If, then, Paul delivered these things with a pious caution …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?

‘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 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.  …For with what reason should the prophet be called a prophet, unless he in spirit foresaw the future?  …One who sets forth in detail things yet to be… Wherefore prophets were called from the very first ‘seers (as 1 Sam. 9:9; or 2 Chron. 33:18)…’.

‘…But as time now presses for the consideration of the question immediately in hand …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 …he shall be revealed (2 Thes. 2:3); and whence and from what tribe; 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 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 from heaven; and what the conflagration (inferno; 2 Peter 3:10) 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 is the punishment of the wicked by fire.’

‘Now, as our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also God, was prophesied of under the figure of a lion, as 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 the 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 come into the World in the circumcision and the Antichrist will come in the same manner.  The Lord sent apostles among all the nations, and Antichrist …will send false apostles… The Lord gave a seal to those who believed on Him (the Holy Spirit; Eph. 1:13; John 15:26), and Antichrist will give one in like manner (the mark of the beast; Rev. 14:9).  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 Jerusalem.  …The blessed Jacob speaks …of our Lord and Savior: ‘Judah …Thy hand shall be on the neck of your enemies… Judah is a lion’s whelp… A ruler shall not depart from Judah …until Shiloh (the Peaceful One) comes… He shall be the expectation of the nations.  Binding His donkey to a vine, and the colt… He shall wash His garment in wine and His clothes in the blood of grapes… His eyes shall be red as with wine… (Gen. 49:8-12; see Rev. 1:14).’

‘…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 lion’s whelp, means He 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 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 (branch) shall grow up out of it (Isa. 11:1).’  That which is called by Isaiah a flower (branch), 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…,’ refers to the three days’ sleep (death) of Christ… As David says, ‘I laid me down and slept; I awaked: for the Lord will sustain me (Psa.3:5);’ in which words he points to the fact of His sleep and rising again.  And Jacob says, ‘Who shall rouse Him up?’  ‘…God the Father, who raised Him from the dead (Gal. 1:1).’  And in saying, ‘A ruler shall not depart from Judah…’ – Christ; He is our expectation; for we expect Him and by faith we shall behold Him as He comes from heaven with power.  ‘Binding His donkey…’ means that He unites His people of the circumcision; …for He is the vine.  ‘And His donkey’s colt’ denotes …the Gentiles…; ‘…wash …in wine’ …is the voice of His Father …by the Holy Ghost…  ‘And His clothes in the blood…’ is His blood.  ‘…His eyes…’ the eyes …of the blessed prophets…  And His ‘teeth …whiter than milk,’ referred to the commandments that proceed from His holy mouth…’.

‘…And in like manner also we find it written regarding Antichrist.  For Moses said, ‘Dan is a lion’s whelp, and he shall leap from Bashan (Deut. 33:22)…’ naming the tribe of Dan, he declared clearly the tribe from which Antichrist is destined to spring.  …And …we see this from Jacob, ‘Dan shall be a serpent lying on the ground, biting the horse’s heel (Gen. 49:17).’  …The serpent Antichrist, that deceiver who is mentioned in Genesis, who deceived Eve and bruised Adam’s heel.  But since it is necessary to prove this assertion by sufficient testimony, we shall not shirk from the task.  …Of Dan …that son of the devil, is destined to spring and arise…, ‘Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel (Gen.49:16).’  But some one may say that this refers to Samson, who sprang from the tribe of Dan, and judged the people 20 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 neighing, of the driving of his horses (Jer. 8:16).’  …And Isaiah also says, ‘It shall come to pass, that when the Lord has performed His whole work upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will punish the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria…, he He said, ‘By My strength will I do it And the Light of Israel shall be a fire, and His Holy One for a flame, and it shall consume … the thorns …both soul and body  (Isa. 10:12-18; Matt. 10:28, 33; 13:22, 40).’

‘And Isaiah says in another place, ‘And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest for thy sorrow…  How the oppressor has ceased and the golden city ceased!  God has broken the yoke of the rulers of sinners, He who smote the people in wrath…  The whole earth is at rest and shouts with rejoicing…  Hell from beneath is excited at meeting thee at thy coming… all the rulers of the earth …all the kings of the nations.  Thy pomp is brought down to the grave (Sheol)… How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  …cast down to the ground…  And thou did say in thy heart (or mind: 2 Cor. 10:5), ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will set my throne above the stars of heaven: I will set down upon the lofty mountains towards the north: I will ascend above the clouds: I will be like the Most High.’  Yet now thou shall be brought down to hell, and to the foundations of the earth!  They that see thee shall …say, ‘Is this the man that excited the earth, that did shake kingdoms, which made the whole world a wilderness, and destroyed the cities, that released not those in prison.’  All the kings of the earth did lie in honor, everyone in his own house; but thou shall be cast out on the mountains like a loathsome carcass, with many who fall, pierced through with the sword, and going down to hell… because thou hast destroyed My land, and slain My people.   Thou shall not abide, enduring forever, as wick seed.  Prepare thy children for slaughter for the sins of their fathers, lest they rise and possess the land (Isa. 14:3-21).’

‘Ezekiel likewise speaks of him (Satan), ‘Thus says the Lord God, ‘Because your heart is lifted up, and thou has said, ‘I a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the sea;’ yet thou art a man, and not God, though you set your heart as the heart of God… With thy wisdom and understanding you have gotten your riches… by your great wisdom and trade you have increased your power and riches.  Because thy heart is lifted up in your power, therefore, thus says the Lord God: ‘…I will bring strangers upon thee, plagues from the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom and shall defile thy brightness.  They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shall die…  Wilt thou yet say before them that slay thee, I am God? but thou shall be a man, and no God  (Though) created full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty …in Eden the garden of God… anointed cherub… perfect in thy ways …till sin was found in thee… I will destroy thee… Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you have corrupted your wisdom… I will cast thee to the ground …before kings, that they may behold thee… the people shall be astonished at thee… (once) a terror, and never shall you be any more… (Ezek. 28:2-19).’

‘…Daniel says… (after) distinguishing the kingdoms that are to rise… the coming of Antichrist in the last times, and the end of the whole world.  …expounding the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, he speaks thus: ‘Thou, O king, saw and  behold a great image head of fine gold, its arms and shoulders of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, and its legs of iron, its feet part of iron and part of clay.  Thou saw, then, till that a stone was cut out without hands, and smote the image upon the feet… and break them to an endand they became like chaff and the wind carried them away, and there was no place for them.  And the stone …became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (Dan.2:31-).’

‘Now if we set Daniel’s visions side by side… he speaks thus, ‘I Daniel saw, and behold the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.  And four beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.  The first was like a lioness, and had wings as of an eagle… till the wings were plucked and it was …made to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.  And behold, a second beast like to a bear …and it had three ribs in the mouth of it.  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  …a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; it had iron teeth; it was devouring and braking in pieces, and it stamped the residue with the feet of it; and it was diverse from the beasts, and it had ten horns… and behold there came up among them another little horn, and before it …three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots; and behold in the horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things (Dan. 7:2-8).’

‘And Daniel says, ‘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 (see Rev. 20:12).         I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spoke, 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… And I saw in the night vision …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 (Dan. 7:9-14).’

‘Now these things …may seem to some hard to understand, yet, we shall keep back nothing to impart an intelligent apprehension of them to those who are possessed of a sound mind.  He said, a ‘lioness came up from the sea,’ and by that he meant the kingdom of the Babylonians in the world, which was the head of gold on the image.  In saying ‘it had wings as of an eagle,’ he meant that Nebuchadnezzar the king was lifted up and was exalted against God (Note: though this is true, a symbol of the Babylonians was the winged lion).  Then he says, ‘the wings were plucked,’ to show his glory was destroyed…   The words,  ‘a man’s heart was given to it…’ signified that he repented and recognized himself to be only a man, and gave the glory to God.  Then, after the lioness, he sees a ‘second beast like a bear,’ and that denotes the Persians.  …In saying the were ‘three ribs in the mouth of it,’ he pointed to three nations: the Persians, the Medes and the Babylonians; which were also …the silver after the gold.  Then ‘the third beast, a leopard’ meant the Greeks.  For after the Persians, Alexander of Macedon obtained the sovereign power on subverting Darius, as is shown by the brass on the image.  And saying that it had ‘four wings of a fowl,’ he taught us most clearly how the kingdom of Alexander was partitioned; for the ‘four heads’ are four kings, which are those who arose out of that kingdom; for Alexander, when dying, partitioned out his kingdom into four divisions.  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 iron… for the legs …were of iron.  …And mystically by the toes he meant the kings who are to arise…  as Daniel said, ‘…ten horns… among which shall raise another, an offshoot’.  And this signified none other than Antichrist, who is also himself to raise the kingdom of the Jews.  He says that three horns are plucked up… the three kings of Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia… And after gaining terrible power over all, being a tyrant, shall stir up tribulation and persecution against men, exalting himself…; for Daniel says, ‘I considered the horn, and behold that horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them, till the beast was slain and perished, and …given to the fire.’

‘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 …of which Daniel says, ‘I saw one like the Son of manand there was given Him dominion’.   Daniel 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 the Word of God before all ages…  And these things are in the future, as the ten toes of the image are equivalent to many democracies, and the ten horns of the fourth beast are distributed over ten kingdoms…  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 Alexander’s 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 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 is Christ.’

‘These things we impart to you with fear and due to the love of Christ, which surpasses all.  …Let us look 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.   Come then, O blessed Isaiah; arise, tell us clearly what thou did prophesy with respect to the mighty Babylon; for thou did speak also of Jerusalem and thy word is accomplished.  For you spoke boldly and openly: ‘Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; your land, strangers devour it… as a besieged city (Isa. 1:7, 8).’  Are not these things come to pass?  Are not the things announced by thee fulfilled?  Is not Judea desolate?  Is not the holy place burned with fire (70AD under Titus; see p. 22-25)?  Are not their walls cast down and their cities destroyed?  …Do not the Romans rule the country?  And indeed these impious people hated thee, and did saw thee asunder, and they crucified Christ…  Jeremiah was stoned …yet Daniel has his testimony…. And John gives no false witness.  With many mouths …the Word spoke to you!  Ye died with Christ and will live with Christ.  …Rejoice, blessed Daniel!  You have not been in error: all these things have come to pass. …Concerning the beast dreadful and terrible. …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 (His word).’

‘…Of the harlot, ‘…Babylon, sit, O daughter of the Chaldeans; thou shall no longer be called tender and delicate (Rev. 18:2, 3).  Take the millstone, grind meal, draw aside thy veil, make bare the legs …for your shame be uncovered… As for our Redeemer, the Lord of hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel.  Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness… these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day (Rev.18:8,10,17), the loss of children and widowhood… for the multitude of thy sorceries (Rev. 18:23), and for the great abundance of your enchantments.  For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness …your wisdom has perverted you, and you said in your heart, ‘I am, and none else beside me;’ your fornication (Rev.18:3) shall be thy shameand destruction shall come upon you Your merchants (Rev.18:11) from your youth shall wander …there shall be no salvation   for thee (Isa. 47:1-15).’

‘These things does Isaiah prophesy for thee.  Let us see now whether John has spoken to the same effect.  When in the isle Patmos, he sees a revelation of awful mysteries…; John, apostle and disciple of the Lord, what did you see and hear concerning Babylon?  “…And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and said to me, ‘Come hither; I will show unto you the judgment of the great whore that sits upon many waters; with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.’  And he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold, and precious stone, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.  And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. …And of the beast that carried her, which has seven heads and ten horns… it shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition. …And …the seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits.  There are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue a short space.  And the beast …is the eighth…   And the ten horns …are ten kings, which have received no kingdom yet; but receive power as kings one hour with 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.  And the waters which thou saw, where the whore sits, are peoples and nations…  And, the woman… is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth…  After these things …another angel …cried, ‘Babylon the great is fallen… and is become the habitation of devils…; for all the nations have drunk of wine of the wrath of her fornication… and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through …her luxuries.’  And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, My people …be not partakers of her sins… and her plagues (Rev.17:1-18:4).’

‘…Babylon if fallen …her sins have reached unto heaven and God has remembered her iniquities.  …She …lived deliciously and …she said in her heart, ‘I sit a queen…’.  Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning…  And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her… for in one hour so great riches are come to nothing.  …Rejoice over her, O heaven, and ye angels, and apostles, and prophets; for God has avenged you on her.   …By her the merchants were the great men of the earth; for by her sorceries were all nations deceivedAnd in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth (Rev. 18:5-24).’

‘…Now Daniel …says, ‘And he shall make a covenant with many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease (Dan.9:27).’  By one week, therefore, Daniel 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.  …And thus John says, ‘…I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy 1,260 days clothed in sackcloth (Rev. 11:3).  That is the half of the week whereof Daniel spoke.  ‘These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks standing before the Lord of the earth.  And if any man will hurt them, fire will proceed out of their mouth and devour their enemies… and these have power to stop the rain… and …to smite the earth with plagues as often as they will; and when they finish their testimony… the beast …shall make war against them, and …kill them (Rev. 11:3-7);’ because they will not give glory to Antichrist… the ‘little horn.’  …As Daniel says, ‘I considered the horn… he blasphemed God, and he made war against the saints and prevailed against them until the beast was slain (Dan.7:8, 9, 21).’

‘And …of the beast …John says: ‘And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns, like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.  And he exercised all the power of the first beast, and he made the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.  And he did great wonders… and deceived them that dwell on the earth by means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast, saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast… And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image… should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.  And he caused all …rich and poor …to receive a mark in their right hand or forehead; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, the name of the beast or the number of the beastthe number of a man 666 (Rev. 13:11-18).’

The beast coming up out of the earth’ means the kingdom of Antichrist; and the ‘two horns’ are him and the false prophet.  And John saying, ‘the horns being like a lamb,’ means that he will make himself like the Son of God and set himself forward as king.  And that ‘he spoke like a dragon,’ means that he is a deceiver…   And the words, ‘he exercised all the power of the first beast and caused the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast…’ signifies that, after the manner of the law of Augustus, by whom the empire of Rome was established, he too will rule; …for this is the fourth beast, whose head was wounded and healed again, in its being broken up …and partitioned into four crowns; and he (Antichrist) shall …restore it.  …And he will cause those who will not worship the image of the beast to be put to deathHere the faith and the patience of the saints will appear, for he says, ‘he will cause all …to receive a mark…’.  Being full of guile and exalting himself against the servants of God, with the wish to afflict them and persecute them out of the world, because they give not glory to him, he will order incense-pans to be set up by all everywhere, that no man among the saints may be able to buy or sell without first sacrificing; for this is what is meant by the mark received on the right hand.  And the word, ‘in their forehead’ indicates that all are crowned… and not of life, but of death.  In this way, did Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, the descendant of Alexander …devise measures against the Jews …issuing a decree: ‘…that all should set up shrines before their doors, and sacrifice and …honor Dionysus, waving chaplets of ivy;’ and those who refused should be put to death by strangulation and torture.  But he also met his due recompense at the hand of the Lord… for he died eaten up of worms.  …it is recorded in the books of the Maccabees.’

‘But now we shall speak of what is before us …the number …666.  As to his name, it is not in our power to explain it as John understood it… but only to give a conjectural account of it; for when he appears, the Blessed One will show us what we seek to know.  …Having the mystery of God in our heart, we ought in fear to keep faithfully what has been told us by the blessed prophets, in order that when those things come to pass, we may be prepared for them and not deceived.  For when the times advance, he too, of whom these things are said, will be manifested.’

‘…when the beast has overmastered three horns out of the ten in the array of war …Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia …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… These things shall be in the future…  And so the Antichrist will allure mankind to himself…  He then, having gathered to himself the unbelieving through-out the world, comes …to persecute the saints…’

‘…Concerning this time …the Lord said, ‘There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city, who came saying, ‘Avenge me of mine adversary.’  And …afterward he said within himself, though I fear not God, nor regard man; because this widow troubled me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.  …And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him…?  I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.  Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth (Luke 18:2-8)?’

‘By the unrighteous judge …He means without doubt Antichrist, as he is a son of the devil and a vessel of Satan… 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 to Jerusalem itself, which is a widow indeed, forsaken of her perfect, heavenly spouse, God.  She calls Him her adversary, and not her Savior; for she does not understand that said by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘because they obeyed not the truth, a spirit of error shall speak then to this people and to Jerusalem (Jer. 4:11).’  …And knowing …the people would reject the true Savior and take part with error and choose an earthly king… (Antichrist), Moses says: ‘Is not this land laid up in store with Me, and sealed up among My treasures?  In the day of vengeance I will recompense, and in due time their foot shall slide… (Deut. 32:35).’

‘They did slide in all things …because they became transgressors; neither hearing the law nor the prophets, nor the voice of the Gospels, and they crucified the Savior Himself; nor did they believe the apostles, because they persecuted them…  They …were betrayers of truth, and …haters of God… and against the servants of God…  According the word of Isaiah: ‘Woe to the wings of the vessels of the land, beyond the rivers of Ethiopia… (Isa. 18:1).’  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.  …her tillers are the two Testaments; and the ropes that stretch around her are the love of Christ, which binds the Church… The wind, the Spirit from heaven, is present, by which those who believe are sealed: she has also anchors of iron… the holy commandments of Christ Himself… She has also mariners …like the holy angels, by whom the Church is always governed and defended.  The ladder in her leading up to the sail yard 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 the kingdom of Christ.’

‘Now, concerning the tribulation of the persecution which is to fall upon the Church from the adversary, John says: ‘And I saw …a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.  And she, being with child, cries, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.  …And a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten hornshis tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.  And she brought forth a man-child, who is to rule all the nations: and the child was caught up unto God and to His throne.  And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had the place prepared of God that they should feed her 1,260 daysand a war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon …and his angels… (Rev. 12:1-7)’   ‘…And then when the dragon saw it, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child.  And to the woman were given two wings… to fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.  And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman… and the earth helped the woman and …swallowed up the flood…  and the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 12:13-17).’

‘By ‘the woman clothed with the sun,’ he meant most manifestly the Church, endued with the Father’s word, whose brightness is above the sun.  And by ‘the moon under her feet,’ he referred to her being adorned …with heavenly glory.  And ‘upon her head a crown of twelve stars’ refers to the twelve apostles by whom the Church was founded.  And ‘she, being with child …pained to be delivered,’ means that the Church will not cease to bear from her heart the Word that is persecuted by the unbelieving 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…  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 earthly; even as David declared of old when he said, ‘The Lord said to My Lord, ‘Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Your enemies Thy footstool (Psa. 110:1).’  ‘And the dragon,’ he says, ‘saw and persecuted the woman… and the woman …fled into the wilderness… for a time, and times, and half a time…’.  That refers to the 1,260 days, the half of the week, during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church, which flees from city to city (Matt.10:23), and …in the wilderness among the mountains (Matt.24:16), possessed of no other defense than the two wings of the great eagle, that is the faith of Jesus Christ, who, in stretching forth His holy hands… covered all who believed …as a hen her chickens.  For the mouth of Malachi also He speaks, ‘And unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings (Mal. 4:2).’

‘The Lord also says, ‘When ye shall see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place, then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains… 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… 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 (Matt. 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-20).’  And Daniel says, ‘And they shall place the abomination of desolation, 1,290 days.  Blessed is he that waits, and comes to the 1,295 days (Dan. 12:11-12).’

‘And the blessed apostle Paul, 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 opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped: so that he sits 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 withholds, that he might be revealed in his time; For the mystery of iniquity does already work; only he who now lets 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 will all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth.  For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thes. 2:1-).’  Isaiah says, ‘Let the wicked be cut off, that he behold not the glory of the Lord (Isa. 26:10).’

‘These things being to come to pass, and the one week bring divided into two parts, and the abomination of desolation being manifested, 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 Savior Jesus Christ from heaven… Who shall bring the inferno 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, look up …for your redemption draws near (Luke 21:28).’  ‘…And there shall not a hair of your head perish (Luke 21:18).’  ‘For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shines even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man beFor where ever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together (Matt. 24:27).’

‘…And the Lord says again, ‘Then shall the Son of man send His angels, and they shall gather together His elect for the four winds of heaven (Matt. 24:31).’  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 (Psa.19:6).’  By the heat he means the inferno; as Isaiah spoke: ‘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 over past (Isa. 26:20).’   And Paul …said, ‘for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth of God in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18).’

‘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 (Dan. 12:2).’  And Isaiah says, ‘The dead men shall arise (Isa. 26:19).’  The Lord says, ‘Many in that day shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live (John 5:25).’  And the prophet says, ‘Awake, thou that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light (Isa. 26:19; 60:1 and Eph. 5:14).’  John says, ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death has no power (Rev. 20:6);’ for the second death is the lake of fire that burns.  And the Lord says, ‘Then shall the righteous shine forth… (Matt. 13:43).’

And to the saints He will say, ‘Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34).’  But what says He to the wicked?  ‘Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41).’  And John says, ‘…without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whore-mongers, and murders, and idolaters, and whosoever makes and loves a lie; for your part is in the hell of fire (Rev. 22:15).’  And in like manner also Isaiah: ‘And they shall go forth and look upon the carcass of the men that have transgressed against Me.  And their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be for a spectacle to all flesh (Isa. 66:24).’  ‘Concerning the resurrection of the righteous, Paul also speaks …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 firstThen 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 (1 Thes. 4:13-17).’

‘…Now, two advents of our Lord and Savior are indicated in the Scriptures; one being His first advent in the flesh …as Isaiah said, ‘We saw Him, and He had no form …rejected by men; a man of pains and …bearing infirmity.  And we hid our faces from Him; He was despised and esteemed not (Isa. 53:2,3).’  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 said, ‘Ye shall see the King in glory (Isa. 33:17).’  And as Daniel said, ‘…the Son of man comes with the clouds of heaven… And He was given honor and dominion, and glory, and the kingdom; all tribes and tongues shall serve Him (Dan. 7:13).’

‘…These things I have set 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 may keep thyself void of offence both toward God and toward men, ‘looking for that blessed hope and appearing of our God and Savior (Titus 2:13),’ 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’.”

Commodian (third century theologian)

Commodian was a bishop or presbyter of North Africa about 240.  He wrote in prose or poetical form, which of his writings, only two poems still exist.  The following, sections 43-45, are from his work called ‘Christian Disciple;’ they include: ‘Of the end of this age;’ ‘Of the First Resurrection;’ and ‘Of the Day of Judgment.’

“The trumpet gives the sign in heaven, the lion being taken away, and suddenly there is darkness with the din of heaven.  The Lord casts down His eyes, so that the earth trembles.  He cries out, so that all may hear throughout the world: ‘Behold, long have I been silent while I bore your doings in such a time.’  They cry out complaining and groaning too late.  They howl, but …there is no room found for the wicked.  …In the flame of fire the Lord will judge the wicked.  But the fire shall not touch the just (as Dan. 3:22)…  Such will be the heat that the stones shall melt.  The winds assemble into lightning, the heavenly wrath rages; and wherever the wicked man flees, he is seized upon by this fire.  …Flames on the nations and the Medes and Parthians burn for a thousand years, as the hidden words of John declare.  For then after a thousand years, they are delivered over to Gehenna; and he whose work they were, with them are burnt up (Rev. 20:7, 15).

From heaven will descend the city in the first resurrection (Rev. 21:2)… of a celestial fabric.  We shall arise again to Him; ones devoted to Him.  They shall be incorruptible, already living without death.  Neither shall there be any grief nor any groaning in that city.  They shall come also who overcame cruel martyrdom under Antichrist, and they …receive blessings because they have suffered evil things; and they themselves marrying, beget for a thousand years.  …There are no rains; no cold comes into the golden camp.  No sieges as now …nor does that city crave the light of a lamp.  It shines from its Founder (Rev. 21:23).  Him it obeys …12,000 furlongs (1,500 miles) width and length and depth (Rev. 21:16).’  It levels its foundation in the earth, but it raises its head to heaven.

‘…He who is evil is hedged up in torment… and after the thousand years God will destroy all those evils.  I add, on account of unbelievers, of the Day of Judgment.  Again, the fire of the Lord sent forth shall be appointed.  The earth gives a true groan; then those who are making their journey in the last end, and then all unbelievers, groan.  The whole of nature is converted in flame, which yet avoids the camp of His saints.  The earth is burned up from its foundations, and the mountains melt (2 Peter 3:10).  …The sea and the …sky perish, and the stars… are changed.  Another newness of sky and of everlasting earth is arranged (Isa. 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:13).  They who deserve it are sent away in a second death (Rev.20:6), but the righteous are placed in inner dwelling-places (Rev. 22:14)’.”

Cyprian (early 3rd century - d. 258)

Cyprian (Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus), a student of Tertullian, in about 249, became bishop of Carthage.  He argued against Novation (began a small schism in the Church for not being elected bishop of Rome).  Cyprian believed in unity, yet, as Ignatius, he believed that each bishop had authority in his own region.  He believed that outside the Church there was no true baptism.  He said, ‘there is no other home to believers but the one Church;’ and as taught by Tertullian, he wrote, ‘outside the Church there is no salvation (Epistle LXXII; Concerning the Baptism of Heretics).’  He pointed out in one of his influential works, De unitate ecclesiae (On Church Unity), that ‘the episcopate (order of bishops) is not of Rome, but of the Church at large.’  This was a topic at the Seventh Council of Carthage; in 258, ‘87 bishops from Africa… with the presbyters and deacons…’ made decrees concerning the baptism of ‘heretics, and authority of elders, to which it said, ‘…neither does any of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terror does any compel his colleague to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another that he himself can judge another…’.  And so, Cyprian said, ‘the bishop of Rome has no authority over the bishop of Carthage.’ Nevertheless, he said, ‘He can no longer have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother.’

In 256, the Church came under great persecution by Emperor Valerian.  The bishop of Carthage and his successor, Sixtus II, were martyred at Rome.  Cyprian, after strengthen his congregations, was brought before the Roman proconsul in 257.  He refused to sacrifice to the pagan deities and firmly professed Christ.  The consul banished him and his clergy.  When a year had passed he was recalled and kept as a prisoner at his own villa.  Then, on September 13, 258, he was imprisoned at the command of the new proconsul, Galerius Maximus.  The day following he was examined for the last time and sentence to die by the sword.  His only answer was ‘Thanks be to God!  While kneeling and praying, he was executed with a sword.

In Cyprian’s letter ‘to the Martyrs and Confessors (Epistle VIII),’ written about 250, he wrote:  “Cyprian, to the martyrs and confessors in Christ our Lord and in God the Father, everlasting salvation: I gladly rejoice and am thankful, most brave and blessed brethren, at hearing of your faith and virtue, wherein the Church glories… Lastly, she glorified, when …that punishment was undergone which drove the confessors of Christ into exile; yet the present confession is so much the more illustrious and greater in honor as it is braver in sufferingThe combat has increased, and the glory of the combatants has increased also.  Nor were you kept back from the struggle by fear of tortures…; bravely and firmly you have returned with ready devotion… Some of you are already crowned (Rev. 2:10), while some are now within reach of the crown of victory; but all whom the danger has shut up in a glorious company are animated to carry on the struggle with …virtue, as it befits the soldiers of Christ… that no allurements may deceive the steadfastness of your faith, no threats terrify you, no sufferings or tortures overcome you, for ‘greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world… (1 John 4:4);’ nor is the earthly punishment able to do more towards casting down, than is the divine protection towards lifting up.

‘…With what praises can I commend you, most courageous brethren?  …You have borne the sharpest examination by torture, even unto the glorious consummation (end),   and have not yielded to sufferings, but rather the sufferings have given way to you.  The end of torments, which the tortures themselves did not give, the crown has given.  …The tortured stood braver than the torturers; and the limbs, beaten and tore as they were, overcame…  Oh, how acceptable to the eyes of God in the allegiance and devotion of His soldiers!  As it is written in the Psalms, when the Holy Spirit at once speaks to us and warns us: ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psa. 116:15).’  Precious is the death which has bought immortality…  How did Christ rejoice therein!  …This is the struggle of our faith in which we engage, in which we conquer, in which we are crowned.  This is …what the blessed Paul has shown to us… ‘Do you not know that they which run in a race, all run indeed, but one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Now they (in the world) do it that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible crown (1 Cor. 9:24, 25).’  Moreover, setting forth his own struggle, and declaring that he himself should soon be a sacrifice for the Lord’s sake, he says, ‘I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought a good fight,     I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing (2 Tim. 4:6-8).’

‘…I now only beseech …the rest of you, that you all should follow that martyr now most blessed, and the other partners of that engagement, soldiers and comrades, steadfast in faith, patient in suffering, victors in tortures, that those who are united at once by the bond of confession, and the entertainment of a dungeon, may also be united in the consummation of their virtue and a celestial crown; that you by your joy may dry the tears of our mother, the Church, who mourns over the wreck and death of very many; and that you may confirm, by …your example, the steadfastness of others who stand also.  If the battle shall call you out, if the day of your contest shall come, engage bravely, fight with constancy, as knowing that you are fighting under the eyes of a present Lord, that you are attaining by the confession of His name to His own glory; who is not such a one as that He only looks on His servants, but He Himself also wrestles in us, Himself is engaged…’

But if before the day of your contestpeace shall supervene, let there still remain to you the sound will and the glorious conscience.  Nor let any one of you be saddened as if he were inferior to those who before you have suffered tortures, have overcome the world and trodden it under foot, and so have come to the Lord by a glorious road; for the Lord is the ‘searcher out of the reins and the hearts (Rev. 2:23; Jer. 17:10).’  He looks through secret things, and beholds that which is concealed (Eccl. 12:14).  In order to merit the crown from Him, His own testimony alone is sufficient…  O blessed Church …in our times the glorious blood of martyrs renders illustrious!  She was white before in the works of the brethren; now she has become purple in the blood of the martyrs… I bid you, most brave and beloved brethren, always heartily farewell in the Lord; and have me in remembrance.  Fare ye well.”

Concerning the great tribulation, the coming of the Lord, and the Day of Judgment, Cyprian wrote many things.  After stating how the ‘Antichrist is now approaching,’ Cyprian wrote to ‘the people of Thibaris (Epistle LV):’

“Cyprian to the people abiding at Thibaris (of Tunisia), greeting: …beloved brethren …I had indeed …prayerfully desired …to come to you… and strengthen the brotherhood …but since I am detained by such urgent affairs, that I have not the power to travel far from this place… I have written in the meantime this letter… of the Lord instructing me …and warning.  For you ought to know and to believe, and hold it for certain that the day of affliction has begun to hang over our heads, and the end of the world and time of Antichrist to draw near, so that we must all stand prepared for the battle; nor consider anything but the glory of the life eternal, and the crown of the confession of the Lord; and not regard those things which are coming as being such as were those which have passed away.  A severe and a fiercer fight is now threatening, for which the soldiers of Christ ought to prepare themselves with uncorrupted faith and robust courage, considering that they drink the cup of Christ’s blood daily (1 Cor. 11:25), for the reason that they themselves also may be able to shed their blood for Christ.  This is to wish to be found with Christ, to imitate that which Christ both taught and did, according to the Apostle John, who said,   ‘he that says he abides in Christ, ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked            (1 John 2:6).’  Moreover, the blessed Apostle Paul exhorts and teaches, saying, ‘We are God’s children; but if children, then heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together (Rom. 8:16, 17).’

‘These things must all now be considered by us, that no one may desire anything from the world that is now dying, but may follow Christ, who both lives forever, and quickens His servants, who are established in the faith of His name.  For there comes the time …our Lord long ago foretold…, ‘The time cometh, that whosoever kills you will think that he is doing God service.  And these things they will do to you, because they have not known the Father, nor Me.  But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them (John 16:2-4).’  Nor let any one wonder that we are harassed with constant persecutions, and continually tried with increasing afflictions, when the Lord before predicted that these things would happen in the last times, and has instructed us for the warfare by the teaching and exhortation of His words.  Peter also, His apostle, has taught that persecutions occur for the sake of our being proved, and that we also should, by the example of righteous men who have gone before us, be joined to the love of God by death and sufferings; as he wrote… ‘Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you …as ye partake in Christ’s sufferings, rejoice in all things, that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached in the name of Christ, blessed are ye; for the name of the majesty and Spirit of glory and God rests on you, which indeed on their part is blasphemed, but on our part is glorified (1 Peter 4:12-14).’  The apostles taught us those things which they themselves had learned… and the Lord Himself …saying, ‘There is no man that has left house, or land, or parents, or brethren, or sisters, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting (Luke 18:29, 30).’

‘And again He says, ‘Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and shall separate you from their company, and shall cast you out, and shall reproach your name as evil for the Son of man’s sake.  Rejoice …for your reward is great in heaven (Luke 6:22, 23).’  The Lord desired that we should rejoice …in persecutions, because, when they occur, then are given the crowns of faith, then the soldiers of God are proved, then the heavens are opened to martyrs.  …This very warfare, the Lord walked first, the Teacher of humility, and endurance, and suffering… He Himself first suffered for us.  Let it be before your eyes beloved brethren, that He who alone received all judgment from the Father, and who will come to judge, has already declared the decree of His judgment …foretelling and testifying that He will ‘confess those before His Father who confess Him, and will deny those who deny Him (Matt. 10:32, 33).’  If we could escape death, we might reasonably fear to dieBut since …it is necessary that a mortal man should die, we should embrace the occasion that comes by the divine promise… and accomplish the ending provided by death with the reward of immortality; nor fear to be slain, since we are sure when we are slain to be crowned.

‘…Brethren, let no one be disturbed at seeing our people driven away and scattered by the fear of persecution…  All are not able to be there together, who may not kill, but who must be killed.  Wherever, in those days, each one of the brethren shall be separated from the flock for a time… in body, not in spirit, let hem not be moved at the terror of that flight; nor be alarmed, if he withdraw and be concealed in solitude…  He is not alone, whose companion in flight is Christ…  And if a robber should fall on you, a fugitive in the solitude or in the mountains if attacked by a wild beast; if hunger or thirst, or cold should distress you, or the tempest and the storm should overwhelm you hastening in a rapid voyage over the seas, Christ everywhere looks upon His soldiers fighting; and for the sake of persecution, for the honor of His name, gives a reward to him when he dies… (Matt.5:10-12).  Nor is the glory of martyrdom less that he has not perished publicly and before many, since the cause of perishing is for Christ… Let us …imitate righteous Abel …being slain for righteousness’ sake.  Let us imitate Abraham, the friend of God, who did not delay to offer his son as a victim… obeying God with a faith of devotion.

‘Let us imitate Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael (Dan. 1:7), who, neither frightened by their youthful age, nor broken down by capacity …overcame the king by the power of faith… saying, ‘O king Nebuchadnezzar… God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and He will deliver us out of your hands, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, that we do not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou has set up (Dan. 3:16-18).’  They believed …but added ‘and if not,’ that the king might know that they would die for the God they worshipped; this is the strength of courage and faith, to believe and to know God can deliver from present death, and yet not to fear death, that faith may be more mightily proved.

‘The uncorrupted and unconquered might of the Holy Spirit broke forth by their mouth, so that the words which the Lord in His Gospel spoke are seen to be true: ‘But when they shall seize you, take no taught what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak; for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you (Matt. 10:19, 20).’

‘…Do not they witness the proofs of great courage and faith, and exhort us by their sufferings to the triumphs of martyrdom?  What of the prophets who the Holy Spirit quickened to the foreknowledge of future events?  What of the apostles whom the Lord chose?  Since these righteous men were slain for righteousness’ sake, have they not taught us also to die?  The nativity of Christ witnessed at once the martyrdom of infants, so that they who were two years old and under were slain for His name’s sake (Matt. 2:16).  An age not yet fit for the battle appeared fit for the crown. …It is shown that none is free from the peril of persecution, when even these accomplished martyrdoms.  But how grave is the case of a Christian man, if he, a servant (Matt. 10:24), is unwilling to suffer, when his Master first suffered; and that we should be unwilling to suffer for our own sins, when He who had no sin of His own suffered for us!  The Son of God suffered that He might make us sons of God…!  If we suffer from the world’s hatred, Christ first endured the world’s hatred.  If we suffer reproaches… exile, tortures, the Maker and Lord of the world experienced harder things than these, and He also warns us, saying, ‘If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me before you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘a servant is not greater than his Lord.  If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you (John 15:18-20).’  Whatever our Lord and God taught, He also did, that the disciple might not be excused if he learns and does not.

Nor let any one of you be so terrified by the fear of future persecution, or the coming of the threatening Antichrist, as not to be found armed for all things by the evangelical exhortations and precepts, and by the heavenly warnings.  Antichrist is coming, but above him comes Christ; the enemy goes about and rages, but immediately the Lord follows to avenge our sufferings and our wounds (Matt. 24:29).  The adversary is enraged and threatens, but there is One who can deliver us from his hands.  He …says, ‘Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28).’  And again, ‘He that loves his life, shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world, shall keep it for life eternal (John 12:25).’  And in the Apocalypse He instructs and forewarns, saying, ‘If any man worship the beast and his image, and receives his mark… the same also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God… and be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and …they shall have no rest day nor night… (Rev. 14:9-11)’

‘…Let us be armed, beloved brethren, with our whole strength, and let us be prepared for the struggle with an uncorrupted mind, with a sound faith, with a devoted courage.  Let the camp of God go forth to the battlefield which is appointed to us.  Let the sound ones be armed, lest he that is sound (wise: 2 Tim. 1:7, 13) should lose the advantage.  …The Apostle Paul teaches us to be armed and prepared, saying, ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers, and the princes of this world and of this darkness, against spirits of wickedness in high places.  Wherefore put on the whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand in the most evil day, that when ye have done all ye may stand; having your loins girt about with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one; and the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:12-17).’

‘Let us take these arms, let us fortify ourselves with these spiritual and heavenly safeguards, that in the most evil day we may be able to withstand, and to resist the threats of the devil: let up put on the breastplate of righteousness, that our breast may be fortified and safe against the darts of the enemy: let our feet be shod with evangelical teaching, and armed, so that when the serpent shall begin to be trodden and crushed by us, he may not be able to bite and trip us up: let us bravely bear the shield of faith, by the protection of which, whatever the enemy darts at us may be extinguished: let us take also for protection the our head the helmet of salvation, that our ears may be guarded from hearing the deadly edicts; that our eyes may be fortified, that they may not see the detestable images; that our brow may be fortified, so as to keep safe the sign of God that our mouth may be fortified, that the conquering tongue may confess Christ its Lord: let us also arm the right hand with the sword of the Spirit, that it may bravely reject the deadly sacrifices; that, mindful of the Eucharist, the hand which has received the Lord’s body may embrace the Lord Himself, hereafter to receive from the Lord the reward of  heavenly crowns.  Oh, what and how great will that day be at His coming, beloved brethren, when the Lord shall begin to count up His people, and to recognize the deserving of each one by the inspection of His divine knowledge, to send the guilty to Hell, and to set on fire our persecutors with the perpetual burning of a penal fire, but to pay to us the reward of our faith and devotion!

‘What will the glory and how great the joy to be admitted to see God, to be honored to receive with Christ, thy Lord God, the joy of eternal salvation and light; to greet Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and martyrs; to rejoice with the righteous …in the kingdom of heaven, with the pleasure of immortality given to us; to receive there what neither eye has seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man (Isa. 64:4; 1 Cor. 2:9)!  For the apostle announces that we shall receive greater things than anything that we here either do or suffer, saying, ‘The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come here-after which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18).’  When that revelation shall come, when that glory of God shall shine upon us, we shall be as happy and joyful… but they will remain guilty and wretched, who, either as deserters from God or rebels against Him, have done the will of the devil, so that it is necessary for them to be tormented with the devil himself in unquenchable fire.  Let these things, beloved brethren, take hold of our hearts; let this be the preparation of our arms, this our daily and nightly meditation, to have before our eyes and ever to revolve in our thoughts and feelings the punishments of the wicked and the rewards and the deserving of the righteous: what the Lord threatens by way of punishment against those that deny Him; what, on the other hand, He promises by way of glory to those that confess Him.  If, while we think and meditate on these things, there should come to us a day of persecution, the soldier of Christ instructed in His precepts and warnings is not fearful for the battle, but is prepared for the crown.  I bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily, farewell.”

In ‘Exhortation to Martyrdom, to Fortunatus (Treatise XI, or Oxford #8), Cyprian writes:

“John, in his epistle, says: ‘Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world (1John 4:4).’  And in the Psalms it is written: ‘I will not fear what man can do unto me; the Lord is my helper (Psa. 118:6).’  …And even more strongly the Holy Spirit, teaching and showing that the army of the devil is not to be feared, and that, if the foe should declare war against us, our hope consists rather in the war itself; and that by that conflict the righteous attain to the reward of the divine abode and eternal salvation, says in the 27th Psalm: ‘Though an host should be arrayed against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise up against me, in this will I be confident.  One hope have I sought of the Lord, this will I require; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life (Psa.27:3,4).’  In Exodus, the Holy Scripture declares that we are rather multiplied and increased by afflictions, saying: ‘And the more they afflicted them, so much the more they became greater, and waxed stronger (Exo. 1:12).’

‘In the Apocalypse, divine protection is promised to our sufferings.  ‘Fear nothing of these things which thou shall suffer… be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).’  Nor does anyone else promise to us security and protection, than He who also speaks by Isaiah the prophet saying: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, and called thee by thy name: thou art mine.  And if thou pass through the water, I am with thee, and the rivers shall not overflow thee.  And if thou pass through the fire, thou shall not be burned… for I, the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, am He who makes thee safe (Isa. 43:1-3).’  Who also promises in the Gospel that divine help shall not be wanting to God’s servants in persecutions, saying: ‘when they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that hour… (Matt. 10:19).’ It is not difficult for God to open the mouth of a man devoted to Him, and to inspire… confidence in speech to His confessor; since in the book of Numbers He made even a donkey to speak against the prophet Balaam (Num. 22:28).’

‘Wherefore in persecutions let no one think what danger the devil is bringing in, but let him indeed consider what help God affords; nor let human mischief overpower the mind, but let divine protection strengthen the faith; since every one, according to the Lord’s promises and the deserving of his faith, receives so much from God’s help as he thinks that he receives.  Nor is there anything which the Almighty is not able to grant, unless the failing faith of the receiver is deficient and give away.  The Lord in the Gospel forewarns and foretells, saying: ‘If the world hates you, know that it first hated Me.  If ye were of the world, the world would love what is its own: but because ye are not of the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I spoke to you, ‘The servant is not greater than his Master.  If they have persecuted Me, they will persecute you also (John 15:18-20).’  And again: ‘The hour will come, that every one that kills you will think that he is doing God service; but they will do this because they have not known the Father nor Me.  But these things have I told you, that when the hour shall come you may remember… (John 16:2-4).’  And again: ‘Verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy (John 16:20).’  Again: ‘these things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye may have peace; but in the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good confidence, for I have overcome the world (John 16:33).’

‘And when He was questioned by His disciples concerning the sign of His coming, and of the end of the world, Jesus answered and said: ‘Take care lest any deceive you: for many shall come in My name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many.  And ye shall begin to hear of wars, and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and earthquakes, and pestilences, in every place.  But all these are the beginnings of travailing.  Then they shall deliver you up into afflictions, and shall kill you: and ye shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.  And many false prophets shall arise, and shall seduce many; and because wicked-ness shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.  But he who shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.  And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached through all the world, for a testimony to all nations; and then shall come the endWhen therefore, ye shall see the abomination of desolation which is spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let him which is on the rooftop not go down to take anything from the house; and let him who is in the field not return back to carry away his clothes.  But woe to them that are pregnant, and to those that are nursing in those days!  And pray ye that your flight is not in the winter, nor on the Sabbath-day: for there shall be great tribulation, such as has not arisen from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall arise.  And unless those days should be shortened, no flesh should be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.  Then if any one shall say unto you, ‘Lo, here is Christ,’ or ‘Look there;’ believe him not.  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, to cause error, if it be possible, even to the elect.  But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.  If, therefore, they shall say to you, ‘Lo, He is in the desert;’ go not forth For as the flashing of lightning goes forth from the east, and appears even to the west, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be.  Where ever the carcass shall be, there shall the eagles be gathered together.  But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and all the tribes of the earth shall lament, and shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and glory.  And He shall send His angels with a great trumpet and they shall gather together His elect… (Matt. 24:4-31).’

‘And these are not new or sudden things which are now happening to Christians; since the good and righteous, and those who are devoted to God in the law of innocence and the fear of true religion, advance always through afflictions, and wrongs, and …in the hardship of a narrow path (Matt. 7:14).  At the very beginning of the world, the righteous Abel was the first to be slain by his brother; and Jacob was driven into exile, and Joseph was sold, and King Saul persecuted the merciful David; and Ahab endeavored to oppress Elijah, who bravely asserted the majesty of God.  Zacharias the priest was slain between the temple and the altar, that himself might there become a sacrifice where he was accustomed to offer sacrifices to God.  So many martyrdoms of the righteous have often been celebrated; so many examples of faith and virtue have been set forth to future generations.  The three youths, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Dan. 1:7), …steadfast in faith constant in virtue, stronger that the flames and penalties that urged them, proclaimed that they only obey God, that they know Him alone, that they worship Him alone, saying, ‘O king Nebuchadnezzar, there is no need for us to answer thee in this matter.  For the God whom we serve is able to deliver us out of the furnace of burning fire; and He will deliver us from thy hands; but if not, be it known unto thee, that we do not serve thy gods, and we do not adore the golden image which thou hast set up (Dan. 3:16-18).’

‘…Now, as the first seven days in the divine arrangement containing seven thousand years (recall that Irenaeus, Barnabas and others taught this way), as the seven spirits and seven angels which stand and go in and out before the face of God, and the seven-branched lamp in the tabernacle of witness, and the seven golden candlesticks in the Apocalypse, and the seven columns in Solomon upon which Wisdom built her house.  …And the Apostle Paul, who refers to this lawful and certain number, writes to the seven churches.  And in the Apocalypse the Lord directs His divine and heavenly precepts to the seven churches and their angels, which number is now found in this case… that a lawful end may be completed.  …For martyrs who witness themselves as the sons of God in suffering are now no more counted as of any father but God, as in the Gospel the Lord teaches, saying, ‘Call no man your father upon earth; for one is your Father, which is in heaven (Matt. 23:9).’

‘…Eleazar, when he was dying in the midst of stripes and tortures, groaned and said, ‘O Lord, that hast the holy knowledge, it is manifest that although I might be delivered from death, I suffer the severest pains of body, being beaten with scourges; but with my mind, on account of Thy fear, I willing suffer these things (2 Macc. 6:30).’  …Therefore, if we also live as dedicated and devoted to God – if we make our way over the ancient and sacred footsteps of the righteous, let us go through the same proofs of sufferings, the same testimonies of passions, considering the glory of our time the greater on this account… when the abundance of virtue and faith was are excess, the Christian martyrs cannot be numbered, as the Apocalypse testifies, ‘After these things I beheld a great multitude, which no man could number, of every nation, and of every tribe, and people, and language, standing in the sight of the throne and of the Lamb; and they were clothed in white robes, and palms were in their hands; and they said with a loud voice, ‘Salvation to our God, who sits on the throne, and unto the Lamb!’  And one of the elders answered and said to me,Who are those which are arrayed in white robes, and were did they come from?’  And I said to him, my lord, you know.  And he said to me,These are they who have come out of great tribulation and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Thus are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple (Rev. 7:9-).’  If the assembly of the Christian martyrs is shown to be so great, let no one think it a difficult thing to become a martyr, when he sees that the crowd of martyrs cannot be numbered.

‘The Holy Spirit shows and predicts by Solomon, saying: ‘And although in the sight of men they suffered torments, yet their hope is full of immorality.  And having been troubled in a few things, they shall be greatly blessed, because God has tried them, and has found them worthy of Himself.  As gold in the furnace, He has tried them; and as whole burnt-offerings of sacrifice, He has received them, and in its season there will be respect of them…   They shall judge the nations and their Lord shall reign for ever (Wisdom 3:4-8).’  ‘…Likewise in the Psalms is shown the price and the reward of suffering: ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Psa.116:15).’ In the 126th Psalm also is expressed the sadness of the struggle and the joy of the retribution: ‘They who sow in tears, shall reap in joy (Psa. 126:5).’  …The Lord …the avenger of our persecution and the rewarder of our suffering, says, ‘blessed are they who suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:10).’  And again: ‘blessed shall ye be when men shall hate you, and separate you …and revile your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.  Rejoice ye in that day… for your reward is great in heaven (Luke 6:22).’  And once more: ‘whoever shall lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it (Luke 9:24).’

‘…And the faithful, while their faith has remained sound and unconquered, and having forsaken and contemned (despised) all his possessions, the Christian has shown that he is following Christ, even he also is honored by Christ among the martyrs, as He Himself promises: ‘There is no man that leaves house, or land, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom for God’s sake, but shall receive seven times as much in this present time, and in the world to come eternal life (Luke 18:29, 30).’   In the Apocalypse …says John, ‘I saw the souls of them that were slain (beheaded) for the name (witness) of Jesus and the word of God (Rev. 20:4).’  He says these live and reign with Christ, not only who have been slain, but even whosoever, standing in firmness of the faith and in the fear of God, have not worshipped the image of the beast, and have not consented to his deadly and sacrilegious edicts (heretical laws).

‘The blessed Apostle Paul, who …was caught up into the third heaven …who boasts that he saw Jesus Christ by the faith of sight… says: ‘The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18).’  Who, then, does not with all his power labor to attain to such a glory that he may become the friend of God, that he may rejoice with Christ, that after earthly tortures and punishments he may receive divine rewards?  If to soldiers of this world it is glorious to return in triumph to their country when the foe is vanquished, how much more excellent …the glory, when the devil is overcome, to return in triumph to paradise… and to offer to God the most acceptable gift – an uncorrupted faith, and an unyielding virtue of mind, and an illustrious praise of devotion; to accompany Him when He shall come to receive vengeance from His enemies, to stand at His side when He shall sit to judge, …to be made equal to the angels; with the patriarchs, with the apostles, with the prophets, to rejoice in the possession of the heavenly kingdom!  With such thoughts as these, what persecution can conquer, what tortures can overcome?  …In persecutions, earth is shut up, but heaven is opened; Antichrist is threatening, but Christ is protecting; death is brought in, but immortality follows; the world is taken away from him that is slain, but paradise is set forth to him restored; the life of time is extinguished, but the life of eternity is realized.  What a dignity it is, and what a security, to go gladly from hence, to depart gloriously in the midst of afflictions and tribulations; in a moment to close the eyes with which men and the world are looked upon, and at once to open them to look upon God and Christ!  …If persecution should fall upon such a soldier of God, his virtue, prompt for battle, will not be without reward, seeing it was prepared for martyrdom; without loss of time, the reward is rendered by the judgment of God.  In persecution, the warfare; in peace, the purity of conscience, is crowned (1 Cor. 15:31; 1 Peter 4:12)…”

Concerning the coming of the Lord and the Day of Judgment, Cyprian wrote in ‘An Address to Demetrianus (Treatise V)’ the following:

“The Day of Judgment is still future which the Holy Scripture announces, saying, ‘Howl ye, for the day of the Lord is at hand, and destruction from God shall come; for, lo, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel with wrath and anger, to lay the earth desolate, and to destroy the sinners out of it (Isa. 13:6-9).’  …For that those only can escape who have been new-born and signed with the sign of Christ, God says in another place, when, sending forth angels to the destruction of the world and the death of the human race, He threatens more terribly in the last time, saying, ‘Go through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark on the foreheads of the men that sign and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof to the others go ye, and smite, and let not your eye spare. Have no pity upon old or young, and slay the virgins and the little ones and the women, that they may be utterly destroyed.  But touch not any man upon who is written the mark (Ezek. 9:4, 5).’

‘…As when Egypt was smitten (with plagues), the Jewish people could not escape expect by the blood and the sign of the lamb (Exo. 12), so also, when the world shall begin to be desolated and smitten, whoever is found in the blood and the sign of Christ alone shall escape (Rev. 7:3; 9:4; Matt. 13:24-).  Be wise, therefore, while there is time, to the true and eternal salvation; and since now the end of the world is at hand, turn your minds to God, in the fear of God; nor let that powerless and vain dominion in the world over the just and meek delight you, since in the field, even among the cultivated and fruitful corn, the tares… have dominion (Matt. 13:29).  …Seek the Lord …for long ago, God, forewarning by His prophet, exhorts and says, ‘Seek ye the Lord, and your soul shall live (Amos 5:6).’  Know God even late; for Christ at His coming admonishes and teaches this, saying, ‘This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent (John 17:3).’  …Believe Him who foretold that all these things should come to pass.  Believe Him who will give to all that believe the reward of eternal life.  Believe Him who will call down on them that believeth not, eternal punishments in the fires of Gehenna.  …When the Day of Judgment shall come, what joy of believers, what sorrow of unbelievers… ‘their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched (Isa. 66:24).’

‘…Then shall the righteous men stand in great constancy before the face of those who have afflicted them.  …The approach to God’s mercy is open, and the access is easy to those who seek and apprehend the truth.  Do you entreat (pray) for your sins?  Although it be in the very end of life, and at the setting of the sun of time; implore God… in confession and faith of acknowledgment of Him, and pardon is granted to the man who confesses (1 John 1:9; yet note: 1 John 2:3), and saving mercy is given from the divine goodness to the believer, and a passage is opened to immortality even in death itself.  This grace Christ bestows… upon us, by overcoming death in the trophy of the cross, by redeeming the believer with the price of His blood, by reconciling man to God the Father…   Let us all follow Him… He opens to us the way of life… He leads us on to the kingdom of heaven…  We Christians shall be glorious together with Christ…”

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