For he stretches out his hand against God, and strengthens himself against the Almighty.
Read Chapter 15
Gregory The Dialogist
48. These things are more plainly understood of the head of the wicked himself, i.e. Antichrist, who, while lifting up his hand against God, is said to be ‘strengthened,’ in that for a little time he is permitted to be exalted; that in proportion as he is let to glory for a while, he may be punished the more pitilessly for everlasting; but seeing that all the wicked are his members, this, which he then in the end of the world shall do alone in a preeminent way, let us see how it is done now by each one of the wicked severally. Thus there are some who even if they do ever set themselves to do things in opposition to the judgment of Almighty God, disabled by the very impossibility of putting their will in execution, look to themselves, are made to turn themselves to Him Whom they were minded to despise, and they, who might have gone far from Him, if they had been able to execute what they were minded to do, are sometimes hereby saved, because they could not execute what they wickedly had the mind for; and hence being brought back to themselves, they see what condition they are of, and mourn that they had the mind to do things contrary to ‘Truth.’ And there are some who by the just judgment of God are suffered to execute with worse wickedness that which they wickedly desire to do in opposition to God. And whilst an evil disposition inflames, and power strengthens them, they are henceforth unable to attain to know themselves in their erring course, in proportion as in the affluence of their fortunes they are by power ever being drawn out of themselves. Concerning the bent of whose mind it is here said, For he stretcheth forth his hand against God, and is strengthened against the Almighty. For ‘to stretch forth the hand against God,’ is to persevere in evil doing, setting at nought the judgments of God. And because God is then more wroth, when He suffers that to be fulfilled, which thing ought not to have been conceived at all in thought, this wicked man is ‘strengthened against the Almighty,’ in that he is suffered to prosper in his wicked course of conduct, so that he should both do wicked things, and yet live in happiness.