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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Early Manifestations of the Son of God, as Recorded in the Old Testament; Rehearsals of His Subsequent Incarnation.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XVI.—Early Manifestations of the Son of God, as Recorded in the Old Testament; Rehearsals of His Subsequent Incarnation.

But you must not suppose that only the works which relate to the (creation of the) world were made by the Son, but also whatsoever since that time has been done by God. For “the Father who loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand,” 7961 loves Him indeed from the beginning, and from the very first has handed all things over to Him. Whence it is written, “From the beginning the Word was with God, and the Word was God;” 7962 to whom “is given by the Father all power in heaven and on earth.” 7963 “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son” 7964 —from the very beginning even. For when He speaks of all power and all judgment, and says that all things were made by Him, and all things have been delivered into His hand, He allows no exception (in respect) of time, because they would not be all things unless they were the things of all time. It is the Son, therefore, who has been from the beginning administering judgment, throwing down the haughty tower, and dividing the tongues, punishing the whole world by the violence of waters, raining upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone, as the Lord from the Lord.  For p. 612 He it was who at all times came down to hold converse with men, from Adam on to the patriarchs and the prophets, in vision, in dream, in mirror, in dark saying; ever from the beginning laying the foundation of the course of His dispensations, which He meant to follow out to the very last. Thus was He ever learning even as God to converse with men upon earth, being no other than the Word which was to be made flesh. But He was thus learning (or rehearsing), in order to level for us the way of faith, that we might the more readily believe that the Son of God had come down into the world, if we knew that in times past also something similar had been done. 7965 For as it was on our account and for our learning that these events are described in the Scriptures, so for our sakes also were they done—(even ours, I say), “upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 7966 In this way it was that even then He knew full well what human feelings and affections were, intending as He always did to take upon Him man’s actual component substances, body and soul, making inquiry of Adam (as if He were ignorant), 7967 “Where art thou, Adam?” 7968 —repenting that He had made man, as if He had lacked foresight; 7969 tempting Abraham, as if ignorant of what was in man; offended with persons, and then reconciled to them; and whatever other (weaknesses and imperfections) the heretics lay hold of (in their assumptions) as unworthy of God, in order to discredit the Creator, not considering that these circumstances are suitable enough for the Son, who was one day to experience even human sufferings—hunger and thirst, and tears, and actual birth and real death, and in respect of such a dispensation “made by the Father a little less than the angels.” 7970 But the heretics, you may be sure, will not allow that those things are suitable even to the Son of God, which you are imputing to the very Father Himself, when you pretend 7971 that He made Himself less (than the angels) on our account; whereas the Scripture informs us that He who was made less was so affected by another, and not Himself by Himself. What, again, if He was One who was “crowned with glory and honour,” and He Another by whom He was so crowned, 7972 —the Son, in fact, by the Father? Moreover, how comes it to pass, that the Almighty Invisible God, “whom no man hath seen nor can see; He who dwelleth in light unapproachable;” 7973 “He who dwelleth not in temples made with hands;” 7974 “from before whose sight the earth trembles, and the mountains melt like wax;” 7975 who holdeth the whole world in His hand “like a nest;” 7976 “whose throne is heaven, and earth His footstool;” 7977 in whom is every place, but Himself is in no place; who is the utmost bound of the universe;—how happens it, I say, that He (who, though) the Most High, should yet have walked in paradise towards the cool of the evening, in quest of Adam; and should have shut up the ark after Noah had entered it; and at Abraham’s tent should have refreshed Himself under an oak; and have called to Moses out of the burning bush; and have appeared as “the fourth” in the furnace of the Babylonian monarch (although He is there called the Son of man),—unless all these events had happened as an image, as a mirror, as an enigma (of the future incarnation)? Surely even these things could not have been believed even of the Son of God, unless they had been given us in the Scriptures; possibly also they could not have been believed of the Father, even if they had been given in the Scriptures, since these men bring Him down into Mary’s womb, and set Him before Pilate’s judgment-seat, and bury Him in the sepulchre of Joseph. Hence, therefore, their error becomes manifest; for, being ignorant that the entire order of the divine administration has from the very first had its course through the agency of the Son, they believe that the Father Himself was actually seen, and held converse with men, and worked, and was athirst, and suffered hunger (in spite of the prophet who says: “The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, shall never thirst at all, nor be hungry;” 7978 much more, shall neither die at any time, nor be buried!), and therefore that it was uniformly one God, even the Father, who at all times did Himself the things which were really done by Him through the agency of the Son.



John iii. 35. Tertullian reads the last clause (according to Oehler), “in sinu ejus,” q.d. “to Him who is in His bosom.”


John i. 1.


Matt. xxviii. 18.


John v. 22.


See our Anti-Marcion, p. 112, note 10. Edin.


Comp. 1 Cor. x. 11.


See the treatise, Against Marcion. ii. 25, supra.


Gen. iii. 9.


Gen. vi. 6.


Ps. viii. 6.




Ps. viii. 6.


1 Tim. vi. 16.


Acts xvii. 24.


Joel 2:10, Ps. 97:5.


Isa. x. 14.


Isa. lxvi. 1.


Isa. xl. 28.

Next: Sundry August Titles, Descriptive of Deity, Applied to the Son, Not, as Praxeas Would Have It, Only to the Father.

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