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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Christ First Delivered the Faith. The Apostles Spread It; They Founded Churches as the Depositories Thereof. That Faith, Therefore, is Apostolic, Which Descended from the Apostles, Through Apostolic Churches.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XX.—Christ First Delivered the Faith. The Apostles Spread It; They Founded Churches as the Depositories Thereof. That Faith, Therefore, is Apostolic, Which Descended from the Apostles, Through Apostolic Churches.

Christ Jesus our Lord (may He bear with me a moment in thus expressing myself!), whosoever He is, of what God soever He is the Son, of what substance soever He is man and God, of what faith soever He is the teacher, of what reward soever He is the Promiser, did, whilst He lived on earth, Himself declare what He was, what He had been, what the Father’s will was which He was administering, what the duty of man was which He was prescribing; (and this declaration He made,) either openly to the people, or privately to His disciples, of whom He had chosen the twelve chief ones to be at His side, 2051 and whom He destined to be the teachers of the nations. Accordingly, after one of these had been struck off, He commanded the eleven others, on His departure to the Father, to “go and teach all nations, who were to be baptized into the Father, and into the Son, and into the Holy Ghost.” 2052 Immediately, therefore, so did the apostles, whom this designation indicates as “the sent.” Having, on the authority of a prophecy, which occurs in a psalm of David, 2053 chosen Matthias by lot as the twelfth, into the place of Judas, they obtained the promised power of the Holy Ghost for the gift of miracles and of utterance; and after first bearing witness to the faith in Jesus Christ throughout Judæa, and founding churches (there), they next went forth into the world and preached the same doctrine of the same faith to the nations. They then in like manner founded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith, 2054 and the seeds of doctrine, and are every day deriving them, 2055 that they may become churches. Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches.  Every sort of thing 2056 must necessarily revert to its original for its classification. 2057 Therefore the churches, although they are so many and so great, comprise but the one primitive church, (founded) by the apostles, from which they all (spring).  In this way all are primitive, and all are apostolic, whilst they are all proved to be one, in (unbroken) unity, by their peaceful communion, 2058 and title of brotherhood, and bond 2059 of hospitality,—privileges 2060 which no other rule directs than the one tradition of the selfsame mystery. 2061


Footnotes

252:2051

Mark iv. 34.

252:2052

Matt. xxviii. 19.

252:2053

Ps. cix. 8; comp. with Acts i. 15-20.

252:2054

Traducem fidei.

252:2055

Mutuantur “borrowing.”

252:2056

Omne genus.

252:2057

Censeatur or, “for its origin.”

252:2058

Communicatio pacis.

252:2059

Contesseratio. [3 John 8.]

252:2060

Jura, “rights.”

252:2061

That is, of the faith, or Christian creed.


Next: All Doctrine True Which Comes Through the Church from the Apostles, Who Were Taught by God Through Christ. All Opinion Which Has No Such Divine Origin and Apostolic Tradition to Show, is Ipso Facto False.

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