Ante-nicene fathers



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“Then what follows of the Psalm is this, in which He says: ‘Our fathers trusted in Thee; they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them. They cried unto Thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people; ’which show that He admits them to be His fathers, who trusted in God and were saved by Him, who also were the fathers of the Virgin, by whom He was born and became man; and He foretells that He shall be saved by the same God, but boasts not in accomplishing anything through His own will or might. For when on earth He acted in the very same manner, and answered to one who addressed Him as ‘Good Master: ’‘Why callest thou me good? One is good, my Father who is in heaven.’388 But when He says, ‘I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people, ’He prophesied the things which do exist, and which happen to Him. For we who believe on Him are everywhere a reproach, ‘despised of the people; ’for, rejected and dishonoured by your nation, He suffered those indignities which you planned against Him. And the following: ‘All they that see me laughed me to scorn; they spake with the lips, they shook the head: He trusted in the Lord; let Him deliver him, since he desires Him; ’this likewise He foretold should happen to Him. For they that saw Him crucified shook their heads each one of them, and distorted their lips, and twisting their noses to each other,389 they spake in mockery the words which are recorded in the memoirs of His apostles: ‘He said he was the Son of God: let him come down; let God save him.’

Chapter CII.—The Prediction of the Events Which Happened to Christ When He Was Born. Why God Permitted It.



“And what follows—‘My hope from the breasts of my mother. On Thee have I been cast from the womb; from my mother’s belly Thou art my God: for there is no helper. Many calves have compassed me; fat bulls have beset me round. They opened their mouth upon me, as a ravening and a roaring lion. All my bones are poured out and dispersed like water. My heart has become likes wax melting in the midst of my belly. My strength is become dry like a potsherd; and my tongue has cleaved to my throat’—foretold what would come to pass; for the statement, ‘My hope from the breasts of my mother, ’[is thus explained]. As soon as He was born in Bethlehem, as I previously remarked, king Herod, having learned from the Arabian Magi about Him, made a plot to put Him to death and by God’s command Joseph took Him with Mary and departed into Egypt. For the Father had decreed that He whom He had begotten should be put to death, but not before He had grown to manhood, and proclaimed the word which proceeded from Him. But if any of you say to us, Could not God rather have put Herod to death? I return answer by anticipation: Could not God have cut off in the beginning the serpent, so that he exist not, rather than have said, ‘And I will put enmity between him and the woman, and between his seed and her seed? ’390 Could He not have at once created a multitude of men? But yet, since He knew that it would be good, He created both angels and men free to do that which is righteous, and He appointed periods of time during which He knew it would be good for them to have the exercise of free-will; and because He likewise knew it would be good, He made general and particular judgments; each one’s freedom of will, however, being guarded. Hence Scripture says the following, at the destruction of the tower, and division and alteration of tongues: ‘And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they have begun to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them of all which they have attempted to do.’391 And the statement, ‘My strength is become dry like a potsherd, and my tongue has cleaved to my throat, ’was also a prophecy of what would be done by Him according to the Father’s will. For the power of His strong word, by which He always confuted the Pharisees and Scribes, and, in short, all your nation’s teachers that questioned Him, had a cessation like a plentiful and strong spring, the waters of which have been turned off, when He kept silence, and chose to return no answer to any one in the presence of Pilate; as has been declared in the memoirs of His apostles, in order that what is recorded by Isaiah might have efficacious fruit, where it is written, ‘The Lord gives me a tongue, that I may know when I ought to speak.’392 Again, when He said, ‘Thou art my God; be not far from me, ’He taught that all men ought to hope in God who created all things, and seek salvation and help from Him alone; and not suppose, as the rest of men do, that salvation can be obtained by birth, or wealth, or strength, or wisdom. And such have ever been your practices: at one time you made a calf, and always you have shown yourselves ungrateful, murderers of the righteous, and proud of your descent. For if the Son of God evidently states that He can be saved, [neither]393 because He is a son, nor because He is strong or wise, but that without God He cannot be saved, even though He be sinless, as Isaiah declares in words to the effect that even in regard to His very language He committed no sin (for He committed no iniquity or guile with His mouth), how do you or others who expect to be saved without this hope, suppose that you are not deceiving yourselves?

Chapter CIII.—The Pharisees are the Bulls: the Roaring Lion is Herod or the Devil.



“Then what is next said in the Psalm—‘For trouble is near, for there is none to help me. Many calves have compassed me; fat bulls have beset me round. They opened their mouth upon me as a ravening and roaring lion. All my bones are poured out and dispersed like water, ’—was likewise a prediction of the events which happened to Him. For on that night when some of your nation, who had been sent by the Pharisees and Scribes, and teachers,394 came upon Him from the Mount395 of Olives, those whom Scripture called butting and prematurely destructive calves surrounded Him. And the expression, ‘Fat bulls have beset me round, ’He spoke beforehand of those who acted similarly to the calves, when He was led before your teachers. And the Scripture described them as bulls, since we know that bulls are authors of calves’ existence. As therefore the bulls are the begetters of the calves, so your teachers were the cause why their children went out to the Mount of Olives to take Him and bring Him to them. And the expression, ‘For there is none to help, ’is also indicative of what took place. For there was not even a single man to assist Him as an innocent person. And the expression, ‘They opened their mouth upon me like a roaring lion, ’ designates him who was then king of the Jews, and was called Herod, a successor of the Herod who, when Christ was born, slew all the infants in Bethlehem born about the same time, because he imagined that amongst them He would assuredly be of whom the Magi from Arabia had spoken; for he was ignorant of the will of Him that is stronger than all, how He had commanded Joseph and Mary to take the Child and depart into Egypt, and there to remain until a revelation should again be made to them to return into their own country. And there they did remain until Herod, who slew the infants in Bethlehem, was dead, and Archelaus had succeeded him. And he died before Christ came to the dispensation on the cross which was given Him by His Father. And when Herod succeeded Archelaus, having received the authority which had been allotted to him, Pilate sent to him by way of compliment Jesus bound; and God foreknowing that this would happen, had thus spoken: ‘And they brought Him to the Assyrian, a present to the king.’396 Or He meant the devil by the lion roaring against Him: whom Moses calls the serpent, but in Job and Zechariah he is called the devil, and by Jesus is addressed as Satan, showing that a compounded name was acquired by him from the deeds which he performed. For >sata in the Jewish and Syrian tongue means apostate; and >nas is the word from which he is called by interpretation the serpent, i.e., according to the interpretation of the Hebrew term, from both of which there arises the single word Satanas. For this devil, when [Jesus] went up from the river Jordan, at the time when the voice spake to Him, ‘Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten Thee, ’397 is recorded in the memoirs of the apostles to have come to Him and tempted Him, even so far as to say to Him, ‘Worship me; ’and Christ answered him, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan: thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.’398 For as he had deceived Adam, so he hoped399 that he might contrive some mischief against Christ also. Moreover, the statement, ‘All my bones are poured out400 and dispersed like water; my heart has become like wax, melting in the midst of my belly, ’was a prediction of that which happened to Him on that night when men came out against Him to the Mount of Olives to seize Him. For in the memoirs which I say were drawn up by His apostles and those who followed them, [it is recorded] that His sweat fell down like drops of blood while He was praying, and saying, ‘If it be possible, let this cup pass: ’401 His heart and also His bones trembling; His heart being like wax melting in His belly:402 in order that we may perceive that the Father wished His Son really403 to undergo such sufferings for our sakes, and may not say that He, being the Son of God, did not feel what was happening to Him and inflicted on Him. Further, the expression, ‘My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue has cleaved to my throat, ’was a prediction, as I previously remarked, of that silence, when He who convicted all your teachers of being unwise returned no answer at all.

Chapter CIV.—Circumstances of Christ’s Death are Predicted in This Balm.

“And the statement, ‘Thou hast brought me into the dust of death; for many dogs have surrounded me: the assembly of the wicked have beset me round. They pierced my hands and my feet. They did tell all my bones. They did look and stare upon me. They parted my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture, ’—was a prediction, as I said before, of the death to which the synagogue of the wicked would condemn Him, whom He calls both dogs and hunters, declaring that those who hunted Him were both gathered together and assiduously striving to condemn Him. And this is recorded to have happened in the memoirs of His apostles. And I have shown that, after His crucifixion, they who crucified Him parted His garments among them.

Chapter CV.—The Psalm Also Predicts the Crucifixion and the Subject of the Last Prayers of Christ on Earth.

“And what follows of the Psalm,—‘But Thou, Lord, do not remove Thine assistance from me; give heed to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword, and my404 only-begotten from the hand of the dog; save me from the lion’s mouth, and my humility from the horns of the unicorns, ’—was also information and prediction of the events which should befall Him. For I have already proved that He was the only-begotten of the Father of all things, being begotten in a peculiar manner Word and Power by Him, and having afterwards become man through the Virgin, as we have learned from the memoirs. Moreover, it is similarly foretold that He would die by crucifixion. For the passage, ‘Deliver my soul from the sword, and my405 only-begotten from the hand of the dog; save me from the lion’s mouth, and my humility from the horns of the unicorns, ’is indicative of the suffering by which He should die, i.e., by crucifixion. For the ‘horns of the, unicorns, ’I have already explained to you, are the figure of the cross only. And the prayer that His soul should be saved from the sword, and lion’s mouth, and hand of the dog, was a prayer that no one should take possession of His soul: so that, when we arrive at the end of life, we may ask the same petition from God, who is able to turn away every shameless evil angel from taking our souls. And that the souls survive, I have shown406 to you from the fact that the soul of Samuel was called up by the witch, as Saul demanded. And it appears also, that all the souls of similar righteous men and prophets fell under the dominion of such powers, as is indeed to be inferred from the very facts in the case of that witch. Hence also God by His Son teaches407 us for whose sake these things seem to have been done, always to strive earnestly, and at death to pray that our souls may not fall into the hands of any such power. For when Christ was giving up His spirit on the cross, He said, ‘Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit, ’408 as I have learned also from the memoirs. For He exhorted His disciples to surpass the pharisaic way of living, with the warning, that if they did not, they might be sure they could not be saved; and these words are recorded in the memoirs: ‘Unless your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’409

Chapter CVI.—Christ’s Resurrection is Foretold in the Conclusion of the Psalm.

“The remainder of the Psalm makes it manifest that He knew His Father would grant to Him all things which He asked, and would raise Him from the dead; and that He urged all who fear God to praise Him because He had compassion on all races of believing men, through the mystery of Him who was crucified; and that He stood in the midst of His brethren the apostles (who repented of their flight from Him when He was crucified, after He rose from the dead, and after they were persuaded by Himself that, before His passion He had mentioned to them that He must suffer these things, and that they were announced beforehand by the prophets), and when living with them sang praises to God, as is made evident in the memoirs of the apostles. The words are the following: ‘I will declare Thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the Church will I praise Thee. Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him; all ye, the seed of Jacob, glorify Him. Let all the seed of Israel fear Him.’ And when it is said that He changed the name of one of the apostles to Peter; and when it is written in the memoirs of Him that this so happened, as well as that He changed the names of other two brothers, the sons of Zebedee, to Boanerges, which means sons of thunder; this was an announcement of the fact that it was He by whom Jacob was called Israel, and Oshea called Jesus (Joshua), under whose name the people who survived of those that came from Egypt were conducted into the land promised to the patriarchs. And that He should arise like a star from the seed of Abraham, Moses showed before hand when he thus said, ‘A star shall arise from Jacob, and a leader from Israel; ’410 and another Scripture says, ‘Behold a man; the East is His name.’411 Accordingly, when a star rose in heaven at the time of His birth, as is recorded in the memoirs of His apostles, the Magi from Arabia, recognising the sign by this, came and worshipped Him.

Chapter CVII.—The Same is Taught from the History of Jonah.

“And that He would rise again on the third day after the crucifixion, it is written412 in the memoirs that some of your nation, questioning Him, said, ‘Show us a sign; ’and He replied to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and no sign shall be given them, save the sign of Jonah.’ And since He spoke this obscurely, it was to be understood by the audience that after His crucifixion He should rise again on the third day. And He showed that your generation was more wicked and more adulterous than the city of Nineveh; for the latter, when Jonah preached to them, after he had been cast up on the third day from the belly of the great fish, that after three (in other versions, forty)413 days they should all perish, proclaimed a fast of all creatures, men and beasts, with sackcloth, and with earnest lamentation, with true repentance from the heart, and turning away from unrighteousness, in the belief that God is merciful and kind to all who turn from wickedness; so that the king of that city himself, with his nobles also, put on sackcloth and remained fasting and praying, and obtained their request that the city should not be overthrown. But when Jonah was grieved that on the (fortieth) third day, as he proclaimed, the city was not overthrown, by the dispensation of a gourd414 springing up from the earth for him, under which he sat and was shaded from the heat (now the gourd had sprung up suddenly, and Jonah had neither planted nor watered it, but it had come up all at once to afford him shade), and by the other dispensation of its withering away, for which Jonah grieved, [God] convicted him of being unjustly displeased because the city of Nineveh had not been overthrown, and said, ‘Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night. And shall I not spare Nineveh, the great city, wherein dwell more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? ’415

Chapter CVIII.—The Resurrection of Christ Did Not Convert the Jews. But Through the Whole World They Have Sent Men to Accuse Christ.

“And though all the men of your nation knew the incidents in the life of Jonah, and though Christ said amongst you that He would give the sign of Jonah, exhorting you to repent of your wicked deeds at least after He rose again from the dead, and to mourn before God as did the Ninevites, in order that your nation and city might not be taken and destroyed, as they have been destroyed; yet you not only have not repented, after you learned that He rose from the dead, but, as I said before416 you have sent chosen and ordained men throughout all the world to proclaim that a godless and lawless heresy had sprung from one Jesus, a Galilaean deceiver, whom we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb, where he was laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended to heaven. Moreover, you accuse Him of having taught those godless, lawless, and unholy doctrines which you mention to the condemnation of those who confess Him to be Christ, and a Teacher from and Son of God. Besides this, even when your city is captured, and your land ravaged, you do not repent, but dare to utter imprecations on Him and all who believe in Him. Yet we do not hate you or those who, by your means, have conceived such prejudices against us; but we pray that even now all of you may repent and obtain mercy from God, the compassionate and long-suffering Father of all.

Chapter CIX.—The Conversion of the Gentiles Has Been Predicted by Micah.

“But that the Gentiles would repent of the evil in which they led erring lives, when they heard the doctrine preached by His apostles from Jerusalem, and which they learned417 through them, suffer me to show you by quoting a short statement from the prophecy of Micah, one of the twelve [minor prophets]. This is as follows: ‘And in the last days the mountain of the Lord shall be manifest, established on the top of the mountains; it shall be exalted above the hills, arid people shall flow unto it.418 And many nations shall go, and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and they shall enlighten us in His way, and we shall walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many peoples, and shall rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. And each man shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree; and there shall be none to terrify: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk in the name of their gods; but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will assemble her that is afflicted, and gather her that is driven out, and whom I had plagued; and I shall make her that is afflicted a remnant, and her that is oppressed a strong nation. And the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth, and even for ever.’”419

Chapter CX.—A Portion of the Prophecy Already Fulfilled in the Christians: the Rest Shall Be Fulfilled at the Second Advent.



And when I had finished these words, I continued: “Now I am aware that your teachers, sirs, admit the whole of the words of this passage to refer to Christ; and I am likewise aware that they maintain He has not yet come; or if they say that He has come, they assert that it is not known who He is; but when He shall become manifest and glorious, then it shall be known who He is. And then, they say, the events mentioned in this passage shall happen, just as if there was no fruit as yet from the words of the prophecy. O unreasoning men! understanding not what has been proved by all these passages, that two advents of Christ have been announced: the one, in which He is set forth as suffering, inglorious, dishonoured, and crucified; but the other, in which He shall come from heaven with glory, when the man of apostasy,420 who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christians, who, having learned the true worship of God from the law, and the word which went forth from Jerusalem by means of the apostles of Jesus, have fled for safety to the God of Jacob and God of Israel; and we who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons,—our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage,—and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified; and sitting each under his vine, i.e., each man possessing his own married wife. For you are aware that the prophetic word says, ‘And his wife shall be like a fruitful vine.’421 Now it is evident that no one can terrify or subdue us who have believed in Jesus over all the world. For it is plain that, though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; but the more such things happen, the more do others and in larger numbers become faithful, and worshippers of God through the name of Jesus. For Just as if one should cut away the fruit-bearing parts of a vine, it grows up again, and yields other branches flourishing and fruitful; even so the same thing happens with us. For the vine planted by God and Christ the Saviour is His people. But the rest of the prophecy shall be fulfilled at His second coming. For the expression, ‘He that is afflicted [and driven out], ’i.e., from the world, [implies] that, so far as you and all other men have it in your power, each Christian has been driven out not only from his own property, but even from the whole world; for you permit no Christian to live. But you say that the same fate has befallen your own nation. Now, if you have been cast out after defeat in battle, you have suffered such treatment justly indeed, as all the Scriptures bear witness; but we, though we have done no such [evil acts] after we knew the truth of God, are testified to by God, that, together with the most righteous, and only spotless and sinless Christ, we are taken away out of the earth. For Isaiah cries, ‘Behold how the righteous perishes, and no man lays it to heart; and righteous men are taken away, and no man considers it.’422

Chapter CXI.—The Two Advents Were Signified by the Two Goats. Other Figures of the First Advent, in Which the Gentiles are Freed by the Blood of Christ.




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