Join the End to the Beginning

From Against All Heresies 4.20.2-4 (ca. 180)

There is one God, who has established all things, and completed them, and having caused that from what had no being, all things should come into existence: he who contains all things, and is himself contained by no one…

No one was able, either in heaven or in earth, or under the earth, to open the book of the Father, or to behold the Father, with the exception of the Lamb who was slain, and who redeemed us with his own blood, receiving power over all things from the same God who made all things by the Word, and adorned them by wisdom, when the Word was made flesh; that even as the Word of God had sovereignty in the heavens, so also might he have sovereignty in earth…

I have also demonstrated that the Word, namely the Son, was always with the Father; and that wisdom also, which is the Spirit, was present with him, anterior to all creation. He declares by Solomon: “God by wisdom founded the earth, and by understanding has he established the heaven. By his knowledge the depths burst forth, and the clouds dropped down the dew” (Prov. 3:19-20). And again: “The Lord created me the beginning of his ways in his work: the Lord set me up from everlasting, in the beginning, before he made the earth, before he established the depths, and before the fountains of waters gushed forth; before the mountains were made strong, and before all the hills, he brought me forth.” And again: “When he prepared the heaven, I was with him, and when he established the fountains of the deep; when he made the foundations of the earth strong, I was with him preparing [them]. I was he in whom the Lord rejoiced, and throughout all time I was daily glad before his face, when he rejoiced at the completion of the world, and was delighted in the sons of men” (Prov. 8:27-31).

There is therefore one God, who by the Word and Wisdom created and arranged all things…but as regards his love, God is always known through him by whose means he ordained all things. Now this is his Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, who in the last times was made a man among men, that he might join the end to the beginning, that is, man to God. Wherefore the prophets, receiving the prophetic gift from the same Word, announced Christ’s advent according to the flesh, by which the blending and communion of God and man took place according to the good pleasure of the Father, the Word of God foretelling from the beginning that God should be seen by men, and hold converse with them upon earth, should confer with them, and should be present with his own creation, saving it, and becoming capable of being perceived by it, and freeing us from the hands of all that hate us, that is, from every spirit of wickedness; and causing us to serve God “in holiness and righteousness all our days” (Luke 1:75) in order that man, having embraced the Spirit of God, might pass into the glory of the Father.

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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