CHAP. IV.--WARNINGS AGAINST HERESY GIVEN US IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. SUNDRY PASSAGES ADDUCED. THESE IMPLY THE POSSIBILITY OF FALLING INTO HERESY.
But let us rather be mindful of the sayings of the Lord, and of the letters of the apostles; for they have both told us beforehand that there shall be heresies, and have given us, in anticipation, warnings to avoid them; and inasmuch as we are not alarmed because they exist, so we ought not to wonder that they are capable of doing that, on account of which they must be shunned. The Lord teaches us that many "ravening wolves shall come in sheep's clothing." Now, what are these sheep's clothing's, but the external surface of the Christian profession? Who are the ravening wolves but those deceitful senses and spirits which are lurking within to waste the flock of Christ? Who are the false prophets but deceptive predictors of the future? Who are the false apostles but the preachers of a spurious gospel? Who also are the Antichrists, both now and evermore, but the men who rebel against Christ? Heresies, at the present time, will no less rend the church by their perversion of doctrine, than will Antichrist persecute her at that day by the cruelty of his attacks, except that persecution makes even martyrs, (but) heresy only apostates. And therefore "heresies must needs be in order that they which are approved might be made manifest, both those who remained stedfast under persecution, and those who did not wander out of their way into heresy. For the apostle does not mean that those persons should be deemed approved who exchange their creed for heresy; although they contrariously interpret his words to their own side, when he says in another passage, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good;" as if, after proving all things amiss, one might not through error make a determined choice of some evil thing.
From "Against Marcion"
BOOK V, CHAPTER IX. THE DOCTRINE OF THE RESURRECTION. THE BODY WILL RISE AGAIN. CHRIST'S JUDICIAL CHARACTER. JEWISH PERVERSIONS OF PROPHECY EXPOSED AND CONFUTED. MESSIANIC PSALMS VINDICATED. JEWISH AND RATIONALISTIC INTERPRETATIONS ON THIS POINT SIMILAR. JESUS — NOT HEZEKIAH OR SOLOMON — THE SUBJECT OF THESE PROPHECIES IN THE PSALMS. NONE BUT HE IS THE CHRIST OF THE OLD AND THE NEW TESTAMENTS.
When he says, For He must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet, we can see at once from this statement that he speaks of a God of vengeance, and therefore of Him who made the following promise to Christ: Sit at my right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool. The rod of Your strength shall the Lord send forth from Sion, and He shall rule along with You in the midst of Your enemies. It is necessary for me to lay claim to those Scriptures which the Jews endeavour to deprive us of, and to show that they sustain my view. Now they say that this Psalm was a chant in honour of Hezekiah, because he went up to the house of the Lord, and God turned back and removed his enemies. Therefore, (as they further hold,) those other words, Before the morning star did I beget you from the womb, are applicable to Hezekiah, and to the birth of Hezekiah.
We on our side have published Gospels (to the credibility of which we have to thank them for having given some confirmation, indeed, already in so great a subject ); and these declare that the Lord was born at night, that so it might be before the morning star, as is evident both from the star especially, and from the testimony of the angel, who at night announced to the shepherds that Christ had at that moment been born, and again from the place of the birth, for it is towards night that persons arrive at the (eastern) inn. Perhaps, too, there was a mystic purpose in Christ's being born at night, destined, as He was, to be the light of the truth amidst the dark shadows of ignorance.
Nor, again, would God have said, I have begotten You, except to His true Son. For although He says of all the people (Israel), I have begotten children, Isaiah 1:2 yet He added not from the womb. Now, why should He have added so superfluously this phrase from the womb (as if there could be any doubt about any one's having been born from the womb), unless the Holy Ghost had wished the words to be with special care understood of Christ? I have begotten You from the womb, that is to say, from a womb only, without a man's seed, making it a condition of a fleshly body that it should come out of a womb. What is here added (in the Psalm), You are a priest for ever, relates to (Christ) Himself. Hezekiah was no priest; and even if he had been one, he would not have been a priest for ever. After the order, says He, of Melchizedek. Now what had Hezekiah to do with Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God, and him uncircumcised too, who blessed the circumcised Abraham, after receiving from him the offering of tithes? To Christ, however, the order of Melchizedek will be very suitable; for Christ is the proper and legitimate High Priest of God. He is the Pontiff of the priesthood of the uncircumcision, constituted such, even then, for the Gentiles, by whom He was to be more fully received, although at His last coming He will favour with His acceptance and blessing the circumcision also, even the race of Abraham (the Jews), which by and by is to acknowledge Him.
Well, then, there is also another Psalm, which begins with these words: Give Your judgments, O God, to the King, that is, to Christ who was to come as King, and Your righteousness unto the King's son, that is, to Christ's people; for His sons are they who are born again in Him. But it will here be said that this Psalm has reference to Solomon. However, will not those portions of the Psalm which apply to Christ alone, be enough to teach us that all the rest, too, relates to Christ, and not to Solomon? He shall come down, says He, like rain upon a fleece, and like dropping showers upon the earth, describing His descent from heaven to the flesh as gentle and unobserved. Solomon, however, if he had indeed any descent at all, came not down like a shower, because he descended not from heaven. But I will set before you more literal points. He shall have dominion, says the Psalmist, from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. To Christ alone was this given; while Solomon reigned over only the moderately-sized kingdom of Judah. Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him. Whom, indeed, shall they all thus worship, except Christ? All nations shall serve Him. To whom shall all thus do homage, but Christ? His name shall endure forever. Whose name has this eternity of fame, but Christ's? Longer than the sun shall His name remain, for longer than the sun shall be the Word of God, even Christ. And in Him shall all nations be blessed. In Solomon was no nation blessed; in Christ every nation. And what if the Psalm proves Him to be even God? They shall call Him blessed. (On what ground?) Because blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who only does wonderful things. Blessed also is His glorious name, and with His glory shall all the earth be filled. On the contrary, Solomon (as I make bold to affirm) lost even the glory which he had from God, seduced by his love of women even into idolatry. And thus, the statement which occurs in about the middle of this Psalm, His enemies shall lick the dust (of course, as having been, (to use the apostle's phrase,) put under His feet ), will bear upon the very object which I had in view, when I both introduced the Psalm, and insisted on my opinion of its sense — namely, that I might demonstrate both the glory of His kingdom and the subjection of His enemies in pursuance of the Creator's own plans, with the view of laying down this conclusion, that none but He can be believed to be the Christ of the Creator.
Book 5, Chapter 12. The Eternal Home in Heaven. Beautiful Exposition by Tertullian of the Apostle's Consolatory Teaching Against the Fear of Death, So Apt to Arise Under Anti-Christian Oppression. The Judgment-Seat of Christ — The Idea, Anti-Marcionite. Paradise. Judicial Characteristics of Christ Which are Inconsistent with the Heretical Views About Him; The Apostle's Sharpness, or Severity, Shows Him to Be a Fit Preacher of the Creator's Christ.
Both those shall be raised incorruptible, because they shall regain their body — and that a renewed one, from which shall come their incorruptibility; and these also shall, in the crisis of the last moment, and from their instantaneous death, while encountering the oppressions of anti-christ, undergo a change, obtaining therein not so much a divestiture of body as a clothing upon with the vesture which is from heaven.
This is why he shows us how much better it is for us not to be sorry, if we should be surprised by death, and tells us that we even hold of God the earnest of His Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:5) (pledged as it were thereby to have the clothing upon, which is the object of our hope), and that so long as we are in the flesh, we are absent from the Lord;
(2 Corinthians 5:6) moreover, that we ought on this account to prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord, (2 Corinthians 5:8) and so to be ready to meet even death with joy. In this view it is that he informs us how we must all appear before the judgement-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according as he has done either good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10) Since, however, there is then to be a retribution according to men's merits, how will any be able to reckon with God? But by mentioning both the judgment-seat and the distinction between works good and bad, he sets before us a Judge who is to award both sentences (2 Corinthians 5:10) and has thereby affirmed that all will have to be present at the tribunal in their bodies.
bOOK 5, CHAPTER 16. THE Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. An Absurd Erasure of Marcion; Its Object Transparent. The Final Judgment on the Heathen as Well as the Jews Could Not Be Administered by Marcion's Christ. The Man of Sin — What? Inconsistency of Marcion's View. The Antichrist. The Great Events of the Last Apostasy Within the Providence and Intention of the Creator, Whose are All Things from the Beginning. Similarity of the Pauline Precepts with Those of the Creator.
We are obliged from time to time to recur to certain topics in order to affirm truths which are connected with them. We repeat then here, that as the Lord is by the apostle proclaimed as the awarder of both good and woe, He must be either the Creator, or (as Marcion would be loth to admit) One like the Creator — "with whom it is a righteous thing to recompense tribulation to them who afflict us, and to ourselves, who are afflicted, rest, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed as coming from heaven with the angels of His might and in flaming fire" (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8). The heretic, however, has erased "the flaming fire", no doubt that he might extinguish all traces herein of our own God.
But, the folly of the obliteration is clearly seen. For as the apostle declares that the Lord will "come to take vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel, who, he says, shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power" (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9) — it follows that, as He comes to inflict punishment, He must require the flaming fire.
Thus on this consideration too we must, notwithstanding Marcion's opposition, conclude that Christ belongs to a God who kindles the flames (of vengeance), and therefore to the Creator, inasmuch as He takes vengeance on such as know not the Lord, that is, on the heathen. For he has mentioned separately those "who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 1:8) whether they be sinners among Christians or among Jews.
Now, to inflict punishment on the heathen, who very likely have never heard of the Gospel, is not the function of that God who is naturally unknown, and who is revealed nowhere else than in the Gospel, and therefore cannot be known by all men. The Creator, however, ought to be known even by (the light of) nature, for He may be understood from His works, and may thereby become the object of a more widely spread knowledge. To Him, therefore, does it appertain to punish such as know not God, for none ought to be ignorant of Him. In the (apostle's) phrase, "From the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power" (2 Thessalonians 1:9) he uses the words of Isaiah who for the express reason makes the self-same Lord arise to "shake terribly the earth".
Well, but who is the man of sin, the son of perdition, who must first be revealed before the Lord comes; "who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; who is to sit in the temple of God, and boast himself as being God"? (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
According indeed to our view, he is Antichrist; as it is taught us in both the ancient and the new prophecies, and especially by the Apostle John, who says that already many false prophets are gone out into the world, the fore-runners of Antichrist, who deny that Christ has come in the flesh, (1 John 4:1-3) and do not acknowledge Jesus (to be the Christ), meaning in God the Creator.
According, however, to Marcion's view, it is really hard to know whether He might not be (after all) the Creator's Christ; because according to him He is not yet come. But whichsoever of the two it is, I want to know why he comes "in all power, and with lying signs and wonders"? (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Because, he says, they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; for which cause God shall send them "an instinct of delusion (to believe a lie), that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
If therefore he be Antichrist, (as we hold), and comes according to the Creator's purpose, it must be God the Creator who sends him to fasten in their error those who did not believe the truth, that they might be saved; His likewise must be the truth and the salvation, who avenges (the contempt of) them by sending error as their substitute — that is, the Creator, to whom that very wrath is a fitting attribute, which deceives with a lie those who are not captivated with truth.
If, however, he is not Antichrist, as we suppose (him to be), then He is the Christ of the Creator, as Marcion will have it. In this case how happens it that he can suborn the Creator's Christ to avenge his truth? But should he after all agree with us, that Antichrist is here meant, I must then likewise ask how it is that he finds Satan, an angel of the Creator, necessary to his purpose? Why, too, should Antichrist be slain by Him, while commissioned by the Creator to execute the function of inspiring men with their love of untruth? In short, it is incontestable that the emissary, and the truth, and the salvation belong to Him to whom also appertain the wrath, and the jealousy, and the sending of the "strong delusion" (2 Thessalonians 2:11), on those who despise and mock, as well as upon those who are ignorant of Him; and therefore even Marcion will now have to come down a step, and concede to us that his god is a jealous god.
This being then an unquestionable position, I ask, which God has the greater right to be angry? He, as I suppose, who from the beginning of all things has given to man, as primary witnesses for the knowledge of Himself, nature in her (manifold) works, kindly providences, plagues, and indications (of His divinity), but who in spite of all this evidence has not been acknowledged; or he who has been brought out to view once for all in one only copy of the gospel — and even that without any sure authority — which actually makes no secret of proclaiming another god? Now He who has the right of inflicting the vengeance, has also sole claim to that which occasions the vengeance, I mean the Gospel; (in other words,) both the truth and (its accompanying) salvation. The charge, that "if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10), is in strict accordance with the precept of Him who ordered that "the mouth of the ox that treads out the grain should not be muzzled" (Deuteronomy 25:4).
From "An Answer to the Jews"
Chapter 8. Of the Times of Christ's Birth and Passion, and of Jerusalem's Destruction. Daniel's 70 weeks* equaling 490 years
Accordingly the times must be inquired into of the predicted and future nativity of the Christ, and of His passion, and of the extermination of the city of Jerusalem, that is, its devastation. For Daniel says, that both the holy city and the holy place are exterminated together with the coming Leader, and that the pinnacle is destroyed unto ruin. And so the times of the coming Christ, the Leader, Isaiah 55:4 must be inquired into, which we shall trace in Daniel; and, after computing them, shall prove Him to be come, even on the ground of the times prescribed, and of competent signs and operations of His. Which matters we prove, again, on the ground of the consequences which were ever announced as to follow His advent; in order that we may believe all to have been as well fulfilled as foreseen.
In such wise, therefore, did Daniel predict concerning Him, as to show both when and in what time He was to set the nations free; and how, after the passion of the Christ, that city had to be exterminated. For he says thus: In the first year under Darius, son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who reigned over the kingdom of the Chaldees, I Daniel understood in the books the number of the years.... And while I was yet speaking in my prayer, behold, the man Gabriel, whom I saw in the vision in the beginning, flying; and he touched me, as it were, at the hour of the evening sacrifice, and made me understand, and spoke with me, and said, Daniel I am now come out to imbue you with understanding; in the beginning of your supplication went out a word. And I have come to announce to you, because you are a man of desires; and ponder on the word, and understand in the vision. Seventy weeks (hebdomads) have been abridged upon your commonalty, and upon the holy city, until delinquency be made inveterate, and sins sealed, and righteousness obtained by entreaty, and righteousness eternal introduced; and in order that vision and prophet may be sealed, and an holy one of holy ones anointed. And you shall know, and thoroughly see, and understand, from the going forth of a word for restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem unto the Christ, the Leader, weeks of seven and an half (49 1/2 years) and sixty-two and a half (434 1/2 years): and it shall convert, and shall be built into height and entrenchment, and the times shall be renewed: and after these sixty-two weeks shall the anointing be exterminated, and shall not be; and the city and the holy place shall he exterminate together with the Leader, who is making His advent; and they shall be cut short as in a deluge, until (the) end of a war, which shall be cut short unto ruin. And he shall confirm a testament in many. In one week (7 years) and the half of the week (3 1/2 years) shall be taken away my sacrifice and libation, and in the holy place the execration of devastation, (and ) until the end of (the) time, consummation shall be given with regard to this devastation."
Observe we, therefore, the limit — how, in truth, he predicts that there are to be seventy weeks (490 years), within which if they receive Him, it shall be built into height and entrenchment, and the times shall be renewed. But God, foreseeing what was to be — that they will not merely not receive Him, but will both persecute and deliver Him to death — both recapitulated, and said, that in sixty and two (62 weeks) and an half (3 1/2 years) of a week He is born, and an holy one of holy ones is anointed; but that when seven weeks and an half were fulfilling, He had to suffer, and the holy city had to be exterminated after one and an half hebdomad — whereby namely, the seven and an half hebdomads have been completed. For he says thus: And the city and the holy place to be exterminated together with the leader who is to come; and they shall be cut short as in a deluge; and he shall destroy the pinnacle unto ruin. Whence, therefore, do we show that the Christ came within the sixty-two and an half weeks? We shall count, moreover, from the first year of Darius, as at this particular time is shown to Daniel this particular vision; for he says, And understand and conjecture that at the completion of your word I make you these answers. Whence we are bound to compute from the first year of Darius, when Daniel saw this vision.
Editor's Note: *Weeks (in hebrew "sabu'im" and in greek "heptad"... means a group of seven. Translated in english as "weeks" or sometimes as "sevens"... refers to weeks of years and not weeks of days. Such as, one week equals seven years. Daniel's prophecy involves "the number of the years" and in no way refers to days. The Hebrew word for "weeks" means "a group of seven" but in the western modern world is only used commonly for days of a week which is seven in number. The Jews however, used both a "week" of days where the seventh day was a sabbatical day... and also, a week of years, where the seventh year was a sabbatical year. This "group of seven" years was repeated seven times to accumulate 49 years and then adding one year for the 50th year called the "year of jubilee". The 50 year cycle would then repeat over again.
Let us see, therefore, how the years are filled up until the advent of the Christ: —
"For Darius reigned... 19 years.Artaxerxes reigned... 41 years.Then King Ochus (who is also called Cyrus) reigned... 24 years.Argus...one year.Another Darius, who is also named Melas... 21 years.Alexander the Macedonian... 12 years."
(Total = 118 years)
Then, after Alexander, who had reigned over both Medes and Persians, whom he had reconquered, and had established his kingdom firmly in Alexandria, when withal he called that (city) by his own name; after him reigned, (there, in Alexandria,)
"Soter... 35 years.To whom succeeds Philadelphus, reigning... 38 years.To him succeeds Euergetes... 25 years.Then Philopator... 17 years.After him Epiphanes... 24 years.Then another Euergetes... 29 years.Then another Soter,.. 38 years.Ptolemy... 37 years.Cleopatra,... 20 years and 5 months.Yet again Cleopatra reigned jointly with Augustus... 13 years. After Cleopatra, Augustus reigned another... 43 years.For all the years of the empire of Augustus were... 56 years."
Editor's Note: (Christ is born after Augustus reigns 28 years after the death of Cleopatra = 304 years and 5 months).
The above sections make up Tertullian's 62 and 1/2 weeks = 437 years and 6 months (118 year + 319 and 5 months = 437 years and (6) months).
Let us see, moreover, how in the forty-first year of the empire of Augustus, when he has been reigning for 28 years after the death of Cleopatra, the Christ is born (after 118 years + 304 years and 5 months = 422 years and 5 months). (And the same Augustus survived, after Christ is born, 15 years; and the remaining times of years to the day of the birth of Christ will bring us to the forty-first year, which is the 28th of Augustus after the death of Cleopatra.) There are, (then,) made up 437 years, 5 months (118 years + 304 years and 5 months + 15 years): (whence are filled up 62 weeks and an half: which make up 437 years, 6 months:) on the day of the birth of Christ. And (then) righteousness eternal was manifested, and an Holy One of holy ones was anointed — that is, Christ — and sealed was vision and prophet, and sins were remitted, which, through faith in the name of Christ, are washed away for all who believe in Him. But what does he mean by saying that vision and prophecy are sealed? That all prophets ever announced of Him that He was to come and had to suffer. Therefore, since the prophecy was fulfilled through His advent, for that reason he said that vision and prophecy were sealed; inasmuch as He is the signet of all prophets, fulfilling all things which in days bygone they had announced of Him. For after the advent of Christ and His passion there is no longer vision or prophet to announce Him as to come. In short, if this is not so, let the Jews exhibit, subsequently to Christ, any volumes of prophets, visible miracles wrought by any angels, (such as those) which in bygone days the patriarchs saw until the advent of Christ, who is now come; since which event sealed is vision and prophecy, that is, confirmed. And justly does the evangelist write, The law and the prophets (were) until John the Baptist. For, on Christ's being baptized, that is, on His sanctifying the waters in His own baptism, all the plenitude of bygone spiritual grace-gifts ceased in Christ, sealing as He did all vision and prophecies, which by His advent He fulfilled. Whence most firmly does he assert that His advent seals visions and prophecy."
Accordingly, showing, (as we have done,) both the number of the years, and the time of the sixty-two and an half fulfilled weeks, on completion of which, (we have shown) that Christ has come, that is, has been born, let us see what (mean) other seven and an half weeks, which have been subdivided in the abscision of the former weeks; (let us see, namely,) in what event they have been fulfilled:—
"For, after Augustus who survived after the birth of Christ, are made up...15 years.To whom succeeded Tiberius Cæsar, and held the empire... 20 years, 7 months, 28 days.(In the fiftieth year of his empire Christ suffered, being about 30 years of age when he suffered.)Again Caius Cæsar, also called Caligula,... 3 years, 8 months, 13 days.Nero Cæsar,... 11 years, 9 months, 13 days.Galba... 7 months, 6 days.Otho... 3 days.Vitellius,... 8 mos., 27 days."
Editor's Note: This section above is Tertulian's 7 and 1/2 weeks of 52 years and 6 months: (Total from Chist's birth until 1st year of Vespian = 49 years, 39 months, 90 days = 52 years, 3 months, and 90 days = 52 years and 6 months.)
Editor's Note: (62 and 1/2 weeks + 7 and 1/2 weeks = 437 years and 6 months + 52 years and 6 months = 490 years). Note: In Tertullian's calculation there is no actual final one week (70th week) isolated by itself as one week in which the week is divided in half (3 1/2 years + 3 1/2 years). Rather, it appears that Tertullian adds the half weeks to the 62 weeks and 7 weeks sections. For a correct understanding of the 70 weeks of Daniel, please read from St. Hippolytus of Rome and St. Irenaeus.
Vespasian, in the first year of his empire, subdues the Jews in war; and there are made 52 years, 6 months. For he reigned 21 years. And thus, in the day of their storming, the Jews fulfilled the 70 weeks predicted in Daniel.
Therefore, when these times also were completed, and the Jews subdued, there afterwards ceased in that place libations and sacrifices, which thenceforward have not been able to be in that place celebrated; for the unction, too, was exterminated in that place after the passion of Christ. For it had been predicted that the unction should be exterminated in that place; as in the Psalms it is prophesied, They exterminated my hands and feet. And the suffering of this extermination was perfected within the times of the 70 weeks, under Tiberius Cæsar, in the consulate of Rubellius Geminus and Fufius Geminus, in the month of March, at the times of the passover, on the eighth day before the calends of April, on the first day of unleavened bread, on which they slew the lamb at even, just as had been enjoined by Moses. Accordingly, all the synagogue of Israel did slay Him, saying to Pilate, when he was desirous to dismiss Him, His blood be upon us, and upon our children; and, If you dismiss him, you are not a friend of Cæsar; John 19:12 in order that all things might be fulfilled which had been written of Him.
"He shall have dominion, says the Psalmist, from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. To Christ alone was this given".