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 The Historical Witness of Irenaeus
  

 

 

 

THE HISTORICAL WITNESS OF IRENAEUS

 

The following quote is not from the Bible, but it is important as a historical witness of what early Christians believed. The quote is from Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons ( circa 175-195) He was the student of Polycarp who was taught by the apostle John.

According to the Dictionary of the Christian church (Zondervan) Irenaeus "...encountered  Gnostic activity and devoted five books to the DETECTION AND OVERTHROW OF FALSELY
NAMED KNOWLEDGE usually called 'Against Heresies'."  These writings are still published today.

In one passage from Against Heresies, Irenaeus teaches what must have been accepted doctrinal belief in the early church concerning the relationship between the Decalogue and the Mosaic Law.  He wrote:

GOD ADDED MOSAIC LAW AS YOKE OF BONDAGE

"1.  They [the Jews] had therefore a law, a course of discipline, and a prophecy of future things. For God at the first, indeed, warning them by means of natural precepts, which from the beginning He had implanted in mankind, that is by means of the Decalogue,
(which, if any one does not observe, he has no salvation), DID THEN DEMAND NOTHING MORE OF THEM. As Moses says in Deuteronomy,

'These are all the words which the Lord spake to the whole assembly of the sons of Israel on the mount, and He added no more; and He wrote them on two tables of stone, and gave them to me.'  (Deut 5:22)

For this reason, that they who are willing to follow Him might keep these commandments. BUT when they turned themselves to make a calf, and had gone back in their minds to Egypt,  desiring to be slaves instead of freemen, THEY WERE PLACED FOR THE FUTURE IN A STATE OF SERVITUDE SUITED TO THEIR WISH, - which did not indeed cut them off from God, but SUBJECTED THEM TO THE YOKE OF  BONDAGE; as Ezekiel the prophet, when stating the reasons for the giving of such a law, declares:

 

'And their eyes were after the desire of their heart; and I gave them STATUTES THAT WERE  NOT GOOD, and judgements in which they shall not live'   Ezek 20:24

IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES, (AD 120 - 202) from The Ante-Nicene Fathers, TT Clark 1897  (see Gal 2:4, 3:19)

 

[It is important to note that in contrast to Ezekiel, the prophet Nehemiah says the statutes given on Mt.  Sinai were "good statutes", whereas Ezekiel calls the Mosaic law: "statutes that were NOT good]:

 

"Thou camest down also upon Mt. Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest  them right judgements, and true laws, GOOD STATUTES and commandments"  Neh 9:13
                                ***
In addition, a Chronology of the events at Mt. Sinai, shows that the ceremonial law was given in May of 1490, on the other hand, the Ten Commandments in May of 1491, therefore, THE DIETARY LAWS (part of the yoke of bondage) were commanded a full YEAR after the Decalogue.  The Mosaic law was part of a second covenant with a second set of tablets. After they made the calf, God was going to destroy the Israelites, but Moses begged the Lord for their forgiveness and the nation was allowed a reprieve, but with a much stricter set of rules designed to keep their minds on obedience to God's law.  This was the yoke of bondage.  Now you can understand what Paul meant when he said:  "Why then the law?  It was added because of transgressions,"  The Mosaic law was added to the original covenant  (the Ten Commandments) because of the Israel's transgressions.

Please note the deliberate and pointed comment Irenaeus made above, about the necessity of obedience to the Ten Commandments:

"1.  They [the Jews] had therefore a law, a course of discipline, and a prophecy of future things. For God at the first, indeed, warning them by means of natural precepts, which from the beginning He had implanted in mankind, that is by means of the Decalogue,

**(which, if any one does not observe, he has no salvation),**

DID THEN DEMAND NOTHING MORE  OF THEM.

The original covenant was the Ten Commandments, not the Mosaic law.

Harold and Donna Kupp

http://groups.google.com/group/Freetruth?hl=en,

http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/show.php?i=630302&cat=0

The Seven Deadly Deceptions Of Counterfeit Christianity
http://www.freetruth.info



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