Early Christian Quotes on Salvation
The Shepherd of Hermas (1st or 2nd Century), Similitude 9, Chapter 12:
[Speaking to the angel] “First of all, sir,” I said, “explain this to me: What is the meaning of the rock and the gate?” “This rock,” he answered, “and this gate are the Son of God.” “How, sir?” I said; “the rock is old, and the gate is new.” “Listen,” he said, “and understand, O ignorant man. The Son of God is older than all His creatures, so that He was a fellow-councillor with the Father in His work of creation: for this reason is He old.” “And why is the gate new, sir?” I said. “Because,” he answered, “He became manifest in the last days of the dispensation: for this reason the gate was made new, that they who are to be saved by it might enter into the kingdom of God. You saw,” he said, “that those stones which came in through the gate were used for the building of the tower, and that those which did not come, were again thrown back to their own place?” “I saw, sir,” I replied. “In like manner,” he continued, “no one shall enter into the kingdom of God unless he receive His holy name. For if you desire to enter into a city, and that city is surrounded by a wall, and has but one gate, can you enter into that city save through the gate which it has?” “Why, how can it be otherwise, sir?” I said. “If, then, you cannot enter into the city except through its gate, so, in like manner, a man cannot otherwise enter into the kingdom of God than by the name of His beloved Son. You saw,” he added, “the multitude who were building the tower?” “I saw them, sir,” I said. “Those,” he said, “are all glorious angels, and by them accordingly is the Lord surrounded. And the gate is the Son of God. This is the one entrance to the Lord. In no other way, then, shall any one enter in to Him except through His Son. You saw,” he continued, “the six men, and the tall and glorious man in the midst of them, who walked round the tower, and rejected the stones from the building?” “I saw him, sir,” I answered. “The glorious man,” he said, “is the Son of God, and those six glorious angels are those who support Him on the right hand and on the left. None of these glorious angels,” he continued, “will enter in unto God apart from Him. Whosoever does not receive His name, shall not enter into the kingdom of God.”
The Shepherd of Hermas (1st or 2nd Century), Similitude 9, Chapter 13:
“Since you take an interest in everything,” he [the angel] replied, “and examine minutely, hear about the stones that were rejected. These all,” he said, “received the name of God, and they received also the strength of these virgins. Having received, then, these spirits, they were made strong, and were with the servants of God; and theirs was one spirit, and one body, and one clothing. For they were of the same mind, and wrought righteousness. After a certain time, however, they were persuaded by the women whom you saw clothed in black, and having their shoulders exposed and their hair dishevelled, and beautiful in appearance. Having seen these women, they desired to have them, and clothed themselves with their strength, and put off the strength of the virgins. These, accordingly, were rejected from the house of God, and were given over to these women. But they who were not deceived by the beauty of these women remained in the house of God. You have,” he said, “the explanation of those who were rejected.”
The Shepherd of Hermas (1st or 2nd Century), Similitude 9, Chapter 15:
Hear, also,” he [the angel] continued, “the names of the women who had the black garments; and of these four are stronger than the rest. The first is Unbelief, the second: Incontinence, the third Disobedience, the fourth Deceit. And their followers are called Sorrow, Wickedness, Wantonness, Anger, Falsehood, Folly, Backbiting, Hatred. The servant of God who bears these names shall see, indeed, the kingdom of God, but shall not enter into it.”
The Shepherd of Hermas (1st or 2nd Century), Similitude 9, Chapter 18:
“He that does not know God,” he [the angel] answered, “and practices evil, receives a certain chastisement for his wickedness; but he that has known God, ought not any longer to do evil, but to do good. If, accordingly, when he ought to do good, he do evil, does not he appear to do greater evil than he who does not know God? For this reason, they who have not known God and do evil are condemned to death; but they who have known God, and have seen His mighty works, and still continue in evil, shall be chastised doubly, and shall die for ever.
The Shepherd of Hermas (1st or 2nd Century), Similitude 9, Chapter 19:
[The angel speaking] apostates and blasphemers against the Lord, and betrayers of the servants of God. To these repentance is not open
Secret Book of James (Early to Mid-2nd Century):
[Jesus speaking] Verily, I say unto you, he who will receive life and believe in the kingdom will never leave it, not even if the Father wishes to banish him."
Odes of Solomon (1st or 2nd Century) Ode 3:
…I am putting on the love of the Lord.
And His members are with Him, and I am dependent on them; and He loves me.
For I should not have known how to love the Lord, if He had not continuously loved me.
Who is able to distinguish love, except him who is loved?
I love the Beloved and I myself love Him, and where His rest is, there also am I.
And I shall be no stranger, because there is no jealousy with the Lord Most High and Merciful.
I have been united to Him, because the lover has found the Beloved, because I love Him that is the Son, I shall become a son.
Indeed he who is joined to Him who is immortal, truly shall be immortal.And he who delights in the Life will become living.
This is the Spirit of the Lord, which is not false, which teaches the sons of men to know His ways.
Be wise and understanding and awakened.
Mathetes’ Letter to Diognetus (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 9:
As long then as the former time endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors! Having therefore convinced us in the former time that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Saviour who is able to save even those things which it was [formerly] impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counsellor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honour, Glory, Power, and Life, so that we should not be anxious[ concerning clothing and food.
Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, Book 3 (Late 2nd Century) Chapter 20, Paragraphs 1-2:
Long-suffering therefore was God, when man became a defaulter, as foreseeing that victory which should be granted to him through the Word. For, when strength was made perfect in weakness, it showed the kindness and transcendent power of God. For as He patiently suffered Jonah to be swallowed by the whale, not that he should be swallowed up and perish altogether, but that, having been cast out again, he might be the more subject to God, and might glorify Him the more who had conferred upon him such an unhoped-for deliverance, and might bring the Ninevites to a lasting repentance, so that they should be convened to the Lord, who would deliver them from death, having been struck with awe by that portent which had been wrought in Jonah's case, as the Scripture says of them, "And they returned each from his evil way, and the unrighteousness which was in their hands, saying, Who knoweth if God will repent, and turn away His anger from us, and we shall not perish? " -so also, from the beginning, did God permit man to be swallowed up by the great whale, who was the author of transgression, not that he should perish altogether when so engulphed; but, arranging and preparing the plan of salvation, which was accomplished by the Word, through the sign of Jonah, for those who held the same opinion as Jonah regarding the Lord, and who confessed, and said, "I am a servant of the Lord, and I worship the Lord God of heaven, who hath made the sea and the dry land." [This was done] that man, receiving an unhoped-for salvation from God, might rise from the dead, and glorify God, and repeat that word which was uttered in prophecy by Jonah: "I cried by reason of mine affliction to the Lord my God, and He heard me out of the belly of hell; " and that he might always continue glorifying God, and giving thanks without ceasing, for that salvation which he has derived from Him, "that no flesh should glory in the Lord's presence; " and that man should never adopt an opposite opinion with regard to God, supposing that the incorruptibility which belongs to him is his own naturally, and by thus not holding the truth, should boast with empty superciliousness, as if he were naturally like to God. For he (Satan) thus rendered him (man) more ungrateful towards his Creator, obscured the love which God had towards man, and blinded his mind not to perceive what is worthy of God, comparing himself with, and judging himself equal to, God.
2. This, therefore, was the [object of the] long-suffering of God, that man, passing through all things, and acquiring the knowledge of moral discipline, then attaining to the resurrection from the dead, and learning by experience what is the source of his deliverance, may always live in a state of gratitude to the Lord, having obtained from Him the gift of incorruptibility, that he might love Him the more; for "he to whom more is forgiven, loveth more: " and that he may know himself, how mortal and weak he is; while he also understands respecting God, that He is immortal and powerful to such a degree as to confer immortality upon what is mortal, and eternity upon what is temporal; and may understand also the other attributes of God displayed towards himself, by means of which being instructed he may think of God in accordance with the divine greatness.
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Find more of what the early Christians thought on my Christian History page!