Summary of “City of God” Pt. 22 – Part 5, Book 22

This is it! The conclusion of “City of God!” In this part Augustine discusses what the Resurrection and heaven will be like for the believer.

City of God” Part Five – “The Ends of the Two Cities,” Book Twenty Two – “The Eternal Bliss of the City of God”

[Note: My copy of “City of God” is not a complete one. The publishers and translators, in order to keep the size of the book down and keep the content more focused, edited out certain chapters where Augustine would go on one of his legendary excursus. They offered a brief summary of the chapters that were taken out. For completion’s sake I will go ahead and just quote the the summaries in their whole in italics and note when I am doing so.]

Chapter 1: From the get go Augustine makes it clear that the word “eternal” means never-ending. He also shows that God will give every human a new nature capable of living eternally.

“The word ‘eternal’ as here used means more than any period, however long, of centuries upon centuries which, ultimately, must have an end. It means ‘everlasting’ in the sense of the text which runs: ‘Of His kingdom there shall be no end.’ It does not mean the kind of apparent perpetuity produced by successive generations which come and go by births and deaths.”

Chapters 2-4: [Editor’s Summary] The immutable will of God is described. God’s promises of everlasting happiness for the saints are recalled. Pagan arguments against the resurrection of the body are again answered.

Chapter 5: One final answer Augustine gives to the critics of a bodily Resurrection is that, incredibly, the whole world believes that Christ was resurrected and ascended to heaven [It is not clear what Augustine means when he says the whole world believes. He alludes to this fact several times throughout this book. It would appear from context that he just means there are believers in every community/city/nation.] .

“What the little coterie of skeptics must explain is why they still hold out so blatantly against a whole world of believers who have an explanation of their faith. The world has believed this insignificant group of lowly, unimportant, and uneducated men precisely because the divine character of what happened is more marvelously apparent in the insignificance of such witnesses. What gave power to the preachers who persuaded the world was not the eloquence of the words they uttered, but the miracles in the deeds they did.”

Chapters 6-7: [Editor’s Summary] The contrast between the pagan’s motives for believing the divinity of Romulus and the Christian testimony to the divinity of Christ is here fully developed.

Chapter 8a: In response to the claim that miracles have ceased, Augustine recounts the tale of a man named Innocent, whose blindness and eye pain were cured in the presence of Augustine and several doctors and specialists.

Chapter 8b: [Editor’s Summary] Twelve more pages describe similar miracles witnessed by, or directly reported to, Augustine. All these incidents testify to the credibility of Christian teaching.

Chapter 9: If Christ did not rise from the dead to life again, what is to be made of these miracles? The miracles stand as a witness to the faith proclaimed by the Church.

Chapters 10-21: [Editor’s Summary] After another long outline of philosophical and pagan objections to belief in the resurrection of the dead, answers are given to all these difficulties. Augustine’s opinion is that all men and women will have mature and normal bodies after the Resurrection. Differences between male and female will probably be retained. Those who are too thin or too fat in this life may take comfort: they will look better in a future life. Yet Augustine is not quite clear as to the nature of a spiritualized body.

Chapter 22: Augustine comments on the frail place of humanity in this world. The only answer to this life is to be saved by Christ, who saves us from passing into an even more miserable life.

Chapter 23: [Editor’s Summary] Continued vigilance and struggle are needed to overcome human frailty.

Chapter 24: Augustine looks at the marvels of the human body in its fallen state. The ability to create life and give birth, art, architecture, philosophy. To what extent will God bless those who enter into eternal life?

“And, remember, all these favors taken together are but the fragmentary solace allowed us in a life condemned to misery. What, then, must be the consolations of the blessed, seeing that men on earth enjoy so much of so many and of such marvelous blessings? What good will God not give to those predestined to eternal life, if He gives so much to those who are doomed to death?”

Chapter 25: More thoughts on the difficulty of some philosophers to accept the resurrection of the body. Augustine offers two theories as to why it might be rejected, and shows these to be ineffective arguments.

“Let us ask the pagans this question: Should we withhold faith in the resurrection and eternal life of the body, on the ground that such a thing is impossible to God; or should we refuse to believe on the ground that such a thing is wicked and unworthy of God?”

Chapters 26-28: [Editor’s Summary] Plato and Porphyry did not think that human bodies could be resurrected. Yet these Platonists held many views reconcilable with Christianity. Even Varro approached in his thinking the notion of the resurrection.

Chapter 29: Augustine ponders what the life of the Saint will be like in heaven. The majority of this chapter is spent discussing how the believer will be able to ‘see’ God.

Chapter 30: The excitement and anticipation of heaven by Augustine is obvious. The final chapter of this whole work describes heaven as a lack of evil, pure happiness, the absence of weariness, and the fulfillment of the Sabbath.

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