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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 2

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 2.—At What Time the Promise of God Was Fulfilled Concerning the Land of Canaan, Which Even Carnal Israel Got in Possession.

In the preceding book we said, that in the promise of God to Abraham two things were promised from the beginning, the one, name p. 338 ly, that his seed should possess the land of Canaan, which was intimated when it was said, “Go into a land that I will show thee, and I will make of thee a great nation;” 981 but the other far more excellent, concerning not the carnal but the spiritual seed, by which he is the father, not of the one nation of Israel, but of all nations who follow the footsteps of his faith, which began to be promised in these words, “And in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” 982   And thereafter we showed by yet many other proofs that these two things were promised.  Therefore the seed of Abraham, that is, the people of Israel according to the flesh, already was in the land of promise; and there, not only by holding and possessing the cities of the enemies, but also by having kings, had already begun to reign, the promises of God concerning that people being already in great part fulfilled:  not only those that were made to those three fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and whatever others were made in their times, but those also that were made through Moses himself, by whom the same people was set free from servitude in Egypt, and by whom all bygone things were revealed in his times, when he led the people through the wilderness.  But neither by the illustrious leader Jesus the son of Nun, who led that people into the land of promise, and, after driving out the nations, divided it among the twelve tribes according to God’s command, and died; nor after him, in the whole time of the judges, was the promise of God concerning the land of Canaan fulfilled, that it should extend from some river of Egypt even to the great river Euphrates; nor yet was it still prophesied as to come, but its fulfillment was expected.  And it was fulfilled through David, and Solomon his son, whose kingdom was extended over the whole promised space; for they subdued all those nations, and made them tributary.  And thus, under those kings, the seed of Abraham was established in the land of promise according to the flesh, that is, in the land of Canaan, so that nothing yet remained to the complete fulfillment of that earthly promise of God, except that, so far as pertains to temporal prosperity, the Hebrew nation should remain in the same land by the succession of posterity in an unshaken state even to the end of this mortal age, if it obeyed the laws of the Lord its God.  But since God knew it would not do this, He used His temporal punishments also for training His few faithful ones in it, and for giving needful warning to those who should afterwards be in all nations, in whom the other promise, revealed in the New Testament, was about to be fulfilled through the incarnation of Christ.



Gen. 12:1, 2.


Gen. 12.3.

Next: Chapter 3

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