And some of them of understanding shall fall
Not into sin, or from the religion they profess; and the doctrines they have an understanding of, and have instructed others in; but into distresses and calamities for their steadfast adherence to the word, worship, and ordinances of God: to try them, and purge and make them white;
to try their faith, patience, and other graces, and whether they would hold fast their profession, and persevere in the good ways of God; and to purge and separate them from others, that were like chaff, hypocrites, that so they might be manifest, both the one and the other; and these good men appear to be sincere and upright: moreover, the best of men have their dross, and chaff, and spots, to be removed from them; and this is one way of doing it, even by afflictions: the allusion, in the first word, is to the melting, purifying, and refining of metals, gold and silver; the second to the winnowing of a grain floor, and separating the chaff from the wheat; and the third to the cleansing and whitening of cloths, and taking the spots out of them by the fuller. Afflictions are the furnace in which the Lord refines and purifies his people; the fan with which he purges his floor; and the fuller's soap with which he makes his people white; by all this the iniquity of Jacob is purged, and the fruit of it is to take away sin, ( Isaiah 27:9 ) , so that afflictions are not hurtful, but beneficial to the saints, even those more violent ones, severe persecutions. Even to the time of the end;
because it is yet for a time appointed; these distresses, calamities, and persecutions, would have an end, and the time for it was appointed of God; as yet it was not come, but quickly would, and then an end would be put to the third or Grecian monarchy; a hint of the Roman power over that being given, ( Daniel 11:30 ) , hence we have no further account of Antiochus or his sons. Very remarkable are the words of Aemilius Sara F13,
``the Assyrians first were possessors of monarchy; then the Medes; afterwards the Persians; then the Macedonians; from that time the kings, Philip and Antiochus, who sprung from the Macedonians, being conquered, not long after Carthage was subdued, the supreme power of empire came to the Roman people;''of whom, under one character or another, the following part of the prophecy is chiefly to be understood. So another historian says F14, Antiochus being drove out of Asia, the Romans first set footing there; and another F15 observes, that Antiochus being defeated by L. Cornelius Scipio, he took the name of Asiaticus, because he had conquered Asia; as his brother was called Africanus, from his subduing Africa: wherefore Asia and Africa being now in the hands of the Romans, the supreme power might well be said to be with them; and therefore, henceforward, are only spoken of, and particularly the Roman antichrist.
F13 De annis populi Romani apud Velleii Paterculi Hist. Roman. l. 1. c. 6.
F14 "Festi Breviarium, prope initium".
F15 Eutropii Hist. Rom. l. 4. So Plutarch. in Vita Scipionis Africani.