St. Hippolytus on Christ and the Antichrist

St. Hippolytus of Rome ca. 170-235

[I]t is proper that we take the Holy Scriptures themselves in hand, and find out from them what, and of what manner, the coming of Antichrist is; on what occasion and at what time that implores one shall be revealed; and whence and from what I tribe (he shall come); and what his name is, which is indicated by the number in the Scripture; and how he shall work error among the people, gathering them from the ends of the earth; and (how) he shall stir up tribulation and persecution against the saints; and how he shall glorify himself as God; and what his end shall be; and how the sudden appearing of the Lord shall be revealed from heaven; and what the conflagration of the whole world shall be; and what the glorious and heavenly kingdom of the saints is to be, when they reign together with Christ; and what the punishment of the wicked by fire.

Now, as our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also God, was prophesied of under the figure of a lion, on account of His royalty and glory, in the same way have the Scriptures also aforetime spoken of Antichrist as a lion, on account of his tyranny and violence. For the deceiver seeks to liken himself in all things to the Son of God. Christ is a lion, so Antichrist is also a lion; Christ is a king, Jn. 18:37 so Antichrist is also a king. The Saviour was manifested as a lamb; Jn. 1:29 so he too, in like manner, will appear as a lamb, though within he is a wolf. The Saviour came into the World in the circumcision, and he will come in the same manner. The Lord sent apostles among all the nations, and he in like manner will send false apostles. The Saviour gathered together the sheep that were scattered abroad, and he in like manner will bring together a people that is scattered abroad. The Lord gave a seal to those who believed on Him, and he will give one like manner. The Saviour appeared in the form of man, and he too will come in the form of a man. The Saviour raised up and showed His holy flesh like a temple, Jn. 2:19 and he will raise a temple of stone in Jerusalem. And his seductive arts we shall exhibit in what follows. But for the present let us turn to the question in hand.

Now the blessed Jacob speaks to the following effect in his benedictions, testifying prophetically of our Lord and Saviour: Judah, let your brethren praise you: your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s cub: from the shoot, my son, you are gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as a lion’s cub; who shall rouse him up? A ruler shall not depart from Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until he come for whom it is reserved; and he shall be the expectation of the nations. Binding his ass to a vine, and his ass’s colt to the vine tendril; he shall wash his garment in wine, and his clothes in the blood of the grapes. His eyes shall be gladsome as with wine, and his teeth shall be whiter than milk.

Knowing, then, as I do, how to explain these things in detail, I deem it right at present to quote the words themselves. But since the expressions themselves urge us to speak of them. I shall not omit to do so. For these are truly divine and glorious things, and things well calculated to benefit the soul. The prophet, in using the expression, a lion’s cub, means him who sprang from Judah and David according to the flesh, who was not made indeed of the seed of David, but was conceived by the (power of the) Holy Ghost, and came forth from the holy shoot of earth…

And in saying, A ruler shall not depart from Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until he come for whom it is reserved; and he shall be the expectation of the nations, he referred the fulfilment (of that prophecy) to Christ. For He is our expectation. For we expect Him, (and) by faith we behold Him as He comes from heaven with power.

Binding his ass to a vine: that means that He unites His people of the circumcision with His own calling (vocation). For He was the vine. Jn. 15:1 And his ass’s colt to the vine-tendril: that denotes the people of the Gentiles, as He calls the circumcision and the uncircumcision unto one faith.

He shall wash his garment in wine, that is, according to that voice of His Father which came down by the Holy Ghost at the Jordan. And his clothes in the blood of the grape. In the blood of what grape, then, but just His own flesh, which hung upon the tree like a cluster of grapes?— from whose side also flowed two streams, of blood and water, in which the nations are washed and purified, which (nations) He may be supposed to have as a robe about Him.

His eyes gladsome with wine. And what are the eyes of Christ but the blessed prophets, who foresaw in the Spirit, and announced beforehand, the sufferings that were to befall Him, and rejoiced in seeing Him in power with spiritual eyes, being furnished (for their vocation) by the word Himself and His grace?

And in saying, And his teeth (shall be) whiter than milk, he referred to the commandments that proceed from the holy mouth of Christ, and which are pure as milk.

Thus did the Scriptures preach before-time of this lion and lion’s cub. And in like manner also we find it written regarding Antichrist. For Moses speaks thus: Dan is a lion’s cub, and he shall leap from Bashan. Deut. 33:22 But that no one may err by supposing that this is said of the Saviour, let him attend carefully to the matter. Dan, he says, is a lion’s cub; and in naming the tribe of Dan, he declared clearly the tribe from which Antichrist is destined to spring. For as Christ springs from the tribe of Judah, so Antichrist is to spring from the tribe of Dan. And that the case stands thus, we see also from the words of Jacob: Let Dan be a serpent, lying upon the ground, biting the horse’s heel. Gen. 49:17 What, then, is meant by the serpent but Antichrist, that deceiver who is mentioned in Genesis, Gen. 3:1 who deceived Eve and supplanted Adam, bruised ? But since it is necessary to prove this assertion by sufficient testimony, we shall not shrink from the task.

That it is in reality out of the tribe of Dan, then, that that tyrant and king, that dread judge, that son of the devil, is destined to spring and arise, the prophet testifies when he says, Dan shall judge his people, as (he is) also one tribe in Israel. Gen. 49:16 But some one may say that this refers to Samson, who sprang from the tribe of Dan, and judged the people twenty years. Well, the prophecy had its partial fulfilment in Samson, but its complete fulfilment is reserved for Antichrist. For Jeremiah also speaks to this effect: From Dan we are to hear the sound of the swiftness of his horses: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing, of the driving of his horses. Jer. 8:16 (On Christ and the Antichrist)

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