st-irenaeus-of-lyonNor did Christ truly redeem us by His own blood except by really becoming man, restoring to His own handiwork what was said of it in the beginning—that man was made after the image and likeness of God.

He did not not snatch away by stratagem the property of another, but took possession of His own in a righteous and gracious manner.

As far as concerned the apostasy, indeed, He redeems us righteously from it by His own blood; but as regards us who have been redeemed, He does this graciously.

For we have given nothing to Him previously, nor does He desire anything from us, as if He stood in need of it; but we do stand in need of fellowship with Him.

And for this reason it was that He graciously poured Himself out, that He might gather us into the bosom of the Father.

But vain in every respect are they who despise the entire dispensation of God, and disallow the salvation of the flesh, and treat with contempt its regeneration, maintaining that it is not capable of incorruption.

But if this indeed do not attain salvation, then neither did the Lord redeem us with His blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of His blood, nor the bread which we break the communion of His body (1 Cor. 10:16).

For blood can only come from veins and flesh, and whatsoever else makes up the substance of man, such as the Word of God was actually made. By His own blood he redeemed us, as also His apostle declares, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins” (Col. 1:14).

And as we are His members, we are also nourished by means of the creation (and He Himself grants the creation to us, for He causes His sun to rise, and sends rain when He wills (Matt. 5:45).

He has acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as His own blood, from which He bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of the creation) He has established as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.

The mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist becomes the body of Christ, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported.

So how can anyone affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which flesh is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him? As St Paul declares…:“we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Eph. 5:30).

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses, 5, 2, 1-3.

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