New Advent
 Home   Encyclopedia   Summa   Fathers   Bible   Library 
 A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z 
Home > Fathers of the Church > Against Heresies (St. Irenaeus) > Book IV, Chapter 22

Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 22)

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 fullness of the time of liberty had arrived, the Word Himself did by Himself wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion, Isaiah 4:4 when He washed the disciples' feet with His own hands. John 13:5 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 salvation, that they might be saved. For this reason also were the eyes of the disciples weighed down when Christ's 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, Ephesians 4:9 to behold with His eyes the state of those who were resting from their labours, in reference to whom He did also declare to the disciples: Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see and hear what you see and hear. Matthew 13:17

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. Romans 3:30 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.

About this page

Source. Translated by Alexander Roberts and William Rambaut. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103422.htm>.

Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is feedback732 at newadvent.org. (To help fight spam, this address might change occasionally.) Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.

Copyright © 2009 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

CONTACT US