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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part I: Of the Abolition and the Abolisher of the Old Law.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VI.—Of the Abolition and the Abolisher of the Old Law.

Therefore, since it is manifest that a sabbath temporal was shown, and a sabbath eternal foretold; a circumcision carnal foretold, and a circumcision spiritual pre-indicated; a law temporal and a law eternal formally declared; sacrifices carnal and sacrifices spiritual foreshown; it follows that, after all these precepts had been given carnally, in time preceding, to the people Israel, there was to supervene a time whereat the precepts of the ancient Law and of the old ceremonies would cease, and the promise 1211 of the new law, and the recognition of spiritual sacrifices, and the promise of the New Testament, supervene; 1212 while the light from on high would beam upon us who were sitting in darkness, and were being detained in the shadow of death. 1213 And so there is incumbent on us a necessity 1214 binding us, since we have premised that a new law was predicted by the prophets, and that not such as had been already given to their fathers at the time when He led them forth from the land of Egypt, 1215 to show and prove, on the one hand, that that old Law has ceased, and on the other, that the promised new law is now in operation.

And, indeed, first we must inquire whether there be expected a giver of the new law, and an heir of the new testament, and a priest of the new sacrifices, and a purger of the new circumcision, and an observer of the eternal sabbath, to suppress the old law, and institute the new testament, and offer the new sacrifices, and repress the ancient ceremonies, and suppress 1216 the old circumcision together with its own sabbath, 1217 and announce the new kingdom which is not corruptible. Inquire, I say, we must, whether this giver of the new law, observer of the spiritual sabbath, priest of the eternal sacrifices, eternal ruler of the eternal kingdom, be come or no: that, if he is already come, service may have to be rendered him; if he is not yet come, he may have to be awaited, until by his advent it be manifest that the old Law’s precepts are suppressed, and that the beginnings of the new law ought to arise.  And, primarily, we must lay it down that the ancient Law and the prophets could not have ceased, unless He were come who was constantly announced, through the same Law and through the same prophets, as to come.



Or, “sending forth”—promissio.


The tautology is again due to the author.


Comp. Luke 1:78, 79, Isa. 9:1, 2, with Matt. iv. 12-16.


Comp. 1 Cor. ix. 16.


See ch. iii. above.


Here again the repetition is the author’s.


Cum suo sibi sabbato. Unless the meaning be—which the context seems to forbid—“together with a sabbath of His own:”  the Latinity is plainly incorrect.

Next: The Question Whether Christ Be Come Taken Up.

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