From the Fourteenth Chapter
6. "And I saw an angel flying through the midst of heaven."] The angel flying through the midst of heaven, whom he says that he saw, we have already treated of above, as being the same Elias who anticipates the kingdom of Anti-christ in his prophecy.
8. "And another angel following him."] The other angel following, he speaks of as the same prophet who is the associate of his prophesying. But that he says,-
15. "Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather in the grapes of the vine,"] he signifies it of the nations that should perish on the advent of the Lord. And indeed in many forms he shows this same thing, as if to the dry harvest, and the seed for the coming of the Lord, and the consummation of the world, and the kingdom of Christ, and the future appearance of the kingdom of the blessed.
19, 20. "And the angel thrust in the sickle, and reaped the vine of the earth, and cast it into the wine-press of the wrath of God. And the wine-press of His fury was trodden down without the city."] In that he says that it was cast into the wine-press of the wrath of God, and trodden down without the city, the treading of the wine-press is the retribution on the sinner.
"And blood went out from the wine-press, even unto the horse-bridles."] The vengeance of shed blood as was before predicted, "In blood thou hast sinned, and blood shall follow thee."66
"For a thousand and six hundred furlongs."] That is, through all the four parts of the world: for there is a quadrate put together by fours, as in four faces and four appearances, and wheels by fours; for forty times four is one thousand six hundred. Repeating the same persecution, the Apocalypse says:-
From the Fifteenth Chapter
1. "And I saw another great and wonderful sign, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is completed the indignation of God."] For the wrath of God always strikes the obstinate people with seven plagues, that is, perfectly, as it is said in Leviticus; and these shall be in the last time, when the Church shall have gone out of the midst.
2. "Standing upon the sea of glass, having harps."] That is, that they stood stedfastly in the faith upon their baptism, and having their confession in their mouth, that they shall exult in the kingdom before God. But let us return to what is set before us.
From the Seventeenth Chapter
1-6. "There came one of the seven angels, which have the seven bowls, and spake with me, saying, Come, I will show thee the judgment of that great whore who sitteth upon many waters. And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs."] The decrees of that senate are always accomplished against all, contrary to the preaching of the true faith; and now already mercy being cast aside, itself here gave the decree among all nations.
3. "And I saw the woman herself sitting upon the scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy."] But to sit upon the scarlet beast, the author of murders, is the image of the devil. Where also is treated of his captivity, concerning which we have fully considered. I remember, indeed, that this is called Babylon also in the Apocalypse, on account of confusion; and in Isaiah also; and Ezekiel called it Sodom. In fine, if you compare what is said against Sodom, and what Isaiah says against Babylon, and what the Apocalypse says, you will find that they are all one.67
9. "The seven heads are the seven hills, on which the woman sitteth."] That is, the city of Rome.
10. "And there are seven kings: five have fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he is come, he will be for a short time."] The time must be understood in which the written Apocalypse was published, since then reigned Caesar Domitian; but before him had been Titus his brother, and Vespasian, Otho, Vitellius, and Galba. These are the five who have fallen. One remains, under whom the Apocalypse was written-Domitian, to wit. "The other has not yet come," speaks of Nerva; "and when he is come, he will be for a short time," for he did not complete the period of two years.
11. "And the beast which thou sawest is of the seven."] Since before those kings Nero reigned.
"And he is the eighth."] He says only when this beast shall come, reckon it the eighth place, since in that is the completion. He added:-
"And shall go into perdition."] For that ten kings received royal power when he shall move from the east, he says. He shall be sent from the city of Rome with his armies. And Daniel sets forth the ten horns and the ten diadems. And that these are eradicated from the former ones,-that is, that three of the principal leaders are killed by Antichrist: that the other seven give him honour and wisdom and power, of whom he says:-
16. "These shall hate the whore, to wit, the city, and shall burn her flesh with fire."] Now that one of the heads was, as it were, slain to death, and that the stroke of his death was directed, he speaks of Nero. For it is plain that when the cavalry sent by the senate was pursuing him, he himself cut his throat. Him therefore, when raised up, God will send as a worthy king, but worthy in such a way as the Jews merited. And since he is to have another name, He shall also appoint another name, that so the Jews may receive him as if he were the Christ. Says Daniel: "He shall not know the lust of women, although before he was most impure, and he shall know no God of his fathers: for he will not be able to seduce the people of the circumcision, unless he is a judge of the law."68 Finally, also, he will recall the saints, not to the worship of idols, but to undertake circumcision, and, if he is able, to seduce any; for he shall so conduct himself as to be called Christ by them. But that he rises again from hell, we have said above in the word of Isaiah: "Water shall nourish him, and hell hath increased him; "who, however, must come with name unchanged, and doings unchanged, as says the Spirit.
From the Nineteenth Chapter
11. "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sate upon him was called Faithful and True."] The horse, and He that sits upon him, sets forth our Lord coming to His kingdom with the heavenly army. Because from the sea of the north, which is the Arabian Sea, even to the sea of Phoenice, and even to the ends of the earth, they will command these greater parts in the coming of the Lord Jesus, and all the souls of the nations will be assembled to judgment.
From the Twentieth Chapter
1-3. "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the abyss, and a chain in his hand. And he held the dragon, that old serpent, which is called the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and cast him into the abyss, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be finished: after this he must be loosed a little season."] Those years wherein Satan is bound are in the first advent of Christ, even to the end of the age; and they are called a thousand, according to that mode of speaking, wherein a part is signified by the whole, just as is that passage, "the word which He commanded for a thousand generations,"69 although they are not a thousand. Moreover that he says, "and he cast him into the abyss," he says this, because the devil, excluded from the hearts of believers, began to take possession of the wicked, in whose hearts, blinded day by day, he is shut up as if in a profound abyss. And he shut him up, says he, and put a seal upon him, that he should not deceive the nations until the thousand years should be finished. "He shut the door upon him," it is said, that is, he forbade and restrained his seducing those who belong to Christ. Moreover, he put a seal upon him, because it is hidden who belong to the side of the devil, and who to that of Christ. For we know not of those who seem to stand whether they shall not fall, and of those who are down it is uncertain whether they may rise. Moreover, that he says that he is bound and shut up, that he may not seduce the nations, the nations signify the Church, seeing that of them it itself is formed, and which being seduced, he previously held until, he says, the thousand years should be completed, that is, what is left of the sixth day, to wit, of the sixth age, which subsists for a thousand years; after this he must be loosed for a little season. The little season signifies three years and six months, in which with all his power the devil will avenge himself trader Antichrist against the Church. Finally, he says, after that the devil shall be loosed, and will seduce the nations in the whole world, and will entice war against the Church, the number of whose foes shall be as the sand of the sea.70
4, 5. "And I saw thrones, and them that sate upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were slain on account of the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast nor his image, nor have received his writing on their forehead or in their hand; and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years: the rest of them lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection."] There are two resurrections. But the first resurrection is now of the souls that are by the faith, which does not permit men to pass over to the second death. Of this resurrection the apostle says: "If ye have risen with Christ, seek those things which are above."71
6. "Blessed and holy is he who has part in this resurrection: on them the second death shall have no power, but they shall be priests of God and Christ, and they shall reign with Him a thousand years."] I do not think the reign of a thousand years is eternal; or if it is thus to be thought of, they cease to reign when the thousand years are finished. But I will put forward what my capacity enables me to judge. The tenfold number signifies the decalogue, and the hundredfold sets forth the crown of virginity: for he who shall have kept the undertaking of virginity completely, and shall have faithfully fulfilled the precepts of the decalogue, and shall have destroyed the untrained nature or impure thoughts within the retirement of the heart, that they may not rule over him, this is the true priest of Christ, and accomplishing the millenary number thoroughly, is thought to reign with Christ; and truly in his case the devil is bound. But he who is entangled in the vices and the dogmas of heretics, in his case the devil is loosed. But that it says that when the thousand years are finished he is loosed, so the number of the perfect saints being completed, in whom there is the glory of virginity in body and mind, by the approaching advent of the kingdom of the hateful one, many, seduced by that love of earthly things, shall be overthrown, and together with him shall enter the lake of fire.
8-10. "And they went up upon the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil who seduced them was cast into the take of fire and brimstone, where both the beast and the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."]This belongs to the last judgment. And after a little time the earth was made holy, as being at least that wherein lately had reposed the bodies of the virgins, when they shall enter upon an eternal kingdom with an immortal King, as they who are not only virgins in body, but, moreover, with equal inviolability have protected themselves, both in tongue and thought, from wickedness; and these, it shows, shall dwell in rejoicing for ever with the Lamb.
From the Twenty-First and Twenty-Second Chapters
16. "And the city is placed in a square."] The city which he says is squared, he says also is resplendent with gold and precious stones, and has a sacred street, and a river through the midst of it, and the tree of life on either side, bearing twelve manner of fruits throughout the twelve months; and that the light of the sun is not there, because the Lamb is the light of it; and that its gates were of single pearls; and that there were three gates on each of the four sides, and that they could not be shut. I say, in respect of the square city, he shows forth the united multitude of the saints, in whom the faith could by no means waver. As Noah is commanded to make the ark of squared beams,72 that it might resist the force of the deluge, by the precious stones he sets forth the holy men who cannot waver in persecution, who could not be moved either by the tempest of persecutors, or be dissolved from the true faith by the force of the rain, because they are associated of pure gold, of whom the city of the great King is adorned. Moreover, the streets set forth their hearts purified from all uncleanness, transparent with glowing light, that the Lord may justly walk up and down in them. The river of life sets forth that the grace of spiritual doctrine flowed through the minds of the faithful, and that manifold flourishing forms of odours germinated therein. The tree of life on either bank sets forth the Advent of Christ, according to the flesh, who satisfied the peoples wasted with famine, that received life from One by the wood of the Cross, with the announcement of God's word. And in that he says that the sun is not necessary in the city, he shows, evidently, that the Creator as the immaculate light shines in the midst of it, whose brightness no mind has been able to conceive, nor tongue to tell.
In that he says there are three gates placed on each of the four sides, of single pearls, I think that these are the four virtues,73 to wit, prudence, fortitude, justice, temperance, which are associated with one another. And, being involved together, they make the number twelve. But the twelve gates we believe to be the number of the apostles, who, shining in the four virtues as precious stones, manifesting the light of their doctrine among the saints, cause it to enter the celestial city, that by intercourse with them the choir of angels may be gladdened. And that the gates cannot be shut, it is evidently shown that the doctrine of the apostles can be separated from rectitude by no tempest of contradiction. Even though the floods of the nations and the vain superstitions of heretics should revolt against their true faith, they are overcome, and shall be dissolved as the foam, because Christ is the Rock74 by which, and on which, the Church is founded.75 And thus it is overcome by no traces of maddened men. Therefore they are not to be heard who assure themselves that there is to be an earthly reign of a thousand years; who think, that is to say, with the heretic Cerinthus.76 For the kingdom of Christ is now eternal in the saints, although the glory of the saints shall be manifested after the resurrection.