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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Holy Scripture in the New Testament, Even in Its Very First Verse, Testifies to Christ's True Flesh.  In Virtue of Which He is Incorporated in the Human Stock of David, and Abraham, and Adam.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXII.—Holy Scripture in the New Testament, Even in Its Very First Verse, Testifies to Christ’s True Flesh.  In Virtue of Which He is Incorporated in the Human Stock of David, and Abraham, and Adam.

They may, then, obliterate the testimony of the devils which proclaimed Jesus the son of David; but whatever unworthiness there be in this testimony, that of the apostles they will never be able to efface. There is, first of all, Matthew, that most faithful chronicler 7243 of the Gospel, because the companion of the Lord; for no other reason in the world than to show us clearly the fleshly original 7244 of Christ, he thus begins his Gospel: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” 7245 With a nature issuing from such fountal sources, and an order gradually descending to the birth of Christ, what else have we here described than the very flesh of Abraham and of David conveying itself down, step after step, to the very virgin, and at last introducing Christ,—nay, producing Christ Himself of the virgin? Then, again, there is Paul, who was at once both a disciple, and a master, and a witness of the selfsame Gospel; as an apostle of the same Christ, also, he affirms that Christ “was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh,” 7246 —which, therefore, was His own likewise.  Christ’s flesh, then, is of David’s seed. Since He is of the seed of David in consequence of Mary’s flesh, He is therefore of Mary’s flesh because of the seed of David. In what way so ever you torture the statement, He is either of the flesh of Mary because of the seed of David, or He is of the seed of David because of the flesh of Mary. The whole discussion is terminated by the same apostle, when he declares Christ to be “the seed of Abraham.” And if of Abraham, how much more, to be sure, of David, as a more recent progenitor! For, unfolding the promised blessing upon all nations in the person 7247 of Abraham, “And in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed,” he adds, “He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” 7248 When we read and believe these things, what sort of flesh ought we, and can we, acknowledge in Christ? Surely none other than Abraham’s, since Christ is “the seed of Abraham;” none other than Jesse’s, since Christ is the blossom of “the stem of Jesse;” none other than David’s, since Christ is “the fruit of David’s loins;” none other than Mary’s, since Christ came from Mary’s womb; and, higher still, none other than Adam’s, since Christ is “the second Adam.” The consequence, therefore, is that they must either maintain, that those (ancestors) had a spiritual flesh, that so there might be derived to Christ the same condition of substance, or else allow that the flesh of Christ was not a spiritual one, since it is not traced from the origin 7249 of a spiritual stock.





Originis carnalis: i.e. “origin of the flesh of.”


Matt. i. 1.


Rom. 1:3, 2 Tim. 2:8.


In nomine: or, “for the sake of.”


Gal. 3:8, 16.



Next: Simeon's “Sign that Should Be Contradicted,” Applied to the Heretical Gainsaying of the True Birth of Christ. One of the Heretics' Paradoxes Turned in Support of Catholic Truth.

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