Victorinus: In Apocalypsin (1.5-8)

[1.5] His voice was like the voice of many waters. Many waters are to be understood as peoples, or also the gift of baptism, which He gave as a commandment, spread out by the Apostles for the salvation of men. His feet like gold-copper, as though burning in a furnace. It says the Apostles, who were burned in suffering, preached His word; through them, in fact, the preaching went out (lit. ‘walked’); they were well-named “feet.” See where the prophet anticipated this, saying: We will worship where His feet have stood, for where they first stood the Church was also established, that is Judea; there will all the saints be gathered and worship their God.

[1.6] Seven stars in his right hand. We have said that the seven virtues of the Holy Spirit were given into His power by the Father, as Peter exclaimed to the Jews: Therefore, exalted at the right hand of God, He has poured forth the Spirit He received from the Father, which you have seen and heard. But also John the Baptist anticipated it, saying to his disciples: For He has not given the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all into His hands. These are the seven stars.

[1.7] The seven churches, each of which He calls by name, to whom the letters were composed, which are not the only or the principal churches. But what He says to one, He says to all. It makes no difference; whether a military troop of a small number of soldiers, or by it the whole army is indicated. Finally, as in Asia, so in the whole world: seven churches as all. Paul taught that the seven named are the one Catholic Church. Indeed, at first, so he might keep this (rule), he did not exceed the number of seven churches, but wrote to the Romans, to the Corinthians, to the Ephesians, to the Thessalonians, to the Galatians, to the Philippians, and to the Colossians. Afterwards he wrote to individual people, but did not exceed the number of seven churches, as he summarized in brief in his preaching to Timothy: so that you will know how you must behave in the House of God, which is the Church of the Living God.

This type (or ‘symbol’) was preached by the Holy Spirit through Isaiah, as we read of the seven women who took hold of one man. For the one man is Christ, not born from seed. The seven women are the churches, receiving their bread, and in their tunics covered, who ask to remove their reproach, and that his name will be spoken over them. For “bread” is the Holy Spirit, which nourishes eternal life; “theirs,” promised to them by faith. And “their tunics,” that is, the promises to them with which they want to be covered. Finally, as Paul said, Thus must weakness put on strength, and mortality immortality. “Remove their reproach”: the reproach is previous sin, which is removed by baptism. And the beginning of a person being called Christian, which is “your name will be spoken over us.” Therefore, for these reasons, for example, seven churches are made one Church.

[1.8] He also wrote, for quality of faith and election —either to those who are also striving in the world, and are working at their striving for simplicity, and are patient and, when seeing certain destructive and pestilential people in the church, that it (the church) might not be dispersed, suffer them. He warns all of them of love in which faith is lacking, that they might make penance. —or to those who are living in cruel places among persecutors, persevering to be faithful. —or to those who under the pretext of mercy introduce illicit sins into the church, teaching others to do them; —or to those who are at ease in the Church; —or to those who are negligent, Christians only in name; —or to those who, humbly instructed, persevere strongly in faith; —or he rebukes those who study the Scriptures and strive to know the hidden prophecies, and are unwilling to do the works of God, which are mercy and love. For all he pronounces penance, for all he announces judgment.


  1. Since there is no English translation of this text will you be publishing it? Also, do you do this for a living, or are you a professor or something?

  2. I don’t have plans to publish it. I just want to make it available, as with the other translations I’ve done, which are public domain. I may publish them, with full introductions, if someone asks me to, but that’s not a goal.

    I’m not a professor, no. I suppose I’m a “something” though! I’m just an interested person, able to do this stuff which I love, so I do it and share it. I hope you’re enjoying it!

  3. That is both really awesome and nice! I’m not a professor, or anywhere near being one, but if I should ever write a paper on one aspect or another of esschatology, would it be okay if I quoted your translation? Also, would it be okay if I printed it all out?

  4. Thanks, that’s very kind of you to say. And yes, of course, you’re very welcome to use it (or anything else I put up, just as long as you mention where you got it) and print it out. Once I finish the whole thing, I’ll put it all on one page like I did for 1 Clement. It’s going at about a chapter or more a day, so it should be done in a couple more weeks or so. I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

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