Monday, August 29, 2016

"Written for the sake of remembrance, became permanent"

Continuing in this series about the early church and their awareness that Jesus prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.,  Lactantius (250-325 A.D.) comments about the ascension of Jesus and the prophesies foretold beforehand:

But when He had made arrangements with His disciples for the preaching of the Gospel and His name, a cloud suddenly surrounded Him, and carried Him up into heaven, on the fortieth day after His passion, as Daniel had shown that it would be, saying (Daniel 7:13)“And, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days.” But the disciples, being dispersed through the provinces, everywhere laid the foundations of the Church, themselves also in the name of their divine Master doing many and almost incredible miracles; for at His departure He had endowed them with power and strength, by which the system of their new announcement might be founded and confirmed. 
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.1

1. Lactantius, Divine Institutes, Book IV (Of True Wisdom and Religion), Chapter 21. Found in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Translations of the Fathers down to A.D. 325. T&T Clark, Edinburgh, Volume VII

Origen against the decrees of Fate

In his massive work, Preparation for the Gospel, Eusebius of Caesarea provides refutations of various philosophers who advocated the “decrees of Fate” over against the foreknowledge of God revealed throughout the Scriptures. And to do so, at one point he quotes Origen (185-253 A.D.), who apparently considered Luke 21:20 as evidence that Jesus prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem (as we have seen throughout this series). Origen wrote:
And why need I mention the prophecies concerning Christ, as for instance the place of His birth, Bethlehem, and the place where He was brought up, Nazareth, and the flight into Egypt, and the miracles which He wrought, and how He was betrayed by Judas who had been called to be an Apostle? For all these are signs of God’s foreknowledge.
*‘Moreover the Saviour Himself says, “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed by armies, then ye shall know that her desolation is at hand.” For He foretold what afterwards happened, the final destruction of Jerusalem.1

* Luke 21:20

1. Eusebius of Caesarea. (1903). Evangelicae Praeparationis Libri XV. (E. H. Gifford, Ed.) (pp. 307–308). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

"That overthrow of Jerusalem is described"

Continuing in this series, there are many more comments about first century prophetic fulfillment to be found among the Church Fathers. Three new Church Fathers (not yet presented in this series) and their comments can be found in this post, below. One is from Gregory of Nyssa, another is from Pseudo-Chrysostom, and the other is from Pope Gregory I

Commenting on Matthew 8:101-13, Remigius (880 A.D.) writes:
By outer darkness, He means foreign nations; for these words of the Lord are a historical prediction of the destruction of the Jews, that they were to be led into captivity for their unbelief, and to be scattered over the earth.1

Commenting on the withered fig tree in Mark 11:19-26, St. Chrysostom (398 A.D.) writes:
Or else, as He did not dry up the fig tree for its own sake, but for a sign that Jerusalem should come to destruction, in order to shew His power, in the same way we must also understand the promise concerning the mountain, though a removal of this sort is not impossible with God.2

Commenting on Simeon's blessing in Luke chapter 2, Gregory of Nyssa (370 A.D.) writes:
But by this he signifies a fall to the very lowest, as if the punishment before the mystery of the incarnation, fell far short of that after the giving and preaching of the Gospel dispensation. And those spoken of are chiefly of Israel, who must of necessity forfeit their ancient privileges, and pay a heavier penalty than any other nation, because they were so unwilling to receive Him Who had long been prophesied among them, had been worshipped, and had come forth from them. In a most especial manner then he threatens them with not only a fall from spiritual freedom, but also the destruction of their city, and of those who dwelt among them. But a resurrection is promised to believers, partly indeed as subject to the law, and about to be delivered from its bondage, but partly as buried together with Christ, and rising with Him.3

Commenting on Matthew 12:25-26 and the kingdom which Jesus spoke of as being divided against itself, St. Hilary of Poiters (354 A.D.) writes:
But the word of God is rich, and whether taken simply, or examined inwardly, it is needful for our advancement. Leaving therefore what belongs to the plain understanding thereof, let us dwell on some of the more secret reasons. The Lord is about to make answer to that which they had said concerning Beelzebub, and He casts upon those to whom He made answer a condition of their answering. Thus, the Law was from God and the promise of the kingdom to Israel was by the Law, but if the kingdom of the Law be divided in itself, it must needs be destroyed; and thus Israel lost the Law, when the nation whose was the Law, rejected the fulfilment of the Law in Christ. The city here spoken of is Jerusalem, which when it raged with the madness of its people against the Lord, and drove out His Apostles with the multitude of them that believed, after this division shall not stand; and thus (which soon happened in consequence of this division) the destruction of that city is declared. Again He puts another case, And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?4

Commenting on Matthew 22:1-14, St. Thomas Aquinas references pseudo-Chrysostom (450 A.D.), saying: 
Or, by the business of a farm, He denotes the Jewish populace, whom the delights of this world separated from-Christ; by the excuse of merchandize, the Priests and other ministers of the Temple, who, coming to the service of the Law and the Temple through greediness of gain, have been shut out of the faith by covetousness. Of these He said not, ‘They were filled with envy,’ but They made light of it. For they who through hate and spite crucified Christ, are they who were filled with envy; but they who being entangled in business did not believe on Him, are not said to have been filled with envy, but to have made light of it. The Lord is silent respecting His own death, because He had spoken of it in the foregoing parable, but He shews forth the death of His disciples, whom after His ascension the Jews put to death, stoning Stephen and executing James the son of Alphæus, for which things Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.5

Commenting on Matthew 12:43-45, the real St. Chrysostom (398 A.D.) wrote:
Or, herein He may be shewing forth their punishment. As when dæmoniacs have been loosed from their infirmity, if they after become remiss, they draw upon themselves more grievous illusions, so shall it be among you—before ye were possessed by a dæmons, when you worshipped idols, and slew your sons to dæmon yet I forsook you not, but cast out that dæmon by the Prophets, and afterwards came Myself seeking to purify you altogether. Since then ye would not hearken to me, but have fallen into more heinous crime, (as it is greater wickedness to slay Christ than to slay the Prophets,) therefore ye shall suffer more heavy calamities. For what befel them under Vespasian and Titus, were much more grievous than they had suffered in Egypt, in Babylon, and under Antiochus. And this indeed is not all He shews concerning them, but also that since they were destitute of every virtue, they were more fit for the habitation of dæmons than before. It is reasonable to suppose that these things were said not to them only, but also to us. If after being enlightened and delivered from our former evils, we are again possessed by the same wickedness, the punishment of these latter sins will be greater than of the first; as Christ spake to the paralytic, Behold, thou art made whole, sin not, lest a worse thing come upon thee.6   (John 5:14)

Commenting on the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:1-14, St Jerome (378 A.D.) writes:
By His armies (in verse 7) we understand the Romans under Vespasian and Titus, who having slaughtered the inhabitants of Judæa, laid in ashes the faithless city.7

And finally, commenting on Luke 19:41-44, Pope Gregory I (590 A.D.) wrote:
By these words the Roman leaders are pointed out. For that overthrow of Jerusalem is described, which was made by the Roman emperors Vespasian and Titus.8

1.  Thomas Aquinas. (1841). Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Matthew. (J. H. Newman, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 311). Oxford: John Henry Parker.
2.  Thomas Aquinas. (1842). Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Mark. (J. H. Newman, Ed.) (Vol. 2, p. 232). Oxford: John Henry Parker.
3.  Thomas Aquinas. (1843). Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Luke. (J. H. Newman, Ed.) (Vol. 3, pp. 88–89). Oxford: John Henry Parker.
4.  Thomas Aquinas. (1841). Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Matthew. (J. H. Newman, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 449). Oxford: John Henry Parker.
5. Ibid. pp. 743–744
6. Ibid. pp. 472–473
7. Ibid. p. 744
8. Thomas Aquinas. (1843). Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Luke. (J. H. Newman, Ed.) (Vol. 3, p. 646). Oxford: John Henry Parker.

All these words were shown in deed

Continuing in my research for this series, I stumbled upon something unexpected. I stumbled upon an opinion by John Wycliffe (1320-1384 A.D.), an infamous doctor of theology and educator of both priests and laity in the 14th century. Below are two excerpts which reflect his belief that Jesus prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D as vindication for the injustice inflicted upon Jesus. 

The first excerpt is a homily in "old english," followed by my own attempt to update portions of that english translation (the portions highlighted in bold) for english readers today. The second excerpt comes from his work of an imaginative three-fold dialogue, called Trialogus, on a topic he frequently showed concern about: the culpability of the laity in respect to endowments.

Wycliffe writes:

Þe tenþe Sondai aftir Trinite
[A Sermon on Luke 19:41, the Tenth Sunday after Trinity]

Cum appropinquaret Jesus Hierusalem videns civitatem.—Luc. 19:[41]
Þisa gospel telliþ generaly, what sorewe men shulden have for syne, siþ Crist, þat myȝte not do synne, wepte so ofte for synne. For we rede þat Crist wepte þries, and eche tyme he wepte for synne. And so telliþ our bileve in storye of þe gospel, þat Jesus seynge Jerusalem wepte þeron, for þe synne of it, and seide þat if þou knewe þus synne, þou shuldist wepe as Y do nowe, and certis, in þis dai of þee þat shulde be comen in pees to þee, if þou woldist receyve þis day and pees of it, as þou shuldist, for alle þes þingis þat þou shuldist cunne ben now hidde fro þi iȝen. For daies shal come in þee, for synne þat þou shalt do in me, and þin enemyes schulen envyron þee as a palis al aboute, and parre þee in Jerusalem, as sheep ben parrid in a foold, and þei shal felle þee to þe erþe, and þi children þat ben in þee, and þei shal not leve in þee stoon liynge upon a stoon, þat þei ne shal be removed, and þi wallis al distried, and þe cause of al þis shal be þe unkynde unknowynge þat þou wolt not knowe þe tyme þat God bi grace haþ visitid þee. 
Alle þes wordis weren shewide in dede, as Josephus makiþ mynde of hem, how Titus and Waspasian þe secounde and fourty ȝeer aftir þat Crist was steied to hevene, comen at solempnite of Paske, and ensegiden Jerusalem, and distrieden men and wallis uttirly þat þei founden þere. And þis is a pryvy synne wiþ which þe fend blindiþ men, þat þei sorewen not more for synne þan þei done for oþir harm; for þus wille is mysturned, and men failen to serve God. And herefore techiþ Crist hise apostlis þat þei shulden not be aferd for perelis þat shal come for to venge synne þat is done, but þe moste drede of alle shulde be to falle in synne, for þat is worse þan þe peyne þat God ordeyned to sue herof. And þus in foure affecciouns þat ben groundid in mannis wille stondiþ alle mannis synne þat he doiþ aȝens God, for if sorwe and joie of man and hope and drede were reulid wel, his wille were ordeyned unto God, to serve him as it shulde do. After þis telliþ þe storye how Jesus wente into þe temple and caste out boþe bieris and selleris, and seide to hem þat it is writun, Myn hous shulde be an hous of preier, but ye have maad it a denne of þeves. And for a long tyme after he was eche day techinge in þe temple.* And in þis dede þat Crist dide, he techiþ his Chirche to bygynne for to purge his seintuarie, þat ben preests and clerks þerof, þat ben þe moost cause of synne, and siþ purge oþir partis, whan þe rote is distried. 

And þis telde Crists wending into þe temple after þes wordis, as ȝif he wolde seie in his worching, Þe cause of synne þat Y have told is wickednesse of preestis and clerkes, and herfore Y bigyne at þe temple, not to distrie hem in her persones, but to take from hem cause of her synne, and ordeyne þe Churche in temporal goodis as Y have ordeyned hem to lyve. And it is al oon to seie þat þese goodis ben þus sacrid and ȝyven to preestis þat no man may take hem fro þes preestis,* and to seie þat Anticrist haþ so weddid þes goodis wiþ preestis þat noon may make þis dyvors; for preestis ben uncorrigible; but þes defamaciouns shulde preestis flee wiþ al þere myȝt, and preien þat þei weren amendid bi þe ordenance of Crist. For resoun shulde teche hem þat þei ben worse þan frentikes, and so þei hadden nede to be chastisid til þis passion were fro hem. For what man wolde bi resoun, kepyng a man in frenesie, ȝyve him a swerd or a knyf bi which he wolde slee himsilf? or who þat kepte a man in feveris, and wiste wele hou he shulde be reulid, and þat þis mete or þis wyne were contrarye to his helþe, wolde ȝyve him at his wille þis foode þat shulde anoye him? so, siþ preestis have goodis of men boþe of lordis and comouns, and þei disusen hem þus, þei myȝten and shulden by charite wiþdrawe þes brondis þat þus done harme to preestis, and in mesure and manere ȝyve þes goodis to preestis þat he himsilf haþ ordeyned him and hise to have siche goodis. And þis may bi charite be wiþdrawen by þe ȝyvers þerof, siþ no man may do yvel to men and not do good to þe same men, but if he be a quyke fend, þat we shulden not putte to seculers. And to þis ende shulden clerkes traveile and procure þat þis þing were done boþe for love of Goddis lawe and for love of clerkes and comouns, and ȝif þe fend by envie, þat is enemye to charite, seiþ þis þing may not be done by þe lawe þat now is sett, he seiþ þat Anticristis lawe, founden aȝens Goddis lawe, is strenger þan charite, and Anticrist strenger þan Crist. For þis ende shulden clerkes wepe and preie God þat his ordrenance1 were kepte in his strengþe and Anticristis lawe putt abac.2

Here is my translation: 
For days shall come in thee, for sin that thou shalt do in me, and thine enemies surround thee as a palace all around, and bar thee in Jerusalem, as sheep are barred in a fold, and they shall cast thee down to the earth, and thy children that are in thee, and they shall not leave in thee one stone living upon another stone; that then shall be removed, and the walls all destroyed, and the cause of all this shall be those unkind, and unknowing, that thou would not know the time that God by grace has visited thee.
All these words were shown in deed, as Josephus makes mention of them, how Titus and Vespasian, the forty-second year after Christ ascended to heaven, to come at the solemnity of Pascha, and seiege Jerusalem, and utterly destroy the men and walls that they found. 
...After this tells the story of how Jesus went into the temple and cast out those buyers and sellers, and said to them that it is written, My house should be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves. And for a long time after he was each day teaching in the temple. And in this deed that Christ did, he taught his Church to begin to purge his sanctuary, that had priests and clerks thereof, that had the most cause of sin, and afterward purge other parts, when the root is destroyed.  

Apparently, this prophecy of Jesus in Luke 19, which leads directly into Jesus' confrontation in the temple of Jerusalem in Luke 20, followed by more prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke 21, is not the only time John Wycliffe stressed the importance of Jesus' prophecy being fulfilled in the first century. In his Trialogus, he reiterates his concern:


Althea: I am pleased, brother, with your doctrine, because it appears to me, that you inveigh with clearness and force against the avarice of the priests; and as, according to the apostle, 1 Tim. 1, covetousness is the root of all evil, and priests should be the root of all goodness, conveying the laity to heaven, you appear to direct your censures against the source of all sin in the church. But tell me, I pray you, whether secular men are justly liable to rebuke on account of such endowments. 

Phronesis: I am pleased to find that you thus introduce this subject. I have often been hindered from rebuking the sins of temporal lords; and to make amends for such omission, I will state to you the belief I entertain in this matter. And, if God will, it shall come to the ears of such men. 

Believe firmly, and in no way doubt, that herein temporal lords have grievously sinned. And for this cause, I doubt not, many have been suitably punished, in the righteous judgment of God, by the loss of their worldly wealth; for this endowment has given rise to wars, strife, and has brought many secular lords to poverty. And it is only just that they should be made to pay a penalty having respect to that very thing which was the means by which they committed their crime. My reason for so thinking is this, that those who are accessory to a crime, are guilty, as well as those who commit it. But the temporal powers have not only united to confer this endowment, but have consented to it in very many ways; and since such endowment is contrary to the ordinance of Christ, they are herein guilty. 

For if there are six methods of consenting, as enumerated by the poet— “Consentit, cooperans, defendens, concilium dans, Ac auctorisans, non juvans, nec reprehendens,” — it is clear as light, that temporal lords are manifestly guilty, in respect to these six modes, and especially in regard to the last two, inasmuch as they indolently withhold the assistance and rebuke by means of which this injury done to Christ and his church might be rectified. Nevertheless, it devolves on them, for many reasons, to amend this injury done to Christ. In the first place, because they are those who have sinned by the commission of this injury; therefore it is for them to make satisfaction for the sin. In the second place, because God gave the power they possess that they might regulate the affairs of his church, as appears in Romans 13. 

Therefore, that they be not negligent in respect to the use of this power, nor guilty of an abuse of it, they should exercise it in the instance of so great an injury done to Christ, after his own example; for Christ, in rebuking the priests of the temple, made use often of this kingly power, ejecting, in person, the buyers and sellers. And on many occasions, by his sufferings and his reproofs, Christ condemned the conduct of the priests, as may be seen at the time of his seizure and passion. And he afterwards awfully chastised that priesthood, by the hand of Titus and Vespasian his servants, as Luke had prophesied. Isodorus, also, admirably declares this doctrine, as may be seen in the twenty-third decree, q. v. c. Principes Seculi. For if they hold their temporal possessions on condition of service rendered, what service, I ask, could better befit them, than that of vindicating the wrongs done to Christ, and defending so reasonable an ordinance? Forasmuch as it is the same thing to love Christ, and to keep his law and commandments, as is shown in John 14, it is manifest that if the temporal lords love Christ above all things, it is their duty to exert their power in defending his chief ordinance. 

What temporal lord, I ask, would not be offended beyond measure on seeing his own decree reversed? Still more would this be the case, if that reversing were to dishonour his betrothed, and to break up his kingdom. But much more is all this true in respect to the primitive justice of Jesus Christ. Let temporal lords remember, then, how distinguished was the favour which our Lord showed them in his lifetime, without doubt intending that they should make him a return of their service.3

*  Priests are incorrigible.
1  ordenaunce, B.
2  Wycliffe, J. (1869). Select English Works of John Wyclif. (T. Arnold, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 24–26). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
3   De Wycliffe, J. (1845). Tracts and Treatises of John de Wycliffe. (R. Vaughan, Ed.) (pp. 172–173). London: Blackburn and Pardon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

From Milwaukee

AP photo/ Jeffrey Phelps

Here is a link to an article I wrote for the Theopolis Institute about the 2016 Milwaukee riots. The link to that article can be found here.

"If it's my will that he remains until I come, what is that to you?"

Now it's time to skip ahead a couple generations from where we last left off, to the witness of an Eastern Orthodox saint named Theophylact (1055-1108 A.D.), the Archbishop of Ohrid. Theophylact had quite a few interesting comments about Jesus’ promises in the Gospels, particularly those mentioned in Luke 21 and Mark 13 (which parallel Matthew 24 and all the other posts in this series). Archbishop Theophylact also reached the same conclusion that myself and many others throughout history have reached, namely, that Jesus’ prophecy about his own “coming” in John's Gospel (21:23) referred to the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 A.D. That, and other similar excerpts from St. Theophylacts’s commentaries can be found in Thomas Aquinas’ Catena Aurea

Commenting on Luke 21:9-11, Theophylact said:
Now some have wished to place the fulfilment of these things not only at the future consummation of all things, but at the time also of the taking of Jerusalem. For when the Author of peace was killed, then justly arose among the Jews wars and sedition, But from wars proceed pestilence and famine, the former indeed produced by the air infected with dead bodies, the latter through the lands remaining uncultivated. Josephus also relates the most intolerable distresses to have occurred from famine; and at the time of Claudius Cæsar there was a severe famine, as we read in the Acts, (Acts 11:28.) and many terrible events happened, forboding, as Josephus says, the destruction of Jerusalem.1

Commenting on Luke 21:20-24, he wrote:
But some say that the Lord hereby signified the devouring of children, which Josephus also relates.2

Commenting on Mark 13:1-2, he continues:
For, since the Lord had spoken much concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, His disciples wondered, that such numerous and beautiful buildings were to be destroyed; and this is the reason why they point out the beauty of the temple, and He answers not only that they were to be destroyed, but also that one stone should not be left upon another: wherefore it goes on: And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Now some may endeavour to prove that Christ’s words were false, by saying that many ruins were left, but this is not at all the point; for though some ruins had been left, still at the consummation of all things one stone shall not be left upon another. Besides it is related, that Ælius Adrian overturned the city and the temple from the foundation, so that the word of the Lord here spoken was fulfilled.3

Commenting on Mark 13:3-13
That is, the Romans against the Jews, which Josephus relates happened before the destruction of Jerusalem. For when the Jews refused to pay tribute, the Romans arose, in anger; but because at that time they were merciful they took indeed their spoils, but did not destroy Jerusalem. What follows shews that God fought against the Jews, for it is said, And there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines.4 

…Fitly also did He premise a recital of those things which concerned the Apostles, that in their own tribulations they might find some consolation in the community of troubles and sufferings. There follows: And ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. He says kings and rulers, as, for instance, Agrippa, Nero, and Herod. Again, His saying, for my sake, gave them no small consolation, in that they were about to suffer for His sake. For a testimony against them, means, as a judgment beforehand against them, that they might be inexcusable, in that though the Apostles were labouring for the truth, they would not join themselves to it. Then, that they might not think that their preaching should be impeded by troubles and dangers, He adds: And the Gospel must first be published among all nations.5

Commenting on Mark 13:14-20:
That is, if the Roman war had not been soon finished, no flesh should be saved; that is, no Jew should have escaped; but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, that is, for the sake of the believing Jews, or who were hereafter to believe, He hath shortened the days, that is, the war was soon finished, for God foresaw that many Jews would believe after the destruction of the city; for which reason He would not suffer the whole race to be utterly destroyed.6

[Marginal gloss by St Thomas]:7 After speaking of the things which were to happen before the destruction of the city, the Lord now foretells those which happened about the destruction itself of the city, saying, But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand.)

Commenting on Mark 13:28-31:
Or else, This generation shall not pass away, that is, the generation of Christians, until all things be fulfilled, which were spoken concerning Jerusalem and the coming of Antichrist… He says this of the generation of Christians, wishing to console His disciples, lest they should believe that the faith should fail at that time.8

Finally, Theophylact comments on John 21:18-24, a passage that all preterists agree with10 because John the apostle did live until the Lord’s “coming” in 70 A.D.. Most commentators from the first thousand years of church history, oddly, never notice that obvious connection which Theophylact (and apparently, others he knew) highlighted. He writes:
Some have understood, Till I come, to mean, Till I come to punish the Jews who have crucified Me, and strike them with the Roman rod. For they say that this Apostle (John) lived up to the time of Vespasian, who took Jerusalem, and dwelt near when it was taken.9

1. Thomas Aquinas. (1843). Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Luke. (J. H. Newman, Ed.) (Vol. 3, p. 677). Oxford: John Henry Parker.
2. Ibid. p. 682
3. Thomas Aquinas. (1842). Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Mark. (J. H. Newman, Ed.) (Vol. 2, pp. 254–255). Oxford: John Henry Parker. It's also interesting to note that Theophylact considers the definitive, final "fulfillment" of Jesus' prophecies against the temple as occurring under Hadrian. 
4. Ibid. p. 257
5. Ibid. p. 258
6. Ibid.p. 260
7. Ibid p. 262
8. Ibid. p. 268

9. Ibid. p. 630
10. The ESV translates it this way: Truly, truly, I say to you (Peter), when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

Monday, August 22, 2016

"Warned miraculously from heaven"

Continuing where I left off in this series, with some insights from the Venerable Bede (672-735 A.D.), I want to share some thoughts from two more important theologians from that same influential era. 

The first worth mentioning is Rabanus Maurus Magnentius, a Benedictine monk who became the archbishop of Mainz (Germany) in 847 A.D., and is venerated in the Roman Catholic and Easter Orthodox Churches for his important contributions to the life and faith of the Church. The second important Christian theologian is Remigius of Auxerre (841-908 A.D.), a Benedictine monk and Latin scholar who taught and wrote copious amounts of works on Biblical exegesis, Christian theology, Greco-Roman classics, Platonic and Neo-Platonic philosophy, Latin grammar, and liturgical philosophy. 

As we shall see momentarily, both of these highly influential Christians interpreted important Gospel prophesies of Jesus as being fulfilled in the first century, particularly in the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Old Covenant administration. 

Also, as we survey the comments of Rabanus and Remigius, keep in mind what I have shown in earlier posts (here and here), that the thoughts expressed below were also handpicked by St. Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church who was commissioned by Pope Urban IV to compile a commentary on the gospels, to aid the Church in gaining a deeper understanding of the Christian faith.

Commenting on Matthew chapter 24, verse by verse, Thomas Aquinas records the works of Rabanus and Remigius as follows:

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 
Rabanus: The historical sense is clear, that in the forty-second year after the Lord’s passion, the city and temple were overthrown under the Roman Emperors Vespasian and Titus.  
Remigius: So it was ordained of God, that as soon as the light of grace was revealed, the temple with its ceremonies should be taken out of the way, lest any weakling in the faith, beholding all the things instituted of the Lord and hallowed by the Prophets yet abiding, might be gradually drawn away from the purity of the faith to a carnal Judaism.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 
Remigius: The Lord continuing His walk arrives at Mount Olivet, having by the way foretold the destruction of the temple to those disciples who had shewn and commended the buildings. When they had reached the Mount they came to Him, asking Him further of this. 
…For Mount Olivet has no unfruitful trees, but olives, which supply light to dispel darkness, which give rest to the weary, health to the sick. And sitting on Mount Olivet over against the temple, the Lord discourses of its destruction, and the destruction of the Jewish nation, that even by His choice of a situation He might shew, that abiding still in the Church He condemns the pride of the wicked.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places.
All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Rabanus: Or, this is a warning to the Apostles not to flee from Jerusalem and Judæa in terror of these things, when they should begin to come upon them; because the end was not immediately, but the desolation of the province, and the destruction of the city and temple should not come till the fortieth year. And we know that most grievous woes, which spread over the whole province, fell out to the very letter.Nation shall rise against nation, shews the disquietude of men’s minds; pestilences, the affliction of their bodies; famines, the barrenness of the soil; earthquakes in diverse places, wrath from heaven above.

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. 
Rabanus: For what desert so many evils are to be brought upon Jerusalem, and the whole Jewish province the Lord shews, when He adds, Then shall they deliver you up, &c.  
Remigius: As the capture of Jerusalem approached, many rose up, calling themselves Christians, and deceived many; such Paul calls false brethren, John Antichrists
Whoso shall endure unto the end, i.e. to the end of his life; for whoso to the end of his life shall persevere in the confession of the name of Christ, and in love, he shall be saved. 
…For the Lord knew that the hearts of the disciples would be made sad by the destruction of Jerusalem, and overthrow of their nation, and He therefore comforts them with a promise that more of the Gentiles should believe than of the Jews should perish. 
…But the whole passage might be referred to the end of the world. For then shall many be offended, and depart from the faith, when they see the numbers and wealth of the wicked, and the miracles of Antichrist, and they shall persecute their brethren; and Antichrist shall send false Prophets, who shall deceive many; iniquity shall abound, because the number of the wicked shall be increased; and love shall wax cold, because the number of the good shall diminish. 
[Marginal gloss by St Thomas]:1 But it is possible to maintain both applications of the passage, if only we will take this diffusion of Gospel preaching in a double sense. If we understand it of fruit produced by the preaching, and the foundation in every nation of a Church of believers in Christ, as Augustine (in the passage above quoted) expounds it, then it is a sign which ought to precede the end of the world, and which did not precede the destruction of Jerusalem. But if we understand it of the fame of their preaching, then it was accomplished before the destruction of Jerusalem, when Christ’s disciples had been dispersed over the four quarters of the earth. Whence Jerome says, (Hieron. in loc.) I do not suppose that there remained any nation which knew not the name of Christ; for where preacher had never been, some notion of the faith must have been communicated by neighbouring nations.

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Then let them which be in Judæa flee into the mountains:
Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house.
Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

Remigius: And this we know was so done when the fall of Jerusalem drew near; for on the approach of the Roman army, all the Christians in the province, warned, as ecclesiastical history tells us2 (Euseb. H.E. iii. 5.), miraculously from heaven, withdrew, and passing the Jordan, took refuge in the city of Pella; and under the protection of that King Agrippa, of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles, they continued some time; but Agrippa himself, with the Jews whom he governed, was subjected to the dominion of the Romans.3
1 This Gloss appears to be a note of S. Thomas, in confirmation of the view of S. Chrysostom, which refers this to the taking of Jerusalem. cf. Iren Hæres. i. 2 and 3.
2 Notice that Remigius utilized the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius (and by extension, Josephus and Hegessipus) that I cited early on in this series to conclude that Christians in Judea were warned "miraculously from heaven" about the destruction of Jerusalem. "This" he writes, "we know was so done when the fall of Jerusalem drew near."
3 Thomas Aquinas. (1841). Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Matthew. (J. H. Newman, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 799-816). Oxford: John Henry Parker.