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Shabbath and church fathers

Here are cited some excerpts from Church Fathers writings relating to Shabbath. I bolded and changed color of those parts of the text which seem to be most significant.


(Ordinances of the Holy Apostles Through Clement)



XXXVI. Have before thine eyes the fear of God, and always remember the ten commandments of God, — to love the one and only Lord God with all thy strength; to give no heed to idols, or any other beings, as being lifeless gods, or irrational beings or daemons. Consider the manifold workmanship of God, which received its beginning through Christ. Thou shalt observe the Shabbath, on account of Him who ceased from His work of creation, but ceased not from His work of providence: it is a rest for meditation of the law, not for idleness of the hands. Reject every unlawful lust, everything destructive to men, and all anger. Honor thy parents, as the authors of thy being. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Communicate the necessaries of-life to the needy. Avoid swearing falsely, and swearing often, and in vain; for thou shalt not be held guiltless. Do not appear before the priests empty, and offer thy free-will offerings continually. Moreover, do not leave the church of Christ; but go thither in the morning before all thy work, and again meet there in the evening, to return thanks to God that He has preserved thy life. Be diligent, and constant, and laborious in thy calling. Offer to the Lord thy free-will offerings; for says He, “Honor the Lord with the fruit of thy honest labors.” If thou art not able to cast anything considerable into the Corban, yet at least bestow upon the strangers one, or two, or five mites. “Lay up to thyself heavenly treasure, which neither the moth nor thieves can destroy.” And in doing this, do not judge thy bishop, or any of thy neighbors among the laity; for if thou judge thy brother, thou becomest a judge, without being constituted such by anybody, for the priests are only entrusted with the power of judging. For to them it is said, “Judge righteous judgment;” and again “Approve yourselves to be exact money-changers.” For to you this is not entrusted; for, on the contrary, it is said to those who are not of the dignity of magistrates or ministers: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.”



XXIII. But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; for they fast on the second and fifth days of the week. But do you either fast the entire five days, or on the fourth day of the week, and on the day of the Preparation, because on the fourth day the condemnation went out against the Lord, Judas then promising to betray Him for money; and you must fast on the day of the Preparation, because on that day the Lord suffered the death of the cross under Pontius Pilate. But keep the Shabbath, and the Lord’s day festival; because the former is the memorial of the creation, and the latter of the resurrection. But there is one only Shabbath to be observed by you in the whole year, which is that of our Lord’s burial, on which men ought to keep a fast, but not a festival. For inasmuch as the Creator was then under the earth, the sorrow for Him is more forcible than the joy for the creation; for the Creator is more honorable by nature and dignity than His own creatures.


XXXVI. O Lord Almighty Thou hast created the world by Christ, and hast appointed the Shabbath in memory thereof, because that on that day Thou hast made us rest from our works, for the meditation upon Thy laws. Thou hast also appointed festivals for the rejoicing of our souls, that we might come into the remembrance of that wisdom which was created by Thee; how He submitted to be made of a woman on our account; He appeared in life, and demonstrated Himself in His baptism; how He that appeared is both God and man; He suffered for us by Thy permission, and died, and rose again by Thy power: on which account we solemnly assemble to celebrate the feast of the resurrection on the Lord’s day, and rejoice on account of Him who has conquered death, and has brought life and immortality to light. For by Him Thou hast brought home the Gentiles to Thyself for a peculiar people, the true Israel beloved of God, and seeing God. For Thou O Lord, broughtest our fathers out of the land of Egypt, and didst deliver them out of the iron furnace, from clay and brick-making, and didst redeem them out of the hands of Pharaoh, and of those under him, and didst lead them through the sea as through dry land, and didst bear their manners in the wilderness, and bestow on them all sorts of good things. Thou didst give them the law or decalogue, which was pronounced by Thy voice and written with Thy hand. Thou didst enjoin the observation of the Shabbath, not affording them an occasion of idleness, but an opportunity of piety, for their knowledge of Thy power, and the prohibition of evils; having limited them as within an holy circuit for the sake of doctrine, for the rejoicing upon the seventh period. On this account was there appointed one week, and seven weeks, and the seventh month, and the seventh year, and the revolution of these, the jubilee, which is the fiftieth year for remission, that men might have no occasion to pretend ignorance. On this account He permitted men every Shabbath to rest, that so no one might be willing to send one word out of his mouth in anger on the day of the Shabbath. For the Shabbath is the ceasing of the creation, the completion of the world, the inquiry after laws, and the grateful praise to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon men. All which the Lord’s day excels, and shows the Mediator Himself, the Provider, the Lawgiver, the Cause of the resurrection, the First-born of the whole creation, God the Word, and man, who was born of Mary alone, without a man, who lived holily, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and died, and rose again from the dead. So that the Lord’s day commands us to offer unto Thee, O Lord, thanksgiving for all. For this is the grace afforded by Thee, which on account of its greatness has obscured all other blessings.



XXXIII. I Peter and Paul do make the following constitutions. Let the slaves work five days; but on the Shabbath-day and the Lord’s day let them have leisure to go to church for instruction in piety. We have said that the Shabbath is on account of the creation, and the Lord’s day of the resurrection. Let slaves rest from their work all the great week, and that which follows it — for the one in memory of the passion, and the other of the resurrection; and there is need they should be instructed who it is that suffered and rose again, and who it is permitted Him to suffer, and raised Him again. Let them have rest from their work on the Ascension, because it was the conclusion of the dispensation by Christ. Let them rest at Pentecost, because of the coming of the Holy Spirit, which was given to those that believed in Christ. Let them rest on the festival of His birth, because on it the unexpected favor was granted to men, that Jesus Christ, the Logos of God, should be born of the Virgin Mary, for the salvation of the world. Let them rest on the festival of Epiphany, because on it a manifestation took place of the divinity of Christ, for the Father bore testimony to Him at the baptism; and the Paraclete, in the form of a dove, pointed out to the bystanders Him to whom testimony was born. Let them rest on the days of the apostles: for they were appointed your teachers to bring you to Christ, and made you worthy of the Spirit. Let them rest on the day of the first martyr Stephen, and of the other holy martyrs who preferred Christ to their own life.


[A.D. 30-107.]





If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Shabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death — whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master — how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead.


If, then, those who were conversant with the ancient Scriptures came to newness of hope, expecting the coming of Christ, as the Lord teaches us when He says, “If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me;” and again, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad; for before Abraham was, I am;” how shall we be able to live without Him? The prophets were His servants, and foresaw Him by the Spirit, and waited for Him as their Teacher, and expected Him as their Lord and Savior, saying, “He will come and save us.” Let us therefore no longer keep the Shabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness; for “he that does not work, let him not eat.” For say the [holy] oracles, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.” But let every one of you keep the Shabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them. And after the observance of the Shabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]. Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, “To the end, for the eighth day,” on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ, whom the children of perdition, the enemies of the Savior, deny, “whose God is their belly, who mind earthly things,” who are “lovers of pleasure, and not lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” These make merchandise of Christ, corrupting His word, and giving up Jesus to sale: they are corrupters of women, and covetous of other men’s possessions, swallowing up wealth insatiably; from whom may ye be delivered by the mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ!




Stop your ears, therefore, when any one speaks to you at variance with Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly born, and did eat and drink. He was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; He was truly crucified, and [truly] died, in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, His Father quickening Him, even as after the same manner His Father will so raise up us who believe in Him by Christ Jesus, apart from whom we do not possess the true life.


Stop your ears, therefore, when any one speaks to you at variance with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly begotten of God and of the Virgin, but not after the same manner. For indeed God and man are not the same. He truly assumed a body; for “the Word was made flesh,” and lived upon earth without sin. For says He, “Which of you convicteth me of sin?” He did in reality both eat and drink. He was crucified and died under Pontius Pilate. He really, and not merely in appearance, was crucified, and died, in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. By those in heaven I mean such as are possessed of incorporeal natures; by those on earth, the Jews and Romans, and such persons as were present at that time when the Lord was crucified; and by those under the earth, the multitude that arose along with the Lord. For says the Scripture, “Many bodies of the saints that slept arose,” their graves being opened. He descended, indeed, into Hades alone, but He arose accompanied by a multitude; and rent asunder that means of separation which had existed from the beginning of the world, and cast down its partition-wall. He also rose again in three days, the Father raising Him up; and after spending forty days with the apostles, He was received up to the Father, and “sat down at His right hand, expecting till His enemies are placed under His feet.” On the day of the preparation, then, at the third hour, He received the sentence from Pilate, the Father permitting that to happen; at the sixth hour He was crucified; at the ninth hour He gave up the ghost; and before sunset He was buried. During the Shabbath He continued under the earth in the tomb in which Joseph of Arimathaea had laid Him. At the dawning of the Lord’s day He arose from the dead, according to what was spoken by Himself, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man also be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” The day of the preparation, then, comprises the passion; the Shabbath embraces the burial; the Lord’s Day contains the resurrection.



The following is the original INTRODUCTORY NOTICE: —

We formerly stated that eight of the fifteen Epistles bearing the name of Ignatius are now universally admitted to be spurious. None of them are quoted or referred to by any ancient writer previous to the sixth century. The style, moreover, in which they are written, so different from that of the other Ignatian letters, and allusions which they contain to heresies and ecclesiastical arrangements of a much later date than that of their professed author, render it perfectly certain that they are not the authentic production of the illustrious bishop of Antioch.


These things, brethren, out of the affection which I entertain for you, I have felt compelled to write, exhorting you with a view to the glory of God, not as if I were a person of any consequence, but simply as a brother. Be ye subject to the bishop, to the presbyters, and to the deacons. Love one another in the Lord, as being the images of God. Take heed, ye husbands, that ye love your wives as your own members. Ye wives also, love your husbands, as being one with them in virtue of your union. If any one lives in chastity or continence, let him not be lifted up, lest he lose his reward. Do not lightly esteem the festivals. Despise not the period of forty days, for it comprises an imitation of the conduct of the Lord. After the week of the passion, do not neglect to fast on the fourth and sixth days, distributing at the same time of thine abundance to the poor. If any one fasts on the Lord’s Day or on the Shabbath, except on the paschal Shabbath only, he is a murderer of Christ.


[A.D. 100.] The writer of this Epistle is supposed to have been an Alexandrian Jew of the times of Trajan and Hadrian. He was a layman; but possibly he bore the name of “Barnabas,” and so has been confounded with his holy and apostolic name-sire. It is more probable that the Epistle, being anonymous, was attributed to St. Barnabas, by those who supposed that apostle to be the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and who discovered similarities in the plan and purpose of the two works.


Since, therefore, the days are evil, and Satan possesses the power of this world, we ought to give heed to ourselves, and diligently inquire into the ordinances of the Lord. Fear and patience, then, are helpers of our faith; and long-suffering and continence are things which fight on our side. While these remain pure in what respects the Lord, Wisdom, Understanding, Science, and Knowledge rejoice along with them. For He hath revealed to us by all the prophets that He needs neither sacrifices, nor burnt-offerings, nor oblations, saying thus, “What is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me, saith the Lord? I am full of burnt-offerings, and desire not the fat of lambs, and the blood of bulls and goats, not when ye come to appear before Me: for who hath required these things at your hands? Tread no more My courts, not though ye bring with you fine flour. Incense is a vain abomination unto Me, and your new moons and shabbaths I cannot endure.” He has therefore abolished these things, that the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is without the yoke of necessity, might have a human oblation. And again He says to them, “Did I command your fathers, when they went out from the land of Egypt, to offer unto Me burnt-offerings and sacrifices? But this rather I commanded them, Let no one of you cherish any evil in his heart against his neighbor, and love not an oath of falsehood.” We ought therefore, being possessed of understanding, to perceive the gracious intention of our Father; for He speaks to us, desirous that we, not going astray like them, should ask how we may approach Him. To us, then, He declares, “A sacrifice [pleasing] to God is a broken spirit; a smell of sweet savor to the Lord is a heart that glorifieth Him that made it.” We ought therefore, brethren, carefully to inquire concerning our salvation, lest the wicked one, having made his entrance by deceit, should hurl us forth from our [true] life.


Further, also, it is written concerning the Shabbath in the Decalogue which [the Lord] spoke, face to face, to Moses on Mount Sinai, “And sanctify ye the Shabbath of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart.” And He says in another place, “If my sons keep the Shabbath, then will I cause my mercy to rest upon them.” The Shabbath is mentioned at the beginning of the creation [thus]: “And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it.” Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth, saying, “Behold, to-day will be as a thousand years.” Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day. Moreover, He says, “Thou shalt sanctify it with pure hands and a pure heart.” If, therefore, any one can now sanctify the day which God hath sanctified, except he is pure in heart in all things, we are deceived. Behold, therefore: certainly then one properly resting sanctifies it, when we ourselves, having received the promise, wickedness no longer existing, and all things having been made new by the Lord, shall be able to work righteousness. Then we shall be able to sanctify it, having been first sanctified ourselves. Further, He says to them, “Your new moons and your Shabbath I cannot endure.” Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Shabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfullness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens.



[ca. A.D. 130.] The anonymous author of this Epistle gives himself the title (Mathetes) “a disciple of the Apostles,” and I venture to adopt it as his name. It is about all we know of him, and it serves a useful end. I place this letter here, as a sequel to the Clementine Epistle, for several reasons, which I think scholars will approve: It is full of the Pauline spirit, and exhales the same pure and primitive fragrance which is characteristic of Clement.


But as to their scrupulosity concerning meats, and their superstition as respects the Shabbaths, and their boasting about circumcision, and their fancies about fasting and the new moons, which are utterly ridiculous and unworthy of notice, — I do not think that you require to learn anything from me. For, to accept some of those things which have been formed by God for the use of men as properly formed, and to reject others as useless and redundant, — how can this be lawful? And to speak falsely of God, as if He forbade us to do what is good on the Shabbath-days, — how is not this impious? And to glory in the circumcision of the flesh as a proof of election, and as if, on account of it, they were specially beloved by God, — how is it not a subject of ridicule? And as to their observing months and days, as if waiting upon the stars and the moon, and their distributing, according to their own tendencies, the appointments of God, and the vicissitudes of the seasons, some for festivities, and others for mourning, — who would deem this a part of divine worship, and not much rather a manifestation of folly? I suppose, then, you are sufficiently convinced that the Christians properly abstain from the vanity and error common [to both Jews and Gentiles], and from the busy-body spirit and vain boasting of the Jews; but you must not hope to learn the mystery of their peculiar mode of worshipping God from any mortal.


[A.D. 110-165.]



“When he had spoken these and many other things, which there is no time for mentioning at present, he went away, bidding me attend to them; and I have not seen him since. But straightway a flame was kindled in my soul; and a love of the prophets, and of those men who are friends of Christ, possessed me; and whilst revolving his words in my mind, I found this philosophy alone to be safe and profitable. Thus, and for this reason, I am a philosopher. Moreover, I would wish that all, making a resolution similar to my own, do not keep themselves away from the words of the Savior. For they possess a terrible power in themselves, and are sufficient to inspire those who turn aside from the path of rectitude with awe; while the sweetest rest is afforded those who make a diligent practice of them. If, then, you have any concern for yourself, and if you are eagerly looking for salvation, and if you believe in God, you may — since you are not indifferent to the matter — become acquainted with the Christ of God, and, after being initiated, live a happy life.”

When I had said this, my beloved friends those who were with Trypho laughed; but he, smiling, says, “I approve of your other remarks, and admire the eagerness with which you study divine things; but it were better for you still to abide in the philosophy of Plato, or of some other man, cultivating endurance, self-control, and moderation, rather than be deceived by false words, and follow the opinions of men of no reputation. For if you remain in that mode of philosophy, and live blamelessly, a hope of a better destiny were left to you; but when you have forsaken God, and reposed confidence in man, what safety still awaits you? If, then, you are willing to listen to me (for I have already considered you a friend), first be circumcised, then observe what ordinances have been enacted with respect to the Shabbath, and the feasts, and the new moons of God; and, in a word, do all things which have been written in the law: and then perhaps you shall obtain mercy from God. But Christ — if He has indeed been born, and exists anywhere — is unknown, and does not even know Himself, and has no power until Elias come to anoint Him, and make Him manifest to all. And you, having accepted a groundless report, invent a Christ for yourselves, and for his sake are inconsiderately perishing.”


I also adduced another passage in which Isaiah exclaims: “ ‘Hear My words, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people: nations which know not Thee shall call on Thee; peoples who know not Thee shall escape to Thee, because of thy God, the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified Thee.’ This same law you have despised, and His new holy covenant you have slighted; and now you neither receive it, nor repent of your evil deeds. ‘For your ears are closed, your eyes are blinded, and the heart is hardened,’ Jeremiah has cried; yet not even then do you listen. The Lawgiver is present, yet you do not see Him; to the poor the Gospel is preached, the blind see, yet you do not understand. You have now need of a second circumcision, though you glory greatly in the flesh. The new law requires you to keep perpetual shabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true shabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be pure.


“For since you have read, O Trypho, as you yourself admitted, the doctrines taught by our Savior, I do not think that I have done foolishly in adding some short utterances of His to the prophetic statements. Wash therefore, and be now clean, and put away iniquity from your souls, as God bids you be washed in this laver, and be circumcised with the true circumcision. For we too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Shabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined you, — namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your hearts. For if we patiently endure all things contrived against us by wicked men and demons, so that even amid cruelties unutterable, death and torments, we pray for mercy to those who inflict such things upon us, and do not wish to give the least retort to any one, even as the new Lawgiver commanded us: how is it, Trypho, that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us, — I speak of fleshly circumcision, and Shabbaths, and feasts?


The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Shabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Shabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first.


And Trypho to this replied, “I remarked to you sir, that you are very anxious to be safe in all respects, since you cling to the Scriptures. But tell me, do you really admit that this place, Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt; and do you expect your people to be gathered together, and made joyful with Christ and the patriarchs, and the prophets, both the men of our nation, and other proselytes who joined them before your Christ came? or have you given way, and admitted this in order to have the appearance of worsting us in the controversies?”

Then I answered, “I am not so miserable a fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think another. I admitted to you formerly, that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise. Moreover, I pointed out to you that some who are called Christians, but are godless, impious heretics, teach doctrines that are in every way blasphemous, atheistical, and foolish. But that you may know that I do not say this before you alone, I shall draw up a statement, so far as I can, of all the arguments which have passed between us; in which I shall record myself as admitting the very same things which I admit to you. For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians, even as one, if he would rightly consider it, would not admit that the Sadducees, or similar sects of Genistae, Meristae, Galilaeans, Hellenists, Pharisees, Baptists, are Jews (do not hear me impatiently when I tell you what I think), but are [only] called Jews and children of Abraham, worshipping God with the lips, as God Himself declared, but the heart was far from Him. But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.


“For Isaiah spake thus concerning this space of a thousand years: ‘For there shall be the new heaven and the new earth, and the former shall not be remembered, or come into their heart; but they shall find joy and gladness in it, which things I create. For, Behold, I make Jerusalem a rejoicing, and My people a joy; and I shall rejoice over Jerusalem, and be glad over My I people. And the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, or the voice of crying. And there shall be no more there a person of immature years, or an old man who shall not fulfill his days. For the young man shall be an hundred years old; but the sinner who dies an hundred years old, he shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and shall themselves inhabit them; and they shall plant vines, and shall themselves eat the produce of them, and drink the wine. They shall not build, and others inhabit; they shall not plant, and others eat. For according to the days of the tree of life shall be the days of my people; the works of their toil shall abound. Mine elect shall not toil fruitlessly, or beget children to be cursed; for they shall be a seed righteous and blessed by the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will hear; while they are still speaking, I shall say, What is it? Then shall the wolves and the lambs feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent [shall eat] earth as bread. They shall not hurt or maltreat each other on the holy mountain, saith the Lord.’ Now we have understood that the expression used among these words, ‘According to the days of the tree [of life] shall be the days of my people; the works of their toil shall abound’ obscurely predicts a thousand years.

For as Adam was told that in the day he ate of the tree he would die, we know that he did not complete athousand years. We have perceived, moreover, that the expression, ‘The day of the Lord is as a thousand years,’ is connected with this subject. And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place. Just as our Lord also said, ‘They shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, but shall be equal to the angels, the children of the God of the resurrection.’



But if some, through weak-mindedness, wish to observe such institutions as were given by Moses, from which they expect some virtue, but which we believe were appointed by reason of the hardness of the people’s hearts, along with their hope in this Christ, and [wish to perform] the eternal and natural acts of righteousness and piety, yet choose to live with the Christians and the faithful, as I said before, not inducing them either to be circumcised like themselves, or to keep the Shabbath, or to observe any other such ceremonies, then I hold that we ought to join ourselves to such, and associate with them in all things as kinsmen and brethren. But if, Trypho,” I continued, “some of your race, who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do not approve of them. But I believe that even those, who have been persuaded by them to observe the legal dispensation along with their confession of God in Christ, shall probably be saved. And I hold, further, that such as have confessed and known this man to be Christ, yet who have gone back from some cause to the legal dispensation, and have denied that this man is Christ, and have repented not before death, shall by no means be saved.

Further, I hold that those of the seed of Abraham who live according to the law, and do not believe in this Christ before death, shall likewise not be saved, and especially those who have anathematized and do anathematize this very Christ in the synagogues, and everything by which they might obtain salvation and escape the vengeance of fire.



[A.D. 120-202.] This history introduces us to the Church in her Western outposts. We reach the banks of the Rhone, where for nearly a century Christian missions have flourished. Between Marseilles and Smyrna there seems to have been a brisk trade, and Polycarp had sent Pothinus into Celtic Gaul at an early date as its evangelist. He had fixed his see at Lyons, when Irenaeus joined him as a presbyter, having been his fellow-pupil under Polycarp. There, under the “good Aurelius,” as he is miscalled (A.D. 177), arose the terrible persecution which made “the martyrs of Lyons and Vienne” so memorable. It was during this persecution that Irenaeus was sent to Rome with letters of remonstrance against the rising pestilence of heresy; and he was probably the author of the account of the sufferings of the martyrs which is appended to their testimony. But he had the mortification of finding the Montanist heresy patronized by Eleutherus the Bishop of Rome; and there he met an old friend from the school of Polycarp, who had embraced the Valentinian heresy. We cannot doubt that to this visit we owe the lifelong struggle of Irenaeus against the heresies that now came in, like locusts, to devour the harvests of the Gospel. But let it be noted here, that, so far from being “the mother and mistress” of even the Western Churches, Rome herself is a mission of the Greeks; Southern Gaul is evangelized from Asia Minor, and Lyons checks the heretical tendencies of the Bishop of Rome. Ante-Nicene Christianity, and indeed the Church herself, appears in Greek costume which lasts through the synodical period; and Latin Christianity, when it begins to appear, is African, and not Roman. It is strange that those who have recorded this great historical fact have so little perceived its bearings upon Roman pretensions in the Middle Ages and modern times.


1. Vain, too, is [the effort of] Marcion and his followers when they [seek to] exclude Abraham from the inheritance, to whom the Spirit through many men, and now by Paul, bears witness, that “he believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.” And the Lord [also bears witness to him,] in the first place, indeed, by raising up children to him from the stones, and making his seed as the stars of heaven, saying, “They shall come from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and shall recline with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;” and then again by saying to the Jews, “When ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of heaven, but you yourselves cast out.” This, then, is a clear point, that those who disallow his salvation, and frame the idea of another God besides Him who made the promise to Abraham, are outside the kingdom of God, and are disinherited from [the gift of] incorruption, setting at naught and blaspheming God, who introduces, through Jesus Christ, Abraham to the kingdom of heaven, and his seed, that is, the Church, upon which also is conferred the adoption and the inheritance promised to Abraham.

2. For the Lord vindicated Abraham’s posterity by loosing them from bondage and calling them to salvation, as He did in the case of the woman whom He healed, saying openly to those who had not faith like Abraham, “Ye hypocrites, doth not each one of you on the Shabbath-days loose his ox or his ass, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Shabbath-days?” It is clear therefore, that He loosed and vivified those who believe in Him as Abraham did, doing nothing contrary to the law when He healed upon the Shabbath-day. For the law did not prohibit men from being healed upon the Shabbaths; [on the contrary,] it even circumcised them upon that day, and gave command that the offices should be performed by the priests for the people; yea, it did not disallow the healing even of dumb animals. Both at Siloam and on frequent subsequent occasions, did He perform cures upon the Shabbath; and for this reason many used to resort to Him on the Shabbath-days. For the law commanded them to abstain from every servile work, that is, from all grasping after wealth which is procured by trading and by other worldly business; but it exhorted them to attend to the exercises of the soul, which consist in reflection, and to addresses of a beneficial kind for their neighbors’ benefit. And therefore the Lord reproved those who unjustly blamed Him for having healed upon the Shabbath-days. For He did not make void, but fulfilled the law, by performing the offices of the high priest, propitiating God for men, and cleansing the lepers, healing the sick, and Himself suffering death, that exiled man might go forth from condemnation, and might return without fear to his own inheritance.

3. And again, the law did not forbid those who were hungry on the Shabbath-days to take food lying ready at hand: it did, however, forbid them to reap and to gather into the barn. And therefore did the Lord say to those who were blaming His disciples because they plucked and ate the ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands, “Have ye not read this, what David did, when himself was an hungered; how he went into the house of God, and ate the shew-bread, and gave to those who were with him; which it is not lawful to eat, but for the priests alone?” justifying His disciples by the words of the law, and pointing out that it was lawful for the priests to act freely. For David had been appointed a priest by God, although Saul persecuted him. For all the righteous possess the sacerdotal rank. And all the apostles of the Lord are priests, who do inherit here neither lands nor houses, but serve God and the altar continually. Of whom Moses also says in Deuteronomy, when blessing Levi, “Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not known thee; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, and he disinherited his own sons: he kept Thy commandments, and observed Thy covenant.” But who are they that have left father and mother, and have said adieu to all their neighbors, on account of the word of God and His covenant, unless the disciples of the Lord? Of whom again Moses says, “They shall have no inheritance, for the Lord Himself is their inheritance.” And again, “The priests the Levites shall have no part in the whole tribe of Levi, nor substance with Israel; their substance is the offerings (fructifications) of the Lord: these shall they eat.” Wherefore also Paul says, “I do not seek after a gift, but I seek after fruit.” To His disciples He said, who had a priesthood of the Lord, to whom it was lawful when hungry to eat the ears of corn, “For the workman is worthy of his meat.” And the priests in the temple profaned the Shabbath, and were blameless. Wherefore, then, were they blameless? Because when in the temple they were not engaged in secular affairs, but in the service of the Lord, fulfilling the law, but not going beyond it, as that man did, who of his own accord carried dry wood into the camp of God, and was justly stoned to death. “For every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down, and cast into the fire;” and “whosoever shall defile the temple of God, him shall God defile.”


1. For the tradition of the elders themselves, which they pretended to observe from the law, was contrary to the law given by Moses. Wherefore also Esaias declares: “Thy dealers mix the wine with water,” showing that the elders were in the habit of mingling a watered tradition with the simple command of God; that is, they set up a spurious law, and one contrary to the [true] law; as also the Lord made plain, when He said to them, “Why do ye transgress the commandment of God, for the sake of your tradition?” For not only by actual transgression did they set the law of God at nought, mingling the wine with water; but they also set up their own law in opposition to it, which is termed, even to the present day, the pharisaical. In this [law] they suppress certain things, add others, and interpret others, again, as they think proper, which their teachers use, each one in particular; and desiring to uphold these traditions, they were unwilling to be subject to the law of God, which prepares them for the coming of Christ. But they did even blame the Lord for healing on the Shabbath-days, which, as I have already observed, the law did not prohibit. For they did themselves, in one sense, perform acts of healing upon the Shabbath-day, when they circumcised a man [on that day]; but they did not blame themselves for transgressing the command of God through tradition and the aforesaid pharisaical law, and for not keeping the commandment of the law, which is the love of God.


1. Moreover, we learn from the Scripture itself, that God gave circumcision, not as the completer of righteousness, but as a sign, that the race of Abraham might continue recognizable. For it declares: “God said unto Abraham, Every male among you shall be circumcised; and ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, as a token of the covenant between Me and you.” This same does Ezekiel the prophet say with regard to the Shabbaths: “Also I gave them My Shabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them.” And in Exodus, God says to Moses: “And ye shall observe My Shabbaths; for it shall be a sign between Me and you for your generations.” These things, then, were given for a sign; but the signs were not unsymbolical, that is, neither unmeaning nor to no purpose, inasmuch as they were given by a wise Artist; but the circumcision after the flesh typified that after the Spirit. For “we,” says the apostle, “have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands.” And the prophet declares, “Circumcise the hardness of your heart.” But the Shabbaths taught that we should continue day by day in God’s service. “For we have been counted,” says the Apostle Paul, “all the day long as sheep for the slaughter;” that is, consecrated [to God], and ministering continually to our faith, and persevering in it, and abstaining from all avarice, and not acquiring or possessing treasures upon earth. Moreover, the Shabbath of God (requietio Dei), that is, the kingdom, was, as it were, indicated by created things; in which [kingdom], the man who shall have persevered in serving God (Deo assistere) shall, in a state of rest, partake of God’s table.

2. And that man was not justified by these things, but that they were given as a sign to the people, this fact shows, — that Abraham himself, without circumcision and without observance of Shabbaths, “believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” Then, again, Lot, without circumcision, was brought out from Sodom, receiving salvation from God. So also did Noah, pleasing God, although he was uncircumcised, receive the dimensions [of the ark], of the world of the second race [of men]. Enoch, too, pleasing God, without circumcision, discharged the office of God’s legate to the angels although he was a man, and was translated, and is preserved until now as a witness of the just judgment of God, because the angels when they had transgressed fell to the earth for judgment, but the man who pleased [God] was translated for salvation. Moreover, all the rest of the multitude of those righteous men who lived before Abraham, and of those patriarchs who preceded Moses, were justified independently of the things above mentioned, and without the law of Moses. As also Moses himself says to the people in Deuteronomy: “The LORD thy God formed a covenant in Horeb. The LORD formed not this covenant with your fathers, but for you.”


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 harbor 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, ye nations, and declare it to the isles afar off; say ye, that the LORD will scatter Israel, He will gather him, and keep him, as one feeding his flock of sheep. For the Lord hath 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.” 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 Shabbath, but are blameless. 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.




[A.D. 115-168-181] Eusebius praises the pastoral fidelity of the primitive pastors, in their unwearied labors to protect their flocks from the heresies with which Satan contrived to endanger the souls of believers.



Of this six days’ work no man can give a worthy explanation and description of all its parts, not though he had ten thousand tongues and ten thousand mouths; nay, though he were to live ten thousand years, sojourning in this life, not even so could he utter anything worthy of these things, on account of the exceeding greatness and riches of the wisdom of God which there is in the six days’ work above narrated. Many writers indeed have imitated [the narration], and essayed to give an explanation of these things; yet, though they thence derived some suggestions, both concerning the creation of the world and the nature of man, they have emitted no slightest spark of truth. And the utterances of the philosophers, and writers, and poets have an appearance of trustworthiness, on account of the beauty of their diction; but their discourse is proved to be foolish and idle, because the multitude of their nonsensical frivolities is very great; and not a stray morsel of truth is found in them. For even if any truth seems to have been uttered by them, it has a mixture of error. And as a deleterious drug, when mixed with honey or wine, or some other thing, makes the whole [mixture] hurtful and profitless; so also eloquence is in their case found to be labor in vain; yea, rather an injurious thing to those who credit it. Moreover, [they spoke] concerning the seventh day, which all men acknowledge; but the most know not that what among the Hebrews is called the “Shabbath,” is translated into Greek the “Seventh” (eJbdomav"), a name which is adopted by every nation, although they know not the reason of the appellation. And as for what the poet Hesiod says of Erebus being produced from chaos, as well as the earth and love which lords it over his [Hesiod’s] gods and men, his dictum is shown to be idle and frigid, and quite foreign to the truth. For it is not meet that God be conquered by pleasure; since even men of temperance abstain from all base pleasure and wicked lust.


[A.D. 145-220.]

Tertullian was born a heathen, and seems to have been educated at Rome, where he probably practiced as a jurisconsult. We may, perhaps, adopt most of the ideas of Allix, as conjecturally probable, and assign his birth to A.D. 145. He became a Christian about 185, and presbyter about 190. The period of his strict orthodoxy nearly expires with the century. He lived to an extreme old age, and some suppose even till A.D. 240. More probably we must adopt the date preferred by recent writers, A.D. 220.

It seems to be the fashion to treat of Tertullian as a Montanist, and only incidentally to celebrate his services to the Catholic Orthodoxy of Western Christendom. Were I his biographer I should reverse this course, as a mere act of justice, to say nothing of gratitude to a man of splendid intellect, to whom the filial spirit of Cyprian accorded the loving tribute of a disciple, and whose genius stamped itself upon the very words of Latin theology, and prepared the language for the labors of a Jerome. In creating the Vulgate, and so lifting the Western Churches into a position of intellectual equality with the East, the latter as the well as St. Augustine himself were debtors to Tertullian in a degree not to be estimated by any other than the Providential Mind that inspired his brilliant career as a Christian.



In fine, let him who contends that the Shabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day because of the threat of death, teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Shabbath, or practiced circumcision, and were thus rendered “friends of God.” For if circumcision purges a man since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did He not circumcise him, even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? At all events, in settling him in paradise, He appointed one uncircumcised as colonist of paradise. Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised, and unobservant of the Shabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering Him sacrifices, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Shabbath, was by Him commended; while He accepted what he was offering in simplicity of heart, and reprobated the sacrifice of his brother Cain, who was not rightly dividing what he was offering. Noah also, uncircumcised — yes, and unobservant of the Shabbath — God freed from the deluge. For Enoch, too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and unobservant of the Shabbath, He translated from this world; who did not first taste death, in order that, being a candidate for eternal life, he might by this time show us that we also may, without the burden of the law of Moses, please God. Melchizedek also, “the priest of the most high God,” uncircumcised and unobservant of the Shabbath, was chosen to the priesthood of God. Lot, withal, the brother of Abraham, proves that it was for the merits of righteousness, without observance of the law, that he was freed from the conflagration of the Sodomites.


It follows, accordingly, that, in so far as the abolition of carnal circumcision and of the old law is demonstrated as having been consummated at its specific times, so also the observance of the Shabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary. For the Jews say, that from the beginning God sanctified the seventh day, by resting on it from all His works which He made; and that thence it was, likewise, that Moses said to the People: “Remember the day of the shabbaths, to sanctify it: every servile work ye shall not do therein, except what pertaineth unto life.” Whence we (Christians) understand that we still more ought to observe a shabbath from all “servile work” always, and not only every seventh day, but through all time. And through this arises the question for us, what shabbath God willed us to keep? For the Scriptures point to a shabbath eternal and a shabbath temporal. For Isaiah the prophet says, “Your shabbaths my soul hateth;” and in another place he says, “My shabbaths ye have profaned.” Whence we discern that the temporal shabbath is human, and the eternal shabbath is accounted divine; concerning which He predicts through Isaiah: “And there shall be,” He says, “month after month, and day after day, and shabbath after shabbath; and all flesh shall come to adore in Jerusalem, saith the Lord;” which we understand to have been fulfilled in the times of Christ, when “all flesh” — that is, every nation — “came to adore in Jerusalem” God the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son, as was predicted through the prophet: “Behold, proselytes through me shall go unto Thee.” Thus, therefore, before this temporal shabbath, there was withal an eternal shabbath foreshown and foretold; just as before the carnal circumcision there was withal a spiritual circumcision foreshown. In short, let them teach us, as we have already premised, that Adam observed the shabbath; or that Abel, when offering to God a holy victim, pleased Him by a religious reverence for the shabbath; or that Enoch, when translated, had been a keeper of the shabbath; or that Noah the ark-builder observed, on account of the deluge, an immense shabbath; or that Abraham, in observance of the shabbath, offered Isaac his son; or that Melchizedek in his priesthood received the law of the shabbath.

But the Jews are sure to say, that ever since this precept was given through Moses, the observance has been binding. Manifest accordingly it is, that the precept was not eternal nor spiritual, but temporary, which would one day cease. In short, so true is it that it is not in the exemption from work of the shabbath — that is, of the seventh day — that the celebration of this solemnity is to consist, that Joshua the son of Nun, at the time that he was reducing the city Jericho by war, stated that he had received from God a precept to order the People that priests should carry the ark of the testament of God seven days, making the circuit of the city; and thus, when the seventh day’s circuit had been performed, the walls of the city would spontaneously fall. Which was so done; and when the space of the seventh day was finished, just as was predicted, down fell the walls of the city. Whence it is manifestly shown, that in the number of the seven days there intervened a shabbath-day. For seven days, whencesoever they may have commenced, must necessarily include within them a shabbath-day; on which day not only must the priests have worked, but the city must have been made a prey by the edge of the sword by all the people of Israel. Nor is it doubtful that they “wrought servile work, “when, in obedience to God’s precept, they drove the preys of war. For in the times of the Maccabees, too, they did bravely in fighting on the shabbaths, and routed their foreign foes, and recalled the law of their fathers to the primitive style of life by fighting on the shabbaths. Nor should I think it was any other law which they thus vindicated, than the one in which they remembered the existence of the prescript touching “the day of the shabbaths.”

Whence it is manifest that the force of such precepts was temporary, and respected the necessity of present circumstances; and that it was not with a view to its observance in perpetuity that God formerly gave them such a law.


Therefore, since it is manifest that a shabbath temporal was shown, and a shabbath eternal foretold; a circumcision carnal foretold, and a circumcision spiritual pre-indicated; a law temporal and a law eternal formally declared; sacrifices carnal and sacrifices spiritual foreshown; it follows that, after all these precepts had been given carnally, in time preceding, to the people Israel, there was to supervene a time whereat the precepts of the ancient Law and of the old ceremonies would cease, and the promise of the new law, and the recognition of spiritual sacrifices, and the promise of the New Testament, supervene; while the light from on high would beam upon us who were sitting in darkness, and were being detained in the shadow of death. And so there is incumbent on us a necessity binding us, since we

have premised that a new law was predicted by the prophets, and that not such as had been already given to their fathers at the time when He led them forth from the land of Egypt, to show and prove, on the one hand, that that old Law has ceased, and on the other, that the promised new law is now in operation.

And, indeed, first we must inquire whether there be expected a giver of the new law, and an heir of the new testament, and a priest of the new sacrifices, and a purger of the new circumcision, and an observer of the eternal shabbath, to suppress the old law, and institute the new testament, and offer the new sacrifices, and repress the ancient ceremonies, and suppress the old circumcision together with its own shabbath, and announce the new kingdom which is not corruptible. Inquire, I say, we must, whether this giver of the new law, observer of the spiritual shabbath, priest of the eternal sacrifices, eternal ruler of the eternal kingdom, be come or no: that, if he is already come, service may have to be rendered him; if he is not yet come, he may have to be awaited, until by his advent it be manifest that the old Law’s precepts are suppressed, and that the beginnings of the new law ought to arise. And, primarily, we must lay it down that the ancient Law and the prophets could not have ceased, unless He were come who was constantly announced, through the same Law and through the same prophets, as to come.




Similarly on other points also, you reproach Him with fickleness and instability for contradictions in His commandments, such as that He forbade work to be done on Shabbath-days, and yet at the siege of Jericho ordered the ark to be carried round the walls during eight days; in other words, of course, actually on a Shabbath. You do not, however, consider the law of the Shabbath: they are human works, not divine, which it prohibits. For it says, “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Shabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work.” What work? Of course your own. The conclusion is, that from the Shabbath-day He removes those works which He had before enjoined for the six days, that is, your own works; in other words, human works of daily life. Now, the carrying around of the ark is evidently not an ordinary daily duty, nor yet a human one; but a rare and a sacred work, and, as being then ordered by the direct precept of God, a divine one. And I might fully explain what this signified, were it not a tedious process to open out the forms of all the Creator’s proofs, which you would, moreover, probably refuse to allow. It is more to the point, if you be confuted on plain matters by the simplicity of truth rather than curious reasoning.

Thus, in the present instance, there is a clear distinction respecting the Shabbath’s prohibition of human labors, not divine ones. Accordingly, the man who went and gathered sticks on the Shabbath-day was punished with death. For it was his own work which he did; and this the law forbade. They, however, who on the Shabbath carried the ark round Jericho, did it with impunity. For it was not their own work, but God’s, which they executed, and that too, from His express commandment.


Concerning the Shabbath also I have this to premise, that this question could not have arisen, if Christ did not publicly proclaim the Lord of the Shabbath. Nor could there be any discussion about His annulling the Shabbath, if He had a right to annul it. Moreover, He would have the right, if He belonged to the rival god; nor would it cause surprise to any one that He did what it was right for Him to do. Men’s astonishment therefore arose from their opinion that it was improper for Him to proclaim the Creator to be God and yet to impugn His Shabbath. Now, that we may decide these several points first, lest we should be renewing them at every turn to meet each argument of our adversary which rests on some novel institution of Christ, let this stand as a settled point, that discussion concerning the novel character of each institution ensued on this account, because as nothing was as yet advanced by Christ touching any new deity, so discussion thereon was inadmissible; nor could it be retorted, that from the very novelty of each several institution another deity was clearly enough demonstrated by Christ, inasmuch as it was plain that novelty was not in itself a characteristic to be wondered at in Christ, because it had been foretold by the Creator. And it would have been, of course, but right that a new god should first be expounded, and his discipline be introduced afterwards; because it would be the God that would impart authority to the discipline, and not the discipline to the God; except that (to be sure) it has happened that Marcion acquired his very perverse opinions not from a master, but his master from his opinion! All other points respecting the Shabbath I thus rule. If Christ interfered with the Shabbath, He simply acted after the Creator’s example; inasmuch as in the siege of the city of Jericho the carrying around the walls of the ark of the covenant for eight days running, and therefore on a Shabbath-day, actually annulled the Shabbath, by the Creator’s command — according to the opinion of those who think this of Christ in this passage of St. Luke, in their ignorance that neither Christ nor the Creator violated the Shabbath, as we shall by and by show.

And yet the Shabbath was actually then broken by Joshua, so that the present charge might be alleged also against Christ. But even if, as being not the Christ of the Jews, He displayed a hatred against the Jews’ most solemn day, He was only professedly following the Creator, as being His Christ, in this very hatred of the Shabbath; for He exclaims by the mouth of Isaiah: “Your new moons and your Shabbaths my soul hateth.” Now, in whatever sense these words were spoken, we know that an abrupt defense must, in a subject of this sort, be used in answer to an abrupt challenge. I shall now transfer the discussion to the very matter in which the teaching of Christ seemed to annul the Shabbath. The disciples had been hungry; on that the Shabbath day they had plucked some ears and rubbed them in their hands; by thus preparing their food, they had violated the holy day. Christ excuses them, and became their accomplice in breaking the Shabbath. The Pharisees bring the charge against Him. Marcion sophistically interprets the stages of the controversy (if I may call in the aid of the truth of my Lord to ridicule his arts), both in the scriptural record and in Christ’s purpose. For from the Creator’s Scripture, and from the purpose of Christ, there is derived a colorable precedent — as from the example of David, when he went into the temple on the Shabbath, and provided food by boldly breaking up the shew-bread. Even he remembered that this privilege (I mean the dispensation from fasting) was allowed to the Shabbath from the very beginning, when the Shabbath-day itself was instituted. For although the Creator had forbidden that the manna should be gathered for two days, He yet permitted it on the one occasion only of the day before the Shabbath, in order that the yesterday’s provision of food might free from fasting the feast of the following Shabbath-day. Good reason, therefore, had the Lord for pursuing the same principle in the annulling of the Shabbath (since that is the word which men will use); good reason, too, for expressing the Creator’s will, when He bestowed the privilege of not fasting on the Shabbath-day. In short, He would have then and there put an end to the Shabbath, nay, to the Creator Himself, if He had commanded His disciples to fast on the Shabbath-day, contrary to the intention of the Scripture and of the Creator’s will. But because He did not directly defend His disciples, but excuses them; because He interposes human want, as if deprecating censure; because He maintains the honor of the Shabbath as a day which is to be free from gloom rather than from work; because he puts David and his companions on a level with His own disciples in their fault and their extenuation; because He is pleased to endorse the Creator’s indulgence: because He is Himself good according to His example — is He therefore alien from the Creator? Then the Pharisees watch whether He would heal on the Shabbath-day, that they might accuse Him — surely as a violator of the Shabbath, not as the propounder of a new god; for perhaps I might be content with insisting on all occasions on this one point, that another Christ is nowhere proclaimed. The Pharisees, however, were in utter error concerning the law of the Shabbath, not observing that its terms were conditional, when it enjoined rest from labor, making certain distinctions of labor. For when it says of the Shabbath-day, “In it thou shalt not do any work of thine,” by the word thineit restricts the prohibition to human work — which every one performs in his own employment or business — and not to divine work. Now the work of healing or preserving is not proper to man, but to God. So again, in the law it says, “Thou shalt not do any manner of work in it,” except what is to be done for any soul, that is to say, in the matter of delivering the soul; because what is God’s work may be done by human agency for the salvation of the soul. By God, however, would that be done which the man Christ was to do, for He was likewise God. Wishing, therefore, to initiate them into this meaning of the law by the restoration of the withered hand, He requires, “Is it lawful on the Shabbath-days to do good, or not? to save life, or to destroy it?” In order that He might, whilst allowing that amount of work which He was about to perform for a soul, remind them what works the law of the Shabbath forbade — even human works; and what it enjoined — even divine works, which might be done for the benefit of any soul, He was called “Lord of the Shabbath,” because He maintained the Shabbath as His own institution. Now, even if He had annulled the Shabbath, He would have had the right to do so, as being its Lord, (and) still more as He who instituted it. But He did not utterly destroy it, although its Lord, in order that it might henceforth be plain that the Shabbath was not broken by the Creator, even at the time when the ark was carried around Jericho. For that was really God’s work, which He commanded Himself, and which He had ordered for the sake of the lives of His servants when exposed to the perils of war. Now, although He has in a certain place expressed an aversion of Shabbaths, by calling them your Shabbaths, reckoning them as men’s Shabbaths, not His own, because they were celebrated without the fear of God by a people full of iniquities, and loving God “with the lip, not the heart,” He has yet put His own Shabbaths (those, that is, which were kept according to His prescription) in a different position; for by the same prophet, in a later passage, He declared them to be “true, and delightful, and inviolable.” Thus Christ did not at all rescind the Shabbath: He kept the law thereof, and both in the former case did a work which was beneficial to the life of His disciples, for He indulged them with the relief of food when they were hungry, and in the present instance cured the withered hand; in each case intimating by facts, “I came not to destroy, the law, but to fulfill it,” although Marcion has gagged His mouth by this word. For even in the case before us He fulfilled the law, while interpreting its condition; moreover, He exhibits in a clear light the different kinds of work, while doing what the law excepts from the sacredness of the Shabbath and while imparting to the Shabbath-day itself, which from the beginning had been consecrated by the benediction of the Father, an additional sanctity by His own beneficent action. For He furnished to this day divine safeguards, — a course which His adversary would have pursued for some other days, to avoid honoring the Creator’s Shabbath, and restoring to the Shabbath the works which were proper for it. Since, in like manner, the prophet Elisha on this day restored to life the dead son of the Shunammite woman, you see, O Pharisee, and you too, O Marcion, how that it was proper employment for the Creator’s Shabbaths of old to do good, to save life, not to destroy it; how that Christ introduced nothing new, which was not after the example, the gentleness, the mercy, and the prediction also of the Creator. For in this very example He fulfills the prophetic announcement of a specific healing: “The weak hands are strengthened,” as were also “the feeble knees” in the sick of the palsy.



Being, therefore, observers of “seasons” for these things, and of “days, and months, and years,” we Galaticize. Plainly we do, if we are observers of Jewish ceremonies, of legal solemnities: for those the apostle unteaches, suppressing the continuance of the Old Testament which has been buried in Christ, and establishing that of the New. But if there is a new creation in Christ,’ our solemnities too will be bound to be new: else, if the apostle has erased all devotion absolutely “of seasons, and days, and months, and years,” why do we celebrate the passover by an annual rotation in the first month? Why in the fifty ensuing days do we spend our time in all exultation? Why do we devote to Stations the fourth and sixth days of the week, and to fasts the “preparation-day?” Anyhow, you sometimes continue your Station even over the Shabbath, — a day never to be kept as a fast except at the passover season, according to a reason elsewhere given. With us, at all events, every day likewise is celebrated by an ordinary consecration. And it will not, then, be, in the eyes of the apostle, the differentiating principle — distinguishing (as he is doing) “things new and old” — which will be ridiculous; but (in this case too) it will be your own unfairness, while you taunt us with the form of antiquity all the while you are laying against us the charge of novelty.




265 That the old Adam’s dust may able be,

Commingled with Christ’s blood, to be upraised

By dripping water’s virtue. The “one ewe”

That is, which, during Shabbath-hours, alive

The Shepherd did resolve that He would draw

270 Out of th’ infernal pit. This was the cause

Why, on the Shabbaths, He was wont to cure

The prematurely dead limbs of all flesh;

Or perfected for sight the eyes of him

Blind from his birth — eyes which He had not erst. 304

275 Given; or, in presence of the multitude,

Called, during Shabbath-hours, one wholly dead

To life, e’en from the sepulcher. Himself

The new man’s Maker, the Repairer good

Of th’ old, supplying what did lack, or else

280 Restoring what was lost. About to do —

When dawns “the holy day” — these works, for such

As hope in Him, in plenitude, (to keep

His plighted word,) He taught men thus His power

To do them. What? If flesh dies, and no hope

285 Is given of salvation, say, what grounds

Christ had to feign Himself a man, and heal

Men, or have care for flesh? If He recalls

Some few, why shall He not withal recall

All? Can corruption’s power liquefy

290 The body and undo it, and shall not

The virtue of the Lord be powerful

The undone to recall? They, who believe

Their bodies are not loosed from death, do not

Believe the Lord, who wills to raise His own

295 Works sunken; or else say they that the Good

Wills not, and that the Potent hath not power, —

Ignorant from how great a crime they suck

Their milk, in daring to set things infirm

Above the Strong. In the grain lurks the tree;


[A.D. 153-193-217] The second century of illumination is drawing to a close, as the great name of this Father comes into view, and introduces us to a new stage of the Church’s progress. From Britain to the Ganges it had already made its mark. In all its Oriental identity, we have found it vigorous in Gaul and penetrating to other regions of the West. From its primitive base on the Orontes, it has extended itself to the deltas of the Nile; and the Alexandria of Apollos and of St. Mark has become the earliest seat of Christian learning. There, already, have the catechetical schools gathered the finest intellectual trophies of the Cross; and under the aliment of its library springs up something like a Christian university. Pantaenus, “the Sicilian bee” from the flowery fields of Enna, comes to frame it by his industry, and store it with the sweets of his eloquence and wisdom. Clement, who had followed Tatian to the East, tracks Pantaenus to Egypt, and comes with his Attic scholarship to be his pupil in the school of Christ. After Justin and Irenaeus, he is to be reckoned the founder of Christian literature; and it is noteworthy how sublimely he begins to treat Paganism as a creed outworn, to be dismissed with contempt, rather than seriously wrestled with any longer.




Well, they preserving the tradition of the blessed doctrine derived directly from the holy apostles, Peter, James, John, and Paul, the sons receiving it from the father (but few were like the fathers), came by God’s will to us also to deposit those ancestral and apostolic seeds. And well I know that they will exult; I do not mean delighted with this tribute, but solely on account of the preservation of the truth, according as they delivered it. For such a sketch as this, will, I think, be agreeable to a soul desirous of preserving from escape the blessed tradition. “In a man who loves wisdom the father will be glad.” Wells, when pumped out, yield purer water; and that of which no one partakes, turns to putrefaction. Use keeps steel brighter, but disuse produces rust in it. For, in a word, exercise produces a healthy condition both in souls and bodies. “No one lighteth a candle, and putteth it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may give light to those who are regarded worthy of the feast.” For what is the use of wisdom, if it makes not him who can hear it wise? For still the Savior saves, “and always works, as He sees the Father.” For by teaching, one learns more; and in speaking, one is often a hearer along with his audience. For the teacher of him who speaks and of him who hears is one — who waters both the mind and the word. Thus the Lord did not hinder from doing good while keeping the Shabbath; but allowed us to communicate of those divine mysteries, and of that holy light, to those who are able to receive them. He did not certainly disclose to the many what did not belong to the many; but to the few to whom He knew that they belonged, who were capable of receiving and being molded according to them. But secret things are entrusted to speech, not to writing, as is the case with God.

BOOK 1/1

Well, they preserving the tradition of the blessed doctrine derived directly from the holy apostles, Peter, James, John, and Paul, the sons receiving it from the father (but few were like the fathers), came by God’s will to us also to deposit those ancestral and apostolic seeds. And well I know that they will exult; I do not mean delighted with this tribute, but solely on account of the preservation of the truth, according as they delivered it. For such a sketch as this, will, I think, be agreeable to a soul desirous of preserving from escape the blessed tradition. “In a man who loves wisdom the father will be glad.” Wells, when pumped out, yield purer water; and that of which no one partakes, turns to putrefaction. Use keeps steel brighter, but disuse produces rust in it. For, in a word, exercise produces a healthy condition both in souls and bodies. “No one lighteth a candle, and putteth it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may give light to those who are regarded worthy of the feast.” For what is the use of wisdom, if it makes not him who can hear it wise? For still the Savior saves, “and always works, as He sees the Father.” For by teaching, one learns more; and in speaking, one is often a hearer along with his audience. For the teacher of him who speaks and of him who hears is one — who waters both the mind and the word. Thus the Lord did not hinder from doing good while keeping the Shabbath; but allowed us to communicate of those divine mysteries, and of that holy light, to those who are able to receive them. He did not certainly disclose to the many what did not belong to the many; but to the few to whom He knew that they belonged, who were capable of receiving and being molded according to them. But secret things are entrusted to speech, not to writing, as is the case with God.


And the fourth word is that which intimates that the world was created by God, and that He gave us the seventh day as a rest, on account of the trouble that there is in life. For God is incapable of weariness, and suffering, and want. But we who bear flesh need rest. The seventh day, therefore, is proclaimed a rest — abstraction from ills — preparing for the Primal Day, our true rest; which, in truth, is the first creation of light, in which all things are viewed and possessed. From this day the first wisdom and knowledge illuminate us. For the light of truth — a light true, casting no shadow, is the Spirit of God indivisibly divided to all, who are sanctified by faith, holding the place of a luminary, in order to the knowledge of real existences. By following Him, therefore, through our whole life, we become impassible; and this is to rest. Wherefore Solomon also says, that before heaven, and earth, and all existences, Wisdom had arisen in the Almighty; the participation of which — that which is by power, I mean, not that by essence — teaches a man to know by apprehension things divine and human. Having reached this point, we must mention these things by the way; since the discourse has turned on the seventh and the eighth. For the eighth may possibly turn out to be properly the seventh, and the seventh manifestly the sixth, and the latter properly the Shabbath, and the seventh a day of work. For the creation of the world was concluded in six days. For the motion of the sun from solstice to solstice is completed in six months — in the course of which, at one time the leaves fall, and at another plants bud and seeds come to maturity. And they say that the embryo is perfected exactly in the sixth month, that is, in one hundred and eighty days in addition to the two and a half, as Polybus the physician relates in his book On the Eighth Month, and Aristotle the philosopher in his book On Nature. Hence the Pythagoreans, as I think, reckon six the perfect number, from the creation of the world, according to the prophet, and call it Meseuthys and Marriage, from its being the middle of the even numbers, that is, of ten and two. For it is manifestly at an equal distance from both. And as marriage generates from male and female, so six is generated from the odd number three, which is called the masculine number, and the even number two, which is considered the feminine. For twice three are six. Such, again, is the number of the most general motions, according to which all origination takes place — up, down, to the right, to the left, forward, backward. Rightly, then, they reckon the number seven motherless and childless, interpreting the Shabbath, and figuratively expressing the nature of the rest, in which “they neither marry nor are given in marriage any more.” For neither by taking from one number and adding to another of those within ten is seven produced; nor when added to any number within the ten does it make up any of them.

And they called eight a cube, counting the fixed sphere along with the seven revolving ones, by which is produced “the great year,” as a kind of period of recompense of what has been promised. Thus the Lord, who ascended the mountain, the fourth, becomes the sixth, and is illuminated all round with spiritual light, by laying bare the power proceeding from Him, as far as those selected to see were able to behold it, by the Seventh, the Voice, proclaimed to be the Son of God; in order that they, persuaded respecting Him, might have rest; while He by His birth, which was indicated by the sixth conspicuously marked, becoming the eighth, might appear to be God in a body of flesh, by displaying His power, being numbered indeed as a man, but being concealed as to who He was. For six is reckoned in the order of numbers, but the succession of the letters acknowledges the character which is not written. In this case, in the numbers themselves, each unit is preserved in its order up to seven and eight. But in the number of the characters, Zeta becomes six and Eta seven. And the character having somehow slipped into writing, should we follow it out thus, the seven became six, and the eight seven. Wherefore also man is said to have been made on the sixth day, who became faithful to Him who is the sign (τω επστημω), so as straightway to receive the rest of the Lord’s inheritance. Some such thing also is indicated by the sixth hour in the scheme of salvation, in which man was perfected. Further, of the eight, the intermediates are seven; and of the seven, the intervals are shown to be six. For that is another ground, in which seven glorifies eight, and “the heavens declare to the heavens the glory of God.”

The sensible types of these, then, are the sounds we pronounce. Thus the Lord Himself is called “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” “by whom all things were made, and without whom not even one thing was made.” God’s resting is not, then, as some conceive, that God ceased from doing. For, being good, if He should ever cease from doing good, then would He cease from being God, which it is sacrilege even to say. The resting is, therefore, the ordering that the order of created things should be preserved inviolate, and that each of the creatures should cease from the ancient disorder. For the creations on the different days followed in a most important succession; so that all things brought into existence might have honor from priority, created together in thought, but not being of equal worth. Nor was the creation of each signified by the voice, inasmuch as the creative work is said to have made them at once. For something must needs have been named first. Wherefore those things were announced first, from which came those that were second, all things being originated together from one essence by one power. For the will of God was one, in one identity. And how could creation take place in time, seeing time was born along with things which exist.

And now the whole world of creatures born alive, and things that grow, revolves in sevens. The first-born princes of the angels, who have the greatest power, are seven. The mathematicians also say that the planets, which perform their course around the earth, are seven; by which the Chaldeans think that all which concerns mortal life is effected through sympathy, in consequence of which they also undertake to tell things respecting the future.

And of the fixed stars, the Pleiades are seven. And the Bears, by the help of which agriculture and navigation are carried through, consist of seven stars. And in periods of seven days the moon undergoes its changes. In the first week she becomes half moon; in the second, full moon; and in the third, in her wane, again half moon; and in the fourth she disappears. Further, as Seleucus the mathematician lays down, she has seven phases. First, from being invisible she becomes crescent-shaped, then half moon, then gibbous and full; and in her wane again gibbous, and in like manner half moon and crescent-shaped. “On a seven-stringed lyre we shall sing new hymns,” writes a poet of note, teaching us that the ancient lyre was seven-toned. The organs of the senses situated on our face are also seven — two eyes, two passages of hearing, two nostrils, and the seventh the mouth. And that the changes in the periods of life take place by sevens, the Elegies of Solan teach thus: —

“The child, while still an infant, in seven years,

Produces and puts forth its fence of teeth;

And when God seven years more completes,

He shows of puberty’s approach the signs;

And in the third, the beard on growing cheek

With down o’erspreads the bloom of changing skin;

And in the fourth septenniad, at his best

In strength, of manliness he shows the signs;

And in the fifth, of marriage, now mature,

And of posterity, the man bethinks;

Nor does he yet desire vain works to see.

The seventh and eighth septenniads see him now

In mind and speech mature, till fifty years;

And in the ninth he still has vigor left,

But strength and body are for virtue great

Less than of yore; when, seven years more, God brings

To end, then not too soon may he submit to die.”

Again, in diseases the seventh day is that of the crisis; and the fourteenth, in which nature struggles against the causes of the diseases. And a myriad such instances are adduced by Hermippus of Berytus, in his book On the Number Seven, regarding it as holy. And the blessed David delivers clearly to those who know the mystic account of seven and eight, praising thus: “Our years were exercised like a spider. The days of our years in them are seventy years; but if in strength, eighty years. And that will be to reign.” That, then, we may be taught that the world was originated, and not suppose that God made it in time, prophecy adds: “This is the book of the generation: also of the things in them, when they were created in the day that God made heaven and earth.” For the expression “when they were created” intimates an indefinite and dateless production. But the expression “in the day that God made,” that is, in and by which God made “all things,” and “without which not even one thing was made,” points out the activity exerted by the Son. As David says, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice in it; “ that is, in consequence of the knowledge imparted by Him, let us celebrate the divine festival; for the Word that throws light on things hidden, and by whom each created thing came into life and being, is called day. And, in fine, the Decalogue, by the letter Iota, signifies the blessed name, presenting Jesus, who is the Word.


[A.D. 170-236]

The first great Christian Father whose history is Roman is, nevertheless, not a Roman, but a Greek. He is the disciple of Irenaeus, and the spirit of his life-work reflects that of his master. In his personal character he so much resembles Irenaeus risen again, that the great Bishop of Lyons must be well studied and understood if we would do full justice to the conduct of Hippolytus. Especially did he follow his master's example in withstanding contemporary bishops of Rome, who, like Victor, “deserved to be blamed,” but who, much more than any of their predecessors, merited rebuke alike for error in doctrine and viciousness of life.




The world, then, as Moses says, was made in six days, that is, by six powers, which (are inherent) in the one tittle of the iota. (But) the seventh (day, which is) a rest and Shabbath, has been produced from the Hebdomad, which is over earth, and water, and fire, and air. And from these (elements) the world has been formed by the one tittle. For cubes, and octahedrons, and pyramids, and all figures similar to these, out of which consist fire, air, water, (and) earth, have arisen from numbers which are comprehended in that simple tittle of the iota. And this (tittle) constitutes a perfect son of a perfect man. When, therefore, he says, Moses mentions that the rod was changeably brandished for the (introduction of the) plagues throughout Egypt — now these plagues, he says, are allegorically expressed symbols of the creation — he did not (as a symbol) for more plagues than ten shape the rod. Now this (rod) constitutes one tittle of the iota, and is (both) twofold (and) various. This succession of ten plagues is, he says, the mundane creation. For all things, by being stricken, bring forth and bear fruit, just like vines. Man, he says, bursts forth, and is forcibly separated from man by being severed by a certain stroke. (And this takes place) in order that (man) may be generated, and may declare the law which Moses ordained, who received (it) from God. Conformably with that one tittle, the law constitutes the series of the ten commandments which expresses allegorically the divine mysteries of (those) precepts. For, he says, all knowledge of the universe is contained in what relates to the succession of the ten plagues and the series of the ten commandments. And no one is acquainted with this (knowledge) who is (of the number) of those that are deceived concerning the offspring of the woman. If, however, you say that the Pentateuch constitutes the entire law, it is from the Pentad which is comprehended in the one tittle. But the entire is for those who have not been altogether perfected in understanding a mystery, a new and not antiquated feast, legal, (and) everlasting, a passover of the Lord God kept unto our generations, by those who are able to discern (this mystery), at the commencement of the fourteenth day, which is the beginning of a decade from which, he says, they reckon. For the monad, as far as fourteen, is the summary of that one (tittle) of the perfect number. For one, two, three, four, become ten; and this is the one tittle. But from fourteen until twenty-one, he asserts that there is an Hebdomad which inheres in the one tittle of the world, and constitutes an unleavened creature in all these. For in what respect, he says, would the one tittle require any substance such as leaven (derived) from without for the Lord’s Passover, the eternal feast, which is given for generation upon generation? For the entire world and all causes of creation constitute a passover, (i.e.,) a feast of the Lord. For God rejoices in the conversion of the creation, and this is accomplished by ten strokes of the one tittle. And this (tittle) is Moses’ rod, which was given by God into the hand of Moses. And with this (rod Moses) smites the Egyptians, for the purpose of altering bodies, — as, for instance, water into blood; and the rest of (material) things similarly with these, — (as, for example,) the locusts, which is a symbol of grass. And by this he means the alteration of the elements into flesh; “for all flesh,” he says, “is grass.” These men, nevertheless receive even the entire law after some such manner; adopting very probably, as I think, the opinions of those of the Greeks who affirm that there are Substance, and Quality, and Quantity, and Relation, and Place, and Time, and Position, and Action, and Possession, and Passion.



But as regards judicial decisions, the Essenes are most accurate and impartial. And they deliver their judgments when they have assembled together, numbering at the very least one hundred; and the sentence delivered by them is irreversible. And they honor the legislator next after God; and if any one is guilty of blasphemy against this framer of laws, he is punished. And they are taught to yield obedience to rulers and elders; and if ten occupy seats in the same room, one of them will not speak unless it will appear expedient to the nine. And they are careful not to spit out into the midst of persons present, and to the right hand. They are more solicitous, however, about abstaining from work on the Shabbath-day than all other Jews. For not only do they prepare their victuals for themselves one day previously, so as not (on the Shabbath) to kindle a fire, but not even would they move a utensil from one place to another (on that day), nor ease nature; nay, some would not even rise from a couch. On other days, however, when they wish to relieve nature, they dig a hole a foot long with the mattock, — for of this description is the hatchet, which the president in the first instance gives those who come forward to gain admission as disciples, — and cover (this cavity) on all sides with their garment, alleging that they do not necessarily insult the sunbeams. They then replace the upturned soil into the pit; and this is their practice, choosing the more lonely spots. But after they have performed this operation, immediately they undergo ablution, as if the excrement pollutes them.



Isaac conveys a figure of God the Father; Rebecca of the Holy Spirit; Esau of the first people and the devil; Jacob of the Church, or of Christ. That Isaac was old, points to the end of the world; that his eyes were dim, denotes that faith had perished from the world, and that the light of religion was neglected before him; that the elder son is called, expresses the Jews’ possession of the law; that the father loves his meat and venison, denotes the saving of men from error, whom every, righteous man seeks to gain (lit. hunt for) by doctrine. The word of God here is the promise anew of the blessing and the hope of a kingdom to come, in which the saints shall reign with Christ, and keep the true Shabbath. Rebecca is full of the Holy Spirit, as understanding the word which she heard before she gave birth, “For the elder shall serve the younger.” As a figure of the Holy Spirit, moreover, she cares for Jacob in preference. She says to her younger son, “Go to the flock and fetch me two kids,” prefiguring the Savior’s advent in the flesh to work a mighty deliverance for them who were held liable to the punishment of sin; for indeed in all the Scriptures kids are taken for emblems of sinners. His being charged to bring “two,” denotes the reception of two peoples: by the “tender and good,” are meant teachable and innocent souls. The robe or raiment of Esau denotes the faith and Scriptures of the Hebrews, with which the people of the Gentiles were endowed. The skins which were put upon his arms are the sins of both peoples, which Christ, when His hands were stretched forth on the cross, fastened to it along with Himself. In that Isaac asks of Jacob why he came so soon, we take him as admiring the quick faith of them that believe. That savory meats are offered, denotes an offering pleasing to God, the salvation of sinners. After the eating follows the blessing, and he delights in his smell. He announces with clear voice the perfection of the resurrection and the kingdom, and also how his brethren who believe in Israel adore him and serve him. Because iniquity is opposed to righteousness, Esau is excited to strife, and meditates death deceitfully, saying in his heart, “Let the days of the mourning for my father come on, and I will slay my brother Jacob.” The devil, who previously exhibited the fratricidal Jews by anticipation in Cain, makes the most manifest disclosure of them now in Esau, showing also the time of the murder: “let the days,” says he, “of the mourning for my father come on, that I may slay my brother.” Wherefore Rebecca — that is, patience — told her husband of the brother’s plot: who, summoning Jacob, bade him go to Mesopotamia and thence take a wife of the family of Laban the Syrian, his mother’s brother. As therefore Jacob, to escape his brother’s evil designs, proceeds to Mesopotamia, so Christ, too, constrained by the unbelief of the Jews, goes into Galilee, to take from thence to Himself a bride from the Gentiles, His Church.


4. But that we may not leave our subject at this point undemonstrated, we are obliged to discuss the matter of the times, of which a man should not speak hastily, because they are a light to him. For as the times are noted from the foundation of the world, and reckoned from Adam, they set clearly before us the matter with which our inquiry deals. For the first appearance of our Lord in the flesh took place in Bethlehem, under Augustus, in the year 5500; and He suffered in the thirty-third year. And 6,000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the Shabbath may come, the rest, the holy day “on which God rested from all His works.” For the Shabbath is the type and emblem of the future kingdom of the saints, when they “shall reign with Christ,” when He comes from heaven, as John says in his Apocalypse: for “a day with the Lord is as a thousand years.” Since, then, in six days God made all things, it follows that 6,000 years must be fulfilled. And they are not yet fulfilled, as John says: “five are fallen; one is,” that is, the sixth; “the other is not yet come.”

5. In mentioning the “other,” moreover, he specifies the seventh, in which there is rest. But some one may be ready to say, How will you prove to me that the Savior was born in the year 5500? Learn that easily, O man; for the things that took place of old in the wilderness, under Moses, in the case of the tabernacle, were constituted types and emblems of spiritual mysteries, in order that, when the truth came in Christ in these last days, you might be able to perceive that these things were fulfilled. For He says to him, “And thou shalt make the ark of imperishable wood, and shalt overlay it with pure gold within and without; and thou shalt make the length of it two cubits and a half, and the breadth thereof one cubit and a half, and a cubit and a half the height;” which measures, when summed up together, make five cubits and a half, so that the 5500 years might be signified thereby.

6. At that time, then, the Savior appeared and showed His own body to the world, (born) of the Virgin, who was the “ark overlaid with pure gold,” with the Word within and the Holy Spirit without; so that the truth is demonstrated, and the “ark” made manifest. From the birth of Christ, then, we must reckon the 500 years that remain to make up the 6000, and thus the end shall be. And that the Savior appeared in the world, bearing the imperishable ark, His own body, at a time which was the fifth and half, John declares: “Now it was the sixth hour,” he says, intimating by that,. 367 one-half of the day. But a day with the Lord is 1000 years; and the half of that, therefore, is 500 years. For it was not meet that He should appear earlier, for the burden of the law still endured, nor yet when the sixth day was fulfilled (for the baptism is changed), but on the fifth and half, in order that in the remaining half time the gospel might be preached to the whole world, and that when the sixth day was completed He might end the present life.

7. Since, then, the Persians held the mastery for 330 years, and after them the Greeks, who were yet more glorious, held it for 300 years, of necessity the fourth beast, as being strong and mightier than all that were before it, will reign 500 years. When the times are fulfilled, and the ten horns spring from the beast in the last (times), then Antichrist will appear among them. When he makes war against the saints, and persecutes them, then may we expect the manifestation of the Lord from heaven.


4. The number fifty, moreover, contains seven sevens, or a Shabbath of Shabbaths; and also over and above these full Shabbaths, a new beginning, in the eight, of a really new rest that remains above the Shabbaths. And let any one who is able, observe this (as it is carried out) in the Psalms with more, indeed, than human accuracy, so as to find out the reasons in each case, as we shall set them forth. Thus, for instance, it is not without a purpose that the eighth psalm has the inscription, “On the wine-presses,” as it comprehends the perfection of fruits in the eight; for the time for the enjoyment of the fruits of the true vine could not be before the eight. And again, the second psalm inscribed “On the wine-presses,” is the eightieth, containing another eighth number, viz., in the tenth multiple. The eighty-third, again, is made up by the union of two holy numbers, viz., the eight in the tenth multiple, and the three in the first multiple. And the fiftieth psalm is a prayer for the remission of sins, and a confession. For as, according to the Gospel, the fiftieth obtained remission, confirming thereby that understanding of the jubilee, so he who offers up such petitions in full confession hopes to gain remission in no other number than the fiftieth. And again, there are also certain others which are called “Songs of degrees,” in number fifteen, as was also the number of the steps of the temple, and which show thereby, perhaps, that the “steps” (or “degrees”) are comprehended within the number seven and the number eight. And these songs of degrees begin after the one hundred and twentieth psalm, which is called simply “a psalm,” as the more accurate copies give it. And this is the number of the perfection of the life of man. And the hundredth psalm, which begins thus, “I will sing of mercy and judgment, O Lord,” embraces the life of the saint in fellowship with God. And the one hundred and fiftieth ends with these words, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.”


[A.D. 185-230-254]



But how is it that this Jew of Celsus could say that Jesus concealed Himself? For his words regarding Him are these: “And who that is sent as a messenger ever conceals himself when he ought to make known his message?” Now, He did not conceal Himself, who said to those who sought to apprehend Him, “I was daily teaching openly in the temple, and ye laid no hold upon Me.” But having once already answered this charge of Celsus, now again repeated, we shall content ourselves with what we have formerly said. We have answered, also, in the preceding pages, this objection, that “while he was in the body, and no one believed upon him, he preached to ail without intermission; but when he might have produced a powerful belief in himself after rising from the dead, he showed himself secretly only to one woman, and to his own boon companions.” Now it is not true that He showed Himself only to one woman; for it is stated in the Gospel according to Matthew, that “in the end of the Shabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulcher. And, behold, there had been a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord had descended from heaven, and come and rolled back the stone.” And, shortly after, Matthew adds: “And, behold, Jesus met them” — clearly meaning the afore-mentioned Marys — “saying, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him.” And we answered, too, the charge, that “while undergoing his punishment he was seen by all, but after his resurrection only by one,” when we offered our defense of the fact that “He was not seen by all.”


Again, not understanding the meaning of the words, “And God ended on the sixth day His works which He had made, and ceased on the seventh day from all His works which He had made: and God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it, because on it He had ceased from all His works which He had begun to make;” and imagining the expression, “He ceased on the seventh day,” to be the same as this, “He rested on the seventh day,” he makes the remark: “After this, indeed, he is weary, like a very bad workman, who stands in need of rest to refresh himself!” For he knows nothing of the day of the Shabbath and rest of God, which follows the completion of the world’s creation, and which lasts during the duration of the world, and in which all those will keep festival with God who have done all their works in their six days, and who, because they have omitted none of their duties, will ascend to the contemplation (of celestial things), and to the assembly of righteous and blessed beings. In the next place, as if either the Scriptures made such a statement, or as if we ourselves so spoke of God as having rested from fatigue, he continues: “It is not in keeping with the fitness of things that the first God should feel fatigue, or work with His hands, or give forth commands.” Celsus says, that” it is not in keeping with the fitness of things that the first God should feel fatigue. Now we would say that neither does God the Word feel fatigue, nor any of those beings who belong to a better and diviner order of things, because the sensation of fatigue is peculiar to those who are in the body. You can examine whether this is true of those who possess a body of any kind, or of those who have an earthly body, or one a little better than this. But “neither is it consistent with the fitness of things that the first God should work with His own hands.” If you understand the words “work with His own hands” literally, then neither are they applicable to the second God, nor to any other being partaking of divinity. But suppose that they are spoken in an improper and figurative sense, so that we may translate the following expressions, “And the firmament showeth forth His handiwork,” and “the heavens are the work of Thy hands,” and any other similar phrases, in a figurative manner, so far as respects the “hands” and “limbs” of Deity, where is the absurdity in the words, “God thus working with His own hands?” And as there is no absurdity in God thus working, so neither is there in His issuing “commands;” so that what is done at His bidding should be beautiful and praiseworthy, because it was God who commanded it to be performed.


(A.D. 200-258)

If Hippolytus reflects the spirit of Irenaeus in all his writings, it is not remarkable. He was the spiritual son of the great Bishop of Lyons, and deeply imbued with the family character imparted to his disciples by the blessed presbyter of Patmos and Ephesus. But while Cyprian is the spiritual son and pupil of Tertullian, we must seek his characteristics and the key to his whole ministry in the far-off See and city where the disciples were first called Christians. Cyprian is the Ignatius of the West. We see in his works how truly historical are the writings of Ignatius, and how diffused was his simple and elementary system for organic unity. It embodies no hierarchical assumption, no “lordship over God’s heritage,” but is conceived in the spirit of St. Peter when he disclaimed all this, and said, “The presbyters who are among you I exhort, who am also a presbyter.” Cyprian was indeed a strenuous asserter of the responsibilities of his office; but he built upon that system universally recognized by the Great Councils, which the popes and their adherents have ever labored to destroy. Nothing can be more delusive than the idea that the mediaeval system derives any support from Cyprian’s theory of the episcopate or of Church organization. His was the system of the universal parity and community of bishops. In his scheme the apostolate was perpetuated in the episcopate, and the presbyteratewas an apostolic institution, by which others were associated with bishops in all their functions as co-presbyters, but not in those reserved to the presidency of the churches.



4. For, with respect to what you say, that the aspect of an infant in the first days after its birth is not pure, so that any one of us would still shudder at kissing it, we do not think that this ought to be alleged as any impediment to heavenly grace. For it is written, “To the pure all things are pure.” Nor ought any of us to shudder at that which God hath condescended to make. For although the infant is still fresh from its birth, yet it is not such that any one should shudder at kissing it in giving grace and in making peace; since in the kiss of an infant every one of us ought for his very religion’s sake, to consider the still recent hands of God themselves, which in some sort we are kissing, in the man lately formed and freshly born, when we are embracing that which God has made. For in respect of the observance of the eighth day in the Jewish circumcision of the flesh, a sacrament was given beforehand in shadow and in usage; but when Christ came, it was fulfilled in truth. For because the eighth day, that is, the first day after the Shabbath, was to be that on which the Lord should rise again, and should quicken us, and give us circumcision of the spirit, the eighth day, that is, the first day after the Shabbath, and the Lord’s day, went before in the figure; which figure ceased when by and by the truth came, and spiritual circumcision was given to us.

Last updated 18.1.2006