O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Covenant Creation As Taught By Augustine

OK. I just have to share this, because I would like to hear your feedback.

I ran across this most interesting citation while doing some research for an upcoming event. I believe it is a powerful demonstration. Unless I am missing something, this quote shows that Augustine grasped some key defining characteristics of Covenant Creation more than 1500 years ago.

Keep these issues in mind when you read the citation below:

1) Note how Augustine did not view the Law as originating at Sinai; he said the Law is from "the beginning."

2) Augustine misunderstood the "end of the world" because he had a wrong view of the nature of the "world" that was going to end.

3)The nature of the world created is very clearly connected to the nature of the world that was going to end, according to Augustine.

4) If we, as full-preterists, honor the framework Augustine (and many other ECFs) present, then we can come to no other conclusion than this: Genesis speaks about the creation of a covenant world.

5) If Genesis is *really* talking about the creation of the physical universe, then the framework Augustine is teaching leads directly to futurism; the "end" must be the end of the physical universe created "in the beginning."

6) Augustine's mistake regarding the nature of the "end" originates in a mistake about the nature of what God created "in the beginning."

7) The source of Augustine's futurism is, ultimately, his understanding of the nature of the "heavens and earth" of Genesis 1:1.

Here is the citation:

And we know that the law extends from the time of which we have record, that is, from the beginning of the world: "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth.' Thence down to the time in which we are now living are six ages, this being the sixth, as you have often heard and know. The first age is reckoned from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abraham; and, as Matthew the evangelist duly follows and distinguishes, the third, from Abraham to David; the fourth, from David to the carrying away into Babylon; the fifth, from the carrying away into Babylon to John the Baptist; the sixth, from John the Baptist to the end of the world.

Augustine, TRACTATE IX, p. 65.

Any thoughts?

Tim Martin

Views: 62

Comment by Norm on February 13, 2009 at 6:46pm

You cut your quote too short. LOL

It looks like Augustine must have been reading some of the ancient writings that I find interesting. So Augustine is equating the 6 days of Genesis to 6 ages except he doesn’t understand that the 6th Day/Age has ended.

Quote that picks up from the end of Tim’s quote of Augustine.

“Moreover, GOD MADE MAN AFTER HIS OWN IMAGE ON THE SIXTH DAY, because IN THIS SIXTH AGE IS MANIFESTED the renewing of our mind through the gospel, after the image of Him who created us; Colossians 3:10 and the water is turned into wine, that we may taste of Christ, now manifested in the law and the prophets. Hence there were there six water-pots, which He bade be filled with water. Now THE SIX WATER-POTS SIGNIFY THE SIX AGES, which were not without prophecy. And those six periods, divided and separated as it were by joints, would be as empty vessels unless they were filled by Christ.”

Comment by Tim Martin on February 13, 2009 at 6:54pm
Ah, yes.

I wanted to isolate the issue of "the law" and "end of the world" for emphasis.

Comment by Tim Martin on February 13, 2009 at 7:04pm
Oh, one more thing.

Augustine was one of many, many ECFs who saw this 6 day pattern in Genesis 1 as programmatic for the entire history of the [covenant] world. I hope we all can understand what these guys were doing.

They were saying Genesis creation is prophetic of all covenant history to follow. This is an apocalyptic approach to Genesis creation. Yet, they were missing one very important piece. They were still thinking that the nature of the consummation is related to the physical universe. So very close!

Everything falls into place when you get the "end" right.

It's all covenantal.

Tim Martin
Comment by jjkratt on February 14, 2009 at 7:11pm
Great thoughts, Tim. Thanks for sharing. Oh, and my wife and I loved the photos of your family.

Comment by Tami on February 17, 2009 at 8:51am
That extended section is incredible!

Unless I am missing something (?) he is clearly understanding "creation week" and "the days of creation" (specifically the 6th, but by implication, the whole week), as prophetic of the new creation in Christ! Beautiful image also, of the water into wine.

“Moreover, GOD MADE MAN AFTER HIS OWN IMAGE ON THE SIXTH DAY, because IN THIS SIXTH AGE IS MANIFESTED the renewing of our mind through the gospel, after the image of Him who created us; Colossians 3:10 and the water is turned into wine, that we may taste of Christ, now manifested in the law and the prophets. Hence there were there six water-pots, which He bade be filled with water..."

And Tim, to your main point (or one of them?) Augustine's consistent view of the beginning and end of "the world" adds to the problem inconsistent preterists have created for themselves.

I would ask the question of those who continue to appeal to the ECF to support their cosmological (rather than covenantal) view of Genesis creation:

To which ECF do you appeal to support your framework that the nature of the heavens and the earth created in Genesis is wholly unrelated to the nature of the new heavens and earth created in Revelation?

I realize that most of the questions I ask here don't get answered. But maybe the absence of an answer is in itself informative.
Comment by Tim Martin on February 17, 2009 at 11:02am

What seems clear to me is that in order for full-preterists to maintain young-earth dogma in Genesis, they must obliterate the theological connection between the beginning and end as taught by the ECFs as well as the modern day young-earth creationists.

Covenant Creation recognizes and respects the framework of what Christian theology has always taught in various ways: the beginning and the end are intimately related to one another.

I say, if that's what critics of Covenant Creation want to do, then they need to get cracking. They have a big job in front of them. It's going to take a lot more than a conference presentation or a random paper to do that.

Tim Martin
Comment by Norm on February 17, 2009 at 1:01pm

Yes, I was quite pleased to know someone else was seeing Genesis 1 the way I have been proposing. With Barnabas and Augustine both in the fold this makes for a very early date for verification of the 6 days as prophetic of the New Creation in Christ. What is huge is that the idea that being created in God’s image occurs on the last day (day 6) right before the 7th Day of the Sabbath Rest as we read in Hebrews chapter 4. Once Preterist realize this point it will transform the discussion about Genesis.

Comment by Doug on February 13, 2010 at 11:57am
The sabbath rest is in itself a wonderful discussion about what God has done in prophecy.

The original sabbath rest was instituted as a part of creation. That is, although it was "physical" in its practice, it was commanded to be a practical acting out of the spiritual meaning behind it until the fulness came in Christ!

This is explained in detail in Hebrews 4, where the writer tells us explicitly that the rest we have now is in Christ.

If we are to accept that the sabbath has been transformed from a literal day of rest to a spiritual rest, which we have in actuality in our rest from our own works in Christ, then any christian who goes to church on Sunday is implicitly accepting that the days of creation are indeed NOT physical, but spiritual.

That's because you cannot simply willy-nilly accept that the sabbath alone, as a feature of creation week in Genesis, has now been changed from physical to spiritual, but then go back and say "...but the other days of creation are meant to be literal".

That is inconsistent logic, and I doubt that most futurists, and some preterists, even recognize the flaw in their own thinking and practice.

BTW, has anyone ever noticed how much the sabbath is discussed by Jesus in the synoptic gospels? It seems that the sabbath issue was brought up by the Pharisees at every turn, and Jesus clearly showed how the physical sabbath was NOT the main point. He went out of His way to challenge the Pharisees on this point, because He knew that the keeping of a day of the week (physically) was never the ultimate intent of the law.

Because the sabbath was instituted as a part of creation, and is now properly understood to be fulfilled in Christ, by what logic do others ACCEPT the sabbath but REJECT all the other part of creation that went with the sabbath by sticking to a literal account of Genesis to explain prophecy? The answer is, of course, that it isn't logical. I don't think Augustine saw this flaw in his own logic. Its almost as if Augustine saw the logic for a future fulfillment, but could not apply it to the past as well.


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