Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VII/The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles/The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles/Chapter XVI
|←Chapter XV||Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. VII, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles
, translated by Philip Schaff et al.
Chapter XVI.—Watchfulness; The Coming of the Lord.
1. Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh. 2. But often shall ye come together, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if ye be not made perfect in the last time. 3. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; 4. for when lawlessness increaseth, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as the Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. 5. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. 6. And then shall appear the signs of the truth; first, the sign of an out-spreading in heaven; then the sign of the sound of the trumpet; and the third, the resurrection of the dead; 7. yet not of all, but as it is said: The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. 8. Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.
- The resemblance between this chapter and Apostolic Constitutions, vii. 31, 32, is mainly in order of topics and in the identity of some phrases and terms. Verses 3 and 4 (to the word “world-deceiver”) are reproduced almost verbatim. That the writer of the Teaching used Matt. xxiv. is extremely probable, but the connection of Apostolic Constitutions, with this passage is evident. In Barnabas, iv., there are a few corresponding phrases.
- Or, “over your life;” the clause occurs verbatim in Apostolic Constitutions.
- Comp. Luke xii. 35, which is exactly cited in Apostolic Constitutions.
- Matt. xxiv. 42.
- Here Barnabas, iv., furnishes a parallel.
- This reference to the last days as present or impending is an evidence of early date; comp. Barnabas, iv., and many passages in the New Testament. The mistake has been in measuring God’s prophetic chronology by our mathematical standard of years.
- Comp. Matt. xxiv. 11, 12.
- Comp. Matt. xxiv. 10.
- ὁ κοσμοπλάνος, found only here and in Apostolic Constitutions, vii. 32. Comp. 2 Thess. ii. 3, 4, 8; Rev. xii. 9.
- Not found in Apostolic Constitutions. The expression plainly implies the belief that Jesus Christ was Son of God.
- Comp. Matt. xxiv. 24. The rest of the verse has no parallel.
- Comp. 1 Pet. iv. 12. where πύρωσις also occurs.
- Comp. Matt x. 22 and similar passages; none of them directly cited here.
- ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ τοῦ καταθέματος, “from under the curse itself:” namely, that which has just been described. Bryennios and others render “by the curse Himself;” that is, Christ, whom they were tempted to revile. All other interpretations either rest on textual emendations or are open to grammatical objections. Of the two given above, that of Hall and Napier seems preferable.
- “Truth” might refer to Christ Himself, but the personal advent is spoken of in verse 8; it is better, then, to refer it to the truth respecting the parousia held by the early Christians. For this belief they were mocked, and hence dwelt upon it and the prophecies respecting it. The verse is probably based upon Matt. xxiv. 30, 31; but some find here, as in verse 4, an allusion to Paul’s eschatological statements in the Epistles to the Thessalonians.
- Professor Hall now prefers to render ἐκπετάσεως, “outspreading,” instead of “unrolling,” as in his version originally. Hitchcock and Brown, Schaff, and others, prefer “opening;” that is, the apparent o pening in heaven through which the Lord will descend. “Outspreading” is usually explained (so Professor Hall) as meaning the expanded sign of the cross in the heavens, the patristic interpretation of Matt. xxiv. 30. Bryennios and Farrar refer it to the flying forth of the saints to meet the Lord. There are other interpretations based on textual emendations. As the word is very rare, it is difficult to determine the exact sense. “Opening” seems lexically allowable and otherwise free from objection.
- Zech. xiv. 5. This citation is given substantially in Apostolic Constitutions. As here used, it seems to point to the first resurrection. Comp. 1 Thess. iv. 17; 1 Cor. xv. 23; Rev. xx. 5. Probably it is based upon the Pauline eschatology rather than upon that of the Apocalypse. At all events, there is no allusion to the millennial statement of the latter. Since there was in the early Church, in connection with the expectation of the speedy coming of Christ, a marked tendency to Chiliasm, the silence respecting the millennium may indicate that the writer was not acquainted with the Apocalypse. This inference is allowable, however, only on the assumption of the early date of the Teaching.
- Comp. Matt. xxiv. 30. The conclusion is abrupt, and in Apostolic Constitutions the New-Testament doctrine of future punishment and reward is added. The absence of all reference to the destruction of Jerusalem would indicate that some time had elapsed since that event. An interval of from thirty to sixty years may well be claimed.