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Home > Fathers of the Church > Against Heresies (St. Irenaeus) > Book IV, Chapter 3

Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 3)

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 sits 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 passes away. 1 Corinthians 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, You, O Lord, have founded the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands. They shall perish, but You shall endure, and all shall wax old as a garment; and as a vesture You shall change them, and they shall be changed: but You are the same, and Your years shall not fail. The children of Your servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established for ever; pointing out plainly what things they are that pass away, and who it is that does 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. Isaiah 51:6

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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/0103403.htm>.

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