Death—its universality—It is the separation of the soul from the body. The intermediate state—The body: what becomes of it—The soul passes to the ‘lower world’—The ‘lower world’ and Abraham’s bosom—The state of the soul in the ‘lower world ’—Paradise—The immediate entrance of the martyrs to Paradise.
The advent of Christ—Apparent contradiction—Immediate or delayed ?— The second coming to be preceded by the events predicted by Christ.
The resurrection—The relation between the resurrection of Christ and that of men—The distinction between the resurrection of the flesh and the immortality of the soul—The dignity of the flesh—The possibility of restoring the flesh to the soul—The necessity of restoring the flesh to the soul in order to the judgement.
Scripture teaching on the subject——Resurrectio mortuorum—Prophecy— Teaching of Christ—The apostles and Paul—The exaltation of Christ is the climax of the proof.
The body which is to be raised is the actual body of this present life— Resemblance of the risen to the angels.
The fate of the wicked.
DEATH, says Tertullian, is universal, and he traverses the doctrines of those who teach that any shall escape it. Even Enoch and Elijah, though they were translated, must yet see death, which is postponed for them. ‘Enoch no doubt was translated, and so was Elijah; nor did they experience death; it was postponed (and only postponed) for them most certainly; they are reserved for the suffering of death, that by their blood they may extinguish Antichrist.’1
But death is not natural. Even when the decay of old age removes men as by natural course death is a violation of nature. For man was not created to die, but sin, which was due to man’s free volition, brought in complicating circumstances. ‘As for our own views, indeed, we know what was man’s origin, and we boldly assert, and persistently maintain, that death happens, not by way of a natural consequence to man, but owing to a fault and defect, which is not itself natural, although it is easy |p204 enough, no doubt, to apply the term natural to faults and circumstances which seem to have been (though from the emergence of an external cause) inseparable to us from our very birth.’2
Death is a shipwreck of life, and the ship which founders by some internal shock quietly and amid peaceful surroundings is yet a wreck. ‘It matters not whether the vessel of the human body goes with unbroken timbers, or shattered with storms, if the navigation of the soul be overthrown.’3
Death is the separation of the soul from the body, the complete separation. Tertullian discourses at great length on the whole subject of sleep and dreams, in order to establish his contention that the soul never leaves the body, except at death. The conclusion to which he comes is that sleep is a rest for the body only, while the soul remains active. ‘Our only resource, indeed, is to agree with the Stoics by determining sleep to be a temporary suspension of the activities of the senses, procuring rest for the body only, not for the soul also.’4 The soul, meanwhile, is active, and is, as it were, preparing itself for that state of complete separation from the body which it will experience when death supervenes. ‘Meanwhile, the soul is circumstanced in such a manner as to seem to be elsewhere active, learning to bear future absence by a dissembling of its presence for the moment.’5
‘It (the soul) proves itself to possess a constant motion . . . it shows what very great power it has, even without the body, how well equipped it is with members of its own, although betraying at the same time the need it has of impressing on some body its activity again.’6 Sleep, in fact, is a parable of death, and awaking is a parable of resurrection, although sleep is in no sense a real separation of body and soul. ‘Accordingly, when the body shakes off its slumber it asserts before your eye the resurrection of the dead by its own resumption of its natural functions.’7
Death is the complete separation of the soul from the body. ‘But the operation of death is plain and obvious: it is the separation of body and soul.’8 Tertullian shows his familiarity with medical knowledge in explaining how it was possible for the body in certain cases to be preserved by natural causes for |p205 some time after the departure of the soul, and explains some remarkable incidents in which dead bodies were alleged to have moved, by attributing the movement to the direct agency of God. But not a particle of the soul can remain in the dead body. The soul is an indivisible body, and death is an indivisible process. ‘Death, if it once falls short of totality in operation, is not death. If any portion of the soul remain it makes a living state. Death will no more mix with life than will night with day.’9
The basis of Tertullian’s thought is the narrative of the sin of Adam in the garden of Eden. In this he follows Paul. But he has neither Paul’s insight nor his acumen. He does not discriminate between the separation of the soul from the body and the dread accompaniments of that dissolution. To Paul the terror of death lay in the pain, and sorrow, and disease, which followed in the wake of sin, and in the absence of hope beyond the grave. ‘O death, where is thy sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But death in Christ had lost its sting. It was the last enemy to be defeated, but it was defeated. ‘Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ Henceforth death was robbed of its sting. It was now but a transition from the bodily presence to be with Christ. This was a distinction which Tertullian did not make, and the whole development of his thought upon the subject of death shows this failure.
What becomes of the two elements after their separation? The body is burned by fire, or buried in the ground, or devoured by beasts. For the time being it disappears as an entity, though Tertullian points to the fact that in some cases large portions remain intact for very long periods, and he appears to hold that the actual materials of the bodily structure never really suffer destruction, but remain to be built up into the bodily structure again at the resurrection.
THE SOUL ENTERS THE LOWER W0RLD.—Tertullian tells us that he has written a treatise (which is not extant) called De Paradiso, in which he has established the position ‘that every soul is detained in safe keeping among the inhabitants of the lower world’ until the day of the Lord.10 The lower |p206 regions are situated as a vast, deep space in the interior of the earth. ‘By ourselves the lower regions are not supposed to be a bare cavity, nor some subterranean sewer of the world, but a vast deep space in the interior of the earth, and a concealed recess in its very bowels.’ To this region Christ went—in the manner of all dead men—so that the prophets and patriarchs might become partakers of Himself. Hence it is not unjust that the souls of the faithful should go there, too.
Tertullian combats the notion, which was held by some, that the souls of the faithful should mount up straightway to heaven. That would be to anticipate the resurrection and the day ‘of the Lord.’11 How, indeed, shall the soul mount up to heaven, where Christ is sitting at the Father’s right hand, when as yet the archangel’s trumpet has not been heard by the command of God, when as yet those whom the coming of the Lord is to find on the earth have not been caught up into the air to meet Him at His coming, in company with the dead in Christ, who shall be the first to arise? ‘When the world indeed shall pass away, then the kingdom of heaven shall be opened.’12
The souls of all shall pass into the ‘lower world,’ where they shall remain until the resurrection. Good and bad alike are there. But not together, in the same place. There are two regions, a good and a bad. ‘I must compel you to determine (what you mean by the “lower world”) which of its two regions, the region of the good, or of the bad.’13 In these two regions of the ‘lower world,’ where all souls are shut up, there is a difference of condition. There the soul receives punishment or consolation, in accordance with its deserts, and in anticipation of gloom or glory.14 In one passage15 Tertullian seems to give to the place of the good in the ‘lower world’ the name of Abraham’s bosom, and to indicate that it is separated by a great gulf from the region of the bad.
The division of the good from the bad in the ‘lower world’ is the only reasonable position to take up, says Tertullian. He has already shown that the souls of men cannot immediately enter heaven. He now maintains that souls cannot sleep. The only alternative is that they should live, and if they live, it would not be just that the righteous and the wicked should |p207 fare alike. The soul is capable of experiencing joy or sorrow, even apart from the body. It can be tortured by ill-temper, and anger, and fatigue. It can in like manner steal away, as it were, from the importunate society of the body, to delight in some furtive joy. It is also capable of sinning apart from the flesh, and of cherishing good in like manner. It is responsible for sins of thought, and for piety of intention, and charity of disposition. Therefore it is only right that it should suffer punishment, or enjoy reward, for these. In fact, the soul takes the first place in sin, since the mental conception precedes the actual deed. Hence it is quite in keeping with the fitness of things that it should be the first to suffer. In the ‘lower world’ the soul atones in a measure for the offences of life, but without prejudice to the final judgement of the resurrection. ‘In short, inasmuch as we understand “the prison” pointed out in the gospel to be the “lower world,” and as we interpret also the “uttermost farthing” to mean the very smallest offence, which has to be atoned for there before the resurrection, no one will hesitate to believe that the soul undergoes in the “lower world” some compensatory discipline, without prejudice to the full process of the resurrection when the recompense will be administered through the flesh besides.’16
Yet not all souls enter the ‘lower world.’ There is one exception. The souls of the martyrs pass immediately into Paradise, where they are in the presence of the Lord. ‘For no one, on becoming absent from the body, is at once a dweller in the presence of the Lord, except by the prerogative of martyrdom, whereby (the saint) gets at once a lodging in paradise, not in the “lower world.” 17 How is it, then, that the region of Paradise, which, as revealed to John in the spirit, lay under the altar, displays no other souls as in it besides the souls of the martyrs? How is it that the most heroic martyr, Perpetua, on the day of her passion, saw only her fellow martyrs there, in the revelation which she received of Paradise? ’18
The legal cast of Tertullian’s thought is here obvious. Remission of sin by the atonement of Christ is unthought of. Any atonement for sin which is made is personal, and is exactly equivalent to the wrong done. Likewise every reward is proportioned to the desert of the individual soul. The |p208 preference accorded to the martyrs is based upon the same legal view. They have bought the right of entrance to Paradise by their own blood. ‘Let it suffice to the martyr to have purged his own sins.’19 Martyrdom is ‘that illustrious devotion, that fighting for the faith, wherein whosoever loses his life for God saves it, so that you may here again recognize the Judge, who recompenses the evil gain of life with its destruction, and the good loss thereof with its salvation.’20 ‘The sole key to unlock Paradise is your own life’s blood.’21
Here, too, is the germ from which the later theory of purgatory developed. But it is no more than the germ. It made possible the later theory of the Roman Church, but Tertullian himself went no farther in this direction than is indicated above.
THE DAY OF THE LORD.—The Christ, who has already come in humiliation, shall come in glory, ‘no longer a stone of offence or a rock of scandal, but the highest corner-stone.’22 He will appear, as predicted in Daniel, upon the clouds of heaven. He will wield all power, and all the nations shall serve Him. His power shall be eternal, and His kingdom shall not be corrupted.
The day of His appearing is fast approaching. ‘But what a spectacle is that fast approaching advent of our Lord now owned by all, now highly exalted, now a triumphant one.’23 It is, in fact, only retarded by the existence of the Roman Empire. Hence Christians pray for the Emperors and the Empire. ‘There is also another, and a greater, necessity for our offering prayer in behalf of the Emperors, nay for the complete stability of the Empire, and for Roman interests in general. For we know that a mighty shock, impending over the whole earth— in fact, the very end of all things, threatening dreadful woes— is only retarded by the continued existence of the Roman Empire. We have no desire, then, to be overtaken by these dire events.’24
At other times, however, Tertullian writes in another strain, as though the day of the Lord were not to be feared by Christians, but welcomed. ‘Now, forasmuch as the seasons of our entire hope have been fixed in the Holy Scripture, and since we are not permitted to place the accomplishing thereof, as |p209 I apprehend, previous to Christ’s coming, our prayers are directed towards the end of the world, to the passing away thereof at the great day of the Lord.’25
This apparent contradiction may easily be resolved by reference to the context. The day of the Lord is to be preceded by great tribulations. It is a day of wrath and vengeance, of the dissolution of the elements and the conflict of nations. As such it will bring dire suffering, not only upon the heathen, but upon Christians, too. In view of such dread accompaniments, the day of the Lord is to be dreaded. But it will issue in a great triumph for the faithful. Those who are dead shall be raised; those who are alive shall be caught up into the air to meet the Lord. And after the judgement they shall receive the reward of their fidelity and good works, life everlasting. As such it is a consummation devoutly to be desired by Christians.
Is the coming of Christ immediate or delayed? That is a question that no one can answer, for the day of the Lord is known to none but the Father. It will be announced by signs and wonders, by the dissolution of the elements and the conflict of nations. Jesus Himself had foretold the course of events up to the overthrow of Jerusalem, and beyond that until the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled. But the signs of the end had not yet appeared, and those who declared that the resurrection was already taking place, or that it took place at the death of every individual, were unduly hastening the day of the Lord in their minds, and were forgetting the signs, and portents, and events, which were destined to precede it.
Dealing with the eschatological section of Paul’s first Epistle to the Thessalonians, Tertullian asks: ‘What archangel’s voice, what trump of God, is now heard, except it be forsooth in the entertainments of the heretics? ‘ He also points out that in the second Epistle to the Thessalonians Paul bids them not be troubled by false prophets, who teach that the day of the Lord is at hand. For that day shall not come, unless there first comes a falling away, and the appearance of Antichrist. The Antichrist cannot, however, come until he who now hinders shall be taken out of the way. The ‘one who now hinders’ is the Roman Empire. ‘What obstacle is there but the Roman state, the falling away of which, by being scattered |p210 into ten kingdoms, shall introduce Antichrist upon (its own ruins.)’26
Tertullian also claims the support of the Book of Revelation. The souls of the martyrs are there taught to wait beneath the altar until the world has suffered the plagues that are foretold for it, ‘that the city of fornication may receive from the ten kings its deserved doom, and that the beast Antichrist, with his false prophets, may wage war on the Church of God.’27
On the other hand, there are passages in Tertullian’s writings which indicate that he believed the day of the Lord to be imminent. Writing to his wife, he advises her not to marry again if he should predecease her, because it is better to be without the encumbrance of children in that day. ‘In that day of disencumbrance the encumbrances of children will be an inconvenience. It is to marriage, of course, that these encumbrances appertain; but that woe will not appertain to widows. (They) at the first trump of the angel will spring forth disencumbered.’ ‘The time (says the apostle) is compressed. It remaineth that they who have wives act as if they had them not.’
In De Fuga in Persecutione, Tertullian says that Antichrist is now close at hand and gaping for the blood of Christians. In De Exhortatione Castitatis he uses the expression, ‘Now at the extreme boundaries of the times.’ In De Monogamia he writes, ‘Let them accumulate by their iterated marriages fruits right seasonable for the last times. . . . Let them prepare for Antichrist (children), upon whom he may more passionately (than Pharaoh) spend his savagery.’ In De Pudicitia he complains that ‘the conquering power of things evil is on the increase—which is the characteristic of the last times.’ In De Jejunio he even calls the times the ‘latest times.’
With reference to these passages, it is sufficient to say that Tertullian evidently thought that persecution of the saints was one of the signs of the approach of the day of the Lord, and that in time of persecution it was natural that he should discern, as he thought, the first of the signs of the approaching end. ‘But every sign is his, to whom belongs the thing of which it is the sign; and to everything is appointed its sign, by Him to whom the thing belongs. If, therefore, these |p211 tribulations are the signs of the Kingdom, just as the maturity of the tree is of the summer, it follows that the Kingdom is the Creator’s, to whom are ascribed the tribulations, which are the signs of the Kingdom.’28
THE RESURRECTION.—The resurrection of the dead synchronizes with the second advent of Christ. ‘The powers of heaven shall be shaken, and then shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.’ With the quotation of these words of Jesus, Tertullian expresses his own view of the time of the resurrection.
Tertullian appreciates the value in evidence of proceeding from the known to the unknown, from the certain to the less certain. It is in accordance with the appreciation of the relative value of evidence that he first maintains, at great length, and with much weight of argument, the reality of the flesh of Christ. The docetic view of the Gnostics was widely held and supported with much ingenious reasoning, and Tertullian saw that such a view of Christ’s Person was incompatible with his belief in the resurrection of the flesh. The physical resurrection of Christ was the foundation for the resurrection of the flesh of men. Hence he deems it necessary to establish beyond all doubt the former before arguing in support of the latter.
It is essential to bear in mind the distinction between the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body. The former was a belief shared by many of the philosophers; the latter was a peculiarly Christian doctrine. The Platonists, for example, not only did not, but could not, consistently with their principles, hope for a resurrection of the body. To them the body was a prison where the soul was incarcerated, and death was the release of the body from its prison. How, then, could they hope for the resurrection of the body? But the Christian took at least a less ascetic view of life, and a less pessimistic view of the body. The body was the temple of the Holy Ghost, and in a refined and purer form might be a fit organ for the soul in the life to come. Hence we find Tertullian acknowledging that the philosophers—some of them at least, e.g. Pythagoras, Empedocles, and Plato—believe in the |p212 immortality of the soul, but himself going on further to assert and maintain the resurrection of the body.
He says that everywhere the heretics inveigh against the flesh. It is vile from its first origin to its last dissolution, and is unworthy of being restored. Moreover, its restoration is impracticable. How can that which has been devoured by fire, sea, beasts, birds, and fishes, come into being again as an entity? And, if it were practicable, to what purpose would it be to restore the blind and the lame, the leper and the palsied? One of the accompaniments of the body is the wish to die by reason of disease and pain. Will that also be restored?
The reply Tertullian makes is, that the flesh is the creation of God, and not only the creation of God, but the best of His creatures; for He made man, not soul alone, but soul and body together. Though the flesh, regarded in itself, may be lowly, viewed as the work of God it is exalted. It was, moreover, destined to be the habitation and clothing of Christ, and in the Christian religion it is associated with the soul in the most sacred acts and rites. ‘And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed, that the soul may be cleansed; the flesh is anointed, that the soul may be consecrated; the flesh is signed, that the soul, too, may be fortified; the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands, that the soul also may be illuminated with the spirit; the flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may fatten on its God.’29 The soul and the flesh, then, which are so closely associated in service, should likewise be associated in reward. The flesh plays its part in the sacrifices which are acceptable to God, i.e. in fasting and abstinence; and in martyrdom, which is so complete a repayal of man’s debt to God that when it is suffered nothing is left unpaid, the flesh plays a noble part.
It is easy to quote Scripture passages which are derogatory to the dignity of the flesh, but it is equally easy to quote passages which are eulogistic of the flesh. Moreover, the passages which seem to belittle the flesh are spoken in denunciation of the actions of the flesh, not of its substance, and in those actions the soul bears a large portion of the responsibility. Paul speaks of ‘carrying about in his body the marks of the |p213 Lord Jesus’ ; he also calls it ‘the temple of God,’ and its parts ‘members of Christ,’ and bids us ‘glorify God in our body.’
As to the possibility of restoring the flesh to the soul, Tertullian takes the view that He who created the world and man out of nothing is surely able to restore the flesh to the soul. ‘On this principle you may be quite sure that the restoration of the flesh is easier than its first formation.’30 He uses also the principle of analogy. In a passage which reminds one of Ecclesiastes31 he refers to the recurring courses of nature; day and night, summer and winter, seed and fruit, show, as it were, death and the resurrection of man. The analogy is confessedly imperfect, but there is one more adequate. That is the phoenix. ‘If, however, all nature but faintly figures our resurrection; if creation affords no sign precisely like it, inasmuch as its several phenomena can hardly be said to die so much as to come to an end, nor again be deemed to be reanimated, but only reformed; then take a most complete and unassailable symbol of our hope, for it shall be an animated being, and subject alike to life and death. I refer to the bird which is peculiar to the East . . . the phoenix.’ Tertullian finds ground for using this analogy in the LXX. rendering of Ps. xcii. 12: ‘The righteous shall flourish like the phoenix.’32
Another argument for the resurrection of the flesh is found in the judgement. Every man will be judged for his acts and thoughts. But the connexion between the body and the soul in every act, and in every thought even, is so close that the responsibility of the one is inextricably interwoven with that of the other. True, the soul does in the ‘lower world’ suffer proportionately, or rejoice relatively, but it is reserved for the reunited soul and body to know the fullness of its sufferings or the completeness of its joy.
Having thus paved the way for a right understanding of the Scripture teaching on the subject, Tertullian sets out the latter fully. He first takes the Scripture phrase ‘resurrectio mortuorum,’ and shows that it implies the resurrection of the flesh, for as it is the flesh which has ‘fallen,’ so it is the flesh which must be ‘raised up.’ Then he refutes the opinions of those who would accept such a phrase in a figurative sense, as if it referred to the spiritual upraising of a man who is dead in ignorance and sin. Figurative expressions have their basis |p214 in fact. They are but a carrying over of a parallel from the literal existence to the imaginative realm. If there were no literal resurrection from the dead, the figure could not be applied to the spiritual world.
The resurrection is not to take place immediately at death, but is to be preceded by the coming of Christ. With regard to those passages in Paul’s Epistles which speak of a spiritual resurrection, Tertullian shows that they not only do not preclude, but necessitate, the idea of a literal resurrection, and that literal resurrection is referred to in other passages. The Revelation of John also speaks of a first resurrection and a second, the second being referred to the last times, and of necessity indicating a literal resurrection, since a spiritual can no longer be necessary. In fact, the whole description of spiritual resurrection in the Scriptures depends for its force and meaning upon the bodily resurrection.
Tertullian does not rest content without producing all the weapons in the armoury of Scripture to refute his opponents in this doctrine, and he explores the Old Testament for prophetic references, the chief of which are Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones and Jonah’s deliverance from the great fish. The teaching of Christ, His parables, and His miracles in restoring the dead, are all made to support his theory. The Acts of the Apostles bears witness to the same truth, and the works of Paul are again referred to, by way of bringing the evidence to its culminating point.
But Tertullian does not clearly grasp the great apostle’s teaching on this point, perhaps because he came to his writings to find support for the position which he had taken up against the heretics, rather than to discover what Paul’s teaching really was. The apostle uses the comparison of a grain of wheat falling into the ground and bearing fruit through its own death, but he does not make the grain that is born absolutely and materially identical with that which was sown. In fact, he expressly differentiates between that which is sown and that which is raised, and declares that that which is raised is a spiritual body. Tertullian, on the other hand, pleads for the absolute and unchanged identity of the earthly body, and expressly repudiates the notion that it is to be either the corporeity of the soul or a spiritual body.
But it is the exaltation of Jesus, and His session at the right |p215 hand of God, with flesh and blood, yet purer than ours, that forms the climax of proof. In Christ flesh and blood have acquired the kingdom of heaven.
The body which is to be raised is the actual body, which is the inseparable companion of the soul in its earthly life. To maintain this position, Tertullian does violence to Paul’s meaning, and forces his words about the ‘bare’ grain, and the ‘body which God giveth as it pleaseth Him.’ The plain meaning of Paul is that it is identity of personality that is preserved. Tertullian makes it the fleshly substance. There is, however, a difference Tertullian is willing to admit. The body that dies is bare grain, but God gives it a body. What is that body, and where lies the distinction? It is that in the resurrection it will be no longer a ‘bare’ body, but there will be additional matter. That, however, does not destroy the ‘bare’ body; it is superimposed upon it. It is not changed by abolition, but by amplification. This amplification is the grace and ornament which God shall give it according to its merit. Or the change may be regarded as one of condition. A thing does not change because its condition changes. So the hand of Moses became like a dead one, and was restored to life, but it was the same hand in both conditions. So the face of Moses was transfigured, but it was the same face. So Jesus changed His appearance on the Mount of Olives without changing His substance. So a man changes with the passing of the years, but still remains the same man. Here Tertullian comes near to abandoning the position he has taken up, for some of his illustrations come very near to depicting an identity of personality without necessitating the essential identity of the fabric of the body. Nevertheless, he regards them as illustrating his point, which is, that in the resurrection it is the identical, material body which is raised.
But though it is the actual body of this present life which is restored, it will have none of the imperfections which are found in the lame, the blind, and the deformed. Every imperfection of the human body is a partial death, and he who will restore the complete death will restore all these partial deaths, even those which are traced back to the pre-natal life. The resurrection life will be everlasting in its duration, and perfect in beatific bliss. Sorrow and sighing shall flee away. God shall wipe away all tears, and there shall be no more death. |p216 The flesh of man, too, will be made capable of enduring such eternal condition, and while the characteristics of the body, i.e. its limbs and organs, will remain, their functions will not be the same. This may seem impossible to us, but we are not judges of what is possible to God.
The state of the risen will be hike that of the angels, e.g. they shall not marry. But as the angels took upon them the condition of men, so men shall take upon them the condition of angels. But Christ did not say, ‘They shall be angels,’ but ‘They shall be equal to angels,’ so that, without losing their existence as men, or impairing their humanity, they shall yet resemble the angels. The resemblance will be complete, but the flesh will be human.
Hitherto we have noticed that Tertullian is speaking of the state of the blessed in the resurrection, and it is of this that he mainly treats, but he indicates, too, what is to happen to the wicked. The judgement of God is twofold—of salvation and of punishment—and the punishment consists of consignment to the fire. There is no hope of salvation in the ‘lower world,’ where even the good and those destined for Paradise must pay the exact equivalent in suffering of their debt to God. There is certainly no hope of deliverance beyond the judgement. Both body and soul are to be punished in hell. They are not to be annihilated; that would be to consume them, not to punish them; but the fire of hell is everlasting, and so is its punishment. It is not a merely human murder—which is temporal—but a never-ending killing. The body is included in this, since the Scriptures speak of’ weeping and gnashing of teeth,’ and of ‘being bound hand and foot.’
THE JUDGEMENT.—With the advent of Christ and the resurrection of the dead, all men shall appear before His judgement seat. It will be a spectacle immeasurably more magnificent than the pomps and pageants of earth. The retribution will be according to men’s deserts. ‘Since, however, there is then to be a retribution according to men’s merits, how will any be able to reckon with God? But by mentioning both the judgement-seat and the distinction between works, good and bad, he (Paul) set before us a Judge who is to award both sentences, and has affirmed that all will have to be present at the tribunal in their bodies.’33 All the nations shall be there |p217 with their rulers, and governors, and princes, the mighty and the humble, the learned and the foolish.
The judgement will be one of punishment for the wicked and of salvation for the righteous. The form of punishment is everlasting fire, that of salvation is eternal life. ‘But who does not hold that the judgement of God consists in the twofold sentence of salvation and of punishment? Therefore it is that all flesh is grass, which is destined to the fire, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God, which is ordained to eternal life.’34
The sentence pronounced on the judgement day will be final and irrevocable: ‘Accordingly God’s judgement will be more full and complete, because it will be pronounced at the very last, in an eternal, irrevocable sentence, both of punishment and of consolation.’35
THE MILLENNIUM.—Tertullian has set forth, clearly and succinctly, in his controversy with Marcion,36 his belief concerning the millennium. It had been treated at greater length by him in another work, De Spe Fidelium, but that, unfortunately, is lost. He states that he is familiar with the idea of a literal return of the Jews to Judaea, and the setting up then of an earthly kingdom; but he himself accepts the prophecies relating to the subject in a figurative sense as applying to Christ and His Church. He does, however, believe that a kingdom awaits the saints upon the earth, only that it is in another existence, after the resurrection. It will last for a thousand years, in the divinely built city of Jerusalem, which will be let down from heaven. This is the city which Paul calls ‘our mother from above,’ and in which thepoli/teuma, or citizenship, of Christians is. It was foretold by Ezekiel (xlviii. 30—38) and by John (Rev. xxi. 10—23). Moreover, the New Prophecy taught that a sign of this New Jerusalem would be manifested in a picture of it which would appear in the heavens. That sign, said Tertullian, had already been given. In Judaea, during an expedition to the East, there was seen suspended in the sky a city early every morning for forty days. The city will serve the purpose of receiving the saints on their resurrection. There they will receive spiritual blessings to compensate them for the afflictions of the present life.
The order of events is expressly set forth by Tertullian. ‘Of the heavenly kingdom this is the process. After its |p218 thousand years are over, within which period is completed the resurrection of the saints, who rise sooner or later, according to their deserts, there will ensue the destruction of the world and the conflagration of all things at the judgement; we shall then be changed, in a moment, into the substance of angels, even by the investiture of an incorruptible nature, and so be removed to that kingdom in heaven of which we have now been treating.’
1. p.203 n.1 De Anima, C. 50.
2. p.204 n.1 De Anima, c. 52.
3. p.204 n.2 Ibid., c. 52.
4. p.204 n.3 Ibid., c. 43.
5. p.204 n.4 Ibid.
6. p.204 n.5 Ibid., c. 43.
7. p.204 n.6 Ibid.
8. p.204 n.7 Ibid., c. 51.
9. p.205 n.1 De Anima.
10. p.205 n.2 Ibid c. 55: ‘ Habes etiam de Paradiso a nobis libellum quo constituimus omnem apud inferos sequestrari in diem Domini.’
11. p.206 n.1 De Anima.
12. p.206 n.2 Ibid., c. 55.
13. p.206 n.3 Ibid., c.56.
14. p.206 n.4 Ibid., c.58.
15. p.206 n.5 Adv. Marcionem, IV. 34.
16. p.207 n.1 De Anima, c. 58.
17. p.207 n.2 De Resurreclione Carnis, c. 43.
18. p.207 n.3 De Anima, c. 55,
19. p.208 n.1 De Pudicitia, c. 22.
20. p.208 n.2 Adv. Marcionem, IV., c. 21.
21. p.208 n.3 De Anima, c. 54.
22. p.208 n.4 Adv. Judaeos, c. 14.
23. p.208 n.5 De Spectaculis, c. 30.
24. p.208 n.6 Apologeticus, c. 32.
25. p.209 n.1 De Resurrectione Carnis, c. 22.
26. p.210 n.1 De Resurrectione Carnis, c. 24.
27. p.210 n.2 Ibid., c. 25.
28. p.211 n.1 Adv. Marcionem, IV., c. 38.
29. p.212 n.1 De Resurrectione Carnis, c. 8.
30. p.213 n.1 De Resurrectione Carnis, c. 11.
31. p.213 n.2 Ibid., c.12.
32. p.213 n.3 Ibid., c. 13.
33. p.216 n.1 Adv. Marcionem, V., c. 12.
34. p.217 n.1 De Resurrectione Carnis, c. 59.
35. p.217 n.2 De Anima, c. 33.
36. p.217 n.3 Book III., c. 24.
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