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The Explanation Of The Apocalypse

v. 1. abyss. He recapitulates from the beginning, and more fully, in what way he had said above, “The beast which thou sawest was, and is not; and is to ascend from the abyss, and will go into perdition.” The Lord, therefore, endued with His Father’s power, descends and is incarnate, to wage war with the prince of the world, and when he is bound to spoil his goods.

2. devil. “Diabolus,” is interpreted, “flowing downward.” But in Greek he is called “the accuser.” “Satan is “the adversary,” or “prevaricator.” So he is called “the dragon,” on account of his malice in hurting; “the serpent,” on account of cunning in deceiving; “the devil,” on account of the fall of his estate; “Satan,” on account of obstinacy in opposition against the Lord.

bound him. That is, he kept back and restrained his power from seducing men who were to be set free. For if he were permitted to exert the whole of this, either by force, or deceit, he would beguile most of the weak in so long a time. By the “thousand years,” he intended a part, namely, the remainder of the thousand years of the sixth day, in which the Lord was born and suffered.

3. cast. He cast him, that is, into the hearts of the persecuting people. Not that the devil was not there before; when he was sent forth from believers, he began to possess the ungodly, who are not only alienated from God, but who hate more grievously those who serve God. And this the Lord openly shewed, when He sent him forth from men into the swine.

seal. He interdicted him, and as by a royal seal prevented him from seducing the nations; namely those which were appointed unto life, which he seduced before, that they should not be reconciled to God.

loosed. “Then,” as St. Augustine says, “he will be loosed, when also the time will be short. For, as we read, he will rage three years and a-half with all his own powers, and the powers of his own, and they with whom he will make war will be such, that his violence and wiles, great as they are, will not be able to overcome them. But if he was never loosed, his malignant power would the less appear, the most faithful patience of the holy city the less be proved, the less finally would it be discerned, how well the Almighty God made use of his great evil.”

4. judgment. He indicates that which is done in the thousand years in which Satan is bound. For the Church, which in Christ will sit on twelve thrones to judge, now sits and judges, seeing that she has obtained to hear from her King, “whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.”

souls. That which he is to say afterwards is understood, “they reigned with Christ a thousand years.” The Church therefore reigns with Christ in the living and in the dead. For “to this end,” as the Apostle says, “Christ died, that He might be Lord both of the living and the dead;” and for this reason he has mentioned the souls of the martyrs alone, that they chiefly reign after death, who even unto death have contended for the truth.

worshipped. We ought to understand this both of the living and of the dead. For they who are still alive in this mortal flesh, as well as they who are departed, even now reign with Christ, through all the interval which is signified by the number of a thousand years, in a certain manner which is congruous with this present time.

5. the rest. Whosoever have not heard the voice of the Son of God, and passed to life from death, during all that time in which the first resurrection takes place, that is, the resurrection of souls, in the second resurrection, which is the resurrection of the flesh, will assuredly pass with the flesh itself into the second death, that is, into eternal torments.

first resurrection. That certainly is the first resurrection in which we rise again through baptism, as the Apostle says, “If ye have risen with Christ, seek the things which are above.” For as the first death in this life is through sins, since “the soul that sinneth, it shall die,” so also the first resurrection is in this life through remission of sins.

6. Blessed. That is, he who has kept the state of being born again.

saints. Another version has “priests of God and of Christ,” and it is not said of bishops only and of presbyters, who properly are called “priests” in the Church. But as we are all called Christs because of the mystical chrism, so are we all called priests, because we are members of the one Priest, of Whom the Apostle Peter says, “a holy people, a royal priesthood.”

reign. The Spirit when He wrote this, declared that the Church would reign a thousand years, that is, unto the end of the world; and a doubt might arise from this. For that it is concerning a perpetual kingdom is manifest.

7. finished. By “finished” he intended a part by the whole. For he will be loosed in such a manner that there will remain the three years and six months of the last conflict. But apart from this figure, the time is rightly said to be ended. For so small a remnant is not to be taken into account, when seven hundred years, and as many as God wills, are called by the Apostle “an hour.

8. seduce. He will then seduce them, to the end that he may gather them together to this battle. For even before he used to seduce them in whatever manner he was able, through many different evils. And “he will go out” means, he will burst forth into open persecution from the hiding-places of his hatred. Moreover, Gog and Magog either denote the whole by a part, or according to the interpretation of the names, which signify “a roof” and “from a roof,” “they indicate secret and open enemies. For they themselves are both “a roof,” because the enemy is now shut up in them, and ruled, and they will also be “from a roof,” when they shall burst forth into open hatred.

9. breadth. They certainly are not represented as having come, or as about to come, to one place, as if the beloved city, that is, the Church, were to be confined within some one place. For much rather wished he to intimate by “the breadth of the earth,” that it would be persecuted in all nations; and by the term “camp,” that not even then would it forsake its warfare.

fire. It must not be supposed that this is the final punishment But it is rather the fire of envy, with which the adversary will be tormented through the firmness of the saints. For “heaven” is the firmament. This is the fire which went forth from the mouth of the witnesses of God, and it will devour their enemies. For in the last day He will not rain fire upon them, but when they have been gathered together before Him and judged, He will send them into eternal fire, concerning which it is here added, as follows.

10. cast. That is, at the last judgment the devil will be cast into eternal fire, where also are all those whom he sent before him, that is, the greatest part of the ungodly city, inasmuch as the beast is to be taken according to the place, sometimes as the devil, sometimes as Antichrist, sometimes as the ungodly city itself. But under the name of “fire coming down from heaven,” may also be designated the sudden destruction of the ungodly, when the Lord at His coming will slay Antichrist with the breath of His mouth. He explains more fully how, when Christ is Judge, the devil with his own is cast into the fire.

11. throne. He said that he “saw Him sitting on the throne, from Whose sight the heaven and the earth fled away.” For after the judgment is ended, the heaven and the earth cease to be, when there begin to be a new heaven and a new earth; that is, by the change of the things that are, and not by any means by their destruction. For “the fashion of this world passeth away.” He said not also the substance, in that we believe that the same is to be changed for the better.

12. stand. “When the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, then will be gathered before Him all nations.”

book of life. Another version has, “which is of the life of each one.” So then by “the opened books,” he means the Testaments of God, for the world will be judged according to both Testaments. By “the book of the life of each one,” he means the memory of our actions, and not that the discerner of hidden things has a memorial book.

written. That is to say, they were judged out of the Testaments, namely, according to that they did from them or did not. The hooks may also be understood to be the deeds of the righteous. For while the reprobate are condemned by comparison with these, in the spreading out of these they read, as it were, the good which they themselves were unwilling to do.

13. sea. This, without doubt, took place before that the dead were judged. Having, therefore, recapitulated that which he had passed over, he pursues the order of things.

14. death and Hades. So he signifies that the bodies are to be gathered from the earth, and the souls from their own places. For by the name of “death” he designates good souls, which have only suffered the dissolution of the flesh, and not punishment too; and by the term Hades, bad. And it may also be taken literally, that all the bodies, even those which the deep has swallowed, or the wild beast has devoured, will rise again. And Tichonius expounds it thus: “The people which he will here find alive are the dead of the sea, ‘And death and Hades gave up their dead.’ These are the people which are buried. But when he had said, that ‘they were judged, every one according to works,’ he briefly subjoined, that “both death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.’ He means the devil and his own, whom Hades followed above, as he sat on the pale horse. So he repeats what he had already said more plainly by anticipation, ‘And the devil who seduced them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.’ But that which he had added above more obscurely concerning the beast and the false prophet, he here more openly sets forth.

15. found written. That is, who was not judged by God to be alive. And so they appear to me to speak more correctly, who interpret the opened books above to be the consciences and works of each one; and the book of life the fore-knowledge of God, which cannot be deceived, concerning those to whom eternal life will be given, in which they are written, that is, foreknown. As the judgment is ended in which he saw the bad to be condemned, it remains that he also speak concerning the good.

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