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Home > Fathers of the Church > Against Heresies (St. Irenaeus) > Book V, Chapter 35

Against Heresies (Book V, Chapter 35)

He contends that these testimonies already alleged cannot be understood allegorically of celestial blessings, but that they shall have their fulfilment after the coming of Antichrist, and the resurrection, in the terrestrial Jerusalem. To the former prophecies he subjoins others drawn from Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the Apocalypse of John.

1. If, however, any shall endeavour to allegorize [prophecies] of this kind, they shall not be found consistent with themselves in all points, and shall be confuted by the teaching of the very expressions [in question]. For example: When the cities of the Gentiles shall be desolate, so that they be not inhabited, and the houses so that there shall be no men in them and the land shall be left desolate. Isaiah 6:11 For, behold, says Isaiah, the day of the Lord comes past remedy, full of fury and wrath, to lay waste the city of the earth, and to root sinners out of it. Isaiah 13:9 And again he says, Let him be taken away, that he behold not the glory of God. Isaiah 26:10 And when these things are done, he says, God will remove men far away, and those that are left shall multiply in the earth. Isaiah 6:12 And they shall build houses, and shall inhabit them themselves: and plant vineyards, and eat of them themselves. Isaiah 65:21 For all these and other words were unquestionably spoken in reference to the resurrection of the just, which takes place after the coming of Antichrist, and the destruction of all nations under his rule; in [the times of] which [resurrection] the righteous shall reign in the earth, waxing stronger by the sight of the Lord: and through Him they shall become accustomed to partake in the glory of God the Father, and shall enjoy in the kingdom intercourse and communion with the holy angels, and union with spiritual beings; and [with respect to] those whom the Lord shall find in the flesh, awaiting Him from heaven, and who have suffered tribulation, as well as escaped the hands of the Wicked one. For it is in reference to them that the prophet says: And those that are left shall multiply upon the earth, And Jeremiah the prophet has pointed out, that as many believers as God has prepared for this purpose, to multiply those left upon earth, should both be under the rule of the saints to minister to this Jerusalem, and that [His] kingdom shall be in it, saying, Look around Jerusalem towards the east, and behold the joy which comes to you from God Himself. Behold, your sons shall come whom you have sent forth: they shall come in a band from the east even unto the west, by the word of that Holy One, rejoicing in that splendour which is from your God. O Jerusalem, put off your robe of mourning and of affliction, and put on that beauty of eternal splendour from your God. Gird yourself with the double garment of that righteousness proceeding from your God; place the mitre of eternal glory upon your head. For God will show your glory to the whole earth under heaven. For your name shall for ever be called by God Himself, the peace of righteousness and glory to him that worships God. Arise, Jerusalem, stand on high, and look towards the east, and behold your sons from the rising of the sun, even to the west, by the Word of that Holy One, rejoicing in the very remembrance of God. For the footmen have gone forth from you, while they were drawn away by the enemy. God shall bring them in to you, being borne with glory as the throne of a kingdom. For God has decreed that every high mountain shall be brought low, and the eternal hills, and that the valleys be filled, so that the surface of the earth be rendered smooth, that Israel, the glory of God, may walk in safety. The woods, too, shall make shady places, and every sweet-smelling tree shall be for Israel itself by the command of God. For God shall go before with joy in the light of His splendour, with the pity and righteousness which proceeds from Him.

2. Now all these things being such as they are, cannot be understood in reference to super-celestial matters; for God, it is said, will show to the whole earth that is under heaven your glory. But in the times of the kingdom, the earth has been called again by Christ [to its pristine condition], and Jerusalem rebuilt after the pattern of the Jerusalem above, of which the prophet Isaiah says, Behold, I have depicted your walls upon my hands, and you are always in my sight. Isaiah 49:16 And the apostle, too, writing to the Galatians, says in like manner, But the Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. Galatians 4:26 He does not say this with any thought of an erratic Æon, or of any other power which departed from the Pleroma, or of Prunicus, but of the Jerusalem which has been delineated on [God's] hands. And in the Apocalypse John saw this new [Jerusalem] descending upon the new earth. Revelation 21:2 For after the times of the kingdom, he says, I saw a great white throne, and Him who sat upon it, from whose face the earth fled away, and the heavens; and there was no more place for them. Revelation 20:11 And he sets forth, too, the things connected with the general resurrection and the judgment, mentioning the dead, great and small. The sea, he says, gave up the dead which it had in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead that they contained; and the books were opened. Moreover, he says, the book of life was opened, and the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the books, according to their works; and death and hell were sent into the lake of fire, the second death. Revelation 20:12-14 Now this is what is called Gehenna, which the Lord styled eternal fire. Matthew 25:41 And if any one, it is said, was not found written in the book of life, he was sent into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15 And after this, he says, I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth have passed away; also there was no more sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven, as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard, it is said, a great voice from the throne, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them; and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them as their God. And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, because the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:1-4 Isaiah also declares the very same: For there shall be a new heaven and a new earth; and there shall be no remembrance of the former, neither shall the heart think about them, but they shall find in it joy and exultation. Isaiah 65:17-18 Now this is what has been said by the apostle: For the fashion of this world passes away. 1 Corinthians 7:31 To the same purpose did the Lord also declare, Heaven and earth shall pass away. Matthew 26:35 When these things, therefore, pass away above the earth, John, the Lord's disciple, says that the new Jerusalem above shall [then] descend, as a bride adorned for her husband; and that this is the tabernacle of God, in which God will dwell with men. Of this Jerusalem the former one is an image— that Jerusalem of the former earth in which the righteous are disciplined beforehand for incorruption and prepared for salvation. And of this tabernacle Moses received the pattern in the mount; Exodus 25:40 and nothing is capable of being allegorized, but all things are steadfast, and true, and substantial, having been made by God for righteous men's enjoyment. For as it is God truly who raises up man, so also does man truly rise from the dead, and not allegorically, as I have shown repeatedly. And as he rises actually, so also shall he be actually disciplined beforehand for incorruption, and shall go forwards and flourish in the times of the kingdom, in order that he may be capable of receiving the glory of the Father. Then, when all things are made new, he shall truly dwell in the city of God. For it is said, He that sits on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And the Lord says, Write all this; for these words are faithful and true. And He said to me, They are done. Revelation 21:5-6 And this is the truth of the matter.

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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/0103535.htm>.

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