The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians an Absurd Erasure of Marcion; Its Object Transparent. The Final Judgment on the Heathen as Well as the Jews Could
We are obliged from time to time to recur to certain topics in order to affirm truths which are connected with them. We repeat then here, that as the Lord is by the apostle proclaimed [5920] as the awarder of both weal and woe, [5921] He must be either the Creator, or (as Marcion would be loth to admit) One like the Creator -- "with whom it is a righteous thing to recompense tribulation to them who afflict us, and to ourselves, who are afflicted, rest, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed as coming from heaven with the angels of His might and in flaming fire." [5922] The heretic, however, has erased the flaming fire, no doubt that he might extinguish all traces herein of our own God. But the folly of the obliteration is clearly seen. For as the apostle declares that the Lord will come "to take vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel, who," he says, "shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power" [5923] -- it follows that, as He comes to inflict punishment, He must require "the flaming fire." Thus on this consideration too we must, notwithstanding Marcion's opposition, conclude that Christ belongs to a God who kindles the flames [5924] (of vengeance), and therefore to the Creator, inasmuch as He takes vengeance on such as know not the Lord, that is, on the heathen. For he has mentioned separately "those who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ," [5925] whether they be sinners among Christians or among Jews. Now, to inflict punishment on the heathen, who very likely have never heard of the Gospel, is not the function of that God who is naturally unknown, and who is revealed nowhere else than in the Gospel, and therefore cannot be known by all men. [5926] The Creator, however, ought to be known even by (the light of) nature, for He may be understood from His works, and may thereby become the object of a more widely spread knowledge. To Him, therefore, does it appertain to punish such as know not God, for none ought to be ignorant of Him. In the (apostle's) phrase, "From the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power," [5927] he uses the words of Isaiah who for the express reason makes the self-same Lord "arise to shake terribly the earth." [5928] Well, but who is the man of sin, the son of perdition," who must first be revealed before the Lord comes; "who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; who is to sit in the temple of God, and boast himself as being God?" [5929] According indeed to our view, he is Antichrist; as it is taught us in both the ancient and the new prophecies, [5930] and especially by the Apostle John, who says that "already many false prophets are gone out into the world," the fore-runners of Antichrist, who deny that Christ is come in the flesh, [5931] and do not acknowledge [5932] Jesus (to be the Christ), meaning in God the Creator. According, however, to Marcion's view, it is really hard to know whether He might not be (after all) the Creator's Christ; because according to him He is not yet come. But whichsoever of the two it is, I want to know why he comes "in all power, and with lying signs and wonders?" [5933] "Because," he says, "they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; for which cause God shall send them an instinct of delusion [5934] (to believe a lie), that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." [5935] If therefore he be Antichrist, (as we hold), and comes according to the Creator's purpose, it must be God the Creator who sends him to fasten in their error those who did not believe the truth, that they might be saved; His likewise must be the truth and the salvation, who avenges (the contempt of) them by sending error as their substitute [5936] -- that is, the Creator, to whom that very wrath is a fitting attribute, which deceives with a lie those who are not captivated with truth. If, however, he is not Antichrist, as we suppose (him to be) then He is the Christ of the Creator, as Marcion will have it. In this case how happens it that he [5937] can suborn the Creator's Christ to avenge his truth? But should he after all agree with us, that Antichrist is here meant, I must then likewise ask how it is that he finds Satan, an angel of the Creator, necessary to his purpose? Why, too, should Antichrist be slain by Him, whilst commissioned by the Creator to execute the function [5938] of inspiring men with their love of untruth? In short, it is incontestable that the emissary, [5939] and the truth, and the salvation belong to Him to whom also appertain the wrath, and the jealousy, [5940] and "the sending of the strong delusion," [5941] on those who despise and mock, as well as upon those who are ignorant of Him; and therefore even Marcion will now have to come down a step, and concede to us that his god is "a jealous god." (This being then an unquestionable position, I ask) which God has the greater right to be angry? He, as I suppose, who from the beginning of all things has given to man, as primary witnesses for the knowledge of Himself, nature in her (manifold) works, kindly providences, plagues, [5942] and indications (of His divinity), [5943] but who in spite of all this evidence has not been acknowledged; or he who has been brought out to view [5944] once for all in one only copy of the gospel -- and even that without any sure authority -- which actually makes no secret of proclaiming another god? Now He who has the right of inflicting the vengeance, has also sole claim to that which occasions [5945] the vengeance, I mean the Gospel; (in other words,) both the truth and (its accompanying) salvation. The charge, that "if any would not work, neither should he eat," [5946] is in strict accordance with the precept of Him who ordered that "the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn should not be muzzled." [5947]


[5920] Circumferri.

[5921] Utriusque meriti: "of both the eternal sentences."

[5922] 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8.

[5923] 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9.

[5924] Crematoris Dei.

[5925] 2 Thessalonians 1:8.

[5926] Non omnibus scibilis.

[5927] 2 Thessalonians 1:9.

[5928] Isaiah 2:19. The whole verse is to the point.

[5929] 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.

[5930] The prophets of the Old and the New Testament.

[5931] 1 John 4:1-3.

[5932] Solventes Jesum. This expression receives some explanation from the Vulgate version of 1 John 4:3: "Et omnis spiritus qui solvit Jesum Christum ex Deo non est." From Irenæus, Vol. I., 443 (Harvey, ii. 89), we learn that the Gnostics divided Jesus from Christ: "Alterum quidem Jesum intelligunt, alterum autem Christum,"--an error which was met in the clause of the creed expressing faith in "One Lord Jesus Christ." Grabe, after Socrates, Hist. Ecclesiastes 7:32, says that the oldest mss. of St. John's epistle read pan pneuma ho luei ton 'Iesoun. If so, Tertullian must be regarded as combining the two readings, viz., that which we find in the received text and this just quoted. Thus Grabe. It would be better to say that T. read ver. 2 as we have it, only omitting 'Iesoun; and in ver. 3 read the old lection to which Socrates refers instead of pan pneuma ho me homologei.

[5933] 2 Thessalonians 2:9.

[5934] Instinctum fallaciæ.

[5935] 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.

[5936] Summissu erroris.

[5937] Marcion, or rather his Christ, who on the hypothesis absurdly employs the Creator's Christ on the flagrantly inconsistent mission of avenging his truth, i.e. Marcionism.

[5938] Habens fungi...Creatori.

[5939] Angelum: the Antichrist sent by the Creator.

[5940] Æmulatio.

[5941] 2 Thessalonians 2:11.

[5942] Plagis: "heavy strokes," in opposition to the previous "beneficiis."

[5943] Prædicationibus: see Romans 1:20.

[5944] Productus est.

[5945] Materia.

[5946] 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

[5947] Deuteronomy 25:4.

chapter xv the first epistle to
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