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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Heretics are Self-Condemned. Heresy is Self-Will, Whilst Faith is Submission of Our Will to the Divine Authority.  The Heresy of Apelles.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VI.—Heretics are Self-Condemned. Heresy is Self-Will, Whilst Faith is Submission of Our Will to the Divine Authority.  The Heresy of Apelles.

On this point, however, we dwell no longer, since it is the same Paul who, in his Epistle to the Galatians, counts “heresies” among “the sins of the flesh,” 1897 who also intimates to Titus, that “a man who is a heretic” must be “rejected after the first admonition,” on the ground that “he that is such is perverted, and committeth sin, as a self-condemned man.” 1898 Indeed, in almost every epistle, when enjoining on us (the duty) of avoiding false doctrines, he sharply condemns 1899 heresies. Of these the practical effects 1900 are false doctrines, called in Greek heresies1901 a word used in the sense of that choice which a man makes when he either teaches them (to others) 1902 or takes up with them (for himself). 1903 For this reason it is that he calls the heretic self-condemned1904 because he has himself chosen that p. 246 for which he is condemned. We, however, are not permitted to cherish any object 1905 after our own will, nor yet to make choice of that which another has introduced of his private fancy. In the Lord’s apostles we possess our authority; for even they did not of themselves choose to introduce anything, but faithfully delivered to the nations (of mankind) the doctrine 1906 which they had received from Christ. If, therefore, even “an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel” (than theirs), he would be called accursed 1907 by us. The Holy Ghost had even then foreseen that there would be in a certain virgin (called) Philumene 1908 an angel of deceit, “transformed into an angel of light,” 1909 by whose miracles and illusions 1910 Apelles was led (when) he introduced his new heresy.



Gal. v. 20.


Titus 3:10, 11.






Αἱρέσεις .






[A remarkable word is subjoined by the Apostle (ἐξέστραπται) which signifies turned inside out, and so self-condemned, as exhibiting his inward contentiousness and pravity.


Nihil, any doctrine.


Disciplinam, including both the principles and practice of the Christian religion.


Anathema. See Gal. i. 8.


Concerning Philumene, see below, chap. xxv.; Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. v. 13; Augustine, de Hæres, chap. xlii. ; Jerome, Epist. adv. Ctesiph. (Works, ed. Ben.) iv. 477, and in his Commentary on Galatians, ii. See also Tertullian, Against Marcion, p. 139, Edinb. Edition.


2 Cor. xi. 14.



Next: Pagan Philosophy the Parent of Heresies. The Connection Between Deflections from Christian Faith and the Old Systems of Pagan Philosophy.

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