The Fifth Trumpet of St. John’s Apocalypse Chapter 9- Major Christological Crisis in the Church

The following is an excerpt from “INTERPRETATION of the BOOK of REVELATION by Apostolos Makrakis (1881 AD, translated from the Greek to English in 1948 AD by the Orthodox Christian Education Society, Chicago, IL)

“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the pit of the abyss. And he opened the pit of the abyss; (…)” – Revelation 9:1-2

The fall of this second star from heaven is a scourge and a misfortune of the Christian Church, much worse and much more devastating than that of the first star. The first star has been described as large, bright, and burning as though it were a lamp; while the second one possessed no outstanding characteristic, being, however, much more destructive than the first in its influence upon the Christian world, which up to the present time has been illumined by two-thirds of the metaphysical Sun. For this fallen star takes the key of the abyss and opens its bottomless pit. And what does he bring out of it?

“… and there arose a smoke out of the pit as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.” – Revelation 9:2

The first scourge upon the Christian world embittered one-­third of the waters, which caused the death of those who drank of them; the second darkened one-third of the Sun; and the third darkened the Sun completely by means of the smoke which the fallen star brought out from the bottomless pit. Thus, the power of darkness is gradually increasing, while the authority of Christ decreases as a result of the defeats suffered by the Christians at the hands of Satan, and their failure to repel his attacks. Furthermore, the fall of the stars causes much disintegration among the peoples of the Christian world. Satan first despoils the stars, and subsequently causes great havoc and corruption to the body of the Church. We must therefore first interpret the significance of the vision and later observe its fulfillment; for Christ pointed out to John “that which must shortly come to pass.” And very rapidly, indeed, does one scourge follow another.

The fall of a star from heaven denotes that a teacher of the Church believing in God and receiving his light from Christ is benighted by the Devil and adopts his doctrine as the doctrine and teaching of God. Christ holds the stars in His right hand; but some of them fall from their high places, and Christ, wishing to spare them, calls them back. However, if they disobey the persuasive voice of Christ, He casts them out of His right hand, and then they fall from heaven. And then Satan rightfully captures them, since he has overcome them, and makes use of them as instruments for benighting and bringing about the fall of the constituents of the Christian Church. Hence the reason why the star, after its fall, functions in behalf of the will of Satan and against the Church of Christ. For, after its fall, the star receives the key of the pit of the abyss; and there comes out of it smoke which darkens the air and the Sun. As a result, those who walk without light and are blinded by the smoke, dash against one another, and stumble and fall, suffering many ills caused by the fall of the star and its activity in the interests of the will of Satan. But what is “the bottomless pit”, what is the given “key”, and what is the “smoke” which ascended from the pit and darkened the Sun? All these things must be explained clearly, so that we may comprehend the causes and the motives of the drama enacted on the world stage, which in the main are unknown and obscure to the historian.

The Fifth Trumpet and Obscuring of the Sun and Air of the Church [1]

When our Lord sailed to the land of the Gadarenes, according to the account of Luke the evangelist, He met a man who had devils for a long time, and wore no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. (Luke 8:27). And Christ ordered the unclean spirits to leave the man, but they begged Jesus not to command that they depart to the abyss. Why did they beg this of Jesus? Because the abyss is the prison and dungeon where demons are fettered; and they were opposed to imprisonment and the loss of their freedom to move. about upon earth as they desired. In the kingdom of God. demons are regarded as thieves and malefactors, quite happy when permitted to exercise their pernicious functions; but when taken and cast into prison and deprived of the privilege of personal freedom and activity, they are profoundly sad and terribly afflicted. Thus, it is obvious that just as various governments have prisons where criminals are put, so the kingdom of God has the abyss as its prison for such spirits, where they are imprisoned or set free, according to the laws of God’s justice. Generally, as long as Satan and the demons are victorious, they enjoy the privilege of free action; but when defeated and despoiled by the stronger one, they are imprisoned according to the pleasure of the conqueror. Christ having fought and conquered Satan, enjoys the privilege of driving demons from men and imprisoning them in the abyss. Therefore, demons beg Him not to order that they be cast into the abyss. And when Satan himself suffers his last defeat, then he also will be taken and imprisoned in fetters within the bottomless pit, according to the prophecy at the end of the Apocalypse: “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the pit of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that ancient serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years and cast him into the abyss and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” And so, according to the general laws of divine justice, the demons are imprisoned whenever Christ and His saints win a victory; but are released again upon the fall of stars or upon victories won by Satan. Since, then, Satan proved victorious and cast a second star from heaven, he was privileged to release the demons imprisoned in the bottomless pit and their chief, who further below is called Abaddon in Hebrew and Apollo or Apollyon in Greek. According to these explanations, the bottomless pit is perceived to be the greater dungeon in which the Destroyer Apollo of the ancient Greeks was imprisoned, this prominent divinity which formerly presided over the oracle at Delphi and gave out oracular utterances, but which had been driven thence after the resurrection of our Lord from the dead, in accordance with the oracular statement made to Augustus Caesar, who while at Delphi offered sacrifice and asked Pythia who was to reign after him. Her answer was:

“A Hebrew youth reigning amid blessed gods commands me, his habitation to abandon and to return to Hades. Therefore, holding your tongue depart thou from our altars.”

According to this testimony of Pythia, Apollo of Delphi was imprisoned in Hades or, according to the Apocalypse, in the pit of the abyss as a result of Christ’s victory over Satan; but he was again released at the fall of the second star from heaven, which received the key of the bottomless pit, or the privilege of releasing this great demon together with his ministering demons, which appeared to John as a great army of fighting locusts, according to the description below. And the smoke which came out of the bottomless pit and darkened the Sun and the air was the delusion instilled in the minds of Christians by this demon and his army of cohorts to keep them ignorant of the nature of Christ and of Christ’s spirit, signified by air. For just as the physical sun sends his light rays to the eye through the medium of air, so Christ, the spiritual Sun, enlightens the minds of Christians through the Holy Spirit, which He sends down to us from heaven. And just as a great quantity of smoke pouring out into the air darkens the air and the Sun, or prevents it from giving light, so the smoke from the bottomless pit darkened the metaphysical Sun as well as the air of the Spirit of Christ which Christians breathe and move and live in. Therefore, it is prophesied through the voice of the fifth trumpet and the first of the three “woes” that after Origen, the first star fallen from heaven, there would be another to fall – a second teacher and star – from the divine and heavenly faith of Christ, and to introduce into the church heresy and delusion from the pit of the abyss by means of Apollo. This heresy or delusion darkens the nature of Christ and of the Holy Spirit and shakes the church from its foundations; and thus, the fallen star functions as a blind tool of heresy; while heresy ascends from the pit of the abyss in the guise of the released demons, and is disseminated by means of their invisible activity, which finally becomes visible through the deluded heretics. And now let us observe the fulfillment of this prophecy in the history of the church.

Image result for Portrait of Arius

Arius the Heresiarch

After Origen (who died in the year 254, following his fall from heavenly grace in 230, in which year he was excommunicated by Demetrius, patriarch of Alexandria, elected as an elder against the ecclesiastical canons), the history of the church mentions Arius, elder of the Church of Alexandria, who departed from the tenets of orthodox doctrine in the year 313, introduced into the church a most pernicious heresy, and was also excommunicated in the year 321 by Alexander, patriarch of Alexandria. The fall of Arius is related as follows:

In the year 313 Alexander was elected patriarch of Alexandria in preference to Arius who also aspired to ascend the patriarchal throne, but without success. Full of hate in his heart for Patriarch Alexander, Arius lay in wait on some pretext to attack the patriarch and engage in argument with him, not in the name of truth but for the satisfaction of the murderous hatred which Satan had sown in his ambitious and overweening soul. On one occasion Alexander discussed the Holy Trinity before a large assembly of clerics and explained that the Trinity is a Unit, yet this unit is of a trinary nature or a Trinity; and that Jesus, the Son of God, is equal to the Father in divinity, being uncreated and eternal like the Father. But all this orthodox doctrine to which Arius had listened, he misinterpreted as heretical and similar to that of Sabellius, who had reduced the three persons of the Godhead to one, and not to a single essence in accordance with the belief of the universal church and doctrine of Alexander. Hatred and a strong desire for contention with a view to attacking Alexander obscured the understanding of Arius and caused him to regard this wholesome theology of the patriarch as heretical. And so, thinking that what he had long wished for was within his grasp, Arius publicly denounced Alexander as teaching Sabellianism. But the former, by introducing and contending the contrary, drew from the bottomless pit the smoke which darkened the Sun of the Church as well as the Spirit through which we are illumined by the Sun and breathe as well as live a godly life. Arius, in opposing the wholesome teaching of Alexander, said: “If the Father gave birth to the Son, the latter has had a beginning of existence, is creatable, and not eternal like the Father. Hence there was a time at which the Son did not exist, and had His hypostasis in the non-existing, and not in the essence of the Father.” In introducing such ideas and in attempting to develop them, Arius darkened the Sun of the Church by denying His eternal Sonship and divinity and by lowering the creator to the rank of His own creations. These blasphemies against the Son were soon hurled also against the Holy Spirit; and the smoke from the pit of the abyss which Arius drew out, darkened the Sun and the pure air of the Church, and caused the benighted Christians to dash one against the other and engage in dissensions and quarrels, some contending in behalf of the sound dogma of the Church, and others in behalf of the heresy which ascended from the pit of the abyss.

The prophesy of the fifth trumpet and the first “woe” had an accurate fulfillment in the case of Arius in the year 321, when Alexander, patriarch of Alexandria, being unable through admonitions to effect a return of Arius to the orthodox belief, called a holy synod of one hundred bishops from Egypt and Libya, deposed Arius from the office of elder and excommunicated him. Alexander furthermore issued a circular letter denouncing the heresy of Arius to all the bishops of the catholic or universal Church and referring to the heresy as a forerunner of the Antichrist, which in fact it was. “In our community,” he says, “there have appeared lawless men who opposed Christ and taught apostasy which any intelligent and thinking individual would regard and call a forerunner of the Antichrist.” According to the voice of the angel flying through the midst of heaven, the fifth trumpet prophesying the heresy of Arius which darkened the Sun and the air is the first “woe” uttered with relation to the Church and the Christian world, while the seventh trumpet and the third “woe” predicted the advent of the Antichrist Mohammed, as we see, is the second “woe” relative to the Christian world. The first “woe” is in truth and fact a forerunner of the second, as Arius was a forerunner of the Antichrist Mohammed; for the creed of Arius to the effect that Christ is a creature or a creation which passed into existence from nonexistence, has been made the basis of the Mohammedan religion and faith, acknowledging one God of one person without the co-eternal hypostasies of the Son and the Holy Spirit. And despite the fact that Arius appeared in 321 and paved the way for the Antichrist, who made his appearance in 622 or after exactly three centuries, the Christians still await the coming of the Antichrist, who is this very day ruling over them in tyrannic fashion as he has ruled for many past centuries, contaminating the Christians by means of the simoniacal and Turk-like high-priests. But the smoke of the pit of the abyss is in their eyes, and hence they cannot distinguish the Antichrist ruling in the midst of them. In the account of the fall of Arius we see the reason for the fall of the stars from heaven. But what is the reason for the departure of Arius from the sound faith of God, and why did be draw out of the pit of the abyss the smoke of darkness and delusion? Because of his failure to satisfy his love of glory; because of the envy born in his soul against Alexander, elected by preference to the patriarchal throne; and because of his love for the glory of the throne and the power it carried – but a love unsanctioned by the command of Christ, and having attempted to acquire authority and having failed, he developed an unjust hate toward the one given preference over him. As a result of these passions and desires of the old man, his understanding was clouded by the smoke of delusion, and he consequently perceived God’s truth as delusion and Satan’s delusion as truth. Thus, he proved a most effective blind tool toward the darkening of the Sun and the Air of the Church. Obviously, then, Arius’s fall was due to his failure to put away the love of the old man and to acquire that of the new man. He moreover failed to divest himself of the old man together with his passions and desires, and to invest himself with the new man to perform the will of God and frustrate the will of Satan. However, being unwilling to heed Christ’s counsel or to acquire soul purification and sanctification, and concerned only with the gratification, of his wicked and lawless desires, he was rejected by Christ and enlisted in the service of Satan, who gave him the key to the bottomless pit, and the desire to uphold and disseminate satanic pseudo-doctrine and blasphemy. Hence, according to the law of divine justice, the demons were released from the bottomless pit and allied their forces with his, or rather placed themselves at the services and will of the arch-criminal, Satan, struggling to frustrate the work of Christ, just begun. This ascent of the demons from the pit of the abyss, and their efforts toward the estrangement and delusion of Christians as well as towards the dissemination of the heresy, John prophesies and describes as follows:

“And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them, that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads.” – Revelation 9:3-4

The “locusts”, as stated below, have for king the angel of the abyss which is called Apollyon in Greek, or Apollo. Thus, the locusts are demons of delusion under the leadership of the insidious Apollo, who, presiding of old at Delphi and issuing ambiguous oracular utterances, deluded our Greek ancestors and the entire world. But Christ’s victory over Satan caused the latter’s imprisonment in the pit of the abyss, as we have shown above; however, the victory of Satan and the fall of Arius again released him with his entire demoniacal army in order that they might cooperate for the dissemination and reinforcement of the heresy of their friend and ally, Arius. Having secured such allies, Arius was for a considerable period of time – ultimately determined by divine providence – to appear stronger and more potent than the orthodox faith, and to torture the Christian world severely by the sting of scorpions carried by the monster “locusts” which had no power to “hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree,” but only “those men” who were called Christians, but were not recognized as such by Christ because they did not have “in their foreheads” the true knowledge of Christ, and did not govern themselves according to His will. “And it was commanded them, that they should not hurt the grass of the earth.” Naturally, locusts are injurious to grass because by feeding on it they both destroy and prevent its growth and maturity. But grass should be left on the earth to grow and mature; and so, a locust which comes and devours it before its maturity, harms it and interferes with its natural privilege. But the locusts which swarmed out through the gates of Hades are not natural locusts, devouring the grass of the earth prior to its maturity, but metaphysical. They are demons harming “only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.” In Chapter seven John saw an angel who, having ascended from the East, held a seal of the living God and sealed the servants of God, or rather those who kept the law of God. This vision signifies that those who do the will of God and keep themselves untainted by sin, attain a knowledge of God’s truth which makes them immune to all danger from the locusts of hell; while the transgressors of the divine law fail to receive the light accruing from a knowledge of God and “have not the seal of God in their foreheads.” Moreover, they are inveigled into heresy and delusion by listening to false and sophistical utterances. For this reason, St. James counsels: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” Those who hear the divine word but do not obey it, are not sealed by the angels of God; neither are they recognized as Christians. But those who both hear and obey the word are sealed and acknowledged as genuine followers of Christ; and against these, the locusts of hell have no power. Thus, it is obvious that God brings up the locusts for the punishment of those who hear the commands and the counsel of God, but care naught about their observance, intent merely upon satisfying the desires of the old man rather than upon their suppression and utter extermination. The power of Apollo and of the locusts is restricted by the decision of divine justice; however, they are accorded the license and authority of leading astray those Christians who are merely hearers of the word, but not doers. For the doers of the divine word will stand firm in the confession of the truth, and will repel the attacks of the sophist Apollo, and of the fighting locusts, and will finally receive the crown of victory in the kingdom of God. The words of Paul become very clear to us now: “For heresies must be among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” The heresies rise from the pit of the abyss, though in accordance with the just decision of the One who sits on the throne, in order that the hearers of the word, but not the doers may be punished and that the doers may contest, win, and be rewarded. Let us, then, O Christians of the present age, learn the judgments of divine justice and seek our safety and salvation in the doing of the divine word and not merely in the profitless hearing of it. The fall of the stars has been the consequence of the transgression of moral law, and the harsh dissensions among heresies, as a result of which only those perished who do not have “the seal of God in their foreheads,” or those who do not correlate the hearing of the word with the doing of it. And so, let the misfortunes and mistakes of the past be to us, lessons conducive to salvation; and the fall of the stars the means toward our rectification, and safety, and final victory against Satan the enemy of our salvation who wages war against us through devious and subtle ways, both visible and invisible.

“And to them it was given, that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months; and their torment was the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man.” – Revelation 9:5

Since these locusts were given the sting of a scorpion, which upon striking the body causes tremendous pain and torture, but not immediate death – for this reason, they were not given the power to kill, but merely to torture through this scorpion sting. Therefore, the figurative torture of the soul by the locusts is compared to the torture of the body by the scorpion “when he striketh man.” When the scorpion “striketh man” the victim suffers untold pain, dashing to and fro and moaning and preferring death by far to such torture. The heresy of Arius caused an analogous torture and suffering to the souls of infirm and unsealed Christians. It instilled in them doubt concerning the God-equal nature of Christ, and consequently they tortured themselves, seeking arguments and proof regarding the questioned truth. And those who were relieved of this doubt and had become firmly established in the faith were relieved of the pain and saved; while those who embraced the heresy whole-heartedly and supported it, progressed toward the army of locusts and were themselves transformed into locusts striking the souls of Christians through the sting of heresy and thus torturing them. Therefore, we read that the locusts were not given the privilege or the power to kill the unsealed Christians but merely to torture them through doubt and dissension and verbal wrangles which naturally arise among Christians. Moreover, in every family there was some form of verbal battle, according to the testimony of Socrates, the historian. ln bakeries, about the tables of money-changers, in grocers’ shops, and everywhere there was discussion and debate concerning the consubstantial. This state of affairs became so serious that Gregory of Nyssa called it an epidemic of frenzy and mania, which in the language of the Apocalypse is referred to as “the torment of a scorpion when he striketh man.” Such is the degree of consonance between prophecy and history. And in cases, where such torture as that described above results in the death of the soul, this was due to the lack of will and reason in the one embracing falsehood instead of truth, and not to the sting and attack of the locusts. Furthermore, demons have the privilege of instilling doubt and disbelief in the soul but not of forcing it to accept delusion by threat of physical death; for each one was left free to develop his own convictions, as a result of these wrangles and contentions, and to obtain what progress he might desire. In fact, so dangerless is the nature of heresy that, besides being entirely harmless to everyone who carries the seal of God, it also awakens many of the unsealed, and through torment and torture strengthens them in the faith of the truth; moreover they are grossly misguided who consider theological discussion and contention the cause of great social calamities; for they judge in ignorance as to the reasons for their existence and also as to their beneficent effects not only during the period of their birth, but also during the generations to come, which are trained and increase in wisdom through the misfortunes of the past. The progress and perfection of God’s work requires action and reaction as well as the contest and the war between Christ and Satan, between the angels and the demons, the good men and the wicked. For all things that God has decided upon, to “come to pass shortly,” are proved just and good and profitable; whereas all that is vicious and wicked and unjust exists only in the designs and the deeds of Satan, and within those who prefer the viciousness of reaction, instead of the wholesomeness and virtue of activity in behalf of the benevolent will of God.

Arius and the First Ecumenical Council Bishops [2]

God’s resolve limits the activity of the locusts to “five months”, because “to them it was given that they should not kill” the unsealed Christians of the fourth century, so that as a result of an attack by the sting of the metaphysical scorpion they “should be tormented five months” by dissension, wrangle, general friction, banishment, and a superhuman effort to rid themselves of the torture. The period of five months is equivalent to one hundred fifty years, each day representing one year. Thus every day devoted to God’s punitive decisions corresponds, as the Scriptures declare, to one day: A day instead of a year have I given thee [3]” and so when God condemned the Jews who came out of the land of Egypt, to leave their carcasses in the desert on account of their lack of trust, he said : “After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities even forty years, and ye shall know the wrath of my anger.” Therefore, the days of the punitive decisions are reckoned as years; and so, the torment of the locusts lasted one hundred fifty years. But this specified length of time we must confirm through the testimony of History.

The smoke of the Arian heresy and the locusts ascended from the bottomless pit to the erring understanding of Arius in 314; and so, by 321 when he was publicly deposed by the synod which convened in Alexandria, they had spread over the entire church and aroused much contention and friction among Christians everywhere. The smoke darkened the Sun and the Air, while the locusts, by means of their scorpion stings, struck and tortured the souls of Christians through arguments and contradictory statements regarding the two beliefs under debate, the supporters of each contending that their faith was based upon the Scriptures and upon Church heritage. Prominent bishops, first among whom was Eusebius of Nicomedia, championed the contention of Arius and criticized Alexander as being unjust to Arius. And finally, after both churches and bishops had become divided into two enemy camps, there appeared in the role of mediator, Constantine the Great, the first Christian king and monarch of the entire Roman Empire, who through the power of the Cross overcame all opposers and manifested no little zeal and interest. Therefore, he sent to Alexandria Osius of Cordona with a letter urging peace toward a cessation of the wrangle between Alexander and Arius. However, a conciliation was naturally impossible. For Arius boldly supported his heresy, refusing to repent, while the patriarch was unable to forgive an unrepentant heretic. And as the wrangle was prolonged, Constantine the Great resorted to a very natural remedy of the evil, by calling at Nicaea the first Ecumenical Synod in 325 A. D., attended by three hundred and eighteen holy fathers from all the churches all over the world, for the purpose of counseling together and discerning as well as defining the truth of the faith, and for the rejection of falsehood. The Synod condemned the heresy of Arius and formulated the basic creed of the symbol of faith, which the orthodox Church of Christ has maintained until today, and which has expelled the greater part of the smoke from the bottomless pit that darkened the Sun of the souls. Moreover, the godly Constantine confirmed the creed of the Synod and ordered that throughout the empire all books written by the ungodly Arius be burnt. Arius himself and the few who shared his belief were exiled by Constantine after they had previously been deposed by the Synod as heretics and aliens to the Church. The natural consequence of such an auspicious condemnation would under ordinary conditions be the complete eradication of Arius heresy; but God’s resolution gave the locusts the privilege of torturing men “five months,” or one hundred and fifty years[4]. Hence the decision of the Ecumenical Synod and of the Emperor was not sufficiently potent to eradicate the evil whose existence and unrestricted influence God had prescribed for a certain period of time. Arianism reached its acme after its condemnation and denunciation and the torment resulting from it did not cease before the expiration of the divinely prescribed period of time. In the year 381, and during the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Great, who became another Constantine in power and devoutness, a second Ecumenical Synod was called in Constantinople of one hundred and fifty holy fathers. This assembly completed the work of the first Ecumenical Synod by dogmatizing the divinity of the Holy Spirit and deposing Macedonius, patriarch of Constantinople, who held that the Holy Spirit was a creature, thus obscuring the Air of the Church by means of the same smoke which obscured the Sun, and blasphemously asserted through the tongue of Arius that the Son of God was a creature. But the smoke obscuring the Sun had not as yet entirely cleared away. Nestorios, patriarch of Constantinople, imagined two Sons – one born of God before all time, and another of the Virgin, an exalted man named Christ whom he distinguished from the Word of God and therefore referred to the Virgin Mary as the Christ-mother and not the Mother of God. And so, another Ecumenical Synod was called at Ephesus – the third Ecumenical Synod-in the year 431, during the reign of Theodosius the Minor, headed by Cyril, patriarch of Alexandria. And specified one Son, both God and man, existing in one hypostasis; born of the Father above and motherless, and of the Virgin below and fatherless. Thus, he became truly the Son of God and the Son of man; hence the Synod authoritatively conferred on the Mother of our Lord the title “Mother of God”. Yet even this dogma of the one hypostasis of Christ did not entirely clear the smoke before the sun; there was still darkness and ignorance concerning the two natures or aspects – the divine and the human – which two heretics, Abbot Eutychus and Dioskoros, patriarch of Alexandria, through false reasoning on the basis of one hypostasis, cast into one vastly different from the real. And so, one more, the fourth Ecumenical Synod, was called in Chalcedon in 451 during the reign of Marcianus and Pulcheria and attended by six hundred and thirty fathers. This assembly established the dogma of the two natures united but uncommingled on the basis of the single hypostasis of the Word. As a consequence of this creed set down by the fourth Ecumenical Synod, the smoke of the abyss vanished completely from the Sun and the Air of the Christian World. Moreover, the locusts, being scattered by the four Ecumenical Synods, left in a short time even the outer court of the Church and settled among barbarous peoples, that is, they fell from the earth into the sea. From the first Ecumenical Synod in 325 to the fourth at Chalcedon in 451 there elapsed one hundred and twenty-six years. But the smoke ascended from the bottomless pit ten years prior to the first synod; and the locusts did not vanish entirely in the year of the fourth synod but lingered about the church for a brief period of time. Therefore, by adding all these years toward the completion of the number one hundred fifty, we clearly see that the smoke from the abyss, and the locusts really tortured the Church for one and a half century; and that it barely secured relief from torture through the four Ecumenical Synods which convened within this specified time of one hundred and fifty years, or the period of the locusts domination. This confirmation of the length of time stated in the prophecy by the actual period in history during which the Church battled against the smoke and the locusts convinces us of the accuracy of the interpretation, and also of the fact that the first “woe” prophesied by the fifth trumpet predicted the fall of Arius from the orthodox faith into heresy, which brought along with it the torment of the Church through the smoke and the locusts from the bottomless pit -cohorts and allies of the fallen star which was strengthened and supported by such an alliance during its period of domination fixed by divine action. And at the expiration of this specified period, the sun shone brightly upon the horizon of the Church as a result of the four Ecumenical Synods; and the danger of Arianism was repelled by the brave soldiers of the Church militant. Besides the preordination of the Lord concerning the Church is accurately fulfilled. “And the gates of hell can­not prevail against it.” Thus, we can clearly see that no quantity of smoke or locusts from hell can prevail against the Church but rather that torture and defensive dogmas can strengthen and reinforce it.

“And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” – Revelation 9:6

Whenever men are tortured and made the victims of unbearable pain, they usually pray for death as a means of relief; however, as the torture is prolonged death flees and offers no relief. Therefore, during the days of Arianism, the Christians were tormented so severely by dissension and friction and doubt as to the exact nature of the truth and the faith one should embrace, not to mention the great number of mutual excommunications and anathemas, that they preferred death to such spiritual confusion and torture. They even preferred the days of relentless persecution, during which they were massacred like sheep and their souls ascended to heaven. They preferred these to the days of smoke and confusion, when each one argued with his neighbor concerning truth and faith; and when there was mutual cursing and condemnation for heresy, as well as lack of hope of salvation. Those who experienced the torture of the locusts’ sting prayed for death to deliver them, but without avail, and so the torture continued. Thus, the prophecy does not imply that within the period of the locusts’ torture, or one hundred fifty years, men would not die; but that they would be so cruelly tortured by dissensions, wrangles, and friction as to prefer death to such a status. And without doubt, the epoch of persecution and martyrdom was incomparably preferable to that of heresies and civil wars.

“And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared for battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails; and their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, who is the angel of the abyss, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.” – Revelation 9:7-11

Owing to the fact that the locusts which emerged from the smoke of the bottomless pit had a “king over them who is the angel of the abyss,” and who in Greek is called Apollyon, because of the great number of souls which perished as a result of his insidious and false oracular utterances – for this reason the locusts were myriads of demons submitting to Apollo and operating according to his will. And the locusts “were like unto horses prepared for battle,” for they had ascended from hell in order to wage war against the belief held by the Church concerning Christ and the Holy Ghost. Through this war, which was to be waged by means of sophistical and disputations, contradiction and cunning, the demons aimed to cast headlong many unsealed souls into hell. The demons instilled the war-waging urge of the horse into the souls of the heretics, thus rendering them argumentative, quarrelsome, and polemical with regard to the belief of orthodox Christians. “And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold” to indicate deceitfully a supposed future victory and an award of crowns; for the crowns were not of real gold. And strange though it may seem, as well as unexpected and against all hope, the Arian heretics prevailed against orthodox Christians, and until the reign of Theodosius the Great, they controlled the Churches, called synods, deposed and exiled orthodox bishops, an outstanding case of which is Athanasius the Great, who reprimanded their delusion and like an immovable pillar reinforced and strengthened the orthodox party. Thus, the reason why the horse-like locusts wore crowns like gold on their heads was to indicate falsely that the heretics were to win and be crowned, though only apparently and transiently and within the specified period of their power. And while the locusts had bodies like those of warlike horses, their faces were strangely “as the faces of men” and the hair on their head was “as the hair of women,” the human face signifying the apparent logicality by means of which they fought truth and supported delusion. In this connection it is a noteworthy fact that the Arianists during their discussion appeared in the guise of rational men capable of reasoning in a sound and logical manner and in accordance with the testimony of the Scriptures. For instance, they would argue: “If the Father gave birth to the Son, the latter had a beginning of existence; hence it is obvious that during a certain period in the past he was inexistent.” That they blundered logically in maintaining and predicting that what held true of human birth also held true of the divine and eternal birth given the Son by the Father – this, their understanding, blinded by the smoke of delusion could not grasp. They likewise blundered in interpreting sections of the Scriptures. For instance, in interpreting the section in Acts II. 36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus whom he have crucified both Lord and Christ,” they would argue: “If God has made Jesus Lord and Christ, then the Son is a creature.” Furthermore, the fact that the section refers to the human nature of the Son and not to the divine, which is uncreated and eternal – this the demon-ruled heretics would not see. In brief, owing to the fact that Arius and Arians appeared rational human beings at these discussions, believing and speaking according to the testimony of the Scriptures, the demons, also, who acted through them had the bodies of warlike and restive horses, but faces of logical men seemingly struggling in the interests of truth. “And they had hair as the hair of women,” for hair grows from the skull and signifies that the heretics and the demons arguing through them, convinced those who had female minds and led them astray as the Serpent led Eve astray in the Garden of Eden. But besides having faces of men and the heads of women as an indication of the characteristics of the Arian heresy, they also possessed the teeth of lions. Now, the lion symbolizes kingship, while his teeth symbolize the kingly power by which those opposed to it are attacked. The “teeth of lions” in the mouths of the horselike locusts signified that the followers of this heresy were also armed with kingly power through which they attacked and overcame the orthodox Christians. Church history recounts in what manner and by what method the Arians deceived Constantine the Great, after the Nicaean Synod and recalled Arius from exile; and how the royal successor Constantius was attracted to the belief of the Arians and as a result engaged in the persecution of orthodox Christians, especially of the Great Athanasius. All this information, which one may secure concerning the Arian heresy, reveals the significance of lions’ teeth in the mouths of the locusts.

“And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron.” A breastplate is a defensive weapon for the protection of the breast. The heretics possessed not only lions’ teeth as a weapon of offense but also “breastplates of iron” with which to repel the arrows of truth shot at them by orthodox Christians. The protection, of course, afforded by these breastplates signifies that the word of truth failed to penetrate the hearts of the heretics. For they were dominated by iron or flintlike opinions which repelled truth-the only power capable of confuting and destroying their sophisms. These iron or implacable opinions and sophisms were imparted to them by their allies, the demons; therefore, the latter appeared to John wearing “breastplates as it were of iron.” “And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.” Physically, the wings made a sound by striking the air and this sound caused by the flight and the onrush of these monstrous locusts resembled very much that made by “chariots of many horses running to battle.” But, in addition, these monstrous and warlike locusts had “tails like unto scorpions and there were stings in their tails” by which they stung and poisoned the unsealed souls. By a “tail” the Scriptures denote a pseudoprophet who preaches iniquity; for he is drawn like a tail by the Devil, who through him bewitches and deludes the thoughtless. The tail of a scorpion is smaller than that of a serpent; yet its sting is the cause of tremendous pain and torture, but not of immediate death, like that caused by poisonous serpents. Likewise, the Arians were not poisonous serpents, but scorpions stinging and torturing the soul of the unsealed and infirm in the faith of Christ. The tail bespoke falsehood, while its sting struck the hearers and instilled poison in the souls. However, these were no plain scorpions; for they had “lions’ teeth” through which they attacked and slew the orthodox Christians, besides being guilty of many other wicked and unholy deeds, such as the plundering of the church, the establishment of themselves as Arian bishops, and the driving out and exiling of orthodox functionaries. To these metaphysical serpents and scorpions Christ referred when he said to his disciples: “Behold I give thee power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and upon all power of the enemy and nothing shall harm you.” These monstrous locusts which ascended from the pit of the abyss constituted one of the greatest forces of the enemy; yet they have been crushed under foot by such men as Athanasius, Gregory, and Basil without the least harm whatsoever to the latter. It is quite clear that those who lacked the seal of the knowledge of God suffered because of the locusts, for the latter had been granted the power of harming these for five months. “And their power was to hurt men five months.” Every man born upon earth has the right to be nourished, to grow, and to be perfected; then through physical death to pass on to heavenly mansions and toward a higher perfection. But when men, instead of taking advantage of this privilege, waste their time in the commission of unlawful deeds or in pleasure-giving sin; then that star falls from heaven which fails to illumine men toward the path of duty; and then the pit of the abyss opens so that the locusts may ascend with power to harm men and to deprive them of the life of God and of divine blessings. And so, when men are ignorant of the laws of divine justice, or when they neglect to take advantage of their natural privileges toward their own benefit, progress, and perfection, they are harmed by the Devil and all his cohorts. “And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the abyss, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, bid in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.” Thus, the kingdom of Satan as may be seen also involves authority, privileges, loyalty, and order. The locusts ascended from the gates of hell armed with iron breastplates, with lions’ teeth, with tails and stings of scorpions, and with women’s hair and with faces of men – they ascend with all these weapons to wage war against the Church of Christ. But they did not ascend without a king or general. “and they had a king over them,” the sophistical and insidious Apollo; for they marched upon a war of dogma and argument. And since they had such a leader, it is clear that they also had officers and under-officers, from a general to a corporal. Apollo in this situation corresponds to Arius[5]; while the higher demons correspond to the Arian bishops, the remaining followers of the heresy being represented by the swarms of the many­shaped and numberless locusts. The invisible army of hell battled upon earth through the visible heretics. Apollo operated through Arius until the latter destroyed himself in a most wicked fashion; while Apollo’s main cohorts functioned through the Arian bishops who rushed from one city to another, inspired by the demons called synods, deposed, excommunicated, and by royal power exiled the orthodox Christians, as in the special case of Athanasius, who bravely opposed them and frustrated their knavery. The numberless locusts in the meantime were battling through the numerous followers of the heresy in the home, in the market-place, at the moneychanger’s table, and at all social functions. Therefore, whatever power and ability the invisible demons possessed they imparted to their tools, the heretics, they themselves appearing as warlike steeds with “faces of men,” wearing crowns and having “hair” and heads like those of “women”, the daughters of Eve. Besides, they were armed with “the teeth of lions” and “tails like unto scorpions” and “breastplates of iron” and like winged locusts they rushed about to synods with great noise and sounding as chariots “of many horses running to battle.” And the heretics tormented the Church “five months” or one and one-half century, from the year 321 to the close of 471; but they were finally overpowered by the first four Ecumenical synods, through which the Nicaean creed of faith was maintained and fulfilled. [6]

“One woe is past; and behold there come two woes more hereafter.” – Revelation 9:12

Gone is the “one” and first “woe”, which tormented the Church of Christ five months; however, the great ethical lesson derived therefrom, and the tremendous benefit to the younger generations of Christians, remains the eternal possession of the Church and of the Christians of all ages. Through the first woe we become acquainted with the justified decrees or judgments of the One who sits on the throne; we learn the reason for which stars fall from heaven and why the locust monstrosities ascend from hell, as well as what class of men they have the power to hurt; we learn further through this scourge, the identity of those whom we behold; we find whence the light and the truth come to the midst of men, and whence the smoke and the darkness and the delusion; through the same scourge we behold the ability and the powers possessed by the demons and discover the fact that they impart these to the heretics operated and controlled by them; by means of the very same scourge we also see that the demons defeat and captivate the unsealed Christians, but that they are in turn overcome and routed by the sealed Christians, who receive their strength from the angels of God, as the falling stars and their deluded followers receive their strength from the demons; and finally, through this very same scourge the Christians discover the power of the divine seal, and the great danger they expose themselves to by neglecting this seal, and ultimately learn to avoid the scourges of sin, though in case of emergency they have at hand all the necessary means toward a cure. Such lessons and such benefits derived through Christian misfortune, become a permanent heritage to the children of Christians who praise God’s justice and all His decisions in regard to what “must shortly come to pass” in behalf of our souls and toward our salvation. Truly, as the prophet sings, the judgments of God are true and righteous, and more to be desired than gold or precious stones, sweeter than honey and the honeycomb – when comprehended in connection with historical events taking place in accord with the voice of the divine trumpet. On the other hand, historians who are ignorant of the divine judgments, in beholding occurring events without knowing the causes for these nor the immediate reasons, blame unjustly those who seem to them to be the cause, while at the same time they censure the enemies and the opposers of vice, as the causes of scandal. For this reason, the Holy Spirit prophesies dramatically and prescribes what “must shortly come to pass,” so that Christians may be illumined and escape delusion by the ignorant and thoughtless historians who indite their histories as befits the kingdom of Satan and not the kingdom of God or His righteousness.


[1] De Vere, Philip (Jan 1 1970). Photo Credit: Phillip Medhurst. A print from the Phillip Medhurst Collection of Bible illustrations in the possession of Revd. Philip De Vere at St. Georg’s Court, Kidderminster, England. Licensed Under Creative Commons (CC BY -SA 3.0)

[2]Public Domain. 16th-century fresco depicting the Council of Nicaea

[3] Thus, Makrakis is the first and only historicist commentator on the Apocalypse to point out that the day-year principle of Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4 is fully confirmed in history with the 5 x 30 “days” = 150 years of assault of the Arian Heresy upon the church.

[4] Per the Day/Year principle of prophetic interpretation, “5 months” is equivalent to “150 “days”, or 150 solar years.

[5] EDITOR’S NOTE BY JONATHAN PHOTIUS: This particular verse in the apocalypse is the most fantastic play on words by the author John for aiding us in correctly identifying Arius as the forerunner to the Antichrist who opened the abyss at the sounding of the 5th trumpet. The king of the “locusts” and angel of the bottomless pit or abyss is given the name in Hebrew as Abaddon, or the name in Greek as Apollyon. We shall highlight some key points which help confirm the identification of Arius.

Arius = Abaddon = Apollyon

  • All three names start with the letter A: Arius, Abaddon, Apollyon
  • For the word abyss, if we turn the b upside down to a Greek letter “rho”, the name become aρyss, or “aryss” phonetically in Greek, which is very close phonetically to saying “arius”.
  • Arius spelled in Greek is: Ἄρειος, = Areios means “of Ares” or “devoted to Ares.”  This word also has been used to mean “warlikemartial” because Ares is the Greek god of war.
  • In Greek, ἀρειά (areia) is defined and translated as “threatsmenaces” and ἀρειή (areiē) means “cursing”, “threatening.” This terminology is very synonymous to locusts or scorpions described in the text of the 5th trumpet.
  • The Greek god Ares (Αρης) is derived from the Greek word αρη (are) which means “bane” or ”ruin“. The definition or synonym for the word bane is woe, destruction, or poison. This is all synonyms describing the “man of perdition,” “man of destruction,” “man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) and the “one who makes desolate” (Daniel 9:27). It is very interesting to note that the 5th Trumpet is called the 1st woe, where “woe” is a synonym to the definition of Ares as either a bane, ruin, or destruction, and these are all synonyms of terms used by Daniel and St. Paul.
  • Now the smoking gun… Constantine the Great himself in his letter to Arius and his supporters even referred to Arius as Ares the god of war – (…) “Come now Ares Arius, there is need for shields. Do not do this, we beg; at least, then, let Aphrodite’s intercourse detain you”
  • Abaddon and Apollyon both mean destroyer Apollyon a word derived from the Greek apollyein which means to destroy utterly which also fits in line with “man of destruction” in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 or “mystery of lawlessness” in 2 Thessalonians 2:7
  • Apollo’s identification is primarily as the sun-god, which is interesting given the fact the fifth trumpet describes the obscuring of the metaphysical “Sun” of God, Jesus Christ, know as the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), or the “light of the world” (John 8:12).
  • There is also an ominous similarity of the name Apollyon and Apollinaris, who created a new almost opposite heresy while trying to fight Arianism, stressing more the divinity of Christ with and denying the human nature of Jesus. This heresy, known as Apollinarianism, obscured the Sun, and was also condemned as an offshoot and variation of Arianism at the Second Ecumenical Council.

In summary, the very name of Arius is strongly associated with the definitions of Abaddon and Apollyon. – Jonathan Photius

[6] NOTE FROM 1948 EDITION: The wretched end of Arius in 336 is recounted in the history of the church as follows:  Arius, upon being called by Constantine to be retried and tested as to whether he had repented from his heresy condemned at Nicaea, and as to whether he had embraced the faith or the universal church, deceived the king, through his hypocrisy. The king at once ordered Alexander, patriarch of Constantinople, to admit Arius to communion as an orthodox believer. However, the patriarch detecting Arius’ hypocrisy, prayed unto God to take Arius from their midst as a deceiver and an enemy of the Church. Next morning as Arius came out in royal parade to the Church, he felt a looseness about the intestines. and sought means for immediate relief, but nothing proved of any avail. He died almost instantly after a bowel movement at the back or the Constantine market. Such was the abominable end of Arius in Constantinople In the year 386, eleven years after the Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea, Yet his heresy waxed stronger and stronger oven after his disgraceful decease; for the locusts had the power to torment the unsealed for five months.

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