Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: On the Epistle to the Galatians. The Abolition of the Ordinances of the Mosaic Law No Proof of Another God. The Divine Lawgiver, the Creator Himself, Was the Abrogator. The Apostle's Doctrine in the First Chapter Shown to Accord with the Teaching of the Old Testament. The Acts of the Apostles Shown to Be Genuine Against Marcion. This Book Agrees with the Pauline Epistles.
Chapter II.—On the Epistle to the Galatians. The Abolition of the Ordinances of the Mosaic Law No Proof of Another God. The Divine Lawgiver, the Creator Himself, Was the Abrogator. The Apostles Doctrine in the First Chapter Shown to Accord with the Teaching of the Old Testament. The Acts of the Apostles Shown to Be Genuine Against Marcion. This Book Agrees with the Pauline Epistles.
The epistle which we also allow to be the most decisive 5236 against Judaism, is that wherein the apostle instructs the Galatians. For the abolition of the ancient law we fully admit, and hold that it actually proceeds from the dispensation of the Creator,—a point which we have already often treated in the course of our discussion, when we showed that the innovation was foretold by the prophets of our God. 5237 Now, if the Creator indeed promised that “the ancient things should pass away,” 5238 to be superseded by a new course of things which should arise, whilst Christ marks the period of the separation when He says, “The law and the prophets were until John” 5239 —thus making the Baptist the limit between the two dispensations of the old things then terminating—and the new things then beginning, the apostle cannot of course do otherwise, (coming as he does) in Christ, who was revealed after John, than invalidate “the old things” and confirm “the new,” and yet promote thereby the faith of no other god than the Creator, at whose instance 5240 it was foretold that the ancient things should pass away. Therefore both the abrogation of the law and the establishment of the gospel help my argument even in this epistle, wherein they both have reference to the fond assumption of the Galatians, which led them to suppose that faith in Christ (the Creators Christ, of course) was obligatory, but without annulling the law, because it still appeared to them a thing incredible that the law should be set aside by its own author. Again, 5241 if they had at all heard of any other god from the apostle, would they not have concluded at once, of themselves, that they must give up the law of that God whom they had left, in order to follow another? For what man would be long in learning, that he ought to pursue a new discipline, after he had taken up with a new god? Since, however, 5242 the same God was declared in the gospel which had always been so well known in the law, the only change being in the dispensation, 5243 the sole point of the question to be discussed was, whether the law of the Creator ought by the gospel to be excluded in the Christ of the Creator? Take away this point, and the controversy falls to the ground. Now, since they would all know of themselves, 5244 on the withdrawal of this point, that they must of course renounce all submission to the Creator by reason of their p. 432 faith in another god, there could have been no call for the apostle to teach them so earnestly that which their own belief must have spontaneously suggested to them. Therefore the entire purport of this epistle is simply to show us that the supersession 5245 of the law comes from the appointment of the Creator—a point, which we shall still have to keep in mind. 5246 Since also he makes mention of no other god (and he could have found no other opportunity of doing so, more suitable than when his purpose was to set forth the reason for the abolition of the law—especially as the prescription of a new god would have afforded a singularly good and most sufficient reason), it is clear enough in what sense he writes, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him who hath called you to His grace to another gospel” 5247 —He means) “another” as to the conduct it prescribes, not in respect of its worship; “another” as to the discipline it teaches, not in respect of its divinity; because it is the office of 5248 Christs gospel to call men from the law to grace, not from the Creator to another god. For nobody had induced them to apostatize from 5249 the Creator, that they should seem to “be removed to another gospel,” simply when they return again to the Creator. When he adds, too, the words, “which is not another,” 5250 he confirms the fact that the gospel which he maintains is the Creators. For the Creator Himself promises the gospel, when He says by Isaiah: “Get thee up into the high mountain, thou that bringest to Sion good tidings; lift up thy voice with strength, thou that bringest the gospel to Jerusalem.” 5251 Also when, with respect to the apostles personally, He says, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, that bring good tidings of good” 5252 —even proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles, because He also says, “In His name shall the Gentiles trust;” 5253 that is, in the name of Christ, to whom He says, “I have given thee as a light of the Gentiles.” 5254 However, you will have it that it is the gospel of a new god which was then set forth by the apostle. So that there are two gospels for 5255 two gods; and the apostle made a great mistake when he said that “there is not another” gospel, 5256 since there is (on the hypothesis) 5257 another; and so he might have made a better defence of his gospel, by rather demonstrating this, than by insisting on its being but one. But perhaps, to avoid this difficulty, you will say that he therefore added just afterwards, “Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel, let him be accursed,” 5258 because he was aware that the Creator was going to introduce a gospel! But you thus entangle yourself still more. For this is now the mesh in which you are caught. To affirm that there are two gospels, is not the part of a man who has already denied that there is another. His meaning, however, is clear, for he has mentioned himself first (in the anathema): “But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel.” 5259 It is by way of an example that he has expressed himself. If even he himself might not preach any other gospel, then neither might an angel. He said “angel” in this way, that he might show how much more men ought not to be believed, when neither an angel nor an apostle ought to be; not that he meant to apply 5260 an angel to the gospel of the Creator. He then cursorily touches on his own conversion from a persecutor to an apostle—confirming thereby the Acts of the Apostles, 5261 in which book may be found the very subject 5262 of this epistle, how that certain persons interposed, and said that men ought to be circumcised, and that the law of Moses was to be observed; and how the apostles, when consulted, determined, by the authority of the Holy Ghost, that “a yoke should not be put upon mens necks which their fathers even had not been able to bear.” 5263 Now, since the Acts of the Apostles thus agree with Paul, it becomes apparent why you reject them. It is because they declare no other God than the Creator, and prove Christ to belong to no other God than the Creator; whilst the promise of the Holy Ghost is shown to have been fulfilled in no other document than the Acts of the Apostles. Now, it is not very likely that these 5264 should be found in agreement with the apostle, on the one hand, when they described his career in accordance with his own statement; but should, on the other hand, be at variance with him when they announce the (attribute of) divinity in the Creators Christ—as if Paul p. 433 did not follow 5265 the preaching of the apostles when he received from them the prescription 5266 of not teaching the Law. 5267
See above, in book i. chap. xx., also in book iv. chap. i.431:5238
Comp. Isa. 43:18, 19, Isa. 65:17, 2 Cor. 5:17.431:5239
Luke xvi. 16.431:5240
Ut adhuc suggeremus.432:5247
Gal. 1:6, 7.432:5248
Moverat illos a.432:5250
Gal. i. 7.432:5251
Isa. xl. 9 (Septuagint).432:5252
Isa. lii. 7.432:5253
We have here an instance of the high authority of the Septuagint version. It comes from the Seventy: Καὶ ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνοματι αὐτοῦ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν (Isa. xlii. 4.) From this Tertullian, as usual, quoted it. But what is much more important, St. Matthew has adopted it; see Matt. 12.21. This beautiful promise of the Creator does not occur in its well-known form in the Hebrew original.432:5254
Isa. xlii. 6.432:5255
Apud: “administered by.”432:5256
Gal. i. 7.432:5257
Gal. i. 8.432:5259
Gal. i. 8.432:5260
A similar remark occurs in Præscript. Hæretic. c. xxiii. p. 253.432:5262
See Gal. 1:11, Acts 15:5.432:5264
“The Acts of the Apostles” is always a plural phrase in Tertullian.433:5265
Ut non secutus sit.433:5266
Dedocendæ legis; i.e., of Moses.
Next: St. Paul Quite in Accordance with St. Peter and Other Apostles of the Circumcision. His Censure of St. Peter Explained, and Rescued from Marcion's Misapplication. The Strong Protests of This Epistle Against Judaizers. Yet Its Teaching is Shown to Be in Keeping with the Law and the Prophets. Marcion's Tampering with St. Paul's Writings Censured.
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