Irenaeus on the Antichrist

Irenaeus of Lyons, writing in the second century, said in his book, Against Heresies (Book 5, ch. 30), that he thought one of the most likely interpretations of 666 was ΛΑΤΕΙΝΟΣ, or Lateinos, for the Latins were presently ruling and were the fourth and last kingdom foreseen by Daniel. But he went on to say that no one could be sure until the kingdom was divided into ten. So he expected the Roman empire, then reigning, to be divided into ten, and soon thereafter would the antichrist be revealed.

That’s a tidbit picked up by reading L. E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers–a great work which shows that Seventh-day Adventists did not create their prophetic interpretations from scratch.  Froom notes that Hippolytus liked Irenaeus’ solution, and was agreed that Scripture pointed to the Latins. Hippolytus identified the Babylonian harlot as Rome, as did Victorinus, Jerome, Tichonius (a Donatist, saw it specifically as the Roman church and bishops), and Augustine (thought he would sit in the church); Spiritual Franciscans began applying it to the papacy, including Joachim of Fiore and Pierre Jean d’Olivi; so did the Waldenses.

6 thoughts on “Irenaeus on the Antichrist

  1. Joachim of Flores also seemed to be the father of the Millerite understanding of the investigative judgement:

    “The Word of God vs. tradition was also a core issue in the Reformation. And SDA false traditions are also at the heart of the current SDA “Identity Crisis.” Adventism largely took over and rehashed Miller’s chronology and exegesis of Daniel 8:14, and then, after the Great Disappointment, through the Edson-Crosier-White-Bates nexus, reinterpreted the Disappointment as a spritualized “heavenly” “coming of Christ to His Father” rather than a literal earthly coming as Miller predicted. Their spiritualized reinterpretation soon developed into the Investigative Judgment doctrine in the late 1850’s.

    But what is not well known (or admitted by those who know) is that Miller himself assumed as his exegetical “keys” two contemporary Christian traditions of his era: (1) the so-called “day=year principle” that had come down from the Catholic exegete Joachim of Flores in the Middle Ages, and (2) the idea that the 70 Weeks and the 2300 “days” began at the same time around 457 BC. Thus, through “Father Miller,” these two “key” false “traditions of the elders” were carried over into SDA 1844 theology and are still being perpetuated today in the SDA 1980 “Dallas Creed” of 27 (now 28) Points of Fundamental Belief which was largely a corporate reaction to counteract Des Ford’s PUC challenge to the SDA traditional 1844 theology.” –by Arlin Baldwin in commenting on Des Ford´s newest book

  2. Hi Gunther!

    I saw Arlin Baldwin’s comments over there (and I’ve edited your post to correct the link and to clearly set off his comments from yours). I’m doing a class right now through the seminary’s distance learning on the sanctuary, taught by Roy Gane, and I think he gives some pretty good evidence for both the common start of the 70 weeks and 2300 evenings/mornings and for the year/day principle. I’m not troubled by the fact that Miller got these points from his contemporaries; that simply confirms he wasn’t original, and was following what were widely accepted means of interpretation. Baldwin is simply off base when he says this either isn’t known or isn’t admitted. He needs to read Froom (and the DARCOM volumes). 🙂

  3. Interesting Bill, but I can’t help to note that it seems it’s going to easy make the assertion “Roman Empire => Catholic Church !”

    The catholic Church isn’t the Roman catholic Church, but the catholic Church ! (Even if latin rite is the first practised in number, man can’t reduce latin to roman and roman to catholic ! )
    Besides, Rome is the place where pope stands because of Peter was killed there (and Paul too), not because roman Empire were there !

  4. The popes of the middle ages claimed to be continuing Roman authority; that was the whole point behind their forgery, “The Donation of Constantine.” The church replaced the empire as the unifying force of Europe.

    The earliest Fathers of the Church cite the prestige of the Church of Rome as lying both in the martyrdom of Peter and Paul and also in the capitol; in fact, Peter and Paul are paired as the new Romulus and Remus, as founders of the new, Christian, Rome.

  5. It is indeed not by luck that Peter and paul went in Rome : it is because it was the center of the Empire ! However, the truth of the Church does not depend of a forgery or of what people at such or such century believed about it ! After all, the Kings of France believed that they were coming from … Enée the troyen !!
    “The church replaced the empire as the unifying force of Europe. ” It seems to be a strange way of thinking for me. The faith of Church roughly (and hardly) unified Europe in a short period. But it can’t at all be compared to romanEmpire that spread by strengh, that ruled people, that was an organised pand centered powered !
    The history clealy shows that kings and kigdom weren’t the lads of the pope ! that bishops weren’t slaves of Rome ! usw….
    I think that it proceed from an anachonistic point of view that mixed many periods in the (very long) middle age.

  6. But lands were subjected by force, and brought through military might into the Roman fold (Arian barbarian tribes, pagan tribes, Celtic Christian rites). The pope was a feudal lord, ruling both his own states directly and holding many others as vassals. It united disparate kingdoms by giving them a common military enemy–the Muslims. It sanctified the wars of Christendom, giving indulgences to those who fought and died, whether against Muslims or the Albigensians. The pope was seen as superior to earthly rulers, able to depose them; spiritual and temporal power were two swords, said Gelasius I, of which the spiritual power was supreme.

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