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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Chapter I

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 18b Book II.

Chapter I.—Concerning æon or age.

He created the ages Who Himself was before the ages, Whom the divine David thus addresses, From age to age Thou art 1640 . The divine apostle also says, Through Whom He created the ages 1641 .

It must then be understood that the word age has various meanings, for it denotes many things. The life of each man is called an age. Again, a period of a thousand years is called an age 1642 . Again, the whole course of the present life is called an age: also the future life, the immortal life after the resurrection 1643 , is spoken of as an age. Again, the word age is used to denote, not time nor yet a part of time as measured by the movement and course of the sun, that is to say, composed of days and nights, but the sort of temporal motion and interval that is co-extensive with eternity 1644 . For age is to things eternal just what time is to things temporal.

Seven ages 1645 of this world are spoken of, that is, from the creation of the heaven and earth till the general consummation and resurrection of men. For there is a partial consummation, viz., the death of each man: but there is also a general and complete consummation, when the general resurrection of men will come to pass. And the eighth age is the age to come.

Before the world was formed, when there was as yet no sun dividing day from night, there was not an age such as could be measured 1646 , but there was the sort of temporal motion and interval that is co-extensive with eternity. And in this sense there is but one age, and God is spoken of as αἰ& 240·νιος 1647 and προαιώνιος, for the age or æon itself is His creation. For God, Who alone is without beginning, is Himself the Creator of all things, whether age or any other existing thing. And when I say God, it is evident that I mean the Father and His Only begotten Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, and His all-holy Spirit, our one God.

But we speak also of ages of ages, inasmuch as the seven ages of the present world include many ages in the sense of lives of men, and the one age embraces all the ages, and the present and the future are spoken of as age of age. Further, everlasting (i.e. αἰ& 240·νιος) life and everlasting punishment prove that the age or æon to come is unending 1648 . For time will not be counted by days and nights even after the resurrection, but there will rather be one day with no evening, wherein the Sun of Justice will shine brightly on the just, but for the sinful there will be night profound and limitless. In what way then will the period of one thousand years be counted which, according to Origen 1649 , is required for the complete restoration? Of all the ages, therefore, the sole creator is God Who hath also created the universe and Who was before the ages.



Ps. xc. 2.


Hebr. i. 2.


Arist., De Cœlo, bk. 1. text 100.


Matt. 12:32, Luke 7:34.


Greg Naz., Orat. 35, 38, 42.


Basil, De Struct., hom. 2; Greg. Naz., Orat. 44.


Greg. Naz., Orat. 44.


αἰ& 240·νιος, ‘eternal,’ but also ‘secular,’ ‘aeonian,’ ‘age-long.’


Variant, καὶ ἀπέραντον δηλοῖ. In Regg. αἰ& 242·νος is absent.


See his Contr. Cels., iv. Cf. Justin Martyr. Apol. 1; Basil, Hex., hom. 3; Greg. Nyss., Orat. Catech. 26, &c.

Next: Concerning the creation.