Church Fathers on Preterism
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Saint Justin Martyr
(On the fulfillment of Isaiah 2:3) CHAP. XXXIX.–Direct Predictions By The Spirit.
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“And when the Spirit of prophecy speaks as predicting things that are to come to pass, He speaks in this way: “FOR OUT OF ZION SHALL GO FORTH THE LAW, AND THE WORD OF THE LORD FROM JERUSALEM. AND HE SHALL JUDGE AMONG THE NATIONS, AND SHALL REBUKE MANY PEOPLE; AND THEY SHALL BEAT THEIR SWORDS INTO PLOUGHSHARES, AND THEIR SPEARS INTO PRUNING-HOOKS: NATION SHALL NOT LIFT UP SWORD AGAINST NATION, NEITHER SHALL THEY LEARN WAR ANY MORE.” [Isaiah 2:3] And that it did so come to pass, we can convince you. For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number, and these illiterate, of no ability in speaking: but by the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God; and we who formerly used to murder one another do not only now refrain from making war upon our enemies, but also, that we may not lie nor deceive our examiners, willingly die confessing Christ.”
(First Apology of Justin Martyr, ch. 39)
(On the Significance of A.D.70) CHAP. XLVII.–Desolation Of Judaea Foretold.
“That the land of the Jews, then, was to be laid waste, hear what was said by the Spirit of prophecy. And the words were spoken as if from the person of the people wondering at what had happened. They are these: “SION IS A WILDERNESS, JERUSALEM A DESOLATION. THE HOUSE OF OUR SANCTUARY HAS BECOME A CURSE, AND THE GLORY WHICH OUR FATHERS BLESSED IS BURNED UP WITH FIRE, AND ALL ITS GLORIOUS THINGS ARE LAID WASTE: AND THOU REFRAINEST THYSELF AT THESE THINGS, AND HAST HELD THY PEACE, AND HAST HUMBLED US VERY SORE.” And ye are convinced that Jerusalem has been laid waste, as was predicted. And concerning its desolation, and that no one should be permitted to inhabit it, there was the following prophecy by Isaiah: “THEIR LAND IS DESOLATE, THEIR ENEMIES CONSUME IT BEFORE THEM, AND NONE OF THEM SHALL DWELL THEREIN.” [Isaiah 1:7] And that it is guarded by you lest any one dwell in it, and that death is decreed against a Jew apprehended entering it, you know very well.”
(First Apology, Ch. 47.)
Saint Clement of Alexandria
(On Matthew 24:15, The Abomination of Desolation) “ We have still to add to our chronology the following, — I mean the days which Daniel indicates from the desolation of Jerusalem, the seven years and seven months of the reign of Vespasian. For the two years are added to the seventeen months and eighteen days of Otho, and Galba, and Vitellius; and the result is three years and six months, which is “the half of the week,” as Daniel the prophet said. For he said that there were two thousand three hundred days from the time that the abomination of Nero stood in the holy city, till its destruction. For thus the declaration, which is subjoined, shows: “How long shall be the vision, the sacrifice taken away, the abomination of desolation, which is given, and the power and the holy place shall be trodden under foot? And he said to him, Till the evening and morning, two thousand three hundred days, and the holy place shall be taken away.” … “These two thousand three hundred days, then, make six years four months, during the half of which Nero held sway, and it was half a week; and for a half, Vespasian with Otho, Galba, and Vitellius reigned. And on this account Daniel says, “Blessed is he that cometh to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.” For up to these days was war, and after them it ceased. And this number is demonstrated from a subsequent chapter, which is as follows: “And from the time of the change of continuation, and of the giving of the abomination of desolation, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and thirty-five days.” ”
(The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 2, p. 334)
(On Matthew 24:3,34) “But our Master did not prophesy after this fashion; but, as I have already said, being a prophet by an inborn and every-flowing Spirit, and knowing all things at all times, He confidently set forth, plainly as I said before, sufferings, places, appointed times, manners, limits. Accordingly, therefore, prophesying concerning the temple, He said: “See ye these buildings? Verily I say to you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another which shall not be taken away [Matt. 24:3]; and this generation shall not pass until the destruction begin [Matt. 24:34]. . . .” And in like manner He spoke in plain words the things that were straightway to happen, which we can now see with our eyes, in order that the accomplishment might be among those to whom the word was spoken. (Clementine Homilia, 3:15. See Roberts and Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, 8:241.)
Chap. VIIi.–Of The Times Of Christ’s Birth And Passion, And Of Jerusalem’s Destruction.
“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.”(7) And so the times of the coming Christ, the Leader,(8) 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. … “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,(6) 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.”(7) And the suffering of this “extermination” was perfected within the times of the lxx hebdomads, under Tiberius Caesar, 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,(8) on the first day of unleavened bread, on which they slew the lamb at even, just as had been enjoined by Moses.(9) 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;”(10) and, “If thou dismiss him, thou art not a friend of Caesar;”(11) in order that all things might be fulfilled which had been written of Him.(12)”
(Against the Jews, Ch.8)
CHAP. XXIII.–The Dispersion Of The Jews, And Their Desolate Condition For Rejecting Christ, Foretold.
“Now, since you join the Jews in denying that their Christ has come, recollect also what is that end which they were predicted as about to bring on themselves after the time of Christ, for the impiety wherewith they both rejected and slew Him. For it began to come to pass from that day, when, according to Isaiah, “a man threw away his idols of gold and of silver, which they made into useless and hurtful objects of worship;” in other words, from the time when he threw away his idols after the truth had been made clear by Christ. Consider whether what follows in the prophet has not received its fulfilment: “The Lord of hosts hath taken away from Judah and from Jerusalem, amongst other things, both the prophet and the wise artificer;” that is, His Holy Spirit, who builds the church, which is indeed the temple, and household and city of God. For thenceforth God’s grace failed amongst them; and “the clouds were commanded to rain no rain upon the vineyard” of Sorech; to withhold, that is, the graces of heaven, that they shed no blessing upon “the house of Israel,” which had but produced “the thorns” wherewith it had crowned the Lord, and “instead of righteousness, the cry” wherewith it had hurried Him away to the cross. And so in this manner the law and the prophets were until John, but the clews of divine grace were withdrawn from the nation. After his time their madness still continued, and the name of the Lord was blasphemed by them, as saith the Scripture: “Because of you my name is continually blasphemed amongst the nations” (for from them did the blasphemy originate); neither in the interval from Tiberius to Vespasian did they learn repentance. Therefore “has their land become desolate, their cities are burnt with fire, their country strangers are devouring before their own eyes; the daughter of Sion has been deserted like a cottage in a vineyard, or a lodge in a garden of cucumbers,” ever since the time when “Israel acknowledged not the Lord, and the people understood Him not, but forsook Him, and provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger.” So likewise that conditional threat of the sword, “If ye refuse and hear me not, the sword shall devour you,” has proved that it was Christ, for rebellion against whom they have perished. In the fifty-eighth Psalm He demands of the Father their dispersion: “Scatter them in Thy power.” By Isaiah He also says, as He finishes a prophecy of their consumption by fire: “Because of me has this happened to you; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” But all this would be unmeaning enough, if they suffered this retribution not on account of Him, who had in prophecy assigned their suffering to His own cause, but for the sake of the Christ of the other god. Well, then, although you affirm that it is the Christ of the other god who was driven to the cross by the powers and authorities of the Creator, as it were by hostile beings, still I have to say, See how manifestly He was defended by the Creator: there were given to Him both “the wicked for His burial,” even those who had strenuously maintained that 342. … His corpse had been stolen, “and the rich for His death,” even those who had redeemed Him from the treachery of Judas, as well as from the lying report of the soldiers that His body had been taken away. Therefore these things either did not happen to the Jews on His account, in which case you will be refuted by the sense of the Scriptures tallying with the issue of the facts and the order of the times, or else they did happen on His account, and then the Creator could not have inflicted the vengeance except for His own Christ; nay, He must have rather had a reward for Judas, if it had been his master’s enemy whom they put to death. At all events, if the Creator’s Christ has not come yet, on whose account the prophecy dooms them to such sufferings, they will have to endure the sufferings when He shall have come.”
(Against Marcion, Ch. 23)
Chap. Iv.–Answer To Another Objection, Showing That The Destruction Of Jerusalem, Which Was The City Of The Great King, Diminished Nothing From The Supreme Majesty’ And Power Of God, For That This Destruction Was Put In Execution By The Most Wise Counsel Of The Same God.
1. Further, also, concerning Jerusalem and the Lord, they venture to assert that, if it had been “the city of the great King,”(12) it would not have been deserted.(13) This is just as if any one should say, that if straw were a creation of God, it would never part company with the wheat; and that the vine twigs, if made by God, never would be lopped away and deprived of the clusters. But as these have not been originally made for their own sake, but for that of the fruit growing upon them, which being come to maturity and taken away, they are left behind, and those which do not conduce to fructification are lopped off altogether; so also [was it with] Jerusalem, which had in herself borne the yoke of bondage (under which man was reduced, who in former times was not subject to God when death was reigning, and being subdued, became a fit subject for liberty), when the fruit of liberty had come, and reached maturity, and been reaped and stored in the barn, and when those which had the power to produce fruit had been carried away from her [i.e., from Jerusalem], and scattered throughout all the world. Even as Esaias saith, “The children of Jacob shall strike root, and Israel shall flourish, and the whole world shall be filled with his fruit.”(1) The fruit, therefore, having been sown throughout all the world, she (Jerusalem) was deservedly forsaken, and those things which had formerly brought forth fruit abundantly were taken away; for from these, according to the flesh, were Christ and the apostles enabled to bring forth fruit. But now these are no longer useful for bringing forth fruit. For all things which have a beginning in time must of course have an end in time also…
2. Since, then, the law originated with Moses, it terminated with John as a necessary consequence. Christ had come to fulfil it: wherefore “the law and the prophets were” with them “until John.”(2) And therefore Jerusalem, taking its commencement from David,(3) and fulfilling its own times, must have an end of legislation(4) when the new covenant was revealed.”
(Against Heresies, Book 4, ch. 4)
“But if “the children of Israel are to sit many days without a king, or ruler, or altar, or priesthood, or responses;” and if, since the temple was destroyed, there exists no longer sacrifice, nor altar, nor priesthood, it is manifest that the ruler has failed out of Judah, and the leader from between his thighs. And since the prediction declares that “the ruler shall not fail from Judah, and the leader from between his thighs, until what is reserved for Him shall come,” it is manifest that He is come to whom (belongs) what is reserved–the expectation of the Gentiles. And this is clear from the multitude of the heathen who have believed on God through Jesus Christ.
“Therefore he, also, having separated from her, married, so to speak, another, having given into the hands of the former the bill of divorcement; wherefore they can no longer do the things enjoined on them by the law, because of the bill of divorcement. And a sign that she has received the bill of divorcement is this, that Jerusalem was destroyed along with what they called the sanctuary of the things in it which were believed to be holy, and with the altar of burnt offerings, and all the worship associated with it… And what was more unseemly than the fact, that they all said in His case, “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” and “Away with such a fellow from the earth”? And can this be freed from the charge of unseemliness, “His blood be upon us, and upon our children”? Wherefore, when He was avenged, Jerusalem was compassed with armies, and its desolation was near, and their house was taken away from it, and “the daughter of Zion was left as a booth in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, and as a besieged city.” And, about the same time, I think, the husband wrote out a bill of divorcement to his former wife, and gave it into her hands, and sent her away from his own house, and the bond of her who came from the Gentiles has been cancelled about which the Apostle Says, “Having blotted out the bond written in ordinances, which was contrary to us, and He hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross;” for Paul also and others became proselytes of Israel for her who came from the Gentiles.”
(COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW, Book 2., sec. 19.)
“But let this Jew of Celsus, who does not believe that He foreknew all that happened to Him, consider how, while Jerusalem was still standing and the whole Jewish worship celebrated in it, Jesus foretold what would befall it from the hand of the Romans. For they will not maintain that the acquaintances and pupils of Jesus Himself handed down His teaching contained in the Gospels without committing it to writing, and left His disciples without the memoirs of Jesus contained in their works. Now in these it is recorded, that “when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed about with armies, then shall ye know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” But at that time there were no armies around Jerusalem, encompassing and enclosing and besieging it; for the siege began in the reign of Nero, and lasted till the government of Vespasian, whose son Titus destroyed Jerusalem, on account, as Josephus says, of James the Just, the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, but in reality, as the truth makes clear, on account of Jesus Christ the Son of God.”
(Origen, Against Celsus, 2:13)
“But when he goes on to say that “those who inflicted death upon Jesus suffered nothing afterwards through so long a time,” we must inform him, as well as all who are disposed to learn the truth, that the city in which the Jewish people called for the crucifixion of Jesus with shouts of “Crucify him, crucify him,” preferring to have the robber set free, who had been cast into prison for sedition and murder and Jesus, who had been delivered through envy, to be crucified, — that this city not long afterwards was attacked, and, after a long siege, was utterly overthrown and laid waste; for God judged the inhabitants of that place unworthy of living together the life of citizens. And yet, though it may seem an incredible thing to say, God spared this people in delivering them to their enemies; for He saw that they were incurably averse to any amendment, and were daily sinking deeper and deeper into evil. And all this befell them, because the blood of Jesus was shed at their instigation and on their land; and the land was no longer able to bear those who were guilty of so fearful a crime against Jesus.
(Origen Against Celcus, Book 8, ch. 42)
“I challenge anyone to prove my statement untrue if I say that the entire Jewish nation was destroyed less than one whole generation later on account of these sufferings which they inflicted on Jesus. For it was, I believe, forty-two years from the time when they crucified Jesus to the destruction of Jerusalem.”
(Contra Celsum, 198-199)
Saint Hippolytus of Rome
“And whereas thou didst pour out His blood in indignation, hear what thy recompense shall be: “Pour out Thine indignation upon them, and let Thy wrathful anger take hold of them;” and, “Let their habitation be desolate,” to wit, their celebrated temple. … 7. But why, O prophet, tell us, and for what reason, was the temple made desolate? Was it on account of that ancient fabrication of the calf? Was it on account of the idolatry of the people? Was it for the blood of the prophets? Was it for the adultery and fornication of Israel? By no means, he says; for in all these transgressions they always found pardon open to them, and benignity; but it was because they killed the Son of their Benefactor, for He is coeternal with the Father. Whence He saith, “Father, let their temple be made desolate; for they have persecuted Him whom Thou didst of Thine own will smite for the salvation of the world;” that is, they have persecuted me with a violent and unjust death, “and they have added to the pain of my wounds.” In former time, as the Lover of man, I had pain on account of the straying of the Gentiles; but to this pain they have added another, by going also themselves astray. Wherefore “add iniquity to their iniquity, and tribulation to tribulation, and let them not enter into Thy righteousness,” that is, into Thy kingdom; but “let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous,” that is, with their holy fathers and patriarchs.”
(Expository Treatise Against The Jews, 6,7)
“30. Come, then, O blessed Isaiah; arise, tell us clearly what thou didst prophesy with respect to the mighty Babylon. For thou didst speak also of Jerusalem, and thy word is accomplished. For thou didst speak boldly and openly: “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate as overthrown by many strangers. The daughter of Sion shall be left as a cottage in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.” … What then? Are not these things come to pass? Are not the things announced by thee fulfilled? Is not their country, Judea, desolate? Is not the holy place burned with fire? Are not their walls cast down? Are not their cities destroyed? Their land, do not strangers devour it? Do not the Romans rule the country? And indeed these impious people hated thee, and did saw thee asunder, and they crucified Christ. Thou art dead in the world, but thou livest in Christ.”
(Fragments of Dogmatic and Historical Works, 30)
And the prophets had predicted that all these things would thus come to pass. Isaiah thus speaks: “I am not rebellious, nor do I oppose: I gave my back to the scourge, and my cheeks to the hand: I turned not away my face from the foulness of spitting.” The same prophet says respecting His silence: “I was brought as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.” David also, in the xxxivth Psalm: “The abjects were gathered together against me, and they knew me not: they were scattered, yet felt no remorse: they tempted me, and gnashed upon me with their teeth.” The same also says respecting food and drink in the lxviiith Psalm: “They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Also respecting the cross of Christ: “And they pierced my hands and my feet, they numbered all my bones: they themselves have looked and stared upon me; they parted my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Moses also says in Deuteronomy: ” And thy life shall hang in doubt before thine eyes, and thou shall fear day and night, and shall have none assurance of thy life.” Also in Numbers: “God is not in doubt as a man, nor does He suffer threats as the son of man.” Also Zechariah says: “And they shall look on me whom they pierced.” Amos thus speaks of the obscuring of the sun: “In that day, saith the Lord, the sun shall go down at noon, and the clear day shall be dark; and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and your songs into lamentation.” Jeremiah also speaks of the city of Jerusalem, in which He suffered: “Her sun is gone down while it was yet day; she hath been confounded and reviled, and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword.” Nor were these things spoken in vain. For after a short time the Emperor Vespasian subdued the Jews, and laid waste their lands with the sword and fire, besieged and reduced them by famine, overthrew Jerusalem, led the captives in triumph, and prohibited the others who were left from ever returning to their native land. And these things were done by God on account of that crucifixion of Christ, as He before declared this to Solomon in their Scriptures, saying, “And Israel shall be for perdition and a reproach to the people, and this house shall be desolate; and every one that shall pass by shall be astonished, and shall say, Why hath God done these evils to this land, and to this house? And they shall say, Because they forsook the Lord their God, and persecuted their. King, who was dearly beloved by God, and crucified Him with great degradation, therefore hath God brought upon them these evils.” For what would they not deserve who put to death their Lord, who had come for their salvation?
(Lactantius: EPITOME OF THE DIVINE INSTITUTES, Ch. 46)
“But He also opened to them all things which were about to happen, which Peter and Paul preached at Rome; and this preaching being written for the sake of remembrance, became permanent, in which they both declared other wonderful things, and also said that it was about to come to pass, that after a short time God would send against them a king who would subdue the Jews, and level their cities to the ground, and besiege the people themselves, worn out with hunger and thirst. Then it should come to pass that they should feed on the bodies of their own children, and consume one another. Lastly, that they should be taken captive, and come into the hands of their enemies, and should see their wives most cruelly harassed before their eyes, their virgins ravished and polluted, their sons torn in pieces, their little ones dashed to the ground; and lastly, everything laid waste with fire and sword, the captives banished for ever from their own lands, because they had exulted over the well-beloved and most approved Son of God. And so, after their decease, when Nero had put them to death, Vespasian destroyed the name and nation of the Jews, and did all things which they had foretold as about to come to pass.”
(Lactantius: Divine Institutes, Book IV)
Saint John Crysostom
“What then saith He? “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” … For since they felt as being told of vengeance falling on others when hearing of that which was to be brought upon Jerusalem and as though they were to be out of the turmoils, and were dreaming of good things only, and looked for these to befall them quite immediately; for this cause He again foretells to them grievous things, making them earnest, and commanding them on two grounds to watch, so as neither to be seduced by the deceit of them that would beguile them, nor to be overpowered by the violence of ills that should overtake them. … “For the war, saith He, shall be twofold that of the deceivers, and that of the enemies, but the former far more grievous, as coming upon them in the confusion and turmoils, and when men were terrified and troubled. For indeed great was the storm then, when the Roman power was beginning to flourish, and cities were taken, and camps and weapons were set in motion, and many were readily believed. … “But of wars in Jerusalem is He speaking; for it is not surely of those without, and everywhere in the world; for what did they care for these? And besides, He would thus say nothing new, if He were speaking of the calamities of the world at large, which are happening always. For before this, were wars, and tumults, and fightings; but He speaks of the Jewish wars coming upon them at no great distance, for henceforth the Roman arms were a matter of anxiety. Since then these things also were sufficient to confound them, He foretells them all.”
(HOMILY ST. MATTHEW )
“For I will ask them, Did He send the prophets and wise men? Did they slay them in their synagogue? Was their house left desolate? Did all the vengeance come upon that generation? It is quite plain that it was so, and no man gainsays it.”
(Homily LXXIV on MATT. XXIII. 29, 30.)
“After this again, what is more grievous than all, they shall not have so much as the consolation from love. Then indicating, that these things will in no degree harm the noble and the firm, He saith, Fear not, neither be troubled. For if ye show forth the patience that becomes you, the dangers will not prevail over you. And it is a plain proof of this, that the word shall surely be preached everywhere in the world, so much shall ye be above the things that alarm you. For, that they may not say, how then shall we live? He said more, Ye shall both live and preach everywhere. Therefore He added moreover, “And this gospel shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all nations, and then shall the end come,” of the downfall of Jerusalem. “For in proof that He meant this, and that before the taking of Jerusalem the gospel was preached, hear what Paul saith, “Their sound went into all the earth;” and again, “The gospel which was preached to every creature which is under Heaven.” And seest thou him running from Jerusalem unto Spain? And if one took so large a portion, consider what the rest also wrought. For writing to others also, Paul again saith con-coming the gospel, that “it is bringing forth fruit, and growing up in every creature which is under Heaven.” “But what meaneth, “For a witness to all nations?” Forasmuch as though it was everywhere preached, yet it was not everywhere believed. It was for a witness, He saith, to them that were disbelieving, that is, for conviction, for accusation, for a testimony; for they that believed will bear witness against them that believed not, and will condemn them. And for this cause, after the gospel is preached in every part of the world, Jerusalem is destroyed, that they may not have so much as a shadow of an excuse for their perverseness. For they that saw His power shine throughout every place, and in an instant take the world captive, what excuse could they then have for continuing in the same perverseness? For in proof that it was everywhere preached at that time, hear what Paul saith, “of the gospel which was preached to every creature which is under Heaven.” Which also is a very great sign of Christ’s power, that in twenty or at most thirty years the word had reached the ends of the world. “After this therefore,” saith He, “shall come the end of Jerusalem.” For that He intimates this was manifested by what follows.”
Homily St. Matthew: (On Matthew 24:14)
“For this it seems to me that the abomination of desolation means the army by which the holy city of Jerusalem was made desolate.” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers)
Homily St. Matthew: (On Matthew 24:15)
“And see how He relates the war, by the things that seem to be small setting forth how intolerable it was to be. For, “Then,”saith He, “let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains.” Then, When? When these things should be, “when the abomination of desolation should stand in the holy place.” Whence He seems to me to be speaking of the armies.”
(Homily 76, Number 1)
For He brought in also a prophecy, to confirm their desolation, saying, “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation,spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place, let him that readeth understand.”(12) He referred them to Daniel. And by” abomination” He meaneth the statue of him who then took the city, which he who desolated the city and the temple placed within the temple, wherefore Christ calleth it, “of desolation.” Moreover, in order that they might learn that these things will be while some of them are alive, therefore He said, “When ye see the abomination of desolation.”
Homily St. Matthew: (On Matthew 24:15)
“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” [Matt. 24:22] By these things He shows them to be deserving of a more grievous punishment than had been mentioned, speaking now of the days of the war and of that siege. But what He saith is like this. If, saith He, the war of the Romans against the city had prevailed further, all the Jews had perished (for by “no flesh” here, He meaneth no Jewish flesh), both those abroad, and those at home. For not only against those in Judaea did they war, but also those that were dispersed everywhere they outlawed and banished, because of their hatred against the former. ” “But whom doth He here mean by the elect? The believers that were shut up in the midst of them. For that Jews may not say that because of the gospel, and the worship of Christ, these ills took place, He showeth, that so far from the believers being the cause, if it had not been for them, all had perished utterly. For if God had permitted the war to be protracted, not so much as a remnant of the Jews had remained, but lest those of them who had become believers should perish together with the unbelieving Jews, He quickly put down the fighting, and gave an end to the war. Therefore He saith, “But for the elect’s sake they shall be shortened.” But these things He said to leave an encouragement to those of them who were shut up in the midst of them, and to allow them to take breath, that they might not be in fear, as though they were to perish with them. And if here so great is His care for them, that for their sakes others also are saved, and that for the sake of Christians remnants were left of the Jews, how great will be their honor in the time for their crowns?”
(Homily 76, Number 2)
“What then saith He? “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that ye be not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” For since they felt as being told of vengeance falling on others when hearing of that which was to be brought upon Jerusalem and as though they were to be out of the turmoils, and were dreaming of good things only, and looked for these to befall them quite immediately; for this cause He again foretells to them grievous things, making them earnest, and commanding them on two grounds to watch, so as neither to be seduced by the deceit of them that would beguile them, nor to be overpowered by the violence of ills that should overtake them. For the war, saith He, shall be twofold that of the deceivers, and that of the enemies, but the former far more grievous, as coming upon them in the confusion and turmoils, and when men were terrified and troubled. For indeed great was the storm then, when the Roman power was beginning to flourish, and cities were taken, and camps and weapons were set in motion, and many were readily believed. But of wars in Jerusalem is He speaking; for it is not surely of those without, and everywhere in the world; for what did they care for these? And besides, He would thus say nothing new, if He were speaking of the calamities of the world at large, which are happening always. For before this, were wars, and tumults, and fightings; but He speaks of the Jewish wars coming upon them at no great distance, for henceforth the Roman arms were a matter of anxiety. Since then these things also were sufficient to confound them, He foretells them all.”
Homily St. Matthew: (On Matthew 24:4-5)
“Luke to show that the abomination spoken of by Daniel will take place when Jerusalem is captured, recalls these words of the Lord in the same context: When you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army, then know that the desolation thereof is at hand (xxi. 20). For Luke very clearly bears witness that the prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled when Jerusalem was overthrown.”
Augustine (On Matthew 24:15) (vol. 6, p. 170)
(On the ‘Final Destruction’ of the Jews) Chapter 48 — That Haggai’s Prophecy, In Which He Said That The Glory Of The House Of God Would Be Greater Than That Of The First Had Been, Was Really Fulfilled, Not In The Rebuilding Of The Temple, But In The Church Of Christ. …
“This house of God is more glorious than that first one which was constructed of wood and stone, metals and other precious things. Therefore the prophecy of Haggai was not fulfilled in the rebuilding of that temple. For it can never be shown to have had so much glory after it was rebuilt as it had in the time of Solomon; yea, rather, the glory of that house is shown to have been diminished, first by the ceasing of prophecy, and then by the nation itself suffering so great calamities, even to the final destruction made by the Romans, as the things above-mentioned prove. But this house which pertains to the new testament is just as much more glorious as the living stones, even believing, renewed men, of which it is constructed are better. But it was typified by the rebuilding of that temple for this reason, because the very renovation of that edifice typifies in the prophetic oracle another testament which is called the new. When, therefore, God said by the prophet just named, “And I will give peace in this place,” He is to be understood who is typified by that typical place; for since by that rebuilt place is typified the Church which was to be built by Christ, nothing else can be accepted as the meaning of the saying, “I will give peace in this place,” except I will give peace in the place which that place signifies.”
(City of God, Book XVIII, Ch. 48)
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