Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part I: The Question Whether Christ Be Come Taken Up.
Chapter VII.—The Question Whether Christ Be Come Taken Up.
Therefore upon this issue plant we foot to foot, whether the Christ who was constantly announced as to come be already come, or whether His coming be yet a subject of hope. For proof of which question itself, the times likewise must be examined by us when the prophets announced that the Christ would come; that, if we succeed in recognising that He has come within the limits of those times, we may without doubt believe Him to be the very one whose future coming was ever the theme of prophetic song, upon whom we—the nations, to wit—were ever announced as destined to believe; and that, when it shall have been agreed that He is come, we may undoubtedly likewise believe that the new law has by Him been given, and not disavow the new testament in Him and through Him drawn up for us. For that Christ was to come we know that even the Jews do not attempt to disprove, inasmuch as it is to His advent that they are directing their hope. Nor need we inquire at more length concerning that matter, since in days bygone all the prophets have prophesied of it; as Isaiah: “Thus saith the Lord God to my Christ (the) Lord, 1218 whose right hand I have holden, that the nations may hear Him: the powers of kings will I burst asunder; I will open before Him the gates, and the cities shall not be closed to Him.” Which very thing we see fulfilled. For whose right hand does God the Father hold but Christs, His Son?—whom all nations have heard, that is, whom all nations have believed,—whose preachers, withal, the apostles, are pointed to in the Psalms of David: “Into the universal earth,” says he, “is gone out their sound, and unto the ends of the earth their words.” 1219 For upon whom else have the universal nations believed, but upon the Christ who is already come? For whom have the nations believed,—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and they who inhabit Mesopotamia, Armenia, Phrygia, Cappadocia, and they who p. 158 dwell in Pontus, and Asia, and Pamphylia, tarriers in Egypt, and inhabiters of the region of Africa which is beyond Cyrene, Romans and sojourners, yes, and in Jerusalem Jews, 1220 and all other nations; as, for instance, by this time, the varied races of the Gætulians, and manifold confines of the Moors, all the limits of the Spains, and the diverse nations of the Gauls, and the haunts of the Britons—inaccessible to the Romans, but subjugated to Christ, and of the Sarmatians, and Dacians, and Germans, and Scythians, and of many remote nations, and of provinces and islands many, to us unknown, and which we can scarce enumerate? In all which places the name of the Christ who is already come reigns, as of Him before whom the gates of all cities have been opened, and to whom none are closed, before whom iron bars have been crumbled, and brazen gates 1221 opened. Although there be withal a spiritual sense to be affixed to these expressions,—that the hearts of individuals, blockaded in various ways by the devil, are unbarred by the faith of Christ,—still they have been evidently fulfilled, inasmuch as in all these places dwells the “people” of the Name of Christ. For who could have reigned over all nations but Christ, Gods Son, who was ever announced as destined to reign over all to eternity? For if Solomon “reigned,” why, it was within the confines of Judea merely: “from Beersheba unto Dan” the boundaries of his kingdom are marked. 1222 If, moreover, Darius “reigned” over the Babylonians and Parthians, he had not power over all nations; if Pharaoh, or whoever succeeded him in his hereditary kingdom, over the Egyptians, in that country merely did he possess his kingdoms dominion; if Nebuchadnezzar with his petty kings, “from India unto Ethiopia” he had his kingdoms boundaries; 1223 if Alexander the Macedonian he did not hold more than universal Asia, and other regions, after he had quite conquered them; if the Germans, to this day they are not suffered to cross their own limits; the Britons are shut within the circuit of their own ocean; the nations of the Moors, and the barbarism of the Gætulians, are blockaded by the Romans, lest they exceed the confines of their own regions. What shall I say of the Romans themselves, 1224 who fortify their own empire with garrisons of their own legions, nor can extend the might of their kingdom beyond these nations? But Christs Name is extending everywhere, believed everywhere, worshipped by all the above-enumerated nations, reigning everywhere, adored everywhere, conferred equally everywhere upon all. No king, with Him, finds greater favour, no barbarian lesser joy; no dignities or pedigrees enjoy distinctions of merit; to all He is equal, to all King, to all Judge, to all “God and Lord.” 1225 Nor would you hesitate to believe what we asseverate, since you see it taking place.
The reference is to Isa. xlv. 1. A glance at the LXX. will at once explain the difference between the reading of our author and the genuine reading. One letter—an “ι”—makes all the difference. For Κύρῳ has been read Κυρίῳ. In the Eng. ver. we read “His Anointed.”157:1219
Ps. 19:4, Rom. 10:18.158:1220
See Acts 2:9, 10, 5.158:1221
See Isa. 45:1, 2 (especially in Lowths version and the LXX.).158:1222
See 1 Kings iv. 25. (In the LXX. it is 3 Kings iv. 25; but the verse is omitted in Tischendorfs text, ed. Lips. 1860, though given in his footnotes there.) The statement in the text differs slightly from Oehlers reading; where I suspect there is a transposition of a syllable, and that for “in finibus Judæ tantum, a Bersabeæ,” we ought to read “in finibus Judææ tantum, a Bersabe.” See de Jej. c. ix.158:1223
See Esth. 1:1, Esth. 8:9.158:1224
[Dr. Allix thinks these statements define the Empire after Severus, and hence accepts the date we have mentioned, for this treatise.]158:1225
Comp. John xx. 28.
Next: Of the Times of Christ's Birth and Passion, and of Jerusalem's Destruction.
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