Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Prophecies of the Death of Christ.
Chapter XIX.—Prophecies of the Death of Christ.
Come now, when you read in the words of David, how that “the Lord reigneth from the tree,” 3356 I want to know what you understand by it. Perhaps you think some wooden 3357 king of the Jews is meant!—and not Christ, who overcame death by His suffering on the cross, and thence reigned! Now, although death reigned from Adam even to Christ, why may not Christ be said to have reigned from the tree, from His having shut up the kingdom of death by dying upon the tree of His cross? Likewise Isaiah also says: “For unto us a child is born.” 3358 But what is there unusual in this, unless he speaks of the Son of God? “To us is given He whose government is upon His shoulder.” 3359 Now, what king is there who bears the ensign of his dominion upon his shoulder, and not rather upon his head as a diadem, or in his hand as a sceptre, or else as a mark in some royal apparel? But the one new King of the new ages, Jesus Christ, carried on His shoulder both the power and the excellence of His new glory, even His cross; so that, according to our former prophecy, He might thenceforth reign from the tree as Lord. This tree it is which Jeremiah likewise gives you intimation of, when he prophesies to the Jews, who should say, “Come, let us destroy the tree with the fruit, (the bread) thereof,” 3360 that is, His body. For so did God in your own gospel even reveal the sense, when He called His body bread; so that, for the time to come, you may understand that He has given to His body the figure of bread, whose body the prophet of old figuratively turned into bread, the Lord Himself designing to give by and by an interpretation of the mystery. If you require still further prediction of the Lords cross, the twenty-first Psalm 3361 is sufficiently able to afford it to you, containing as it does the entire passion of Christ, who was even then prophetically declaring 3362 His glory. “They pierced,” says He, “my hands and my feet,” 3363 which is the special cruelty of the cross. And again, when He implores His Fathers help, He says, “Save me from the lions mouth,” that is, the jaws of death, “and my humiliation from the horns of the unicorns;” in other words, from the extremities of the cross, as we have shown above. Now, David himself did not suffer this cross, nor did any other king of the Jews; so that you cannot suppose that this is the prophecy of any others passion than His who alone was so notably crucified by the nation. Now should the heretics, in their obstinacy, 3364 reject and despise all these interpretations, I will grant to them that the Creator has given us no signs of the cross of His Christ; but they will not prove from this concession that He who was crucified was another (Christ), unless they could somehow show that this death was predicted as His by their own god, so that from the diversity of predictions there might be maintained to be a diversity of sufferers, 3365 and thereby also a diversity of persons. But since there is no prophecy of even Marcions Christ, much less of his cross, it is enough for my Christ that there is a prophecy merely of death. For, from the fact that the kind of death is not declared, it was possible for the death of the cross to have been still intended, which would then have to be assigned to another (Christ), if the prophecy had had reference to another. Besides, 3366 if he should be unwilling to allow that the death of my Christ was predicted, his confusion p. 338 must be the greater 3367 if he announces that his own Christ indeed died, whom he denies to have had a nativity, whilst denying that my Christ is mortal, though he allows Him to be capable of birth. However, I will show him the death, and burial, and resurrection of my Christ all 3368 indicated in a single sentence of Isaiah, who says, “His sepulture was removed from the midst of them.” Now there could have been no sepulture without death, and no removal of sepulture except by resurrection. Then, finally, he added: “Therefore He shall have many for his inheritance, and He shall divide the spoil of the many, because He poured out His soul unto death.” 3369 For there is here set forth the cause of this favour to Him, even that it was to recompense Him for His suffering of death. It was equally shown that He was to obtain this recompense for His death, was certainly to obtain it after His death by means of the resurrection. 3370
Ps. xcvi. 10, with a ligno added.337:3357
Lignarium aliquem regem.337:3358
Isa. ix. 6.337:3359
Isa. ix. 6.337:3360
Jer. xi. 19.337:3361
The twenty-second Psalm. A.V.337:3362
Ps. xxii. 16.337:3364
Passionum, literally sufferings, which would hardly give the sense.337:3366
Quo magis erubescat.338:3368
Isa. liii. 12.338:3370
Both His own and His peoples.
Next: The Subsequent Influence of Christ's Death in the World Predicted. The Sure Mercies of David. What These are.
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