2 Witnesses, the Woman, and the Dragon (Chs 11-12)

Two Witnesses, the Ark-Woman, and the Dragon (Chs 11-12)

Chapter 11 tells us that two witnesses come from heaven battle the beast and preach about Christ. Tradition is that Enoch shall come to preach to the Gentiles (he predated Abraham and the Israelite tribes), but that Elias will come to preach to the Jewish people and “restore the tribes of Jacob” (v. 10). This teaching of the return of Enoch and Elias before the Antichrist is affirmed by Saint Irenaeus, Saint Hippolytus, Origen, Lactantius, Saint Hilary, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome,[5] Saint Gregory the Great,[6] Saint John Damascene,[7] Saint Thomas Aquinas,[8] and other esteemed biblical commentators.[9]

After the Antichrist kills Enoch and Elias and their bodies lay in the street for three and a half days and are assumed into heaven, we see the Ark of the Covenant revealed in heaven.

Jeremias prophesied that the ark of the Testament would be shown again when God gathered His people. Saint John sees that ark in the temple in heaven and then immediately states, “And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun” (Apoc 12:1). The ark of the covenant foreshadowed something much more than a gold-plated wooden receptacle. The ark of the covenant foreshadowed the Woman who would contain the Messiah promised in Genesis 3:15. The ark was gold-plated wood. The Woman is a mother clothed with the sun.

Revelation 12 opens with a great sign in heaven: “A woman clothed with the sun” (Revelation 12:1). This celestial Woman signifies something far greater than a mere human figure; she represents the culmination of God’s plan throughout salvation history.

The connection between the Woman and the Ark of the Covenant becomes evident when we recall Jeremias’ prophecy. He foretold that the ark of the Testament would be revealed when God gathered His people. In Revelation 12, we witness the realization of this prophecy as Saint John sees the ark in the heavenly temple. The Woman is not just any woman but the New Eve, the one who would bear the Messiah promised in Genesis 3:15.

Saint John’s Care for the Mother of Jesus:

In the Gospel of John (19:26–28), we see Jesus, while hanging on the cross, entrusting the care of His mother, Mary, to Saint John. He addresses Mary as “Woman,” emphasizing her role as the New Eve. Simultaneously, He instructs John to take her as his own mother. This act signifies the fulfillment of all things. With this transfer of maternal care to John, “all things were now accomplished,” underlining Mary’s essential role in the incarnation and birth of Christ.

The Woman as the New Ark:

Revelation 12:1–2 further solidifies the Woman’s identity as the New Ark of the Covenant. Clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head, she transcends human description. The sun’s association with divinity becomes noteworthy, as the Woman shares in the glory of God. The moon at her feet symbolizes her dominion over the changeable world, while the twelve stars represent the twelve tribes and apostles.

Most significantly, the Woman is “with child,” paralleling Isaias 7:14’s prophecy: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.” The Woman’s pregnancy signifies the birth of Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s promise.

Painless Birth and Virginity:

Contrary to the pain Eve experienced during childbirth as a consequence of sin (Genesis 3:16), the Catholic Church teaches that the Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus without pain and retained her physical virginity. This doctrine finds its basis in the Scriptures, including Isaias 66:7, Ezekiel 44:1–3, and Canticles 4:12, as well as the writings of Church Fathers like Saint Gregory of Nyssa and Saint Augustine.

The Battle of Michael and Satan:

Revelation 12:3–4 introduces the great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, symbolizing Satan’s rebellion against God. The heads correspond to the four pagan nations that ruled over the Jews before the birth of Jesus. These nations were animated by Satan himself, depicted as the dragon.

A third of the angels (stars) were cast down with Satan, exemplifying his rebellion in heaven. The dragon stands before the Woman, waiting to devour her child, mirroring Satan’s attempt through King Herod to kill the infant Jesus. However, God thwarted this plan.

The Victorious Messianic Man Child:

Revelation 12:5 reveals the Woman giving birth to a man child, who will rule all nations with an iron rod. This prophecy alludes to Psalm 2:7–11, emphasizing Christ’s authority and power. After His birth, He ascends to God’s throne, signifying His divine origin and mission.

The Woman’s Flight to the Wilderness:

Revelation 12:6 depicts the Woman fleeing to the wilderness, where God has prepared a place for her for 1,260 days (three and a half years). This period reflects a time of tribulation, echoing Christ’s warning in Mark 13:14. This episode mirrors the early Christian flight from Jerusalem before its destruction in AD 70.

Michael’s Victory and Satan’s Expulsion:

Revelation 12:7–9 narrates the battle in heaven between the archangel Michael and Satan, resulting in Satan’s expulsion. While this battle’s chronology differs from Christ’s incarnation, early mystics, like Maria Agreda, suggest that this heavenly battle was a pre-creation event, triggered by God revealing His plan of the Incarnation to the angels.

Revealing Satan’s identities as the great dragon, old serpent, devil, and Satan, this passage underlines his role in deceiving the world.

The Woman’s Protection and Satan’s Wrath:

Revelation 12:10–12 heralds the victory achieved by the Blood of the Lamb. It marks Satan’s defeat, his casting out from heaven, and his wrathful descent to earth. Jesus saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:17–20), affirming His ultimate authority over evil.

The Dragon’s Persecution and Stand:

Revelation 12:13–18 reveals Satan’s anger against the Woman and his war against “the rest of her seed” who keep God’s commandments and testify to Jesus. This passage emphasizes Mary’s role as the mother of the faithful and the identity of the Church as “Holy Mother Church.”


Revelation 12 unveils a profound and intricate vision deeply rooted in biblical references. The Woman, identified as both the New Eve and the Ark of the Covenant, plays a pivotal role in God’s plan of salvation. Through symbolism and prophecy, this vision reveals the cosmic battle between good and evil, culminating in the victory of the Lamb and the protection of the faithful. Understanding these biblical connections enriches our comprehension of Revelation 12’s significance in the context of salvation history.

[5] Irenaeus, Adversus haereses, lib. 5, 5.
[6] Hippolytus, On Christ and Antichrist, 43.
[7] Lactantius, In cap. ult. Malachiae.
[8] Augustine, Tract 4 in Joannem and also at Genes. Ad litteram lib. 9, cap. 6, De civitate Dei, lib. 20, cap. 29.
[9] Jerome, Epistle to Pammachius against John of Jerusalem.
[10] Gregory the Great, Moralium, lib. 21, 36 et lib. 9, 4
[11] John of Damascus, De Fide Orthodoxa, lib. 4, cap. 26-28.
[12] Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae III, q. 49, a. 5.
[13] For a full list, see Robert Bellarmine’s De Pontifice Romano, lib. 3, cap. 6.

The 7 Trumpets (Chs 8-10)

Seven Trumpets (Apocalypse Chapters 8-10)

The Seventh Seal Opened: Silence (Apoc 8:1–2)

Upon breaking the seventh seal, an unusual occurrence unfolds in heaven – silence, lasting approximately half an hour. This seemingly enigmatic silence carries symbolic significance, consistent with the Book of Revelation’s use of symbolic numbers.

In the Old Testament, trumpets were employed for various purposes, including announcing destruction (as seen in the fall of Jericho), proclaiming the arrival of a new king, and summoning people for worship on feast days (Numbers 10:1–10). Remarkably, these seven angels fulfill all three functions: they announce the destruction of evil and Antichrist, declare Christ as the new King, and call the Church to worship the Lamb.

First Trumpet: Hail Fire Blood (Apoc 8:7)

The first angel’s trumpet blast results in the descent of hail, fire, and blood upon the earth, leading to the burning of a third of the earth, trees, and all green grass. The number three plays a significant role in this passage, symbolizing a threefold curse affecting the earth, trees (representing the righteous), and grass. The imagery of trees is linked to the concept of righteousness, as illustrated in Psalm 1:3. Moreover, the reference to trees as men is reminiscent of the account of the blind man’s healing by Jesus (Mark 8:24).

Second Trumpet: Mountain Cast into the Sea (Apoc 8:8–9)

The second angel sounds his trumpet, causing a burning mountain to be cast into the sea. This event leads to a threefold catastrophe: a third of the sea becomes blood, a third of all marine life perishes, and a third of the ships are destroyed. This burning mountain symbolizes both the holy mountain of Moses and a representation of wicked Jerusalem, as seen in Jeremiah 51:25–26. Jesus also uses the metaphor of a mountain, referring to Jerusalem, and hints at its impending judgment (Matthew 21:21).

Third Trumpet: Fall of Lucifer (Apoc 8:10–11)

The third angel sounds the trumpet, prompting a great star to fall from heaven, burning like a torch. This falling star is a reference to Lucifer’s fall from heaven, as described by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 14:12–16.

At the third trumpet, Satan is cast down to the earth and the sea. Satan’s sin is characterized by self-deification, a theme evident in the fall of Babylon as well. The ultimate sin of the Antichrist will involve his claim to be God and his self-enthronement in Jerusalem.

The fallen star, identified as both Lucifer and wormwood (apsinthos), falls upon the rivers and fountains of water, rendering them bitter and causing death. Wormwood, which translates to “absinthe,” is a bitter and hallucinogenic substance.

Fourth Trumpet: One-Third of the Sun, Moon, Stars Smitten (Apoc 8:12–13)

The fourth angel’s trumpet causes a darkening of one-third of the sun, moon, and stars, affecting one-third of both day and night. This event signifies the dissolution of creation as the influence of the Logos (Word of God) diminishes, allowing the rise of the Antichrist.

Following the four trumpet blasts, an interlude occurs with an eagle flying through heaven.

Fifth Trumpet:

The fifth angel sounds the trumpet, and a star falls from heaven to Earth, granting the key to the abyss. With the opening of the abyss, darkness and smoke engulf the surroundings. From this abyss emerges a swarm of locusts, each endowed with the power of scorpions (Apoc 9:3–6).

The king of these locusts is identified as the angel of the abyss, known in Hebrew as Abaddon, in Greek as Apollyon. These names emphasize his role as a destroyer, echoing Christ’s words about the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).

Sixth Trumpet:

Moving to the sixth trumpet (Apoc 9:13–14), the voice from the golden altar instructs the release of four angels bound at the Euphrates River. The mention of the Euphrates River connects to Satan’s abode “in the sides of the north” and King Solomon’s northern boundary, linking this event to the return of the Jews from exile.

These four angels, prepared to kill for a specific period, lead an army of immense size, described as horsemen numbering twenty thousand times ten thousand (Apoc 9:15–18). These demonic horsemen wear breastplates of fire, hyacinth, and brimstone, with heads like lions, and they emit fire, smoke, and brimstone from their mouths. These descriptions symbolize their destructive power and demonic nature.

Mighty Messenger:

The narrative then shifts to an interlude, introducing the Mighty Messenger, whom many interpret as Jesus Christ (Apocalypse 10). This Messenger descends from heaven, enveloped in a cloud with a rainbow on His head, His face radiant as the sun, and His feet resembling pillars of fire. He holds a little open book and places one foot on the sea and another on the earth (Apoc 10:1–3).

The Messenger instructs John to take the open book and consume it. This act parallels the Eucharistic imagery of “Take, eat” during the institution of the Eucharist. The book, sweet as honey in John’s mouth but bitter in his belly, symbolizes the New Covenant in Christ’s blood and signifies that partaking in Christ’s body and blood brings both sweetness and suffering (Apoc 10:8–11).

The chapter concludes with the Messenger’s declaration that John must prophesy to many nations, peoples, tongues, and kings, underscoring John’s prophetic mission as the last living apostle (Apoc 10:11).

Seventh Trumpet: the Announcing of God’s Kingdom (Revelation 11:15-19)

The seventh trumpet marks a significant moment in Revelation as it is associated with the sounding of the last trumpet. While the specific judgments associated with this trumpet are not described in Revelation 11, it is followed by the declaration that “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.” This trumpet signifies the culmination of God’s plan and the establishment of His kingdom.

Sealing Foreheads with Sign of the Cross (Ch 7)

Sealing of the Forehead (Chapter 7)

The passage from the Book of Revelation in question, which discusses the sealing of the faithful on their foreheads, serves as a significant element in the apocalyptic narrative. In this text, we see various symbolic elements and references to the sealing of the faithful, the role of angels, and the identification of those who will be saved.

The Sealing of the Faithful:

The passage from Revelation 7:1-4 describes four angels positioned at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds, which symbolize destructive forces. These angels are instructed not to harm the earth, sea, or trees until the servants of God are sealed on their foreheads. This sealing is a protective mark that signifies God’s ownership and protection over the faithful.

The Angel Ascending from the Rising Sun:

An intriguing aspect of this passage is the appearance of another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, bearing the sign of the living God. This angel is often interpreted as a representation of Jesus Christ. The idea behind this interpretation is that Christ, as the “Sun of Justice,” comes from the east, where the sun rises. This symbolism aligns with biblical passages that associate Christ’s coming with the rising of the sun (e.g., Matthew 24:27).

Christ as the Angel of the Lord:

The reference to Christ as an angel might raise concerns, as Christ is not an angel but the Second Person of the Trinity, fully God, and fully man. However, the word “angel” in both Hebrew and Greek simply means “messenger.” Christ, in His role as the Word of God and the mediator of the New Covenant, can be seen as a divine messenger. Early Church Fathers, such as Saint Athanasius and Saint Ambrose, identified the angel of the Lord with the pre-incarnate Christ. They made a distinction between Christ and lower angelic beings, using this to refute Arian heretics who denied Christ’s divinity.

The Seal of the Living God:

The seal applied by this angel is likened to the seal used in the seven seals on the scroll mentioned in Revelation. However, this seal is not applied to books but to the foreheads of people. It is identified as the sign of the living God, which is none other than the sign of the cross. The idea is that those who bear this seal are marked as God’s own and are protected by Him.

The Sign of the Cross:

The link between the seal on the forehead and the sign of the cross is drawn from the Old Testament, particularly the book of Ezekiel (Eze 9:4). In this passage, an angel marks the foreheads of the righteous with the Hebrew letter “tau,” which is shaped like a “T.” This symbolizes the sign of the cross, representing the protective mark of God’s favor.

The Multitude of the Faithful:

Following the sealing of the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel, John sees a great multitude that cannot be numbered. This multitude comes from all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues. They are clothed in white robes and hold palms, symbolizing their victory. This diverse multitude emphasizes the universal nature of God’s salvation, encompassing people from all corners of the earth.

Trials and Perseverance:

The white robes worn by this multitude are said to be made white in the blood of the Lamb, signifying baptism and the cleansing power of Christ’s sacrifice. These are the ones who have come out of “great tribulation.” The mention of great tribulation aligns with Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24:21, describing a time of unparalleled hardship.

Worship and Service:

The passage continues to describe the worship of God by this multitude and their continuous service to Him. They are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple. Their needs are fully met as they will no longer hunger or thirst, nor suffer from the sun’s heat. This paints a picture of the eternal bliss and fulfillment that awaits the faithful in God’s presence.

The letter tau in Greek is shaped like a T, and in ancient Hebrew, it was also shaped like a T. So the seal of God is placed on the forehead as the sign of the cross. Tertullian noted that “the form of the cross which He predicted would be the sign on our foreheads in the true Catholic Jerusalem.” In his commentary on Ezechiel, Origen interprets the meaning of the mark:

The shape of the letter “Tau” presented a resemblance to the figure of the Cross and that therein was contained a prophecy of the sign which is made by Christians upon their foreheads, for all the faithful make this sign in commencing any undertaking and especially at the beginning of prayer or of reading Holy Scripture.

Saint Hippolytus (d. 236) records the same sign on the forehead:

At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign.

In the North African church, Saint Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (d. ca. 258), also describes the sign of the cross placed on the foreheads of Christians:

This (the letter Tau) bears a resemblance to the figure of the cross; and this prophecy (Eze 9:4) is said to regard the sign made by Christians on the forehead, which all believers make whatsoever work they begin upon, and especially at the beginning of prayers, or of holy readings.


In summary, the passage from Revelation 7:1-17 conveys profound spiritual truths through symbolism and apocalyptic imagery. It depicts the sealing of the faithful, the protective mark of the living God, and the ultimate victory of believers from all nations who have endured trials and persecution. It emphasizes the universal nature of God’s salvation and the hope of eternal worship and fulfillment in His presence. While the language and symbolism may be intricate, the core message remains one of hope, perseverance, and the ultimate triumph of faith.

The Seven Seals (Chs 4-6)

The Seven Seals of the Lamb

Following the messages to the seven churches, Saint John is summoned to witness events in heaven from a heavenly perspective.

John Enters the Heavenly Throne Room (Apoc 4:1–3)

Afterward, I saw a door open in heaven, and a voice like a trumpet said to me, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” Immediately, I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven, with someone sitting on it. The one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and a rainbow resembling an emerald encircled the throne.

Around the Throne: The 24 Presbyters (Apoc 4:4–6)

Surrounding the throne were twenty-four seats, and on them sat twenty-four elders clothed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also, in front of the throne, there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, covered with eyes in front and back.

The twenty-four seats symbolize priestly authority, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles, signifying the priestly nature of the New Covenant. The seven lamps represent the sevenfold Holy Spirit. The sea of glass reflects the baptistry font’s significance as the portal to God’s presence. The four living creatures represent celestial constellations.

The Four Chariot Creatures (Apoc 4:7)

The first living creature was like a lion, the second like a calf, the third had a face like a man, and the fourth was like an eagle in flight.

The Lamb and His Scroll (Apocalypse 5)

With John in the heavenly throne room, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, takes center stage.

Who Is Worthy to Open the 7 Seals? (Apoc 5:1–4)

I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one seated on the throne, with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. A strong angel proclaimed, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” But no one in heaven, on earth, or under the earth was found worthy to open the scroll or look inside it. This brought tears to John’s eyes.

The Lamb Is Worthy to Open (Apoc 5:5–6)

One of the elders comforts John, saying that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and its seals. However, when John looks, he sees not a lion but a Lamb, standing as if slain, with seven horns and seven eyes symbolizing the sevenfold Holy Spirit.

The Lamb Takes the Scroll (Apoc 5:7–8)

The Lamb approaches the one seated on the throne, taking the scroll from His right hand. The twenty-four presbyters worship the Lamb with harps and golden bowls of incense, which represent the prayers of the saints.
This heavenly scene emphasizes the universal nature of Christ’s kingdom and His redemptive sacrifice for all nations, highlighting the unity of believers in the one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

The First Seal (Revelation 6:1-2)

The opening of the first seal reveals a rider on a white horse, holding a bow and wearing a crown. This rider is commonly interpreted as representing conquest and the spread of false peace. The white horse symbolizes a deceptive form of victory or righteousness. Some interpret this rider as a symbol of the Antichrist, who will deceive many with his false claims of peace and prosperity. This seal suggests a period of false security and worldly success before the onset of greater tribulations.

The Second Seal (Revelation 6:3-4)

The second seal introduces a rider on a red horse, wielding a great sword. This rider symbolizes war and the removal of peace from the earth. It signifies a time of conflict, bloodshed, and turmoil. The red horse represents the violence and strife that will escalate following the false peace of the first seal. It is a stark reminder of the consequences of humanity’s rebellion against God.

The Third Seal (Revelation 6:5-6)

The third seal reveals a rider on a black horse, holding a pair of scales. This rider represents famine and economic hardship. The black horse signifies scarcity and economic distress, where food becomes scarce, and prices skyrocket. The scales symbolize the need for careful measurement and rationing of resources during this period. This seal reflects the dire consequences of war and conflict, leading to hunger and suffering.

The Fourth Seal (Revelation 6:7-8)

The fourth seal unveils a rider on a pale or ashen horse, named Death, with Hades (the realm of the dead) following him. This rider represents death and pestilence, resulting from various calamities, including war, famine, and disease. The pale horse symbolizes the lifelessness and decay associated with death. This seal illustrates the devastating impact of God’s judgment, where death and Hades claim many lives.

The Fifth Seal (Revelation 6:9-11)

The opening of the fifth seal reveals the souls of martyrs who have been slain for their faith. These martyrs cry out to God, asking for justice and the avenging of their blood. This seal underscores the suffering and persecution faced by believers during the tribulation period. It emphasizes the reality of spiritual warfare and the ultimate victory of faith over persecution, as these martyrs are given white robes symbolizing their righteousness.

The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12-17)

The sixth seal introduces cosmic disturbances, including a great earthquake, a darkened sun, a blood-red moon, falling stars, and upheavals on Earth. People on earth are filled with fear and dread, recognizing that God’s judgment is imminent. This seal portrays the cosmic upheaval that accompanies the end times and signals the impending arrival of God’s final judgment. It serves as a dramatic reminder of the magnitude of God’s power and the terror of His impending wrath.

The Seventh Seal (Revelation 8:1-5)

When the seventh seal is opened, there is silence in heaven for about half an hour. This silence marks a solemn pause before the series of seven trumpet judgments are introduced in Revelation 8. The seventh seal contains the seven trumpet judgments and serves as a prelude to these more intense and devastating judgments. The silence in heaven reflects the gravity and significance of what is about to unfold.

The Seven Churches (Chs 2-3)

7 Churches of Apocalypse (Chapters 2-3)

The Apocalyptic Jesus Christ now gives seven messages to seven angels of the seven churches, each denoted by its geographic name:


The order of these cities on a map, beginning with Ephesus, forms an A-frame shape, with the island of Patmos off the nearby coast.


The seven churches are highly symbolic and correspond to the seven Old Testament epochs. But why did God choose the Roman province of Asia for this vision? While today, we think of Asia as encompassing regions as far as Russia and China, during Saint John’s time, the province of Asia was the westernmost part of what we now call Asia Minor or Turkey. Legend associates the name Asia with the epic of Troy and the origin of the Trojan War.

According to Greek mythology, the geography of Asia was named after Princess Asione, a royal figure in the famous Asian city of Troy. This mythological backdrop connects Asia Minor, particularly the island of Patmos, geographically between Rome and Jerusalem. The relationship between these two cities plays a recurring role in the Apocalypse. The Greek legends, featuring a powerful hero saving a future queen from a sea beast, align with the themes in the book of Revelation, where the sea beast emerges to devour the crowned Woman and her Child in Apocalypse 12. Even the detail about Heracles fighting within the belly of the sea beast for three days echoes the power of Christ’s victory over hell, death, and the dragon on the third day.


The Lord Jesus Christ conveys a unique message for each of the seven churches in Asia under the apostle John’s care. He addresses the “angel” of each of these churches, where the Greek word “angelos” symbolically refers to the human bishop as the chief messenger of each community. The practical or pastoral conditions of these historical churches are not discussed in detail, so it is best to focus on the broader themes and patterns presented in the seven messages.

These messages reveal two mysteries: the history of the seven epochs of the Old Testament and the history of the Church in the New Testament, unfolding as seven epochs from Christ to the Antichrist. In these seven messages, elements of tribulation, the Antichrist, false prophets, and the harlot can be discerned.


Our Lord Jesus Christ embeds hints within each of His seven messages to the seven churches that mirror the chronological pattern of the Old Testament’s story. Here are the clues present in each message:

Ephesus: “tree of life, which is paradise”
Smyrna: “those that say they are Jews and are not” and “tribulation of ten days”
Pergamum: “where Satan dwells,” “Balaam and Balak,” and “hidden manna”
Thyatira: “Jezebel,” “authority over the nations,” and “rod of iron”
Sardis: “alive but dead,” “strengthen the things that remain,” “thief,” and “a few not defiled”
Philadelphia: “key of David,” “synagogue of Satan,” “pillar in the temple,” and “New Jerusalem”
Laodicea: “lukewarm,” “vomited out,” “rich but naked,” “I stand at the gate and knock,” and “seated with the Father”

Through these messages, Christ presents a divine narrative that spans from Adam in paradise (Ephesus) to Christ’s resurrection and seat with the Father (Laodicea). The seven churches in chronological order symbolize the seven epochs from Adam to Jesus Christ:

Ephesus: Epoch of Adam
Smyrna: Epoch of Abraham and the Patriarchs
Pergamum: Epoch of Moses and Exodus
Thyatira: Epoch of King David and the Kings
Sardis: Epoch of Babylonian Exile
Philadelphia: Epoch of restoration to Jerusalem
Laodicea: Epoch of Christ and the rejection by Jerusalem
Let’s delve into each message in more detail.

First Message to the Church of Ephesus: The First Epoch of Adam

Christ, holding the seven stars in His right hand and walking amid the seven golden candlesticks, addresses the church of Ephesus. He acknowledges their works, labor, patience, and their intolerance for evil. They have tested those who claim to be apostles and found them to be liars. The church has remained patient and unwavering in the name of Christ. However, Christ holds something against them: they have forsaken their first love. He urges them to remember their initial devotion and do penance; otherwise, He will remove their candlestick. Despite this, they are commended for hating the deeds of the Nicolaites. Christ promises that those who overcome will have the privilege of eating from the tree of life in the paradise of God, aligning with the first epoch of humanity in Adam and Eve and their fall from the Garden of Eden.

Second Message to the Church of Smyrna: The Second Epoch of Patriarchs

In this message, Christ, who was once dead and is now alive, addresses the church of Smyrna. He acknowledges their tribulations and poverty but reassures them that they are truly rich. The church faces blasphemy from those who claim to be Jews but are, in reality, part of the synagogue of Satan. Christ warns them of impending imprisonment and tribulation for ten days but encourages them to remain faithful unto death, promising the crown of life. Those who have ears are urged to listen. This message symbolizes the epoch of the Patriarchs, marked by struggles, testing of faith, and the separation of true lineage from false pretenders.

Third Message to the Church of Pergamos: The Third Epoch of Moses

The church of Pergamos receives a message from Christ, described as the One with a sharp two-edged sword. Christ commends their unwavering faith even in the face of persecution, mentioning the faithful witness Antipas, who was martyred among them. However, Christ expresses His concern regarding the presence of those holding the doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolaites, as these teachings are linked to idolatry and fornication. He urges them to repent, threatening to come quickly and wage war against these false teachings with the sword of His mouth. Those who overcome will receive hidden manna and a white stone with a new name known only to the recipient, linking this message to the epoch of Moses, particularly the struggles and challenges faced during the Exodus.

Fourth Message to the Church of Thyatira: The Fourth Epoch of Kings

Christ, described as the Son of God with eyes like flames of fire and feet like fine brass, addresses the church of Thyatira. He acknowledges their works, faith, charity, ministry, patience, and even their recent improvements. However, Christ expresses concern over their tolerance of a prophetess named Jezebel, who leads His servants into idolatry and fornication. He warns of judgment against her and those who commit adultery with her, promising to kill her children. Christ emphasizes that He searches hearts and will reward each individual

The Fifth Message to the Church of Sardis: The Fifth Epoch of Exile

In the message to the church of Sardis, Christ, who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, addresses a community that appears alive but is spiritually dead (v. 1). This parallels the historical context of the Israelites during the Babylonian Exile. Despite warnings from prophets, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah had fallen into idolatry, leading to their exile. Their temple was destroyed, and they became foreigners’ slaves.

Now, Christ likens their situation to the exile, stating that He will come upon them like a thief if they do not repent (v. 3). In the Old Testament, a remnant was left behind during the exile, much like the few in Sardis who had not defiled themselves (v. 4). Christ promises those who overcome that their names will remain in the Book of Life (v. 5), symbolizing the hope of restoration and return from exile.

The Sixth Message to the Church of Philadelphia: The Sixth Epoch of Restoration from Exile to Jerusalem

Moving to the church of Philadelphia, Christ, referred to as the Holy One and the true one, who possesses the key of David, praises their faithful works (v. 8). This message mirrors the period when the Babylonian Exile officially ended with the return of individuals like Prince Zerubbabel and the rebuilding of the Second Temple. Despite challenges and opposition, the Jews returned to their land.

Christ speaks of opening a door that no one can shut, signifying the reestablishment of the Davidic kingdom (v. 8) as prophesied in Isaiah 22. The people are encouraged that no one can take away their blessings (v. 11). To those who overcome, Christ promises that they will become pillars in the temple, alluding to the rebuilt Jerusalem and the restoration of the Jewish community (v. 12).

The Seventh Message to the Church of Laodicea: The Seventh Epoch of Christ and Rejection by Jerusalem

In the message to the church of Laodicea, Christ is described as the Amen, the faithful and true witness, and the beginning of the creation of God (v. 14). He addresses a lukewarm community, neither fervent nor cold, which can be compared to the complacency that settled in after the Jews’ return from exile. The Jews, aligned with the Romans, had become materially wealthy but spiritually impoverished.

Christ’s condemnation of their lukewarmness and self-deception (v. 15-17) reflects how the Jews did not recognize their Messiah despite their material success. He urges them to anoint their eyes (v. 18) to see the truth. Christ invites them to His eucharistic sacrifice (v. 20) and promises those who overcome a share in His heavenly throne (v. 21).

In summary, these messages to the seven churches can be understood as a preterist interpretation, drawing parallels between the churches and historical epochs from Adam to Christ. However, they can also be seen through a historicist lens, symbolizing Church history from Christ to the Antichrist, highlighting the challenges and triumphs the Church would face throughout its existence.

The Fiery Christ (Ch 1)

The Fiery Christ (Chapter 1)

The Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse, was a divine revelation granted to Saint John, one of the twelve apostles, commonly referred to as the beloved disciple. John held a special place among Christ’s inner circle, which included Peter, John himself, and John’s brother James the Greater. According to tradition, Saint John received this extraordinary vision while he was exiled on the island of Patmos and recorded it on a scroll.

The precise timing of when John received this revelation and transcribed it remains uncertain. It could have been a singular event or two separate occurrences separated by time. Tradition suggests that John penned it toward the end of his life in the AD 90s. However, the contents of the vision presuppose the existence of the Jerusalem temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. This implies that the vision occurred before AD 70, placing its earliest date in the AD 60s and its latest in the AD 90s. Regardless of the exact date, tradition identifies the Apocalypse as the last book authored by the final living apostle, marking it as the ultimate and concluding piece of public revelation imparted by God to humanity, effectively completing the Bible.

Originally, John’s Apocalypse existed as a single scroll, and it makes mention of a heavenly scroll sealed with seven seals, which only the Passover Lamb, identified as Christ, could unseal. As we approach the Apocalypse, we must acknowledge our need for Christ’s guidance to interpret its profound meaning fully. Nevertheless, we should not shy away from reading it, as the book’s opening verse clarifies that God the Father entrusted the vision to Jesus Christ to share with His servants—Christians still residing on earth.

Jesus Christ’s Intent for Apocalypse

The Apocalypse represents an inner-Trinitarian gift, with God the Father bestowing this revelation upon His Son, Jesus Christ. The objective is for Jesus to communicate it to all His servants, namely, Christians. Jesus accomplishes this mission by dispatching His angelic messenger to guide the apostle John.

What sets the Apocalypse apart from other biblical texts is its opening promise: “Blessed is he that readeth and heareth the words of this prophecy; and keepeth those things which are written in it; for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3). If one reads and heeds the teachings within this book, they are assured of receiving blessings.

Saint John Addresses His Audience

In his writing, John initially directs his message to seven specific churches located in Asia. He conveys grace and peace from three sources:

1. “from him that is, and that was, and that is to come”: Referring to God the Father.
2. “from the seven spirits”: Signifying the Holy Spirit, with the number seven symbolizing holiness.
3. “And from Jesus Christ”: Identifying God the Son, Jesus, who has cleansed and loved believers through His sacrifice, establishing them as a kingdom of priests to God the Father.

As John continues, he encounters a vision of Jesus Christ amidst seven golden candlesticks representing the seven churches.

The Apparition of Fiery Christ

To grasp the Apocalypse’s significance fully, it is essential to perceive Christ as He exists now, beyond His earthly incarnations. John’s vision of Christ in the Apocalypse presents a striking image:

Christ, resembling the “Son of Man,” stands amid the seven golden candlesticks, attired in a long garment and a golden chest sash, evoking the imagery of both a bishop and a priestly king.
His hair and beard are white, signifying purity and wisdom.
His eyes blaze like flames of fire, portraying His divine insight and judgment.
His feet appear as fine brass, akin to a burning furnace, symbolizing His unyielding strength.
His voice resonates like the sound of many waters, emphasizing His authority.
In His right hand, Christ holds seven stars, and a sharp, two-edged sword proceeds from His mouth, signifying His divine power.
John, who had walked alongside Christ, witnessed His crucifixion, and even conversed with the resurrected Christ, now confronts a vision of Christ in heavenly glory so awe-inspiring that it nearly overwhelms him.

John Falls as Dead

Upon witnessing this majestic vision of Christ, John falls at His feet as if dead. However, Christ reassures him, identifying Himself as the First and the Last, the One who was once dead but now lives eternally, possessing the keys to death and hell. Christ instructs John to record what he has seen, which includes both present-day events and future occurrences. This raises questions regarding the temporal nature of the Apocalypse—whether its prophecies pertain to the past, present, future, or a combination of all three.

The Apocalypse’s introductory passages establish the profound nature of this divine revelation, emphasizing its significance as the last book of the Bible and an inner-Trinitarian gift bestowed upon John, the beloved disciple. This vision of Christ in heavenly glory, revealed to John on the island of Patmos, initiates a series of prophecies that hold deep meaning for Christians throughout history.

Apocalyptic Teaching of John

The teaching of the Antichrist, as described in the writings of Saint John, holds a prominent place in Christian eschatology. From a traditional Catholic viewpoint, Saint John’s portrayal of the Antichrist serves as a warning and a call to discernment, emphasizing the contrast between Christ’s truth and the forces of deception.

Point 1: The Spirit of Antichrist

Saint John introduces the concept of the “spirit of Antichrist,” signifying a presence that opposes Christ. St. Augustine remarks, “It was necessary that the name Antichrist should be understood in a twofold sense, to wit, as one who denies that Jesus is the Christ; and as one who denies that Jesus is come in the flesh.” (Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 1.1) In 1 John 2:22 (Douay-Rheims), John writes, “Who is a liar, but he who denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is Antichrist, who denieth the Father and the Son.”

Point 2: Proliferation of Antichrists

Saint John reveals that there are “many Antichrists” even during his time, individuals embodying the spirit of deception and opposition to Christ. As St. Jerome elucidates, “The Antichrist is one; yet there are many Antichrists.” (Commentary on 1 John, 2.18) In 1 John 2:18 (Douay-Rheims), John affirms, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour.”

Point 3: The Deception of False Prophets

Saint John warns of false prophets who propagate falsehoods and mislead believers. St. Augustine notes, “They shall not merely deny the advent of Christ in the flesh, but shall also affirm that they themselves are Christ.” (Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 1.1) In 1 John 4:1 (Douay-Rheims), John advises, “Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

Point 4: Testing the Spirits

Saint John emphasizes the importance of discernment in recognizing the true teachings of Christ and discerning false ideologies. As St. Augustine writes, “That He Himself is Christ who was promised to come, and that He is now come in the flesh.” (Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 1.1) In 1 John 4:3 (Douay-Rheims), John states, “And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.”

Point 5: Embracing Love and Truth

Saint John emphasizes that believers must stand firm in love and truth, rejecting the spirit of the Antichrist. St. Augustine reflects, “Whence it follows that he also denies the advent of the Lord in the flesh; but how this is done, we shall discover in the sequel.” (Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 1.1) In 2 John 1:7 (Douay-Rheims), John admonishes, “For many seducers are gone out into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a seducer and an Antichrist.”


Saint John’s portrayal of the Antichrist, viewed through a traditional Catholic perspective, offers insights into the spiritual battle between truth and deception, light and darkness. John’s doctrine of the Antichrist is not limited to his epistles. We now turn to his apocalypse which goes deeper into the role of the Antichrist as the Beast of the Sea who serves the Dragon (Satan). John links the imagery of Daniel and Ezekiel with that of Jesus Christ in the final Book of the Apocalypse. This includes the seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls of plagues, and the New Jerusalem. Let’s open the seals.

Apocalyptic Teaching of Paul

Saint Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, played a pivotal role in shaping early Christian theology. He was a dogmatic theologian but also used the apocalyptic language and motifs of the Old Testament and Christ. From a traditional Catholic point of view, Saint Paul’s apocalyptic teachings offer profound insights into the ultimate destiny of humanity, the Second Coming, and the battle between good and evil. Today’s lesson will explore Saint Paul’s apocalyptic teachings and study Saint Paul’s perspective on the Man of Sin as the Antichrist.

Point 1: Awaiting the Second Coming

Saint Paul emphasized the imminent return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. As St. John Chrysostom observes, “The apostle often brings this forward to repress their slothfulness.” (Homilies on 1 Thessalonians, 5.1) In 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (Douay-Rheims), Paul declares, “Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall all indeed rise again: but we shall not all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.”

Point 2: The Revealing of Sons of God

Saint Paul envisions a cosmic transformation when believers will be glorified as sons of God. As St. Augustine elucidates, “This glory is of a spiritual nature.” (Lectures on Romans, 8.29) Romans 8:19 reflects this anticipation, “For the expectation of the creation waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God.”

Point 3: The Mystery of Iniquity

Saint Paul alludes to a mystery of iniquity that operates in opposition to Christ. St. Thomas Aquinas notes, “The mystery of iniquity is hidden from the wicked.” (Catena Aurea, 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12) In 2 Thessalonians 2:7 (Douay-Rheims), Paul writes, “For the mystery of iniquity already worketh.” This relates to the coming of the Antichrist.

Point 4: The Restrainer and the Man of Sin

Saint Paul’s enigmatic description of the “man of sin” and the “restrainer” (katechon) has garnered significant attention. Some Church Fathers, like St. Jerome, suggest the “restrainer” as the Roman Empire, constraining the Antichrist’s emergence. (Commentary on 2 Thessalonians, 2.6) 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (Douay-Rheims) states, “And that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.”

St. Augustine identifies the Antichrist as a “manifestation of the devil.” (City of God, 20.19)

Point 5: The Antichrist’s as False God

Saint Paul’s description of the Antichrist emphasizes deception and delusion. St. John Chrysostom emphasizes, “He sits as God.” (Homilies on 2 Thessalonians, 2.4) In 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 (Douay-Rheims), Paul warns, “Whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and in all seduction of iniquity.”

Point 6: Enduring Tribulations

Saint Paul prepares believers for tribulations preceding the Second Coming. Origen suggests, “He who wishes to be protected in these calamities must take refuge in the word of God.” (Commentary on Romans, 12.12) Romans 5:3-4 (Douay-Rheims) affirms, “We glory in tribulations…patience in trial.”

Point 7: The Transformation of the Body

Saint Paul’s apocalyptic teachings encompass the transformation of the earthly body into a spiritual body. St. Augustine elucidates, “The earthly body…changed into a spiritual one.” (Lectures on 1 Corinthians, 15.54) 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 (Douay-Rheims) reveals, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality.”

It would be an error to believe that the final body will not be a real body. It will be a real body but transformed as was the body of Christ after His resurrection.

Point 8: The Day of the Lord

Saint Paul carries on the concept of the “Day of the Lord,” a time of reckoning and judgment in the Old Testament. St. Ambrose writes, “We ought…to expect the Lord’s day.” (Exposition of the Christian Faith, 4.16) 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (Douay-Rheims) warns, “For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord shall so come, as a thief in the night.”

The Day of the Lord at the end of time is anticipated weekly by Sunday which is also called “the Day of the Lord” or “Lord’s Day.” The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the eschatological way that we enter into the “Day of the Lord.” The Mass makes present past and present realities.

Point 9: The War Between Good and Evil

Saint Paul presents an intense cosmic battle between good and evil. St. John Chrysostom asserts, “When he speaks of warfare, he implies mighty conflicts and implacable war.” (Homilies on Ephesians, 6.11) Ephesians 6:12 (Douay-Rheims) states, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers.”

A common apocalyptic feature is the visible and invisible war between God and Satan. God presents His Christ. Satan presents his antichrist. These two armies fight until the end of time. Victory is God’s.

Point 10: Final Glorification

Saint Paul assures believers of victory through Christ. St. Augustine explains, “We shall be gathered together with them in the clouds.” (Lectures on 1 Thessalonians, 4.16) 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (Douay-Rheims) proclaims, “Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet Christ.”

Union with Christ and the beatific vision is the ultimate goal for the Christian. Even the Tribulation and the reign of the Antichrist is the prelude to future glory.


Saint Paul’s apocalyptic teachings, viewed from a traditional Catholic perspective, illuminate the cosmic battle between good and evil, the anticipation of Christ’s Second Coming, and the ultimate victory of believers. The enigmatic figure of the Man of Sin, often identified with the Antichrist, emphasizes the stark contrast between Christ’s redemptive work and the forces of darkness. As Catholics reflect on Saint Paul’s apocalyptic insights, we find inspiration to persevere in faith, embrace the hope of Christ’s return, and engage in spiritual battles armed with the truths of the Gospel.

Next, we turn to Saint John’s teaching on Apocalypse and Antichrist.

Apocalyptic Teaching of Jesus Christ

The most apocalyptic prophecies and teachings in the Bible come directly from our Lord Jesus Christ. This makes sense because Christ is God and planted all the apocalyptic concepts and visions into the hearts of the Old Testament prophets. Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the King of Kings, and the lawgiver of the New Law. The masterpiece of Christ’s apocalyptic revelation can be summarized into ten points.

Point 1: The Imminence of the Kingdom

Our Lord Jesus Christ frequently spoke about the imminent arrival of God’s kingdom, emphasizing the need for spiritual readiness. As St. Augustine elucidates, “The end of the present world and the coming of the future world are simultaneous.” (City of God, 20.17) This urgency is exemplified in Jesus’ words, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17, Douay-Rheims).

Point 2: Signs of the Times

In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus provides signs that would herald the end times. These signs include wars, famines, earthquakes, and persecution. As St. Jerome notes, “As the Gospel says, there will be wars and rumors of wars.” (Commentary on Matthew, 24:6) Jesus proclaims, “Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7, Douay-Rheims).

Scripture always reveals that there is a gradual and obvious lead-up to the unveiling of God’s plan. He gives signs to prepare his people for repentance and faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ does not surprise us with chaos. He explains that exact progress of evil as it climaxes into the final apocalypse. Christ says the inability to see the signs of the times is a sign of a lack of faith.

Point 3: The Great Tribulation

The concept of a great tribulation preceding the Second Coming is central to Catholic eschatology. St. Cyprian writes, “There will be a time of tribulation, as the world has never before seen.” (Treatises, 7:10) Jesus declares, “For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be” (Matthew 24:21, Douay-Rheims).

Matthew’s gospel reveals the tribulation treatise of Jesus Christ. It is expanded in the book of the Apocalypse. The Great Tribulation will center in Jerusalem and will be the “abomination of desolation” focused on the Antichrist or man of sin.

Point 4: The Antichrist

A pivotal figure in apocalyptic teachings is the Antichrist, who opposes Christ and deceives many. St. Irenaeus affirms, “The Antichrist shall… practice all kinds of deceit.” (Against Heresies, 5.25) Jesus warns, “For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect” (Matthew 24:24, Douay-Rheims).

Our Lord teaches many false Christs and false prophets. He speaks elsewhere of the “abomination of desolation” and most Fathers interpret this as the arrival of the Antichrist in Jerusalem who will pretend to be the true Messiah of the Jews.

Point 5: The Second Coming and Resurrection

The Second Coming of Christ is a central tenet of Catholic belief. As St. Cyril of Jerusalem explains the creedal belief that “He will come to judge the living and the dead.” (Catechetical Lectures, 15.23) Jesus states, “And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with much power and majesty” (Matthew 24:30, Douay-Rheims).

None of the Old Testament prophets predict their own resurrection or their return at the end of the age. Only Christ makes these predictions. We know that He rose again and so we know He will come again. The climax of the apocalypse will be His second coming to judge the living and the dead.

Point 6: Final Judgment

The apocalyptic teachings encompass the idea of a final judgment, where all individuals will be held accountable for their deeds: the righteous and the wicked. St. Gregory the Great asserts, “The good deeds of men will be taken into account.” (Moral Teachings from Job, 23.34) Jesus affirms, “And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another” (Matthew 25:32, Douay-Rheims).

Apocalypse means “unveiling” and this means that the good and evil deeds of every person will be unveiled. Christ is the one who lifts the veil and reveals all the good and bad that each and every person has done. Ultimately, the apocalypse is about moral rectitude and setting all things right. We will also understand why God allowed evil and how it was used to achieve a greater good for His children.

Point 7: Parables of Readiness

Jesus employs parables to emphasize the importance of spiritual readiness for the end times. As St. John Chrysostom elucidates, “He has given many and weighty reasons for watchfulness.” (Homilies on Matthew, 78.1) In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus warns about being prepared, stating, “Watch ye therefore, because you know not the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13, Douay-Rheims).

Apocalyptic literature in both testaments demands vigilance for the righteous. This plays into the warning of “signs of the times.” Sin, lust, and sloth dull the soul so that it cannot see the signs sent by God. Being ready and awake is the condition for receiving the King and His Kingdom. Most of the parables stress this vigilance.

Point 8: New Heaven and New Earth

Apocalyptic teachings envision a renewal of the cosmos, symbolized by a new heaven and new earth. God made the cosmos through the Logos (Word who is Jesus) and will recreate the entire cosmos through the return of the Logos.

St. Augustine reflects, “The world is one thing, and the heavens are another thing.” (City of God, 21.3) Jesus proclaims, “Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass” (Matthew 24:35, Douay-Rheims).

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth was gone, and the sea is now no more. Apoc 21:1

And he that sat on the throne, said: Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me: Write, for these words are most faithful and true. Apoc 21:5

Point 9: The Triumph of God’s Kingdom
We live in modern secular democracies so it’s difficult to understand the power of a king and His kingdom.

Amidst the tumult of apocalyptic events, the ultimate victory of God’s kingdom remains a cornerstone of Catholic hope. St. Ambrose writes, “He will conquer and reign in whom we believe and hope.” (On the Duties of the Clergy, 2.13) Jesus assures, “And this gospel of the kingdom, shall be preached in the whole world, for a testimony to all nations, and then shall the consummation come” (Matthew 24:14, Douay-Rheims).

People say “Jesus wasn’t political,” but that’s not actually true. He came to create a kingdom over the entire earth that encompasses all nations. This kingdom is the Catholic Church.

Point 10: Eternal Life and Hope

The apocalyptic teachings offer a message of eternal life and hope for those who remain faithful. As St. Thomas Aquinas explains, “The soul will find itself in that life as in a home.” (Summa Theologica, III, q. 29, a. 1) Jesus promises, “He that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13, Douay-Rheims).

Jesus asks us to “persevere to the end.” This means that salvation is eschatological. We must be vigilant, wait, keep watching, persevere, and pray “thy kingdom come.” We have heard these things so many times that we forget that we are essentially apocalyptic as Christians.


In conclusion, the apocalyptic teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, viewed from a traditional Catholic standpoint, delve into the profound mysteries of the end times, the Second Coming, and the eventual triumph of God’s kingdom. Whenever we do not understand apocalyptic texts in the Old or New Testament, we must always return to the teachings of Jesus Christ on all these matters. For example, the idea of the “Son of Man” in Daniel and Ezekiel cannot be known apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ that He is the Son of Man.

As believers contemplate the apocalyptic teachings, they are encouraged to live in a manner that reflects the teachings of Christ, seeking virtue, righteousness, and a deep relationship with God, in anticipation of the fulfillment of His promises.

Apocalyptic Teaching in Maccabees

Apocalyptic Elements in 1 and 2 Maccabees: A Catholic Perspective

The books of 1 and 2 Maccabees, though not commonly classified as apocalyptic literature, contain significant apocalyptic themes that resonate with Catholic theology. These two books, while accepted by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox are not accepted by Protestants. To understand why these 2 books and the 5 other Deuterocanonical books are accepted as inspired and canonical, please see the linked NSTI video in defense of them: https://nsti.com/module-4/deuterocanonical-apologetics/

These two books provide historical accounts of the Maccabean Revolt and the struggles of the Jewish people (led by Judas Maccabeus) against pagan oppression. Many contemporary scholars omit the Maccabean books from apocalyptic literature, but this is a mistake. Within these accounts, one can discern and discover the apocalyptic elements of divine intervention, martyrdom, and the hope of future resurrection.

1. Horsemen in Heaven

A common theme in Apocalyptic literature is the divine intervention of heavenly fighters from heaven. Most are familiar with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Still, we see it also in 2 Maccabees:

For there appeared to them a horse with a terrible rider upon him, adorned with a very rich covering: and he ran fiercely and struck Heliodorus with his fore feet, and he that sat upon him seemed to have armour of gold. 2 Maccabees 3:25

And it came to pass that through the whole city of Jerusalem for the space of forty days there were seen horsemen running in the air, in gilded raiment, and armed with spears, like bands of soldiers. 2 Maccabees 5:2

2. Martyrdom and Resurrection

The apocalyptic elements in 1 and 2 Maccabees also include the hope of resurrection. While the concept of resurrection is not fully developed in these books, there are glimpses of the belief in eternal life and divine reward.

Catholic Saint Augustine, in his “City of God,” reflected on the courage of the Maccabean martyrs and their willingness to die rather than compromise their faith. 2 Maccabees 7:9 (Douay Rheims Version) narrates the brave testimony of a mother and her sons:

“And when he was now dead in him, the next also they tormented in the same manner. And being ready to die, he spoke thus: Thou indeed, O most wicked man, destroyest us out of this present life: but the King of the world will raise us up, who die for his laws, in the resurrection of eternal life.”

Second Maccabees depicts the significance of martyrdom and the witness to faith even in the face of persecution. This theme resonates with the Catholic understanding of martyrdom as a testimony to the truth and a willingness to suffer for one’s faith.

27 Wherefore by departing manfully out of this life, I shall shew myself worthy of my old age:

28 And I shall leave an example of fortitude to young men, if with a ready mind and constancy I suffer an honourable death, for the most venerable and most holy laws. And having spoken thus, he was forthwith carried to execution.

29 And they that led him, and had been a little before more mild, were changed to wrath for the words he had spoken, which they thought were uttered out of arrogancy.

30 But when he was now ready to die with the stripes, he groaned, and said: O Lord, who hast the holy knowledge, thou knowest manifestly that whereas I might be delivered from death, I suffer grevious pains in body: but in soul am well content to suffer these things because I fear thee.

31 Thus did this man die, leaving not only to young men, but also to the whole nation, the memory of his death for an example of virtue and fortitude. 2 Maccabees 6

Saint Thomas Aquinas, in his “Summa Theologica,” pondered the connection between martyrdom and the hope of resurrection as illustrated in 2 Maccabees. 2 Maccabees 7:14 (Douay Rheims Version) expresses this hope:

“But when he was ready to die with stripes, he groaned, saying: O Lord, who hast the holy knowledge, thou knowest manifestly that whereas I might be delivered from death, I suffer grievous pains in body: but in soul am well content to suffer these things, because I fear thee.”

Even death is not the end of those that trust in God.

3. Role of the Dead A feature of Apocalyptic texts is the role of the angels and the dead in the major events here on earth. The books of Maccabees emphasize the importance of praying for the departed, a practice deeply rooted in Jewish and Catholic tradition. These prayers for the deceased reflect the Catholic belief in the communion of saints and the hope of eternal life.

For our NSTI explanation and defending the practice for praying for the dead, please see this link:

https://nsti.com/oxtalk-36-purgatory-exist-old-testament-plus-catholic-socialism-avignon-papacy/ Catholic Saint Augustine, in his “Confessions,” spoke of his mother’s practice of praying for her deceased husband. 2 Maccabees 12:46 (Douay Rheims Version) encourages prayers for the dead:

“It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.”

For help on identifying controversial Catholic doctrines, make sure you download the Catholic Bible Cheat Sheet.

In 2 Macc 15, we also see the prophet Jeremias appearing in an apparition and giving a golden sword to Judas Maccabeus:

14 Then Onias answering, said: This is a lover of his brethren, and of the people of Israel: this is he that prayeth much for the people, and for all the holy city, Jeremias the prophet of God.

15 Whereupon Jeremias stretched forth his right hand, and gave to Judas a sword of gold, saying:

16 Take this holy sword a gift from God, wherewith thou shalt overthrow the adversaries of my people Israel.

The division between the living and the dead is not clear cut in Apocalyptic literature. We see it in the Old Testament and we certainly see it in the Book of the Apocalypse.

Having now examined the Apocalyptic passages of the Old Testament prophets. Let’s look at how our Lord Jesus Christ and the New Testament develop the Apocalyptic theology of ancient Israel, especially in the interplay between Jesus as Christ and the spirit of Antichrist.