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Home > Fathers of the Church > Against Heresies (St. Irenaeus) > Book V, Chapter 34

Against Heresies (Book V, Chapter 34)

He fortifies his opinions with regard to the temporal and earthly kingdom of the saints after their resurrection, by the various testimonies of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel; also by the parable of the servants watching, to whom the Lord promised that He would minister.

1. Then, too, Isaiah himself has plainly declared that there shall be joy of this nature at the resurrection of the just, when he says: The dead shall rise again; those, too, who are in the tombs shall arise, and those who are in the earth shall rejoice. For the dew from You is health to them. Isaiah 26:19 And this again Ezekiel also says: Behold, I will open your tombs, and will bring you forth out of your graves; when I will draw my people from the sepulchres, and I will put breath in you, and you shall live; and I will place you on your own land, and you shall know that I am the Lord. Ezekiel 37:12, etc. And again the same speaks thus: These things says the Lord, I will gather Israel from all nations whither they have been driven, and I shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the sons of the nations: and they shall dwell in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell in it in peace; and they shall build houses, and plant vineyards, and dwell in hope, when I shall cause judgment to fall among all who have dishonoured them, among those who encircle them round about; and they shall know that I am the Lord their God, and the God of their fathers. Ezekiel 28:25-26 Now I have shown a short time ago that the church is the seed of Abraham; and for this reason, that we may know that He who in the New Testament raises up from the stones children unto Abraham, Matthew 3:9 is He who will gather, according to the Old Testament, those that shall be saved from all the nations, Jeremiah says: Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord lives, who led the children of Israel from the north, and from every region whither they had been driven; He will restore them to their own land which He gave to their fathers. Jeremiah 23:6-7

2. That the whole creation shall, according to God's will, obtain a vast increase, that it may bring forth and sustain fruits such [as we have mentioned], Isaiah declares: And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every prominent hill, water running everywhere in that day, when many shall perish, when walls shall fall. And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, seven times that of the day, when He shall heal the anguish of His people, and do away with the pain of His stroke. Isaiah 30:25-26 Now the pain of the stroke means that inflicted at the beginning upon disobedient man in Adam, that is, death; which [stroke] the Lord will heal when He raises us from the dead, and restores the inheritance of the fathers, as Isaiah again says: And you shall be confident in the Lord, and He will cause you to pass over the whole earth, and feed you with the inheritance of Jacob your father. Isaiah 58:14 This is what the Lord declared: Happy are those servants whom the Lord when He comes shall find watching. Verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down [to meat], and will come forth and serve them. And if He shall come in the evening watch, and find them so, blessed are they, because He shall make them sit down, and minister to them; or if this be in the second, or it be in the third, blessed are they. Luke 12:37-38 Again John also says the very same in the Apocalypse: Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Revelation 20:6 Then, too, Isaiah has declared the time when these events shall occur; he says: And I said, Lord, how long? Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses be without men, and the earth be left a desert. And after these things the Lord shall remove us men far away (longe nos faciet Deus homines), and those who shall remain shall multiply upon the earth. Isaiah 6:11 Then Daniel also says this very thing: And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of those under the heaven, is given to the saints of the Most High God, whose kingdom is everlasting, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him. Daniel 7:27 And lest the promise named should be understood as referring to this time, it was declared to the prophet: And come, and stand in your lot at the consummation of the days. Daniel 12:13

3. Now, that the promises were not announced to the prophets and the fathers alone, but to the Churches united to these from the nations, whom also the Spirit terms the islands (both because they are established in the midst of turbulence, suffer the storm of blasphemies, exist as a harbour of safety to those in peril, and are the refuge of those who love the height [of heaven], and strive to avoid Bythus, that is, the depth of error), Jeremiah thus declares: Hear the word of the Lord, you nations, and declare it to the isles afar off; say, that the Lord will scatter Israel, He will gather him, and keep him, as one feeding his flock of sheep. For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and rescued him from the hand of one stronger than he. And they shall come and rejoice in Mount Zion, and shall come to what is good, and into a land of wheat, and wine, and fruits, of animals and of sheep; and their soul shall be as a tree bearing fruit, and they shall hunger no more. At that time also shall the virgins rejoice in the company of the young men: the old men, too, shall be glad, and I will turn their sorrow into joy; and I will make them exult, and will magnify them, and satiate the souls of the priests the sons of Levi; and my people shall be satiated with my goodness. Jeremiah 31:10, etc. Now, in the preceding book I have shown that all the disciples of the Lord are Levites and priests, they who used in the temple to profane the Sabbath, but are blameless. Matthew 12:5 Promises of such a nature, therefore, do indicate in the clearest manner the feasting of that creation in the kingdom of the righteous, which God promises that He will Himself serve.

4. Then again, speaking of Jerusalem, and of Him reigning there, Isaiah declares, Thus says the Lord, Happy is he who has seed in Zion, and servants in Jerusalem. Behold, a righteous king shall reign, and princes shall rule with judgment. Isaiah 31:9Isaiah 32:1 And with regard to the foundation on which it shall be rebuilt, he says: Behold, I will lay in order for you a carbuncle stone, and sapphire for your foundations; and I will lay your ramparts with jasper, and your gates with crystal, and your wall with choice stones: and all your children shall be taught of God, and great shall be the peace of your children; and in righteousness shall you be built up. Isaiah 54:11-14 And yet again does he say the same thing: Behold, I make Jerusalem a rejoicing, and my people [a joy]; for the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. Also there shall not be there any immature [one], nor an old man who does not fulfil his time: for the youth shall be of a hundred years; and the sinner shall die a hundred years old, yet shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them themselves; and shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them themselves, and shall drink wine. And they shall not build, and others inhabit; neither shall they prepare the vineyard, and others eat. For as the days of the tree of life shall be the days of the people in you; for the works of their hands shall endure. Isaiah 65:18

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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/0103534.htm>.

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