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The Explanation Of The Apocalypse

v. 1. sign. It is the same sign which now also appears in the Church, that God is born of man.

a woman. The Church is clothed with the light of Christ, and treads upon temporal glory. “Righteousness,” he says, “will arise in his days, and abundance of peace, until the moon be taken away, or consumed.” That is, the abundance of peace will greatly increase, until it consume all the changeableness of mortality, and then death, the last enemy, will be destroyed. Or: because the same Church has partly the fruition of Christ, the Sun, in heaven, and is partly absent from the Lord, that which he says, “His left hand is under my head, and his right embraceth me,” may be understood here.

stars. The Head of the Church is adorned with the number of the Apostles, which is twelve, whether Christ is understood, or whether the first beginning of the Church itself is designated under the name of the head. “Thou hast set,” he says, “upon his head a crown of precious stone.”

2. birth. The Church, in a spiritual sense, both brings forth those with whom it travails, and ceases not to travail with them when already born. As she herself says, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.”

delivered. So the Lord says in the Gospel, “A woman, when she is in travail, hath sorrow because her hour is come, but when she hath brought forth a son, she remembers the anguish no more for joy.” And He Himself expounded this to His disciples, and added, “And ye now, therefore, have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice.”

3. dragon. The devil, blood-stained in his cruelty, is armed against the Church with the power of an earthly king. For in the seven heads he describes all his kings, and in the ten horns every kingdom.

4. tail. He intimates the power and malice of the enemy, whom the Church overcomes by the help of the Lord, for he has cast down an innumerable host of angels and men by deceptive testimony, as with a tail. For the tail is a part of the body which is removed from sight, and unclean; and which conceals the parts which are unclean by the covering which it affords, that they may not appear. Tichonius, as his manner is, interprets the third part of the stars which fell, of false brethren, so that another third would be the Church, and the enemies external to it a third.

devour. The devil plots against the Church, and strives to extinguish the faith of Christ in the hearts of the faithful, that he may, as it were, kill him who has been taught, and to whom by teaching he has given birth. And a figure of this deceit was shewn in Herod, who, like an intestine foe, pretends that he desires to worship the Lord, in order that he may put Him to death.

5. man child. Although the dragon oppose, the Church ever brings forth Christ. But he spoke of the man child as conqueror of the devil, who had conquered the woman. For who but the man child, who is “to rule all nations with a rod of iron,” rules the good with inflexible justice, breaks in pieces the bad? And this is also promised to the Church, in that it is said above, “I will give Him power over the nations, and He shall rule them with a rod of iron.” For the Church, too, daily generates the Church, which rules the world in Christ.

caught up. Therefore ungodliness cannot apprehend Christ, Who is spiritually born in the minds of the hearers, because at the same time He reigns with the Father in heaven, “Who has raised up us also together with Him, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ.”

6. wilderness. The Church rejoices in her sojourning in this present wilderness, as living in hope of things eternal. For she has received power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the red dragon, like the Israelitish multitude which was fed with heavenly bread, and overcame the fiery serpents by the sight of the serpent of brass.

place. “Be thou to me,” he says, “as God my protector, and as a place of refuge, that I may be safe.”

days. In this number of days, which makes three years and a-half, he comprehends all the times of Christianity, because Christ, Whose body the Church is, preached the same length of time in the flesh.

7. heaven. The heaven signifies the Church, in which he says that Michael, with his angels, fights against the devil, for that, according to the will of God, he contends for the Church in her sojourning, by praying and ministering help; of whom Daniel also said, that he would come to the aid of the Church in the last and most grievous affliction; from which they suppose that Antichrist is to be slain by him. And they are said to be his angels in the same way that our angels also are. For the Lord says, “Their angels do always behold the face of My Father,” the angels, that is, of those whose citizens they are.

fought. The angels of Satan are not those alone who are like him in nature and will, but men who are entangled in their snares are also to be understood.

8. prevailed not. That is, they prevailed not through all time.

found. It was not found, that is, in holy men, who, by his expulsion from them, have already become a heaven themselves, and who through faith no more receive him back, who has once been expelled.

9. earth. The old enemy, who is expelled from the spiritual, is more closely shut up in the earthly. This is to be hurled down from heaven, and sent into the earth. For to him it is said, “Earth shalt thou eat all the days;” and in this earth he is bruised by the feet of the saints, as it is written, “Thou shalt tread upon the asp and the basilisk.”

10. salvation. It is clearly shewn in what heaven these things take place, for we know that in the Church salvation is procured by the victory of Christ, and because of this He says, “All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth;” not that power which He Himself always had, but that which He began to have in the Church, as the Head in the members, from the time that He Himself willed.

brethren. The angels express joy at the salvation of their brethren, that is, of those who will become citizens, but who now are strangers.

accused. For he suggests, that they both make an ill-use of prosperity, and have not patience in adversity.

11. lives. With good reason do they despise their lives for Christ’s sake, who have overcome so great an adversary by the blood of Christ.

12. rejoice. Here, by dwellers in heaven, must be understood both angels and holy men, and it belongs to both to rejoice in the Lord, since both men are joined with angels, and angels minister to man’s nature in Christ.

Woe. As he has shewn that joy is to be the expectation of the redeemed, so, also, is lamentation of those who perish. And a great woe is impending over those of whom the most wicked enemy has possession in his wrath.

13. saw. The devil assails the Church with inextricable craft, and the more he is cast down, so much the more does he persecute.

14. wings. The Church is upheld by the two Testaments, and avoids the envenomed tumult of the world, and seeks in the affection of her mind the solitude of a “meek and quiet spirit,” while she thus sings with joy, “Behold I got me away far off in flight, and abode in the wilderness.” Nor does it make any difference that there she asks for the wings of a dove, but here receives those of an eagle. For as the Church, “whose youth is renewed as an eagle’s,” is represented in the former because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, so also is it in the latter, because of the lofty flight and heavenly vision, by which it beholds God with a clean heart.

nourished. The whole time of the Church is signified, as being comprised in the number of the days above. For a “time” denotes one year, “times” two, “half a time” six months.

15. flood. Water signifies the vehemence of persecutors; whence it is said, “Perhaps like water they would have swallowed us up.” So, then, the Church is not only raised up by the word of God, but is driven onward by the violence of persecution, and hastens to fly away from the earth.

16. swallowed. The holy earth is the flesh of the Lord, which by swallowing up death which it accepted, and which for a time prevailed against it, has taught us also to swallow up death. The Church may also be understood, by the warnings and prayers of whose mouth the plots of the enemy are avoided.

17. wroth. When he saw that the persecutions could not be continued, because they were averted by the mouth of the holy earth, he prepared himself the more to rest upon the mystery of iniquity, that he might be able to plot continually.

commandments. To keep the commandments of God in the faith of Jesus Christ is to fight with the dragon, and provoke him to battle; and thanks be to God, Who has made the attempts of the cruel dragon of no effect. For, behold, while he endeavoured to annihilate the Lord incarnate, he is defeated by His resurrection. Afterwards, by striving to deprive the Apostles of their boldness in teaching, he was urgent, as it were, to take away from the world the woman, that is, the whole Church. But as he has laboured in vain to effect this, he assails indiscriminately every age of the faithful. And so it is, as follows.

18. sea. That is, the same enemy, when he is to excite plotting and war, stands upon the multitude of the people, “which the wind scattereth away from the face of the earth,” and which is wont to accept his devices.

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