Irenaeus of Lyons: Calling men anew to communion with God, that by communion with Him we may partake of incorruption Tuesday, Aug 23 2016 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonContinued from here….

If He was not born, neither did He die. And, if He died not, neither did He rise from the dead.

And, if He rose not from the dead, neither did He vanquish death and bring its reign to nought.

And if death be not vanquished, how can we ascend to life, who from the beginning have fallen under death?

So then those who take away redemption from man, and believe not in God that He will raise them from the dead, these also despise the birth of our Lord.

This He underwent on our behalf, that the Word of God should be made flesh in order that He might manifest the resurrection of the flesh, and might have pre-eminence over all things in the heavens, as the first-born and eldest offspring of the thought of the Father, the Word, fulfilling all things, and Himself guiding and ruling upon earth.

For He was the Virgin’s first-born, a just and holy man, godfearing, good, well-pleasing to God, perfect in all ways, and delivering from hell all who follow after Him. For He Himself was the first-begotten of the dead, the Prince and Author of life unto God.

Thus then the Word of God in all things hath the pre-eminence; for that He is true man and Wonderful Counsellor and Mighty God, calling men anew to communion with God, that by communion with Him we may partake of incorruption.

He was proclaimed by the law through Moses, and by the prophets of the Most High and Almighty God, as Son of the Father of all – He from whom all things are, He who spake with Moses.

He came into Judaea, generated from God by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary, even of her who was of the seed of David and of Abraham, Jesus the Anointed of God, showing Himself to be the One who was proclaimed beforehand by the prophets.

And His forerunner was John the Baptist who prepared and made ready the people beforehand for the reception of the Word of life; declaring that He was the Christ, on whom the Spirit of God rested, mingling with His flesh.

His disciples…, after receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, were sent forth by Him into all the world, and wrought the calling of the Gentiles, showing to mankind the way of life, to turn them from idols and fornication and covetousness, cleansing their souls and bodies by the baptism of water and of the Holy Spirit.

This Holy Spirit they had received of the Lord, and they distributed and imparted It to them that believed; and thus they ordered and established the Churches.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 39-41 [slightly adapted].

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Cyril of Alexandria: By the newness of the sepulchre is meant the untrodden and strange pathway whereby we return from death unto life Saturday, Apr 30 2016 

cyril_alexandria“So they took the Body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb, wherein was never man yet laid” (John 19:40-41).

Christ was numbered among the dead, Who for our sake became dead, according to the Flesh, but Whom we conceive to be, and Who is, in fact, Life, of Himself, and through His Father.

And, that He might fulfil all righteousness, that is, all that was appropriate to the form of man, He of His own Will subjected the Temple of His Body not merely to death, but also to what follows after death, that is, burial and being laid in the tomb.

The writer of the Gospel says that this sepulchre in the garden was a new one; this fact signifying to us, as it were, by a type and figure, that Christ’s death is the harbinger and pioneer of our entry into Paradise.

For He entered as a Forerunner for us. What other signification than this can be intended by the carrying over of the Body of Jesus in the garden?

And by the newness of the sepulchre is meant the untrodden and strange pathway whereby we return from death unto life, and the renewing of our souls, that Christ has invented for us, whereby we baffle corruption.

For henceforth, by the death of Christ, death for us has been transformed, in a manner, into sleep, with like power and functions. For we are alive unto God, and shall live for evermore, according to the Scriptures.

Therefore, also, the blessed Paul, in a variety of places, calls those asleep who have died in Christ. For in the times of old the dread presence of death held human nature in awe.

For death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression; and we bore the image of the earthy in his likeness, and underwent the death that was inflicted by the Divine curse.

The Second Adam appeared among us, the Divine Man from heaven, and, contending for the salvation of the world, purchased by His death the life of all men, and, destroying the power of corruption, rose again to life.

Then we were transformed into His Image, and we undergo, as it were, a different kind of death, that does not dissolve us in eternal corruption, but casts upon us a slumber which is laden with fair hope, after the Likeness of Him Who has made this new path for us, that is, Christ.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 12 (on John 19:40-41) [slightly adapted].

Athanasius of Alexandria: The incorruptible Son of God, being conjoined with all by a like nature, naturally clothed all with incorruption Monday, Jan 18 2016 

AthanasiusJanuary 18th, Saints Athanasius and Cyril, Patriarchs of Alexandria.

The Word perceived that not otherwise could the corruption of men be undone save by death as a necessary condition.

Yet it was impossible for the Word to suffer death, being immortal, and Son of the Father.

He takes to Himself a body capable of death, so that, by partaking of the Word Who is above all, it might be worthy to die in the stead of all, and might, because of the Word which was come to dwell in it, remain incorruptible, and that thenceforth corruption might be stayed from all by the Grace of the Resurrection.

[…] And thus He, the incorruptible Son of God, being conjoined with all by a like nature, naturally clothed all with incorruption, by the promise of the resurrection.

For the actual corruption in death no longer has holding-ground against men, by reason of the Word, which by His one body has come to dwell among them.

When a great king has entered into some large city and taken up his abode in one of the houses there, such a city is…held worthy of high honour, nor does any enemy or bandit any longer descend upon it and subject it.

On the contrary, it is thought entitled to all care, because of the king’s having taken up his residence in a single house there.

So, too, has it been with the Monarch of all.

For now that He has come to our realm, and taken up his abode in one body among His peers, henceforth the whole conspiracy of the enemy against mankind is checked, and the corruption of death which before was prevailing against them is done away.

For the race of men would have gone to ruin, had not the Lord and Saviour of all, the Son of God, come among us to meet the end of death.

[…] Now in truth this great work was peculiarly suited to God’s goodness.

A king who founds a house or city which is beset by bandits from the carelessness of its inmates does not by any means neglect it, but…reclaims it as his own work, having regard not to the carelessness of the inhabitants but to what beseems himself.

Accordingly, much more did God the Word of the all-good Father not neglect the race of men, His work,when it was going to corruption.

Rather, while He blotted out the death which had ensued by the offering of His own body, He corrected their neglect by His own teaching, restoring all that was man’s by His own power.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 9 & 10 [slightly adapted].

Athanasius of Alexandria: The incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm Wednesday, Dec 30 2015 

AthanasiusThe incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us (Acts 17:27) before.

For no part of Creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father.

But He comes in condescension to shew loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us.

And seeing the race of rational creatures in the way to perish, and death reigning over them by corruption;

seeing, too, that the threat against transgression gave a firm hold to the corruption which was upon us, and that it was monstrous that before the law was fulfilled it should fall through;

seeing, once more, the unseemliness of what was come to pass: that the things whereof He Himself was Artificer were passing away;

seeing, further, the exceeding wickedness of men, and how by little and little they had increased it to an intolerable pitch against themselves;

and seeing, lastly, how all men were under penalty of death;

He took pity on our race, and had mercy on our infirmity, and condescended to our corruption, and, unable to bear that death should have the mastery—lest the creature should perish, and His Father’s handiwork in men be spent for nought—He takes unto Himself a body, and that of no different sort from ours.

For He did not simply will to become embodied, or will merely to appear. For if He willed merely to appear, He was able to effect His divine appearance by some other and higher means as well.

But He takes a body of our kind, and not merely so, but from a spotless and stainless virgin, knowing not a man, a body clean and in very truth pure from intercourse of men.

For being Himself mighty, and Artificer of everything, He prepares the body in the Virgin as a temple unto Himself, and makes it His very own as an instrument, in it manifested, and in it dwelling.

And thus taking from our bodies one of like nature, because all were under penalty of the corruption of death He gave it over to death in the stead of all, and offered it to the Father—doing this, moreover, of His loving-kindness, to the end that,

firstly, all being held to have died in Him, the law involving the ruin of men might be undone (inasmuch as its power was fully spent in the Lord’s body, and had no longer holding-ground against men, his peers),

and that, secondly, whereas men had turned toward corruption, He might turn them again toward incorruption, and quicken them from death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of the Resurrection, banishing death from them like straw from the fire.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 8.

Irenaeus of Lyons: It was right that through the obedience of Him who was made man for us we should be released from death Friday, Dec 11 2015 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonWhen Moses had finished his course…he died according to the word of the Lord (Deut. 34:3); and Jesus the son of Nun succeeded him.

He divided the Jordan and made the people to pass over into the land;

and, when he had overthrown and destroyed the seven races that dwelt therein, he assigned to the people the temporal Jerusalem, wherein David was king, and Solomon his son, who built the temple to the name of God, according to the likeness of the tabernacle which had been made by Moses after the pattern of the heavenly and spiritual things.

Hither were the prophets sent by God through the Holy Spirit; and they instructed the people and turned them to the God of their fathers, the Almighty;

and they became heralds of the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, declaring that from the posterity of David His flesh should blossom forth;

that after the flesh He might be the son of David, who was the son of Abraham by a long succession; but according to the spirit Son of God, pre-existing with the Father, begotten before all the creation of the world, and at the end of the times appearing to all the world as man, the Word of God gathering up in Himself all things that are in heaven and that are on earth (Eph. 1:10).

So then He united man with God, and established a community of union between God and man; since we could not in any other way participate in incorruption, save by His coming among us. For so long as incorruption was invisible and unrevealed, it helped us not at all: therefore it became visible (cf 2 Tim. 1:10), that in all respects we might participate in the reception of incorruption.

And, because in the original formation of Adam all of us were tied and bound up with death through his disobedience, it was right that through the obedience of Him who was made man for us we should be released from death: and because death reigned over the flesh, it was right that through the flesh it should lose its force and let man go free from its oppression.

So the Word was made flesh (John 1:14), that, through that very flesh which sin had ruled and dominated, it should lose its force and be no longer in us. And therefore our Lord took that same original formation as (His) entry into flesh, so that He might draw near and contend on behalf of the fathers, and conquer by Adam that which by Adam had stricken us down.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 29-31.

Athanasius of Alexandria: “God made man for incorruption, and as an image of His own eternity” Tuesday, Dec 1 2015 

AthanasiusGod has not only made us out of nothing; but He gave us freely, by the Grace of the Word, a life in correspondence with God.

But men, having rejected things eternal, and, by counsel of the devil, turned to the things of corruption, became the cause of their own corruption in death.

They were by nature corruptible, but were destined – by the grace following from partaking of the Word – to have escaped their natural state had they remained good.

For because of the Word dwelling with them, even their natural corruption did not come near them, as Wisdom also says:

“God made man for incorruption, and as an image of His own eternity; but by envy of the devil death came into the world” (Wisd. 2:23).

But when this was come to pass, men began to die, while corruption thenceforward prevailed against them, gaining even more than its natural power over the whole race, inasmuch as it had, owing to the transgression of the commandment, the threat of the Deity as a further advantage against them.

[…] With having gained upon men, and with corruption abiding upon them, the race of man was perishing. The rational man made in God’s image was disappearing, and the handiwork of God was in process of dissolution.

[…] It  was monstrous, firstly, that God, having spoken, should prove false—that, when once He had ordained that man, if he transgressed the commandment, should die, after the transgression man should not die, but God’s word should be broken. For God would not be true, if, when He had said we should die, man died not.

Again, it was unseemly that creatures once made rational, and having partaken of the Word, should go to ruin, and turn again toward non-existence by the way of corruption.

For it were not worthy of God’s goodness that the things He had made should waste away, because of the deceit practised on men by the devil.

[…] Especially it was unseemly to the last degree that God’s handicraft among men should be done away, either because of their own carelessness, or because of the deceitfulness of evil spirits.

So, as the rational creatures were wasting and such works in course of ruin, what was God in His goodness to do? Suffer corruption to prevail against them and death to hold them fast?

And where were the profit of their having been made, to begin with? For better were they not made, than once made, left to neglect and ruin.

[…] It was, then, out of the question to leave men to the current of corruption; because this would be unseemly, and unworthy of God’s goodness.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 5 & 6 [slightly adapted].

John Chrysostom: “For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven” Monday, Nov 2 2015 

John_Chrysostom[On 2 Corinthians 5:1-2).

For we know, that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1).

One ought not to wonder that we suffer affliction; nor to be confounded, for we even reap many gains thereby.

And some of these St Paul mentioned before; for instance, that we “bear about the dying of Jesus,” and present the greatest proof of His power.

For…we exhibit a clear proof of the Resurrection, says Paul, “that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

Along with these things he says that our inward man is thus made better also; for “though our outward man is decaying…yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”

Showing that this being scourged and persecuted is proportionately useful, he adds that, when this is done thoroughly, then countless blessings will spring up for those who have endured these things.

For lest, when you hear that your outward man perishes, you should grieve, he says that when this is completely effected, then most of all will you rejoice and will come unto a better inheritance.

Thus not only ought one not to grieve at its perishing now in part, but we should earnestly to seek for the completion of that destruction, for this most conducts us to immortality.

Wherefore he adds “for we know that, if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

[…] “For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven” (2 Cor. 5:2).

What habitation? The incorruptible body. And why do we groan now? Because that is far better. And he calls it “from heaven” because of its incorruptibleness.

For it is not the case that a body will come down to us from above. Rather, by this expression he signifies the grace which is sent from thence.

So far then ought we to be from grieving at these trials which are in part that we should seek even for their fulness, as if he had said: Do you groan because you are persecuted, because this thy man is decaying? Groan rather that this is not done unto excess and that it perishes not entirely.

Do you see how Paul has turned round what was said unto the contrary? He proves that they ought to groan that those things were not done fully for which they groaned because they were done partially.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Commentary on 2 Corinthians, Homily 10, 1-2, [slightly adapted].

Athanasius of Alexandria: God has made man, and willed that he should abide in incorruption Sunday, Sep 13 2015 

AthanasiusYou are wondering, perhaps, for what possible reason, having proposed to speak of the Incarnation of the Word, we are at present treating of the origin of mankind.

But this, too, properly belongs to the aim of our treatise.

For in speaking of the appearance of the Saviour amongst us, we must needs speak also of the origin of men, that you may know that the reason of His coming down was because of us, and that our transgression called forth the loving-kindness of the Word, that the Lord should both make haste to help us and appear among men.

For of His becoming Incarnate we were the object, and for our salvation He dealt so lovingly as to appear and be born even in a human body.

Thus, then, God has made man, and willed that he should abide in incorruption; but men, having despised and rejected the contemplation of God, and devised and contrived evil for themselves, received the condemnation of death with which they had been threatened.

And from thenceforth they no longer remained as they were made, but were being corrupted according to their devices (Eccles. 7:29; Rom. 1:21-22). And death had the mastery over them as king (Rom. 5:14).

For transgression of the commandment was turning them back to their natural state, so that just as they have had their being out of nothing, so also, as might be expected, they might look for corruption into nothing in the course of time.

For if, out of a former normal state of non-existence, they were called into being by the Presence and loving-kindness of the Word, it followed naturally that when men were bereft of the knowledge of God and were turned back to what was not (for what is evil is not, but what is good is), they should, since they derive their being from God who IS, be everlastingly bereft even of being; in other words, that they should be disintegrated and abide in death and corruption.

For man is by nature mortal, inasmuch as he is made out of what is not; but by reason of his likeness to Him that is (and if he still preserved this likeness by keeping Him in his knowledge) he would stay his natural corruption, and remain incorrupt; as Wisdom says: “The taking heed to His laws is the assurance of immortality” (Wis. 6:18).

But being incorrupt, he would live henceforth as God, to which I suppose the divine Scripture refers, when it says: “I have said ye are gods, and ye are all sons of the most Highest; but ye die like men, and fall as one of the princes” (Psalm 81:6).

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 4.

Irenaeus of Lyons: What other visible fruit is there of the invisible Spirit than the rendering of the flesh mature and capable of incorruption? Saturday, Sep 12 2015 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonContinued from here….

There had been a necessity that, in the first place, a human being should be fashioned, and that what was fashioned should receive the soul; afterwards that it should thus receive the communion of the Spirit.

Wherefore also “the first Adam was made” by the Lord “a living soul, the second Adam a quickening spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45).

As, then, he who was made a living soul forfeited life when he turned aside to what was evil, so, on the other hand, the same individual, when he reverts to what is good, and receives the quickening Spirit, shall find life.

For it is not one thing which dies and another which is quickened, as neither is it one thing which is lost and another which is found, but the Lord came seeking for that same sheep which had been lost.

What was it, then, which was dead? Undoubtedly it was the substance of the flesh; the same, too, which had lost the breath of life, and had become breathless and dead.

This same, therefore, was what the Lord came to quicken, that as in Adam we do all die, as being of an animal nature, in Christ we may all live, as being spiritual, not laying aside God’s handiwork, but laying aside the lusts of the flesh, and receiving the Holy Spirit.

As the apostle says in the Epistle to the Colossians: “Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth.”

And what these are he himself explains: “Fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence; and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).

The laying aside of these is what the apostle preaches; and he declares that those who do such things, as being merely flesh and blood, cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven.

For their soul, tending towards what is worse, and descending to earthly lusts, has become a partaker in the same designation [i.e. “earthly”].

[…] Now the final result of the work of the Spirit is the salvation of the flesh. For what other visible fruit is there of the invisible Spirit, than the rendering of the flesh mature and capable of incorruption?

[…] He goes on to say, “And put ye on the new man, that which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of Him who created him.”

In this, therefore, that he says, “which is renewed in knowledge,” he demonstrates that he, the selfsame man who was in ignorance in times past, that is, in ignorance of God, is renewed by that knowledge which has respect to Him.

For the knowledge of God renews man.

And when he says, “after the image of the Creator,” he sets forth the recapitulation of the same man, who was at the beginning made after the likeness of God.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses 5,12,2-4.

Irenaeus of Lyons: The breath of life rendered man an animated being, and the vivifying Spirit caused him to become spiritual Sunday, Aug 23 2015 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonAs the flesh is capable of corruption, so is it also of incorruption; and as it is of death, so is it also of life.

These two do mutually give way to each other; and both cannot remain in the same place.

One is driven out by the other, and the presence of the one destroys that of the other.

When death takes possession of a man, it drives life away from him, and proves him to be dead.

Much more, then, does life, when it has obtained power over the man, drive out death, and restore him as living unto God.

For if death brings mortality, why should not life, when it comes, vivify man?

Just as Isaiah the prophet says, “Death devoured when it had prevailed” (Isaiah 25:8 LXX). And again, “God has wiped away every tear from every face.”

Thus that former life is expelled, because it was not given by the Spirit, but by the breath.

For the breath of life, which also rendered man an animated being, is one thing, and the vivifying Spirit another, which also caused him to become spiritual.

And for this reason Isaiah said, “Thus saith the Lord, who made heaven and established it, who founded the earth and the things therein, and gave breath to the people upon it, and Spirit to those walking upon it” (Isaiah 42:5).

Isaiah tells us that breath is indeed given in common to all people upon earth, but that the Spirit is theirs alone who tread down earthly desires.

And therefore Isaiah himself, distinguishing the things already mentioned, again exclaims, “For the Spirit shall go forth from Me, and I have made every breath” (Isaiah 57:16).

Thus does he attribute the Spirit as peculiar to God which in the last times He pours forth upon the human race by the adoption of sons; but he shows that breath was common throughout the creation, and points it out as something created.

Now what has been made is a different thing from him who makes it. The breath, then, is temporal, but the Spirit eternal.

The breath, too, increases in strength for a short period, and continues for a certain time; after that it takes its departure, leaving its former abode destitute of breath. But when the Spirit pervades the man within and without, inasmuch as it continues there, it never leaves him.

“But that is not first which is spiritual,” says the apostle, speaking this as if with reference to us human beings; “but that is first which is animal, afterwards that which is spiritual” (1 Cor. 15:46).

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses 5,12,1-2 (slightly adapted).

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