Thou hast indeed enjoined upon me, my very dear friend, that I should bring to light the Valentinian doctrines, concealed, as their votaries imagine; that I should exhibit their diversity, and compose a treatise in refutation of them. I therefore have undertaken — showing that they spring from Simon, the father of all heretics — to exhibit both their doctrines and successions, and to set forth arguments against them all. Wherefore, since the conviction of these men and their exposure is in many points but one work, I have sent unto thee [certain] books, of which the first comprises the opinions of all these men, and exhibits their customs, and the character of their behaviour. In the second, again, their perverse teachings are cast down and overthrown, and, such as they really are, laid bare and open to view. But in this, the third book I shall adduce proofs from the Scriptures, so that I may come behind in nothing of what thou hast enjoined; yea, that over and above what thou didst reckon upon, thou mayest receive from me the means of combating and vanquishing those who, in whatever manner, are propagating falsehood. For the love of God, being rich and ungrudging, confers upon the suppliant more than he can ask from it. Call to mind then, the things which I have stated in the two preceding books, and, taking these in connection with them, thou shalt have from me a very copious refutation of all the heretics; and faithfully and strenuously shalt thou resist them in defence of the only true and life-giving faith, which the Church has received from the apostles and imparted to her sons. For the Lord of all gave to His apostles the power of the Gospel, through whom also we have known the truth, that is, the doctrine of the Son of God; to whom also did the Lord declare: “He that heareth you, heareth Me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth Me, and Him that sent Me.” (Luk_10:16)
Chap. I. — The Apostles Did Not Commence to Preach the Gospel, or to Place Anything on Record, Until They Were Endowed with the Gifts and Power of the Holy Spirit. They Preached One God Alone, Maker of Heaven and Earth.
1. We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.1 For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed “perfect knowledge,” as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles. For, after our Lord rose from the dead, [the apostles] were invested with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came down [upon them], were filled from all [His gifts], and had perfect knowledge: they departed to the ends of the earth, preaching the glad tidings of the good things [sent] from God to us, and proclaiming the peace of heaven to men, who indeed do all equally and individually possess the Gospel of God. Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews2 in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.
2. These have all declared to us that there is one God, Creator of heaven and earth, announced 415 by the law and the prophets; and one Christ the Son of God. If any one do not agree to these truths, he despises the companions of the Lord; nay more, he despises Christ Himself the Lord; yea, he despises the Father also, and stands self-condemned, resisting and opposing his own salvation, as is the case with all heretics.
Chap. II. — The Heretics Follow Neither Scripture nor Tradition.
1. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce: wherefore also Paul declared, “But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.” (1Co_2:6) And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent,3 who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.
2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.
3. Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal, my very dear friend, endeavouring like slippery serpents to escape at all points. Wherefore they must be opposed at all points, if perchance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth. For, though it is not an easy thing for a soul under the influence of error to repent, yet, on the other hand, it is not altogether impossible to escape from error when the truth is brought alongside it.
Chap. III. — A Refutation of the Heretics, from the Fact That, in the Various Churches, a Perpetual Succession of Bishops Was Kept Up.
1. It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about. For if the apostles had known hidden mysteries, which they were in the habit of imparting to “the perfect” apart and privily from the rest, they would have delivered them especially to those to whom they were also committing the Churches themselves. For they were desirous that these men should be very perfect and blameless in all things, whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men; which men, if they discharged their functions honestly, would be a great boon [to the Church], but if they should fall away, the direst calamity.
2. Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority,4 that is, the faithful 416 everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.
3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.
4. But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom,5 departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time, — a man who was of much greater weight, and a more stedfast witness of truth, than Valentinus, and Marcion, and the rest of the heretics. He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles, — that, namely, which is handed down by the Church.6 There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.” And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Dost thou know me?” “I do know thee, the first-born of Satan.” Such was the horror which the apostles and their disciples had against holding even verbal communication with any corrupters of the truth; as Paul also says, “A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” (Tit_3:10) There is also a very powerful7 Epistle of Polycarp written to the Philippians, from which those who choose to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth. Then, again, the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times of Trajan, is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.
Chap. IV. — The Truth Is to Be Found Nowhere Else but in the Catholic Church, the Sole Depository of Apostolical Doctrine. Heresies Are of Recent Formation, and Cannot Trace Their Origin up to the Apostles.
1. Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the 417 water of life. (Rev_22:17) For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account are we bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the thing pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question8 among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, [in that case,] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches?
2. To which course many nations of those barbarians who believe in Christ do assent, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, without paper or ink, and, carefully preserving the ancient tradition,9 believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendour, shall come in glory, the Saviour of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent. Those who, in the absence of written documents,10 have believed this faith, are barbarians, so far as regards our language; but as regards doctrine, manner, and tenor of life, they are, because of faith, very wise indeed; and they do please God, ordering their conversation in all righteousness, chastity, and wisdom. If any one were to preach to these men the inventions of the heretics, speaking to them in their own language, they would at once stop their ears, and flee as far off as possible, not enduring even to listen to the blasphemous address. Thus, by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles, they do not suffer their mind to conceive anything of the [doctrines suggested by the] portentous language of these teachers, among whom neither Church nor doctrine has ever been established.
3. For, prior to Valentinus, those who follow Valentinus had no existence; nor did those from Marcion exist before Marcion; nor, in short, had any of those malignant-minded people, whom I have above enumerated, any being previous to the initiators and inventors of their perversity. For Valentinus came to Rome in the time of Hyginus, flourished under Pius, and remained until Anicetus. Cerdon, too, Marcion’s predecessor, himself arrived in the time of Hyginus, who was the ninth bishop.11 Coming frequently into the Church, and making public confession, he thus remained, one time teaching in secret, and then again making public confession; but at last, having been denounced for corrupt teaching, he was excommunicated12 from the assembly of the brethren. Marcion, then, succeeding him, flourished under Anicetus, who held the tenth place of the episcopate. But the rest, who are called Gnostics, take rise from Menander, Simon’s disciple, as I have shown; and each one of them appeared to be both the father and the high priest of that doctrine into which he has been initiated. But all these (the Marcosians) broke out into their apostasy much later, even during the intermediate period of the Church.
Chap. V. — Christ and His Apostles, Without Any Fraud, Deception, or Hypocrisy, Preached That One God, the Father, Was the Founder of All Things. They Did Not Accommodate Their Doctrine to the Prepossessions of Their Hearers.
1. Since, therefore, the tradition from the apostles does thus exist in the Church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God, pointing out that our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth, (Joh_14:6) and that no lie is in Him. As also David says, prophesying His birth from a virgin, and the resurrection from the dead, “Truth has sprung out of the earth.” (Psa_85:11) The apostles, likewise, being disciples of the truth, are above all falsehood; for a lie has no fellowship with the truth, just as darkness has none with light, but the presence of the one shuts out that of the other. Our Lord, therefore, being the truth, did not speak lies; and whom He knew to have taken origin from a defect, He never would have acknowledged as God, even the God of all, the Supreme King, too, and His own Father, an imperfect being as a perfect one, an animal one as a spiritual, Him who was without the Pleroma as Him who was within it. 418 Neither did His disciples make mention of any other God, or term any other Lord, except Him, who was truly the God and Lord of all, as these most vain sophists affirm that the apostles did with hypocrisy frame their doctrine according to the capacity of their hearers, and gave answers after the opinions of their questioners, — fabling blind things for the blind, according to their blindness; for the dull according to their dulness; for those in error according to their error. And to those who imagined that the Demiurge alone was God, they preached him; but to those who are capable of comprehending the unnameable Father, they did declare the unspeakable mystery through parables and enigmas: so that the Lord and the apostles exercised the office of teacher not to further the cause of truth, but even in hypocrisy, and as each individual was able to receive it!
2. Such [a line of conduct] belongs not to those who heal, or who give life: it is rather that of those bringing on diseases, and increasing ignorance; and much more true than these men shall the law be found, which pronounces every one accursed who sends the blind man astray in the way. For the apostles, who were commissioned to find out the wanderers, and to be for sight to those who saw not, and medicine to the weak, certainly did not address them in accordance with their opinion at the time, but according to revealed truth. For no persons of any kind would act properly, if they should advise blind men, just about to fall over a precipice, to continue their most dangerous path, as if it were the right one, and as if they might go on in safety. Or what medical man, anxious to heal a sick person, would prescribe in accordance with the patient’s whims, and not according to the requisite medicine? But that the Lord came as the physician of the sick, He does Himself declare saying, “They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luk_5:31, Luk_5:32) How then shall the sick be strengthened, or how shall sinners come to repentance? Is it by persevering in the very same courses? or, on the contrary, is it by undergoing a great change and reversal of their former mode of living, by which they have brought upon themselves no slight amount of sickness, and many sins? But ignorance, the mother of all these, is driven out by knowledge. Wherefore the Lord used to impart knowledge to His disciples, by which also it was His practice to heal those who were suffering, and to keep back sinners from sin. He therefore did not address them in accordance with their pristine notions, nor did He reply to them in harmony with the opinion of His questioners, but according to the doctrine leading to salvation, without hypocrisy or respect of person.
3. This is also made clear from the words of the Lord, who did truly reveal the Son of God to those of the circumcision — Him who had been foretold as Christ by the prophets; that is, He set Himself forth, who had restored liberty men, and bestowed on them the inheritance to incorruption And again, the apostles taught the Gentiles that they should leave vain stocks and stones, which they imagined to be gods, and worship the true God, who had created and made all the human family, and, by means of His creation, did nourish, increase, strengthen, and preserve them in being; and that they might look for His Son Jesus Christ, who redeemed us from apostasy with His own blood, so that we should also be a sanctified people, — who shall also descend from heaven in His Father’s power, and pass judgment upon all, and who shall freely give the good things of God to those who shall have kept His commandments. He, appearing in these last times, the chief cornerstone, has gathered into one, and united those that were far off and those that were near; (Eph_2:17) that is, the circumcision and the uncircumcision, enlarging Japhet, and placing him in the dwelling of Shem. (Gen_9:27)
Chap. VI — The Holy Ghost, Throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, Made Mention of No Other God or Lord, Save Him Who Is the True God.
1. Therefore neither would the Lord, nor the Holy Spirit, nor the apostles, have ever named as God, definitely and absolutely, him who was not God, unless he were truly God; nor would they have named any one in his own person Lord, except God the Father ruling over all, and His Son who has received dominion from His Father over all creation, as this passage has it: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” (Psa_110:1) Here the [Scripture] represents to us the Father addressing the Son; He who gave Him the inheritance of the heathen, and subjected to Him all His enemies. Since, therefore, the Father is truly Lord, and the Son truly Lord, the Holy Spirit has fitly designated them by the title of Lord. And again, referring to the destruction of the Sodomites, the Scripture says, “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven.” (Gen_19:24) For it here points out that the Son, who had also been talking with Abraham, had received power to judge the Sodomites 419 for their wickedness. And this [text following] does declare the same truth: “Thy throne, O God; is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee.” (Psa_45:6) For the Spirit designates both [of them] by the name, of God — both Him who is anointed as Son, and Him who does anoint, that is, the Father. And again: “God stood in the congregation of the gods, He judges among the gods.” (Psa_82:1) He [here] refers to the Father and the Son, and those who have received the adoption; but these are the Church. For she is the synagogue of God, which God — that is, the Son Himself — has gathered by Himself. Of whom He again speaks: “The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken, and hath called the earth.” (Psa_1:1) Who is meant by God? He of whom He has said, “God shall come openly, our God, and shall not keep silence;” (Psa_1:3) that is, the Son, who came manifested to men who said, “I have openly appeared to those who seek Me not.” (Isa_65:1) But of what gods [does he speak]? [Of those] to whom He says, “I have said, Ye are gods, and all sons of the Most High.” (Psa_82:6) To those, no doubt, who have received the grace of the “adoption, by which we cry, Abba Father.” (Rom_3:14)
2. Wherefore, as I have already stated, no other is named as God, or is called Lord, except Him who is God and Lord of all, who also said to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM. And thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: He who is, hath sent me unto you;” (Exo_3:14) and His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who makes those that believe in His name the sons of God. And again, when the Son speaks to Moses, He says, “I am come down to deliver this people.” (Exo_3:8) For it is He who descended and ascended for the salvation of men. Therefore God has been declared through the Son, who is in the Father, and has the Father in Himself — He who is, the Father bearing witness to the Son, and the Son announcing the Father. — As also Esaias says, “I too am witness,” he declares, “saith the Lord God, and the Son whom I have chosen, that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I am.” (Isa_43:10)
3. When, however, the Scripture terms them [gods] which are no gods, it does not, as I have already remarked, declare them as gods in every sense, but with a certain addition and signification, by which they are shown to be no gods at all. As with David: “The gods of the heathen are idols of demons;” (Psa_96:5) and, “Ye shall not follow other gods” (Psa_81:9) For in that he says “the gods of the heathen” — but the heathen are ignorant of the true God — and calls them “other gods,” he bars their claim [to be looked upon] as gods at all. But as to what they are in their own person, he speaks concerning them; “for they are,” he says, “the idols of demons.” And Esaias: “Let them be confounded, all who blaspheme God, and carve useless things;13 even I am witness, saith God.” (Isa_44:9) He removes them from [the category of] gods, but he makes use of the word alone, for this [purpose], that we may know of whom he speaks. Jeremiah also says the same: “The gods that have not made the heavens and earth, let them perish from the earth which is under the heaven.” (Jer_10:11) For, from the fact of his having subjoined their destruction, he shows them to be no gods at all. Elias, too, when all Israel was assembled at Mount Carmel, wishing to turn them from idolatry, says to them, “How long halt ye between two opinions?14 If the Lord be God,15 follow Him.” (1Ki_18:21, etc.) And again, at the burnt-offering, he thus addresses the idolatrous priests: “Ye shall call upon the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord my God; and the Lord that will hearken by fire,16 He is God.” Now, from the fact of the prophet having said these words, he proves that these gods which were reputed so among those men, are no gods at all. He directed them to that God upon whom he believed, and who was truly God; whom invoking, he exclaimed, “Lord God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, hear me to-day, and let all this people know that Thou art the God of Israel.” (1Ki_18:36)
4. Wherefore I do also call upon thee, Lord God of Abraham, and God of Isaac, and God of Jacob and Israel, who art the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of Thy mercy, hast had a favour towards us, that we should know Thee, who hast made heaven and earth, who rulest over all, who art the only and the true God, above whom there is none other God; grant, by our Lord Jesus Christ, the governing power of the Holy Spirit; give to every reader of this book to know Thee, that Thou art God alone, to be strengthened in Thee, and to avoid every heretical, and godless, and impious doctrine. 420
5. And the Apostle Paul also, saying, “For though ye have served them which are no gods; ye now know God, or rather, are known of God,” (Gal_4:8, Gal_4:9) has made a separation between those that were not [gods] and Him who is God. And again, speaking of Antichrist, he says, “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped.” (2Th_2:4) He points out here those who are called gods, by such as know not God, that is, idols. For the Father of all is called God, and is so; and Antichrist shall be lifted up, not above Him, but above those which are indeed called gods, but are not. And Paul himself says that this is true: “We know that an idol is nothing, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth; yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we through Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him.” (1Co_8:4, etc.) For he has made a distinction, and separated those which are indeed called gods, but which are none, from the one God the Father, from whom are all things, and, he has confessed in the most decided manner in his own person, one Lord Jesus Christ. But in this [clause], “whether in heaven or in earth,” he does not speak of the formers of the world, as these [teachers] expound it; but his meaning is similar to that of Moses, when it is said, “Thou shalt not make to thyself any image for God, of whatsoever things are in heaven above, whatsoever in the earth beneath, and whatsoever in the waters under the earth.” (Deu_5:8) And he does thus explain what are meant by the things in heaven: “Lest when,” he says, “looking towards heaven, and observing the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and all the ornament of heaven, falling into error, thou shouldest adore and serve them.” (Deu_4:19) And Moses himself, being a man of God, was indeed given as a god before Pharaoh; (Exo_7:1) but he is not properly termed Lord, nor is called God by the prophets, but is spoken of by the Spirit as “Moses, the faithful minister and servant of God,” (Heb_3:5; Num_12:7) which also he was.
Chap. VII. — Reply to an Objection Founded on the Words of St. Paul (2Co_4:5). St. Paul Occasionally Uses Words Not in Their Grammatical Sequence.
1. As to their affirming that Paul said plainly in the Second [Epistle] to the Corinthians, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not,” (2Co_4:4) and maintaining that there is indeed one god of this world, but another who is beyond all principality, and beginning, and power, we are not to blame if they, who give out that they do themselves know mysteries beyond God, know not how to read Paul. For if any one read the passage thus — according to Paul’s custom, as I show elsewhere, and by many examples, that he uses transposition of words — “In whom God,” then pointing it off, and making a slight interval, and at the same time read also the rest [of the sentence] in one [clause], “hath blinded the minds of them of this world that believe not,” he shall find out the true [sense]; that it is contained in the expression, “God hath blinded the minds of the unbelievers of this world.” And this is shown by means of the little interval [between the clause]. For Paul does not say, “the God of this world,” as if recognising any other beyond Him; but he confessed God as indeed God. And he says, “the unbelievers of this world,” because they shall not inherit the future age of incorruption. I shall show from Paul himself, how it is that God has blinded the minds of them that believe not, in the course of this work, that we may not just at present distract our mind from the matter in hand, [by wandering] at large.
2. From many other instances also, we may discover that the apostle frequently uses a transposed order in his sentences, due to the rapidity of his discourses, and the impetus of the Spirit which is in him. An example occurs in the [Epistle] to the Galatians, where he expresses himself as follows: “Wherefore then the law of works?17 It was added, until the seed should come to whom the promise was made; [and it was] ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator.” (Gal_3:19) For the order of the words runs thus: “Wherefore then the law of works? Ordained by angels in the hand of a Mediator, it was added until the seed should come to whom the promise was made,” — man thus asking the question, and the Spirit making answer. And again, in the Second to the Thessalonians, speaking of Antichrist, he says, “And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus Christ18 shall slay with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy him18 with the presence of his coming; [even him] whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders.” (2Th_2:8) Now in these [sentences] the order of the words is this: “And then shall be revealed that wicked, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, whom 421 the Lord Jesus shall slay with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the presence of His coming.” For he does not mean that the coming of the Lord is after the working of Satan; but the coming of the wicked one, whom we also call Antichrist. If, then, one does not attend to the [proper] reading [of the passage], and if he do not exhibit the intervals of breathing as they occur, there shall be not only incongruities, but also, when reading, he will utter blasphemy, as if the advent of the Lord could take place according to the working of Satan. So therefore, in such passages, the hyperbaton must be exhibited by the reading, and the apostle’s meaning following on, preserved; and thus we do not read in that passage, “the god of this world,” but, “God,” whom we do truly call God; and we hear [it declared of] the unbelieving and the blinded of this world, that they shall not inherit the world of life which is to come.
Chap. VIII. — Answer to an Objection, Arising from the Words of Christ (Mat_6:24). God Alone Is to Be Really Called God and Lord, for He Is Without Beginning and End.
1. This calumny, then, of these men, having been quashed, it is clearly proved that neither the prophets nor the apostles did ever name another God, or call [him] Lord, except the true and only God. Much more [would this be the case with regard to] the Lord Himself, who did also direct us to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s;” (Mat_22:21) naming indeed Caesar as Caesar, but confessing God as God. In like manner also, that [text] which says, “Ye cannot serve two masters,” (Mat_6:24) He does Himself interpret, saying, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon;” acknowledging God indeed as God, but mentioning mammon, a thing having also an existence. He does not call mammon Lord when He says, “Ye cannot serve two masters;” but He teaches His disciples who serve God, not to be subject to mammon, nor to be ruled by it. For He says, “He that committeth sin is the slave of sin.” (Joh_8:34) Inasmuch, then, as He terms those “the slaves of sin” who serve sin, but does not certainly call sin itself God, thus also He terms those who serve mammon “the slaves of mammon,” not calling mammon God. For mammon is, according to the Jewish language, which the Samaritans do also use, a covetous man, and one who wishes to have more than he ought to have. But according to the Hebrew, it is by the addition of a syllable (adjunctive) called Mamuel,19 and signifies gulosum, that is, one whose gullet is insatiable. Therefore, according to both these things which are indicated, we cannot serve God and mammon.
2. But also, when He spoke of the devil as strong, not absolutely so, but as in comparison with us, the Lord showed Himself under every aspect and truly to be the strong man, saying that one can in no other way “spoil the goods of a strong man, if he do not first bind the strong man himself, and then he will spoil his house.” (Mat_12:29) Now we were the vessels and the house of this [strong man] when we were in a state of apostasy; for he put us to whatever use he pleased, and the unclean spirit dwelt within us. For he was not strong, as opposed to Him who bound him, and spoiled his house; but as against those persons who were his tools, inasmuch as he caused their thought to wander away from God: these did the Lord snatch from his grasp. As also Jeremiah declares, “The Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and has snatched him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.” (Jer_31:11) If, then, he had not pointed out Him who binds and spoils his goods, but had merely spoken of him as being strong, the strong man should have been unconquered. But he also subjoined Him who obtains and retains possession; for he holds who binds, but he is held who is bound. And this he did without any comparison, so that, apostate slave as he was, he might not be compared to the Lord: for not he alone, but not one of created and subject things, shall ever be compared to the Word of God, by whom all things were made, who is our Lord Jesus Christ.
3. For that all things, whether Angels, or Archangels, or Thrones, or Dominions, were both established and created by Him who is God over all, through His Word, John has thus pointed out. For when he had spoken of the Word of God as having been in the Father, he added, “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.” (Joh_1:3) David also, when he had enumerated [His] praises, subjoins by name all things whatsoever I have mentioned, both the heavens and all the powers therein: “For He commanded, and they were created; He spake, and they were made.” Whom, therefore, did He command? The Word, no doubt, “by whom,” he says, “the heavens were established, and all their power by the breath of His mouth.” (Psa_33:6) But that He did 422 Himself make all things freely, and as He pleased, again David says, “But our God is in the heavens above, and in the earth; He hath made all things whatsoever He pleased.” (Psa_115:3) But the things established are distinct from Him who has established them, and what have been made from Him who has made them. For He is Himself uncreated, both without beginning and end, and lacking nothing. He is Himself sufficient for Himself; and still further, He grants to all others this very thing, existence; but the things which have been made by Him have received a beginning. But whatever things had a beginning, and are liable to dissolution, and are subject to and stand in need of Him who made them, must necessarily in all respects have a different term [applied to them], even by those who have but a moderate capacity for discerning such things; so that He indeed who made all things can alone, together with His Word, properly be termed God and Lord: but the things which have been made cannot have this term applied to them, neither should they justly assume that appellation which belongs to the Creator.
Chap. IX. — One and the Same God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, Is He Whom the Prophets Foretold, and Who Was Declared by the Gospel. Proof of This, at the Outset, from St. Matthew’s Gospel.
1. This, therefore, having been clearly demonstrated here (and it shall yet be so still more clearly), that neither the prophets, nor the apostles, nor the Lord Christ in His own person, did acknowledge any other Lord or God, but the God and Lord supreme: the prophets and the apostles confessing the Father and the Son; but naming no other as God, and confessing no other as Lord: and the Lord Himself handing down to His disciples, that He, the Father, is the only God and Lord, who alone is God and ruler of all; — it is incumbent on us to follow, if we are their disciples indeed, their testimonies to this effect. For Matthew the apostle — knowing, as one and the same God, Him who had given promise to Abraham, that He would make his seed as the stars of heaven, (Gen_15:5) and Him who, by His Son Christ Jesus, has called us to the knowledge of Himself, from the worship of stones, so that those who were not a people were made a people, and she beloved who was not beloved (Rom_9:25) — declares that John, when preparing the way for Christ, said to those who were boasting of their relationship [to Abraham] according to the flesh, but who had their mind tinged and stuffed with all manner of evil, preaching that repentance which should call them back from their evil doings, said, “O generation of vipers, who hath shown you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit meet for repentance. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham [to our] father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Mat_3:7) He preached to them, therefore, the repentance from wickedness, but he did not declare to them another God, besides Him who made the promise to Abraham; he, the forerunner of Christ, of whom Matthew again says, and Luke likewise, “For this is he that was spoken of from the Lord by the prophet, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough into smooth ways; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Mat_3:3) There is therefore one and the same God, the Father of our Lord, who also promised, through the prophets, that He would send His forerunner; and His salvation — that is, His Word — He caused to be made visible to all flesh, [the Word] Himself being made incarnate, that in all things their King might become manifest. For it is necessary that those [beings] which are judged do see the judge, and know Him from whom they receive judgment; and it is also proper, that those which follow on to glory should know Him who bestows upon them the gift of glory.
2. Then again Matthew, when speaking of the angel, says, “The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in sleep.” (Mat_1:20) Of what Lord he does himself interpret: “That it may be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Mat_2:15) “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us.” (Mat_1:23) David likewise speaks of Him who, from the virgin, is Emmanuel: “Turn not away the face of Thine anointed. The Lord hath sworn a truth to David, and will not turn from him. Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy seat.” (Psa_132:11) And again: “In Judea is God known; His place has been made in peace, and His dwelling in Zion.” (Psa_76:1) Therefore there is one and the same God, who was proclaimed by the prophets and announced by the Gospel; and His Son, who was of the fruit of David’s body, that is, of the virgin of [the house of] David, and Emmanuel; whose star also Balaam thus prophesied: “There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a 423 leader shall rise in Israel.” (Num_24:17) But Matthew says that the Magi, coming from the east, exclaimed “For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him;” (Mat_2:2) and that, having been led by the star into the house of Jacob to Emmanuel, they showed, by these gifts which they offered, who it was that was worshipped; myrrh, because it was He who should die and be buried for the mortal human met; gold, because He was a King, “of whose kingdom is no end;” (Luk_1:33) and frankincense, because He was God, who also “was made known in Judea,” (Psa_76:1) and was “declared to those who sought Him not.”20
3. And then, [speaking of His] baptism, Matthew says, “The heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God, as a dove, coming upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mat_3:16) For Christ did not at that time descend upon Jesus, neither was Christ one and Jesus another: but the Word of God — who is the Saviour of all, and the ruler of heaven and earth, who is Jesus, as I have already pointed out, who did also take upon Him flesh, and was anointed by the Spirit from the Father — was made Jesus Christ, as Esaias also says, “There shall come forth a rod from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise from his root; and the Spirit of God shall rest upon Him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and piety, and the spirit of the fear of God, shall fill Him. He shall not judge according to glory,21 nor reprove after the manner of speech; but He shall dispense judgment to the humble man, and reprove the haughty ones of the earth.” (Isa_11:1, etc.) And again Esaias, pointing out beforehand His unction, and the reason why he was anointed, does himself say, “The Spirit of God is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me: He hath sent Me to preach the Gospel to the lowly, to heal the broken up in heart, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and sight to the blind; to announce the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance; to comfort all that mourn.” (Isa_61:1) For inasmuch as the Word of God was man from the root of Jesse, and son of Abraham, in this respect did the Spirit of God rest upon Him, and anoint Him to preach the Gospel to the lowly. But inasmuch as He was God, He did not judge according to glory, nor reprove after the manner of speech. For “He needed not that any should testify to Him of man,22 for He Himself knew what was in man.” (Joh_2:25) For He called all men that mourn; and granting forgiveness to those who had been led into captivity by their sins, He loosed them from their chains, of whom Solomon says, “Every one shall be holden with the cords of his own sins.” (Pro_5:22) Therefore did the Spirit of God descend upon Him, [the Spirit] of Him who had promised by the prophets that He would anoint Him, so that we, receiving from the abundance of His unction, might be saved. Such, then, [is the witness] of Matthew.
1 See 1Ti_3:15, where these terms are used in reference to the Church.
2 On this and similar statements in the Fathers, the reader may consult Dr. Roberts’s Discussions on the Gospels, in which they are fully criticised, and the Greek original of St. Matthew’s Gospel maintained.
3 This is Harvey’s rendering of the old Latin, in illo qui contra disputat.
4 The Latin text of this difficult but important clause is, “Ad hanc enim ecclesiam propter potiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam.” Both the text and meaning have here given rise to much discussion. It is impossible to say with certainty of what words in the Greek original “potiorem principalitatem” may be the translation. We are far from sure that the rendering given above is correct, but we have been unable to think of anything better. [A most extraordinary confession. It would be hard to find a worse; but take the following from a candid Roman Catholic, which is better and more literal: “For to this Church, on account of more potent principality, it is necessary that every Church (that is, those who are on every side faithful) resort; in which Church ever, by those who are on every side, has been preserved that tradition which is from the apostles.” (Berington and Kirk, vol. i. p. 252.) Her it is obvious that the faith was kept at Rome, by those who resort there from all quarters. She was a mirror of the Catholic World, owing her orthodoxy to them; not the Sun, dispensing her own light to others, but the glass bringing their rays into a focus. See note at end of book iii.] A discussion of the subject may be seen in chap. xii. of Dr. Wordsworth’s St. Hippolytus and the Church of Rome.
5 Polycarp suffered about the year 167, in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. His great age of eighty-six years implies that he was contemporary with St. John for nearly twenty years.
6 So the Greek. The Latin reads: “which he also handed down to the Church.”
7 ἱκανωτάτη. Harvey translates this all-sufficient, and thus paraphrases: But his Epistle is all-sufficient, to teach those that are desirous to learn.
8 Latin, “modica quaestione.”
9 [The uneducated barbarians must receive the Gospel on testimony. Irenaeus puts apostolic traditions, genuine and uncorrupt, in this relation to the primary authority of the written word. 2Th_2:15, 2Th_3:6.]
10 Literally, “without letters;” equivalent to, “without paper and ink,” a few lines previously.
11 The old Latin translation says the eighth bishop; but there is no discrepancy. Eusebius, who has preserved the Greek of this passage, probably counted the apostles as the first step in the episcopal succession. As Irenaeus tells us in the preceding chapter, Linus is to be counted as the first bishop.
12 It is thought that this does not mean excommunication properly so called, but a species of self-excommunication, i. e., anticipating the sentence of the Church, by quitting it altogether. See Valesius’s note in his edition of Eusebius.
13 These words are an interpolation: it is supposed they have been carelessly repeated from the preceding quotation of Isaiah.
14 Literally, “In both houghs,” in ambabus suffraginibus.
15 The old Latin translation has, “Si unus est Dominus Deus” — If the Lord God is one; which is supposed by the critics to have occurred through carelessness of the translator.
16 The Latin version has, “that answereth to-day” (hodie), — an evident error for igne.
17 This is according to the reading of the old Italic version, for it is not so read in any of our existing manuscripts of the Greek New Testament.
18 This word is not found in the second quotation of this passage immediatley following.
19 A word of which many explanations have been proposed, but none are quite satisfactory. Harvey seems inclined to suspect the reading to be corrupt, through the ignorance and carelessness of the copyist. [Irenaeus undoubtedly relied for Hebrew criticisms on some incompetent retailer of rabbinical refinements.]
20 Isa_65:1. [A beautiful idea for poets and orators, but not to be pressed dogmatically.]
21 This is after the version of the Septuagint, οὐ κατὰ τὴν δόξαν: but the word δόξα may have the meaning opinio as well as gloria. If this be admitted here, the passage would bear much the same sense as it does in the authorized version, “He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes.”
22 This is according to the Syriac Peschito version.