Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Early Christian Quotes on the Church

Early Christian Quotes on the Church


The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Vision 2, Chapter 4:


Now while I slept, a revelation was given to me, my brothers and sisters, by an attractive young man, who said to me, “Who do you think that old woman is from whom you received the book?”


And I said, “The Sibyl.”


“You are mistaken,” he said. “It is not the Sibyl.”


“Who is it then?” I asked.


And he said, “It is the Church.”


And I said to him, “Why then is she an old woman?”


“Because,” he said, “she was created first of all. That is why she is old. And for her sake, the world was made.”



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Vision 3, Chapter 5:


[Speaking about the tower, which represents the Church.] The angel said, “Hear now about the stones that are in the building. Those square white stones that fit exactly into each other are apostles, bishops, teachers, and deacons, who have lived in godly purity and have acted as bishops and teachers and deacons loyally and respectfully to the elect of God. Some of them have fallen asleep, and some still remain alive. And they have always agreed with each other and been at peace among themselves and listened to each other. On account of this, they fit perfectly into the building of the tower.”



Mathetes’ Letter to Diognetus

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 6:


Let’s summarize what the soul is in the body and what Christians are in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, yet is not of the body, and Christians dwell in the world, yet are not of the world. The visible body guards the invisible soul, and Christians are known to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible. The flesh hates the soul and wars against it but doesn’t suffer any injury if it is prevented from enjoying pleasures. The world also hates the Christians, though they are in no way injured if they give up pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it; Christians love those who hate them. The soul is imprisoned in the body, yet preserves that very body. Likewise, Christians are confined in the world like in a prison, and yet they are the preservers of the world. The immortal soul dwells in a mortal tabernacle, and Christians dwell as sojourners and travelers in corruptible bodies, looking for an incorruptible dwelling in the heavens. The soul, when provided with even poor food and drink, becomes better. Similarly, though subjected day by day to punishment, the Christians increase the more in number. God has given them this prominent position, which it was unlawful for them to abandon.



Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 32:


"The rule that twelve bells be attached to the robe of the high priest, which hung down to the feet, was a symbol of the twelve apostles, who depend on the power of Christ, the eternal Priest; and through their voice, all the earth has been filled with the glory and grace of God and of His Christ.



Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, Book 1

(Late 2nd Century)

Chapter 10, Paragraphs 1-2:


The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: She believes in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and the sea and all things that are in them; and in one Christ, Jesus, the Son of God, who became man for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the kindness of God and the anticipation and arrivals and the birth from a virgin and the passion and the resurrection from the dead and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus our Lord and His future appearing from heaven in the glory of the Father "to gather all things in one" and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race in order that to Christ Jesus our Lord and God and Savior and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, "every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess" to Him and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send "spiritual wickednesses" and the angels who transgressed and became traitors, together with the ungodly and unrighteous and wicked and profane among men into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, give immortality on the righteous and holy and those who have kept His commandments and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning, and others from the time of their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.


The Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, carefully preserves it, as if they live in the same house. She also believes these points just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. Although the world's languages are different, the meaning of the tradition is the same. For the Churches planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in France, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, which is a creature of God, is the same throughout the whole world, so the preaching of truth shines everywhere and enlightens all men willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. No matter how gifted he may be, none of the Churches' rulers teach doctrines different from these, for no one is greater than the Master; nor will he who is not a good speaker abuse or hurt tradition. Because the faith is always the same, no one able to speak about it at great lengths makes any addition to it, nor does one who can say little lesson it.



Didascalia Apostolorum

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 13, Paragraph 1:


When you teach, command and warn the people to be constant in gathering together in the church. They should not withdraw themselves but always assemble so that no man can diminish the Church by not gathering, and cause the body of Christ to be short a member. Let a man not think about others only, but also about himself in regards to what the Lord said: “Everyone who does not gather with me, scatters.” Since you are the members of Christ, do not scatter yourselves from the Church by not gathering together.



Cyprian’s Letter to Januarius and the Bishops in Numidia

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 3:


The Church, founded by Christ the Lord upon Peter, by a source and principle of unity, is one.


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