The Eleventh Chapter
1. "And there was shown unto me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein."] A reed was shown like to a rod. This itself is the Apocalypse which he subsequently exhibited to the churches; for the Gospel of the complete faith he subsequently wrote for the sake of our salvation. For when Valentinus, and Cerinthus, and Ebion, and others of the school of Satan, were scattered abroad throughout the world, there assembled together to him from the neighbouring provinces all the bishops, and compelled him himself also to draw up his testimony. Moreover, we say that the measure of God's temple is the command of God to confess the Father Almighty, and that His Son Christ was begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world, and was made man in very soul and flesh, both of them having overcome misery and death; and that, when received with His body into heaven by the Father, He shed forth the Holy Spirit, the gift and pledge of immortality, that He was announced by the prophets, He was described by the law, He was God's hand, and the Word of the Father from God, Lord over all, and founder of the world: this is the reed and the measure of faith; and no one worships the holy altar save he who confesses this faith.
2. "The court which is within the temple leave out."] The space which is called the court is the empty altar within the walls: these being such as were not necessary, he commanded to be ejected from the Church.
"It is given to be trodden down by the Gentiles."] That is, to the men of this world, that it may be trodden under foot by the nations, or with the nations. Then he repeats about the destruction and slaughter of the last time, and says:-
3. "They shall tread the holy city down for forty and two months; and I will give to my two witnesses, and they shall predict a thousand two hundred and threescore days clothed in sackcloth."] That is, three years and six months: these make forty-two months. Therefore their preaching is three years and six months, and the kingdom of Antichrist as much again.
5. "If any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies."] That fire proceedeth out of the mouth of those prophets against the adversaries, bespeaks the power of the world. For all afflictions, however many there are, shall be sent by their messengers in their word. Many think that there is Elisha, or Moses, with Elijah; but both of these died; while the death of Elijah is not heard of, with whom all our ancients have believed that it was Jeremiah. For even the very word spoken to him testifies to him, saying, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."50 But he was not a prophet unto the nations; and thus the truthful word of God makes it necessary, which it has promised to set forth, that he should be a prophet to the nations.
4. "These are the two candlesticks standing before the Lord of the earth."] These two candlesticks and two olive trees He has to this end spoken of, and admonished you that if, when you have read of them elsewhere, you have not understood, you may understand here. For in Zechariah, one of the twelve prophets, it is thus written: "These are the two olive trees and two candlesticks which stand in the presence of the Lord of the earth; "51 that is, they are in paradise. Also, in another sense, standing in the presence of the lord of the earth, that is, in the presence of Antichrist. Therefore they must be slain by Antichrist.
7. "And the beast which ascendeth from the abyss."] After many plagues completed in the world, in the end he says that a beast ascended from the abyss. Bat that he shall ascend from the abyss is proved by many testimonies; for he says in the thirty-first chapter of Ezekiel: "Behold, Assur was a cypress in Mount Lebanon." Assur, deeply rooted, was a lofty and branching cypress-that is, a numerous people-in Mount Lebanon, in the kingdom of kingdoms, that is, of the Romans. Moreover, that he says he was beautiful in offshoots, he says he was strong in armies. The water, he says, shall nourish him, that is, the many thousands of men which were subjected to him; and the abyss increased him, that is, belched him forth. For even Isaiah speaks almost in the same words; moreover, that he was in the kingdom of the Romans, and that he was among the Caesars. The Apostle Paul also bears witness, for he says to the Thessalonians: "Let him who now restraineth restrain, until he be taken out of the way; and then shall appear that Wicked One, even he whose coining is after the working of Satan, with signs and lying wonders."52 And that they might know that he should come who then was the prince, he added: "He already endeavours after the secret of mischief"53 -that is, the mischief which he is about to do he strives to do secretly; but he is not raised up by his own power, nor by that of his father, but by command of God, of which thing Paul says in the same passage: "For this cause, because they have not received the love of God, He will send upon them a spirit of error, that they all may be persuaded of a lie, who have not been persuaded of the truth."54 And Isaiah saith: "While they waited for the light, darkness arose upon them."55 Therefore the Apocalypse sets forth that these prophets are killed by the same, and on the fourth day rise again, that none might be found equal to God.
8. "And their dead bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt."] But He calls Jerusalem Sodom and Egypt, since it had become the heaping up of the persecuting people. Therefore it behoves us diligently, and with the utmost care, to follow the prophetic announcement, and to understand what the Spirit from the Father both announces and anticipates, and how, when He has gone forward to the last times, He again repeats the former ones. And now, what He will do once for all, He sometimes sets forth as if it were done; and unless you understand this, as sometimes done, and sometimes as about to be done, you will fall into a great confusion. Therefore the interpretation of the following sayings has shown therein, that not the order of the reading, but the order of the discourse, must be understood.
19. "And the temple of God was opened which is in heaven."] The temple opened is a manifestation of our Lord. For the temple of God is the Son, as He Himself says: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." And when the Jews said, "Forty and six years was this temple in building," the evangelist says, "He spake of the temple of His body."56
"And there was seen in His temple the ark of the Lord's testament."] The preaching of the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins, and all the gifts whatever that came with Him, he says, appeared therein.
The Twelfth Chapter
1. "And there was seen a great sign in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And being with child, she cried out travailing, and bearing torments that she might bring forth."] The woman clothed with the sun, and having the moon under her feet, and wearing a crown of twelve stars upon her head, and travailing in her pains, is the ancient Church of fathers, and prophets, and saints, and apostles,57 which had the groans and torments of its longing until it saw that Christ, the fruit of its people according to the flesh long promised to it, had taken flesh out of the selfsame people. Moreover, being clothed with the sun intimates the hope of resurrection and the glory of the promise. And the moon intimates the fall of the bodies of the saints under the obligation of death, which never can fail. For even as life is diminished, so also it is increased. Nor is the hope of those that sleep extinguished absolutely, as some think, but they have in their darkness a light such as the moon. And the crown of twelve stars signifies the choir of fathers, according to the fleshly birth, of whom Christ was to take flesh.
3. "And there appeared another sign in heaven; and behold a red dragon, having seven heads."] Now, that he says that this dragon was of a red colour-that is, of a purple colour-the result of his work gave him such a colour. For from the beginning (as the Lord says) he was a murderer; and he has oppressed the whole of the human race, not so much by the obligation of death, as, moreover, by the various forms of destruction and fatal mischiefs. His seven heads were the seven kings of the Romans, of whom also is Antichrist, as we have said above.
"And ten horns."] He says that the ten kings in the latest times are the same as these, as we shall more fully set forth there.
4. "And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them upon the earth."] Now, that he says that the dragon's tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, this may be taken in two ways. For many think that he may be able to seduce the third part of the men who believe.58 But it should more truly be understood, that of the angels that were subject to him, since he was still a prince when he descended from his estate, he seduced the third part; therefore what we said above, the Apocalypse says.
"And the dragon stood before the woman who was beginning to bring forth, that, when she had brought forth, he might devour her child."] The red dragon standing and desiring to devour her child when she had brought him forth, is the devil,-to wit, the traitor angel, who thought that the perishing of all men would be alike by death; but He, who was not born of seed, owed nothing to death: wherefore he could not devour Him-that is, detain Him in death-for on the third day He rose again. Finally, also, and before He suffered, he approached to tempt Him as man; but when he found that He was not what he thought Him to be, he departed from Him, even till the time. Whence it is here said:-
5. "And she brought forth a son, who begins to rule all nations with a rod of iron."] The rod of iron is the sword of persecution.
"I saw that all men withdrew from his abodes."] That is, the good will be removed, flying from persecution.59
"And her son was caught up to God, and to His throne."] We read also in the Acts of the Apostles that He was caught up to God's throne, just as speaking with the disciples He was caught up to heaven.
6. "But the woman fled into the wilderness, and there were given to her two great eagle's wings."] The aid of the great eagle's wings-to wit, the gift of prophets-was given to that Catholic Church, whence in the last times a hundred and forty-four thousands of men should believe on the preaching of Elias; but, moreover, he here says that the rest of the people should be found alive on the coming of the Lord. And the Lord says in the Gospel: "Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; "60 that is, as many as should be gathered together in Judea, let them go to that place which they have ready, and let them be supported there for three years and six months from the presence of the devil.
14. "Two great wings"] are the two prophets-Elias, and the prophet who shall be with him.
15. "And the serpent cast out of his mouth after the woman water as a flood, that he might carry her away with the flood."] He signifies by the water which the serpent cast out of his mouth, the people who at his command would persecute her.
16. "And the earth helped the woman, and opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth."] That the earth opened her month and swallowed up the waters, sets forth the vengeance for the present troubles. Although, therefore, it may signify this woman bringing forth, it shows her afterwards flying when her offspring is brought forth, because both things did not happen at one time; for we know that Christ was born, but that the time should arrive that she should flee from the face of the serpent: (we do not know) that this has happened as yet. Then he says:-
7-9. "There was a battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon warred, and his angels, and they prevailed not; nor was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast forth, that old serpent: he was cast forth into the earth."] This is the beginning of Antichrist yet previously Elias must prophesy, and there must be times of peace. And afterwards, when the three years and six months are completed in the preaching of Elias, he also must be cast down from heaven, where up till that time he had had the power of ascending; and all the apostate angels, as well as Antichrist, must be roused up from hell. Paul the apostle says: "Except there come a falling away first, and the man of sin shall appear, the son of perdition; and the adversary who exalted himself above all which is called God, or which is worshipped."61
The Thirteenth Chapter 62
1. "And I saw a beast rising up from the sea, like unto a leopard."] This signifies the kingdom of that time of Antichrist, and the people mingled with the variety of nations.
2. "His feet were as the feet of a bear."] A strong and most unclean beast, the feet are to be understood as his leaders.
"And his mouth as the mouth of a lion."] That is, his mouth armed for blood is his bidding, and a tongue which will proceed to nothing else than to the shedding of blood.
18. "His number is the name of a man, and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."] As they have it reckoned from the Greek characters, they thus find it among many to be teitan, for teitanhas this number, which the Gentiles call Sol and Phoebus; and it is reckoned in Greek thus: t three hundred, e five, i ten, t three hundred, a one, n fifty,-which taken together become six hundred and sixty-six. For as far as belongs to the Greek letters, they fill up this number and name; which name if you wish to turn into Latin, it is understood by the antiphrase Diclux, which letters are reckoned in this manner: since D figures five hundred, I one, C a hundred, L fifty, V five, X ten,-which by the reckoning up of the letters makes similarly six hundred and sixty-six, that is, what in Greek gives teitan, to wit, what in Latin is called Diclux; by which name, expressed by anti-phrases, we understand Antichrist, who, although he be cut off from the supernal light, and deprived thereof, yet transforms himself into an angel of light, daring to call himself light.63 Moreover, we find in a certain Greek codex antemoj, which letters being reckoned up, you will find to give the number as above: a one, n fifty, t three hundred, e five, m forty, o seventy, j two hundred,-which together makes six hundred and sixty-six, according to the Greeks. Moreover, there is another name in Gothic of him, which will be evident of itself, that is, genshrikoj, which in the same way you will reckon in Greek letters: g three, e five, n fifty, j two hundred, h eight, r a hundred, i ten, k twenty, o seventy, j also two hundred, which, as has been said above, make six hundred and sixty-six.
11. "And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth."] He is speaking of the great and false prophet who is to do signs, and portents, and falsehoods before him in the presence of men.
"And he had two horns like a lamb-that is, the appearance within of a man-and he spoke like a dragon."] But the devil speaks full of malice; for he shall do these things in the presence of men, so that even the dead appear to rise again.
13. "And he shall make fire come down from heaven in the sight of men."] Yes (as I also have said), in the sight of men. Magicians do these things, by the aid of the apostate angels, even to this day. He shall cause also that a golden image of Antichrist shall be placed in the temple at Jerusalem, and that the apostate angel should enter, and thence utter voices and oracles. Moreover, he himself shall contrive that his servants and children should receive as a mark on their foreheads, or on their right hands, the number of his name, lest any one should buy or sell them. Daniel had previously predicted his contempt and provocation of God. "And he shall place," says he, "his temple within Samaria, upon the illustrious and holy mountain that is at Jerusalem, an image such as Nebuchadnezzar had made."64 Thence here he places, and by and by here he renews, that of which the Lord, admonishing His churches concerning the last times and their dangers, says: "But when ye shall see the contempt which is spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place, let him who readeth understand."65 It is called a contempt when God is provoked, because idols are worshipped instead of God, or when the dogma of heretics is introduced in the churches. But it is a turning away because stedfast men, seduced by false signs and portents, are turned away from their salvation.