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Home > Fathers of the Church > On the End of the World (Pseudo-Hippolytus)

On the End of the World

A discourse by the most blessed Hippolytus, bishop and martyr, on the end of the world, and on Antichrist, and on the second coming of our lord Jesus Christ.

1

Since, then, the blessed prophets have been eyes to us, setting forth for our behoof the clear declaration of things secret, both through life, and through declaration, and through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and discoursing, too, of things not yet come to pass, in this way also to all generations they have pictured forth the grandest subjects for contemplation and for action. Thus, too, they preached of the advent of God in the flesh to the world, His advent by the spotless and God-bearing Mary in the way of birth and growth, and the manner of His life and conversation with men, and His manifestation by baptism, and the new birth that was to be to all men, and the regeneration by the layer; and the multitude of His miracles, and His blessed passion on the cross, and the insults which He bore at the hands of the Jews, and His burial, and His descent to Hades, and His ascent again, and redemption of the spirits that were of old, and the destruction of death, and His life-giving awaking from the dead, and His re-creation of the whole world, and His assumption and return to heaven, and His reception of the Spirit, of which the apostles were deemed worthy, and again the second coming, that is destined to declare all things. For as being designated seers, they of necessity signified and spoke of these things beforetime.

2

Hence, too, they indicated the day of the consummation to us, and signified beforehand the day of the apostate that is to appear and deceive men at the last times, and the beginning and end of his kingdom, and the advent of the Judge, and the life of the righteous, and the punishment of the sinners, in order that we all, bearing these things in mind day by day and hour by hour, as children of the Church, might know that not one jot nor one tittle of these things shall fail, Matthew 5:18 as the Saviour's own word announced. Let all of you, then, of necessity, open the eyes of your hearts and the ears of your soul, and receive the word which we are about to speak. For I shall unfold to you today a narration full of horror and fear, to wit, the account of the consummation, and in particular, of the seduction of the whole world by the enemy and devil; and after these things, the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3

Where, then, you friends of Christ, shall I begin? And with what shall I make my commencement, or what shall I expound? And what witness shall I adduce for the things spoken? But let us take those (viz., the prophets) with whom we began this discourse, and adduce them as credible witnesses, to confirm our exposition of the matters discussed; and after them the teaching, or rather the prophecy, of the apostles, (so as to see) how throughout the whole world they herald the day of the consummation. Since these, then, have also shown beforetime things not vet come to pass, and have declared the devices and deceits of wicked men, who are destined to be made manifest, come and let us bring forward Isaiah as our first witness, inasmuch as he instructs us in the times of the consummation. What, then, does he say? Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence: the daughter of Zion shall be left as a cottage in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. Isaiah 1:7 You see, beloved, the prophet's illumination, whereby he announced that time so many generations before. For it is not of the Jews that he spoke this word of old, nor of the city of Zion, but of the Church. For all the prophets have declared Sion to be the bride brought from the nations.

4

Wherefore let us direct our discourse to a second witness. And of what sort is this one? Listen to Osea, as he speaks thus grandly: In those days the Lord shall bring on a burning wind from the desert against them, and shall make their veins dry, and shall make their springs desolate; and all their goodly vessels shall be spoiled. Because they rose up against God, they shall fall by the sword, and their women with child shall be ripped up. Hosea 13:15 And what else is this burning wind from the east, than the Antichrist that is to destroy and dry up the veins of the waters and the fruits of the trees in his times, because men set their hearts on his works? For which reason he shall indeed destroy them, and they shall serve him in his pollution.

5

Mark the agreement of prophet with prophet. Acquaint yourself also with another prophet who expresses himself in like manner. For Amos prophesied of the same things in a manner quite in accordance: Thus says the Lord, Forasmuch therefore as you have beaten the poor with the fist, and taken choice gifts from him: you have built houses, but you shall not dwell in them: you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink wine of them. For I know your manifold transgressions, in trampling justice beneath your foot, and taking a bribe, and turning aside the poor in the gate from their right. Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time, for it is an evil time. Learn, beloved, the wickedness of the men of that time, how they spoil houses and fields, and take even justice from the just; for when these things come to pass, you may know that it is the end. For this reason are you instructed in the wisdom of the prophet, and the revelation that is to be in those days. And all the prophets, as we bare already said, have clearly signified the things that are to come to pass in the last times, just as they also have declared things of old.

6

But not to expend our argument entirely in going over the words of all the prophets, after citing one other, let us revert to the matter in hand. What is it, then, that Micah says in his prophecy? Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry to him, Peace; and if it was not put into their mouth, they prepared war against him. Therefore night shall be unto you, that you shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that you shall not divine; and the sun shall not go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. And the seers shall be ashamed, and the diviners confounded. Micah 3:5-7 These things we have recounted beforehand, in order that you may know the pain that is to be in the last times, and the perturbation, and the manner of life on the part of all men toward each other, and their envy, and hate, and strife, and the negligence of the shepherds toward the sheep, and the unruly disposition of the people toward the priests.

7

Wherefore all shall walk after their own will. And the children will lay hands on their parents. The wife will give up her own husband to death, and the husband will bring his own wife to judgment like a criminal. Masters will lord it over their servants savagely, and servants will assume an unruly demeanour toward their masters. None will reverence the grey hairs of the elderly, and none will have pity upon the comeliness of the youthful. The temples of God will be like houses, and there will be overturnings of the churches everywhere.The Scriptures will be despised, and everywhere they will sing the songs of the adversary. Fornications, and adulteries, and perjuries will fill the land; sorceries, and incantations, and divinations will follow after I these with all force and zeal. And, on the whole, from among those who profess to be Christians will rise up then false prophets, false apostles, impostors, mischief-makers, evil-doers, liars against each other, adulterers, fornicators, robbers, grasping, perjured, mendacious, hating each other. The shepherds will be like wolves; the priests will embrace falsehood; the monks will lust after the things of the world; the rich will assume hardness of heart; the rulers will not help the poor; the powerful will cast off all pity; the judges will remove justice from the just, and, blinded with bribes, they will call in unrighteousness.

8

And what am I to say with respect to men, when the very elements themselves will disown their order? There will be earthquakes in every city, and plagues in every country; and monstrous thunderings and frightful lightnings will burn up both houses and fields. Storms of winds will disturb both sea and land excessively; and there will be unfruitfulness on the earth, and a roaring in the sea, and an intolerable agitation on account of souls and the destruction of men. There will be signs in the sun, and signs in the moon, deflections in the stars, distresses of nations, intemperateness in the atmosphere, discharges of hail upon the face of the earth, winters of excessive severity, different frosts, inexorable scorching winds, unexpected thunderings, unlooked-for conflagrations; and in general, lamentation and mourning in the whole earth, without consolation. For, because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Matthew 21:12 By reason of the agitation and confusion of all these, the Lord of the universe cries in the Gospel, saying, Take heed that you be not deceived; for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and the time draws near: go not therefore after them. But when you shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not yet by and by. Luke 21:8-9 Let us observe the word of the Saviour, how He always admonished us with a view to our security: Take heed that you be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ.

9

Now after He was taken up again to the Father, there arose some, saying, I am Christ, like Simon Magus and the rest, whose names we have not time at present to mention. Wherefore also in the last day of the consummation, it must needs be that false Christs will arise again, saying, I am Christ, and they will deceive many. And multitudes of men will run from the east even to the west, and from the north even to the sea, saying, Where is Christ here? Where is Christ there? But being possessed of a vain conceit, and failing to read the Scriptures carefully, and not being of an upright mind, they will seek for a name which they shall be unable to find. For these things must first be; and thus the son of perdition— that is to say, the devil— must be seen.

10

And the apostles, who speak of God, in establishing the truth of the advent of the Lord Jesus Christ, have each of them indicated the appearing of these abominable and ruin-working men, and have openly announced their lawless deeds. First of all Peter, the rock of the faith, whom Christ our God called blessed, the teacher of the Church, the first disciple, he who has the keys of the kingdom, has instructed us to this effect: Know this first, children, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts. And there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies. After him, John the theologian, and the beloved of Christ, in harmony with him, cries, The children of the devil are manifest; 1 John 3:10 and even now are there many antichrists; 1 John 2:18 but go not after them.Luke 21:8 Believe not every spirit, because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 And then Jude, the brother of James, speaks in like manner: In the last times there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts. There be they who, without fear, feed themselves. You have observed the concord of the theologians and apostles, and the harmony of their doctrine.

11

Finally, hear Paul as he speaks boldly, and mark how clearly he discovers these: Beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.Philippians 3:2 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit. Colossians 2:8 See that you walk circumspectly, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16 In fine then, what man shall have any excuse who hears these things in the Church from prophets and apostles, and from the Lord Himself, and yet will give no heed to the care of his soul, and to the time of the consummation, and to that approaching hour when we shall have to stand at the judgment-seat of Christ?

12

But having now done with this account of the consummation, we shall turn our exposition to those matters which fall to be stated by us next in order. I adduce, therefore, a witness altogether worthy of credit—namely, the prophet Daniel, who interpreted the vision of Nabuchodonosor, and from the beginning of the kings down to their end indicated the right way to those who seek to walk therein— to wit, the manifestation of the truth. For what says the prophet? He presignified the matter clearly to Nabuchodonosor in the following terms: You, O king, saw, and beheld a great image standing before you, whose head was of gold, its arms and shoulders of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron, its feet part of iron and part of clay. You saw till a stone was cut out without hand; and it smote the image upon its feet, which were part of iron and part of clay, and broke them to pieces. Then was the clay, and the iron, and the brass, and the silver, and the gold broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor; and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. Daniel 2:31-35

13

Wherefore, bringing the visions of Daniel into conjunction with these, we shall make one narrative of the two, and show how true and consistent were the things seen in vision by the prophet with those which Nabuchodonosor saw beforehand. For the prophet speaks thus: I Daniel saw, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lioness, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given it. And behold a second beast, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo a third beast, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl: the beast had also four heads. After this I saw, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; its great iron teeth and its claws of brass devoured and broke in pieces, and it stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse exceedingly from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered its horns, and, behold, there came up among them a little horn, and before it there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. Daniel 7:2-8

14

Now, since these things which are thus spoken mystically by the prophet seem to all to be hard to understand, we shall conceal none of them from those who are possessed of sound mind. By mentioning the first beast, namely the lioness that comes up out of the sea, Daniel means the kingdom of the Babylonians which was set up in the world; and that same is also the golden head of this image. And by speaking of its wings like an eagle, he shows that king Nabuchodonosor was elevated and exalted himself against God. Then he says that its wings were plucked out, and means by this that his glory was subverted: for he was driven from his kingdom. And in stating that a man's heart was given it, and it was made stand upon the feet like a man, he means that he repented, and acknowledged that he was himself but a man, and gave the glory to God. Lo, I have thus unfolded the similitude of the first beast.

15

Then after the lioness, the prophet sees a second beast like a bear, which denoted the Persians; for after the Babylonians the Persians had the sovereignty. And in saying, I saw three ribs in the mouth of it, he referred to three nations, the Persians, Medes, and Babylonians, which were also expressed by the silver that came after the gold in the image. Behold, we have explained the second beast too. Then the third was the leopard, by which were meant the Greeks. For after the Persians, Alexander king of the Macedonians held the sovereignty, when he had destroyed Darius; and this is expressed by the brass in the image. And in speaking of four wings of a fowl, and four heads in the beast, he showed most clearly how the kingdom of Alexander was divided into four parts. For it had four heads—namely, the four kings that rose out of it. For on his death-bed Alexander divided his kingdom into four parts. Behold, we have discussed the third also.

16

Next he tells us of the fourth beast, dreadful and terrible; its teeth were of iron, and its claws of brass. And what is meant by these but the kingdom of the Romans, which also is meant by the iron, by which it will crush all the seats of empire that were before it, and will lord it over the whole earth? After this, then, what is left for us to interpret of all that the prophet saw, but the toes of the image, in which part was of iron and part of clay, mingled together in one? For by the ten toes of the image he meant figuratively the ten kings who sprang out of it, as Daniel also interpreted the matter. For he says, I considered the beast, namely the fourth; and behold ten horns after it, among which another horn arose like an offshoot; and it will pluck up by the root three of those before it. And by this offshoot horn none other is signified than the Antichrist that is to restore the kingdom of the Jews. And the three horns which are to be rooted out by it signify three kings, namely those of Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia, whom he will destroy in the array of war; and when he has vanquished them all, being a savage tyrant, he will raise tribulation and persecution against the saints, exalting himself against them.

17

You see how Daniel interpreted to Nabuchodonosor the dominion of the kingdoms; you see how he explained the form of the image in all its parts; you have observed how he indicated prophetically the meaning of the coming up of the four beasts out of the sea. It remains that we open up to you the things done by the Antichrist in particular; and, as far as in our power, declare to you by means of the Scriptures and the prophets, his wandering over the whole earth, and his lawless advent.

18

As the Lord Jesus Christ made His sojourn with us in the flesh (which He received) from the holy, immaculate Virgin, and took to Himself the tribe of Judah, and came forth from it, the Scripture declared His royal lineage in the word of Jacob, when in his benediction he addressed himself to his son in these terms: Judah, you are he whom your brethren shall praise: your hands shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion's cub; from a sprout, my son, you are gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lion's cub: who shall rouse him up? A ruler shall not depart from Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until what is in store for him shall come, and he is the expectation of the nations. Genesis 49:8-10 Mark these words of Jacob which were spoken to Judah, and are fulfilled in the Lord. To the same effect, moreover, does the patriarch express himself regarding Antichrist. Wherefore, as he prophesied with respect to Judah, so did he also with respect to his son Dan. For Judah was his fourth son; and Dan, again, was his seventh son. And what, then, did he say of him? Let Dan be a serpent sitting by the way, that bites the horse's heel? Genesis 49:17 And what serpent was there but the deceiver from the beginning, he who is named in Genesis, he who deceived Eve, and bruised Adam in the heel?

19

But seeing now that we must make proof of what is alleged at greater length, we shall not shrink from the task. For it is certain that he is destined to spring from the tribe of Dan, and to range himself in opposition like a princely tyrant, a terrible judge and accuser, as the prophet testifies when he says, Dan shall judge his people, as one tribe in Israel. Genesis 49:16 But some one may say that this was meant of Samson, who sprang from the tribe of Dan, and judged his people for twenty years. That, however, was only partially made good in the case of Samson; but this shall be fulfilled completely in the case of Antichrist. For Jeremiah, too, speaks in this manner: From Dan we shall hear the sound of the sharpness of his horses; at the sound of the neighing of his horses the whole land trembled. Jeremiah 8:16 And again, Moses says: Dan is a lion's cub, and he shall leap from Bashan. Deuteronomy 33:22 And that no one may fall into the mistake of thinking that this is spoken of the Saviour, let him attend to this. Dan, says he, is a lion's cub; and by thus naming the tribe of Dan as the one whence the accuser is destined to spring, he made the matter in hand quite clear. For as Christ is born of the tribe of Judah, so Antichrist shall be born of the tribe of Dan. And as our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was spoken of in prophecy as a lion on account or His royalty and glory, in the same manner also has the Scripture prophetically described the accuser as a lion, on account of his tyranny and violence.

20

For in every respect that deceiver seeks to make himself appear like the Son of God. Christ is a lion, and Antichrist is a lion. Christ is King of things celestial and things terrestrial, and Antichrist will be king upon earth. The Saviour was manifested as a lamb; and he, too, will appear as a lamb, while he is a wolf within. The Saviour was circumcised, and he in like manner will appear in circumcision. The Saviour sent the apostles unto all the nations, and he in like manner will send false apostles. Christ gathered together the dispersed sheep, and he in like manner will gather together the dispersed people of the Hebrews. Christ gave to those who believed on Him the honourable and life-giving cross, and he in like manner will give his own sign. Christ appeared in the form of man, and he in like manner will come forth in the form of man. Christ arose from among the Hebrews, and he will spring from among the Jews. Christ displayed His flesh like a temple, and raised it up on the third day; and he too will raise up again the temple of stone in Jerusalem. And these deceits fabricated by him will become quite intelligible to those who listen to us attentively, from what shall be set forth next in order.

21

For through the Scriptures we are instructed in two advents of the Christ and Saviour. And the first after the flesh was in humiliation, because He was manifested in lowly estate. So then His second advent is declared to be in glory; for He comes from heaven with power, and angels, and the glory of His Father. His first advent had John the Baptist as its forerun-her; and His second, in which He is to come in glory, will exhibit Enoch, and Elias, and John the Divine. Behold, too, the Lord's kindness to man; how even in the last times He shows His care for mortals, and pities them. For He will not leave us even then without prophets, but will send them to us for our instruction and assurance, and to make us give heed to the advent of the adversary, as He intimated also of old in this Daniel. For he says, I shall make a covenant of one week, and in the midst of the week my sacrifice and libation will be removed. For by one week he indicates the showing forth of the seven years which shall be in the last times. And the half of the week the two prophets, along with John, will take for the purpose of proclaiming to all the world the advent of Antichrist, that is to say, for a thousand two hundred and sixty days clothed in sackcloth; Revelation 11:3 and they will work signs and wonders with the object of making men ashamed and repentant, even by these means, on account of their surpassing lawlessness and impiety. And if any man will hurt them, fire will proceed out of their mouth, and devour their enemies. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of the advent of Antichrist, and to turn waters into blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues as often as they will. And when they have proclaimed all these things they will fall on the sword, cut off by the accuser . And they will fulfil their testimony, as Daniel also says; for he foresaw that the beast that came up out of the abyss would make war with them, namely with Enoch, Elias, and John, and would overcome them, and kill them, because of their refusal to give glory to the accuser. that is the little horn that sprang up. And he, being lifted up in heart, begins in the end to, exalt himself and glorify himself as God, persecuting the saints and blaspheming Christ.

22

But as, in accordance with the train of our discussion, we have been constrained to come to the matter of the days of the dominion of the adversary, it is necessary to state in the first place what concerns his nativity and growth; and then we must turn our discourse, as we have said before, to the expounding of this matter, viz., that in all respects the accuser and son of lawlessness is to make himself like our Saviour. Thus also the demonstration makes the matter clear to us. Since the Saviour of the world, with the purpose of saving the race of men, was born of the immaculate and virgin Mary, and in the form of the flesh trod the enemy trader foot, in the exercise of the power of His own proper divinity; in the same manner also will the accuser come forth from an impure woman upon the earth, but shall be born of a virgin spuriously. For our God sojourned with us in the flesh, after that very flesh of ours which He made for Adam and all Adam's posterity, yet without sin. But the accuser, though he take up the flesh, will do it only in appearance; for how should we wear that flesh which he did not make himself, but against which he wars daily? And it is my opinion, beloved, that he will assume this phenomenal kind of flesh as an instrument. For this reason also is he to be born of a virgin, as if a spirit, and then to the rest he will be manifested as flesh. For as to a virgin bearing, this we have known only in the case of the all-holy Virgin, who bore the Saviour verily clothed in flesh. For Moses says, Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy unto the Lord. This is by no means the case with him; but as the adversary will not open the womb, so neither will he take to himself real flesh, and be circumcised as Christ was circumcised. And even as Christ chose His apostles, so will he too assume a whole people of disciples like himself in wickedness.

23

Above all, moreover, he will love the nation of the Jews. And with all these he will work signs and terrible wonders, false wonders and not true, in order to deceive his impious equals. For if it were possible, he would seduce even the elect Matthew 24:24 from the love of Christ. But in his first steps he will be gentle, loveable, quiet, pious, pacific, hating injustice, detesting gifts, not allowing idolatry; loving, says he, the Scriptures, reverencing priests, honouring his elders, repudiating fornication, detesting adultery, giving no heed to slanders, not admitting oaths, kind to strangers, kind to the poor, compassionate. And then he will work wonders, cleansing lepers, raising paralytics, expelling demons, proclaiming things remote just as things present, raising the dead, helping widows, defending orphans, loving all, reconciling in love men who contend, and saying to such, Let not the sun go down upon your wrath; Ephesians 4:26 and he will not acquire gold, nor love silver, nor seek riches.

24

And all this he will do corruptly and deceitfully, and with the purpose of deluding all to make him king. For when the peoples and tribes see so great virtues and so great powers in him, they will all with one mind meet together to make him king. And above all others shall the nation of the Hebrews be dear to the tyrant himself, while they say one to another, Is there found indeed in our generation such a man, so good and just? That shall be the way with the race of the Jews pre-eminently, as I said before, who, thinking, as they do, that they shall behold the king himself in such power, will approach him to say, We all confide in you, and acknowledge you to be just upon the whole earth; we all hope to be saved by you; and by your mouth we have received just and incorruptible judgment.

25

And at first, indeed, that deceitful and lawless one, with crafty deceitfulness, will refuse such glory; but the men persisting, and holding by him, will declare him king. And thereafter he will be lifted up in heart, and he who was formerly gentle will become violent, and he who pursued love will become pitiless, and the humble in heart will become haughty and inhuman, and the hater of unrighteousness will persecute the righteous. Then, when he is elevated to his kingdom, he will marshal war; and in his wrath he will smite three mighty kings—those, namely, of Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia. And after that he will build the temple in Jerusalem, and will restore it again speedily, and give it over to the Jews. And then he will be lifted up in heart against every man; yea, he will speak blasphemy also against God, thinking in his deceit that he shall be king upon the earth hereafter for ever; not knowing, miserable wretch, that his kingdom is to be quickly brought to nought, and that he will quickly have to meet the fire which is prepared for him, along with all who trust him and serve him. For when Daniel said, I shall make my covenant for one week, he indicated seven years; and the one half of the week is for the preaching of the prophets, and for the other half of the week— that is to say, for three years and a halfAntichrist will reign upon the earth. And after this his kingdom and his glory shall be taken away. Behold, you who love God, what manner of tribulation there shall rise in those days, such as has not been from the foundation of the world, no, nor ever shall be, except in those days alone. Then the lawless one, being lifted up in heart, will gather together his demons in man's form, and will abominate those who call him to the kingdom, and will pollute many souls.

26

For he will appoint princes over them from among the demons. And he will no longer seem to be pious, but altogether and in all things he will be harsh, severe, passionate, wrathful, terrible, inconstant, dread, morose, hateful, abominable, savage, vengeful, iniquitous. And, bent on casting the whole race of men into the pit of perdition, he will multiply false signs. For when all the people greet him with their acclamations at his displays, he will shout with a strong voice, so that the place shall be shaken in which the multitudes stand by him: You peoples, and tribes, and nations, acquaint yourselves with my mighty authority and power, and the strength of my kingdom. What prince is there so great as I am? What great God is there but I? Who will stand up against my authority? Under the eye of the spectators he will remove mountains from their places, he will walk on the sea with dry feet, he will bring down fire from heaven, he will turn the day into darkness and the night into day, he will turn the sun about wheresoever he pleases; and, in short, in presence of those who behold him, he will show all the elements of earth and sea to be subject to him in the power of his specious manifestation. For if, while as yet he does not exhibit himself as the son of perdition, he raises and excites against us open war even to battles and slaughters, at that time when he shall come in his own proper person, and men shall see him as he is in reality, what machinations and deceits and delusions will he not bring into play, with the purpose of seducing all men, and leading them off from the way of truth, and from the gate of the kingdom?

27

Then, after all these things, the heavens will not give their dew, the clouds will not give their rain, the earth will refuse to yield its fruits, the sea shall be filled with stench, the rivers shall be dried up, the fish of the sea shall die, men shall perish of hunger and thirst; and father embracing son, and mother embracing daughter, will die together, and there will be none to bury them. But the whole earth will be filled with the stench arising from the dead bodies cast forth. And the sea, not receiving the floods of the rivers, will become like mire, and will be filled with an unlimited smell and stench. Then there will be a mighty pestilence upon the whole earth, and then, too, inconsolable lamentation, and measureless weeping, and unceasing mourning Then men will deem those happy who are dead before them, and will say to them, Open your sepulchres, and take us miserable beings in; open your receptacles for the reception of your wretched kinsmen and acquaintances. Happy are you, in that you have not seen our days. Happy are you, in that you have not had to witness this painful life of ours, nor this irremediable pestilence, nor these straits that possess our souls.

28

Then that abominable one will send his commands throughout every government by the hand at once of demons and of visible men, who shall say, A mighty king has arisen upon the earth; come all to worship him; come all to see the strength of his kingdom: for, behold, he will give you grain; and he will bestow upon you wine, and great riches, and lofty honours. For the whole earth and sea obeys his command. Come all to him. And by reason of the scarcity of food, all will go to him and worship him; and he will put his mark on their right hand and on their forehead, that no one may put the sign of the honourable cross upon his forehead with his right hand; but his hand is bound. And from that time he shall not have power to seal any one of his members, but he shall be attached to the deceiver, and shall serve him; and in him there is no repentance. But such an one is lost at once to God and to men, and the deceiver will give them scanty food by reason of his abominable seal. And his seal upon the forehead and upon the right hand is the number, Six hundred threescore and six. Revelation 13:18 And I have an opinion as to this number, though I do not know the matter for certain; for many names have been found in this number when it is expressed in writing. Still we say that perhaps the scription of this same seal will give us the word I deny. For even in recent days, by means of his ministers— that is to say, the idolaters— that bitter adversary took up the word deny, when the lawless pressed upon the witnesses of Christ, with the adjuration, Deny your God, the crucified One.

29

Of such kind, in the time of that hater of all good, will be the seal, the tenor of which will be this: I deny the Maker of heaven and earth, I deny the baptism, I deny my (former) service, and attach myself to you, and I believe in you. For this is what the prophets Enoch and Elias will preach: Believe not the enemy who is to come and be seen; for he is an adversary and corrupter and son of perdition, and deceives you; and for this reason he will kill you, and smite them with the sword. Behold the deceit of the enemy, know the machinations of the beguiler, how he seeks to darken the mind of men utterly. For he will show forth his demons brilliant like angels, and he will bring in hosts of the incorporeal without number. And in the presence of all he exhibits himself as taken up into heaven with trumpets and sounds, and the mighty shouting of those who hail him with indescribable hymns; the heir of darkness himself shining like light, and at one time soaring to the heavens, and at another descending to the earth with great glory, and again charging the demons, like angels, to execute his behests with much fear and trembling. Then will he send the cohorts of the demons among mountains and caves and dens of the earth, to track out those who have been concealed from his eyes, and to bring them forward to worship him. And those who yield to him he will seal with his seal; but those who refuse to submit to him he will consume with incomparable pains and bitterest torments and machinations, such as never have been, nor have reached the ear of man, nor have been seen by the eye of mortals.

30

Blessed shall they be who overcome the tyrant then. For they shall be set forth as more illustrious and loftier than the first witnesses; for the former witnesses overcame his minions only, but these overthrow and conquer the accuser himself, the son of perdition. With what eulogies and crowns, therefore, will they not be adorned by our King, Jesus Christ!

31

But let us revert to the matter in hand. When men have received the seal, then, and find neither food nor water, they will approach him with a voice of anguish, saying, Give us to eat and drink, for we all faint with hunger and all manner of straits; and bid the heavens yield us water, and drive off from us the beasts that devour men. Then will that crafty one make answer, mocking them with absolute inhumanity, and saying, The heavens refuse to give rain, the earth yields not again its fruits; whence then can I give you food? Then, on hearing the words of this deceiver, these miserable men will perceive that this is the wicked accuser, and will mourn in anguish, and weep vehemently, and beat their face with their hands, and tear their hair, and lacerate their cheeks with their nails, while they say to each other: Woe for the calamity! Woe for the bitter contract! Woe for the deceitful covenant! Woe for the mighty mischance! How have we been beguiled by the deceiver! How have we been joined to him! How have we been caught in his toils! How have we been taken in his abominable net! How have we heard the Scriptures, and understood them not! For truly those who are engrossed with the affairs of life, and with the lust of this world, will be easily brought over to the accuser then, and sealed by him.

32

But many who are hearers of the divine Scriptures, and have them in their hand, and keep them in mind with understanding, will escape his imposture. For they will see clearly through his insidious appearance and his deceitful imposture, and will flee from his hands, and betake themselves to the mountains, and hide themselves in the caves of the earth; and they will seek after the Friend of man with tears and a contrite heart; and He will deliver them out of his toils, and with His right hand He will save those from his snares who in a worthy and righteous manner make their supplication to Him.

33

You see in what manner of fasting and prayer the saints will exercise themselves at that time. Observe, also, how hard the season and the times will be that are to come upon those in city and country alike. At that time they will be brought from the east even unto the west; and they will come up from the west even unto the east, and will weep greatly and wail vehemently. And when the day begins to dawn they will long for the night, in order that they may find rest from their labours; and when the night descends upon them, by reason of the continuous earthquakes and the tempests in the air, they will desire even to behold the light of the day, and will seek how they may hereafter meet a bitter death. At that time the whole earth will bewail the life of anguish, and the sea and air in like manner will bewail it; and the sun, too, will wail; and the wild beasts, together with the fowls, will wail; mountains and hills, and the trees of the plain, will wail on account of the race of man, because all have turned aside from the holy God, and obeyed the deceiver, and received the mark of that abominable one, the enemy of God, instead of the quickening cross of the Saviour.

34

And the churches, too, will wail with a mighty lamentation, because neither oblation nor incense is attended to, nor a service acceptable to God; but the sanctuaries of the churches will become like a garden-watcher's hut, and the holy body and blood of Christ will not be shown in those days. The public service of God shall be extinguished, psalmody shall cease, the reading of the Scriptures shall not be heard; but for men there shall be darkness, and lamentation on lamentation, and woe on woe. At that time silver and gold shall be cast out in the streets, and none shall gather them; but all things shall be held an offense. For all shall be eager to escape and to hide themselves, and they shall not be able anywhere to find concealment from the woes of the adversary; but as they carry his mark about them, they shall be readily recognised and declared to be his. Without there shall be fear, and within trembling, both by night and by day. In the street and in the houses there shall be the dead; in the streets and in the houses there shall be hunger and thirst; in the streets there shall be tumults, and in the houses lamentations. And beauty of countenance shall be withered, for their forms shall be like those of the dead; and the beauty of women shall fade, and the desire of all men shall vanish.

35

Notwithstanding, not even then will the merciful and benignant God leave the race of men without all comfort; but He will shorten even those days and the period of three years and a half, and He will curtail those times on account of the remnant of those who hide themselves in the mountains and caves, that the phalanx of all those saints fail not utterly. But these days shall run their course rapidly; and the kingdom of the deceiver and Antichrist shall be speedily removed. And then, in fine, in the glance of an eye shall the fashion of this world pass away, and the power of men shall be brought to nought, and all these visible things shall be destroyed.

36

As these things, therefore, of which we have spoken before are in the future, beloved, when the one week is divided into parts, and the abomination of desolation has arisen then, and the forerunners of the Lord have finished their proper course, and the whole world, in fine, comes to the consummation, what remains but the manifestation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of God, from heaven, for whom we have hoped; who shall bring forth fire and all just judgment against those who have refused to believe in Him? For the Lord says, For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be; for wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Matthew 24:27-28 For the sign of the cross shall arise from the east even unto the west, in brightness exceeding that of the sun, and shall announce the advent and manifestation of the Judge, to give to every one according to his works. For concerning the general resurrection and the kingdom of the saints, Daniel says: And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And Isaiah says: The dead shall rise, and those in the tombs shall awake, and those in the earth shall rejoice. And our Lord says: Many in that day shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.

37

For at that time the trumpet shall sound, and awake those that sleep from the lowest parts of the earth, righteous and sinners alike. And every kindred, and tongue, and nation, and tribe shall be raised in the twinkling of an eye; and they shall stand upon the face of the earth, waiting for the coming of the righteous and terrible Judge, in fear and trembling unutterable. For the river of fire shall come forth in fury like an angry sea, and shall burn up mountains and hills, and shall make the sea vanish, and shall dissolve the atmosphere with its heat like wax. The stars of heaven shall fall, the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood. The heaven shall be rolled together like a scroll: the whole earth shall be burnt up by reason of the deeds done in it, which men did corruptly, in fornications, in adulteries, and in lies and uncleanness, and in idolatries, and in murders, and in battles. For there shall be the new heaven and the new earth.

38

Then shall the holy angels run on their commission to gather together all the nations, whom that terrible voice of the trumpet shall awake out of sleep. And before the judgment-seat of Christ shall stand those who once were kings and rulers, chief priests and priests; and they shall give an account of their administration, and of the fold, whoever of them through their negligence have lost one sheep out of the flock. And then shall be brought forward soldiers who were riot content with their provision, but oppressed widows and orphans and beggars. Then shall be arraigned the collectors of tribute, who despoil the poor man of more than is ordered, and who make real gold like adulterate, in order to mulct the needy, in fields and in houses and in the churches. Then shall rise up the lewd with shame, who have not kept their bed undefiled, but have been ensnared by all manner of fleshly beauty, and have gone in the way of their own lusts. Then shall rise up those who have not kept the love of the Lord, mute and gloomy, because they contemned the light commandment of the Saviour, which says, You shall love try neighbour as yourself. Then they, too, shall weep who have possessed the unjust balance, and unjust weights and measures, and dry measures, as they wait for the righteous Judge.

39

And why should we add many words concerning those who are sisted before the bar? Then the righteous shall shine forth like the sun, while the wicked shall be shown to be mute and gloomy. For both the righteous and the wicked shall be raised incorruptible: the righteous, to be honoured eternally, and to taste immortal joys; and the wicked, to be punished in judgment eternally. Each ponders the question as to what answer he shall give to the righteous Judge for his deeds, whether good or bad. With all men each one's actions shall environ him, whether he be good or evil. For the powers of the heavens shall be shaken, and fear and trembling shall consume all things, both heaven and earth and things under the earth. And every tongue shall confess Him openly, and shall confess Him who comes to judge righteous judgment, the mighty God and Maker of all things. Then with fear and astonishment shall come angels, thrones, powers, principalities, dominions, and the cherubim and seraphim with their many eyes and six wings, all crying aloud with a mighty voice, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, omnipotent; the heaven and the earth are full of Your glory. And the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Judge who accepts no man's person, and the Jurist who distributes justice to every man, shall be revealed upon His dread and lofty throne; and all the flesh of mortals shall see His face with great fear and trembling, both the righteous and the sinner.

40

Then shall the son of perdition be brought forward, to wit, the accuser, with his demons and with his servants, by angels stern and inexorable. And they shall be given over to the fire that is never quenched, and to the worm that never sleeps, and to the outer darkness. For the people of the Hebrews shall see Him in human form, as He appeared to them when He came by the holy Virgin in the flesh, and as they crucified Him. And He will show them the prints of the nails in His hands and feet, and His side pierced with the spear, and His head crowned with thorns, and His honourable cross. And once for all shall the people of the Hebrews see all these things, and they shall mourn and weep, as the prophet exclaims, They shall look on Him whom they have pierced; and there shall be none to help them or to pity them, because they repented not, neither turned aside from the wicked way. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment with the demons and the accuser.

41

Then He shall gather together all nations, as the holy Gospel so strikingly declares. For what says Matthew the evangelist, or rather the Lord Himself, in the Gospel? When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Come, you prophets, who were cast out for my name's sake. Come, you patriarchs, who before my advent were obedient to me, and longed for my kingdom. Come, you apostles, who were my fellows in my sufferings in my incarnation, and suffered with me in the Gospel. Come, you martyrs, who confessed me before despots, and endured many torments and pains. Come, you hierarchs, who did me sacred service blamelessly day and night, and made the oblation of my honourable body and blood daily.

42

Come, you saints, who disciplined yourselves in mountains and caves and dens of the earth, who honoured my name by continence and prayer and virginity. Come, you maidens, who desired my bride-chamber, and loved no other bridegroom than me, who by your testimony and habit of life were wedded to me, the immortal and incorruptible Bridegroom. Come, you friends of the poor and the stranger. Come, you who kept my love, as I am love. Come, you who possess peace, for I own that peace. Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you, you who esteemed not riches, you who had compassion on the poor, who aided the orphans, who helped the widows, who gave drink to the thirsty, who fed the hungry, who received strangers, who clothed the naked, who visited the sick, who comforted those in prison, who helped the blind, who kept the seal of the faith inviolate, who assembled yourselves together in the churches, who listened to my Scriptures, who longed for my words, who observed my law day and night, who endured hardness with me like good soldiers, seeking to please me, your heavenly King. Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Behold, my kingdom is made ready; behold, paradise is opened; behold, my immortality is shown in its beauty. Come all, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

43

Then shall the righteous answer, astonished at the mighty and wondrous fact that He, whom the hosts of angels cannot look upon openly, addresses them as friends, and shall cry out to Him, Lord, when saw we You an hungered, and fed You? Master, when saw we You thirsty, and gave You drink? You Terrible One, when saw we You naked, and clothed You? Immortal, when saw we You a stranger, and took You in? You Friend of man, when saw we You sick or in prison, and came unto You? You are the ever-living One. You are without beginning, like the Father, and co-eternal with the Spirit. You are He who made all things out of nothing. You are the prince of the angels. You are He at whom the depths tremble. You are He who is covered with light as with a garment. You are He who made us, and fashioned us of earth. You are He who formed things invisible. From Your presence the whole earth flees away, and how have we received hospitably Your kingly power and lordship?

44

Then shall the King of kings make answer again, and say to them, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me. Inasmuch as you have received those of whom I have already spoken to you, and clothed them, and fed them, and gave them to drink, I mean the poor who are my members, you have done it unto me. But come into the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; enjoy for ever and ever that which is given you by my Father in heaven, and the holy and quickening Spirit. And what mouth then will be able to tell out those blessings which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love Him?

45

You have heard of the ceaseless joy, you have heard of the immoveable kingdom, you have heard of the feast of blessings without end. Learn now, then, also the address of anguish with which the just Judge and the benignant God shall speak to those on the left hand in unmeasured anger and wrath, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. You have prepared these things for yourselves; take to yourselves also the enjoyment of them. Depart from me, you cursed, into the outer darkness, and into the unquenchable fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. I made you, and you gave yourselves to another. I am He who brought you forth from your mother's womb, and you rejected me. I am He who fashioned you of earth by my word of command, and you gave yourselves to another. I am He who nurtured you, and you served another. I ordained the earth and the sea for your maintenance and the bound of your life, and you listened not to my commandments. I made the light for you, that you might enjoy the day, and the night also, that you might have rest; and you vexed me, and set me at nought with your wicked words, and opened the door to the passions. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. I know you not, I recognise you not: you made yourselves the workmen of another lord— namely, the devil. With him inherit the darkness, and the fire that is not quenched, and the worm that sleeps not, and the gnashing of teeth.

46

For I was an hungered, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you took me not in; naked, and you clothed me not; sick, and you visited me not: I was in prison, and you came not unto me. I made your ears that you might hear the Scriptures; and you prepared them for the songs of demons, and lyres, and jesting. I made your eyes that you might see the light of my commandments, and keep them; and you called in fornication and wantonness, and opened them to all other manner of uncleanness. I prepared your mouth for the utterance of adoration, and praise, and psalms, and spiritual odes, and for the exercise of continuous reading; and you fitted it to railing, and swearing, and blasphemies, while you sat and spoke evil of your neighbours. I made your hands that you might stretch them forth in prayers and supplications, and you put them forth to robberies, and murders, and the killing of each other. I ordained your feet to walk in the preparation of the Gospel of peace, both in the churches and the houses of my saints; and you taught them to run to adulteries, and fornications, and theatres, and dancings, and elevations.

47

At last the assembly is dissolved, the spectacle of this life ceases: its deceit and its semblance are passed away. Cleave to me, to whom every knee bows, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth. For all who have been negligent, and have not shown pity in well-doing there, have nothing else due them than the unquenchable fire. For I am the friend of man, but yet also a righteous Judge to all. For I shall award the recompense according to desert; I shall give the reward to all, according to each man's labour; I shall make return to all, according to each man's conflict. I wish to have pity, but I see no oil in your vessels. I desire to have mercy, but you have passed through life entirely without mercy. I long to have compassion, but your lamps are dark by reason of your hardness of heart. Depart from me. For judgment is without mercy to him that has showed no mercy.

48

Then shall they also make answer to the dread Judge, who accepts no man's person: Lord, when saw we You an hungered, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and ministered not unto You? Lord, do You know us not? You formed us, You fashioned us, You made us of four elements, You gave us spirit and soul. On You we believed; Your seal we received, Your baptism we obtained; we acknowledged You to be God, we knew You to be Creator; in You we wrought sights, through You we cast out demons, for You we mortified the flesh, for You we preserved virginity, for You we practised chastity, for You we became strangers on the earth; and You say, I know you not, depart from me! Then shall He make answer to them, and say, You acknowledged me as Lord, but you kept not my words. You were marked with the seal of my cross, but you deleted it by your hardness of heart. You obtained my baptism, but you observed not my commandments. You subdued your body to virginity, but you kept not mercy, but you did not cast the hatred of your brother out of your souls. For not every, one that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall be saved, but he that does my will. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.

49

Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

You have heard, beloved, the answer of the Lord; you have learned the sentence of the Judge; you have been given to understand what kind of awful scrutiny awaits us, and what day and what hour are before us. Let us therefore ponder this every day; let us meditate on this both day and night, both in the house, and by the way, and in the churches, that we may not stand forth at that dread and impartial judgment condemned, abased, and sad, but with purity of action, life, conversation, and confession; so that to us also the merciful and benignant God may say, Your faith has saved you, go in peace; and again, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many, things: enter into the joy of your Lord. Which joy may it be ours to reach, by the grace and kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom pertain glory, honour, and adoration, with His Father, who is without beginning, and His holy, and good, and quickening Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of the ages. Amen.

About this page

Source. Translated by J.H. MacMahon. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0504.htm>.

Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is feedback732 at newadvent.org. (To help fight spam, this address might change occasionally.) Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.

Copyright © 2009 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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