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Home > Fathers of the Church > Against Heresies (St. Irenaeus) > Book IV, Chapter 40

Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 40)

One and the same God the Father inflicts punishment on the reprobate, and bestows rewards on the elect.

1. It is therefore one and the same God the Father who has prepared good things with Himself for those who desire His fellowship, and who remain in subjection to Him; and who has the eternal fire for the ringleader of the apostasy, the devil, and those who revolted with him, into which [fire] the Lord Matthew 25:41 has declared those men shall be sent who have been set apart by themselves on His left hand. And this is what has been spoken by the prophet, I am a jealous God, making peace, and creating evil things; Isaiah 45:7 thus making peace and friendship with those who repent and turn to Him, and bringing [them to] unity, but preparing for the impenitent, those who shun the light, eternal fire and outer darkness, which are evils indeed to those persons who fall into them.

2. If, however, it were truly one Father who confers rest, and another God who has prepared the fire, their sons would have been equally different [one from the other]; one, indeed, sending [men] into the Father's kingdom, but the other into eternal fire. But inasmuch as one and the same Lord has pointed out that the whole human race shall be divided at the judgment, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats, Matthew 25:32 and that to some He will say, Come, you blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom which has been prepared for you, Matthew 25:34 but to others, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, which My Father has prepared for the devil and his angels, Matthew 25:41 one and the same Father is manifestly declared [in this passage], making peace and creating evil things, preparing fit things for both; as also there is one Judge sending both into a fit place, as the Lord sets forth in the parable of the tares and the wheat, where He says, As therefore the tares are gathered together, and burned in the fire, so shall it be at the end of the world. The Son of man shall send His angels, and they shall gather from His kingdom everything that offends, and those who work iniquity, and shall send them into a furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the just shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Matthew 13:40-43 The Father, therefore, who has prepared the kingdom for the righteous, into which the Son has received those worthy of it, is He who has also prepared the furnace of fire, into which these angels commissioned by the Son of man shall send those persons who deserve it, according to God's command.

3. The Lord, indeed, sowed good seed in His own field; and He says, The field is the world. But while men slept, the enemy came, and sowed tares in the midst of the wheat, and went his way. Matthew 13:28 Hence we learn that this was the apostate angel and the enemy, because he was envious of God's workmanship, and took in hand to render this [workmanship] an enmity with God. For this cause also God has banished from His presence him who did of his own accord stealthily sow the tares, that is, him who brought about the transgression; but He took compassion upon man, who, through want of care no doubt, but still wickedly [on the part of another], became involved in disobedience; and He turned the enmity by which [the devil] had designed to make [man] the enemy of God, against the author of it, by removing His own anger from man, turning it in another direction, and sending it instead upon the serpent. As also the Scripture tells us that God said to the serpent, And I will place enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15 And the Lord summed up in Himself this enmity, when He was made man from a woman, and trod upon his [the serpent's] head, as I have pointed out in the preceding book.

About this page

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/0103440.htm>.

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