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The Explanation Of The Apocalypse

v. 1. beast. The beast has different interpretations, according to its place. Here, accordingly, it denotes the body of the devil, which springs from the people of the ungodly; for this is the sea, which above is understood as the abyss. And, therefore, the dragon is said to be king of all that is in the waters, and whose “heads,” according to David, “are broken in pieces in the sea.

horns. He shews that the seven heads are the same as the ten horns. For he had said, that the dragon bore seven diadems upon ten heads. But now he says that the beast has ten diadems upon ten horns. For seven and ten are the same, as “he will receive sevenfold in this world,” when another evangelist has a “hundredfold.”

blasphemy. For they call their kings gods, as well those who are dead, and as it were translated to heaven, and among the gods, as those also who have the name of Augustus upon earth, which with them expresses deity. But in another place he says, that the whole beast itself is full of blasphemy.

2. leopard. He is represented as like a leopard, because of the diversity of the nations; a bear, because of his malice and fury; a Hon, because of his strength of body and pride of tongue. We read in Daniel of the kingdom of the Chaldæans being compared to a lioness, of the Persians to a bear, of the Macedonians to a leopard.

power. So the Apostle, speaking of the body of the devil, says, “Whose coming is after the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and prodigies of falsehood, in those who perish.”

3. heads. Antichrist, who pertains to the heads of the earthly kingdom, by imitation of our true Head, dares to exhibit himself as one who has been slain, and has risen again, and who is to be accepted as Christ, Who truly accomplished this. And the falsehood of this pretence is said to have been anticipated in the instance of Simon Magus.

wondered. He puts the genus for the species, in saying that the beast was worshipped, seeing that earthly men were to worship the counterfeit head itself under the name of the Head, Who was truly slain, and alive.

4. worshipped. They say that they worship God, Who gave power to Christ.

like. They themselves say, Who is like Christ? Or who can overcome Him?

5. mouth. “Who is exalted,” he says, “above all that is called God.”

blasphemies towards. For he does not blaspheme with open mouth, until three years and a-half, but in the mystery of iniquity, which, when a difference is made, and the man of sin is revealed, will be disclosed. And then he will say, “I am Christ;” whereas now it is, “Lo, here is Christ,” or, “Lo there.” Again, “towards God” signifies “against God.”

6. tabernacle. The wicked one usurps the dignity of the name of God, and he will presume to call the Church also his own.

7. saints. By the whole, he denotes a part which can be overcome, when in the violence of the time, even the elect, if it be possible, will be shaken; that the Jews may be condemned, who did not believe the truth, but accepted a lie.

8. dwell. He said “all,” but “who dwell on the earth.” For, “They who depart from Thee,” he says, “shall be written in the earth.”

book. It is just, that they who serve the author of death should not be written in the book of life, and that they who are deluded by the fictitious death of the beast, should be without the fellowship of “the Lamb, Who has taken away the sins of the world.” “Of the Lamb,” he says, as in what follows.

beginning. “A lamb,” that is, as Peter says, “without spot, who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times. Another version has translated it, “the lamb sealed from the beginning of the world.” It may also be understood by transposition, that the names of the saints were written from the beginning in the book of life.

9. have an ear. As often as the Scripture interposes this saying, it seeks an attentive hearer, because of the obscurity of the subject. For in order that the shortlived kingdom of the devil may not be highly esteemed, he anticipates the thoughts of man by saying, “He that shall lead into captivity will go into captivity;” that is, the devil with the beast who now appears to lead the nations captive in his toils, will himself speedily be in captivity with his own.

10. sword. He who now persecutes the Church with carnal or even spiritual death, him the Lord Jesus “will slay with the breath of His mouth, and will destroy with the brightness of His coming.”

patience. He had promised that the slayer of men should be killed. But because “no one is crowned but he who has striven lawfully,” he says now that there is need of courage, now of a firm breast. After the beast has been described generally, first in hypocrisy, then in the open mouth of blasphemies, he describes it also in the persons of the leaders alone, in like manner in hypocrisy, then as revealed.

11. another. He has called him another, from his office, otherwise he is the same. But that which is here the sea, is, as Daniel testifies, the earth; for as he saw four beasts come up out of the sea, it was said to him, “These four great beasts are four kingdoms, which shall arise out of the earth.”

horns. He shews the horns of a lamb, that he may secretly introduce the poison of the dragon. For by the false assumption of sanctity, which the Lord truly had in Himself, he pretends that a matchless life and wisdom are his. Of this beast the Lord says, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.”

12. power. The wretched disciples follow their master in everything.

causeth. He shews the power of seduction, in that he made subject to himself both the body and the soul which dwells in it.

healed. That is, who pretended that by rising again he had overcome death. For the Scripture had spoken of him not as “slain,” but “as it were slain;” as was said of the Jews, “that they entered not into the Prætorium, lest they should be defiled.” For the Evangelist did not affirm that the most polluted could have been polluted if they had entered the Prætorium, nor did the Jews who were guilty of so great crimes really fear to be polluted. But he related what they had simulated, as if affirming it.

13. fire. He preferred the miracle of fire, as if the greatest, to all others, that, as the Lord Christ had given to His disciples the gift of divers miracles by the Holy Ghost, Who came in fire, so he with deceitful craft might delude his own, as it were, by a similar gift.

14. seduces. “His coming win be,” as is said, “after the working of Satan in all power, and signs, and prodigies of falsehood.” And there is wont to be a question, whether these are called “signs and prodigies of falsehood,” because he is to deceive the senses of men by phantasms, so as to seem to do what he does not; or because these very things, even if they shall be true prodigies, will lead to falsehood those who shall believe, that they could only have been wrought by divine influence, being ignorant of the power of the devil. For it was not by a phantastical, but a true fire and whirlwind that he destroyed so great a household as that of the holy Job, with so great flocks. But whether they are called “prodigies of falsehood” in this way or that, it is in this that the temptation will appear to be greater than all the rest, that when the pious martyr submits his body to torments he too at the same time performs so many miracles before his eyes.

image. That is, that they should be like him, and make an image for him, “as he has the wound from the sword and lives,” as another version expresses it. This is that they say so falsely, that they have been dead and have risen again with Antichrist, as to imply that he too makes God a mediator between himself and his own, whereas he has not like our Lord Jesus Christ another one, between whom and himself he may be a mediator.

15. breath. That is, by making himself an image of the beast, he pretended that he gave the spirit of truth to the very people in whom the falsehood was fulfilled.

speak. Not only will he delude the wretched multitude by counterfeiting the spirit with fire, but he will also make it of use for teaching others.

16. mark. The mark is the mystery of iniquity, which is received by those who are hypocrites in practice and profession.

17. buy. By this mention of buying and selling, he teaches, that as the Church has delivered the Creed for good, to be profitable to our salvation; so they for evil confine themselves within such a definition as this, that there be licence given neither of buying, nor of selling, even as merchants who sail in the same ship, are bound by an uniform signal.

name. That is, who participates in his deceit. For the mark, that is, the note and name of the beast and the number of his name are one. And it is the number of a man, that we may not suppose him, as the opinion of some is, to be either the devil, or a demon, but one from among men, in whom Satan is to dwell bodily. For he is “the man of sin, the son of perdition.”

18. number. This number among the Greeks, is said to be found in the name of Titan, that is, “a giant” in this manner,—Τ three hundred, Ε five, Ι ten, Τ three hundred, Α one, Ν fifty. And it is thought that Antichrist will usurp this name, as if he excelled all in power, boasting also that he is the one of whom it was written, “He rejoiced as a giant to run his course. His going forth is from the highest heaven.” And Primasius also mentions another name, which contains the same number,—Α one, Ν fifty, Τ three hundred, Ε five, Μ forty, Ο seventy, Σ two hundred, which signifies, “contrary to honour.” Besides there is the word,—Α one, Ρ one hundred, Ν fifty, Ο seventy, Υ four hundred, Μ forty, Ε five, that is, “I deny.” By these, both the character of the person and the asperity of the work of Antichrist are indicated. But how so great a coveter of praise should be willing to be denoted by such a mark, requires a lengthened exposition. Otherwise: who is ignorant, that the number six, in accordance with which the world was created, signifies the perfection of work? And this, whether simple, or multiplied by ten, or a hundred, demonstrates the fruit of the same perfection to be sixty-fold, or a hundred-fold. The weight of gold also which was brought to Solomon every year was six hundred and sixty-six thousand talents. The seducer, therefore, will presume to exact for himself the offering which is rightfully due and paid to the true king.

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