Hippolytus on the Anti-Christ
The following is a brief excerpt from Hippolytus of Rome's "Treatise on Christ and Anti-Christ", an early examination of the subject of the End Times. While some of the statements of Hippolytus will be familiar to us from modern literature of the same genre, some of the proof texting will be quite odd to the modern reader. The principles of hermeneutics were not quite as exacting at the time of this Church Father as they are today. The text is as follows:
But now we shall speak of what is before us. For such measures will he, too, devise, seeking to afflict the saints in every way. For the prophet and apostle says:
"Here is wisdom, Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred threescore and six." - Rev. 13:18
With respect to his name, it is not in our power to explain it exactly, as the blessed John understood it and was instructed about it, but only to give a conjectural account of it; for when he appears, the blessed one will show us what we seek to know. Yet as far as our doubtful apprehension of the matter goes, we may speak. Many names indeed we find, the letters of which are the equivalent of this number: such as, for instance, the word Titan, an ancient and notable name; or Evanthas, for it too makes up the same number; and many others which might be found. But, as we have already said, the wound of the first beast was healed, and he (the second beast) was to make the image speak, that is to say, he should be powerful; and it is manifest to all that those who at present still hold the power are Latins. If, then, we take the name as the name of a single man, it becomes Latins. Wherefore we ought neither to give it out as if this were certainly his name, nor again ignore the fact that he may not be otherwise designated. But having the mystery of God in our heart, we ought in fear to keep faithfully what has been told us by the blessed prophets, in order that when those things come to pass, we may be prepared for them, and not deceived.
For when the times advance, he too, of whom these thing are said, will be manifested. But not to confine ourselves to these words and arguments alone, for the purpose of convincing those who love to study the oracles of God, we shall demonstrate the matter by many other proofs. For Daniel says,
"And these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon." - Daniel 11:41
Ammon and Moab are the children born to Lot by his daughters, and their race survives even now.
And Isaiah says:
"And they shall fly in the boats of strangers, plundering the sea together, and they shall spoil them of the east: and they shall lay hands upon Moab first; and the children of Ammon shall first obey them." - Isaiah 11:14
In those times, then, he shall arise and meet them. And when he has overmastered three horns out of the ten in the array of war, and has rooted these out, that is, Egypt, and Libya, and Ethiopia, and has got their spoils and trappings, and has brought the remaining horns which suffer into subjection, he will begin to be lifted up in heart, and to exalt himself against God as master of the whole world. And his first expedition will be against Tyre and Berytus, and the surrounding territory. For by storming these cities first he will strike terror into the others, as Isaiah says,
"Be thou ashamed, O Sidon; the sea hath spoken, even the strength of the sea hath spoken, saying, I travailed not, nor brought forth children; neither did I nurse up young men, nor bring up virgins. But when the report comes to Egypt, pain shall seize them for Tyre." - Isaiah 23:4
These things, then, shall be in the future, beloved; and when the three horns are cut off, he will begin to show himself as God, as Ezekiel has said aforetime:
"Because thy heart has been lifted up, and thou hast said, I am God."- Ezekiel 28:2
And to the like effect Isaiah says:
"For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven: I will be like the Most High. Yet now thou shall be brought down to hell (Hades), to the foundations of the earth."- Isaiah 14:13
In like manner also Ezekiel:
"Wilt thou yet say to those who slay thee, I am God? But thou (shall be) a man, and no God."- Ezekiel 28:9
As his tribe, then, and his manifestation, and his destruction, have been set forth in these words, and as his name has also been indicated mystically, let us look also at his action. For he will call together all the people to himself, out of every country of the dispersion, making them his own, as though they were his own children, and promising to restore their country, and establish again their kingdom and nation, in order that he may be worshiped by them as God, as the prophet says:
"He will collect his whole kingdom, from the rising of the sun even to its setting: they whom he summons and they whom he does not summon shall march with him."
And Jeremiah speaks of him thus in a parable:
"The partridge cried, (and) gathered what he did not hatch, making himself riches without judgment: in the midst of his days they shall leave him, and at his end he shall be a fool." - Jeremiah 17:11
It will not be detrimental, therefore, to the course of our present argument, if we explain the art of that creature, and show that the prophet has not spoken without a purpose in using the parable (or similitude) of the creature. For as the partridge is a vainglorious creature, when it sees near at hand the nest of another partridge with young in it, and with the parent-bird away on the wing in quest of food, it imitates the cry of the other bird, and calls the young to itself; and they, taking it to be their own parent, run to it. And it delights itself proudly in the alien pullets as in its own. But when the real parent-bird returns, and calls them with its own familiar cry, the young recognize it, and forsake the deceiver, and betake themselves to the real parent.
This thing, then, the prophet has adopted as a simile, applying it in a similar manner to Antichrist. For he will allure mankind to himself, wishing to gain possession of those who are not his own, and promising deliverance to all, while he is unable to save himself.