Thus Says the Lord

From Against All Heresies, 4.36 (ca. 200)

Christ does not say that the prophets spoke from another god other than his Father, nor from any other essence, but from one and the same Father, nor that any other being made the things in the world, except his own Father.

Consider when he speaks in his teaching: “there was a certain householder, and he planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dug in it a winepress, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants unto the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants: they cut one to pieces, stoned another, and killed another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did to them likewise. But last of all he sent to them his only son, saying, perhaps they will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, this is the heir; come, let us kill him, and we shall possess his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When, therefore, the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do unto these husbandmen? They said to him, he will miserably destroy these wicked men, and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, who shall render him the fruits in their season,” (Matt. 21:33-41).

Again the Lord says: “have you never read, the stone which the builders rejected, the same has become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore I say unto you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:42-44).

By these words Christ clearly points out to his disciples one and the same householder, that is, one God the Father, who made all things by himself. He also shows that there are various husbandmen, some obstinate, and proud, and worthless, and slayers, but others who give to the householder, with all obedience, the fruits in their seasons. And that it is the same householder who sends at one time his servants, at another his Son. The same Father who sent the son also sent the servants…

The servants who came from their Lord spoke after the manner of servants, delivering a message; and they therefore used to say, “Thus says the Lord.” The servants [the prophets] preached that God is the Lord, and Christ taught that the same God is to be obeyed…

For God planted the vineyard of the human race when at the first he formed Adam and chose the fathers; then he let it out to husbandmen when he established the Mosaic dispensation; he hedged it round about, that is, he gave particular instructions with regard to their worship; he built a tower, that is, he chose Jerusalem; he dug a winepress, that is, he prepared a receptacle of the prophetic Spirit. And thus did he send prophets prior to the exile in Babylon, and after that event more prophets again and in greater number than the former, to seek the fruits, saying, “Thus says the Lord, cleanse your ways and your doings, execute just judgment, and look each one with pity and compassion on his brother: oppress not the widow nor the orphan, the proselyte nor the poor, and let none of you treasure up evil against his brother in your hearts, and love not false swearing… put away evil from your hearts, learn to do well, seek judgment, protect the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow; and come, let us reason together, says the Lord.” And again: “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips that they speak no guile; depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” In preaching these things, the prophets sought the fruits of righteousness.

St. Irenaeus (ca.130 – ca. 202) was a Greek theologian and missionary, who served as Bishop of Lyons. His Against All Heresies, which is primarily concerned with refuting the Gnostic heresy, was the first major surviving work of theology written after the New Testament. His feast is on June 28.

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