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Home > Fathers of the Church > Against Heresies (St. Irenaeus) > Book IV, Chapter 2

Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 2)

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 you heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Deuteronomy 32:1 Again, David saying that his help came from the Lord, asserts: My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. 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 has spoken. Isaiah 1:2 And again: Thus says the Lord God, who made the heaven, and stretched it out; who established the earth, and the things in it; and who gives breath to the people upon it, and spirit to them who walk therein. Isaiah 42:5

2. Again, our Lord Jesus Christ confesses this same Being as His Father, where He says: I confess to you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Matthew 11:25; Luke 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 your God is one God? Deuteronomy 6:4

3. But since the writings (literæ) of Moses are the words of Christ, He does Himself declare to the Jews, as John has recorded in the Gospel: If you had believed Moses, you would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. But if you believe not his writings, neither will you believe My words. John 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. Luke 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. Luke 16:19

5. 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. Isaiah 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].

6. 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. Matthew 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. Isaiah 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.

7. 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 you have made it a den of thieves. Matthew 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 in Christ. Of these Esaias says: Your princes are rebellious, companions of thieves, loving gifts, following after rewards, not judging the fatherless, and negligent of the cause of the widows. Isaiah 1:23 And Jeremiah, in like manner: 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. Jeremiah 4:22

8. 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 to the sheep of the house of Israel, Matthew 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 your saying, for we ourselves have heard [Him], and know that this man is truly the Saviour of the world. John 4:41 And Paul likewise declares, And so all Israel shall be saved; Romans 11:26 but he has also said, that the law was our pedagogue [to bring us] to Christ Jesus. Galatians 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 Numbers 21:8 so to do, saying 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, John 12:32John 3:14 and vivifies the dead.

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Source. Translated by Alexander Roberts and William Rambaut. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103402.htm>.

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