1. By transmitting to thee, my very dear friend, this fourth book of the work which is [entitled] The Detection and Refutation of False Knowledge, I shall, as I have promised, add weight, by means of the words of the Lord, to what I have already advanced; so that thou also, as thou hast requested, mayest obtain from me the means of confuting all the heretics everywhere, and not permit them, beaten back at all points, to launch out further into the deep of error, nor to be drowned in the sea of ignorance; but that thou, turning them into the haven of the truth, mayest cause them to attain their salvation.
2. The man, however, who would undertake their conversion, must possess an accurate knowledge of their systems or schemes of doctrine. For it is impossible for any one to heal the sick, if he has no knowledge of the disease of the patients. This was the reason that my predecessors — much superior men to myself, too — were unable, notwithstanding, to refute the Valentinians satisfactorily, because they were ignorant of these men’s system;1 which I have with all care delivered to thee in the first book in which I have also shown that their doctrine is a recapitulation of all the heretics. For which reason also, in the second, we have had, as in a mirror, a sight of their entire discomfiture. For they who oppose these men (the Valentinians) by the right method, do [thereby] oppose all who are of an evil mind; and they who overthrow them, do in fact overthrow every kind of heresy.
3. For their system is blasphemous above all [others], since they represent that the Maker and Framer, who is one God, as I have shown, was produced from a defect or apostasy. They utter blasphemy, also, against our Lord, by cutting off and dividing Jesus from Christ, and Christ from the Saviour, and again the Saviour from the Word, and the Word from the Only-begotten. And since they allege that the Creator originated from a defect or apostasy, so have they also taught that Christ and the Holy Spirit were emitted on account of this defect, and that the Saviour was a product of those Aeons who were produced from a defect; so that there is nothing but blasphemy to be found among them. In the preceding book, then, the ideas of the apostles as to all these points have been set forth, [to the effect] that not only did they, “who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word” (Luk_1:2) of truth, hold no such opinions, but that they did also preach to us to shun these doctrines, (2Ti_2:23) foreseeing by the Spirit those weak-minded persons who should be led astray.2
4. For as the serpent beguiled Eve, by promising her what he had not himself, ([2Pe_2:19]) so also do these men, by pretending [to possess] superior knowledge, and [to be acquainted with] ineffable mysteries; and, by promising that admittance which they speak of as taking place within the Pleroma, plunge those that believe them into death, rendering them apostates from Him who made them. And at that time, indeed, the apostate angel, having effected the disobedience of mankind by means of the serpent, imagined that he escaped the notice of the Lord; wherefore God assigned him the form3 and name [of a serpent]. But now, since the last times are [come upon us], evil is spread abroad among men, which not only renders them apostates, but by many machinations does [the devil] raise up blasphemers against the 463 Creator, namely, by means of all the heretics already mentioned. For all these, although they issue forth from diverse regions, and promulgate different [opinions], do nevertheless concur in the same blasphemous design, wounding [men] unto death, by teaching blasphemy against God our Maker and Supporter, and derogating from the salvation of man. Now man is a mixed organization of soul and flesh, who was formed after the likeness of God, and moulded by His hands, that is, by the Son and Holy Spirit, to whom also He said, “Let Us make man.” (Gen_1:26) This, then, is the aim of him who envies our life, to render men disbelievers in their own salvation, and blasphemous against God the Creator. For whatsoever all the heretics may have advanced with the utmost solemnity, they come to this at last, that they blaspheme the Creator, and disallow the salvation of God’s workmanship, which the flesh truly is; on behalf of which I have proved, in a variety of ways, that the Son of God accomplished the whole dispensation [of mercy], and have shown that there is none other called God by the Scriptures except the Father of all, and the Son, and those who possess the adoption.
Chap. I. — The Lord Acknowledged but One God and Father.
1. Since, therefore, this is sure and stedfast, that no other God or Lord was announced by the Spirit, except Him who, as God, rules over all, together with His Word, and those who receive the Spirit of adoption,4 that is, those who believe in the one and true God, and in Jesus Christ the Son of God; and likewise that the apostles did of themselves term no one else as God, or name [no other] as Lord; and, what is much more important, [since it is true] that our Lord [acted likewise], who did also command us to confess no one as Father, except Him who is in the heavens, who is the one God and the one Father; — those things are clearly shown to be false which these deceivers and most perverse sophists advance, maintaining that the being whom they have themselves invented is by nature both God and Father; but that the Demiurge is naturally neither God nor Father, but is so termed merely by courtesy (verbo tenus), because of his ruling the creation, these perverse mythologists state, setting their thoughts against God; and, putting aside the doctrine of Christ, and of themselves divining falsehoods, they dispute against the entire dispensation of God. For they maintain that their Aeons, and gods, and fathers, and lords, are also still further termed heavens, together with their Mother, whom they do also call “the Earth,” and “Jerusalem,” while they also style her many other names.
2. Now to whom is it not clear, that if the Lord had known many fathers and gods, He would not have taught His disciples to know [only] one God, ([Joh_17:3]) and to call Him alone Father? But He did the rather distinguish those who by word merely (verbo tenus) are termed gods, from Him who is truly God, that they should not err as to His doctrine, nor understand one [in mistake] for another. And if He did indeed teach us to call one Being Father and God, while He does from time to time Himself confess other fathers and gods in the same sense, then He will appear to enjoin a different course upon His disciples from what He follows Himself. Such conduct, however, does not bespeak the good teacher, but a misleading and invidious one. The apostles, too, according to these men’s showing, are proved to be transgressors of the commandment, since they confess the Creator as God, and Lord, and Father, as I have shown — if He is not alone God and Father. Jesus, therefore, will be to them the author and teacher of such transgression, inasmuch as He commanded that one Being should be called Father, (Mat_23:9) thus imposing upon them the necessity of confessing the Creator as their Father, as has been pointed out.
Chap. II. — Proofs from the Plain Testimony of Moses, and of the Other Prophets, Whose Words Are the Words of Christ, That There Is but One God, the Founder of the World, Whom Our Lord Preached, and Whom He Called His Father.
1. Moses, therefore, making a recapitulation of the whole law, which he had received from the Creator (Demiurge), thus speaks in Deuteronomy: “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.” (Deu_32:1) Again, David saying that his help came from the Lord, asserts: “My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psa_124:8) And Esaias confesses that words were uttered by God, who made heaven and earth, and governs them. He says: “Hear, O heavens; and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken.” (Isa_1:2) And again: “Thus saith the Lord God, who made the heaven, and stretched it out; who established the earth, and the things in it; and who giveth breath to the people upon it, and spirit to them who walk therein.” (Isa_42:5)
2. Again, our Lord Jesus Christ confesses this same Being as His Father, where He says: “I 464 confess to thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” (Mat_11:25; Luk_10:21) What Father will those men have us to understand [by these words], those who are most perverse sophists of Pandora? Whether shall it be Bythus, whom they have fabled of themselves; or their Mother; or the Only-begotten? Or shall it be he whom the Marcionites or the others have invented as god (whom I indeed have amply demonstrated to be no god at all); or shall it be (what is really the case) the Maker of heaven and earth, whom also the prophets proclaimed, — whom Christ, too, confesses as His Father, — whom also the law announces, saying: “Hear, O Israel; The Lord thy God is one God?” (Deu_6:14)
3. But since the writings (literae) of Moses are the words of Christ, He does Himself declare to the Jews, as John has recorded in the Gospel: “If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. But if ye believe not his writings, neither will ye believe My words.” (Joh_5:46-47) He thus indicates in the clearest manner that the writings of Moses are His words. If, then, [this be the case with regard] to Moses, so also, beyond a doubt, the words of the other prophets are His [words], as I have pointed out. And again, the Lord Himself exhibits Abraham as having said to the rich man, with reference to all those who were still alive: “If they do not obey Moses and the prophets, neither, if any one were to rise from the dead and go to them, will they believe him.” (Luk_16:31)
4. Now, He has not merely related to us a story respecting a poor man and a rich one; but He has taught us, in the first place, that no one should lead a luxurious life, nor, living in worldly pleasures and perpetual feastings, should be the slave of his lusts, and forget God. “For there was,” He says, “a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and delighted himself with splendid feasts.” (Luk_6:19)
Of such persons, too, the Spirit has spoken by Esaias: “They drink wine with [the accompaniment of] harps, and tablets, and psalteries, and flutes; but they regard not the works of God, neither do they consider the work of His hands.” (Isa_5:12) Lest, therefore, we should incur the same punishment as these men, the Lord reveals [to us] their end; showing at the same time, that if they obeyed Moses and the prophets, they would believe in Him whom these had preached, the Son of God, who rose from the dead, and bestows life upon us; and He shows that all are from one essence, that is, Abraham, and Moses, and the prophets, and also the Lord Himself, who rose from the dead, in whom many believe who are of the circumcision, who do also hear Moses and the prophets announcing the coming of the Son of God. But those who scoff [at the truth] assert that these men were from another essence, and they do not know the first-begotten from the dead; understanding Christ as a distinct being, who continued as if He were impassible, and Jesus, who suffered, as being altogether separate [from Him].
5. For they do not receive from the Father the knowledge of the Son; neither do they learn who the Father is from the Son, who teaches clearly and without parables Him who truly is God. He says: “Swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.” (Mat_5:34) For these words are evidently spoken with reference to the Creator, as also Esaias says: “Heaven is my throne, the earth is my footstool.” (Isa_66:1) And besides this Being there is no other God; otherwise He would not be termed by the Lord either” God” or” the great King;” for a Being who can be so described admits neither of any other being compared with nor set above Him. For he who has any superior over him, and is under the power of another, this being never can be called either “God” or “the great King.”
6. But neither will these men be able to maintain that such words were uttered in an ironical manner, since it is proved to them by the words themselves that they were in earnest. For He who uttered them was Truth, and did truly vindicate His own house, by driving out of it the changers of money, who were buying and selling, saying unto them: “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Mat_21:13) And what reason had He for thus doing and saying, and vindicating His house, if He did preach another God? But [He did so], that He might point out the transgressors of His Father’s law; for neither did He bring any accusation against the house, nor did He blame the law, which He had come to fulfil; but He reproved those who were putting His house to an improper use, and those who were transgressing the law. And therefore the scribes and Pharisees, too, who from the times of the law had begun to despise God, did not receive His Word, that is, they did not believe on Christ. Of these Esaias says: “Thy princes are rebellious, companions of thieves, loving gifts, following after rewards, not judging the fatherless, and negligent of the cause of the widows.” (Isa_1:23) And Jeremiah, in like manner: 465 “They,” he says, “who rule my people did not know me; they are senseless and imprudent children; they are wise to do evil, but to do well they have no knowledge.” (Jer_4:22)
7. But as many as feared God, and were anxious about His law, these ran to Christ, and were all saved. For He said to His disciples: “Go ye to the sheep of the house of Israel, (Mat_10:6) which have perished.” And many more Samaritans, it is said, when the Lord had tarried among. them, two days, “believed because of His words, and said to the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we ourselves have heard [Him], and know that this man is truly the Saviour of the world.” (Joh_4:41) And Paul likewise declares, “And so all Israel shall be saved;” (Rom_11:26) but he has also said, that the law was our pedagogue [to bring us] to Christ Jesus. (Gal_3:24) Let them not therefore ascribe to the law the unbelief of certain [among them]. For the law never hindered them from believing in the Son of God; nay, but it even exhorted them (Num_21:8) so to do, saying5 that men can be saved in no other way from the old wound of the serpent than by believing in Him who, in the likeness of sinful flesh, is lifted up from the earth upon the tree of martyrdom, and draws all things to Himself, (Joh_12:32, Joh_3:14) and vivifies the dead.
Chap. III. — Answer to the Cavils of the Gnostics. We Are Not to Suppose That the True God Can Be Changed, or Come to an End Because the Heavens, Which Are His Throne and the Earth, His Footstool, Shall Pass Away.
1. Again, as to their malignantly asserting that if heaven is indeed the throne of God, and earth His footstool, and if it is declared that the heaven and earth shall pass away, then when these pass away the God who sitteth above must also pass away, and therefore He cannot be the God who is over all; in the first place, they are ignorant what the expression means, that heaven is [His] throne and earth [His] footstool. For they do not know what God is, but they imagine that He sits after the fashion of a man, and is contained within bounds, but does not contain. And they are also unacquainted with [the meaning of] the passing away of the heaven and earth; but Paul was not ignorant of it when he declared, “For the figure of this world passeth away.” (1Co_7:31) In the next place, David explains their question, for he says that when the fashion of this world passes away, not only shall God remain, but His servants also, expressing himself thus in the 101st Psalm: “In the beginning, Thou; O Lord, hast founded the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands. They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure, and all shall wax old as a garment; and as a vesture Thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail. The children of Thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established for ever;”6) pointing out plainly what things they are that pass away, and who it is that doth endure for ever God, together with His servants. And in like manner Esaias says: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath; for the heaven has been set together as smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they who dwell therein shall die in like manner. But my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not pass away.” (Isa_51:6)
Chap. IV. — Answer to Another Objection, Showing That the Destruction of Jerusalem, Which Was the City of the Great King, Diminished Nothing from the Supreme Majesty and Power of God, for That This Destruction Was Put in Execution by the Most Wise Counsel of the Same God.
1. Further, also, concerning Jerusalem and the Lord, they venture to assert that, if it had been “the city of the great King,” (Mat_5:35) it would not have been deserted.7 This is just as if any one should say, that if straw were a creation of God, it would never part company with the wheat; and that the vine twigs, if made by God, never would be lopped away and deprived of the clusters. But as these [vine twigs] have not been originally made for their own sake, but for that of the fruit growing upon them, which being come to maturity and taken away, they are left behind, and those which do not conduce to fructification are lopped off altogether; so also [was it with] Jerusalem, which had in herself borne the yoke of bondage (under which man was reduced, who in former times was not subject to God when death was reigning, and being subdued, became a fit subject for liberty), when the fruit of liberty had come, and reached maturity, and been reaped and stored in the barn, and when those which had the power to produce fruit had been carried away from her [i.e., from Jerusalem], and scattered throughout all the world. Even as Esaias saith, “The children of 466 Jacob shall strike root, and Israel shall flourish, and the whole world shall be filled with his fruit.” (Isa_27:6) The fruit, therefore, having been sown throughout all the world, she (Jerusalem) was deservedly forsaken, and those things which had formerly brought forth fruit abundantly were taken away; for from these, according to the flesh, were Christ and the apostles enabled to bring forth fruit. But now these are no longer useful for bringing forth fruit. For all things which have a beginning in time must of course have an end in time also.
2. Since, then, the law originated with Moses, it terminated with John as a necessary consequence. Christ had come to fulfil it: wherefore “the law and the prophets were” with them “until John.” (Luk_16:16) And therefore Jerusalem, taking its commencement from David,8 and fulfilling its own times, must have an end of legislation9 when the new covenant was revealed. For God does all things by measure and in order; nothing is unmeasured with Him, because nothing is out of order. Well spake he, who said that the unmeasurable Father was Himself subjected to measure in the Son; for the Son is the measure of the Father, since He also comprehends Him. But that the administration of them (the Jews) was temporary, Esaias says: “And the daughter of Zion shall be left as a cottage in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers.” (Isa_1:8) And when shall these things be left behind? Is it not when the fruit shall be taken away, and the leaves alone shall be left, which now have no power of producing fruit?
3. But why do we speak of Jerusalem, since, indeed, the fashion of the whole world must also pass away, when the time of its disappearance has come, in order that the fruit indeed may be gathered into the garner, but the chaff, left behind, may be consumed by fire? “For the day of the Lord cometh as a burning furnace, and all sinners shall be stubble, they who do evil things, and the day shall burn them up.” (Mal_4:1) Now, who this Lord is that brings such a day about, John the Baptist points out, when he says of Christ, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire, having His fan in His hand to cleanse His floor; and He will gather His fruit into the garner, but the chaff He will burn up with unquenchable fire.” (Mat_3:11, etc.) For He who makes the chaff and He who makes the wheat are not different persons, but one and the same, who judges them, that is, separates them. But the wheat and the chaff, being inanimate and irrational, have been made such by nature. But man, being endowed with reason, and in this respect like to God, having been made free in his will, and with power over himself, is himself the cause to himself, that sometimes he becomes wheat, and sometimes chaff. Wherefore also he shall be justly condemned, because, having been created a rational being, he lost the true rationality, and living irrationally, opposed the righteousness of God, giving himself over to every earthly spirit, and serving all lusts; as says the prophet, “Man, being in honour, did not understand: he was assimilated to senseless beasts, and made like to them.” (Psa_49:12)
Chap. V. — The Author Returns to His Former Argument, and Shows That There Was but One God Announced by the Law and Prophets, Whom Christ Confesses as His Father, and Who, Through His Word, One Living God with Him, Made Himself Known to Men in Both Covenants.
1. God, therefore, is one and the same, who rolls up the heaven as a book, and renews the face of the earth; who made the things of time. for man, so that coming to maturity in them, he may produce the fruit of immortality; and who, through His kindness, also bestows [upon him] eternal things, “that in the ages to come He may show the exceeding riches of His grace;” (Eph_2:7) who was announced by the law and the prophets, whom Christ confessed as His Father. Now He is the Creator, and He it is who is God over all, as Esaias says, “I am witness, saith the Lord God, and my servant whom I have chosen, that ye may know, and believe, and understand that I Am. Before me there was no other God, neither shall be after me. I am God, and besides me there is no Saviour. I have proclaimed, and I have saved.” (Isa_42:10, etc.) And again: “I myself am the first God, and I am above things to come.” (Isa_12:4) For neither in an ambiguous, nor arrogant, nor boastful manner, does He say these things; but since it was impossible, without God, to come to a knowledge of God, He teaches men, through His Word, to know God. To those, therefore, who are ignorant of these matters, and on this account imagine that they have discovered another Father, justly does one say, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Mat_22:29)
2. For our Lord and Master, in the answer which He gave to the Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection, and who do therefore 467 dishonour God, and lower the credit of the law, did both indicate a resurrection, and reveal God, saying to them, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” “For, touching the resurrection of the dead,” He says, “have ye not read that which was spoken by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? (Mat_22:29, etc.; Exo_3:6) And He added, “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him.” By these arguments He unquestionably made it clear, that He who spake to Moses out of the bush, and declared Himself to be the God of the fathers, He is the God of the living. For who is the God of the living unless He who is God, and above whom there is no other God? Whom also Daniel the prophet, when Cyrus king of the Persians said to him, “Why dost thou not worship Bel?”10 did proclaim, saying, “Because I do not worship idols made with hands, but the living God, who established the heaven and the earth and has dominion over all flesh.” Again did he say, “I will adore the Lord my God, because He is the living God.” He, then, who was adored by the prophets as the living God, He is the God of the living; and His Word is He who also spake to Moses, who also put the Sadducees to silence, who also bestowed the gift of resurrection, thus revealing [both] truths to those who are blind, that is, the resurrection and God [in His true character]. For if He be not the God of the dead, but of the living, yet was called the God of the fathers who were sleeping, they do indubitably live to God, and have not passed out of existence, since they are children of the resurrection. But our Lord is Himself the resurrection, as He does Himself declare, “I am the resurrection and the life.” (Joh_11:25) But the fathers are His children; for it is said by the prophet: “Instead of thy fathers, thy children have been made to thee.” (Psa_45:17) Christ Himself, therefore, together with the Father, is the God of the living, who spake to Moses, and who was also manifested to the fathers.
3. And teaching this very thing, He said to the Jews: “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he should see my day; and he saw it, and was glad” (Joh_8:56) What is intended? “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.” (Rom_4:3) In the first place, [he believed] that He was the maker of heaven and earth, the only God; and in the next place, that He would make his seed as the stars of heaven. This is what is meant by Paul, [when he says,] “as lights in the world.” (Phi_2:15) Righteously, therefore, having left his earthly kindred, he followed the Word of God, walking as a pilgrim with the Word, that he might [afterwards] have his abode with the Word.
4. Righteously also the apostles, being of the race of Abraham, left the ship and their father, and followed the Word. Righteously also do we, possessing the same faith as Abraham, and taking up the cross as Isaac did the wood, (Gen_22:6) follow Him. For in Abraham man had learned beforehand, and had been accustomed to follow the Word of God. For Abraham, according to his faith, followed the command of the Word of God, and with a ready mind delivered up, as a sacrifice to God, his only-begotten and beloved son, in order that God also might be pleased to offer up for all his seed His own beloved and only-begotten Son, as a sacrifice for our redemption.
5. Since, therefore, Abraham was a prophet and saw in the Spirit the day of the Lord’s coming, and the dispensation of His suffering, through whom both he himself and all who, following the example of his faith, trust in God, should be saved, he rejoiced exceedingly. The Lord, therefore, was not unknown to Abraham, whose day he desired to see; (Joh_8:56) nor, again, was the Lord’s Father, for he had learned from the Word of the Lord, and believed Him; wherefore it was accounted to him by the Lord for righteousness. For faith towards God justifies a man; and therefore he said, “I will stretch forth my hand to the most high God, who made the heaven and the earth.” (Gen_14:22) All these truths, however, do those holding perverse opinions endeavour to overthrow, because of one passage, which they certainly do not understand correctly.
Chap. VI. — Explanation of the Words of Christ, “No Man Knoweth the Father, but the Son,” Etc.; Which Words the Heretics Misinterpret. Proof That, by the Father Revealing the Son, and by the Son Being Revealed, the Father Was Never Unknown.
1. For the Lord, revealing Himself to His disciples, that He Himself is the Word, who imparts knowledge of the Father, and reproving the Jews, who imagined that they, had [the knowledge of] God, while they nevertheless rejected His Word, through whom God is made known, declared, “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son has willed to reveal [Him].” (Mat_11:27; Luk_10:22) Thus hath Matthew set it 468 down, and Luke in like manner, and Mark11 the very same; for John omits this passage. They, however, who would be wiser than the apostles, write [the verse] in the following manner: “No man knew the Father, but the Son; nor the Son, but the Father, and he to whom the Son has willed to reveal [Him];” and they explain it as if the true God were known to none prior to our Lord’s advent; and that God who was announced by the prophets, they allege not to be the Father of Christ.
2. But if Christ did then [only] begin to have existence when He came [into the world] as man, and [if] the Father did remember [only] in the times of Tiberius Caesar to provide for [the wants of] men, and His Word was shown to have not always coexisted with His creatures; [it may be remarked that] neither then was it necessary that another God should be proclaimed, but [rather] that the reasons for so great carelessness and neglect on His part should be made the subject of investigation. For it is fitting that no such question should arise, and gather such strength, that it would indeed both change God, and destroy our faith in that Creator who supports us by means of His creation. For as we do direct our faith towards the Son, so also should we possess a firm and immoveable love towards the Father. In his book against Marcion, Justin12 does well say: “I would not have believed the Lord Himself, if He had announced any other than He who is our framer, maker, and nourisher. But because the only-begotten Son came to us from the one God, who both made this world and formed us, and contains and administers all things, summing up His own handiwork in Himself, my faith towards Him is steadfast, and my love to the Father immoveable, God bestowing both upon us.”
3. For no one can know the Father, unless through the Word of God, that is, unless by the Son revealing [Him]; neither can he have knowledge of the Son, unless through the good pleasure of the Father. But the Son performs the good pleasure of the Father; for the Father sends, and the Son is sent, and comes. And His Word knows that His Father is, as far as regards us, invisible and infinite; and since He cannot be declared [by any one else], He does Himself declare Him to us; and, on the other hand, it is the Father alone who knows His own Word. And both these truths has our Lord declared. Wherefore the Son reveals the knowledge of the Father through His own manifestation. For the manifestation of the Son is the knowledge of the Father; for all things are manifested through the Word. In order, therefore, that we might know that the Son who came is He who imparts to those believing on Him a knowledge of the Father, He said to His disciples:13 “No man knoweth the Son but the Father, nor the Father but the Son, and those to whomsoever the Son shall reveal Him;” thus setting Himself forth and the Father as He [really] is, that we may not receive any other Father, except Him who is revealed by the Son.
4. But this [Father] is the Maker of heaven and earth, as is shown from His words; and not he, the false father, who has been invented by Marcion, or by Valentinus, or by Basilides, or by Carpocrates, or by Simon, or by the rest of the “Gnostics,” falsely so called. For none of these was the Son of God; but Christ Jesus our Lord [was], against whom they set their teaching in opposition, and have the daring to preach an unknown God. But they ought to hear [this] against themselves: How is it that He is unknown, who is known by them? for, whatever is known even by a few, is not unknown. But the Lord did not say that both the Father and the Son could not be known at all (in totum), for in that case His advent would have been superfluous. For why did He come hither? Was it that He should say to us, “Never mind seeking after God; for He is unknown, and ye shall not find Him;” as also the disciples of Valentinus falsely declare that Christ said to their Aeons? But this is indeed vain. For the Lord taught us that no man is capable of knowing God, unless he be taught of God; that is, that God cannot be known without God: but that this is the express will of the Father, that God should be known. For they shall know14 Him to whomsoever the Son has revealed Him.
5. And for this purpose did the Father reveal the Son, that through His instrumentality He might be manifested to all, and might receive those righteous ones who believe in Him into incorruption and everlasting enjoyment (now, to believe in Him is to do His will); but He shall righteously shut out into the darkness which they have chosen for themselves, those who do not believe, and who do consequently avoid His light. The Father therefore has revealed Himself to all, by making His Word visible to all; and, conversely, the Word has declared to all the Father and the Son, since He has become visible to all. And therefore the righteous judgment of God [shall fall] upon all who, like 469 others, have seen, but have not, like others, believed.
6. For by means of the creation itself, the Word reveals God the Creator; and by means of the world [does He declare] the Lord the Maker of the world; and by means of the formation [of man] the Artificer who formed him; and by the Son that Father who begat the Son: and these things do indeed address all men in the same manner, but all do not in the same way believe them. But by the law and the prophets did the Word preach both Himself and the Father alike [to all]; and all the people heard Him alike, but all did not alike believe. And through the Word Himself who had been made visible and palpable, was the Father shown forth, although all did not equally believe in Him; but all saw the Father in the Son: for the Father is the invisible of the Son, but the Son the visible of the Father. And for this reason all spake with Christ when He was present [upon earth], and they named Him God. Yea, even the demons exclaimed, on beholding the Son: “We know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.” (Mar_1:24) And the devil looking at Him, and tempting Him, said: “If Thou art the Son of God;” (Mat_4:3; Luk_4:3) — all thus indeed seeing and speaking of the Son and the Father, but all not believing [in them].
7. For it was fitting that the truth should receive testimony from all, and should become [a means of] judgment for the salvation indeed of those who believe, but for the condemnation of those who believe not; that all should be fairly judged, and that the faith in the Father and Son should be approved by all, that is, that it should be established by all [as the one means of salvation], receiving testimony from all, both from those belonging to it, since they are its friends, and by those having no connection with it, though they are its enemies. For that evidence is true, and cannot be gainsaid, which elicits even from its adversaries striking15 testimonies in its behalf; they being convinced with respect to the matter in hand by their own plain contemplation of it, and bearing testimony to it, as well as declaring it.16 But after a while they break forth into enmity, and become accusers [of what they had approved], and are desirous that their own testimony should not be [regarded as] true. He, therefore, who was known, was not a different being from Him who declared “No man knoweth the Father,” but one and the same, the Father making all things subject to Him; while He received testimony from all that He was very man, and that He was very God, from the Father, from the Spirit, from angels, from the creation itself, from men, from apostate spirits and demons, from the enemy, and last of all, from death itself. But the Son, administering all things for the Father, works from the beginning even to the end, and without Him no man can attain the knowledge of God. For the Son is the knowledge of the Father; but the knowledge of the Son is in the Father, and has been revealed through the Son; and this was the reason why the Lord declared: “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; nor the Father, save the Son, and those to whomsoever the Son shall reveal [Him].”17 For “shall reveal” was said not with reference to the future alone, as if then [only] the Word had begun to manifest the Father when He was born of Mary, but it applies indifferently throughout all time. For the Son, being present with His own handiwork from the beginning, reveals the Father to all; to whom He wills, and when He wills, and as the Father wills. Wherefore, then, in all things, and through all things, there is one God, the Father, and one Word, and one Son, and one Spirit, and one salvation to all who believe in Him.
Chap. VII. — Recapitulation of the Foregoing Argument, Showing That Abraham, Through the Revelation of the Word, Knew the Father, and the Coming of the Son of God. For This Cause, He Rejoiced to See the Day of Christ, When the Promises Made to Him Should Be Fulfilled. The Fruit of This Rejoicing Has Flowed to Posterity, Viz., to Those Who Are Partakers in the Faith of Abraham, but Not to the Jews Who Reject the Word of God.
1. Therefore Abraham also, knowing the. Father through the Word, who made heaven and earth, confessed Him to be God; and having learned, by an announcement [made to him], that the Son of God would be a man among men, by whose advent his seed should be as the stars of heaven, he desired to see that day, so that he might himself also embrace Christ; and, seeing it through the spirit of prophecy, he rejoiced. (Gen_17:17) Wherefore Simeon also, one of his descendants, carried fully out the rejoicing of the patriarch, and said: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace. For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast 470 prepared before the face of all people: a light for the revelation of the Gentiles,18 and the glory of the people Israel.” (Luk_2:29, etc.) And the angels, in like manner, announced tidings of great joy to the shepherds who were keeping watch by night. (Luk_2:8) Moreover, Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my salvation;” (Luk_1:46) — the rejoicing of Abraham descending upon those who sprang from him, — those, namely, who were watching, and who beheld Christ, and believed in Him; while, on the other hand, there was a reciprocal rejoicing which passed backwards from the children to Abraham, who did also desire to see the day of Christ’s coming. Rightly, then, did our Lord bear witness to him, saying, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.”
2. For not alone upon Abraham’s account did He say these things, but also that He might point out how all who have known God from the beginning, and have foretold the advent of Christ, have received the revelation from the Son Himself; who also in the last times was made visible and passable, and spake with the human race, that He might from the stones raise up children unto Abraham, and fulfil the promise which God had given him, and that He might make his seed as the stars of heaven, (Gen_15:5) as John the Baptist says: “For God is able from these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Mat_3:9) Now, this Jesus did by drawing us off from the religion of stones, and bringing us over from hard and fruitless cogitations, and establishing in us a faith like to Abraham. As Paul does also testify, saying that we are children of Abraham because of the similarity of our faith, and the promise of inheritance. (Rom_4:12; Gal_4:28)
3. He is therefore one and the same God, who called Abraham and gave him the promise. But He is the Creator, who does also through Christ prepare lights in the world, [namely] those who believe from among the Gentiles. And He says, “Ye are the light of the world;” (Mat_5:14) that is, as the stars of heaven. Him, therefore, I have rightly shown to be known by no man, unless by the Son, and to whomsoever the Son shall reveal Him. But the Son reveals the Father to all to whom He wills that He should be known; and neither without the goodwill of the Father nor without the agency of the Son, can any man know God. Wherefore did the Lord say to His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man cometh unto the Father but by Me. If ye had known Me, ye would have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye have both known Him, and have seen Him.” (Joh_14:6, Joh_14:7) From these words it is evident, that He is known by the Son, that is, by the Word.
4. Therefore have the Jews departed from God, in not receiving His Word, but imagining that they could know the Father [apart] by Himself, without the Word, that is, without the Son; they being ignorant of that God who spake in human shape to Abraham, (Gen_18:1) and again to Moses, saying, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people in Egypt, and I have come down to deliver them.” (Exo_3:7, Exo_3:8) For the Son, who is the Word of God, arranged these things beforehand from the beginning, the Father being in no want of angels, in order that He might call the creation into being, and form man, for whom also the creation was made; nor, again, standing in need of any instrumentality for the framing of created things, or for the ordering of those things which had reference to man; while, [at the same time,] He has a vast and unspeakable number of servants. For His offspring and His similitude19 do minister to Him in every respect; that is, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Word and Wisdom; whom all the angels serve, and to whom they are subject. Vain, therefore, ark those who, because of that declaration, “No man knoweth the Father, but the Son,” (Mat_11:27; Luk_10:22) do introduce another unknown Father.
Chap. VIII. — Vain Attempts of Marcion and His Followers, Who Exclude Abraham from the Salvation Bestowed by Christ, Who Liberated Not Only Abraham, but the Seed of Abraham, by Fulfilling and Not Destroying the Law When He Healed on the Sabbath-Day.
1. Vain, too, is [the effort of] Marcion and his followers when they [seek to] exclude Abraham from the inheritance, to whom the Spirit through many men, and now by Paul, bears witness, that “he believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.” (Rom_4:3) And the Lord [also bears witness to him,] in the first place, indeed, by raising up children to him from the stones, and making his seed as the stars of heaven, saying, “They shall come from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and shall recline with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;” (Mat_8:11) and then again by saying to the Jews, “When ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of heaven, but you 471 yourselves cast out.” (Luk_13:28) This, then, is a clear point, that those who disallow his salvation, and frame the idea of another God besides Him who made the promise to Abraham, are outside the kingdom of God, and are disinherited from [the gift of] incorruption, setting at naught and blaspheming God, who introduces, through Jesus Christ, Abraham to the kingdom of heaven, and his seed, that is, the Church, upon which also is conferred the adoption and the inheritance promised to Abraham.
2. For the Lord vindicated Abraham’s posterity by loosing them from bondage and calling them to salvation, as He did in the case of the woman whom He healed, saying openly to those who had not faith like Abraham, “Ye hypocrites,20 doth not each one of you on the Sabbath-days loose his ox or his ass, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath-days?” (Luk_13:15, Luk_13:16) It is clear therefore, that He loosed and vivified those who believe in Him as Abraham did, doing nothing contrary to the law when He healed upon the Sabbath-day. For the law did not prohibit men from being healed upon the Sabbaths; [on the contrary,] it even circumcised them upon that day, and gave command that the offices should be performed by the priests for the people; yea, it did not disallow the healing even of dumb animals. Both at Siloam and on frequent subsequent21 occasions, did He perform cures upon the Sabbath; and for this reason many used to resort to Him on the Sabbath-days. For the law commanded them to abstain from every servile work, that is, from all grasping after wealth which is procured by trading and by other worldly business; but it exhorted them to attend to the exercises of the soul, which consist in reflection, and to addresses of a beneficial kind for their neighbours’ benefit. And therefore the Lord reproved those who unjustly blamed Him for having healed upon the Sabbath-days. For He did not make void, but fulfilled the law, by performing the offices of the high priest, propitiating God for men, and cleansing the lepers, healing the sick, and Himself suffering death, that exiled man might go forth from condemnation, and might return without fear to his own inheritance.
3. And again, the law did not forbid those who were hungry on the Sabbath-days to take food lying ready at hand: it did, however, forbid them to reap and to gather into the barn. And therefore did the Lord say to those who were blaming His disciples because they plucked and ate the ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands, “Have ye not read this, what David did, when himself was an hungered; how he went into the house of God, and ate the shew-bread, and gave to those who were with him; which it is not lawful to eat, but for the priests alone?” (Luk_6:3, Luk_6:4) justifying His disciples by the words of the law, and pointing out that it was lawful for the priests to act freely. For David had been appointed a priest by God, although Saul persecuted him. For all the righteous possess the sacerdotal rank.22 And all the apostles of the Lord are priests, who do inherit here neither lands nor houses, but serve God and the altar continually. Of whom Moses also says in Deuteronomy, when blessing Levi, “Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not known thee; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, and he disinherited his own sons: he kept Thy commandments, and observed Thy covenant.” (Deu_33:9) But who are they that have left father and mother, and have said adieu to all their neighbours, on account of the word of God and His covenant, unless the disciples of the Lord? Of whom again Moses says, “They shall have no inheritance, for the Lord Himself is their inheritance.” (Num_18:20) And again, “The priests the Levites shall have no part in the whole tribe of Levi, nor substance with Israel; their substance is the offerings (fructifications) of the Lord: these shall they eat.” (Deu_18:1) Wherefore also Paul says, “I do not seek after a gift, but I seek after fruit.” (Phi_4:17) To His disciples He said, who had a priesthood of the Lord,23 to whom it was lawful when hungry to eat the ears of corn,24 “For the workman is worthy of his meat.” (Mat_10:10) And the priests in the temple profaned the Sabbath, and were blameless. Wherefore, then, were they blameless? Because when in the temple they were not engaged in secular affairs, but in the service of the Lord, fulfilling the law, but not going beyond it, as that man did, who of his own accord carried dry wood into the camp of God, and was justly stoned to death. (Num_15:32, etc.) “For every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire;” (Mat_3:10) and “whosoever shall defile the temple of God, him shall God defile.” (1Co_3:17) 472
1 [The reader who marvels at the tedious recitals must note this (1) as proof of the author’s practical wisdom, and (2) as evidence of his fidelity in what he exhibits.]
2 [The solemnity of the apostolic testimonies against the crop of tares that was to spring up receives great illustration from Irenaeus. 1Jo_2:18.]
3 [Rev_12:9. A little essay, Messias and Anti-Messias, by the Rev. C. I. Black, London (Masters, 1847), is commended to those who need light on this very mysterious subject.]
4 See iii. 6, 1.
5 This passage is quoted by Augustine, in his treatise on original sin, written to oppose Pelagius (lib. i. c. ii.), about 400 A.D.
6 Psa_102:25-28. The cause of the difference in the numbering of the Psalms is that the Septuagint embraces in one psalm — the ninth — the two which form the ninth and tenth in the Hebrew text.
7 [Jer_7:4. One of the most powerful arguments in all Scripture is contained in the first twelve verses of this chapter, and it rebukes an inveterate superstition of the human heart. Comp. Rev_2:5, and the message to Rome, Rom_11:21.]
8 2Sa_5:7, where David is described as taking the stronghold of Zion from the Jebusites.
9 The text fluctuates between “legis dationem” and “legis dationis.” We have followed the latter.
10 In the Septuagint and Vulgate versions, this story constitutes the fourteenth chapter of the book of Daniel. It is not extant in Hebrew, and has therefore been removed to the Apocrypha, in the Anglican canon [the Greek and St. Jerome’s] of Scripture, under the title of “Bel and the Dragon.”
11 Not now to be found in Mark’s Gospel.
12 Photius, 125, makes mention of Justin Martyr’s work, λόγοι κατὰ Μαρκίωνος. See also Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, book iv. c. 18, where this passage of Irenaeus is quoted. [The vast importance of Justin’s startling remark is that it hinges on the words of Christ Himself, concerning His antecedents and notes as set forth in the Scriptures, Joh_5:30-39.]
13 [A most emphatic and pregnant text which Irenaeus here expounds with great beauty. The reference (Mat_11:27) seems to have been inadvertently omitted in this place where the repetition is desirable.]
14 The ordinary text reads cognoscunt, i.e., do know; but Harvey thinks it should be the future — cognoscent.
15 Singula, which with Massuet we here understand in the sense of singularia.
16 Some, instead of significantibus, read signantibus, “stamping it as true.”
17 Mat_11:27; Luk_10:22. Harvey observes here, that “it is remarkable that this text, having been correctly quoted a short time previously in accordance with the received Greek text, ᾦ ἐὰν βούλητας ὁ υἱὸς ἀποκαλύψαι, the translator now not only uses the single verb revelaverit, but says pointedly that it was so written by the venerable author. It is probable, therefore, that the previous passage has been made to harmonize with the received text by a later hand; with which, however, the Syriac form agrees.
18 The text has oculorum, probably by mistake for populorum.
19 Massuet here observes, that the fathers called the Holy Spirit the similitude of the Son.
20 Harvey prefers the singular — “hypocrite.”
21 The text here is rather uncertain. Harvey’s conjectural reading of et jam for etiam has been followed.
22 This clause is differently quoted by Antonius Melissa and John Damascenus, thus: Πᾶς βασιλεὺς δίκαιος Ἱερατικὴν ἔχει τάξιν, i.e., Every righteous king possesses a priestly order. Comp. 1Pe_2:5, 1Pe_2:9. [And with St. Peter’s testimony to the priesthood of the laity, compare the same under the law. Exo_19:6. The Western Church has recognised the “Episcopate ab extra” of sovereigns; while, in the East, it has grown into Caesaropapism.]
23 Literally, “the Lord’s Levitical substance” — Domini Leviticam