Jesus Christ, countless times in his discourses, speaks of themes that are dear to philosophers and about which these thinkers study, up to the present day, in search of meaning and understanding. Christ, however, quotes them with the naturalness of one who has all the understanding and power over them. According to the Holy Scriptures, He does so because He is God (John 20:26-29; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:5,6; Titus 2:11-13) and in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).

In one of His last conversations with His disciples, for example, He commands them to go into all the world preaching the gospel and gives them the assurance that He would be with them "to the end of time" (Matthew 28:16-20). One can observe in this statement of Jesus, specifically "end time", a relation to the question of History, studied by philosophers in the Philosophy of History. What is History? What is its meaning? For these scholars, understanding its "telos", that is, its meaning, its purpose, constitutes the core of this problematic.

Speaking on this subject, in his work City of God, Augustine of Hippo (354-430) talks about the position of the Greek philosophers who admitted the existence of "circuits of times, in which in nature the same things are always renewed and repeated, and thus, as they affirm, the intimate texture of the evolutions of the centuries that come and go is formed" [1]. In other words, for the ancient Greeks, history was cyclical, a replay of past events. They understood that "the world presents as new the same things, both past and future" [2].

Augustine, however, will disagree with the Greeks and brings a new understanding of history: it is not cyclical, but linear with a beginning, middle, and end. With his thinking grounded in Christian Scripture, he understands that "Christ died once only for our sins and, having risen from the dead, he dies no more and death will have no dominion over him. After the resurrection we shall be with the Lord eternally."[3] What this Christian theologian and philosopher is saying is that the "telos" of history is God. It takes place in the perspective that humanity has a divine origin, but was separated from Him in original sin, and is now on its way, in time, to a reunion with its Creator in the final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

This Augustinian understanding of history will prevail for almost a thousand years, when during the Renaissance, a period in European history (14th-17th centuries) marked by profound cultural, social, economic, political, and religious transformations, thinkers regain interest in the study of the Greco-Roman classics. Thus, history is again understood as cyclical. In the 18th century, however, the century of the Enlightenment, the linear understanding of history returns with force thanks to the studies of the influential philosophers Kant and Hegel. Because of their emphasis on reason, they definitively abandon God from this reflection and start defending the idea that the "telos" of history is the progress of humanity. 

But in the 20th century, this understanding enters in crisis. The two world wars and the establishment of a world marked by deep social inequalities, even in the midst of great advances in science and technology, will lead thinkers to a disenchantment with that proposal of the Enlightenment. The great narratives for explaining the world began to be questioned. Scholars of the 20th century will conclude that history is ateleological, that is, meaningless. It is only chaos, chance, randomness and illogicality. 

Thus, once again, man's millennial effort to understand the mystery of himself and of the world enters into crisis. And humanity remains, to this day, without understanding the reason for its existence in the universe. Separated from God because of sin, human beings insist on seeking this understanding without considering God in this reflection.

However, to remove God from the support of existence makes it absolutely incomprehensible, because nothing in the world is "causa sui", that is, it is the cause of itself. Everything exists and subsists in God. This is the biblical thesis, so much so that the Apostle Paul, writing to the Colossians, says that in Christ all things were created and that "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (1:17). Thus one can affirm that the intelligibility of existence is founded on God alone.

Therefore the teaching of Jesus Christ, Son of God and Lord of History, remains unshakable. It is the perspective of divine love that gives meaning to history. This love made God Himself, in the person of the Son, enter time and opened a way for humanity to return to Him (John 1:1-14; Philippians 2:1-11). This way is Himself, the Son, who is God. For this reason the end of history is God. And it is only in History that man can meet Him again, because at that moment about which Jesus spoke, that is, at the "end of time", the character of the meeting is of judgment, since just as there are many who recognize the existence and the divine sovereignty over the created world, there are also many who reject and deny His Being.

Antônio Maia - Ph.B, M.Div

[1] AGOSTINHO, Santo. A Cidade de Deus. Kindle Amazon, posição 10090.

[2] AGOSTINHO, Santo. A Cidade de Deus. Kindle Amazon, posição 10090.



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