The Seven Ecumenical Councils As Foretold in St. John’s Apocalypse

“Wisdom has built herself a house with seven pillars” – Proverbs 9:1

The Apocalypse is about the TESTIMONY of JESUS CHRIST. The opening of the book gets to the heart of the matter in Revelation 1:1 stating the goal of the book. It is about the revelation OF Jesus Christ. That is, it is not just only a revelation given by Christ Himself to show all of the things which must come to pass from the moment John received his vision on Patmos in 96 AD. But it is also the Revelation OF Jesus Christ Himself, and the revelation of the story of the Body of Christ over time throughout history. In Rev 1:2 we read: “This is the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” St. John the Theologian is the divine court’s witness who testified these hidden truths found within the contents of the Book as we read in verse 2: “who testifies to everything he saw”. We read later in the Apocalypse that other witnesses would be called forth to give their testimony in order to defend and proclaim the truth of Christ. The Orthodox Historicist approach to interpreting this mysterious book is that is not only a prophetic, but a historic book on the journey of the True Bride of Christ, i.e., the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, from the time of Christ until His Second Coming. If this is a valid approach to a successful interpretation, then we should expect that the definition of Christ’s true nature and essence must be contained in certain passages and chapters of the apocalypse, showing how it was fulfilled through critical events in the the history of the church. Take for example, whenever the two witnesses of the Woman clothed with the Sun were called forth to defend against any grave heresies which shook the foundations of the church, she ultimately labored to give birth to the very nature of the God-Man, or Man-Child described to us in Revelation 12. That is, she defined the Man-Child/God-Man through the dogmas and creeds. And we know specifically which moments in history this was done. It was through the decrees of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, which formed the seven foundation pillars of the Church on which the Gates of Hell would not prevail against. So then, if the Revelation of Jesus Christ is truly about events which would come to pass relative to the nature of Christ and the story of the Body of Christ – the church – then we should expect the ecumenical councils should have been prophesied somewhere in the pages of the Book of Revelation. After all, this is a story of the revelation of Christ and His Body. Thus, our primary objective here will be to focus on decoding some of the key symbols and passages to reveal possible explanations of the text. And it could potentially lead us to conclude that this mysterious book actually predicted with specific details that the church would one day be called upon to defend against heresies through the ecumenical councils and preserve this testimony throughout the centuries from the enemies of Christ and the Dragon.

Overview/Summary of the Seven Ecumenical Councils

The First Ecumenical Council (Nicea I) was convened in the year 325 against the heresy of Arius, in the city of Nicea in Bithynia under Saint Constantine the Great, Equal of the Apostles.

The Second Ecumenical Council (Constantinople I) was convened in the year 381 against the heresy of Macedonias, by the emperor Theodosius the Great.

The Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus) was convened in the year 431 against the heresy of Nestorius, in the city of Ephesus by the emperor Theodosius the Younger.

The Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon) was convened in the year 451, against the Monophysite heresy, in the city of Chalcedon under the emperor Marcian.

The Fifth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople II) “Concerning the Three Chapters,” was convened in the year 553, under the emperor Justinian the Great.

The Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople III) (January 23) met during the years 680-681, to fight the Monothelite heresy, under the emperor Constantine Pogonatos.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicea II) was convened at Nicea in the year 787 against the Iconoclast heresy, under the emperor Constantine and his mother Irene.

Now let’s take a look at some possible references to the councils in the Apocalypse.

Revelation Chapter 10 – The Seven Thunders

In Revelation 10 we see “another mighty angel come down from heaven” clothed with a cloud. Notice how this language parallels the Nicene Creed “who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven.” This Sun-like angel is none other than Christ Himself. He is the Sun of Righteousness. This sunlike angel is also described as “clothed with a cloud” and a “rainbow was upon his head”. This further confirms his identity as we know during the transfiguration Christ’s face shone like the sun and he was clothed with a cloud. Christ will return coming in the clouds of heaven. The rainbow parallels the covenant after the flood but Christ brings to us a New Covenant.

Next we read about the Sun-like Angel – Jesus Christ:

“And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth, And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.– Revelation 10:2-3

Christ is often referred to as a “Lion from the Tribe of Judah” as we read in Revelation 5:5 – “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals”. And we also read in Amos 3:8 – “The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophecy”. But then as the king of kings roared and cried, we hear “SEVEN THUNDERS uttered their voices”. This is very ominous. We know in scriptures that thunders can be considered proclamations or decrees. As, take for example from the hebrew transliteration of the word thunder:

Are these seven thunders a possible reference of the proclamations of the Sun-Like Angel, describing the very nature of the Man-Child referenced later in Revelation 12? One Orthodox commentator has concluded as such. An Orthodox priest Daniel Sysoev wrote in his book Explanation of the Apocalypse that these Seven Thunders uttered are a reference to the Seven Councils. It is interesting to see Father Daniel take a historicist and idealist approach to some of the verses in Revelation (although for the most part, he was a futurist interpreter of many of the prophecies of the book). However, on pages 132-133 in the book we read:

“The word of God rocks and transfigures a man. It does not allow him to remain as before, but changes everything. The seven thunders that uttered their voices are the Seven Ecumenical Councils, which revealed the mystery of the one God Who came in the flesh. At the ecumenical councils the mysteries of the triunity of God were discussed. The second council stated that Christ took on a human mind and possessed a rational soul. The third stated that Christ is at once both God and man. The fourth council declared that Christ is both God and man, and that His human nature was not destroyed in the divine incarnation. The fifth said that the incarnation of Christ is unique, that the divinity in the Savior subjected humanity to itself, but did not destroy it: Christ became a man at a given moment, not at some point in the distant past, and no transmigration of souls ever took place. The sixth ecumenical council said that Christ has two wills—the divine and the human. Finally, the seventh council declared that Christ became true man, and hence He may be depicted. All the ecumenical councils had a single goal: to comprehend the mysteries of Christ. This is the great mystery of the lion’s roar, which the angel proclaimed according to the will of the Heavenly Father.” – Explanation of the Apocalypse, pp 132. 

Next we read in Revelation chapter 10 verse 4 another reference to the Seven Thunders:

“And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not” – (Revelation 10:4).

Daniel Sysoev goes on to further interpret this passages on why John was told to seal up the Seven Thunders utterances:

Why “seal up”? Because the ecumenical councils were to unfold over time. The Lord did not wish for the Church to exist in a bubble: He led it forth like a military regiment or an army. With good reason one of the ancient hymns states that Christ is the great Emperor of Heaven, who leads His victorious forces forth to rout the powers of darkness. King Solomon likewise, in the book of the Song of Solomon, said that the Church, the Bride of Christ, is beautiful as the moon, and terrible as pikes with standards: Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? (Song of Sol. 6:10). Thus, the Church comprises the great army of God, which overcomes Satan. It was fitting that she should do battle. Seven times she went forth to battle, and she emerged victorious. She conquered all heresies, assembling the powers of the Holy Spirit at the councils, and in the course of the disputes the revelation of God was revealed. It is for this reason that John was commanded to seal up this revelation which he heard and understood, until it should be unfolded over time.” – Explanation of the Apocalypse, pp 133. 

Amazing! When the Seven Thunders uttered their voices, the decisions shook the Christian World. That is, the decrees and proclamations from the Ecumenical Councils spread throughout the Roman Empire and throughout the Christian World with such a final authority. Heretical bishops were excommunicated and exiled in shame. Other churches left in schism over the true nature of Christ and remain as such today. Christ is described to us in Revelation 10 to stand upon the earth and sea with pillars “of fire”. And the Bride of Christ and church of the Logos, Haghia Sophia, the Wisdom of God “hath built herself a house with seven pillars” (Proverbs 9:1).

Revelation Chapter 12 – The Birth of the Man Child “9 Months” after Pentecost

AND SHE BROUGHT FORTH A MAN CHILD“…

Revelation Chapter 12 tells of the story of the “Woman Clothed with Sun” who gives birth to the “Man Child“. This woman is a symbol of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It first is presented as a similar story of the Virgin Mary and Jesus with their flight from Herod to Egypt. But the Apocalypse is not just a story book of rehashed old or new testament stories… this HAS TO BE a prophecy about the future from the time of John.

And we see that the text in Verses 12:2 and 12:5 predict the exact year when the Church would rise and conquer the Pagan Roman power. This victory over paganism was also foretold in the prophecy of Daniel 2, where the stone struck the Roman Empire’s clay-like feet BELOW the division of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western Legs just above the 10 toes representing the 10 tribes and nations that were to rise upon the ruins of the Roman Empire.

“Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.” – Rev 12:2

“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron” – Rev 12:5

On the day of Pentecost (and/or after the resurrection of Christ), the church “conceived” the idea that Jesus was both God and Man. Approximately “40 weeks” of year later, or 280 solar years, the Church’s labor pains (of persecutions and heresy) end with the Edict of Milan. At the same time period in history the “Woman/Bride” also gave birth to the dogmas and decrees of the God-Man/”Man-Child” through the First Ecumenical Council to defeat the heresy of Arius, who as an instrument of the Red Dragon attempted to devour the young “man-child”/God-Man the moment he was born/dogmatized. This event took place immediately after the completion of the 280 years of labor pains of the church struggling through 10 major persecutions and and gnostic heresies.

33 AD + 280 years = 313 AD

So while some of the iconoclastic Full Preterists and other Western Alexander Hyslops like to say that Constantine “paganized” the church by bringing in Sun Worship in 313 AD, the Historicist method of the day-for-a-year principle seems to instead validate that Constantine and the Church gave birth to this EXACTLY 9 MONTHS later (in prophetic years from Pentecost) to the “man-child” or God-Man, also called the “Theanthropos”.

MAN CHILD is a composite term meaning “SON OF GOD” and “SON OF MAN”. The Ancient of Days became the Son of Man at the incarnation, as expressed in the visions of Daniel chapter 7 and interpreted by the great fathers of the Church:

  • «The Ancient of Days became an infant». St. Athanasius of Alexandria. (Homily on the Birth of Christ). 
  • “But what can I say? For the wonder astounds me. The Ancient of Days Who sits upon a high and exalted throne is laid in a manger.” St. John Chrysostom (Homily on the Saviour’s Birth).

The Divinity (“Man”) and Humanity (“Child”) of Christ, was officially expressed “9 prophetic months” or “40 prophetic weeks” later through the Nicene Creed and Decrees of the First Ecumenical Council after the rise the Imperial Church to combat the Arian heresy. Revelation Chapter 12 therefore exposes and reveals to us a “hidden time statement” of 9 prophetic months of years at the moment the Rider on the White Horse goes forth to conquer the paganism of the Roman Empire with the rise of the Imperial Church. This idea of the birth of the man-child occuring 9 months after the church from Pentecost is certainly not a new idea. For example, we find 19th century Western author Edward Bishop Elliott discuss it. From his commentary we find:

“And now then was not the state of things in the Roman empire one that well answered to the crisis depicted in the vision? First the Christian Church, united as one in the true Christian faith, and morally bright and beautiful, abundantly the more so from the purifying effect of the last persecution,—appeared before the world ascendant, for the first time, in the political heaven; with the full sunshine on it of the highest of the three Imperial dignities, the favour of the second, and legal recognition by the whole Roman world: moreover with the chief bishops resplendent at its head, as a starry coronal; the heads, now imperially recognised, of the “duodekafoulon” of the Christian Israel. The time at which she thus appeared has been observed on as the expiration of her 40th week of gestation, calculated on the year-day prophetic chronological scale from the Lord’s ascension. Her travail had begun, above a prophetic week before, in the Diocletianic persecution; and long, and painful, and ineffective hitherto, had been her sufferings. She had been with child: she had been in pain: she had brought forth but wind: she had wrought no deliverance on the earth. But now the hour for her deliverance seemed come. The throes immediately preceding childbirth were upon her, and under the best auspices. The imperial edict of favour to the Christians was but the precursor evidently to the establishment of Christianity; and so, by speedy consequence, to its supremacy in the empire. Might not this be the thing meant by the man-child’s birth and assumption to God’s throne? (FOOTNOTE: As the time of gestation, from the conception to the birth, in women with child, is known to be 40 weeks, or 280 days, so from the first rise of our Saviour’s kingdom at his resurrection and ascension, A.D. 33, till the famous Proclamation and Edict for the universal liberty and advancement of Christianity by Constantine and Licinius, A.D. 313, which put an end to the pangs of birth in the heaviest persecution that ever was then known, was exactly 280 years.” Whiston, p. 247 ; a passage cited by Bishop Newton. The 39th week expired in the Diocletian persecution.) – Horae Apocalypticae; or, A commentary on the Apocalypse, critical and historical; including also an examination of the chief prophecies of Daniel (5th Edition, VOL. III) by Edward Bishop Elliott, 1793-1875 (Publication date 1862)

Another example of the 280-year pregnancy of the Church and its Old Testament parallels was made recently by Orthodox Christian blogger/author Seraphim Hamilton:

“The other day I mentioned the interesting note that the Seventy Weeks of years concludes with the birth of the Gentile church, which grows for forty weeks of years until the Emperor of Rome raises the standard of Christ and formally recognizes Christianity in the Edict of Milan. Forty weeks is likewise the number of weeks from conception to birth, which is by the will of God for symbolic reasons. Consider how Israel passes through the Red Sea precisely as a new birth and then comes into the land of Israel forty years later. We can see the Church’s history in this way as well: the church of the nations is conceived in 33 AD and then is gestated for forty weeks of years. It is born from the womb in 313 AD, where the King who reigns over the nations is given public recognition” – Seraphim Hamilton

Revelation 12:5 – “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”

The Church, or woman clothed with the Sun, gives birth to the “man child”, or the God-Man, the Theanthropos which was dogmatized from the first four ecumenical councils from Nicaea to Chalcedon in defeating the heresies of Arius and Nestorius. This child of the Church, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, would be “caught up unto God, and to his throne” by the understanding of the great fathers of the church that Jesus WAS God, the God-Man who was the divine Logos who sat on the same throne with the Father from the beginning of time.  This has a similar parallel to Daniel 7 with the “Son of Man” approaching the “Ancient of Days”.  It is through the Incarnation, the Logos has a Divine and Human nature. By the fourth ecumenical council the Man-Child/God-Man was born as confirmed with the Chalcedonian Creed:

“Following, then, the holy Fathers, we all unanimously teach that our Lord Jesus Christ is to us One and the same Son, the Self-same Perfect in Godhead, the Self-same Perfect in Manhoodtruly God and truly Man; the Self-same of a rational soul and body; co-essential with the Father according to the Godhead, the Self-same co-essential with us according to the Manhood; like us in all things, sin apart; before the ages begotten of the Father as to the Godhead, but in the last days, the Self-same, for us and for our salvation (born) of Mary the Virgin Theotokos as to the Manhood; One and the Same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten; acknowledged in Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the difference of the Natures being in no way removed because of the Union, but rather the properties of each Nature being preserved, and (both) concurring into One Person and One Hypostasis; not as though He were parted or divided into Two Persons, but One and the Self-same Son and Only-begotten God, Word, Lord, Jesus Christ; even as from the beginning the prophets have taught concerning Him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself hath taught us, and as the Symbol of the Fathers hath handed down to us.”  – From Wikipedia 

Jesus Christ – the God Man and Theanthropos- defined by the fourth ecumenical council in the year 451 AD, is the same Man-Child of the woman clothed with the Sun Christ was defined to be under a single hypostasis but under two natures and two wills. The Red Dragon Satan attempted to devour this doctrine through further heresies but was defeated through future ecumenical councils.

Rev 12: “War In Heaven” – The Ecumenical Councils Waged Between the Byzantine Emperors (“Michael”) and the Dragon

“And there was war in heavenMichael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, who deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7-9  

The “War in Heaven” is describing a critical moment of a conflict or war that was to go on in the church, and this is historically known as the Age of the Ecumenical Councils. We can come to this conclusion by reviewing and decoding the key symbols in Rev 12 verses seven to nine. We have key terms and phrases such as “Heaven”, “War in Heaven”, “Michael”, “angels”,  “cast out” “prevailed not” “angels were cast out”, Their place was not found any more in heaven”.  The key to successfully decoding these symbols and phrases will then show that there are strong parallels in history from the moment the birth of the man child occurred.

On the surface it seems to describe the ancient story of the fall of Satan when he was cast out of heaven at the beginning of the creation of the stars and planets. But this war within Christianity describes a similar fall that would happen to the “angels” who are the “stars” that would fall from heaven. Just as Satan had authority over a third of his angels, he also was given authority to deceive one-third of the bishops and theologians within the Church.

First let’s examine the meaning of “war in heaven” and division. The term “Kingdom of Heaven” is a symbolic representation of the Church, which worships “as they do in heaven.” The Kingdom of God Is Manifested in This Present Age. That is, The kingdom of God is anywhere Jesus is present in any particular place. Jesus embodied the reign of God all by himself! That means that wherever Jesus is present, the kingdom of God has come near! And most certainly, the Church is a place that Jesus is truly present. We are given this truth in the Matthew Chapter 16, which is very important to decoding the use case of the term “heaven” here.  For it is in that chapter that he institutes his church “upon this rock” of Peter’s confession of faith and then immediately says in verse 19, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” The gates of Hades can never prevail against this church. He tells Peter he would give him the keys of the kingdom.  This implies that the church built upon the rock mentioned in verse 18 is most certainly the kingdom mentioned in verse 19.  The Kingdom in verse 19 is therefore the church mentioned in verse 18.  Our Lord Jesus Christ promised to give Peter the keys to the Kingdom of the Heavens. And we know on the day of Pentecost the Keys were given to Peter which would open the door for the way of the Jews (and later by Paul the Gentiles) to come in. So the kingdom of heaven on the earth, through the church then is God’s redemptive reign, in the person of his Son, Jesus Messiah, who has conquered the present evil age and is now visible in the church.  The Church is the gathering together of the people of God and Christ.  It is the house of God and his dwelling place. His Kingdom.

So therefore, this “War in heaven” is a phrase that would describe some sort of great battle or conflict within the church, the Kingdom of Heaven. And examining the history books we know we know this happened through the Seven Ecumenical Councils.  What is the major reason for the conflict?  It is of course over the birth of the male child, that is the arguments over the very nature and essence of the God-Man Jesus Christ. Why is Michael being used here?  Because the very definition of the name of Michael gives us a clue who is the organizer of this battle  or fight which was to occur.

The term “angels” here are symbols for church leaders or “bishops”, because we are told in Revelation chapter 1, that the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.  And recall due to Joseph’s dream in Genesis Chapter 7 and earlier in Revelation 12 that the “stars” represented either patriarchs or apostles.  That is, great leaders of Israel or the Church. And Revelation 1-20 correlates the idea that the angels are stars of seven churches.  We know that starts represent patriarchs, leaders, elders… and there fore they were the bishops who oversaw each respective church in asia minor.  Therefore, the term “angel” here mean “bishop”. Michael would have “angels” fighting for his cause, while the Dragon Satan would also have “angels” or bishops fighting on his side of this conflict within the church. And once again, to be “cast out” and not to have “any place anymore found in heaven” means to get excommunicated, kicked out, split or separated from the church.  To the victor goes the spoils, and here we read that the loser of the battle, Satan, would be cast out of the Kingdom of Heaven or Church, along with the bishops who would be excommunicated as a result of the heresies they attempted to introduce within the church.

So therefore, “War in heaven” is symbolic speak for a battle to be waged within the Church, i.e. the Kingdom of God on the earth.

The name “Michael” means “Who is like unto God.” This verse of “war in heaven” by “Michael” can be none other than a reference to Constantine and the Byzantine Emperors who reigned as representatives of Christ with supreme political authority within the rise of the Imperial Church and the Byzantine Empire. “Angels” as we know from earlier in the apocalypse are the elders and bishops of the church. (i.e., the seven angels/stars of the seven churches). Thus, we can see this parallel relationship of the symbols in the text to the historical testimonies that Constantine and his angels (i.e. bishops) called together the First Ecumenical Council to fight against the Dragon and his bishops such as Arius, battling in the “Kingdom of Heaven” or the Church prior to being “cast out” or excommunicated, such that their “place was not found any more in heaven.”  Nestorius would be another example of the Dragon’s angel.  Satan was able to draw a third of the “stars” (or bishops) of heaven (or the church) through the many heresies during the first few centuries up through the 4th Ecumenical Council.

“Michael” and his “Angels” fighting against the Dragon & Arius

The Roman and Byzantine emperors had various titles describing their absolute authority “who was like unto God” through their various titles such as Caesar, Pontifex Maximus, Basileus, meaning a supreme absolute monarch over the empire. Later as time went on, we would see that the Emperors had tremendous influence on the church with for example the appointment of Patriarchs. The Political system came to be termed or known as Caesaropapism, which is a political system which was known in the late Roman or Byzantine empire where the Eastern Roman Emperor acted as the protector of the universal church and the manager of its administrative affairs.  Emperors presided over councils and their will was decisive in the appointment of Patriarchs and determining the territorial limits of their jurisdiction.  So there was a time we can say they had too much influence on the church, but the term “who is like unto God” hits home the point of the political and religious influence in which they reigned over their empires. So therefore, the Emperors had the authority to call Ecumenical Councils and this we read in Revelation 12:7 that Michael called his angels to battle to cast out the heresies of the Dragon such that they would be not found any more in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The aftermath and fallout of this “war in heaven” resulting in schism (“cast out”) occurred from the Fourth Ecumenical Councils through the Six Ecumenical Councils in which one-third of the Christian churches would break communion from the True Church, or the “woman clothed with the sun”. Due to the condemnations of the Monophysitism Heresy of the 4th Council and the Monotheletism heresy of the 6th Council, the churches could not come to a unanimous agreement through the dissenting bishops. There were attempts at reconciliation after the fourth council but with no success. The churches that split from Constantinople and Rome after the fourth ecumenical council included: Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, and the Armenian Apostolic Church. These churches were “cast out” of heaven, or no longer in communion.

And here are some examples of the calling to battle by Michael, or the one who had supreme arch-angelic authority over the church as “Who was Like Unto God”. The First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 AD was called by Constantine the Great to deal with the heresy of Arius, who was cast out of the Church. The Second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in the year 381 AD was called by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I to deal with the heresies of Arius once again, and the heresies of Apollinaris of (LAYODISHEA) Laodicea and (SABELLIUS) Sabellius, who were cast out of the church. The Third ecumenical council at Ephesus in the year 431 AD was called by the Roman Emperor Theodosius II to deal with the heresy of Nestorius, who was cast out of the church. The Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon was called by Emperor Marcian in 451 AD to deal with the heresy of UTICKEYS (Eutyches) and the Monophysites, who split from the Church and continue to remain in schism even today.. Thus the Byzantine emperors flexed their absolute and supreme political authority to call Ecumenical Councils to address the heresies that threatened the nature of the man-child.  This is a historical fact, and aligns perfectly to the text of Revelation 12.

Revelation 12:10-12 – “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death.  Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil has come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.”

After the victory of the God-Man through the Ecumenical councils, there was worship in heaven celebrating the defeat of the accusation of those like Arius and Nestorius. They overcame him by the word of their testimony confirms that the testimony and decrees of the councils are unshakable and unmovable. The “word of their testimony” are the resultant creeds and decrees announced from each council. Their testimony regarding the nature of the God-Man is true and infallible and cannot ever be shaken! These witnesses to the truth would proclaim it as such during the “1260-day” persecutions to come. This rejoicing of the heavens and those that dwell in them is synonymous to the proclamation or “Confession of the Faith on the Sunday of Orthodoxy” which was celebrated after the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787:

“As the prophets beheld, as the Apostles have taught,… as the Church has received… as the teachers have dogmatized,… as the Universe has agreed,… as Grace has shown forth,… as Truth has revealed,… as falsehood has been dissolved,… as Wisdom has presented,… as Christ Awarded,… thus we declare,… thus we assert,… thus we preach Christ our true God, and honor as Saints in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in churches, in Holy Icons; on the one hand worshipping and reverencing Christ as God and Lord; and on the other hand honoring as true servants of the same Lord of all and accordingly offering them veneration.  This is the Faith of the Apostles, this is the Faith of the Fathers, this is the Faith of the Orthodox, this is the Faith which has established the Universe.”

Revelation 11 – The “Testimony” of the “Two Witnesses”

Revelation 11 makes a reference to “two witnesses” who would testify and proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ. And is this related to the reference of those in Revelation 12 about “word of their testimony” through the ecumenical councils?  Let’s briefly move to some of the key verses in Revelation chapter 11, which will aid us with the identity of the two witnesses.

Revelation 11:3-7 – “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth.   These are the two olive trees, and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth.  And if any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”

The “two witnesses” are considered two classification of witnesses – the Clergy and the Laity – that enabled the birth of the Man-Child by the woman clothed with the Sun. Ecumenical Councils were often attended by BOTH the bishops (clergy) and monks and monastics (laity). The defense of Icons leading to the seventh council bears testimony from the monastic leader St. John of Damascus. The Clergy consists of the bishops and priests who received their authority from the Apostles, while the Laity grew in size and influence, especially within the monastic communities which were to persevere and hide from the Dragon for 1260 years, clothed in sackcloth. Sackcloth is a symbol and garment of mourning. During this time of persecution these two witnesses are covered in black sackcloth to mourn the period of Christ’s glory, which becomes dim with the spread and delusion of Satan. However, Satan is unable to hurt their doctrines and defense of the God-Man. For as new heresies arose to try to cause damage to the two witnesses, then ecumenical councils were called to defend against them, and heretical accusations were met with division and excommunication. Through the Holy Spirit proceeding out of their mouth, they were able to devour any accusations and heresies on the nature of the God-Man.  However, after the Church completed it’s testimony of the seven ecumenical councils, then Satan would finally be allowed to unleash his final and greatest heresy to try to destroy the spread and growth of the woman and her Man Child throughout the world.

The description of the two witnesses are further described by Apostolos Makrakis in his Orthodox Commentary on Revelation:

“Witnesses of Christ and the truth are the faithful clergy and the faithful laity of the Eastern Church who worship God in the altar of His temple nations of the court of the temple which was cast out and prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth, yet adorned by the fruit of the olive tree and the light of the candlestick. (…) The two witnesses possess a knowledge of Christ and His truth which cannot be taken away; those who wish to lead them astray from the truth by means of fallacious arguments or to force them to deny the truth, are those who desire “to hurt” the witnesses, which desire proclaims them enemies. In defending themselves against these enemies the witnesses send “fire … out of their mouth,” that is, refutation and rebuke and disproof of their delusive arguments; and this fire “devoureth their enemies,” or leaves them without an excuse and renders speechless as though dead. The “fire” that “proceedeth out of their mouth” is the word of God, also called the sword of the Spirit. By means of this sword the witnesses repel those who “will hurt them,” or those godless ones who will attempt to entice them into their own godlessness and delusion or to force them to a denial of the faith and confession of Christ whom the testify before men. During this period the two witnesses assume a defensive position, repelling those who “will hurt them;” but they do not attack those of opposite beliefs before these make hostile advances. Therefore, John says: “And if any man will hurt them … he must in this manner be killed.”  The witnesses of Christ use no weapon except the word of God, which is also referred to as “fire … out of their mouth” and as the sword of the Spirit. By means of this sword they destroy anyone who “will hurt them” or would attempt to deprive them of the truth which they consider their most priceless possession. It is quite obvious, then, that Christ’s witnesses do not destroy their enemies physically, but spiritually, by frustrating and killing the activities of their wicked will, since their only weapon of defense is the sword of the Spirit, or God’s word burning like fire and proceeding “out of their mouth.” This sword destroys the delusion and the wicked will of the enemy but not his body. Moreover, the phrase “and he must in this manner be killed” precludes all opposition by physical weapons and death through these. And he who wishes to harm the witnesses of Christ must be killed by the fire which proceeds “from their mouth,” and in no other way; neither by spear, nor by club, nor by any other instrument dealing death to the body and not to the wicked will of the soul. This is the significance of “and if any man will hurt them . . . he must in this manner be killed.” (…) The same authority is exercised by the two witnesses in the spiritual world, for these two are witnesses of the Spirit and the truth of God. They shut off the heavens and as a result the divine word is no longer taught in the regions of the godless and the unbelieving; moreover, the witnesses do not attempt to enlighten the godless as to the truth and to liberate them from their delusion, for they judge the godless unworthy of hearing God’s word. The witnesses are content to repel the attacks of the enemy and to maintain the truth; however, they lack the zeal to disseminate it, owing to the prevailing godlessness and the pronounced shunning of the truth by men. The consequence of such conditions, according to prophesy, is famine–not for lack of bread or water, but famine for lack of hearing the word of God. Therefore the change of the “waters . . . to blood” in a spiritual sense signifies the following. Water represents the Holy Scriptures, which quench the thirst of the soul; however, when the Scriptures are distorted and misinterpreted by the heretics, they are turned to “blood,” which causes death to the soul as the water of the Nile, turned into blood, brought death to all the fish within it. Thus, the witnesses of Christ during this epoch leave the heretics free to misconstrue the Scriptures to their own perdition, because they consider it utter futility to teach the godless the sound meanings of the Word, of God. “And have power … to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” Yet the witnesses do not abuse this privilege but rather pray to God for the impious and sinners that He postpone their death until they have repented and led a godly life. Such is the power of the two witnesses, and such is the manner in which they exercise it with relation to their own epoch. Small and insignificant as they appear to the eyes of the deluded world, they are deemed worthy of the highest honor in the eyes of God.” – Apostolos Makrakis, Interpretation of the Revelation of St. John the Divine (1881 AD)

Revelation 11:7 – “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.”

The key phrase here which foretells and describes the work of the Seven Ecumenical Councils is: “when they have finished their testimony.” To finish “their testimony” and to prophesy in sackcloth one thousand two hundred sixty days are two entirely different and distinct tasks of the two witnesses. To finish the “testimony” naturally implies to confirm all the truths of the Christian faith which are attacked by the heretics. The completion or consummation of Christian testimony, began with the first Ecumenical Synod and ended with the seventh Nicaean Ecumenical Synod through which the various dogmas and tenets of the Christian faith, upheld to this day by the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ, were assured and established. Thus the Clergy and Laity in the church began to complete “their testimony” through the creation of the Nicene Creed and statement of the nature of Christ at Chalcedon and also through later canons of the seven ecumenical councils. Only after the completion of this testimony the “beast” was permitted out of the bottomless pit to make war against the Christian empires and overcome them. Prophesying in sackcloth continues throughout the one thousand two hundred sixty days; whereas the consummation or completion of Christian testimony takes place within a certain limited period of time as a task of specified duration. Prophesy in sackcloth began on the day when Omar the Caliph set foot within the holy city of Jerusalem and erected the temple for the worship of the Antichrist Mohammed, and it continued throughout the one thousand two hundred sixty years of the oppression of Jerusalem.

The Fifth Trumpet of Revelation 9 – The 150-year Arian Scourge from Nicaea to Chalcedon

“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; 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 9:1-2

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 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.

Revelation 12:17 – The Offspring Who Have the “Testimony” of Jesus Christ

Revelation 12:17 – “And the dragon was angry with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Who is the daughter identified as the Seed of the Woman?  Revelation 12:17 clearly states it is the remnant church in later generations descended from the seed of the woman which kept the commandments of God given to us from the 12 “stars” or Apostles through the Gospels… and it would be the CHURCH THAT HAS THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST.  This is a critical phrase in the verse.  Who is the Church that has the TESTIMONY of Jesus Christ?   It is the Church that still guards and protects the “TESTIMONY” of Jesus Christ through the Seven Ecumenical Councils!

The Church that bore the testimony of the two witnesses, with fire proceeding from her mouth to defend the God-Man the Theanthropos, the Man Child with Two Natures and Two Wills, and did not waver on this truth and fall away to schism and heresy for a period of “time of times and a half of a time”, or 1260 years of tribulation.

The Book of Proverb prophetically proclaims: “Wisdom has built herself a house with seven pillars“ – The Testimony of Jesus Christ is revealed to us with the Dogmas and Decrees of the Seven Ecumenical Councils defending the Birth of the Man Child, that is the God-Man Jesus Christ Satan, being enraged against the Church and his defeat through the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the decree of Theodora halting the influence of the flood of the “new scriptures” and the Koran upon the Church, went on to make war with the subsequent future generations which sprang from the “seed” of the Woman. But Satan could not destroy and divide the Church and the definition of the God-Man which was a grave challenge to his authority in the world. The Gates of Hell would never prevail.

Conclusion – The “Testimony” of Jesus Christ As Defined By the Creeds and Councils

There is ample evidence to suggest the Seven Ecumenical Councils are foretold in the Book of Revelation. Critical symbols, phrases and verses help us identify that the Bride of Christ and her two witnesses were often called upon to defend the divinity and humanity of Christ through their testimony of the councils and statement of belief defined in the Nicene Creed. The prophetic evidence of the seven councils includes the following prophecies:

  • The “Seven Thunders” uttered in Revelation 10
  • Revelation 12:1-5 predicted the “birth” of the “Man Child” which foretold the definition of the God-Man as described by the Church, which was fulfilled exactly 9 prophetic months (or 280 years) after Pentecost through the Edict of Milan and the formation of the Nicene Creed with the First Ecumenical Council.
  • The “War in Heaven” described in Revelation 12 is a reference to the ecumenical councils called by the Roman or Byzantine emperors to combat the heresies against the Man-Child/God-Man, fully God and fully Man, a single hypostasis of his divine and human natures.
  • The “testimony” of the two witnesses began with the first Ecumenical Synod and ended with the seventh Nicaean Ecumenical Synod through which the various dogmas and tenets of the Christian faith.
  • The 150-year scourge of the Arian heresy against the Church was foretold in the fifth trumpet, measured from Nicaea to Chalcedon.
  • The ongoing conflict between the dragon continues against those who have kept the commandments of god and have the “testimony of Jesus Christ.” This testimony is still upheld to this day by the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ reveals to us not only the true nature of Christ, the Man-Child or God-Man with two natures and two wills and a single hypostasis of His divine and human natures, but specifically details the revelation of the “Body of Christ”, that is, the Church and True Bride of Christ throughout history…. the Woman Clothed with The Sun, that is. The story and victory of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Amen!

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