The original Alexandrine LXX of 270 B.C.understands the phrase “ships of “chittim” in Daniel 11:30 as referring to Roman ships(Lee, 6). The scribes therefore clearly understand at least some of Daniel’s prophecies as having reference, not to Greece, but to Rome(Lee, 6). The Targum, likewise pre-Christian, refers to the destruction of the Romans(Lee, 6). Josephus similarly refers to what would become the then standard Talmudic as well as medieval Rabbinic interpretation of Daniel understanding the 4th kingdom as referring to Rome(Lee, 6).
As notable for us is Irenaeus, who understands the antichrist both as a future apostate and as having his origins in the Roman Empire itself(Lee, 9). He writes moreover that the currently existing Roman Empire, around the later 2nd century, would later be partitioned into 10 smaller kingdoms. Tertullian, an early chuch writer and contemporary of Irenaeus, likewise identifies the antichrist as having his origins in Rome.
He understands Paul’s reference in 2 Thessalonians 2 to the ‘man of sin’ who sits in the temple and exalts himself as a god as a false teacher who comes in the guise of a teacher of Christ to deceive the world(Lee, 10). Tertullian writes moreover that it is the 10 kings over which the little horn of Rome would rule that which would eventually cause Rome to fall(Lee, 11). Tertullian, amusingly enough, even advises his audience to pray for the Roman kingdom’s continued stability since argues that its fall would result in Antichrist’s rise from its ruins, which of course, would be disastrous for the true church(Lee, 11).
Hippolytus likewise understands Daniel as having reference to the 4th Beast and understands Daniel to referring to 10 kingdoms (when referring to thte 10toes/horns) which eventually arise from the kingdom. Hippolytus understands the image of the Beast as an antitype of the image which Nebuchadnezzar constructed for himself to be worshiped by others(Lee, 12). He understands Daniel’s little horn as having reference to the Antichrist which grows from among the 10 partitioned Roman Christians and persecutes Christians and that in this way the Antichrist would restore the Roman Empire(Lee, 13).He even relates the “666” to the Antichrist’s Latin identity, referring to him as the Latin Antichrist(Lee, 14). He says that the Antichrist would appear resembling the Son of God and that he would abolish 3 of the 10 horns(Lee, 14). Dionysius of Alexandria says that the Roman persecutions of Valerian and Decius foreshadowed that of the Antichrist(Lee, 16). The Pseudo-Sibylline Oracles take the position that the antichrist would be a kind of revived Nero(Lee, 17).
Victorinus, in the oldest available commentary on John’s Apocalypse, likewise speaks of a Roman Antichrrist(Lee, 17). Victorinus writes that the Antichrist would rule over the nations in general and have them at his disposal(Lee, 17). He believes that this Roman Antichrist would kill 3 kingly leaders(Lee, 17). Lactantius expresses his expectation that the Roman empire would begin to break up into 10 kingdoms about 200 years from his own time, the early 4th century(Lee, 18). The Apostolic Constitutions understand the stone cut from Daniel to not only influence Rome’s fall but to occupy the seat of the monarchy, as Constitutine did in the early 4th century.
Cyril of Jerusalem says that the Antichrist would rule over ten kingdoms from within the Roman Empire(Lee, 22). He says there would be about 10 kingdoms that would exist around the same time and that the 11th king, the Antichrist, would arise from within the Roman Empire and would subdue three of these 10 kings.
Hilary of Potiers taught that the “temple” in which the Antichrist would exalt himself was the Church itself(Lee 23). He says that he would come disguised a an angel of light(Lee, 23). Tichonius of Africa likewise believed that the Antichrist would arisewthin the midst of the Church itself.
Ambrose of Milan says that the Antichrist would arise from within the Roman state, and falsify and tamper with the holy scriptures(Lee, 23). Chrysostom likewise argues that the Antichrist would not arise until the fall of the Roman Empire, and that this antichrist would indeed infiltrate the Church of God. Jerome likwise says that the Antichrist would arise from in the midst of the Roman Empire, and that he would cause people to seek him thinking to see Christ, and that they would be thereby deceived(Lee, 25). This would happen when the Roman Empire fell. Jerome even lists the 10 kingdoms he believes are currently contributing to Rome’s fall(Lee, 26).
Martin of Tours understands John’s identification of the Antichrist as “Nero” as typological, indicating that the Antichrist would come, so to speak, in the power and spirit of Nero(Lee, 27). Augustine of Hippo and Saturninus of Abitini both argue that baptisms admitted (contra the Donatists) that baptisms administered by the Antichrist and those belonging to him were legitimate, thus presupposing the Antichrist’s presence within the Church(Lee, 30). Theodoret, Leo the Great, as well as Evagrius, all understand 2 Thessalonians 2 as referring to a self-exalting false teacher within the Church who attains ultimate, god-like power and makes himself out to be God(Lee, 31).
Evagrius of Syria mentions the common belief that the demise of the Roman empire signals the rise of the Antichrist. Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome from 590-604, writing to Eulogius and Anastasius, mentions that one of their episcopal comrades attempted to give himself the title of universal bishop”, which according to Gregory the Great is itself the title of Antichrist(Lee, 32). He points out that no bishop has ever arrogated such a title to himself and condemns such behavior as completely blasphemous, and indeed, the mark of the very Antichrist. He says the same thing of the title of “universal” priest(Lee, 32). Both are titles properly applied to Christ himself, which the Antichrist applies to himgself, thus making hi out to be a god, as 2 Thessalonians said he would and as the patristic writers acknowledged he would.
Lee, Francis, “BIBLICAL PREDICTIONSNOT PRETERIST BUT HISTORICIST”, The Queensland Presbyterian Theological CollegeBrisbane, Queensland, Australia Second edition, 2001 A.D, URL = <www.dr-fnlee.org/docs/bpnpbh/bpnpbh.html>.