Born in Mesopotamia in the 4th Century, Saint Ephrem wrote commentaries on the Bible and several theological treatises, homilies, and hymns. He sought to interpret the Bible’s prophecies, including information given about the Antichrist, whom he saw as a sort of exact opposite of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Let us learn, my friends, in what form shall come on earth the shameless serpent, since the Redeemer, wishing to save all mankind, was born of a Virgin and in human form crushed the enemy with the holy power of his godhead. This then the enemy, having learnt that again shall the Lord come from heaven in the glory of His divinity, thus bethought him to assume the form of His coming and beguile all men. So in very truth shall he be born of a defiled woman, his instrument.
NOTE: As Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, a living symbol of purity, the Antichrist will mimic the savior by being born into this world through a “defiled woman.” Other prophecies pinpoint the Antichrist’s mother as a Jewish prostitute who claims virginity and his father as a deceitful Christian bishop or priest.
“In the form of Him shall come the all-polluted, as a wily thief to beguile all beings. Humble and gentle, hating the speech of the unjust, overturning all idols, honoring piety, a good lover of the poor, exceedingly fair, altogether well disposed, pleasant towards all. To conciliate all, he plots craftily, that he may be loved soon by the peoples; neither gifts shall he accept, nor speak in anger. He shows himself not sullen, but ever cheerful. And in all these well-planned schemes he beguileth the world so long as he shall rule. For when the many peoples and nations shall behold such great virtues, fair deeds and powers, all of one mind shall become and with great joy shall crown him, saying one to another, surely there is not found such another man so good and just… For the shameless one, grasping authority, sends his demons unto all the ends of the earth to announce unto all that a great king hath appeared in glory; come thither and behold… The peoples shall be gathered, and they shall come that they may see God, and the crowds of the peoples shall cleave to him, and all shall deny their own God and invite their fellows to praise the son of perdition, and one on another they shall fall and with swords each other destroy…
NOTE: It sounds as if the Antichrist will attract the faithful more than nonbelievers, which makes sense because the nonbelievers are already in his grasp. It’s the elect that he has come to destroy. He will prey on their eagerness to “see God” and attract them with false miracles.
“Magnifying his miracles, performing his portents, Deceiver and not in truth manifesting these things, in such fashion the tyrant removeth the mountains, and simulates falsely and not truly while the multitude stands by, many nations and peoples applauding him for his illusions… Again this same dragon stretches out his hands and gathers the multitudes of reptiles and birds; and likewise he moves over the surface of the deep, andas on dry ground he walks thereon. But he simulates these things… The lightnings shall be his ministers and signify his advent; the demons shall constitute his forces, and the princes of the demons shall be his disciples; to far-distant lands he shall send captains of his bands, who shall impart virtue and healing… A great conflict, Brethren, in those times amongst all men, but especially amongst the faithful, when there shall be signs and wonders wrought by the Dragon in great abundance, when he shall again manifest himself as God in fearful phantasms flying in the air, and show all the demons in the forms of angels flying in terror before the tyrant, for he crieth out loudly, changing his forms also to strike infinite dread into all men…
NOTE: The elect will think that this man is a god because he performs a range of miracles. As in other prophecies, these miracles are done by the Antichrist by controlling nature and are thus not overtly supernatural.
“Then the skies no longer rain, the earth no longer beareth fruit, the springs run out, the rivers dry up, herbs no longer sprout, grass no longer grows, trees wither from their roots and no longer put forth fruits, the fishes of the sea and the monsters therein die out, and thus they say a fetid stench emits with a fearful roar, that men shall fail and perish through terror. And then in dread shall moan and groan all life alike when all shall see the pitiless distress that compasseth them by night and eke by day, and nowhere find the food wherewith to fill themselves… For stern governors of the people shall be appointed each in his place, and whoso bears with him the seal of the tyrant may buy a little food.
“But before these things be, the Lord sendeth Elias the Thesbite and Enoch the compassionate, that they may proclaim reverence to the race of men, and openly announce unto all the knowledge of God, that they believe not nor obey the false one through fear, crying out and saying, “A deceiver, O men, is he; let no one believe in him.” But few are those who shall then obey and believe in the words of these two prophets.
NOTE: The Bible foretells about the coming of the two prophets who will preach against the Antichrist. They are mentioned in other prophecies as well.
“Many therefore of the saints as many are then found, as soon as they shall hear of the coming of the man of corruption, shall most speedily flee to the deserts and lie hid in the deserts and mountains and caves through fear, and strew earth and ashes on their heads, destitute and weeping both day and night with great humility. And this shall to them be granted by God the Holy One: And grace shall lead them unto the appointed places.
“But all those dwelling in the east of the earth shall fly to the west, through their great fear, and again those dwelling under the setting sun unto its rising shall fly in trembling…
“In the end like lightning flashing from heaven shall come God, our King and the deathless Bridegroom, in the clouds with glory unimaginable. And behold his Glory shall run the serried hosts of angels and archangels, all breathing flames, and a river full of fire, with a frightful crash…
“How may we then endure, my beloved brethren, when we shall see the fiery river coming out in fury like the wild seething ocean, and the hills and the valleys consuming, and all the world and the works therein; then, beloved, with that fire the rivers shall fail, the springs shall vanish, the sea dry up, the air be agitated, the stars shall fall out from the sky; the sun shall be consumed, the moon pass away, the heavens rolled up like a scroll…”
NOTE: This prophet is basically telling the same story found in the Bible’s Revelations chapter. It could be that he is merely paraphrasing the Bible because, after all, St. Ephrem was known for his deep Biblical insights. Alternatively, the above prophecy may be a combination of events he foresaw and his interpretation of Revelations.
Shop for Catholic gifts online