Early Christian Quotes on Jesus
The Shepherd of Hermas (1st or 2nd Century), Similitude 5, Chapter 6:
God made the holy, pre-existent Spirit that created every creature to dwell in flesh. This flesh in which the Holy Spirit dwelt was subject to that Spirit, walking religiously and chastely, in no respect defiling the Spirit; and after living excellently and purely, and after laboring and co-operating with the Spirit, and having in everything acted vigorously and courageously along with the Holy Spirit, He assumed it as a partner.
For this conduct of the flesh pleased Him, because it was not defiled on the earth while having the Holy Spirit. He took, therefore, as fellow-councilors His Son and the glorious angels, in order that this flesh, which had been subject to the body without a fault, might have some place of tabernacle, and that it might not appear that the reward of its servitude had been lost, for the flesh that has been found without spot or defilement, in which the Holy Spirit dwelt, will receive a reward.
The Shepherd of Hermas (1st or 2nd Century), Similitude 9, Chapter 12:
“First of all, sir,” I said, “explain this to me: What is the meaning of the rock and the gate?”
“This rock,” the angel 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-councilor with the Father in His work of creation: for this reason, He is 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 receives 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 the Lord is surrounded by them. 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 around 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 to God apart from Him. Whosoever does not receive His name shall not enter into the kingdom of God.”
The Christian Sibylline Oracles (2nd Century) Book 8: 437-443:
Know your God Himself, who is God's Son;
Glorify Him and hold Him within your heart.
Love Him from your soul and extol his name.
Put off your former friends and wash yourself
From their blood; for He is not appeased by Your songs
Nor by Your prayers, nor does He give heed
To perishable sacrifices.
Odes of Solomon (1st or 2nd Century) 7:3-16:
For there is a Helper for me, the Lord. He has generously shown Himself to me in His simplicity, because His kindness has diminished His dreadfulness.
He became like me that I might receive Him. In form, He was considered like me, that I might put Him on.
And I trembled not when I saw Him, because He was gracious to me.
Like my nature He became, that I might understand Him. And like my form, that I might not turn away from Him.
The Father of knowledge is the Word of knowledge.
He who created wisdom is wiser than His works.
And He who created me when I was not knew what I would do when I came into being.
On account of this, He was gracious to me in His abundant grace and allowed me to pray to Him and to benefit from His sacrifice.
For He is the one who is incorrupt, the perfection of the worlds and their Father.
He has allowed Him to appear to them that are His own; in order that they may recognize Him that made them, and not suppose that they came of themselves.
For toward knowledge He has set His way. He has widened it and lengthened it and brought it to complete perfection.
And He has set over it the traces of His light, and it proceeded from the beginning until the end.
For by Him He was served, and He was pleased by the Son.
And because of His salvation He will possess everything. And the Most High will be known by His holy ones:
Ignatius’ Letter to the Philadelphians (Late 1st Century or Early 2nd Century) Chapter 9:
The priests indeed are good, but the High Priest is better; to whom the holy of holies has been committed and who alone has been trusted with the secrets of God. He is the door of the Father, by which enter in Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and the prophets and the apostles and the Church.
Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians (Late 1st Century or Early 2nd Century) Chapter 7:
There is one Physician who has both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and then impossible, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians (Late 1st Century or Early 2nd Century) Chapter 19:
Now the virginity of Mary was hidden from the prince of this world, as was also her offspring, and the death of the Lord; three famous mysteries that God worked in silence. How, then, was He manifested to the world? A star shone forth in heaven above all the other stars, the light of which was inexpressible, while its novelty struck men with astonishment. And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this star, and its light was exceedingly great above them all. And there was agitation felt as to whence this new spectacle came, so unlike to everything else [in the heavens]. Hence every kind of magic was destroyed, and every bond of wickedness disappeared; ignorance was removed, and the old kingdom abolished, God Himself being manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life. And now that took a beginning which had been prepared by God. Henceforth, all things were in a state of tumult, because He planned the abolition of death.
Apology of Aristides (Early 2nd Century) Chapter 14:
The Christians trace the beginning of their religion from Jesus the Messiah; and He is named the Son of God Most High. And it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed Himself with flesh; and the Son of God lived in a daughter of man.
The proof that this man is the Christ of God does not fail, though I be unable to prove that He existed formerly as Son of the Maker of all things, being God, and was born a man by the Virgin…For there are some who admit that He is Christ, while holding Him to be a man only, with whom I do not agree.
Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 84:
That the first-begotten of all creation would become incarnate by the Virgin's womb, and be a child, was foretold by the Spirit of prophecy so that when it took place, people would recognize it as God’s power and will at work.
Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 87:
The Scripture says that powers of the Spirit have come on Jesus, not because He stood in need of them but because they would find their accomplishment in Him, so that there would be no more prophets in Israel; and this you can plainly see, for after Him no prophet has arisen among the Jews.
Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 127:
Wherever God says, 'God went up from Abraham,' or, 'The Lord spoke to Moses,' and 'The Lord came down to behold the tower which the sons of men had built,' or when 'God shut Noah into the ark,' you must not imagine that the unbegotten God Himself came down or went up from any place. For the ineffable Father and Lord of all neither has come to any place, nor walks, nor sleeps, nor rises up, but remains in His own place, wherever that is, quick to behold and quick to hear, having neither eyes nor ears, but being of indescribable might; and He sees all things, and knows all things, and none of us escapes His observation; and He is not moved or confined to a spot in the whole world, for He existed before the world was made.
How, then, could He talk with any one, or be seen by any one, or appear on the smallest portion of the earth, when the people at Sinai were not able to look even on the glory of Him who was sent from Him; and Moses himself could not enter into the tabernacle which he had erected, when it was filled with the glory of God; and the priest could not endure to stand before the temple when Solomon conveyed the ark into the house in Jerusalem which he had built for it?
Therefore, neither Abraham, nor Isaac, nor Jacob, nor any other man, saw the Father and ineffable Lord of all, but saw Him who was His Son.
The earth shook, and its foundations trembled; the sun fled away, and the elements turned back, and the day was changed into night, for they could not endure the sight of their Lord hanging on a tree. The whole creation was amazed, marveling and saying, "What new mystery is this? The Judge is judged, and holds his peace; the Invisible One is seen and is not ashamed; the Incomprehensible is laid hold of, and is not indignant; the Unlimited is restricted, and does not resist; the Impossible suffers, and does not avenge; the Immortal dies, and answers not a word; the Celestial is laid in the grave, and endures it! What new mystery is this?"
The whole creation was astonished; but, when our Lord arose from the place of the dead, and trampled death under foot, and bound the strong one, and set people free, then did the whole creation see clearly that all this was for humanity's sake. For our Lord, when He was born a human, was condemned so that He might show mercy, was bound so that He might free us, was seized so that He might release us, suffered so that He might feel compassion, died so that He might give life, was laid in the grave so that He might raise the dead.
Melito’s Discourse on the Cross (Mid to Late 2nd Century):
Though He was incorporeal, He formed for Himself a body like ours, appearing as a sheep, yet still remaining the Shepherd; being seen as a servant, yet not renouncing the Sonship; being carried in the womb of Mary, yet carrying the nature of His Father; walking upon the earth, yet filling heaven; appearing as an infant, yet not discarding the eternity of His nature; being invested with a body, yet not cutting Himself off from the Godhead; being poor, yet not divested of His riches; needing sustenance as a man, yet not ceasing to feed the entire world as God; putting on the likeness of a servant, yet not impairing the likeness of His Father…He was standing before Pilate, and at the same time was sitting with His Father; He was nailed upon the tree, and yet was the Lord of all things.
This Being is perfect reason, the Word of God; He who was begotten before the light; He who is Creator together with the Father; He who is the Fashioner of man; He who is all in all; He who among the patriarchs is Patriarch; He who in the law is the Law; among the priests, Chief Priest; among kings, the Ruler; among prophets, the Prophet; among the angels, Archangel; in the voice of the preacher, the Word; among spirits, the Spirit; in the Father, the Son; in God, God; King for ever and ever.
For this is He who was captain to Noah; He who was guide to Abraham; He who was bound with Isaac; He who was in exile with Jacob; He who was sold with Joseph; He who was commander of the army with Moses; He who was the divider of the inheritance with Joshua the son of Nun; He who in David and the prophets announced His own sufferings…He who is the rest of those who are departed; the recoverer of those who are lost; the light of those who are in darkness; the deliverer of those who are captive; the guide of those who go astray; the asylum of the afflicted; the bridegroom of the Church; the charioteer of the cherubim; the general of the angels; God who is from God; the Son who is from the Father; Jesus Christ the King for evermore.
Melito’s On the Nature of Christ (Mid to Late 2nd Century):
There is no need to try to prove that Jesus’ soul and body, His human nature, was just as real as ours, and no phantom of the imagination. For the deeds done by Christ after His baptism, and especially His miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of the Deity hidden in His flesh. For, being at once both God and perfect man, He gave us sure indications of His two natures: of His Deity, by His miracles during the three years that followed His baptism; of His humanity, during the thirty years before His baptism, in which, by reason of His low estate as regards the flesh, He concealed the signs of His Deity, although He was the true God existing before all ages.
Irenaeus’ Against Heresies (Late 2nd Century) Book 3, Chapter 19, Paragraph 3:
As Jesus became man to undergo temptation, so also was He the Word that He might be glorified; the Word remaining inactive so that He might be capable of being tempted, dishonored, crucified, and of suffering death, but the human nature being swallowed up in the divine when it conquered and endured and performed acts of kindness and rose again and was received up into heaven.
Fragments of Irenaeus (Late 2nd Century) Paragraph 8:
As the ark of the covenant was glided within and without with pure gold, so also was the body of Christ pure and resplendent; for it was adorned within by the Word, and shielded without by the Spirit, so that from both materials, the splendor of the natures might be clearly shown forth.
Clement of Alexandria’s Instructor (Early 3rd Century) Book 1, Chapter 5, Paragraph 12:
The King, who is Christ, beholds from above our laughter, and looking through the window, as the Scripture says, views the thanksgiving and the blessing and the rejoicing and the gladness, and furthermore, the endurance which works together with these things. He views His Church, showing only His face, which was what the Church was lacking but is now perfect by Her royal Head.
- - -
Find more of what the early Christians thought on my Christian History page!