St. John of Damascus On Antichrist
Orthodox Life magazine 1973 (1) pages 19–22
FROM THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH
by St. John of Damascus
We do not want anyone to misunderstand the purpose of this series from the Fathers on Antichrist. There will be several series from the works of the Fathers because every Orthodox Christian must have a, consciousness of the Fathers of the Church. That the first such series should be on the subject of Antichrist is no effort on our part to predict that the day of Antichrist is now only a measurable distance in the future. It may very well be, for the times most certainly lead to such a conclusion. But it is not for us to say. This series is, first of all, a response to the tampering with our Divine Service books which is proposed or even being carried out in some of the apostate "Orthodox" churches. Under the guise of "brotherly love" certain of the nominally Orthodox bodies have undertaken to "remove all unfavourable references to the Jews from the Orthodox service books." If one is not overwhelmed at the pride of people who could propose to improve upon what the Holy Spirit has given through our God-bearing Fathers, then one must notice one thing. Precisely what these faithless ones wish to remove from our Service Books is all reference to and warning about the Antichrist. Does one suspect that this action is without significance? It is for this reason that we have chosen to bring this subject to the fore in this first series from the works of the Holy Fathers and from the Divine Service Books, so that Orthodox Christians will have the possibility to compare exactly what is being taken from them rather than to listen to some well-sounding emotional platitudes about fraternalism with non-Christians.
IT SHOULD BE KNOWN that the Antichrist is bound to come. Everyone, therefore, who confesses not that the Son of God came in the flesh and is perfect God and became perfect man, after being God, is Antichrist. (not The Antichrist, but the denial of the perfect Divinity of Christ is an act of being as Antichrist – anti-Christ, as it were.) But in a peculiar and special sense he who comes at the consummation of the age is called Antichrist. First then, it is requisite that the Gospel should be preached among all nations, as the Lord said, and then he will come to refute the impious Jews. For the Lord said to them: "I am come in My Father's name and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." And the Apostle says, "Because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved, for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." The Jews accordingly did not receive the Lord Jesus Christ who was the Son of God and God, but (will) receive the imposter who calls himself God. For, that he will assume the name of God, the angel teaches Daniel, saying these words: "Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers." And the Apostle says: "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day of the Lord shall not come except there come the apostasy first and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God;" in the temple of God he said – not our temple, but the old Jewish temple. For he will come not to us but to the Jews – not for Christ or the-things of Christ: wherefore he is called Antichrist.
(And it is clear that Antichrist will reign before the second coming of Christ. But there is a deadly heresy amongst Protestants that Christ will come first and will reign for a period and then Antichrist will come. Followers of this heresy, called Chiliasm or The Millineum, will accept Antichrist perforce and follow him and reject Christ. Let everyone beware, therefore, of all that is taught outside the Holy Church, of all that does not come to us through the Holy Fathers and the Divine Service books, pure and unaltered as. they have come down to us in the eternal Truth of the Holy Church.)
First, therefore, it is necessary that the Gospel should be preached among all nations. And then shall that wicked one be revealed, even him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish whom the Lord shall consume with the word of His mouth and shall destroy it with the brightness of His coming. The devil himself, therefore, does not become a man in the way the Lord was made man. God forbid! but he becomes man as the offspring of fornication and receives all energy from Satan. For God, foreknowing the strangeness of the choice that he would make, allows the devil to take up his abode in him.
He is, therefore, as we have said, the offspring of fornication and nurtured in secret and of a sudden he rises up and rebels and assumes rule. And in the beginning of his rule, or rather tyranny, he assumes the role of sanctity. But when he becomes master he persecutes the Church of God and displays all his wickedness. But he will come "with signs and lying wonders," fictitious and not real, and he will deceive and lead away from the living God those whose mind rests on an unsound and unstable foundation, so that even the elect would, if it were possible, be made to trip.
But Enoch and Elias the Tishbite shall be sent and shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, (i.e., father to the children, because the fathers are they of the old Israel and the children of the new – the followers of Christ.) that is, the synagogue to our Lord Jesus Christ and the preaching of the Apostles: and they (Enoch and Elias) will be destroyed by him (Antichrist). And the Lord shall come out of heaven, just as the holy Apostles beheld Him going into heaven, perfect God and perfect Man, with glory and power and will destroy the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, with the breath of His mouth. Let no man therefore, look for the Lord to come from the earth, but only out of heaven as He Himself has made certain. (All attempts to create a "kingdom of heaven" on earth by what ever name are related.)