1I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. 2I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. 3For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. 4For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, 5and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. 6He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 7He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end. 8I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. 9I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. 10I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins 11and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead 12and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Verily, verily, it is much later now than we think. The Apocalypse is already unfolding.
Hieromonk Seraphim Rose
Bible book abbreviations
Genesis — Gen
Exodus — Ex
Leviticus — Lev
Numbers — Num
Deuteronomy — Deut
Joshua — Josh
Judges — Judg
Ruth — Ruth
1 Samuel — 1 Sam
2 Samuel — 2 Sam
1 Kings — 1 Kings
2 Kings — 2 Kings
1 Chronicles — 1 Chron
2 Chronicles — 2 Chron
Ezra — Ezra
Nehemiah — Neh
Esther — Est
Book of Job — Job
Psalms — Ps
Proverbs — Prov
Ecclesiastes — Eccles
Song of Solomon — Song
Isaiah — Is
Jeremiah — Jer
Lamentations — Lam
Ezekiel — Ezek
Daniel — Dan
Hosea — Hos
Joel — Joel
Amos — Am
Obadiah — Obad
Jonah — Jonah
Micah — Mic
Nahum — Nah
Habakkuk — Hab
Zephaniah — Zeph
Haggai — Hag
Zechariah — Zech
Malachi — Mal
1 Esdras — 1 Esd
2 Esdras — 2 Esd
Tobit — Tob
Judith — Jdt
Wisdom — Wis
Sirach — Sir
Baruch — Bar
1 Maccabees — 1 Macc
2 Maccabees — 2 Macc
3 Maccabees — 3 Macc
Matthew — Mt
Mark — Mk
Luke — Lk
John — Jn
Acts of the Apostles — Act
James — Jm
1 Peter — 1 Pet
2 Peter — 2 Pet
1 John — 1 Jn
2 John — 2 Jn
3 John — 3 Jn
Jude — Jude
Romans — Rom
1 Corinthians — 1 Cor
2 Corinthians — 2 Cor
Galatians — Gal
Ephesians — Eph
Philippians — Php
Colossians — Col
1 Thessalonians — 1 Thess
2 Thessalonians — 2 Thess
1 Timothy — 1 Tim
2 Timothy — 2 Tim
Titus — Tit
Philemon — Phm
Hebrews — Heb
Revelation (Apocalypse) of John — Rev
a. The Author of the Apocalypse
The Apocalypse, or Revelation of John the Apostle, is the last book in the New Testament canon. It was written by John, the son of Zebedee, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, who is more commonly known as John the Theologian.
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace (Rev 1:4).
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev 1:9).
And I John saw these things, and heard them (Rev 22:8).
This nickname he got from the first lines of his other book — the Gospel of John: In the beginning was the Word [Logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (Jn 1:1—5).
Here is what we know about him from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John himself.
He met Jesus under the following circumstances. And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, [called] the sea of Galilee, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And when they had brought their ships to land, straightway left their nets, they forsook all, and followed him. And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. And straightway he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him (UG 36 [United Gospel]; Mt 4:18—22; Mk 1:16—20; Lk 5:1—11). This is how John became a disciple of Jesus.
It so happened that Jesus and the four of his disciples entered a synagogue in Capernaum. And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon Peter and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. And he came and saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. He stood over her, took her by the hand, lifted her up, and rebuked the fever; and immediately the fever left her, she arose and ministered unto them (UG 38; Mt 8:14—15; Mk 1:29—31; Lk 4:38—39). John was the eyewitness to this healing.
After that, the number of disciples increased. This is how it happened. And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples whom he would, and they came unto him: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach. And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast out devils, and power to heal sicknesses, to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; the first, Simon, (whom he also named [Cephas] Peter,) and Andrew his brother [sons of Jona]; and James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, the sons of thunder; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and [Levi] Matthew the publican [son of Alphaeus]; James the son of Alphaeus, and Judas (the [son] of James) Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, called Zelotes, and Judas Iscariot [son of Simon], who also was the traitor, which betrayed him (UG 50; Mt 10:1—4; Mk 3:13—19; Lk 6:12—16).
Another time Jesus suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth (Mk 5:37—39; compare UG 67; Mt 9:23—24; Lk 8:51—52). Later, John saw Jesus raise from the dead the daughter of the synagogue ruler.
Next time Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves to pray. And as he prayed, was transfigured before them: the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his face did shine as the sun. And his raiment became shining as the light, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And, behold, two men appeared unto them, and they were talking with Jesus, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. While he yet spake, behold, there came a bright cloud, and overshadowed them: And they feared as they entered into the cloud. And behold a voice came out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, and suddenly had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen, Questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him. And how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things of them, and be set at nought. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist (UG 90—91; Mt 17:1—13; Mk 9:2—13; Lk 9:28—36).
The apostles would often go out on their own to preach the Good News by the command of Jesus. One day they returned to Jesus and John said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us (Lk 9:49—50; compare UG 95; Mk 9:38—40).
There’s one more Gospel episode that mentions John’s mother. Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you? These two sons said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit in thy kingdom, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. But Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I shall drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the my cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren James and John (UG 137; Mt 20:20—24; Mk 10:35—41). In speaking about his cup and the Baptism, Jesus referred to his future death on the cross.
Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover (Lk 22:7—13; compare UG 154; Mt 26:17—19; Mk 14:12—16).
In the evening, Christ and his disciples came together to share a meal. Jesus was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples [John], whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him (Jn 13:21—28).
After the meal, Jesus and the apostles left the house. Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray yonder. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, and began to be sorrowful and sore amazed, and to be very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and kneeled down, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, o my Father, all things are possible unto thee; if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them sleeping for sorrow, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? what, could ye not watch with me one hour? And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise, watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. And he cometh the third time to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me (UG 160; Mt 26:36—46; Mk 14:32—42; Lk 22:39—46).
Soon after, Jesus was arrested and brought before Caiaphas, the High Priest. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple [John Zebedee]: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter (Jn 18:15—16; compare UG 163; Mt 26:58; Mk 14:54; Lk 22:54—55).
After Caiaphas, Jesus was taken to Pilate, the prefect (procurator), who sentenced him to death through crucifixion. John came to the place of the execution to say his last good-bye to Christ. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple [John] took her unto his own home (Jn 19:25—27; compare UG 171—172; Mt 27:55—56; Mk 15:40—41; Lk 23:49).
On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple [John], and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home (Jn 20:1—10; compare Lk 24:12).
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples on several occasions. After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes (Jn 21:1—8).
Following their meal, Jesus said to Peter, Follow me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple [John] whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true (Jn 21:19—24).
Jesus ascended into Heaven forty days after his resurrection.
b. The history behind the writing of the Apocalypse
On the tenth day after the ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and their disciples at Pentecost. They began to prophesy in different tongues. Of those who saw and heard them, about three thousand men and women were added to the Church that day and got baptized. As the apostles preached in Jerusalem, new people were joining the Church daily (see Act 1—2).
John was taking care of the Blessed Virgin Mary without ever leaving Jerusalem until the day of her Assumption. Following her Assumption, John, chosen by lot, went to preach the Good News in Proconsular Asia, the Roman province at the west coast of Asia Minor with its capital in Ephesus (see Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, 3,1).
The Apostle was later exiled for preaching the Gospel there, as he himself mentions in the Apocalypse. He wrote his book while in exile:
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev 1:9).
Because John was told: “What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea” (Rev 1:11) and “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand” (Rev 22:10), he obeyed the command immediately.
This is what the Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea tells us about the time of the writing of the Apocalypse and the life of the apostle:
“[The Roman emperor] Domitian was a brutal enemy of many: a great number of prominent and noble people in Rome were executed by him without trial; thousands of famous and innocent men and women were exiled, their property was plundered. Towards the end of [his rule], he proved himself to be Nero’s true successor in hatred and enmity towards God. He was the second one to start persecuting us, although his father, Vespasian, did not plan anything of the sort.
It was told at that time that the apostle and evangelist John, who was still alive, was convicted to be exiled to the island of Patmos for his testimony of the Word of God. Irenaeus mentions the number of the name of the Antichrist from the so-called Apocalypse of John. In the 5th book “Against Heresies”, he says with regard to John: “If the name of the Antichrist was to be revealed at this time, it would be revealed unto the one who was a witness of God’s mysteries. The revelation was given to him quite recently, almost in our century, before the end of the Domitian’s reign” [compare Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 5,30].
At the time described, our faith shone in the world so brightly that even the writers, so totally unfamiliar with our teachings, did not delay to tell about this persecution and the martyrs. They accurately noted the time: in the fifteenth year of Domitian Flavius, Domitilla, the niece of Flavius Clement, one of the Roman consuls in those days, was sentenced along with many others to be exiled to the island of Pontia for confessing Christ” (Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, 3,17—18).
It follows that John’s Apocalypse was written on Patmos about the year 96 from New Era (96 NE).
Let’s hear Eusebius further:
“When the fifteen years of Domitian’s reign were over, Nerva came to power; historians of that period write that, by the order of the Roman senate, the honors granted to Domitian were revoked, and those unfairly deported were returned home. It was around that time, according to the testimony of our ancient writers, that John the Apostle left the island of his exile and settled in Ephesus. After Nerva’s reign, which lasted for a little over a year, Trajan came to power.
[…] At that time the Apostle and Evangelist John, the one whom Jesus loved, was still in Asia. Upon his return from the island of the exile, after the death of Domitian, he was actively involved in taking care of the local churches. That he was still alive at that time is sufficiently confirmed by the two faithful witnesses, the paragons of true orthodoxy in the Church: Irineus and Clement of Alexandria. The former writes literally the following in his second book “Against Heresies”: “All the elders in the Province of Asia who communicated with John, the disciple of the Lord, testify that he spoke of this; he was with them until the time of Trajan” [compare Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 2,22].
In his third book, he writes: “And the Church, founded by Paul in Ephesus — where John lived until the time of Trajan, — is the true witness of this testimony of the apostles” [compare Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 3,3].
Clement, who also mentions this period, included the following story in his essay entitled “Who is the rich man that can be saved?” It is a highly instructive tale for all who like to listen to wholesome admonitions. So, take it and read it:
“Listen to this true story, not a fable, about John the Apostle. We committed it to memory just as it was passed down to us. Upon his return from Patmos to Ephesus, after the death of the tyrant, he was invited to visit the nearby regions to appoint bishops, plant churches, or sometimes introduce this or that person into the clergy, as led by the Spirit. When he came to a nearby city (some even mention its name), he helped the brothers to establish peace among themselves, and, noticing a young man, handsome and fervent in spirit, he asked the local bishop, whom he had appointed: “I fully entrust him to your care before the witness of the Church and Lord Jesus”. The bishop took the boy under his wing and promised to do as he was asked. John repeated his charge again and asked him to swear an oath one more time. Then John departed for Ephesus, and the bishop, taking the young man into his home, provided him with the proper support, care and protection, and, finally, got him baptized. After that he lessened his care and withdrew some of his protection, believing God’s seal of approval to be the best protection. The young man was prematurely allowed too much freedom and, to his own demise, got hooked up with some of his peers — the notorious lazybones, dabbling in sin. At first, they were taking him from one feast to another, but one night, they took him on a raid, and then, finally, decided that he was ready for more serious crimes. A gifted man, he was gradually getting used to this new lifestyle, and, like a stubborn horse, he took the bit between his teeth, left the straight path and rushed headlong to his own ruin. Abandoning all hope of being saved by God, he, finally, began to plot many crimes: if you are to perish anyway, why not suffer along with others by committing something worth remembering. Gathering a gang of robbers from among his comrades, he became their leader — a rapist, a killer and a villain more vicious than others. In the meantime, John was invited there again on some errand. Having done everything he came for, he said, “Now, bishop, please give account for the pledge that I and Jesus Christ laid on you, to which the church you oversee is a witness”. At first, the bishop was frightened, thinking that he must have been falsely accused of stealing money, which he had not taken. He could not just agree to something that didn’t happen, but neither could he distrust John. “I demand the soul of the young man and your brother”, he said. Upon hearing this, the bishop groaned inwardly and said, “He died”. “In what manner and what was his death?” “He died for God — as an arch villain and, what is more, a thief. Instead of being in the Church, he is now on the mountain with an army of robbers”. The apostle tore his clothes and, moaning loudly, showered his head with many blows, “What a guardian did I leave for my brother! Give me a horse and someone to lead the way”. And he hopped on the horse right on the spot and was off in no time. When he came to that place, he was seized by the robbers’ picket but didn’t run away or plead for mercy. He just cried, “This is why I came! Take me to your leader!” The leader picked up his weapon as he was expecting the visitor, but, having recognized John, turned and ran away in shame. John, forgetting his old age, started chasing him around crying at the top of his voice, “Son, why are you running away from your father, I am unarmed and old? Take pity on me! Don’t be afraid, there’s still hope. I will answer for you to Jesus Christ, and will, if necessary, give up my life for you, just like our Lord gave up his life for us. I will give up my soul for you. Stop running and trust me; I have been sent by Jesus Christ”. The thief lingered as he was listening to him, at first downcast, but then, throwing down his weapon, he embraced the old man in bitter tears, and his penitence became his best protection against evil. His tears became his second baptism. All this time, however, he was hiding his right arm. The apostle swore an oath that he had been forgiven by the Savior; he knelt and pleaded with him, kissing his right arm as if cleansed by the repentance. And in this way, he restored him to the Church. He constantly prayed for him, encouraged him to practice fasting, and fasted together with him, edifying him in every possible way with wholesome admonitions. They say, he left him no sooner than the young man was securely back in the Church as a paragon of true repentance, a symbol of rebirth and a victorious banner of the visible resurrection”.
This is Clement’s version of the story, which I cite here for the instruction and edification of all those who will happen to read it” (Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, 3,20—24).
Many other deeds were accomplished by John, which we do not mention here. The apostle died in the city of Ephesus during the reign of Emperor Trajan (see Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, 3,1; 3,23).
c. The Concept of Revelation
The Greek word for “apocalypse” means “revelation”. When the Church writers use this word, they typically mean the supernatural message through which God reveals to man some truths related to Faith and his Divine Mysteries:
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery (Col 1:26—27).
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them (Rom 1:17—19).
This is why John begins his “Apocalypse” in the following way:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw (Rev 1:1—2).
I John, …was in the Spirit… (Rev 1: 9—10).
In the giving of the Revelation to John, all the three Divine Persons were present: God the Son, because it says: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, God the Father, because it says: “Which God game unto him”, and the Holy Spirit, because it says that John saw prophetic signs in the Spirit.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one (1 Jn 5:7).
The message of the revelation that came through John, contains some of the deepest mysteries about God’s providence in relation to man. These mysteries are given in a series of symbolic visions, most of which are not explained in the book. However, the Church Fathers were able to grasp the overall message of the Revelation. Many of them wrote their own interpretations on this book or its parts.
d. The prophecy for all times
— The Apocalypse is the pinnacle of all prophetic books which reveal the Divine plan concerning the final destiny of mankind. It spans a long stretch of history — from the moment of Revelation to the end of the world. Thus, the prophecy of the Apocalypse applies to the entire New Testament era, unfolding gradually in its entirety. The final fulfillment of Revelation will take place at the end of time, after the Day of Judgment.
That’s why it says:
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand (Rev 1:3).
Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book (Rev 22:7).
The close fulfillment of the prophecy means here three things:
In relation to God, it is a testimony of God’s time-transcending nature, for he is above and beyond time:
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Pet 3:8).
For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night (Ps 90:4 [Ps 89:5 rus]).
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be (Rev 22:12).
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen (Rev 22:20).
For mankind, the near fulfillment of the prophecy means that Apocalypse is a permanent event, that is, it is being fulfilled constantly since its individual visions correspond to certain historical eras:
And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand (Rev 22:10).
For an individual, the near fulfillment of the prophecy means that life is fleeting from the standpoint of eternity, and sudden death is always a possibility. This calls for constant spiritual vigilance for the sake of the soul:
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God (Rev 3:2).
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent (Rev 2:5).
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth (Rev 2:16).
Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown (Rev 3:11).
It follows that the prophecies of the Apocalypse and their careful and thorough interpretation are of vital importance.
e. The rules for interpretation
The purpose of writing the Apocalypse was to explain to Christians the significance of certain historical events in light of the Divine Providence: to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass (Rev 1:1).
The mystical representation of the future of Christ’s Church and of the whole world helps to prepare believers for the temptations of peacetime, and, particularly, for the hardships in the days of the Antichrist. When the Church is aware of the inevitability of persecution and the Final Judgment, in which everyone will receive according to his deeds, she is helped to go through the hardships:
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be (Rev 22:11—12).
The prophetic visions of the Apocalypse are not always arranged in chronological order. However, each individual vision contains a strict chronological sequence. This sets the rules for interpretation, which help to align these visions against each other. To some extent, these rules were formulated by the Church Fathers, whose authority and opinion should undoubtedly be taken into consideration when interpreting certain visions.
The events of the last few centuries are a good enough reason to review our modern history in light of the Apocalypse so we can interpret it properly, thus filling up what was lacking in the ancient interpretations.
f. The proposed interpretation
This book offers an interpretation of John’s Apocalypse. The structure of the book is not typical for this type of literature and therefore requires some clarification. The interpretation presented does not follow the chapters of the Apocalypse. Rather, it is based on the author’s intent, which aims to convey to the reader the meaning of the Revelation in a sequence that is easy to grasp.
In general, the book stays within the framework of Orthodox Christian theology. However, since much of the text is the author’s own interpretations, which are his particular theological opinion, he would be grateful for any comments and clarifications from those who are well-versed in the Orthodox theology.
g. My pilgrimage to Patmos
The island of Patmos can only be reached by sea. The most convenient way to get there is from the island of Kos, which is one of the closest airports connecting the island to the outside world. It has a regular ferry connection with Patmos. You can also get to the birthplace of the Apocalypse from the continental port of Piraeus or from one of the nearby islands.
On my way to Patmos, I stopped at the island of Rhodes. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands, and Patmos is one of them. From the east, Rhodes is washed by the calm waters of the Mediterranean, and from the west by the stormy Aegean sea. In the northern part of the island, there are lots of mooring piers. The one that is more known is called Mandraki Harbor, where the famous Colossus of Rhodes once stood. It was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The history behind the Colossus made me think of Daniel’s prophecy about the giant idol…
In 305 before New Era (BNE), Antigonus, the king of Syria, sent his son, the renowned commander Demetrius Poliorket, to capture Rhodes, but after a year-long war, Demetrius abandoned the siege equipment at the fortress walls and returned home without any success. The Rhodians sold the equipment and used the money to hire Hareth, the sculptor from Lind, to erect a triumphal statue of Helios. It took him 12 years to build the statue, which was 70 cubits high (over 30 meters). Yet, the majestic Colossus did not survive for more than half a century. A powerful earthquake of 226 BNE broke off the legs of the statue, and it crashed. The Сolossus remained in ruins for centuries. Its shattered pieces were pillaged in 653 NE.
The sea ferry which took me to Patmos set off from Rhodes at 5 pm. As it slowly pulled off, a trail of propeller-foamed waters stretched far behind, gently swaying in the piercingly azure waves. The ferry set its course, and the foamy trail behind made a slight curve, stretching out in a nearly straight line, churning from inside. On the left, one could see Rhodes vanishing in the distance together with the high walls of the Old City fortress, and on the right loomed the rocks of Asia Minor. Soon they were out of view, and everything around me was one endless sea with specks of small islands scattered here and there, bare and mostly uninhabited. Just a few of them had visible signs of life — the isolated abodes of solitary monks. From time to time, we saw pleasure boats, barges, sailing yachts.
At about 7:30, a larger and more populated island loomed on the horizon. The loudspeaker announced: the island of Kos. The ferry slowed down and, turning astern to the shore, began to moor. We spent considerable time loading and unloading RV trailers, the passengers coming in and out. It took us about an hour to finish up with the process. In the meantime, I could enjoy the beauties of the visible part of Kos in an unhurried manner. It was almost twilight.
By 10 pm, the ferry reached the island of Leros. By this time, the darkness was almost complete. Illuminated with hundreds of street lights and bright-lit windows of the local houses and hotels, Leros was a fabulous night scene. Again we had to wait for a while, but there was enough time to enjoy the stunning illumination of Leros.
I will also add that on the way back I hopped on a catamaran ferry, which made the stops much shorter. So, the return trip was significantly quicker.
It was around midnight when I, with a trembling heart, stepped on the shores of Patmos. In the deep darkness, the port of Scala shone brightly with its many lights, and on one side of a low mountain, the walls of the Monastery of St. John the Divine were lit with spotlights. The hotel agents met the pilgrims at the port gate. One of them gave me a ride to the hotel, which happened to be not too far away. After a long sea voyage, I could finally take a shower and get a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, I left my hotel and went for a walk to explore the area. Patmos is a small rocky island, shaped like the head of a seahorse. The highest elevation of the island is Mt. Saint Elijah, 269 meters above the sea level. Between the mountain peaks, there are picturesque green valleys. The austere rocky terrain is somewhat softened by the citrus orchards, vineyards, pines, cypresses, strawberry trees, eucalyptus trees, pomegranates, olive trees, and other green patches. The largest villages on Patmos are Chora, Scala, and Kambos. The local population, for the most part, lives in one or two-story houses, usually painted white. The main architectural attraction of the island is the medieval Monastery of St. John the Divine, located at the highest point of the village Chora.
The distance from the port of Skala to the Monastery of the Cave of the Apocalypse is 2.2 kilometers following the road to Chora. There is also a stone-paved trail for pedestrians between these two locations. It is a bit shorter, but has a steeper climb and leads somewhat away from the Cave.
The entrance into the Monastery of the Cave of Apocalypse begins at the gate with metal doors. On the low masonry walls, there are two plates on each side of the gate — one in Greek on the left and one in English on the right. There are only two phrases. The one above says: “Holy Cave of the Apocalypse”. The one below is a quotation from Revelation: “I was on the island of Patmos (Apoc. chap. A.9)”.
Further, there is a short alley leading up to the monastery. The monastery is a whitewashed stone building set on a rock, as if over the Cave. Above the entrance to the monastery, there is a mosaic icon of John the Apostle, dictating the text of the Apocalypse to his disciple Prokhor. Prokhor was one of the seven deacons appointed by the apostles. He was exiled to Patmos just like John and later became the bishop of Nicomedia.
I went inside. Ahead of me, on the right, there was a church shop. On the opposite end, to the left, I saw an exit to the stairs leading to a lower level. After several flights of stairs, I found myself at the entrance to the Holy Cave.
The internal space of the Cave is divided into two parts. On the left, there is a Temple of St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin, erected in the 11th century by archbishop Christodul. On the right, there is the Temple of the Holy Cave of Apocalypse, separated only by the stony overhangs from the ceiling. In this Cave, John the Theologian received his Revelation.
<…> At this point, I will pause the story about my pilgrimage, because even the most accurate description cannot adequately express the feelings of an Orthodox believer when he or she finds himself in the presence of a great mystery. One has to experience it to understand it.
Part 1. Revelation from Heaven
Chapter 1:1. The first vision of God’s glory
John the Theologian was exiled to the island of Patmos by Emperor Domitian, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev 1:9). There he was given a spiritual vision. This is his own story:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter (Rev 1:10—19).
Jesus Christ appeared to John in order to communicate through him a Revelation concerning the future of mankind. The apostle saw Christ in the radiance of his heavenly glory, clothed as the high priest.
Concerning the mysterious priesthood of Jesus, it says:
Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec (Heb 5:5—10; see Ps 110:4 [Ps 109:4 rus]).
For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually (Heb 7:1—3; see Gen 14:18).
After the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec (Heb 7:15—17).
Jesus does not identify himself by name, but John recognizes him anyway and says about Him: like unto the Son of man (Rev 1:13). This name of Christ (Messiah, the Anointed One) goes back to Daniel’s prophecy in the Old Testament:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (Dan 7:13—14).
Often this same name appears in the Gospels, where sometimes Jesus refers to himself as:
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he [Jesus] to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house (Mt 9:6; compare Mk 2:10; Lk 5:24).
And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men (Mt 17:22; compare Mt 20:18; 26:2, 24, 45; Mk 9:31; 10:33; 14:21, 41; Lk 9:44; 22:22).
And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead (Mt 17:9; compare Mk 9:9).
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt 19:28; compare Mt 25:31; Lk 22:69; Jn 5:27; 13:31).
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works (Mt 16:27; compare Mt 13:41; 18:11; Lk 9:56; 19:10).
For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day (Lk 17:24; compare Lk 17:30; 18:8).
See also Mt 8:20; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8, 40; 13:37; 17:12; 20:28; 24:44; 25:13; Mk 2:28; 8:38; 10:45; Lk 6:5; 7:34; 9:26, 58; 11:30; 12:8, 40; Jn 3:13; 6:27; 12:34.
Later, speaking to the seven churches in Asia, Jesus identifies Himself allegorically in various ways:
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (Rev 2:1).
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive (Rev 2:8).
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges (Rev 2:12).
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass (Rev 2:18).
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars (Rev 3:1).
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth (Rev 3:7).
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God (Rev 3:14).
For Jesus Christ is the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God (Rev 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14).
It has the following meaning.
These things saith the first and the last (Rev 2:8). The First and Last (Protos and Eskhatos, the Beginning and the End) — these names represent Christ as the Beginning and the End of all things. Concerning the beginning of time, it says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (Jn 1:1—3). And about the reward received through Christ at the end of time: But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Rom 6:22). But the lot of sinners is eternal death (see Rom 6:21). It also says: I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (Rev 1:8; compare Rev 1:10, 17; 2:8; 21:6; 22:13). Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, with which the Apocalypse was recorded. Also, Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, is called Logos (the Word of God, God-the-Word). Thus, Alpha and Omega signify the fullness and perfection of the Word.
Which was dead, and is alive (Rev 2:8). Jesus was crucified, died, and rose again. Also: I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death (Rev 1:17—18). By his resurrection, Jesus destroyed death and rescued from hell all the Old Testament patriarchs by taking them to heaven.
Which hath the sharp sword with two edges (Rev 2:12). The sword in this vision is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6:17). The Word is depicted as a weapon, because, coming out of the mouth of the Lord, it is primarily a sin-exposing prophecy that smites sinful thoughts: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword (Mt 10:34); For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb 4:12); Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth (Rev 2:16); And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (Rev 19:15; compare Rev 19:21).
The Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass (Rev 2:18). Jesus Christ is the second person of the Holy Trinity. In John’s vision, he appears in the radiance of his heavenly glory: His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace… and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength (Rev 1:14—16). The white wool and the fine copper are symbols of Divine purity (compare Dan 7:9). Fire stands for God’s power (compare Rev 20:9).
He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars (Rev 3:1). He that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (Rev 2:1). The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches (Rev 1:20). The seven stars are the seven Angels or the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth (Rev 5:6), which are before his throne (Rev 1:4). They rule over the seven churches, which signify the seven periods of the Universal Christian Church.
He that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth (Rev 3:7). The key of David is the key to interpreting prophecy or the key of knowledge (Lk 11:52; compare Mt 23:13). If a prophecy is interpreted correctly, no one can distort its meaning. Since prophecies are often presented in a symbolic way, their meaning is locked until the time when the prophetic door is opened (compare Rev 3:8) by the above-mentioned key, named after the prophet and psalmist David.
The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God (Rev 3:14). Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Word, the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the true beginning of God’s creation, for it is said: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (Jn 1:1—3). Through John’s prophecy, it is conveyed: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen (Rev 1:4—6). Jesus Christ, the Word, is Amen, that is, the Truth, for the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king (Jer 10:10). It also says: Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (Jn 17:17). And more: Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life (1 Jn 5:5—12). Woe to those who, having the Truth before their eyes, still blindly inquire: What is truth? (Jn 18:38).
When John saw Jesus in his Divine glory, he was overwhelmed: And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not (Rev 1:17). And his voice as the sound of many waters (Rev 1:15). A great voice, as of a trumpet (Rev 1:10).
The Old Testament prophets often experienced something like this when they saw angels. Here is Daniel’s testimony:
And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: his body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days. And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, and said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me (Dan 10:4—19).
In the same way, Jesus laid his right arm on him (Rev 1:17) so he would take heart. He commanded: Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter (Rev 1:19).
Chapter 1:2. The second vision of God’s glory
In the next vision, John was taken up to heaven:
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Rev 4:1—11).
This time, John saw God the Father, the first Person of the Holy Trinity, Lord God Almighty (Rev 4:8).
The green rainbow (emerald) around the throne of the Lord is a symbol of redemption, mercy, and renewal:
And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth (Gen 9:12—16).
And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about (Ezek 1:26—28).
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open (Rev 10:1—2).
The seven spirits are the seven archangels. They are the so-called supreme angels, the ones closest to God. In the Bible, they are called by their names (compare Enoch 20):
Michael the archangel:
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee (Jude 1:9).
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book (Dan 12:1).
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven (Rev 12:7—8).
Gabriel the archangel:
And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision (Dan 8:15—17).
Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation (Dan 9:21).
And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season (Lk 1:18—20).
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women (Lk 1:26—28).
Raphael (Azarias) the archangel:
I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One (Tob 12:15).
Then the young man said to the angel, Brother Azarias, to what use is the heart and the liver and the gal of the fish? (Tob 6:7).
Jeremiel [Remiel] the archangel:
And unto these things Jeremiel the archangel gave them answer, and said, Even when the number of seeds is filled in you: for he hath weighed the world in the balance. By measure hath he measured the times; and by number hath he numbered the times; and he doth not move nor stir them, until the said measure be fulfilled (2 Esd 4:36—37 [3 Ezra 4:36—37 rus]).
Uriel the archangel:
And the angel that was sent unto me, whose name was Uriel, gave me an answer, and said, Thy heart hath gone to far in this world, and thinkest thou to comprehend the way of the most High? (2 Esd 4:1—2 [3 Ezra 4:1—2 rus]).
And so I fasted seven days, mourning and weeping, like as Uriel the angel commanded me (2 Esd 5:20 [3 Ezra 5:20 rus]).
Where is Uriel the angel, who came unto me at the first? (2 Esd 10:28 [3 Ezra 10:28 rus]).
Salathiel [Saraqael] the archangel:
So the angel that was come to talk with me held me, comforted me, and set me up upon my feet. And in the second night it came to pass, that Salathiel the captain of the people came unto me, saying, Where hast thou been? and why is thy countenance so heavy? (2 Esd 5:15—16 [3 Ezra 5:15—16 rus]).
In the midst and around the throne John saw the other four angels in the form of a Lion, Calf, Man, and Eagle. They were called Cheribim:
Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the cherubims: and to be praised and exalted above all for ever. Blessed art thou on the glorious throne of thy kingdom: and to be praised and glorified above all for ever (Prayer of Azarias and Hymn of the Three Children 1:32—33 [Dan 3:54—55 rus]).
Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne (Ezek 10:1).
O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth (Is 37:16).
The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved (Ps 99:1 [Ps 98:1 rus]).
In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind (Ps 18:6—10 [Ps 17:7—11 rus]).
Around the Lord’s throne, there were 24 smaller thrones with 24 elders sitting on them. They had crowns on their heads and were clothed in white. The elders are saints, the white robes represent righteousness, and their golden crowns symbolize victory over death:
Four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints (Rev 5:8).
These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev 7:14).
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels (Rev 3:5).
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne (Rev 3:21).
Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life (Rev 2:10).
Chapter 1:3. The third vision of God’s glory
Then John saw:
And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever (Rev 5:1—14).
A scroll of a book sealed with seven seals is the book of life. Inside the scroll are the names of those who will be saved at the end of time, and outside are the names of sinners:
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Rev 20:12).
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:15).
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [beast, antichrist], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8).
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels (Rev 3:5).
And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life (Php 4:3).
And there shall in no wise enter into it [new Jerusalem] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev 21:27).
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (Rev 22:19).
Without opening the book of life, no one can be saved and attain eternity. That’s why John wept so much about the fact that no one was worthy to open and read this book, or even to look into it. But he was comforted by an elder who said that Jesus, the lion from the tribe of Judah, the root of David, the One who was victorious [over death], Christ, the Lamb of God, who made an atonement for us by dying on the cross, is able to open this book and remove its seven seals. For he was slain, and by his blood redeemed us to God out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on earth.
In this vision, Christ is revealed as the Lamb, as though slain, with seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits [Archangels] of God, sent to the whole earth. The slain Lamb stands for the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross:
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29).
And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! (Jn 1:36).
Chapter 1:4. The Book of Heaven
After a series of visions, the apostle was given the Book of Heaven:
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: and he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices… And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings (Rev 10:1—3, 8—11).
The open book is the Apocalypse.
The sweetness of the book is the sweetness of the Revelation concerning the salvation of those who believe in Jesus Christ. The bitterness of the book is the bitterness of the Revelation concerning the doom of unbelievers.
The ancient prophets also received their prophecies by symbolically eating the scroll:
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts (Jer 15:16).
And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; and he spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe. Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness (Ezek 2:9—3:3).
The Apocalypse was sent from heaven and must be preserved in its original form:
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (Rev 22:16—19).
The Church faithfully kept the Revelation of John intact, and it has reached our day in its original form. Those who tried to distort the text of the Book of Heaven have received their due punishment.
In the middle of the 20th century, the Dead Sea scrolls containing the sacred books of the Essenes were discovered near the Dead Sea. Among all the others, they found a scroll containing the Apocalypse of Essenes, which had a significant amount of deviations from the original. As punishment for their presumption, the Lord wiped out the community of the Essenes from the face of the earth.
Part 2. The three beasts
Chapter 2:1. The removal of the first four seals: Come and see
The opening of the book of life, sealed with seven seals, will reveal the names of those who will be saved in the last days. But before this happens, all the seals must be removed. The removal of each seal from the book of life signifies a certain milestone in the history of the world, which must occur prior to these events. Let us read about the removal of the first four seals:
And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth (Rev 6:1—8).
The rider on a white horse is a symbol of the Christian monarch. He holds the spiritual bow to defeat the enemies of the Church, and God granted him the crown of absolute authority.
The removal of the first seal pertains to a prophecy concerning the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (4th century). When Constantine was a pagan, he saw a miraculous sign in the form of a cross in heaven, just before entering an important battle, and heard a voice saying: “With this you shall win”. Constantine commanded that the sign of the cross be depicted on all the banners of his army, and he rode out victorious, ready to win. His army won the battle, and since then Constantine put his faith in Jesus Christ and stopped persecuting Christians. Later he became the first Orthodox Christian monarch. After the fall of Byzantium, the Eastern Roman Empire, Russia assumed the role of the world Orthodox Christian monarchy. This tradition was interrupted only with the collapse of the Russian Empire following the February coup and the subsequent events.
The rider on the red horse is the symbol of the first Antichrist, who is identified in the Apocalypse as the Beast rising out of the sea (Rev 13:1). He came to plunge the world into fratricidal wars, and he was given a great spiritual word-sword — an abominable slander against God.
The removal of the second seal pertains to a prophecy about the communist dictator Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin, who usurped power in Russia after the October Revolution.
The rider on the black horse represents the second Antichrist, identified in the Apocalypse as the Beast rising out of the earth (Rev 13:11). He came to bring hunger and persecutions to the Church.
The removal of the third seal contains a prophecy concerning the second communist dictator Joseph Dzhugashvili-Stalin, who came to power after the death of the first one.
The rider on the pale horse is the symbol of the third Antichrist, identified in the Apocalypse as the Beast rising out of the bottomless pit (Rev 11:7). He must come and bring great tribulations.
The removal of the fourth seal contains a prophecy of the coming of the false messiah, who is the man of sin [and] the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God (2 Thess 2:3—4).
Excursus 2:1. The Antichrists
The word “Antichrist” means “the enemy of Christ”. This is how John referred to all the non-Christians who deny Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior, who died and rose again for our salvation:
For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist (2 Jn 1:7).
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error (1 Jn 4:1—6).
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him (1 Jn 2:18—29).
From among the antichrists, the Holy Scriptures single out the three greatest sinners, the three beasts who are allowed to inflict the most damage on the Church, and many believers will suffer martyrdom at their hands.
In Christian theology, special attention is given to the last beast, typically referred to as the Antichrist. Although the world knows about the misfortunes that the Beast from the bottomless pit will bring, people will still accept him, and the Church will again be persecuted. The reason for this is the spiritual blindness of those lost in false teachings.
The blind world will not recognize the Antichrist. This is what happened with the first two beasts, and this is what will happen in the last days when the third beast is revealed.
Chapter 2:2 The woman clothed with the sun and the royal child
The birth of the Orthodox Christian monarchy was not easy:
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev 12:1—17).
The Holy Church is represented here as Queen. The Church is clothed in Christ, the Sun of the righteous. The pillar of the Church is the Most Holy Mother of God, who is like unto the Moon, and the Church is crowned with the twelve Apostles who are like stars.
For several centuries, the Church was constantly persecuted by Christ-haters. Many believers were exiled, many were killed, others were tortured, humiliated, and oppressed.
After long labor pains, the Church gives birth to a baby, the Orthodox Christian monarch, the head of the Christian Empire, who is to rule over all nations.
The Roman emperor Constantine put an end to the persecutions of the Church. Later, Constantine himself was baptized. Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and the Church found protection under the wings of the double-headed imperial eagle:
I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it (Is 46:9—11).
After that, the great dragon, the ancient serpent, called the Devil and Satan (Rev 12:9), began to plot against the Church and the Roman Empire, setting up against them the numerous pagan hordes which rushed in like a mighty river. The Roman Empire fell, but by that time the Church had spread so wide that it remained safe and well. For, as the Lord said, the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Mt 16:18).
After the fall of Byzantium (the Eastern Roman Empire) the Russian Empire became the main stronghold of Orthodox Christianity. The rage of the Red Dragon turned against Russia. At the beginning of the 20th century, the blood-thirsty beast of the revolution tore the country apart. Then, the words of the Lord came true:
And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows (Mk 13:7—8; compare Mt 24:6—8).
The Russian Emperor Nicholas II was dethroned and executed. Troubles swept over the Church again:
And her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days (Rev 12:5—6).
And the dragon was infuriated seeing the Church unbroken and the believers keeping the commandments of God and having the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Excursus 2:2. The Third Rome
In the ancient symbolism, the Sun and the Moon represent the masculine and feminine principles, respectively. In the second dream of Joseph, the Sun and the Moon stand for his father and mother:
And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? (Gen 37:9—10).
Generally, the symbolism of the Sun and the Moon in the twelfth chapter of the Apocalypse is understood as representing Jesus Christ and his mother, the Virgin Mary.
In the liturgical service, Christ is referred to as the Red Sun of Righteousness. This imagery goes back to the prophecy about the new world, in which the light of the Sun will be replaced by the glory of God:
The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended (Is 60:19—20).
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it (Rev 21:23—24).
And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength (Rev 1:16).
Besides, there are particular interpretations of these symbols. In relation to the Eastern Roman Orthodox Church, the Sun and the Moon represent St. Constantine and his mother St. Helena. In relation to the Russian Orthodox Church, they stand for St. Vladimir the Red Sun and St. Olga.
At the end of the 10th century, the Grand Prince Vladimir decided to marry a Byzantine princess with a view to strengthening his foreign relations. The Emperor demanded that Vladimir be baptized according to the Orthodox rite. At that time Russia was a pagan state, but Christianity among Russians was not rare. Princess Olga, Vladimir’s grandmother, was a Christian. In light of all this, Vladimir was seriously considering Christianity. In 988, he got baptized and then led to Baptism those who were close to him. Soon, common Russian people began to be baptized as well, and after a while, Russia became an Orthodox Christian state.
In 1453, Byzantium was captured by the army of Sultan Mehmed II, and the Ottoman hordes broke into Constantinople. The Grand Principality of Moscow (Russia) remained the only guardian of the Orthodox faith. From that point on, the concept of “Moscow as the Third Rome” began to take shape and was first mentioned in writing in the preface to the “Paschal Canon” by Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia Zosima as well as in the messages of Filofei, the elder of Pskov Spaso-Yelizarov Monastery.
Elder Filofei, to the Grand Prince of Moscow Vasily III Ivanovich (1479—1533):
He who is from the highest and from the almighty hand of God upholding the universe, by which the kings reign, and the great are glorified, and the mighty proclaim your righteousness, the most gracious and most Sovereign Ruler and Grand Prince, the Orthodox Christian Tsar and lord over all, holding the reins of God’s holy thrones of the Holy, Universal, Orthodox, and Apostolic Church of the Most Holy Mother of God, of the honorable and glorious Dormition, who shone forth with glory in place of the Roman and Constantinople sovereigns, for the old Roman church fell through the unbelief of Apollinarian heresy. As to the Second Rome, Constantinople, the doors of the Church were cut down there with axes by the grandchildren of Hagarians (compare Ps 74:6—7 [Ps 73:6—7 rus]), and now the Holy Orthodox Apostolic Church, which is the Third, the New Rome in your sovereign kingdom, shines forth like unto the sun in all parts of the universe under the sky as the Orthodox Christian faith. So, most powerful and godly Tsar, know that all the Orthodox kingdoms of the Christian faith have converged into your unified kingdom: you alone under heaven are the king of Christians… Do not trespass, o Tsar, against the covenant of your ancestors — the great Constantine, and blessed saint Vladimir, and the great God-chosen Yaroslav, and other blessed saints, who sprang out of the same root as you… Hold and harken unto this, o ye pious King, that all the Christian kingdoms have converged into one, which is yours, and that the two Romes fell, and the third one stands, and the fourth one will never be. And your Christian kingdom will not be replaced by another, according to the word of the great [John] the Theologian…
In due course, the Greek Church also supported the renaming of the Russian state into the Third Rome as follows particularly from a letter of Patriarch of Constantinople Jeremiah II Tranos (died 1595) to Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich (1561—1582):
Verily, oh pious king, the Holy Spirit abides in you, and with God’s help such a thought will be put into action by you, for Ancient Rome fell through the Apollinarian heresy, and the second one, Constantinople, has been captured by the grandchildren of the Hagarians, the godless Turks: but your great Russian kingdom, the Third Rome, surpassed all others in piety, and all the God-honoring kingdoms have gathered in your kingdom, and you alone under heaven are hailed as Christian king by all the universe and by all Christians.
Chapter 2:3 Armageddon: The One who holds it back
The Church has been persecuted by the Red Dragon, Satan, from its inception. However, up until a certain time, he is held back; the Lord does not allow too much evil to happen, but…
…the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [Katechon] will let, until he be taken out of the way (2 Thess 2:7).
Katechon or The One who is holding back (2 Thess 2:7) refers to Michael the Archangel who is protecting the earth from evil spirits, demons.
With regard to the war between angels and demons unfolding in the air, there is a prophecy of Daniel, to whom the angel said:
Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days (Dan 10:12—14).
Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince (Dan 10:20—21).
After the establishment of the Christian monarchy, the Orthodox Christian monarch was assigned the status of the earthly incarnation of the “one who holds back”. About the same time, the belief in the coming of the Antichrist after the fall the Roman Empire became widespread.
St. John Chrysostom:
When the Roman state falls, he [the Antichrist] will come. And it makes perfect sense. As long as people fear the Roman state, no one will be quick to bow down before the Antichrist; but after its collapse, anarchy will ensue, and the Antichrist will seize all power — both human and divine.
Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem:
The predicted coming of the Antichrist will take place when the times of the Roman kingdom are over, and the end of the world draws near.
Elder Filofei in a letter to Pskov’s dyak Munekhin Misura:
…All the Christian kingdoms came to an end and are now gathered together under the one indivisible kingdom of our sovereign ruler, according to the prophetic books. This is the Russian kingdom: for the first two Romes fell, the third stands, and the fourth shall never be… All the Christian kingdoms are full of infidels, and only the kingdom of our sovereign ruler stands by the grace of Christ…
Hold on to the grace of the Holy Spirit (the One who holds back). Inextricably connected to it is the grace of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, bestowed upon the Orthodox sovereign in the ceremony of holy coronation. Hence, when faith in God is lost, the Holy Spirit departs from the godless and takes away from them the sovereign power of the tsar.
No revolution in Europe and in the whole world will succeed as long as the Russian state exists as it is today.
The doctrine of the One who is holding the Antichrist back is closely connected to the prophecy of Armageddon in the Apocalypse:
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared… And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great (Rev 16:12, 16—18).
Armageddon means “the battle of Megiddo”. This is an allusion to the battle between the Egyptian pharaoh Necho and King Josiah:
After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not. Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded. His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations (2 Chron 35:20—25; compare 1 Esd 1:25—32 [2 Ezra 1:25—32 rus]; 2 Kings 23:28—30).
Soon after the battle of Megiddo, the Jewish people were captured by the Babylonian army.
The symbolic significance of this battle is that it foreshadows the death of the righteous king, the One who holds back, which is the first step in the onslaught of the powers of darkness. In other words, the battle of Megiddo prophetically points to the death of the last Orthodox Christian monarch, the Russian Emperor Nicholas II.
In 1914, Russia entered the First World War. The consequences of this political decision were dire. The military operations extended over a long time and caused an economic crisis. Those who were hostile towards the Christian empire seized the opportunity to conspire against the emperor. In 1917, Nicholas II was dethroned, and in 1918, he and his whole family were executed by the Bolsheviks. The removal of the One who holds back opened the door for the iniquities of the Red Dragon.
The execution of the Russian Emperor Nicholas II was carried out without a trial or any legal grounds. That’s why in its symbolic significance it runs parallel to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ:
And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon (Zech 12:10—11).
When Jesus was crucified on the cross, and everything predicted in the ancient prophecies was fulfilled, he cried at the last moment: “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30; compare Jn 19:28; Jdt 9:5, 16:14). In the same way, after Armageddon, at the pouring of the seventh bowl, there came a loud voice from the temple of heaven as if from the throne, saying: “It is done!” (Rev 16:17; compare Rev 21:6).
Excursus 2:3. The Russian Apocalypse
At the beginning of the 20th century, the text referred to as “The Vision of John of Kronstadt” or “The Russian Apocalypse” was circulated in Russia.
God, grant me your blessing! I am a sinful slave John, the priest of Kronstadt, writing down this vision. What I have written with my own hand is what I saw, and I have conveyed it in writing.
On the night of January 1, 1908, after the evening prayer, I reclined at the table to rest a while. It was almost dark in my cell; there was a lamp burning in front of the icon of the Mother of God. In less than half an hour I heard some noise; someone touched my right shoulder, and a quiet, gentle, tender voice said to me: “Rise up, John, the servant of God, follow me”. I quickly rose to my feet.
There was a wondrous old man before me, pale, gray-haired, robed in a mantle, with a rosary in his left hand. He looked at me sternly, but his eyes were gentle and kind. I almost fell prostrate out of fear, but the old man supported me — my hands and feet were trembling, and I wanted to say something, but my tongue would not move. The man crossed me, and I immediately felt at ease and full of joy. I also crossed myself. Then, he pointed with his staff to the western side of the wall and drew something on it using that same staff: 1913, 1914, 1917, 1922, 1930, 1933, 1934. Suddenly, the wall disappeared. Now I am walking with this man across a green field, seeing a great number of crosses: thousands, millions, and they are different — small and big, made of wood, stone, iron, copper, silver, and gold. As I walked by the crosses, I crossed myself, and dared to ask the wondrous elder what these crosses were. He answered kindly, “They are those who suffered for the sake of Christ and the Word of God”.
As we go on I see rivers of blood flowing into the sea, and the sea is red with blood. I was stricken with fear and asked the old man again, “Why is there so much blood?” He looked at me again and said, “This is the blood of Christians”.
Then he pointed to the clouds, and I saw many lamps burning brightly. They began falling to the ground — one, two, three, five, ten, twenty. Then hundreds began to fall, more and more, and each was still burning. I was very sad when I saw them not burning brightly but falling down and immediately dying out, turning into dust and ashes. The old man said, “Look”. And I then saw only seven lamps in the clouds and asked the man: “What is the meaning of this?” He bowed his head and said, “The falling lamps you see are the churches that will fall into heresy; and the seven burning lamps are those seven Apostolic Orthodox Churches that will endure to the end of the age”.
Then, the elder said to me, “Watch”. And lo, I see and hear a wondrous sign. The angels sang: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts”. And there was a great multitude of people walking with candles in their hands, having joyful and radiant faces; they were kings, princes, patriarchs, metropolitans, bishops, archimandrites, hegumen, schemamonks, priests, deacons, catechumens, wanderers for Christ’s sake, lay people, lads, young men, babies. The cherubim and seraphim were accompanying them to their heavenly abode. I asked the elder, “Who are these people?” He answered as if he knew my thoughts, “They are the servants of Christ who suffered for the Holy Orthodox Apostolic Church of our Lord”. Again I dared to ask, “May I join them?” The old man replied, “No, it’s too early for you, be patient”. Again I asked, “Tell me, father, what about the babies?” The old man replied, “They are those who have also suffered for Christ at the hand of King Herod, and those babies who received their crowns from the King of Heaven for being exterminated in the wombs of their mothers, unnamed”. I crossed myself, “What a great and terrible sin this mother will bear — unforgivable”.
As we continued on our way, we saw a big temple. Entering inside, I wanted to cross myself but the elder said to me, “This is the abomination of desolation”. I saw a very dark and shadowy temple with a dark and gloomy altar. There was no iconostasis in the midst of it. Instead of icons, there were strange-looking portraits with bestial faces and sharp hoods, and there was no cross on the altar but a big star and a Gospel, marked with a star. There were resin candles burning, crackling like firewood. And there was a cup with a strong stench coming out of it. All kinds of reptiles, toads, scorpions, spiders were crawling out of it, horrible to look at. The prosphora was also marked with a star. There was a priest in front of the altar in a bright red robe, and green toads and spiders are crawling up and down it. His face was terrible to look at and black as coal, his eyes were red, and the smoke comes out of his mouth. His fingers were black as if covered with soot.
Oh Lord, I am terrified at this sight! An ugly-looking, filthy, deformed black woman jumped onto the altar, all in red, with a star on her forehead. She started spinning around the altar, then hooted like a night owl to the whole church in an awful voice, “Freedom!” Then she stopped, and all the people, as if caught up in a frenzy, began to run around the altar, rejoicing, shouting, whistling, and clapping their hands. Then they began singing a song, first quietly, then louder and louder, howling like dogs, and, finally, their voices turned into a beastly growl and then to a roar. A bolt of sudden bright lightning flashed across the temple, and there was a deafening thunderbolt; the earth shook, the temple collapsed, and the earth swallowed it up. The altar, the priest, the red woman all plummeted into the abyss in one great heap. “Have mercy on me, Lord! So scary!” I crossed myself. There was a cold sweat on my forehead. I looked around, and the elder smiled. “Have you seen all that?” he asked me. “Yes, Father. Tell me what it means. It was so scary and terrible”. The man answered, “The temple, the priests, and the people are the heretics, the apostates, the atheists who rejected the faith and the Holy Orthodox Apostolic Church and have accepted the heretical renovationist church which has no grace of God. One should not fast, go to confession, take Communion, or receive anointing in this church”. “Lord, save me, a sinner, and grant me the due repentance — a Christian death”, I whispered, but the elder reassured me by saying, “Do not be troubled, pray to God”.
We went on. Then I saw a multitude of people, terribly exhausted, each with a star on his forehead. When they saw us, they cried, “Pray for us, o holy fathers, for we are in great anguish and cannot pray. Our fathers and mothers did not teach us the law of God, and we haven’t been given a Christian name. We have not received the seal of the Holy Spirit”.
I wept and followed the elder. “Look”, the old man said and pointed with his hand, “Do you see?” “I see mountains”. “No, this is a pile of human corpses soaked in blood”. I crossed myself and asked the man: “What does this mean? What are these corpses?” “They are the monks and nuns, wanderers and pilgrims for the sake of the Holy, Orthodox, and Apostolic Church who were put to death, and yet did not accept the seal of the Antichrist, but would rather suffer martyrdom for Jesus”. I prayed, “Save us, oh Lord, and have mercy on the servants of God and all the Christians”. But suddenly the old man turned to the north and raised his hand, “Look”. I looked and I saw: the royal palace was surrounded by all kinds of animals and beasts of various sizes, reptiles, dragons, all hissing, roaring and crawling inside, and some had already clambered on the throne of the Anointed One, Nicholas II. His face was pale but resolute as he was praying the Jesus prayer. Suddenly the throne shook, and the crown fell off of his brow. The beasts roared and raged as they jumped on the Anointed One. They tore him to pieces, trampled him underfoot like demons of hell, and then the vision disappeared.
Oh Lord, how terrible! Save and guard us against all evil, all enemies, and foes. I wept bitterly. The elder took me by the shoulder, “Do not weep, for this is the Lord’s will”. Then he said, “Look”. I saw what looked like a soft radiance. At first, I could not see very well, but then the vision cleared: the Anointed One, who had suffered death, appeared to me with a crown of green leaves on his head. The face was pale, stained with blood, and he bore a golden cross on his neck. He was quietly repeating the prayer. Then he told me with tears, “Pray for me, Father John, and tell all the Orthodox Christians that I died boldly and courageously as a martyr for the Orthodox faith and the Holy Orthodox and Apostolic Church and suffered for all Christians. And tell all the Orthodox Apostolic priests to serve a common fraternal remembrance service for all the soldiers slain on the battlefield — for those burned by fire, drowned in the sea, and all those who suffered for me, a sinner. Do not look for my grave, for it is hard to find. Again I beg of you: pray for me, Father John, and forgive me, o good shepherd”. Then it all disappeared as if in a fog. I crossed myself, “God rest the soul of the departed servant of God, Nicholas, may he be eternally remembered”. O Lord, how scary. My hands and legs were trembling; I wept.
The old man said to me again, “Do not cry, for this is God’s will. Pray to God. Look again”. I see a great number of people wallowing on the ground, dying of hunger, eating dirt, devouring each other, and the dogs picking up their corpses — a terrible stench everywhere and an abomination. Lord, save us and strengthen us in Christ’s holy faith, for we are weak and frail without it. The old man said again, “Look there”. So, I see a whole mountain of books, small and large. Foul-looking worms are crawling up and down these books, spreading a terrible stench. I asked, “What are these books, Father?” He replied, “Godless, heretical books contaminating the minds of people around the world with blasphemous teachings.” The man touched these books with the end of his staff, and they all turned to fire, and everything burned to the ground, and the wind scattered the ashes.
Then I saw a church and heaps of memorial prayer cards and commemoration lists all around it. I leaned over and wanted to pick up one and read it, but the old man said that they were memorial prayers and lists that had been scattered around the church for many years, but the priests forgot about them and never read them. Yet, the departed souls beg for prayers, but there is no one to do it and remember them. I asked, “Who then will do it?” “The angels”, he replied. I crossed myself, “O Lord, remember the souls of your departed servants in your Kingdom”.
We went on. The elder was walking so fast that I could hardly keep up with him. Suddenly he turned and said, “Look”. I saw a large crowd of people driven by terrible demons. They were beating them mercilessly, urging them on with long spears, pitchforks, and hooks. “Who are these people?” I asked the old man. “Those who fell away from faith and the Holy, Orthodox, Apostolic Church and have accepted the heretical renovated church”, replied the man. There were bishops, priests, deacons, laity, monks, nuns — all those who got married and began to live in depravity. There were atheists, sorcerers, fornicators, drunks, lovers of money, heretics, apostates, sectarians, and others. Their appearance was horrible to look at: their faces black with foam and stench coming out of their mouths, and they screamed terribly. The demons kept beating them mercilessly and driving them on to the abyss. Stench, fire, smoke, and other foul smells were rising out of it. I crossed myself, “Save us, oh Lord, and have mercy on us, for all that I have seen is terrible”.
Then I saw a multitude of people — young and old, all clothed in red and carrying a huge red five-point star, and at every point of the star sat twelve demons, and in the midst, there was Satan himself with dreadful horns and the eyes of a crocodile, with a lion’s mane and most terrible jaws and big teeth. A fetid foam spewed out of his mouth. All the people shouted, “Rise up, ye prisoners of starvation”. A great number of demons appeared, all in red; they were branding people with a seal on their foreheads and on their hands in the form of a star. The elder said it was the seal of the Antichrist. I was very scared. I crossed myself and said the prayer “Let God arise”. After that, the vision cleared up like smoke.
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