Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
IRENÆUS: Chapter XXII.—Christ did not come...
Chapter XXII.—Christ did not come for the sake of the men of one age only, but for all who, living righteously and piously, had believed upon Him; and for those, too, who shall believe.
1. Now in the last days, when the fulness of the time of liberty had arrived, the Word Himself did by Himself “wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion,” 4124 when He washed the disciples feet with His own hands. 4125 For this is the end of the human race inheriting God; that as in the beginning, by means of our first [parents], we were all brought into bondage, by being made subject to death; so at last, by means of the New Man, all who from the beginning [were His] disciples, having been cleansed and washed from things pertaining to death, should come to the life of God. For He who washed the feet of the disciples sanctified the entire body, and rendered it clean. For this reason, too, He administered food to them in a recumbent posture, indicating that those who were lying in the earth were they to whom He came to impart life. As Jeremiah declares, “The holy Lord remembered His dead Israel, who slept in the land of sepulture; and He descended to them to make known to them His p. 494 salvation, that they might be saved.” 4126 For this reason also were the eyes of the disciples weighed down when Christs passion was approaching; and when, in the first instance, the Lord found them sleeping, He let it pass,—thus indicating the patience of God in regard to the state of slumber in which men lay; but coming the second time, He aroused them, and made them stand up, in token that His passion is the arousing of His sleeping disciples, on whose account “He also descended into the lower parts of the earth,” 4127 to behold with His eyes the state of those who were resting from their labours, 4128 in reference to whom He did also declare to the disciples: “Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see and hear what ye do see and hear.” 4129
2. For it was not merely for those who believed on Him in the time of Tiberius Cæsar that Christ came, nor did the Father exercise His providence for the men only who are now alive, but for all men altogether, who from the beginning, according to their capacity, in their generation have both feared and loved God, and practised justice and piety towards their neighbours, and have earnestly desired to see Christ, and to hear His voice. Wherefore He shall, at His second coming, first rouse from their sleep all persons of this description, and shall raise them up, as well as the rest who shall be judged, and give them a place in His kingdom. For it is truly “one God who” directed the patriarchs towards His dispensations, and “has justified the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith.” 4130 For as in the first we were prefigured, so, on the other hand, are they represented in us, that is, in the Church, and receive the recompense for those things which they accomplished.
Isa. iv. 4.493:4125
John xiii. 5.494:4126
This spurious quotation has been introduced before. See book iii. 20. 4.494:4127
Eph. iv. 9.494:4128
So Harvey understands the obscure Latin text, “id quod erat inoperatum conditionis.”494:4129
Matt. xiii. 17.494:4130
Rom. iii. 30.
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