Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Lactantius: Chap. XX.—Of the departure of Jesus into Galilee after his resurrection; and of the two testaments, the old and the new
Chap. XX.—Of the Departure of Jesus into Galilee After His Resurrection; And of the Two Testaments, the Old and the New.
Therefore He went into Galilee, for He was unwilling to show Himself to the Jews, lest He should lead them to repentance, and restore them from their impiety to a sound mind. 786 And there He opened to His disciples again assembled the writings of Holy Scripture, that is, the secrets of the prophets; which before His suffering could by no means be understood, for they told of Him and of His passion. Therefore Moses, and the prophets also themselves, call the law which was given to the Jews a testament: for unless the testator shall have died, a testament cannot be confirmed; nor can that which is written in it be known, because it is closed and sealed. And thus, unless Christ had undergone death, the testament could not have been opened; that is, the mystery of God could not have been unveiled 787 and understood.
But all Scripture is divided into two Testaments. That which preceded the advent and passion of Christ—that is, the law and the prophets—is called the Old; but those things which were written after His resurrection are named the New Testament. The Jews make use of the Old, we of the New: but yet they are not discordant, for the New is the fulfilling of the Old, and in both there is the same testator, even Christ, who, having suffered death for us, p. 123 made us heirs of His everlasting kingdom, the people of the Jews being deprived and disinherited. 788 As the prophet Jeremiah testifies when he speaks such things: 789 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new testament 790 to the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not according to the testament which I made to their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; for they continued not in my testament, and I disregarded 791 them, saith the Lord.” Also in another place he says in like manner: 792 “I have forsaken my house, I have given up mine heritage into the hand of its enemies. Mine heritage is become unto me as a lion in the forest; it hath cried out against me, therefore have I hated it.” Since the inheritance is His heavenly kingdom, it is evident that He does not say that He hates the inheritance itself, but the heirs, who have been ungrateful towards Him, and impious. Mine heritage, he says, is become unto me as a lion; that is, I am become a prey and a devouring to my heirs, who have slain me as the flock. It hath cried out against me; that is, they have pronounced against me the sentence of death and the cross. For that which He said above, that He would make 793 a new testament to the house of Judah, shows that the old testament which was given by Moses was not perfect; 794 but that that which was to be given by Christ would be complete. But it is plain that the house of Judah does not signify the Jews, whom He casts off, but us, who have been called by Him out of the Gentiles, and have by adoption succeeded to their place, and are called sons 795 of the Jews, which the Sibyl declares when she says:—“The divine race of the blessed, heavenly Jews.”
But what that race was about to be, Isaiah teaches, in whose book the Most High Father addresses His Son: 796 “I the Lord God have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep Thee: 797 and I have given Thee for a covenant of my race, 798 for a light of the Gentiles; to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.” When, therefore, we who were in time past as it were blind, and as it were shut up in the prison of folly, were sitting in darkness, ignorant of God and of the truth, we have been enlightened by Him, who adopted us by His testament; and having freed us from cruel chains, and brought us out to the light of wisdom, He admitted us to the inheritance of His heavenly kingdom.
[A very feeble exposition of Luke 19:42, 44.]122:787
Revelari, to be laid bare, uncovered, brought to light.123:788
Abdicato et exhæredato. The two expressions are joined together, to give strength. “Abdicati” were sons deprived of a share in their fathers possessions during his life; “exhæredati,” disinherited, those who have forfeited the right of succession after their fathers death.123:789
Jer. 31:31, 32.123:790
Or rather “covenant,” διαθήκη, for this signification is much more in accordance with the general meaning of the passage.123:791
Neglexi; Gr. ἡμέλησα.123:792
Jer. 12:7, 8.123:793
Consummaturum, “would complete,” “make perfect,” as in the next clause.123:794
See Heb. viii. 13, “In that He saith, a new covenant, He hath made the first old.”123:795
St. Johns testimony is more distinct, i. 12: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”123:796
Isa. 42:6, 7.123:797
Confirmabo te, “will strengthen Thee.”123:798
In testamentum generis mei. The word here rendered “covenant” is the same (testamentum) as that translated in other places “testament,” which does not supply the sense here required. The attempt to give the meaning “testament” in all places causes much confusion, as in this passage.
Next: Chap. XXI.—Of the ascension of Jesus, and the foretelling of it; and of the preaching and actions of the disciples
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