From "Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew," Book XII
by Origen (A.D. 185-254)
OF "UNTIL." NO LIMITATION OF PROMISE.
But since some one may think that the promise of the Saviour prescribes a
limit of time to their not tasting of death, namely, that they will not taste
of death "until" they see the Son of man coming in His own kingdom. but after
this will taste of it, let us show that according to the scriptural usage
the word "until" signifies that the time concerning the thing signified is
pressing, but is not so defined that after the "until," that which is contrary
to the thing signified should at all take place.
Now, the Saviour says to the eleven disciples when He rose from the dead,
this among other things, "Lo, I am with you all the days, even until the
consummation of the age." When He said this, did He promise that He was going
to be with them until the consummation of the age, but that after the
consummation of the age, when another age was at hand, which is "called the
age to come," He would be no longer with them?--so that according to this,
the condition of the disciples would be better before the consummation of
the age than after the consummation of the age?
But I do not think that any one will dare to say, that after the consummation
of the age the Son of God will be no longer with the disciples, because the
expression declares that He will be with them for so long, until the consummation
of the age is at hand; for it is clear that the matter under inquiry was,
whether the Son of God was forthwith going to be with His disciples before
the age to come and the hoped for promises of God which were given as a
But there might have been a question--it being granted that He would be with
them--whether sometimes He was present with them, and sometimes not present.
Wherefore setting us free from the suspicion that might have arisen from
doubt, He declared that now and even all the days He would be with the disciples,
and that He would not leave those who had become His disciples until the
consummation of the age; (because He said "all the days" He did not deny
that by night, when the sun set, He would be present with them.)
But if such is the force of the words, "until the consummation of the age,"
plainly we shall not be compelled to admit that those who see the Son of
man coming in His own kingdom shall taste of death, after being deemed worthy
of beholding Him in such guise. But as in the case of the passage we brought
forward, the urgent necessity was to teach us that "until the consummation
of the age" He would not leave us but be with us all the days; so also in
this case I think that it is clear to those who know how to look at the logical
coherence of things that He who has seen once for all "the Son of man coming
in His own kingdom," and seen Him "in His own glory," and seen "the kingdom
of God come with power," could not possibly taste of death after the
contemplation of things so good and great.
But apart from the word of the promise of Jesus, we have conjectured not
without reason that we would taste of death, so long as we were not yet held
worthy to see "the kingdom of God come with power," and "the Son of man coming
in His own glory and in His own kingdom."
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