St. Aurelius Augustine
(A.D. 354 – 430)

Amillennialist | Former Manichean | Bishop of Hippo | North African | “Father of Christian Idealism”

Annotations on the New Testament: Compiled from the Best Critical Authorities (1829) | Harmony of the Gospels The City of God | On the Proceeding of Pelagius | On Christian Doctrine | CCEL | The City of God | 13 Confessions | Enchiridion | Catholic Forum | New Advent


“Ideas are certain original forms of things, their archetypes, permanent and incommunicable, which are contained in the Divine intelligence. And though they neither begin to be nor cease, yet upon them are patterned the manifold things of the world that come into being and pass away. Upon these ideas only the rational soul can fix its gaze, endowed as it is with the faculty which is its peculiar excellence, i.e. mind and reason [mente ac ratione], a power, as it were, of intellectual vision; and for such intuition that soul only is qualified which is pure and holy, i.e., whose eye is normal, clear, and well adjusted to the things which it would fain behold” (De diversis quaest., Q. xlvi, in P.L., XL, 30).

“(The 1000 years is) the period beginning with Christ’s first coming

On Letter 199: The End of the World

Soon alter receiving the previous letter. Augustine replied to llesychius. the bishop of Salona. with this long letter, which Augustine mentions in The City of God 20. 5.4. where he gave it the title The End of the World, Augustine begins his reply to Hesychius” questions by indicating the disposition that a Christian ought to have in awaiting the second coming of the Lord. Those who long for his coming find delays difficult lo bear (paragraph I).Our good actions will prepare us for this event, and he will find us at his coming as he finds each of us al our dealh (paragraph 2). Hence, wc must he watchful and ready (paragraph 3). I lesychius inlerpreied the Lord’s words to his disciples, // is not yours to know the times or moments that the Father established by his own authority (Acts 1 :7) in the sense that the Lord did not want them lo he witnesses lo the end of the world but to his resurrection. Augustine express his uncertainty about how to inlerpret Hesychius’ statement and points out (hat the Lord spoke of what was not theirs lo know, not of what was not I heirs to preach (paragraph 4). God did not wanl the apostles to preach what he knew was not useful for ihcm to know (paragraph 5). Christ did not admonish the Jews about their not knowing the times because they did not know the time of his second coming al the end of the world but because they did not recognize the time of his first coming (paragraph 6). It was long ago when John wrole lhat it is the last hour {I Jn 2:18). and the end is still not here (paragraph 7). Paul’s warning lhat the day of the Lord would come like a thief in the night would seem lo preclude the Lord’s coming in these times, when no one is confident of peace and security (paragraph 8). Paul is warning us lest the coming of the Lord find us unprepared (paragraph ‘)). What Paul said about the mystery of iniquity docs not indicate when this mystery will be revealed or when the Antichrist will appear (paragraphs 10 and II).

Christ rebuked the people of Jerusalem about noi knowing the time of their visitation because they did not recognize the lime of his first coming (paragraph 12). Augustine asks Hesychius lo explain how the passages of scripture that he cites have lo do with knowing the time of the Savior’s second coming (paragraph 13). The coming of the Lord should certainly be loved (paragraph 14). bui a true love of his coming docs not entail a belief lhat he will come soon (paragraph 15). Augustine asks Hesychius to explain what he said about calculating the times of the lord’s coining, since it may be lhallhey are in agreement (paragraph 16). lie turns to an explanation of the sense in which scripture speaks of years, days, and hours (paragraph 17). He suggests thai in speaking of the present as the last hour John probably used “hour” for “time” and left the length of that time undetermined (paragraph 18).

Hesychius had cited the Lord’s promise about ihe shortening of the last days on account of the eleel and tied it (o the weeks of the prophet Daniel. Augustine poinis to difficulties with this interpretation if the weeks of Daniel really refer to Christ’s second coming (paragraphs 19 and 20). Augustine indicates that the weeks of Daniel might refer lo Christ’s first coming, to his second coming, or to both (paragraph 21). Augustine turns to other signs indicative of the end of the world and points to scripture’s use of the present tense in describing them (paragraphs 22 and 23). Though the final days began al the lime of the apostles, we do no know how long they will last (paragraph 24).

Augustine begins to examine the Lord’s eschatological discourse, in which he spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem, of his coming in his members in the Church, and of his coming at the end of the world (paragraph 25). 1 fence, one has to consider carefully which signs refer to which events (paragraph 26). Luke’s account makes it clear that the Lord’s words about the shortening of the days refer to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (paragraph 27). Unlike Matthew and Mark. Luke shows that the abomination of desolation predicted by Daniel was realized at the destruction of Jerusalem (paragraph 28). At the time of the city’s destruction there were some of the elect in it on whose account those days were shortened, however that shortening is to be understood (paragraphs 20 and 30). Al any rale, there is no need to suppose dial ilie shortening of the days disturbed the counl of the weeks in Daniel or thai those weeks have not already come bul will come at (he end of (he world (paragraph 311. Augustine suggests a spiritual interpretation of die passage wanting a person on the roof not (o come down and a person in the field not to return to his house for his coat (paragraph 32). He also indicates some of the problems thai arise if the weeks of Daniel are to be fulfilled al the end of the world (paragraph 33).

Regarding the signs in the heavens and on earth. Augustine notes that the eclipse of the sun that occurred al the crucifixion was unparalleled (paragraph 34). He suggests that the wars that were predicted should be interpreted in relation to the conflict between the people of Christ and the people of the devil (paragraph 35). Furthermore, he argues that, if the evils people are suffering at present arc certain signs of the lord’s coming, we are still left with Paul’s statement that people will be saying at his coming, “Peace and security.’* which no one is now saying I paragraph 36). Such evils can be belter interpreted as applicable lo the Church (paragraph 37). Though Paul said lhat the lime is short, he also described in the same letter how people should live in this world as they await the Lord’s coming (paragraph 3S). Augustine warns that it is the signs in the sun and the moon as referring to the Church (paragraph 39). Luke’s words about the affliction of the nations should be interpreted as referring to the nations that will stand on Christ’s left (paragraph 40). Christ’s coming on the cloud can be inlerpreted either as his coming in the Church or as his coming in his own risen body at the last judgment (paragraph 411. When Christ appears, the kingdom of God will still not be here, though it will be near (paragaph 42). The parable of the fig tree also wants only that the end is near (paragraph 43). Matthew makes explicit that all the events mentioned refer to Christ’s coming (paragraph 44). But it still remains possible that all the signs found in the three evangelists refer to Christ’s coming in his members in the Church—except for those passages clearly referring to his coming for the last judgment (paragraph 45).


Preterist Commentaries from Early Church Fathers

“Many passages I omit, because, though they seem to refer to the last judgment, yet on a closer examination they are found to be ambiguous, or to allude rather to some other event — whether to that coming of the Saviour which continually occurs in His Church, that is, in His members, in which comes little by little, and piece by piece, since the whole Church is His body, or to the destruction of the earthly Jerusalem. For when He speaks even of this, He often uses language which is applicable to the end of the world and that last and great day of judgment” (City of God – Book XX)


(On II Corinthians 5:4)
“If it could be managed, we would much rather not die; we would like to become like the angels by some other means than death. “We have a building from God,” says St. Paul, “a home not made with hands, everlasting in heaven. For indeed we groan, longing to be clothed over with our dwelling from heaven; provided, though we be found clothed, and not naked. For indeed we who are in this dwelling place groan, being burdened; in that we do not wish to be stripped, but to be covered over, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

(On Mark 13:3)
“In answer to the disciples, the Lord tells them of things which were from that time forth to have their course; whether He meant the destruction of Jerusalem which occasioned their question, or His own coming through the Church, (in which He ever comes even unto the end, for we know that He comes in His own, when His members are born day by day,) or the end itself, in which He will appear to judge the quick and the dead.” (Epist., cxcix, 9)

(On Mark 13:14; Matthew 24:15)
“Matthew says, standing “in the holy place;” but with this verbal difference Mark has expressed the same meaning; for He says “where it ought not” to stand, because it ought not to stand in the holy place.” (Augustine, de Con Evan, ii, 77)

” But Luke, in order to shew that the abomination of desolation happened when Jerusalem was taken, in this same place gives the words of our Lord, “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.” [Luke 21:20] (Epist., cxcix, 9 – quoted in Golden Chain)

“Luke to show that the abomination spoken of by Daniel will take place when Jerusalem is captured, recalls these words of the Lord in the same context: When you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army, then know that the desolation thereof is at hand (xxi. 20). For Luke very clearly bears witness that the prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled when Jerusalem was overthrown.” (vol. 6, p. 170)

(On Matthew 24:21)
“In Luke it is thus read, “There shall be great distress upon the earth, and wrath upon this people, and they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations.” [Luke 21:23]

“And so Josephus [marg. note: B. J. vii], who wrote the Jewish History, relates evils so great happening to this people as to seem hardly credible. Whence it was not unreasonably said, that such tribulation had never been from the beginning of creation, nor should be; for though in the time of Antichrist shall be such, or perhaps greater; yet to the Jews, of whom we must understand this, such shall never more befal. For if they shall be the first and the chief to receive Antichrist, they will then [p. 813] rather inflict than suffer tribulation.” (Ep. 199. 30)

(On Matthew 24:22)
“For we ought not to doubt that when Jerusalem was overthrown, there were among that people elect of God who had believed out of the circumcision, or would have believed, elect before the foundation of the world, for whose sake those days should be shortened, and their evils made endurable.” 

“For let us not suppose that the computation of Daniel’s weeks was interfered with by this shortening of those days, or that they were not already at that time complete, but had to be completed afterwards in the end of all things, for Luke most plainly testifies that the prophecy of Daniel was accomplished at the time when [p. 814] Jerusalem was overthrown.” (In loc., Golden Chain)

(On Mark 13:19)
“For Josephus, who has written the history of the Jews, relates that such things were suffered by this people, as are scarcely credible, wherefore it is said, not without cause, that there was not such tribulation from the beginning of the creation until now, nor shall ever be. But although in the time of Antichrist there shall be one similar or greater, we must understand that it is of that [p. 262] people, that it is said that there shall never happen such another. For if they are the first and foremost to receive Antichrist, that same people may rather be said to cause than to suffer tribulation.” (Epist., cxcix, 9)

(On Mark 13:22)
“For then shall Satan be unchained, and work through Antichrist in all his power, wonderfully indeed, but falsely. But a doubt is often raised whether the Apostle said “signs and lying wonders,” because he is to deceive mortal sense, by phantoms, so as to appear to do what he does not, or because those wonders themselves, even though true, are to turn men aside to lies, because they will not believe that any power but a Divine power could do them, being ignorant of the power of Satan, especially when he shall have received such power as he never had before. But for whichever reason it is said, they shall be deceived by those signs and wonders who deserve to be deceived.” (de Civ. Dei, xx, 19)

(On The Victory Over Death/Sin/Devil)
“The devil was conquered by his own trophy of victory. The devil jumped for joy, when he seduced the first man and cast him down to death. By seducing the first man, he slew him; by slaying the last man, he lost the first from his snare. The victory of our Lord Jesus Christ came when he rose, and ascended into heaven; then was fulfilled what you have heard when the Apocalypse was being read, ‘The Lion of the tribe of Judah has won the day’ [Rev. 5:5]. . . . The devil jumped for joy when Christ died; and by the very death of Christ the devil was overcome: he took, as it were, the bait in the mousetrap. He rejoiced at the death, thinking himself death’s commander. But that which caused his joy dangled the bait before him. The Lord’s cross was the devil’s mousetrap: the bait which caught him was the death of the Lord.” (St. Augustine, Sermons, 261; trans. by Henry Bettenson, ed., The Later Christian Fathers: A Selection From the Writings of the Fathers from St. Cyril of Jerusalem to St. Leo the Great (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970, 1977), p. 222.)

“He died, but he vanquished death; in himself he put an end to what we feared; he took it upon himself and he vanquished it, as a mighty hunter he captured and slew the lion. Where is death? Seek it in Christ, for it exists no longer; but it did exist and now it is dead. O life, O death of death! Be of good heart; it will die in us, also. What has taken place in our head will take place in his members; death will die in us also.  But when?  At the end of the world, at the resurrection of the dead in which we believe and concerning which we do not doubt. (Sermon 233.3-4) 

(On Nero, The Beast)
“What means the declaration, that the mystery of iniquity already works?… Some suppose this to be spoken of the Roman emperor, and therefore Paul did not speak in plain words, because he would not incur the charge of calumny for having spoken evil of the Roman emperor: although he always expected that what he had said would be understood as applying to Nero.” (quoted by 
Stuart in Apocalypse)

(On the Fulfillment of Prophecy)
“The first of these is, that He was so wonderfully born, and the last, that with His body raised up again from the dead He ascended into heaven. But the Jews who slew Him, and would not believe in Him, because it behooved Him to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, and were dispersed through the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), and are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ. And very many of them, considering this, even before His passion, but chiefly after His resurrection, believed on Him, of whom it was predicted, “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be saved.” But the rest are blinded, of whom it was predicted, “Let their table be made before them a trap, and a retribution, and a stumbling-block. Let their eyes be darkened lest they see, and bow down their back alway.” (City of God, Book XVIII, Ch. 46)

(On the Jews)
“The Jews who slew Him, and would not believe in Him, because it behoved Him to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, and were dispersed through the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), and are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ.” [1] (Book 18, Chapter 46, of The City of God)

“This house of God is more glorious than that first one which was constructed of wood and stone, metals and other precious things. Therefore the prophecy of Haggai was not fulfilled in the rebuilding of that temple. For it can never be shown to have had so much glory after it was rebuilt as it had in the time of Solomon; yea, rather, the glory of that house is shown to have been diminished, first by the ceasing of prophecy, and then by the nation itself suffering so great calamities, even to the final destruction made by the Romans, as the things above-mentioned prove. But this house which pertains to the new testament is just as much more glorious as the living stones, even believing, renewed men, of which it is constructed are better. But it was typified by the rebuilding of that temple for this reason, because the very renovation of that edifice typifies in the prophetic oracle another testament which is called the new. When, therefore, God said by the prophet just named, “And I will give peace in this place,” He is to be understood who is typified by that typical place; for since by that rebuilt place is typified the Church which was to be built by Christ, nothing else can be accepted as the meaning of the saying, “I will give peace in this place,” except I will give peace in the place which that place signifies.” (City of God, Book XVIII, Ch. 48)

Chapter IV.-Of the Reason Why Forty Generations (Not Including Christ Himself) are Found in Matthew (link)
(Forty Generations)
Chapter XVI.-Evil Arises Not from a Substance, But from the Perversion of the Will.

(On What Seneca Thought Concerning the Jews)
“Seneca, among the other superstitions of civil theology, also found fault with the sacred things of the Jews, and especially the sabbaths, affirming that they act uselessly in keeping those seventh days, whereby they lose through idleness about the seventh part of their life, and also many things which demand immediate attention are damaged. The Christians, however, who were already most hostile to the Jews, he did not dare to mention, either for praise or blame, lest, if he praised them, he should do so against the ancient custom of his country, or, perhaps, if he should blame them, he should do so against his own will.

When he was speaking concerning those Jews, he said, “When, meanwhile, the customs of that most accursed nation have gained such strength that they have been now received in all lands, the conquered have given laws to the conquerors.” By these words he expresses his astonishment; and, not knowing what the providence of God was leading him to say, subjoins in plain words an opinion by which he showed what he thought about the meaning of those sacred institutions: “For,” he says, “those, however, know the cause of their rites, whilst the greater part of the people know not why they perform theirs.” But concerning the solemnities of the Jews, either why or how far they were instituted by divine authority, and afterwards, in due time, by the same authority taken away from the people of God, to whom the mystery of eternal life was revealed, we have both spoken elsewhere, especially when we were treating against the Manichæans, and also intend to speak in this work in a more suitable place.” (City of God – Chapter 11)

“For as circumcision was abolished by the first coming of the Lord, so baptism shall be abolished by His second coming. For as now, since the liberty of faith has come, and the yoke of bondage has been removed, no Christian receives circumcision in the flesh; so then, when the just are reigning with the Lord, and the wicked have been condemned, no one shall be baptized, but the reality which both ordinances prefigure–namely, circumcision of the heart and cleansing of the conscience- shall be eternally abiding.”

“There are others still who make this promise not even to all who have received the sacraments of the baptism of Christ and of His body, but only to the catholics, however badly they have lived. For these have eaten the body of Christ, not only sacramentally but really”

 As, then, there are two regenerations, of which I have already made mention,–the one according to faith, and which takes place in the present life by means of baptism”



“For whatever unbaptized persons die confessing Christ, this confession is of the same efficacy for the remission of sins as if they were washed in the sacred font of baptism. For He who said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,”(2) made also an exception in their favor, in that other sentence where He no less absolutely said, “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven;”(3) and in another place, “Whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it.”(4) And this explains the verse, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”(5) For what is more precious than a death by which a man’s sins are all forgiven, and his merits increased an hundredfold? For those who have been baptized when they could no longer escape death, and have departed this life with all their sins blotted out have not equal merit with those who did not defer death, though it was in their power to do so, but preferred to end their life by confessing Christ, rather than by denying Him to secure an opportunity of baptism. And even had they denied Him under pressure of the fear of death, this too would have been forgiven them in that baptism, in which was remitted even the enormous wickedness of those who had slain Christ.”

“For although the son of Classicianus derived through his father, from our first parent, guilt which behoved to be washed away by the sacred waters of baptism, who hesitates for a moment to say that he is in no way responsible for any sin which his father may have committed, since he was born, without his participation? What shall I say of his wife? What of so many souls in the entire household? — of which if even one, in consequence of the severity which included the whole household in the excommunication, should perish through departing from the body without baptism, the loss thus occasioned would be an incomparably greater calamity than the bodily death of an innumerable multitude, even though they were innocent men, dragged from the courts of the sanctuary and murdered.”

“These things being so, it is necessary still to investigate and to make known the reason! why, if souls are created new for every individual at his birth, those who die in infancy without the sacrament of Christ are doomed to perdition; for that they are doomed to this if they so depart from the body is testified both by Holy Scripture and by the holy Church.”

Wherefore whosoever tells us that any man can be made alive in the resurrection of the dead otherwise than in Christ, he is to be detested as a pestilent enemy to the common faith. Likewise, whosoever says that those children who depart out of this life without partaking of that sacrament shall be made alive in Christ, certainly contradicts the apostolic declaration, and condemns the universal Church, in which it is the practice to lose i no time and run in haste to administer baptism to infant children, because it is believed, as an i indubitable truth, that otherwise they cannot be made alive in Christ. Now he that is not made alive in Christ must necessarily remain under the condemnation, of which the apostle says, that “by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.”

“I ask where can the soul, even of an infant snatched away by death, have contracted the guilt which, unless the grace of Christ has come to the rescue by that sacrament of baptism which is administered even to infants, involves it in condemnation? I know you are not one of those who have begun of late to utter certain new and absurd opinions, alleging that there is no guilt derived from Adam which is removed by baptism in the case of infants.”

“For that transaction had been typical of future events, so that those who do not believe the gospel in our age, when the Church is being built up in all nations, may be understood to be like those who did not believe in that age while the ark was a preparing; also, that those who have believed and are saved by baptism may be compared to those who at that time, being in the ark, were saved by water; wherefore he says, “So baptism by a like figure saves you.” Let us therefore interpret the rest of the statements concerning them that believed not so as to harmonise with the analogy of the figure, and refuse to entertain the thought that the gospel was once preached, or is even to this hour being preached in hell in order to make men believe and be delivered from its pains, as if a Church had been established there as well as on earth.” from LETTERS OF ST. AUGUSTIN: LETTERS CLI TO CLXV (INCLUDING LETTER TO EVODIUS) LETTER CLI. (A.D. 413 OR 414.) TO CAECILIANUS,2 MY LORD JUSTLY RENOWNED, AND SON MOST WORTHY OF THE HONOUR DUE BY ME TO HIS RANK, AUGUSTIN SENDS GREETING IN THE LORD.


“Augustine deemed this scattering important because he believed that it was a fulfillment of certain prophecies, thus proving that Jesus was the Messiah. This is because Augustine believed that the Jews who were dispersed were the enemies of the Christian Church. He also quotes part of the same prophecy that says “Slay them not, lest they should at last forget Thy law”. Some people have used Augustine’s words to attack Jews, while others have used them to attack Christians.” (Christianity and anti-Semitism)


Gozzoli’s Augustine


“For other people, even those of whom we have so often dreamed that they have become nothing more than a picture, a figure by Benozzo Gozzoli standing out upon a background of verdure, as to whom we were prepard to believe that the only variations depended upon the point of view from which we looked at them, their distance from us, the effect of light and shade, these people, while they change in relation to ourself, change also in themselves, and there had been an enrichment, a solidification and an increase of volume in the figure once so simply outlined against the sea.”
Proust, La Prissonière trans. Scott-Moncrieff (ML ed. p. 84)

In 1465, Benozzo Gozzoli completed a cycle of 17 scenes from the life of Augustine which surround the choir of the Church of Saint Augustine in the now-tourist-ridden hilltown of San Gimignano (famous for its towers — at a distance against the sky the town looks offers a New York skyline until you realize the difference in scale). Those frescoes survive in a remarkable state of preservation. Here is a sampling:

Oldest surviving image of Augustine (6th C. AD).  At the Lateran in Rome.

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Sate: 07 Jul 2010
Time: 10:29:36

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Augustine was certainly amillennial. This throws him into the preterist camp which insists that the millennial was a figurative reference to the time after 70AD to the end of the world. There is no way he was anything but a preterist. The question is, was this the doctrine of the Manicheans? Did he infuse preterism into the Catholic church from that ancient heresy? He is well known to have collected and laid out the most elaborate defense for preterism. The Augustinian order of monks were the primary keepers of this doctrine. When Martin Luther came on the scene he was amillennial and preterist. In my review of th 95 Thesis I could not find any hint of historicist accusations. Luther was in reality trying to turn the church back to the Augustinian model. When a view of Augustine is fair and without bias, we may discover his whole scheme and interpretation of doctrines related to the Church are preterist. He would see Rome as the Jerusalem or city of God for the millennial. He would see the pope or bishop of Rome as the millennial vicar of God. He would view all Catholic doctrines as millennial religious policies, since the Church was resurrected and raptured in 70AD. I can see now where Augustine and the Catholic church must be viewed as a millennial religion with no connection to the Church. As a millennial world kingdom it would answer why Rome and its priests are convinced Protestantism and all other non-Catholics represent Gog and Magog. I am not sure if we have grasped the full reality of the Catholic church as a millennial religion and all of its doctrines, rituals, and dogmas concerning that time in eschatology. Others see a different religion for the future millennial. But Augustine and Rome claim the Catholic church is the religion of the millennial because the millennial is now. Now I ask, is Protestantism a millennial revolt? If the millennial is now as preterism claims, would not Protestantism be a millennial rebellion? And if this is true within the preterist scheme: would not every doctrine!
of salvation within all the Protestant sects have to do with their millennial disagreements with Rome? And if all of the differnet plans of salvation within Protestantism, would they not be millennial in scope? I am not sure many aspects of Augustine have been explored because of the control of information and thinking by the preterist and historicist.

I have chosen to reject preterism because I do not believe the Church ended in 70AD. I have come to see the future post-tribulation rapture and second coming as the doctrine of the Apostles.

Dr. Gary Reckart

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