Victorinus: In Apocalypsin (11.1-6)

[11.1] And to show him a reed like a rod, so that he might measure the temple of God and the altar and those worshipping in it: he speaks of authority, which, having been released, he afterward displayed to the churches. For he also afterward wrote the Gospel. For when Valentinus and Cerinthus and Ebion and others of the school of Satan were spread throughout the world, the bishops of the nearby cities came together and compelled him, so that he might write his own testimony about the Lord. For the measure of faith is commanded by our Lord, to confess the Father Almighty, as we have learned, and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: before the origin of the world spiritually born of the Father; made man and conquered death; received bodily into heaven by the Father; poured forth the Holy Spirit, gift and pledge of immortality. This One was predicted by the Prophets, this One was written of in the Law, this One is the Hand of God, and the Word of the Father Almighty, and Creator of the circle of the whole world. This is the reed and measure of faith, that no one may worship at the holy altar, except who has confessed this: He is Lord and Christ.

[11.2] And leave out the inner court. A court is called an atrium, an empty place between walls. Those such who are not necessary, he ordered to be thrown out. Which is given to be trampled by the gentiles, that is, for this kind of men to be trampled either by the gentiles or with the gentiles. Then he repeats about the ruin and slaughter of the end time, and says: And they will trample the holy city forty-two months. And I will give to my two witnesses, and they will preach, clothed in sackcloth, for one thousand, 260 days, that is, three years and six months; one thousand, 260 days make 42 months. Therefore, their preaching is for three years and six months, and the reign of Antichrist, is another of such (length). And from the mouths of these prophets goes out fire against their adversaries: he speaks of the power of the Word. All the plagues which are to happen will be sent by the voice of their angels.

[11.3] Many think Elijah to be with Elishah or Moses, but they are both dead. But Jeremiah has not found death. By all our ancients they passed down that it was to be Jeremiah; for even the very word which was made to him testifies, saying: Before I formed you in your mother’s belly, I knew you, and before you left the womb I sanctified you, and I made you a prophet to the gentiles. But he was not a prophet to the gentiles, and thus both (sayings being) by the Divine, that which He promised has also inevitably to show: that he will be a prophet to the gentiles. He spoke of these two lampstands and two olive trees: thus He has reminded that, if reading in another place you have not understood, here you will inderstand. For it is written in Zechariah, one of the Twelve Prophets.

[11.4] These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands which stand in the sight of the Lord of the earth, that is, in Paradise. These, therefore, must be slain by Antichrist, after many plagues have been thrust into the world, of whom he says the beast came up from the abyss. And that he will ascend from the abyss, many witnesses for us are collected in this chapter. For Isaiah says: Behold Asshur, a cypress in Mount Lebanon. Asshur, oppressing, an exceedingly well-branched cyprus, that is, a numerous people; in Mount Lebanon: in the kingdom of kingdoms; beautiful in seeds, that is, mighty in armies. Water, he says, nourished him, that is, many thousands of men, which will be subject to him. The abyss enlarged him, that is, it vomited him. For it was said by Ezekiel in nearly the same words. For he was to be in a kingdom of kingdoms, and was to be among the Caesars, Paul also proved by witness. For he says to the Thessalonians: Thus now he holds back who is seen (to do so), until he is removed from the middle; and then he will appear, whose coming is according to the ability (or ‘power’) of Satan, with signs and lies. And so that they knew him to be coming, who was then the Princeps, he adds: The secret of malice now works, that is, the malice which he will be doing is done secretly, but he is not elevated by his own power or his father’s, but by the command of God. For which reason, therefore, Paul said: Therefore, because they do not take hold of the love of God, He sends to them a spirit of error, so that all might be persuaded by a lie who are not persuaded by the truth. Isaiah says: In waiting for the light, darkness rose for them.

[11.5] Therefore, the Apocalypse shows these prophets to be slain by the same, and to rise up the fourth day, so that they are not found equal to God. And Jerusalem is to be called Sodom and Egypt, (because of) the deed accomplished by the people of the persecutor. Therefore, diligently and with all care, it is necessary to follow the prophetic prediction and to understand, because the Holy Spirit predicts scatteredly, and returns and runs through to the end time, repeats back previous times, and because what will happen once is shown as done several times—which unless you understand several sayings, not several happenings, you fall into a great fog—therefore, the interpretation of the sequence of sayings in it will agree, that it might be understood not in order of reading, but of reason.

[11.6] Opened was the temple of God which is in heaven: is the appearance of our Lord. The Temple of God is His Son, as He says: Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it; and the sayings of the Jews: Forty-six years has it been built. The Evangelist says: He said this of the temple of His body. The ark of the testament: he says the preaching of the Gospel, and the forgiveness of transgressions, and all those things which came with Him, appeared.


  1. Thanks so much for your labors here. So helpful! I had given up finding an English translation of the earlier form of Victorinus, and my skill with Latin is too limited (basically nonexistent) to have done much with Minge’s Patrolgia Latina.

    I’m trying to discern the differences in the Eschatology of the two different versions of his commentary. The Jerome revision in chapter 20 seems to have modified his scheme to become a-millenial, whereas his notes on work on the Creation of the world seems to suggest that he held a pre-millennial position (or at least a chiliastic position). A friend has pointed me to his notes on 6:14 and 15:1 as “proof” that he held a dispensational pre-milllennial position, or a “pre-trig” rapture position (which seems impossible to me at an age when the church couldn’t have seen a division like that between the church and Israel). I notice those sections seem absent from this earlier version.

    Does that mean that they are Heironymic additions, and that Jerome would have seen them as supporting an a-millennial interpretation?

    Could they lend any weight to a claim that a pre-trib rapture was held at that early a point in the church (if not by Victorinus, then by someone modifying his work prior to Jerome)?

    Is there a critical edition of Victorinus that might tackle some of the reasons for the different recension?

    I’m only an amateur student of patristic literature, and don’t want to speak incorrectly. Any help would be appreciated, and again, thanks so much for your translation!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *