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Selections from the Work Against Heresies
by Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons:
"The Refutation and Overthrow of the
Knowledge Falsely So Called"
THE TEXT: (BOOK I) THE HERETICS
1 Certain men, rejecting the truth, are introducing among us false stories and vain genealogies, which serve rather to controversies, as the apostle said,985985I Tim. 1:4. than to God's work of building up in the faith. By their craftily constructed rhetoric they lead astray the minds of the inexperienced, and take them captive, corrupting the oracles of the Lord, and being evil expounders of what was well spoken. For they upset many, leading them away by the pretense of knowledge from Him who constituted and ordered the universe, as if they had something higher and greater to show them than the God who made the heaven and the earth and all that is in them. By skillful language they artfully attract the simple-minded into their kind of inquiry, and then crudely destroy them by working up their blasphemous and impious view about the Demiurge. Nor can their simple hearers distinguish the lie from the truth.
2 For their error is not displayed as what it is, lest it should be stripped naked and shown up; it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, and made to seem truer than the truth itself to the inexperienced because of the outer appearance. As one better than I am has said about these matters, a precious stone like emerald, which many value greatly, can be put to shame by a clever imitation in glass, unless there is someone on hand who can test it, and show what was done deceptively by art; and when brass is mixed with silver, what untrained person can easily prove it? So then, lest some should be made prey of through my fault, like sheep by wolves, not recognizing them because of their outwardly wearing sheep's clothing—whom the Lord warned us to guard against986986Matt. 7:15. —and because they 359talk like us, though thinking very differently, I thought it necessary, my dear friend, after reading the Commentaries, as they call them, of the disciples of Valentinus, and having met some of them and so become familiar with their point of view, to expound to you those portentous and profound mysteries, which not all accept, since not all have sufficiently purged their brains.987987These phrases are of course meant satirically. Then you, being informed about these things, may be able to make them clear to all your people, and to warn them to be on their guard against this abysmal folly and blasphemy against Christ. As well as I can, then, I will briefly and clearly describe the position of the present false teachers, I mean the followers of Ptolemaeus, who is an offshoot of the school of Valentinus. I will further provide, as far as my modest ability extends, the means of overthrowing it, showing how absurd and foreign to the truth are the things they say. I am neither practiced in writing nor trained in rhetoric, but my love for you and yours encourages me to bear my witness about these teachings which have been hidden till the present, but have now by the grace of God come to light. "For there is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed, nor secret, that shall not be made known."988988Matt. 10:26; Luke 12:2.
3 You will not expect from me, a resident among the Celts, and mostly accustomed to a barbarous language, rhetorical skill, which I have never learned, nor power in writing, which I have not acquired, nor beauties of language and style, which I am not acquainted with.989989Irenaeus is not the only author to use the best resources of his rhetoric to protest his lack of it. But what I write to you out of love, plainly and truly and simply, you will surely receive in love, and you can then amplify for yourself, having greater ability than mine, what I have given you, as it were, in basic principles. With your breadth of mind you will be able to make much more fruitful what I have said to you in brief, and will be able to present powerfully to your people what I have feebly expounded to you. As I have endeavored, in response to your long-held desire to know their position, not only to make it plain to you, but also to give you the necessary means of showing its falsity, so do you perform a similar service for the rest, according to the grace which the Lord has given you, so that men may no longer be ensnared by their plausibilities, which are as follows.360
The Faith of the Church
10 Now the Church, although scattered over the whole civilized world to the end of the earth, received from the apostles and their disciples its faith in one God, the Father Almighty, who made the heaven, and the earth, and the seas, and all that is in them, and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was made flesh for our salvation, and in the Holy Spirit, who through the prophets proclaimed the dispensations of God—the comings, the birth of a virgin, the suffering, the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily reception into the heavens of the beloved, Christ Jesus our Lord, and his coming from the heavens in the glory of the Father to restore all things, and to raise up all flesh, that is, the whole human race, so that every knee may bow, of things in heaven and on earth and under the earth, to Christ Jesus our Lord and God and Saviour and King, according to the pleasure of the invisible Father, and every tongue may confess him,990990Phil 2:10, 11. and that he may execute righteous judgment on all. The spiritual powers of wickedness, and the angels who transgressed and fell into apostasy, and the godless and wicked and lawless and blasphemers among men he will send into the eternal fire. But to the righteous and holy, and those who have kept his commandments and have remained in his love, some from the beginning [of life] and some since their repentance, he will by his grace give life incorrupt, and will clothe them with eternal glory.
2Having received this preaching and this faith, as I have said, the Church, although scattered in the whole world, carefully preserves it, as if living in one house. She believes these things [everywhere] alike, as if she had but one heart and one soul, and preaches them harmoniously, teaches them, and hands them down, as if she had but one mouth. For the languages of the world are different, but the meaning of the [Christian] tradition is one and the same. Neither do the churches that have been established in Germany believe otherwise, or hand down any other tradition, nor those among the Iberians, nor those among the Celts, nor in Egypt, nor in Libya, nor those established in the middle parts of the world. But as God's creature, the sun, is one and the same in the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shines everywhere, and illumines all men who wish to come to the knowledge of 361the truth. Neither will one of those who preside in the churches who is very powerful in speech say anything different from these things, for no one is above [his] teacher,991991Matt. 10:24; Luke 6:40. nor will one who is weak in speech diminish the tradition. For since the faith is one and the same, he who can say much about it does not add to it, nor does he who can say little diminish it.
3This matter of having more or less understanding does not mean that men change the basic idea, and imagine another God above the Demiurge and Maker and Nourisher of this universe, as if he were not enough for us, or another Christ or another Only-begotten. But it consists in working out the things that have been said in parables, and building them into the foundation of the faith: in expounding the activity and dispensation of God for the sake of mankind; in showing clearly how God was long-suffering over the apostasy of the angels who transgressed, and over the disobedience of men; in declaring why one and the same God made some things subject to time, others eternal, some heavenly, and some earthly; in understanding why God, being invisible, appeared to the prophets, not in one form, but differently to different ones; in showing why there were a number of covenants with mankind, and in teaching what is the character of each of the covenants; in searching out why God shut up all in disobedience that he might have mercy on all; in giving thanks that the Word of God was made flesh, and suffered; in declaring why the coming of the Son of God [was] at the last times, that is, the Beginning was made manifest at the end; in unfolding what is found in the prophets about the end and the things to come; in not being silent that God has made the despaired-of Gentiles fellow heirs and of the same body and partners with the saints; and in stating how this mortal and fleshly [body] will put on immortality, and this corruptible incorruption; and in proclaiming how he says, "What was not a people, is a people, and what was not beloved, is beloved," and, "Many more are the children of the desolate than of her who has a husband."992992Eph. 2:19; I Cor. 15:54; Rom. 9:25 (Hos. 2:23); Gal. 4:27 (Isa. 54:1). With reference to these things and others like them the apostle exclaimed, "O depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out!"993993Rom. 11:33. But [this greater skill] does not consist in imagining beyond the Creator and Demiurge the Mother of these 362things and of him, the Desire of a wandering Aeon, and coming to such a point of blasphemy, nor in falsely conceiving of the Pleroma above her, now with thirty, now with an innumerable crowd of Aeons, as these teachers who are indeed void of divine understanding say. But as I said before, the real Church has one and the same faith everywhere in the world.
11 Let us now look at the inconsistent views of these men, since there are two or three of them anyway, how they do not even agree on the same topics, but vary from each other both about things and about names. The first of these, Valentinus, who adapted the principles of the so-called Gnostic heresy to the individual character of his school, thus expounded it, defining that there is an unnamable Dyad, of which one is called Ineffable and the other Silence. Then from this Dyad a second Dyad was produced, of which he calls one part Father and the other Truth. From the Tetrad were produced Logos and Zoë, Anthropos and Ecclesia,994994Or Word and Life, Man and Church. and this is the first Ogdoad. From Logos and Zoë he says that ten Powers were produced, as I said before, but from Anthropos and Ecclesia twelve, one of which, falling away and suffering a lack, brought about the rest of the business. He postulated two Boundaries, one between the depth and the rest of the Pleroma, dividing the begotten Aeons from the unbegotten Father, and the other separating their Mother from the Pleroma. Christ was not produced from the Aeons within the Pleroma, but was conceived by the Mother who was outside, according to her knowledge of better things, but with a kind of shadow. He, being male, cast off the shadow from himself and returned into the Pleroma. Then the Mother, being left with the shadow, and emptied of spiritual substance, brought forth another Son, and this is the Demiurge, whom he also calls almighty over things subject to him. He taught that there was also produced with him a left-hand Ruler, as do those falsely called Gnostics whom we shall speak of. He sometimes says that Jesus was produced by him who was separated from their Mother and reunited with the others, that is, the Desired; sometimes from him who returned to the Pleroma, that is, from Christ; sometimes from Anthropos and Ecclesia. And he says that the Holy Spirit was produced by the Truth to inspect and fructify the Aeons, entering into 363them invisibly, through whom the Aeons produced the plants of truth.
2Secundus995995Or just possibly "the second," if the Latin translation was sufficiently well-known to have corrupted the Greek extracts. says that there is a first Ogdoad, a right-hand and a left-hand Tetrad, as he would have them called, one light, the other darkness; and the Power that fell away and suffered lack was not begotten of the thirty Aeons, but of their fruits. 3There is another distinguished teacher among them, who, striving after something more sublime, and an even greater knowledge, speaks thus of the first Tetrad: There is a certain Proarche before all things, beyond any thought or speech or name, whom I call Monotes; with this Monotes is another Power, whom I call Henotes.996996That is, Beginning, Uniqueness, and Oneness. This Henotes, and this Monotes, being the One, sent forth, but not as causing an emanation, the intelligible Arche over all things, which Arche is known in speech as Monad. With this Monad there also reigns a Power of one substance with him, which I also call the One. These powers, Monotes and Henotes, Monad and the One, sent forth the other productions of the Aeons.
4Iu, iu, and pheu, pheu! Truly we may utter these exclamations from tragedy at such bold invention of ridiculous nomenclature, and at the audacity that made up these names without blushing. For when he says, "There is a certain Proarche before all things, above all thought, which I call Monotes," and again, "With this Monotes there reigns a Power, which I call Henotes," it is obvious that he admits that he is talking about his own inventions, and that he has given names to his inventions which no one else had given them before. It is clear also that he himself dared to make up these names, and unless he had been on hand the Truth would have had no name. There is no reason why someone else shouldn't assign names like these on the same basis: There is a royal Proarche above all thought, a Power above all substance, indefinitely extended. Since this is the Power which I call the Gourd, there is with it the Power which I call Superemptiness. This Gourd and Superemptiness, being one, emitted, yet did not emit, the fruit, visible, edible, and delicious, which is known to language as the Cucumber. With this Cucumber there is a Power of like quality with it, which I call the Melon. These Powers, the Gourd, Superemptiness, 364the Cucumber, and the Melon, sent forth the remaining crowd of the delirious Melons of Valentinus.997997Satire, indeed sarcasm, although there are hints that the sacredness of cucumbers and melons, as the least material kinds of fruit, was a not unknown idea. Cf. the prohibition against offering them in church (Hippolytus, Apost. Trad. 28), and their later use by Manichaeans as food for the elect. For if the language which is used about all kinds of things is to be transferred to the first Tetrad, and anyone can assign names as he pleases, who would prohibit [our using] these names, which are much more credible, and in common use and generally known?
Other Gnostics and Their Rites
5Others again have called their first and self-begotten Ogdoad by these names—first Proarche, then Inconceivable, the third Ineffable, and the fourth Invisible; and from the first Proarche proceeded in the first place [of the second Tetrad], and fifth [of the whole] Arche, from Inconceivable in the second and sixth place Incomprehensible, from Ineffable in the third and seventh place Unnamable, and from Invisible in the fourth and eighth place Unbegotten, the Pleroma of the first Ogdoad. They would have these Powers anterior to Depth and Silence, so that they may appear as more perfect than the perfect and more knowing than the Gnostics—to whom one might properly say, "What babbling sophists!" And even about Depth there are many different opinions among them. Some make him out to be unmated, being indeed neither male nor female—in fact, not being anything. Others say that he is both male and female, assigning him the nature of a hermaphrodite. Others again assign him Silence as a consort, that there may be the first conjunction.
21 Their [i.e., the Marcosian] tradition about redemption998998The tradition, paradosis, here is that of a rite, such as the paradosis of the Eucharist in I Cor., ch. 11; Irenaeus contrasts the simple Christian paradosis of baptism with Gnostic attempts at outdoing that rite and the anointings that followed it. is obscure and incomprehensible, as being the mother of things that cannot be grasped or clearly seen. Because it is fluctuating, it cannot be described simply or in one account, as each one of them hands it down as he chooses. Each of these mystagogues has his own ceremony of redemption. That this pattern has been instigated by Satan to lead them to renounce the baptism of rebirth to God, indeed to deny the whole faith, I 365will show in the proper place when I refute them. 2They say that it is necessary for those who have received perfect knowledge to be reborn into the power which is above all things—otherwise one cannot enter the Pleroma, since this is what leads them to the Depth. The baptism of Jesus who appeared [on earth] was [they say] for remission of sins, but the redemption of the Christ who came down upon him, for perfection, and they allege that the former is animal, the latter spiritual. Baptism was preached by John for repentance, but redemption was added by Jesus for perfection; and it is with reference to this that he says, "I have another baptism to be baptized with, and I press on eagerly towards it."999999Luke 12:50 with an interesting (not necessarily Gnostic) variant. So they also say that the Lord propounded this redemption to the sons of Zebedee, when their mother asked that they might sit on his right and left in the Kingdom, and he said, "Can you be baptized with the baptism that I am to be baptized with?"10001000Mark 10:38. Paul too, they claim, often testifies of the redemption in Christ Jesus, and this is [the rite] which they hand down in diverse and discordant forms.
3For some of them prepare a nuptial couch and perform a sacred rite for those who are "perfected," with certain invocations, saying that they have performed a spiritual marriage, according to the likeness of the conjunctions above. Some bring [the candidates] to the water, and baptize them with these words: "In the Name of the unknowable Father of all things—in Truth the mother of all—in him who came down upon Jesus—into union and redemption and the fellowship of the Powers." Others invoke certain Hebrew names, in order to impress the initiates even more, thus, "Basema chamosse baaiabora mistadia ruada kousta babophor calachthei."10011001Basema suggests "in the Name" in some Semitic language; the ultimate source of this gibberish, as it now is, might be the Trinitarian formula in Aramaic. The interpretation of these is as follows: "Above every Power of the Father I invoke the light which is named, and the good Spirit and Life, for you have reigned in the body." Others use this invocation for redemption: "The name which is hidden from all godhead, and lordship, and truth, which Jesus of Nazareth put on in the regions of the light of Christ, of Christ who lives by the Holy Spirit, for angelic redemption—the name of restoration, Messia ouphareg namempsaiman chaldaian mosomedaea acphranai psaoua, 366Jesus Nazaria." The interpretation of these is as follows: "I do not divide the Spirit of Christ, the heart, and the supercelestial power, the merciful; may I name your name, O Saviour of Truth." This is what those who initiate invoke, while he who is initiated replies, "I am strengthened and redeemed, and I redeem my soul from this age, and from all things connected with it in the name of Iao, who redeemed his soul to full redemption in the living Christ." Then those present respond, "Peace to all on whom this name rests." Then they anoint the initiate with balsam, for they say that this ointment is a type of the sweetness which is above all things.
4Some of them say that it is superfluous to lead men to the water, but mixing oil and water together, with utterances like those which I have quoted, they pour it on the head of those being initiated; and this they make out to be the redemption. They also anoint them with balsam. Others omit all these things, and say that the mystery of the ineffable and invisible should not be performed by means of visible and corruptible things, and [that of] the inconceivable and incorporeal, by sensible and bodily; but the perfect redemption is the knowledge of the ineffable Greatness itself. For weakness and suffering were brought about by ignorance, and everything that has come from ignorance is destroyed by knowledge, and knowledge is the redemption of the inner man. This is not bodily, since the body is corruptible; nor is it psychic, since the soul came from deficiency, and is as it were a mere dwelling place of the spirit—therefore redemption must be spiritual. So the inner spiritual man is redeemed by knowledge, and they need nothing more than the knowledge of all things—and this is true redemption.
5There are others who keep on "redeeming" the dying up to the moment of death, pouring oil and water on their heads, or the ointment mentioned above mixed with water, and with the invocations mentioned above, that they may not be grasped or seen by the principalities and powers, and that their inner man may ascend even above the invisible things, while their body is left among the things of the world and the soul abandoned to the Demiurge.10021002Among sources for this rite would be the Christian anointing of the sick (James 5:14), and the formulas with which Egyptians equipped the dead for their last journey. And they tell them to say this when they come to the Powers after they have died: "I am the son of the Father, the Father who pre-existed, a son in the pre-existent; I came to see both alien things, and my own, yet they 367are not wholly alien, but belong to Achamoth, who is female, and made them for herself; for I derive my race from the pre-existent, and I go again to my own, from which I came forth." And they claim that he who says this will avoid and escape the powers; he will come to those who surround the Demiurge, and say to them: "I am a precious vessel, more than the female being who made you. Though your mother does not know her origin, I know myself, and I know whence I am, and I call on the incorrupt Wisdom, who is in the Father, who is the Mother of your mother, and has no Father nor any male consort; for a female, made of a female, made you, not knowing her own Mother, and thinking that she was alone; but I call upon her Mother." When they hear this, those who surround the Demiurge will be greatly troubled, and revile their origin, and the race of their Mother; but he will go to his own, casting off his chain, that is, the [animal] soul. This is what has come to me about the redemption. Since their teachings and traditions are different, and the newer ones among them claim to be constantly finding something new, and working out what no one ever thought of before, it is hard to describe their views.
Cerdon and Marcion
27 Cerdon, who took his start from the followers of Simon, and settled at Rome under Hyginus, who held the ninth place in the episcopal succession from the apostles,10031003Here the apostles are included in the series, while in III. 3:3 they are not. taught that the God preached by the Law and the Prophets was not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the former was known and the latter unknown, the former righteous and the latter good.
2After him came Marcion of Pontus, who developed his teaching, shamelessly blaspheming the God whom the Law and the Prophets proclaimed, describing him as the author of evils, desirous of wars, changing his opinions, and [at different times] contrary to himself. But Jesus [was] from the Father who is above the God that formed the world, and came into Judea in the time of Pontius Pilate, who was procurator of Tiberius Caesar; manifest in human form to those who were in Judea, he abolished the Prophets and the Law, and all the works of that God who made the world, whom he calls the World Ruler.10041004The Cosmocrat. Cf. Eph. 6:12. In addition to this he mutilated the Gospel According to Luke, removing everything about the birth of the Lord, 368and much of the teaching of the words of the Lord, in which the Lord is recorded as clearly confessing the creator of this universe as his Father. He persuaded his disciples that he was more veracious than the apostles who handed down the gospel, giving them not a gospel but a mere fragment of a gospel. He also similarly cut up the Epistles of Paul, removing whatever the apostle said clearly about the God who made the world, that he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and whatever the apostle teaches by referring to the prophetic writings that predict the coming of the Lord.
3Only the souls [he says] of those who have learned his teaching will come to salvation; the body, since it is taken from the earth, cannot be saved. To his blasphemy against God he adds this, speaking diabolically indeed and in direct opposition to the truth: that Cain and those like him—the men of Sodom and the Egyptians, and other such, and in general all the nations that walked in all kinds of wickedness—were saved by the Lord when he descended into the lower regions, and came running to him and received him into their realm; but Abel and Enoch and Noah and the other righteous, and the patriarchs such as Abraham, with all the prophets and those who were pleasing to God, did not share in the salvation which the serpent who was in Marcion preached. For, he says, since they knew that their God was always testing them, they thought he was testing them then, and so did not come to Jesus or believe his proclamation, and therefore their souls remained in Hades.
4But since this man alone has dared publicly to mutilate the Scriptures, and more than any others to malign God shamelessly, I will refute him separately, convicting him from his own writings, and from the words of the Lord and the apostles which he preserves and uses I will overthrow him, with the help of the Lord.10051005A topic taken up, though not quite in this manner, in Book IV. But here it is necessary only to mention him, that you may know that all those who corrupt the truth and injure the teaching of the Church are the disciples and successors of Simon Magus the Samaritan. Although, in order to deceive others, they do not confess the name of their teacher, yet they teach his views. Setting up the name of Christ Jesus as a kind of decoy, but in one way or another introducing the impiety of Simon, they bring many to destruction, spreading their evil teachings under a good name, and by the sweetness and beauty of the name [of Christ] offering them the bitter and evil poison of the serpent, the prince of the apostasy.369
THE TEXT: (BOOK III) THE FAITH IN SCRIPTURE AND TRADITION
It was your command, my dear friend, that I should bring out into the open the teachings of the Valentinians, which they consider to be hidden, showing their diversity, and developing an argument against them. So I undertook to exhibit the succession of their teachings, maintaining that they derive from Simon the father of all heretics, and to reply to them all. Since it is in many respects part of one work to explain and to refute them, I have sent you these books, of which the first contains the opinions of all of them, and shows their habits and the nature of their behavior. In the second their evil teachings are destroyed and overthrown, and shown up nakedly for what they are. Now in this third book I introduce the arguments from the Scriptures, thus leaving out nothing that you asked for. Indeed, I will have given you, beyond what you had expected, the means of reasoning with and refuting those who offer any kind of evil teaching. For the love which is in God, being rich and ungrudging, gives more than one asks from it. Keep in mind therefore what I have said in the two previous books; and by adding this to them you will have from me a full reply against all heretics, and will be able to resist them faithfully and boldly on behalf of the one true and life-giving faith, which the Church has received from the apostles and imparts to her children. For the Lord of all gave to his apostles the power of the gospel, and by them we also have learned the truth, that is, the teaching of the Son of God—as the Lord said to them, "He who hears you hears me, and he who despises you despises me, and him who sent me."10061006Luke 10:16.370
The Traditions of the Gospels
1 For we learned the plan of our salvation from no others than from those through whom the gospel came to us. They first preached it abroad, and then later by the will of God handed it down to us in Writings,10071007In scripturis, doubtless representing "En graphais," not yet quite as technical as "Scripture." to be the foundation and pillar of our faith. For it is not right to say that they preached before they had come to perfect knowledge, as some dare to say, boasting that they are the correctors of the apostles. For after our Lord had risen from the dead, and they were clothed with the power from on high when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were filled with all things and had perfect knowledge. They went out to the ends of the earth, preaching the good things that come to us from God, and proclaiming peace from heaven to men, all and each of them equally being in possession of the gospel of God. So Matthew among the Hebrews issued a Writing of the gospel in their own tongue, while Peter and Paul were preaching the gospel at Rome and founding the Church. After their decease Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also handed down to us in writing what Peter had preached. Then Luke, the follower of Paul, recorded in a book the gospel as it was preached by him. Finally John, the disciple of the Lord, who had also lain on his breast, himself published the Gospel, while he was residing at Ephesus in Asia. 2All of these handed down to us that there is one God, maker of heaven and earth, proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets, and one Christ the Son of God. If anyone does not agree with them he despises the companions of the Lord, he despises Christ the Lord himself, he even despises the Father, and he is self-condemned, resisting and refusing his own salvation, as all the heretics do.
The Apostolic Tradition
2 But when they are refuted from the Writings they turn around and attack the Writings themselves, saying that they are not correct, or authoritative, and that the truth cannot be found from them by those who are not acquainted with the tradition. For this [they say] was not handed down in writing, but orally, which is why Paul said, "We speak wisdom among 371the perfect, but not the wisdom of this world."10081008I Cor. 2:6 Each of them utters a wisdom which he has made up, or rather a fiction, so that according to them the truth was once to be found in Valentinus, then at another time in Marcion, at another time in Cerinthus, then later in Basilides, or was also in that opponent, who has no saving message to utter.10091009Probably the unnamed heretic of I. 11:3, whom Irenaeus or his source may have left nameless as a recent and therefore familiar (or painful) defection; attempts to identify him by conjectural restoration of misunderstood Greek do not seem convincing. Each one of them is wholly perverse, and is not ashamed to preach himself, corrupting the rule of faith.
2But when we appeal again to that tradition which has come down from the apostles and is guarded by the successions of elders10101010Presbuteroi in Irenaeus are sometimes holders of an office in the Church, but often, as probably here, the grand old men who were links in the chain of tradition. in the churches, they oppose the tradition, saying that they are wiser not only than the elders, but even than the apostles, and have found the genuine truth. For the apostles [they say] mixed matters of the Law with the words of the Saviour, and not only the apostles, but even the Lord himself, spoke sometimes from the Demiurge, sometimes from the middle power, sometimes from the highest, while they know the hidden mystery without doubt or corruption, and in its purity. This is in nothing less than shameless blasphemy against their Maker. What it comes to is that they will not agree with either Scripture or tradition. 3It is such people, my dear friend, that we have to fight with, who like slippery snakes are always trying to escape us. Therefore we must resist them on all sides, hoping that by cutting off their escape we may be able to bring them to turn to the truth. For although it is not easy for a soul which has been seized by error to turn back, still it is not absolutely impossible to put error to flight by putting the truth beside it.10111011Apparently a citation of Justin, Apol. I, ch. 12, fin.
3 The tradition of the apostles, made clear in all the world, can be clearly seen in every church by those who wish to behold the truth. We can enumerate those who were established by the apostles as bishops in the churches, and their successors down to our time, none of whom taught or thought of anything like their mad ideas. Even if the apostles had known of hidden mysteries, which they taught to the perfect secretly and apart 372from others, they would have landed them down especially to those to whom they were entrusting the churches themselves. For they certainly wished those whom they were leaving as their successors, handing over to them their own teaching position, to be perfect and irreproachable, since their sound conduct would be a great benefit [to the Church], and failure on their part the greatest calamity. 2But since it would be very long in such a volume as this to enumerate the successions of all the churches, I can by pointing out the tradition which that very great, oldest, and well-known Church, founded and established at Rome by those two most glorious apostles Peter and Paul, received from the apostles, and its faith known among men, which comes down to us through the successions of bishops, put to shame all of those who in any way, either through wicked self-conceit, or through vainglory, or through blind and evil opinion, gather as they should not.10121012I.e., assemble apart from the gatherings in communion with the Church (cf. Ignatius, Eph., ch. 5); or perhaps more generally, do not gather the harvest with the Lord, and so scatter (Luke 11:23; Matt. 12:30; cf. Lebreton, The History of the Primitive Church, p. 676). For every church must be in harmony with this Church because of its outstanding pre-eminence, that is, the faithful from everywhere, since the apostolic tradition is preserved in it by those from everywhere.10131013Ad hanc enim ecclesiam propter potentiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam, hoc est, eos qui sunt undique fideles, in qua semper ab his qui sunt undique conservata est ea quae est ab apostolis traditio. This sentence, preserved only in Latin, deserves to be quoted more because of the many discussions of it than for its own importance. Eusebius tantalizingly begins a quotation immediately afterward with what he considered of real interest in this passage. Irenaeus’ solid reasons for selecting the Roman Church as his chief sample of the preservation of tradition in all churches have just been given; he seems here to mix them rather confusingly with the thought that as the city of Rome was a microcosm of the Empire, so was the Roman Church a microcosm of the Christian world, and the confluence of Christians there preserved the faith by representing all local traditions; convenire might mean simply "meet," but is probably best translated as above; for recent discussion see W. L. Knox, "Irenaeus Adv. Haer. III. 3:2." Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 47, 1946, pp. 180–184, and P. Galtier, "' . . Ab his qui sunt undique. . .' Irénée, Adv. Haer. III, 3:2," Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique, Vol. 44, 1949, pp. 411–428.
3When the blessed apostles had founded and built up the Church, they handed over the ministry of the episcopate to Linus. Paul mentions this Linus in his Epistles to Timothy. Anencletus succeeded him. After him Clement received the lot of the episcopate in the third place from the apostles: He 373had seen the apostles and associated with them, and still had their preaching sounding in his ears and their tradition before his eyes—and not he alone, for there were many still left in his time who had been taught by the apostles. In this Clement's time no small discord arose among the brethren in Corinth, and the Church in Rome sent a very powerful letter to the Corinthians, leading them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which they had recently received from the apostles, which declared one almighty God, maker of heaven and earth and fashioner of man, who brought about the Deluge, and called Abraham; who brought out the people from the land of Egypt; who spoke with Moses; who ordained the Law and sent the Prophets; and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. Those who care to can learn from this Writing that he was proclaimed by the churches as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so understand the apostolic tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is older than those present false teachers who make up lies about another God above the Demiurge and maker of all these things that are.10141014Irenaeus properly recognizes the Old Testament emphasis of 1 Clement; evidently, like us, he derived his knowledge about it entirely from the document itself, except for the tradition of some connection with Clement. Evarestus succeeded to this Clement, and Alexander to Evarestus; then Xystus was installed as the sixth from the apostles, and after him Telesphorus, who met a glorious martyrdom;10151015"Gloriously bore his witness"; the verb is doubtless used technically, as is the noun in the next section. then Hyginus, then Pius, and after him Anicetus. Soter followed Anicetus, and Eleutherus now in the twelfth place from the apostles holds the lot of the episcopate. In this very order and succession the apostolic tradition in the Church and the preaching of the truth has come down even to us. This is a full demonstration that it is one and the same life-giving faith which had been preserved in the Church from the apostles to the present, and is handed on in truth.
4Similarly Polycarp, who not only was taught by apostles, and associated with many who had seen Christ, but was installed by apostles for Asia, as bishop in the church in Smyrna—I saw him myself in my early youth—survived for a long time, and departed this life in a ripe old age by a glorious and magnificent martyrdom. He always taught what he learned from the apostles, which the Church continues to hand on, and 374which are the only truths. The churches in Asia all bear witness to this, as do those who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time; he is certainly a much more trustworthy and dependable witness than Valentinus and Marcion and the other false thinkers. When he visited Rome under Anicetus, he converted many of the above-mentioned heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received from the apostles the one and only truth, the same which is handed on by the Church. There are those who have heard him tell how when John the disciple of the Lord went to bathe at Ephesus, and saw Cerinthus inside, he rushed out of the bath without washing, but crying out, "Let us escape, lest the bath should fall while Cerinthus the enemy of the truth is in it." Polycarp himself, when Marcion once met him and said, "Do you know us?" answered, "I know you, the first-born of Satan." The apostles and their disciples took such great care not even to engage in conversations with the corrupters of the truth, as Paul also said, "A heretical man after a first and second warning avoid, knowing that such a man has fallen away and is a sinner, being self-condemned."10161016Titus 3:10, 11. There is also a very powerful letter of Polycarp addressed to the Philippians, from which those who care to, and are concerned for their own salvation, can learn the character of his faith and [his] preaching of the truth. The church in Ephesus also, which was founded by Paul, and where John survived until the time of Trajan, is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.
4 Since there are so many clear testimonies, we should not seek from others for the truth which can easily be received from the Church. There the apostles, like a rich man making a deposit; fully bestowed upon her all that belongs to the truth, so that whoever wishes may receive from her the water of life. She is the entrance to life; all the others are thieves and robbers.10171017Cf. Rev. 22:17; John 10:7, 8. Therefore we ought to avoid them, but to love with the greatest zeal the things of the Church, and so to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. What if there should be a dispute about some matter of moderate importance? Should we not turn to the oldest churches, where the apostles themselves were known, and find out from them the clear and certain answer to the problem now being raised? Even if the apostles had not left their Writings to us, ought we not to follow the rule of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they committed the churches? 2Many barbarian peoples who believe 375in Christ follow this rule, having [the message of their] salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit without paper and ink. Diligently following the old tradition, they believe in one God, maker of heaven and earth and of all that is in them, through Christ Jesus the Son of God, who on account of his abundant love for his creation submitted to be born of a virgin, himself by himself uniting man to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and risen, and having been received up into splendor, is to come in glory as the Saviour of those who are saved, and the judge of those who are judged, and will send into eternal fire those who alter the truth, and despise his Father and his coming. Those who believe in this faith without written documents are barbarians in our speech, but in their convictions, habits, and behavior they are, because of their faith, most wise, and are pleasing to God, living in all righteousness and purity and wisdom. If anyone should preach to them the inventions of the heretics, speaking in their own language, they would at once stop their ears and run far, far away, not enduring even to listen to such blasphemous speech. So by that old tradition of the apostles they do not even take into their minds whatever their impressive words may mean.
Nor do they have any proper congregation or established teaching. 3For there were no Valentinians before Valentinus, or Marcionites before Marcion; nor were there any of these perverse thinkers whom I have listed above before the founders and inventors of their perversity. For Valentinus came to Rome under Hyginus; he flourished under Pius and remained until [the time of] Anicetus. Cerdon, who was Marcion's predecessor, used to come into the Church under Hyginus and make his confession,10181018Exomologoumenos probably confession of sins, as in I. 13:7 (and the regular term for public penance, exomologesis), though possibly confession of the faith. reaching the point where he would now give his secret teaching, now make his confession in public, and then was convicted of his evil teachings and was separated from the assembly of the brethren. Marcion, who followed him, flourished under Anicetus, who held the tenth place in the series of bishops. As we have shown, the others who are called Gnostics began with Menander, the disciple of Simon, and each has as his father and chief the one whose opinions he followed. All of these rebelled in their apostasy much later [than the founding of the Church], in the midst of the Church's history.376
5 So the apostolic tradition is preserved in the Church and has come down to us. Let us turn, then, to the demonstration from the Writings of those apostles who recorded the gospel, in which they recorded their conviction about God, showing that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Truth, and in him is no lie—as also David said when he prophesied his birth of a virgin and the resurrection of the dead, "Truth has come forth from the earth."10191019Ps. 85(84):11; "truth" is used practically as a name of Christ, as later not uncommonly by Latin Fathers (especially Augustine and Gregory the Great). The apostles, being disciples of the truth, are apart from every lie. For a lie has no fellowship with the truth, any more than light with darkness, but the presence of one excludes the other.10201020II Cor. 6:14; I John 1:6; Irenaeus’ combinations of passages from either Testament or both in such allusive references are an interesting aspect of his use of the Bible. So our Lord, being the Truth, did not lie, and he would never have confessed one whom he knew to be the result of a defect as God and God of all, supreme King and his Father, the perfect [acknowledging] the imperfect, a spiritual being one who was natural, one who was in the Pleroma one outside it. Nor did his disciples name any other being as God, or call any other Lord, except him who is the true God and Lord of all—though it be said by these vainest of sophists that the apostles hypocritically adjusted their teaching to the capacity of their hearers, giving answers according to the presumptions of inquirers, telling blind fables to the blind according to their blindness, to the sick according to their sickness, and to those who were going astray according to their error, and to those who thought that the Demiurge was the only God declaring that this was the case, but to those who can understand the ineffable Father expounding the unspeakable mystery by parables and riddles. So [they allege] the Lord and the apostles did not exercise their teaching office in strict accordance with the truth, but hypocritically in accordance with what different individuals could grasp. 2This is not the behavior of those who heal and give life, but rather of those who aggravate disease and increase ignorance. The Law shows itself much truer than such people, when it says that whoever leads a blind man astray in the way is accursed.10211021Deut. 27:18. The apostles were sent to find those who were lost, and to bring sight to those who did not see, and healing to the sick, and so they did not speak to them in accordance with their previous opinions but by 377manifestation of the truth. For no men of any kind would be acting rightly if they told blind men who were already beginning to fall over the precipice to continue in their very dangerous way, as if it were a sound one and as if they would come through all right. What doctor, when wishing to cure a sick man, would act in accordance with the desires of the patient, and not in accordance with the requirements of medicine? The Lord himself testified that he came as the physician of the sick, saying, "The well have no need of a physician but the sick; I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."10221022Mark 2:17; Luke 5:31, 32; Matt. 9:12, 13. How, then, are the sick to be made strong? and how are sinners to repent? Is it by persevering as they are? or on the contrary, by undergoing a great change and reversal of their previous behavior, by which they brought upon themselves serious illness, and many sins? Ignorance, the mother of these things, is driven out by knowing the truth. Therefore the Lord imparted knowledge of the truth to his disciples, by which he cured those who were suffering, and restrained sinners from sin. So he did not speak to them in accordance with their previous ideas, nor answer in accordance with the presumptions of inquirers, but in accordance with the sound teaching, without any pretense or respect for persons.
3This can be shown by the words of the Lord. He displayed the Son of God to those of the circumcision, the Christ who was predicted by the prophets—that is, he showed himself, who restored freedom to men and gave them the heritage of incorruption. Then the apostles taught the Gentiles that they should leave the vain sticks and stones which they thought of as gods, and worship the true God, who had established and made the whole human race, and by his ordinance nourished, increased, and preserved them, and gave them their being; and that they should look for his Son Jesus Christ—who redeemed us from the apostasy by his blood, that we also might be made a holy people—who is to come down from heaven in the power of the Father, and who is to execute judgment upon all, and give the good things that come from God to those who have kept his commandments. He appeared in these last times and gathered and united into one those who were far off and those who were near, enlarging Japheth and establishing him in the dwelling of Shem.10231023Gen. 9:27; Eph. 2:13, 17.378
11 John, the disciple of the Lord, proclaimed this faith and wished by the proclamation of the gospel to destroy the error which had been planted among men by Cerinthus, and much earlier by those who are called Nicolaitans, who are an offshoot of the knowledge which is falsely so called, [writing] to confound them and show that there is one God who made all things by his Word. It is not true, as they say, that the Fashioner is one and the Father of the Lord another, and the Son of the Fashioner one being, the Christ from on high another, who remained free from suffering, descending on Jesus the Son of the Fashioner and returning again to his Pleroma; [they allege] that the Beginning was the Only-begotten, and Logos the true Son of the Only-begotten,10241024A Gnostic interpretation of the Prologue to the Fourth Gospel, which takes Beginning (Arche) and Only-begotten (Monogenes) as entities in a Gnostic system. and that this world order in which we live was not made by the supreme God but by some power far inferior to him and cut off from contact with those things which are invisible and ineffable.
The disciple of the Lord wished to cut off all such ideas and to establish the rule of truth in the Church, that there is one God Almighty who made all things by his Word, both visible and invisible, and also to indicate that through the same Word through whom God made this world order he also bestowed salvation on the men who belong to this order. So he starts off with the teaching according to the Gospel, thus: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God; this was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made. What was made was life in him, and the life was the light of men, and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not seized hold of it."10251025John 1:1–5 All things, he says, were made through him; this word "all" therefore includes this world order of ours. It must not be conceded to them that "all" means what is within that Pleroma of theirs. For if this Pleroma of theirs contains everything, then this order is not outside it, as I have shown in the Book before this. But if these things are outside the Pleroma, which really does not seem possible, then this Pleroma of theirs does not comprise "all things," and so [in any case] this vast created order is not merely "outside." 379 2John himself indeed takes away all our disputes on this matter when he says: "He was in this world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came to his own [things and his own [peopled did not receive him."10261026John 1:11. Now according to Marcion and those who are like him, neither was the world made by him, nor did he come to his own things, but rather to alien. According to some of the Gnostics, this world was made by angels and not through the Word of God. According to the followers of Valentinus again, it was not made through him, but through the Demiurge. For he, as they say, made certain images in imitation of the things above, but the Demiurge carried out the forming of the creation. For they say that the Lord and Demiurge of this created order of things, by whom they say this world was made, was sent forth by the Mother—when the Gospel clearly states that all things were made through the Word, who was in the beginning with God, which Word, he says, was made flesh and dwelt among us.
3Now according to them neither was the Word made flesh, nor Christ, nor the Saviour who was made out of all [the Aeons]. For they allege that the Word and Christ never came into this world, and that the Saviour was neither incarnate nor suffered, but that he descended as a dove upon that Jesus who was made by [higher] dispensation, and when he had proclaimed the unknown Father, ascended again into the Pleroma. Some of them indeed say that this Jesus who was by dispensation was incarnate and suffered, and that he had passed through Mary like water through a tube; others say that it was the son of the Demiurge, on whom the Jesus who was by dispensation descended; others again say that Jesus indeed was born of Joseph and Mary, and that Christ who came from above descended on him, being without flesh and free from suffering. But according to none of the views of the heretics was the Word of God made flesh. If one should read over all, their credal statements, he would find that they always bring in the Word of God and the Christ who is from above as without flesh and free from suffering. Some think that he was manifested as a transfigured man, but say that he was neither born nor incarnate. Others say that he did not even take the form of a man, but descended like a dove on that Jesus who was born of Mary. So the disciple of the Lord shows them all to be false witnesses when he says, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." 4And so that we should not query what 380God it was whose Word was made flesh, he further taught, saying, "There was a man sent from God, his name was John; he came for witness, to bear witness of the light. He was not himself the light, but [came] that he might bear witness of the light."10271027John 1:6–8. What God was it who sent John the Forerunner, who bore witness of the light? He whose angel Gabriel is, who brought the good news of his birth, he who also promised through the prophets that he would send his angel before the face of his Son, and that he would prepare his way, that is, would bear witness of the light, in the spirit and power of Elijah.10281028Luke 1:17 (Mal. 4:5). And whose servant and prophet was Elijah? His who made the heaven and the earth, as he also confessed. So how could John, who was sent by the Creator and Fashioner of this world, testify of that light which descended from things that are unnamable and invisible? For all the heretics have taught that the Demiurge was ignorant of the power above him, as witness and pointer-out of whom John appeared.10291029John must therefore have come from the highest power, not from an inferior ignorant of him; yet John belonged to the God of the Old Testament. Because of this, the Lord said that he ranked as more than a prophet. For all the other prophets proclaimed the coming of the Father's light, and longed to be worthy to see him whom they foretold; John, however, both predicted him like the others, and also saw and pointed him out when he came, and persuaded many to believe in him, so that he ranks as both prophet and apostle.10301030Matt. 11:9; Luke 7:26; cf. John 1:19–37. This is something more than a prophet —first apostles, then prophets10311031I Cor. 12:28—;but all came from one and the same God.
5It was a good thing which was made by God's creation in the vineyard, and was first drunk as wine.10321032An abrupt but not ineffective transition; we seem to come here on notes of a sermon in which the two kinds of wine drunk at Cana are treated as symbols of the two covenants. None of those who drank of it spoke badly of it, and the Lord also took some of it. But better wine was that which was made by the Word directly and simply out of water for the use of those who were invited to the wedding. Although the Lord could have provided wine for the feasters and satisfied the hungry with food without using any object of the created order, he did not do so; but taking loaves which came from the earth, and giving thanks, and again making water into wine, he satisfied those who lay 381down to eat, and he gave drink to those who were invited to the wedding.10331033John 6:11 (and parallels) and 2:9. Thus he showed that God who made the earth; and commanded it to bring forth fruit, and established the waters, and brought forth the springs, also in these last times through his Son gives to the human race the blessing of food and the favor of drink, the incomprehensible [acting] through the comprehensible and the invisible through the visible, since there is none beyond him, but he is in the bosom of the Father. 6For, he says, no man ever saw God, unless the only-begotten Son of God, who is in the bosom of the Father, himself declared him. For the Father who is invisible is declared to all by his Son who is in his bosom. Because of this he is known by those to whom the Son has revealed him, and again the Father through the Son gives knowledge of his Son to those who love him.10341034John 1:18; Matt. 10:27; Luke 10:22. So Nathaniel learned from him and knew him, to whom the Lord bore witness, "This is a true Israelite, in whom is no guile." The Israelite knew his King, in that he said to him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel."10351035John 1:47, 49. Peter was taught by him and knew the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who said: "Behold my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; I will put my Spirit upon him and he will proclaim judgment to the nations. He will not strive, nor shout; nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; he will not break the shaking reed, and will not extinguish the smoking flax; until he send forth judgment into strife, and the nations will hope in his name."10361036Matt. 12:18–20 (Isa. 42:1–3); apparently from a Greek text that read neikos, "strife," for nikos, "victory."
The Unity and Number of the Gospels
7These, then, are the principles of the gospel. They declare one God, the maker of this universe, who was proclaimed by the Prophets, and who through Moses established the dispensation of the Law, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and besides him they know no other God, nor any other Father. So firmly established is this position in the Gospels that the heretics themselves bear witness to them, and starting from them each one of them tries to establish his teaching. So the Ebionites; who use only the Gospel According to Matthew, are shown by that very document not to have right views about the Lord. 382Marcion cut up that According to Luke, yet is clearly, by the passages which he still keeps, shown to be a blasphemer of the one existing God. Those who separate Jesus from Christ and say that Christ remained impassible while Jesus suffered, and try to bring forward the Gospel According to Mark, can be corrected out of that, if they will read it with a love of the truth. The followers of Valentinus, who make a great use of that According to John to demonstrate their conjunctions, can be demonstrated from that to be wholly mistaken, as I have demonstrated in the first Book. Since [even] our opponents bear witness to us and make use of these [works, our demonstration based on them is firm and true.
8The Gospels could not possibly be either more or less in number than they are. Since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is spread over all the earth, and the pillar and foundation of the Church is the gospel, and the Spirit of life, it fittingly has four pillars, everywhere breathing out incorruption and revivifying men. From this it is clear that the Word, the artificer of all things, he who sits upon the cherubim and sustains all things, being manifested to men gave us the gospel, fourfold in form but held together by one Spirit. As David said, when asking for his coming, "O sitter upon the cherubim, show yourself."10371037Ps. 80 (79):1. For the cherubim have four faces, and their faces are images of the activity of the Son of God. For the first living creature, it says, was like a lion, signifying his active and princely and royal character; the second was like an ox, showing his sacrificial and priestly order; the third had the face of man, indicating very clearly his coming in human guise; and the fourth was like a flying eagle, making plain the giving of the Spirit who broods over the Church. Now the Gospels, in which Christ is enthroned, are like these.10381038The first appearance of the creatures of Ezek., ch. 1, and Rev. 4:7, 8, as symbols of the Evangelists; later the lion is assigned to Saint Mark and the eagle to Saint John. For that According to John expounds his princely and mighty and glorious birth from the Father, saying, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," and, "All things were made by him, and without him was nothing made." Therefore this Gospel is deserving of all confidence, for such indeed is his person. That According to Luke, as having. a priestly character, began with the priest Zacharias offering incense to God. For 383the fatted calf was already being prepared which was to be sacrificed for the finding of the younger son.10391039An allegorical interpretation of Luke 15:23. Matthew proclaims his human birth, saying, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham," and, "The birth of Jesus Christ was in this manner," for this Gospel is manlike, and so through the whole Gospel [Christ] appears as a man of a humble mind, and gentle. But Mark takes his beginning from the prophetic Spirit who comes on men from on high, saying, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet," showing a winged image of the gospel. Therefore he made his message compendious and summary, for such is the prophetic character. Again, the Word of God himself used to speak to the patriarchs before Moses, in a divine and glorious manner; but for those under the Law he established a priestly and liturgical order; after this, becoming man, he sent out the gift of the Holy Spirit into the whole earth, guarding us by his own wings. As is the activity of the Son of God, such is the form of the living creatures; and as is the form of the living creatures, such is also the character of the Gospel. For the living creatures were quadriform, and the gospel and the activity of the Lord is fourfold. Therefore four general covenants were given to mankind: one was that of Noah's deluge, by the bow; the second was Abraham's, by the sign of circumcision; the third was the giving of the Law by Moses; and the fourth is that of the Gospel, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
9Since this is the case, they are foolish and uninstructed, even audacious, who destroy the pattern of the gospel, and present either more or less than four forms of the gospel—the former, because they claim to have found more than the truth, the latter because they annul the dispensations of God. So Marcion, rejecting the whole gospel, rather indeed cutting himself off from the gospel, still boasts of having a share in the gospel. Others frustrate the gift of the Spirit, which in these last times has been poured out on the human race according to the Father's decree, refusing to admit that aspect [of the gospel] which is according to John's Gospel, in which the Lord promised that he would send the Paraclete; but they reject together both the gospel and the prophetic Spirit. Unhappy men, who want to be some kind of false prophets, but deny the gift of prophecy to the Church, suffering what those do who, because of those who come in insincerity, separate themselves from the 384fellowship of the brethren. It can be understood that men of this kind would not accept the apostle Paul either. For in the Epistle addressed to the Corinthians he speaks carefully about prophetic gifts, and knows of men and women who prophesied in the Church. Sinning in all these ways against the Spirit of Gad, they fall into the unforgivable sin.10401040Irenaeus’ view of the Montanists; he objects to their exclusive Puritanism, and not so much to their claim to prophetic gifts as to their denial that these gifts already existed in the Church, which shows them to be false prophets who thus sin against the Holy Spirit by denying his working in others (Matt. 12:31; Mark 3:28; Luke 12:10). But the followers of Valentines, putting away all fear, bring forward their own compositions and boast that they have more Gospels than really exist. Indeed their audacity has gone so far that they entitle their recent composition the Gospel of Truth, though it agrees in nothing with the Gospels of the apostles, and so no Gospel of theirs is free of blasphemy. For if what they produce is the Gospel of Truth, and is different from those which the apostles handed down to us, those who care to can learn how it can be shown from the Scriptures themselves that [then] what is handed down from the apostles is not the Gospel of Truth.10411041Which is preposterous. That those alone are true and firm, and that there can be no more Gospels than have been mentioned before, nor any fewer, I have shown by these many great arguments. For since God made all things in due order and harmony, it was proper that the outer form of the gospel should be well ordered and well fitted together. So having examined the view of those who handed the gospel down to us, from their very first principles, let us proceed to the other apostles, and look into their view about God; and after that let us hear the very words of the Lord.385
THE TEXT: (BOOK V) REDEMPTION AND THE WORLD TO COME
Doctrine of Redemption in Reply to the Gnostics
1 We could in no other way have learned the things of God unless our Teacher, being the Word, had been made man. For none could declare to us the things of the Father, except his own Word. For who else has known the mind of the Lord, or who has become his counselor?10421042Rom. 11:34. Nor again could we have learned in any other way than by seeing our Teacher, that we might become imitators of his works and doers of his words, and so have communion with him, receiving our increase from him who is perfect and before all creation. We were but recently made by him who is the highest and best, by him who is able to bestow the gift of incorruptibility, made according to the image which is with him and predestined according to the foreknowledge of the Father to be what we were not yet. Made the beginning of [his new] creation, we have received [this gift] in times foreknown by the dispensation of the Word, who is perfect in all things, for he is the mighty Word, and true man. Redeeming us by his blood in accordance with his reasonable10431043The Logos acted logikos, a play on words which cannot be rendered exactly in either Latin or English. nature, he gave himself a ransom for those who had been led into captivity. Since the apostasy tyrannized over us unjustly, and when we belonged by nature to God Almighty had unnaturally alienated us, God's Word, mighty in all things, [reclaimed us], making us his own disciples. Not failing in his quality of justice, he acted justly against the apostasy itself, not redeeming his own from it by force, although it at the beginning had merely tyrannized over us, greedily seizing the things that were not its own, but by persuasion, as it is 386fitting for God to receive what he wishes by gentleness and not by force.10441044Cf. Diog. 7:4; Irenaeus here avoids referring to the prince of the apostasy, but in the process almost personifies the apostasia itself. So neither was the standard of what is just infringed nor did the ancient creation of God perish.
So, then, since the Lord redeemed us by his own blood, and gave his soul for our souls, and his flesh for our bodies, and poured out the Spirit of the Father to bring about the union and communion of God and man—bringing God down to men by [the working of] the Spirit, and again raising man to God by his incarnation—and by his coming firmly and truly giving us incorruption, by our communion with God, all the teachings of the heretics are destroyed. 2Vain are those who say that his appearance [on earth] was a mere fiction. These things did not take place fictitiously but in reality. If he had appeared as man when he was not really human, the Spirit of God could not have rested on him, as was the case, since the Spirit is invisible,10451045And therefore presumably could "rest" only on a visible being, not on another invisible one. nor would there have been any truth in him, what was [then taking place] not being what it seemed to be. As I said before, Abraham and the other prophets saw him prophetically, prophesying by vision what was to be. If he then had appeared without really being what he appeared to be, this would have been just another prophetic vision for men, and they would have had to wait for another coming, in which he would be indeed what now was seen prophetically. I have shown too that to say that his appearance was only seeming is the same as to say that he took nothing from Mary. He would not have had real flesh and blood, by which he paid the price [of our salvation], unless he had indeed recapitulated in himself the ancient making of Adam. Vain therefore are the Valentinians who teach this, and so reject the [new] life of the flesh and scorn what God has made.
3Vain also are the Ebionites, who do not accept in their souls by faith the union of God and man; but remain in the old leaven of [merely] human birth—not wishing to understand that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and the power of the Most High overshadowed her, and so what was born [of her] is holy and the Son of God Most High, the Father of all who thus brought about his incarnation and displayed the new birth, so that as we by the former birth were heirs of death, by this birth we should be heirs of life. They reject the mixture 387of the heavenly wine, and wish to be only the water of the world, not receiving God into their mixture,10461046A reference to the Ebionite Eucharists, celebrated with water alone (cf. Epiphanius, Haereses 30:16). but remaining in that Adam who was conquered and driven out of paradise. They do not reflect that as at the beginning of our creation in Adam the breath of life from God, united with the created substance, animated man and made him a rational animal, so at the end the Word of the Father and the Spirit of God, united with the ancient substance of the creation of Adam, made a living and perfect man, receiving the perfect Father, so that as in the animal we were all dead, in the spiritual we are all made alive. For Adam never escaped those hands of God, to whom the Father said, "Let us make man after our image and likeness." And therefore at the last it was not by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of a man, but by the decree of the Father that his hands perfected a living man, so that there might be a [second Adam after the image and likeness of God.10471047I Cor. 15:45; John 1:13; the "hands of God" are presumably the Word and the Spirit.
2 Vain indeed are they who say that God [the Son] came to things not his own, as if covetous of things belonging to another, in order to hand over the man who was made by another to the God who neither made nor created him, who indeed from the beginning had nothing to do with the true fashioning of man.10481048I.e., the Marcionites. For a coming such as they allege, to what was another's, would not have been just. Nor would he have truly redeemed us by his blood if he had not been truly made man, restoring again to his own creation what was said [of it] in the beginning, that man was made according to the image and likeness of God—not snatching by deceit what was another's, but justly and graciously claiming what was his own—for with reference to the apostasy, he justly redeemed us from it by his own blood, but with reference to us, who have been redeemed, he acted graciously. For we gave nothing to him first, nor does he desire anything from us, as if needing it; but we are in need of communion with him. Therefore he graciously poured himself out that he might gather us together into the bosom of the Father.
2Vain above all are they who despise the whole dispensation of God, and deny the salvation of the flesh and reject its rebirth, saying that it is not capable of incorruption. For if this [mortal flesh] is not saved, then neither did the Lord redeem us by his 388blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of his blood, and the bread which we break the communion of his body. For blood is only to be found in veins and flesh, and the rest of [physical] human nature, which the Word of God was indeed made [partaker of, and so] he redeemed us by his blood. So also his apostle says, "In whom we have redemption by his blood, and the remission of sins."10491049Col. 1:14. For since we are his members, and are nourished by [his] creation—and he himself gives us this creation, making the sun to rise, and sending the rain as he wills—he declares that the cup, [taken] from the creation, is his own blood, by which he strengthens our blood, and he has firmly assured us that the bread, [taken] from the creation, is his own body, by which our bodies grow. 3For when the mixed cup and the bread that has been prepared receive the Word of God, and become the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ,10501050"And blood" lacking in Greek (quoted here by John of Damascus), but doubtless correctly present in Latin; Irenaeus thinks of consecration of the Eucharist by the power of the Word (as in the Eucharistic prayer of Sarapion), or perhaps by the divinely ordered pattern of prayer (cf. Justin, Apol. I, ch. 66). and by these our flesh grows and is confirmed, how can they say that flesh cannot receive the free gift of God, which is eternal life, since it is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and made a member of him? As the blessed Paul says in the Epistle to the Ephesians, that we are members of his body, of his flesh and his bones.10511051Eph. 5:30. He does not say this about a [merely] spiritual and invisible man, for the spirit has neither bones nor flesh, but about [God's] dispensation for the real man, [a dispensation] consisting of flesh and nerves and bones, which is nourished by his cup, which is his blood, and grows by the bread which is his body.
And just as the wooden branch of the vine, placed in the earth, bears fruit in its own time—and as the grain of wheat, falling into the ground and there dissolved, rises with great increase by the Spirit of God, who sustains all things, and then by the wisdom of God serves for the use of men, and when it receives the Word of God becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ—so also our bodies which are nourished by it, and then fall into the earth and are dissolved therein, shall rise at the proper time, the Word of God bestowing on them this rising again, to the glory of God the Father. It is he who indeed grants to this mortal immortality, and gives 389to the corruptible the gracious gift of incorruption, for God's power is made perfect in weakness,10521052I Cor. 15:53; II Cor. 12:9. so that we should not be puffed up as if we had life from ourselves, and be exalted against God, developing ungrateful minds. But we learn by experience that our survival forever comes from his greatness, not from our nature, so that we may neither ignore the glory that surrounds God as he is nor be ignorant of our own nature, but may see what it is that God can do, and what man receives as a gift [from him], and so may not wander from the true conception of the reality of things, with reference to both God and man. May it not be, as I have said, that God allows our dissolution into the earth for this very purpose, that being instructed in every way we should for the future be quite definite about all [these] things, being ignorant neither of God nor of ourselves?
The New Creation in Christ "Recapitulates" the Old
19 So the Lord now manifestly came to his own, and, born by his own created order which he himself bears, he by his obedience on the tree renewed [and reversed] what was done by disobedience in [connection with] a tree; and [the power of] that seduction by which the virgin Eve, already betrothed to a man, had been wickedly seduced was broken when the angel in truth brought good tidings to the Virgin Mary, who already [by her betrothal] belonged to a man.10531053The rhetorical balance of this sentence is clear, but in detail it evidently baffled the Latin translator, whose version is all but unintelligible, so that a literal English rendering is scarcely possible; the key word recapitulare doubtless represents Greek anakephalaioō (cf. Eph. 1:10)—It is clearly used with a variety of associations, and I have ventured to translate "renew." The idea has a considerable history in both theology and devovotion; cf. the liturgical preface for Passiontide, "Who on the Tree of the Cross didst give salvation unto mankind; that whence death arose, thence life also might rise again: and that he who by a tree once overcame, might likewise by a Tree be overcome, through Christ our Lord" (translation from Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, p. 59. Philadelphia, 1917). For as Eve was seduced by the word of an angel to flee from God, having rebelled against his Word, so Mary by the word of an angel received the glad tidings that she would bear God by obeying his Word.10541054Luke 1:38; in this sentence I have rendered verbum by "Word" and sermo by "word," as probably representing logos and rhēma, respectively, although the difference here may not be significant. The former was seduced to disobey 390God10551055Latin MSS. offer two unsatisfactory readings for this phrase: "Si eum obaudiret [emended by Massuet to ea inobedierat] deo," and "Sicut illa seducta est ut effugeret deum" (see discussion in Harvey, Vol. II, p. 376); the balance of the sentence demands something like "Sicut illa seducta est ut inobedierat deo," which seems to be supported by the Armenian (for notes on which I am indebted to Mr. Garabed Poutoukhian of the Berkeley Divinity School); probably one Latin scribe tried to correct the partial repetition of the previous sentence, while another carried the repetition still further. [and so fell], but the latter was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of the virgin Eve.10561056Nothing more recondite is implied by this phrase than that the ultimate salvation of Eve came through the incarnation, which began with the obedience of Mary, the angelic message of Luke, ch. 1, thus reversing the diabolical temptation of Gen., ch. 3. The Armenian here has one of the diffuse renderings to which it often resorts in difficult passages—"That the Virgin Mary may become to the virgin Eve consolation and exhortation and intercessor." As the human race was subjected to death through [the act of] a virgin, so was it saved by a virgin, and thus the disobedience of one virgin was precisely balanced by the obedience of another. Then indeed the sin of the first-formed man was amended by the chastisement of the First-begotten, the wisdom of the serpent was conquered by the simplicity of the dove,10571057A curious use of Matt. 10:16. and the chains were broken by which we were in bondage to death.
20 2Therefore he renews these things in himself, uniting man to the Spirit; and placing the Spirit in man, he himself is made the head of the Spirit, and gives the Spirit to be the head of man, for by him we see and hear and speak.10581058As in the old creation the breath of life was the highest thing in man (Gen. 2:7), making him what he is, so in the new creation the gift of the Spirit is the highest thing in the new man; the word "head," kephalē, is used with reference to various aspects of "recapitulation," suggesting mainly perhaps the highest or organizing principle of the new creation.
21 He therefore completely renewed all things, both taking up the battle against our enemy, and crushing him who at the beginning had led us captive in Adam, trampling on his head, as you find in Genesis that God said to the serpent, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he will be on the watch for your head, and you will be on the watch for his heel."10591059Gen. 3:15; the LXX here reads "watch" for "bruise," a slight difference in Greek. From then on it was proclaimed that he who was to be born of a virgin, after the likeness of Adam, would be on the watch for 391the serpent's head—this is the seed of which the apostle says in the Letter to the Galatians, "The law of works was established until the seed should come to whom the promise was made." He shows this still more clearly in the same Epistle when he says, "But when the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman."10601060Gal. 3:19 (with a reminiscence of Rom. 3:27); 4:4. The enemy would not have been justly conquered unless it had been a man [made] of woman who conquered him. For it was by a woman that he had power over man from the beginning, setting himself up in opposition to man. Because of this the Lord also declares himself to be the Son of Man, so renewing in himself that primal man from whom the formation [of man] by woman began, that as our race went down to death by a man who was conquered we might ascend again to life by a man who overcame; and as death won the palm of victory over us by a man, so we might by a man receive the palm of victory over death.
Some Glimpses of Irenaeus’ Teaching on the Last Things10611061The five final chapters are missing in most MSS. and were published first by Feuardent; but their genuineness is indicated by Greek and Syriac quotations and the Armenian version, and they were doubtless omitted in most copies after the Church had come generally to repudiate the millenarianism supported by Irenaeus.
32 Since the opinions of some have been affected by the discourses of the heretics, and they are ignorant of the dispensations of God, and the mystery of the resurrection of the just and the Kingdom which is the beginning of incorruption, by which Kingdom those who are worthy will gradually be accustomed to receive [the fullness of] God, it is necessary to speak about these things. For the righteous must first rise again at the appearance of God to receive in this created order, then made new, the promise of the inheritance which God promised to the Fathers, and will reign in this order. After this will come the judgment. It is just that in the same order in which they labored and were afflicted, and tried by all kinds of suffering, they should receive the fruits of [their suffering]—that in the same order in which they were put to death for the love of God they should again be made alive—and that in the same order in which they suffered bondage they should reign. For God is rich in all things, and all things are his.10621062Rom. 10:12. It is right, therefore, for this created order to be restored to its pristine 392state, and to serve the just without restraint. The apostle made this clear in the Epistle to the Romans, saying: "For the expectation of the creature awaits the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was subject to vanity, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it in hope; for the creature itself shall be freed from the servitude of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God."10631063Rom. 8:19–21.
2So, then, God’s promise which he promised to Abraham remains firm. For he said, "Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you now are, to the north and south and east and west; for all this land which you see I will give to you and to your seed forever." And again he says, "Arise and go through the land in its length and its breadth, for I will give it to you.10641064Gen. 13:14, 15, 17. Yet he received no inheritance in it, not even a footprint, but was always a pilgrim and a stranger in it. And when Sarah his wife was dead, and the Hittites wanted to give him freely a place for her burial, he would not accept it, but bought a tomb, for which he gave four hundred didrachmas of silver, from Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite.10651065Gen., ch. 23 He awaited the promise of God, and did not wish to seem to accept from men what God had promised to give him, saying to him again, "To your seed will I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates."10661066Gen. 15:18. If, then, God promised him the inheritance of the [promised] land, but in all his sojourning there he did not receive it, it must be that he will receive it with his seed, that is, with those who fear God and believe in him, at the resurrection of the just. For his seed is the Church, which receives through the Lord adoption to God, as John the Baptist said, "That God is able from these stones to raise up sons of Abraham."10671067Luke 3:8; Matt. 3:9. The apostle also says in the Epistle to the Galatians, "But you, brothers, are like Isaac the sons of the promise." Again in the same he says clearly that those who have believed in Christ will receive Christ, the promise of Abraham, saying, "To Abraham were the promises uttered, and to his seed; and it does not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed, which is Christ." And again he says, confirming what has been said: "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. You know therefore, that those who are of faith, they are the sons of Abraham. Now the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, foretold to Abraham, In you will 393all nations be blessed. Therefore those who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham."10681068Gal. 4:28; 3:16, 6–9. So, then, those who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham, and they are sons of Abraham. Now God promised the inheritance of the land to Abraham and his seed, and neither Abraham nor his seed, that is, those who are justified by faith, have any inheritance in it now, but they will receive it at the resurrection of the just. For God is true and faithful, and therefore he says, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."10691069Matt. 5:5; Ps. 37(36):11. For "God" one should perhaps read "the Lord," in accordance with what follows, since the abbreviations DS and DNS could easily be confused.
33 Because of this, when he came to his Passion, that he might declare to Abraham and those with him the glad tidings of the opening of the inheritance, after he had given thanks as he held the cup, and had drunk of it, and given to the disciples, he said to them: "Drink of this, all of you. For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. For I say to you, that I will not drink of the produce of this vine, until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the Kingdom of my Father."10701070Matt. 26:27–29. Then he himself will renew the inheritance of the land, and will re-establish the mystery of the glory of the sons, as David said, "He who renewed the face of the earth."10711071Ps. 104(103):30, somewhat misquoted. He promised that he would drink of the produce of the vine with his disciples, thus showing both the inheritance of the earth, in which the new produce of the vine is drunk, and the physical resurrection of his disciples. For the new flesh that rises again is the same that has received the new cup. For he cannot be understood as drinking the produce of the vine when established on high with his own, somewhere above the heavens, nor again are they who drink it without flesh, for it belongs to flesh and not to spirit to receive the drink of the vine. 2Because of this the Lord said: "When you give a dinner, or a supper, do not invite the rich, nor your friends and neighbors and relations, lest they should invite you in return, and you receive a reward from them; but invite the lame, the blind, the beggars, who have nothing with which to reward you; for you will be rewarded at the resurrection of the just."10721072Luke 14:12–14. And again he says, "Whoever has left fields, or houses, or parents, or brothers, or sons for my sake, shall receive a 394hundredfold in this world, and in the one to come will inherit eternal life."10731073Matt. 19:29; Luke 18:29, 30; Jerome, commenting on Matt., ch. 19, notes and rejects the literal interpretation, pointing out that the reference to wives (which Irenaeus quietly omits) makes it ridiculous. Where are the hundredfold rewards in this age, the dinners offered to the poor, and the suppers for which a reward is received? These things are [to be] in the times of the Kingdom, that is, on the seventh day, which is sanctified, in which God rested from all his works which he made; this is the true Sabbath of the just, in which they will have no earthly work to do, but will have a table prepared before them by God, who will feed them with dainties of all kinds.
3This is also the sense of the blessing of Isaac, with which he blessed Jacob, his younger son, saying, "Behold the smell of my son is as the smell of a rich field, which God has blessed." The field [here referred to] is the world—and therefore he added: "God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fertility of the earth, abundance of grain and of wine. And the nations will serve you, and princes will worship you, and you will be Lord over your brother, and the sons of your father will worship you. He who curses you will be accursed, and he who blesses you will be blessed."10741074Gen. 27:27–29. If one does not take this as referring to the destined [times] of the Kingdom, he finds himself in great contradiction and confusion, as the Jews have found themselves completely puzzled [in interpreting this passage]. For not only did the nations not serve Jacob in this life, but he, when he set forth after this blessing, served his uncle Laban the Syrian for twenty years. Not only was he not made lord of his brother, but he himself worshiped Esau his brother, when he came back from Mesopotamia to his father, and offered many gifts to him. How did he inherit an abundance of grain and wine who, because of the famine that took place in the land in which he dwelt, migrated to Egypt [and became] subject to Pharaoh, who then reigned in Egypt? So the aforesaid benediction undoubtedly refers to the times of the Kingdom, when the just, rising from the dead, will reign, when the created order will be made new and set free, and will produce an abundance of all kinds of food, from the dew of heaven and of the fertility of the earth. So the elders remembered, who had seen John the disciple of the Lord, that they had heard from him how the Lord taught about those days and said: "The days will come, in which vines will be produced, each one having a 395thousand branches, and in each branch ten thousand twigs, and on each twig ten thousand shoots, and on each shoot ten thousand clusters, and in each cluster ten thousand grapes, and each grape when pressed will give twenty-five metretes of wine. And when one of the saints takes hold of a cluster, another will cry, ‘I am a better cluster, take me, bless the Lord through me.’ Similarly a grain of wheat will produce ten thousand ears, and each ear will have ten thousand grains, and each grain [will yield] ten pounds of clear pure flour; and the other fruits and seeds and grass will produce in the same proportion, and all the animals, using the foods which come from the earth, will be peaceful and harmonious with each other, and perfectly subject to man."10751075Cf. Eusebius, Hist. eccl. III. 39:12, 13.
4Papias, who was a hearer of John and an associate of Polycarp, a fine old man, bore witness to these things in writing, in his fourth book, for there were five books that he compiled. And he went on and said, "These things are credible to believers, and when Judas, the traitor, did not believe, and asked, `How can such kinds of production be accomplished [even] by the Lord?,' the Lord answered, 'Those who come to these things will see them.'" Isaiah, prophesying about these times, said: "And the wolf will feed with the lamb and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and bull and lion will feed together, and a little boy will lead them. The ox and the bear will feed together, and their young ones will be together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. A little child will put his hand in the den of the asps, and into the nest of the young of the asps, and they shall do no harm, nor will they be able to injure anyone in my holy mountain." And again, summarizing, he says, "The wolves and sheep will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and the serpent earth like bread; and they will not injure nor disturb in my holy mountain, says the Lord."10761076Isa. 11:6–9; 65:25. I am not unaware that some try to refer these [prophecies] to fierce men of diverse nations, and of different kinds of behavior, who have believed, and when they have believed have come to agree with the righteous. But although this be now true of various kinds of men who have come from different nations to the one conviction of the faith, nevertheless [it will also be true] in the resurrection of the just with reference to these animals, as it is said, "God is rich over all."10771077Rom. 10:12. And when the created order is renewed, then the animals 396ought to be subject to man, arid return to the food which God gave them at the first, the fruit of the earth, as they were subject and obedient to Adam. Some other time, not now, [will be the occasion] to show how the lion will eat straw. But this is enough to show the size and richness of the fruits [then to be produced]. For if such an animal as the lion feeds on straw, what kind of grain must it be whose very straw is suitable food for lions?
36 Since men are real, they must have a real existence, not passing away into things which are not, but advancing [to a new stage] among things that are. Neither the substance nor the essence of the created order vanishes away, for he is true and faithful who established it, but the pattern of this world passes away,10781078I Cor. 7:31. that is, the things in which the transgression took place, since in them man has grown old. Therefore God, foreknowing all things, made this pattern of things temporary, as I showed in the book before this, pointing out as far as I could the reason for the creation of the temporal universe. But when this pattern has passed away, and man is made new, and flourishes in incorruption, so that he can no longer grow old, then there will be new heavens and a new earth. In this new order man will always remain new, in converse with God. That this state of things will remain without end, Isaiah says, as follows: "As the new heavens and the new earth, which I make, remain before me, says the Lord, so your seed and your name will stand."10791079Isa. 66:22. As the elders say, "Then those who are thought worthy of abode in heaven will go there, others will enjoy the delights of paradise, others will possess the splendor of the city; for everywhere the Saviour will be seen, according as those who see him will be worthy."10801080Irenaeus’ "elders" seems to represent a collection of traditions from the churches of Asia Minor. 2This is the distinction of the dwelling place of those who bring forth fruit a hundredfold, sixtyfold, and thirty10811081Matt. 13:8; Mark 4:8. respectively; for some will be taken up into the heavens, others will dwell in paradise, and others will inhabit the city. This is why the Lord said, "In my Father's house are many mansions."10821082John 14:2. For all things are of God, who provides for all a suitable dwelling place. As his Word says, "The Father divides to all according to what each is or will be worthy of; and this is the couch on which those who are invited to the marriage will feast."10831083Matt. 22:2–10. This is the ordering and arrangement of those who are saved, say the elders, the disciples of the 397apostles, and they advance by such degrees, and by the Spirit they ascend to the Son and by the Son to the Father. Finally the Son will yield his work to the Father, as is said by the apostle: "For he must reign, until he shall put all enemies under his feet; death will be destroyed as the last enemy." For in the times of the Kingdom the just man then upon earth will already have forgotten how to die. "For when he says, All things will be subject, he clearly excepts him who subjected all things. But when all things are subject to him, then will the Son himself be subject to him who subjected all things to him, that God may be all in all."10841084I Cor 15:27, 28.
3John therefore predicted precisely the first resurrection of the just, and [their] inheritance of the earth in the Kingdom,10851085Rev., ch. 20. and the prophets prophesied about this in agreement with each other. The Lord also taught thus, promising that he would enjoy the new mixture of the chalice with [his] disciples in the Kingdom. The apostle also confessed that the creature would be free from the bondage of corruption into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God. In all and through all these things the same God the Father is manifest, who formed man, and promised to the Fathers the inheritance of the earth, who brings this [promise] forth at the resurrection of the just, and fulfills the promises in the Kingdom of his Son, afterwards bestowing with paternal love those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have they entered into the heart of man.10861086I Cor. 2:9. Then there is one Son, who accomplished the Father's will, and one human race, in which the mysteries of God are accomplished, which angels long to behold.10871087I Peter 1:12. For they cannot search out the wisdom of God, by which what he had fashioned is perfected by being conformed and incorporated with the Son—or how that his offspring, the first-begotten Word, could descend into his creature, that is, into what he had fashioned, and be contained within it—and that the creature again should lay hold on the Word and should ascend to him, passing beyond the angels, and be made [anew] according to the image and likeness of God.10881088This final paragraph is a fine example of the vigorous and epigrammatic style of Irenaeus’ writing at its best, with barely a trace of the ponderous sentences in which he sometimes loses himself elsewhere in the effort to be impressive or to squeeze all aspects of a topic into one period.398
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