Early Church

Early Church Fathers on the Antichrist and the End of Days

November 29, 2011

The Didache

… Athanasius wrote it was, “‘appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of goodness” [Festal Letter 39:7].

… “[I]n the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and sheep shall be turned into wolves . . . and then shall the deceiver of the world appear, pretending to be the Son of God, and [he] shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands” (Didache 16:3-4 [A.D. 70]).

Polycarp of Smyrna

“Everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an antichrist [1 John 4:2-3, 2 John 7]; whoever does not confess the testimony of the cross is of the devil; and whoever perverts the sayings of the Lord for his own desires, and says that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, such a one is the firstborn of Satan” (Letter to the Philadelphians 7:1 [A.D. 135]).

Irenaeus

… “[T]he Antichrist … to be adored as God, and … king … being endued with all the power of the devil, shall (come as a) lawless one . . . setting aside idols to persuade [men] that he himself is God, raising himself up as the only idol. . . . Moreover [Paul] has also pointed out … that the temple in Jerusalem was made by the direction of the true God. … [2 Thess. 2:4] . . . in which the enemy shall sit, endeavoring to show himself as Christ” (Against Heresies 5:25:1-2 [A.D. 189]).

“(Beware.) [T]hose who falsely presume that they know the name of the Antichrist (may) assume one [number] when this [Antichrist] shall come having another, (and) they will be easily led away by him as supposing him not to be the expected one. . . . It is therefore … less hazardous, to await the fulfillment of the prophecy than to be making surmises (about the name and number.)” (ibid., 5:30:2-3).

“But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months and will sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire” (ibid., 5:30:4).

Hippolytus

“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 beforehand 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. … The Savior was manifested as a lamb, so he too in like manner will appear as a lamb without; within he is a wolf. The Savior came into the world in the circumcision [i.e., the Jewish race], and he will come in the same manner. . . . The Savior raised up and showed his holy flesh like a temple, and he will raise a temple of stone in Jerusalem” (The Antichrist 6 [A.D. 200]).

“[W]e find it written regarding Antichrist . . . ‘Dan is a lion’s whelp, and he shall leap from Bashan’ [Deut

“Above all, moreover, he will love the nation of the Jews. And with all these [Jews] he will work signs and terrible wonders . . . And after that he will build the temple in Jerusalem and will restore it again speedily and give it over to the Jews” (Discourse on the End of the World 23-25 [A.D. 217]).

Tertullian

“[T]he man of sin, the son of perdition, who must first be revealed before the Lord comes, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped; and who is to sit in the temple of God and boast himself as being God. . . . According indeed to our view, he is Antichrist; as it is taught … by the apostle John, who says that ‘already many false prophets have gone out into the world,’ the forerunners of Antichrist, who deny that Christ is come in the flesh, and do not acknowledge Jesus, meaning in God the Creator” (Against Marcion 5:16 [A.D. 210]).

Cyprian of Carthage

… “Antichrist, when he shall begin to come, will not enter into the Church [even though] he threatens; neither shall we yield to his arms and violence, [though] he declares that he will destroy us if we resist” (Letters 69[70]:3 [A.D. 253]).

… “John … said, ‘You have heard that Antichrist shall come; even now there are many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time . . . ‘[1 John 2:18]. Wherefore we … should repudiate and reject and regard as profane whatever his adversaries and the antichrists do … (ibid., 54[69]:19). …

Lactantius

“[A] king shall arise out of Syria, born from an evil spirit, the overthrower and destroyer of the human race, who shall destroy that which is left by the former evil, together with himself. . . . But that king will … be a prophet of lies, and … call himself God, and will order himself to be worshipped as the Son of God, and power will be given to him to do signs and wonders, by the sight of which he may entice men to adore him. He will command fire to come down from heaven and the sun to stand and leave his course, and an image to speak, and these things shall be done at his word. . . . Then he will attempt to destroy the temple of God and persecute the righteous people” (Divine Institutes 7:17 [A.D. 307]).

Cyril of Jerusalem

“This aforementioned Antichrist is to come when the times of the Roman Empire shall have been fulfilled, and the end of the world is drawing near. There shall rise up together ten kings of the Romans, reigning in different parts, perhaps, but all reigning at the same time. After these there shall be an eleventh, the Antichrist, who by the evil craft of his magic shall seize upon the Roman power. Of the kings who reigned before him, three shall he humble [Dan. 7:24], and the remaining seven he shall have as subjects under him. At first he shall feign mildness—as if he were a learned and discreet person—and sobriety and loving kindness” (Catechetical Lectures 15:12 [A.D. 350]).

“Having beguiled the Jews by the lying signs and wonders of his magical deceit, until they believe he is the expected Christ, he shall afterwards be characterized by all manner of wicked deeds of inhumanity and lawlessness, as if to outdo all the unjust and impious men who have gone before him. He shall display against all men, and especially against us Christians, a spirit that is murderous and most cruel, merciless and wily. For three years and six months only shall he be the perpetrator of such things; and then he shall be destroyed by the glorious second coming from heaven of the only-begotten Son of God, … who shall destroy him with the breath of his mouth [2 Thess. 2:8], and deliver him over to the fire of Gehenna” (ibid.).

Augustine

“Daniel prophesies of the last judgment in such a way as to indicate that Antichrist shall first come and to carry on his destruction 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” (The City of God 20:19 [A.D. 419]).

Source for historical references: http://www.catholicrevelations.org/PR/the%20church%20fathers%20on%20antichrist.htm and Catholic.com

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