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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 23

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 23.—What Daniel Predicted Regarding the Persecution of Antichrist, the Judgment of God, and the Kingdom of the Saints.

Daniel prophesies of the last judgment in such a way as to indicate that Antichrist shall first come, and to carry on his description to the eternal reign of the saints.  For when in prophetic vision he had seen four beasts, signifying four kingdoms, and the fourth conquered by a certain king, who is recognized as Antichrist, and after this the eternal kingdom of the Son of man, that is to say, of Christ, he says, “My spirit was terrified, I Daniel in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me,” 1435 etc.  Some have interpreted these four kingdoms as signifying those of the Assyrians, Persians, Macedonians, and Romans.  They who desire to understand the fitness of this interpretation may read Jerome’s book on Daniel, which is written with a sufficiency of care and erudition.  But he who reads this passage, even half asleep, cannot fail to see that the kingdom of Antichrist shall fiercely, though for a short time, assail the Church before the last judgment of God shall introduce the eternal reign of the saints.  For it is patent from the context that the time, times, and half a time, means a year, and two years, and half a year, that is to say, three years and a half.  Sometimes in Scripture the same thing is indicated by months.  For though the word times seems to be used here in the Latin indefinitely, that is only because the Latins have no dual, as the Greeks have, and as the Hebrews also are said to have.  Times, therefore, is used for two times.  As for the ten kings, whom, as it seems, Antichrist is to find in the person of ten individuals when he comes, I own I am afraid we may be deceived in this, and that he may come unexpectedly while there are not ten kings living in the Roman world.  For what if this number ten signifies the whole number of kings who are to precede his coming, as totality is frequently symbolized by a thousand, or a hundred, or seven, or other numbers, which it is not necessary to recount?

In another place the same Daniel says, “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as was not since there was born a nation upon earth until that time:  and in that time all Thy people which shall be found written in the book shall be delivered.  And many of them that sleep in the mound of earth shall arise, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting confusion.  And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and many of the just as the stars for ever.” 1436   This passage is very similar to the one we have quoted from the Gospel, 1437 at least so far as regards the resurrection of dead bodies.  For those who are there said to be “in the graves” are here spoken of as “sleeping in the mound of earth,” or, as others translate, “in the dust of earth.”  There it is said, “They shall come forth;” so here, “They shall arise.”  There, “They that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment;” here, “Some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting confusion.”  Neither is it to be supposed a difference, though in place of the expression in the Gospel, “All who are in their graves,” the prophet does not say “all,” but “many of them that sleep in the mound of earth.”  For many is sometimes used in Scripture for all.  Thus it was said to Abraham, “I have set thee as the father of many nations,” though in another place it was said to him, “In thy seed shall all nations be blessed.” 1438   Of such a resurrection it is said a little afterwards to the prophet himself, “And come thou and rest:  for there is yet a day till the completion of the consummation; and thou shall rest, and rise in thy lot in the end of the days.” 1439


Footnotes

443:1435

Dan. 7.15-28.  Passage cited at length.

443:1436

Dan. 12.1-3.

443:1437

John 5.28.

443:1438

Gen. 17:5, Gen. 22:18.

443:1439

Dan. 12.13.


Next: Chapter 24

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