st-irenaeus-of-lyonIn no other way could we have learned the things of God, unless our Master, existing as the Word, had become man.

For no other being had the power of revealing to us the things of the Father, except His own proper Word.

For what other person “knew the mind of the Lord,” or who else “has become His counsellor?”

Again, we could have learned in no other way than by seeing our Teacher, and hearing His voice with our own ears.

In this way, having become imitators of His works as well as doers of His words, we were to have communion with Him, receiving increase from the perfect One, and from Him who is prior to all creation.

We were but lately created by the only best and good Being, by Him also who has the gift of immortality.

We were formed after His likeness — predestinated, according to the prescience of the Father, that we, who had as yet no existence, might come into being.

We were made the first-fruits of creation—have received, in the times known beforehand, the blessings of salvation according to the ministration of the Word, who is perfect in all things:

the mighty Word, and very man, who, redeeming us by His own blood in a manner consonant to reason, gave Himself as a redemption for those who had been led into captivity.

The apostasy tyrannized over us unjustly, and, though we were by nature the property of the omnipotent God, alienated us contrary to nature, rendering us its own disciples.

The Word of God, powerful in all things, and not defective with regard to His own justice, did righteously turn against that apostasy, and redeem from it His own property.

He did this not by violent means, as the apostasy had done when it obtained dominion over us at the beginning, when it insatiably snatched away what was not its own.

Rather, he did this by means of persuasion, as became a God of counsel, who does not use violent means to obtain what He desires. This was so that neither should justice be infringed upon, nor the ancient handiwork of God go to destruction.

In this way the Lord has redeemed us through His own blood, giving His soul for our souls, and His flesh for our flesh, and has also poured out the Spirit of the Father for the union and communion of God and man.

He has imparted God to men by means of the Spirit…, attaching man to God by His own incarnation, and bestowing upon us at His coming immortality durably and truly, by means of communion with God.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses, 5, 1, 1. (slightly adapted).

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