This post is part of an on-going series in which I and others systematically read through Augustine of Hippo’s City of God in 2014.
City of God 21.23–27.
21.23. From this point to the end of Book 21, Augustine refutes these bad ideas about punishment, beginning with the idea that perhaps the demons can be saved. Augustine says that the Scriptures clearly teach the eternal damnation of the Devil and his demons. If one tries to limit this eternality, then one is in danger of limiting the eternal life of the saints.
21.24. Augustine refutes the idea that the wicked will get eternal life because the saints will be praying for them. The idea is that the saints in their holiness will be praying for their enemies, and God will honor the prayers of his saints.
Augustine claims that after death, the saints will no longer be praying for their enemies. God has predestined who will be saved, but in this life we cannot tell the difference between the elect and the damned; therefore, we pray for everyone indiscriminately. After death, the saints will see God’s plan more clearly and pray in accordance with it, praying only for mercy to be extended to Christ’s church. Augustine also says that our prayers on behalf of the dead have no efficacy unless the person repented of his sins before he died.
In much of this chapter, Augustine exhorts his reader to repentance in this life, and he explains that repentance gives a person God’s own righteousness.