Drive Out Death

From Against All Heresies (ca. 189) 

If death, when it takes hold of a person, drives life out of him and shows him to be dead, how much more does life, when it takes hold of someone, drive out death, and restore him as a living person to God? For if death brings mortality, why should the coming of life not revive him?  

As the prophet Isaiah writes, “death, having prevailed, swallowed them up, and God has again taken away every tear from every face” (Isa. 25:8). Thus the former life is expelled, since it was not given through the Spirit but rather through breath. For the breath of life which made man a living being (Gen. 2:7) is one thing and the life-giving Spirit which made him a spiritual being (1 Cor. 15:45-46) is another. Isaiah therefore declares, “Thus says God, the Lord who created heaven and established it, who bolstered the earth and the things that are in it, and who gave breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk on it” (42:5).  

This means that breath that is given to all people in common, while the Spirit is given specifically to those who trample down earthly things.” Isaiah himself distinguished the things mentioned already, saying, “For a spirit shall go forth from me, and I have made every breath” (57:16). He counts the Spirit unique to God, that Spirit which in the last times he poured out on the human race through their adoption as sons. At the same time he shows that breath is common to all creation… breath is temporal; the Spirit is eternal… Spirit pervades a person inside and ouy, since it always continues and never leaves him. 

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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