Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 7: 7.04.03 Victorinus - On the Apocalypse of John 2

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Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 7: 7.04.03 Victorinus - On the Apocalypse of John 2

TOPIC: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 7 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 7.04.03 Victorinus - On the Apocalypse of John 2

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Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John.


Rev_11:1 “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 354 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.

Rev_11:2 “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: -

Rev_11:3 “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.

Rev_11:5 “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.” (Jer_1:5) 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.

Rev_11:4 “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;” (Zec_4:14) 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.

Rev_11:7 “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. But 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 Cæsars. 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 coming is after the working of Satan, with signs and lying wonders.” (2Th_2:7, 2Th_2:8, 2Th_2:9) And that they might know that he should come who then was the prince, he added: “He already endeavours after the secret of mischief” (2Th_2:10) - 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.” (2Th_2:11) And Isaiah saith: “While they waited for the light, darkness arose upon them.”(Isa_59:9) 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.

Rev_11:8 “And their dead bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city, which spiritually is called 355 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.

Rev_11:19 “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.” (Joh_2:19, Joh_2:20, Joh_2:21)

“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.


Rev_12:1 “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,12 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.

Rev_12:3 “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.

Rev_12:4 “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.13 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: -

Rev_12:5 “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.14

“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.

Rev_12:6 “But the woman fled into the wilderness, and there were given to her two great eagle’s 356 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;” (Luk_21:21) 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.

Rev_12:14 “Two great wings”] are the two prophets - Elias, and the prophet who shall be with him.

Rev_12:15 “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.

Rev_12:16 “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 mouth 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: -

Rev_12:7-9 “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.” (2Th_2:3, 2Th_2:4)


Rev_13:1 “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.

Rev_13:2 “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.

* * * * * * * *

Rev_13:18 “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 τειταν, for τειταν has this number, which the Gentiles call Sol and Phœbus; and it is reckoned in Greek thus: τ three hundred, ε five, ι ten, τ three hundred, α one, ν 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 τειταν, to wit, what in Latin is called DICLUX; by which name, expressed by antiphrases, 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.16 Moreover, we find in a certain Greek codex αντεμος, which letters being reckoned up, you will find to give the number as above: α one, ν fifty, τ three hundred, ε five, μ forty, ο seventy, ς 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, γενσήρικος, which in the same way you will reckon in Greek letters: γ three, ε five, ν fifty, σ two hundred, η eight, ρ a hundred, ι ten, κ twenty, seventy, ς also two hundred, which, as has been said above, make six hundred and sixty-six.

Rev_13:11 “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.

357 Rev_13:13 “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.” (Dan_11:45) 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.” (Mat_24:15; Dan_9:27) 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.


Rev_14:6 “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 Antichrist in his prophecy.

Rev_14:8 “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, -

Rev_14:15 “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.

Rev_14:19, 66 14:20 “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.” (Eze_35:6)

“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: -


Rev_15:1 “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.

Rev_15:2 “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.


Rev_17:1-6. “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.

Rev_17:3 “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.17

Rev_17:9 “The seven heads are the seven hills, on 358 which the woman sitteth.”] That is, the city of Rome.

Rev_17:10 “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 Cæsar 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.

Rev_17:11 “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: -

Rev_17:16 “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.” (Dan_11:37) 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.


Rev_19:11 “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 Phœnice, 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.


Rev_20:1-3 “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,” (Psa_105:8) 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 under Antichrist 359 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.18

Rev_20:4, 66 20:5 “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.” (Col_3:1)

Rev_20:6 “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.

Rev_20:8-10 “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 lake 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.

Rev_21:1-27 and Rev_22:1-21.

Rev_21:16 “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, (Gen_6:14, LXX) 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,19 to wit, prudence, fortitude, justice, temperance, which are associated with one another. And, being involved 360 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 Rock20 by which, and on which, the Church is founded.21 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.22 For the kingdom of Christ is now eternal in the saints, although the glory of the saints shall be manifested after the resurrection.

General Notes by the American Editor.

1. The whole subject of the Apocalypse is so treated,23 in the Speaker’s Commentary, as to elucidate many questions suggested by the primitive commentators of this series, and to furnish the latest judgments of critics on the subject. It is so immense a matter, however, as to render annotations on patristic specialties impossible in a work like this. Every reader must feel how apposite is the sententious saying of Augustine: “Apocalypsis Joannis tot habet sacramenta quot verba.”

2. The seven spirits, p. 344. ver. 4. That is, the one Spirit in His sevenfold gifts. He now fulfils the promise of Christ, “He shall show you the things to come.” Without this complement the Church would lack assurance that her great Head upon the throne has ordered and limited the whole course of this world for her conflicts and her final triumph by the Spirit’s power. St. John’s rapture was the Spirit’s work: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.”24 The whole Apocalypse is an Easter sermon (on the text, Rev_1:18) and an Easter song (vers. 9-14, And passim). It supplements the appearances of the risen Redeemer for identification, by a manifestation, which is the Church’s assurance of His glorification and of His perpetual work in her and for her, as well as of His presence with her, by the Spirit.

3. Seven golden candlesticks, p. 344. ver. 12. The symbol of the seven-fold Spirit in the Church. On the Arch of Titus this symbol had just been set up as proof of its removal from the Mosaic Church. It is now found to be transferred to the “seven churches,” a symbol of the Catholic Church25 or “the communion of saints.” The threatening of removal from particular churches derives force from the (then) recent removal out of Jerusalem.

4. A11 the saints shall assemble, p. 345, ver. 15. Our Author clings to the purer Chiliasm of Commodian, to which Augustine had now given the death-blow by his famous retractation.26

5. New forms of prophesying, p. 347, ver. 17. A retrospective glance at Montanism, and a caveat against the mistakes of Tertullian.

6. I will vomit thee, p. 347, ver. 16. Bishop Wordsworth suggests, that, if the canon of Scripture compiled by the church of Laodicea lacks the Apocalypse, its terrible reproof of that church may have influenced its unwillingness to accept it. Accordingly she was vomited, and perished in the Saracen invasion.

7. That is the Spirit. p. 348, ver. 1. Christ’s divine nature as distinguished from his flesh.27 “In a word,” says Professor Milligan,28πνευμα is a short expression for our Lord’s resurrection state.” A truth, but based on the distinction between the flesh of Christ and His spiritual nature as the Word. See Tertullian,29 vol. 3. p. 609, note 74, and note 78: also 2Co_3:17-18.

8. The genealogy of Mary, p. 348, vers. 7-10. It is remarkable that St. Matthew should be credited with this, and not St. Luke, who in the sixteenth century30 began to be regarded as giving the ancestry of Mary. See Africanus31 on the subject, and my elucidation,32 in which I followed Wordsworth. Though I had already prepared the pages of Victorinus for the press, I failed to note at that time this modification of the general truth, that antiquity regards both genealogies as those of Joseph.

9. Dan himself, p. 349, ver 8. Here is a touch of Chiliasm again, i.e., of the better sort. Even Dan is promised a restoration: and the use of Gen_49:16 for that intent is noteworthy, as compared with Rev_7:5-8, where Dan is omitted. But Hippolytus takes a very different view of the same text.33

10. Hades, p 351. “A region withdrawn from punishment and fires,” says our author. He identifies it with paradise, and shows that in his day the Latin churches knew of no purgatorial fires. He knows of nothing but a place for those “who die in the Lord,” and a place for the wicked. It is perpetually overlooked, that, in the fiction of “purgatory,” it is only the righteous who are entitled to it; none but those in full communion with the Church having any portion in it, or any title to Masses for their repose. Of all this our author had no conception.34

11. To take the book and eat it up, p. 353, ver. 10. We must not fail to note with this the passage Jer_15:16, where the Revised Version pedantically sacrifices the Septuagint reading, o( Lo&goj sou, (which is followed by the Vulgate), distinguishing “sermones tui” from “Verbum tuum.” The Seventy have testified to this distinction in their day, and their copies of the Hebrew must have supported it. So understood, what riches in the text of Jeremiah!

12. Thessalonians, p. 354, ver. 7. On which much that is suggestive is said by St. Augustine, though he confesses, concerning what St. Paul had said to the Thessalonians, “Ego prorsus quid dixerit me fateor ignorare.” See De Civ. Dei, lib. xx. cap. 19, p. 685, ed. Migne.

13. The woman, p. 355, ver. 1. Compare vol. 6. p. 337, note 105, and Elucidation II. p. 355. It is quite important to observe the voice of antiquity on a matter which, in our own times, has been made a stumbling-block to souls by a wanton, personal, act of the Bishop of Rome and his dogma of “Immaculate Conception.”

14. The hope those that sleep, p. 355, ver. 1. To make our author consistent with himself (see note 10, supra), we should read thus: “But they have in their darkness a light (some think) such as the moon.” Here, however, it seems to me, he is giving his mind to “the Church of fathers and prophets” exclusively, in which its “saints and apostles” were for a time waiting and looking for the Man-child. Even that Church of the Hebrews had, in Hades, light “like that of the moon,” where they reposed in Abraham’s bosom: but Christ removed them into a fairer region, i.e., Paradise, when He illuminated Hades, and then became “the first-fruits of them that slept.” Such seems to be the sense.

15. In a certain Greek codex, p. 356, ver. 18. Can αντεμος here be a reference to Anthemius, of the kindred of Julian (d. a.d. 472)? His history, mixed up with that of Ricimer, connects with Genseric. who died a.d. 477.

16. Sea of the north, p. 358, ver. 11. The Mediterranean, near Mount Carmel, is “the sea of Phœnice,” I suppose; but how the Arabian Gulf can be called the sea of the north, I do not comprehend. As Routh says, the manuscripts must have been much corrupted.

17. Two resurrections, p. 359, ver. 5. Here our author, who is supposed to be the contemporary of St. Augustine, accepts his final judgment.35 But Victorinus was a Chiliast of the better sort, according to St. Jerome. This confirms the corruption of the mss. Indeed, if the Victorinus mentioned by Jerome be the same as our author, the mention of Genseric proves the subsequent interpolation of his works.

18. It is evident that the fragment which is here preserved, if, indeed, it be the work of Caius Marius Victorinus, surnamed Afer, is full of the corrections of some pious disciple of St. Augustine who lived much later. The reader must consult Lardner,36 and compare Routh, whose notes on this treatise are indeed few. He does not think the reference to abbots37 of any consequence in determining its age, because he finds albatorum elsewhere sustained as the true reading, i.e., those “made white in the blood of the Lamb.” But the great probability that there were two authors of the name living in different ages seems more than suspected by the learned. Dupin, who calls him Marius without the Caius (changed to Fabius by the English translator), leaves one yet more in a mist as to the identity of our author with the one the one he writes about.


12 [No hint here that this was a manifestation of the Blessed Virgin, the modern fiction of Rome. See vol. 6. p. 355, this series.]

13 [A noteworthy testimony to primitive interpretation.]

14 [Compare Tertullian, De Fuga, vol. 4. p. 117, this series.

15 [The Edinburgh edition seems to follow the confusion of the mss., introducing here the seventeenth chapter, out of place.]

16 [But see Irenæus, vol. 1. p. 559.]

17 [Apparently in conflict with what our author says supra, pp. 352 and 355.]

18 [Compare vol. 5. pp. 207, 215, caps. 15 and 54.]

19 [Called the philosophical virtues. Vol. 2. note 102, p. 502.]

20 [From a Western theologian of the date of our author. This is emphatic.]

21 [Compare vol. 5. p. 561, Elucidation VII.]

22 [Here is evidence that Cerinthus (see vol. 1. pp. 351, 352) and other heretics had disgusted the Church even with the less carnal views of the Millenium entertained by the better “Chiliast,” such as Commodian. See vol. 4. pp. 212 and 218.]

23 By William Lee, D.D., archdeacon of Dublin.

24 The Lord’s day is here the Paschal feast, “the Great Sunday,” probably. See Eichhorn in Rosenmüller, Scholia, tom. v. p. 626.

25 P. 345, sec. 16.

26 Civ. Dei, xx. cap. 7, p. 667, ed. Migne.

27 See vol. 3. note 108, pp. 624, 630.

28 Ut supra, p. 249, note 99.

29 See Kay’s Tertullian, p. 530, for a brief comment on this and its supposed scriptural base.

30 Virtually in the fifteenth, as Annius published his theory in 1502, and wrote, no doubt, before that century began. Vol. 6. p. 139.

31 Vol. 6. p. 126, this series.

32 Vol. 6. p. 139.

33 Vol. 5. p. 207, this series.

34 Compare vol. 3. p. 428, Elucidation VIII.

35 See p. 360, note 24.

36 Credib., vol. iv. p. 254.

37 P. 344, note 6, supra.