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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part III: Chapter I

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 669 II.

On Baptism.

[Translated by the Rev. S. Thelwall.]


Chapter I.—Introduction. Origin of the Treatise.

Happy is our 8542 sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life! A treatise on this matter will not be superfluous; instructing not only such as are just becoming formed (in the faith), but them who, content with having simply believed, without full examination of the grounds 8543 of the traditions, carry (in mind), through ignorance, an untried though probable faith. The consequence is, that a viper of the Cainite heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism. Which is quite in accordance with nature; for vipers and asps and basilisks themselves generally do affect arid and waterless places. But we, little fishes, after the example of our ΙΧΘΥΣ 8544 Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water; so that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, 8545 knew full well how to kill the little fishes, by taking them away from the water!



i.e. Christian (Oehler).




This curious allusion it is impossible, perhaps, to render in our language. The word ΙΧΘΥΣ (ikhthus) in Greek means “a fish;” and it was used as a name for our Lord Jesus, because the initials of the words ᾽Ιησοῦς Χριστὸς Θεοῦ Υἰὸς Σωτήρ (i.e. Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior), make up that word. Oehler with these remarks, gives abundant references on that point. [Dr. Allix suspects Montanism here, but see Kaye, p. 43, and Lardner, Credib. II. p. 335. We may date it circa a.d. 193.]


As being a woman. See 1 Tim. 2:11, 12.

Next: The Very Simplicity of God's Means of Working, a Stumbling-Block to the Carnal Mind.

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