Saturday, July 20, 2019

Early Christian Quotes on Punishment and Discipline from God

Early Christian Quotes on Punishment and Discipline from God

The Shepherd of Hermas 

(1st or 2nd Century)

Similitude 6, Chapter 3:


The angel said, “This is the angel of punishment. He belongs to the righteous angels, and his duty is to punish. He takes those who wander away from God and who have walked in the desires and deceits of this world and chastises them as they deserve with terrible and various punishments.”


“Sir, I would like to know what types of tortures and punishments he carries out.”


He answered, “Hear the various tortures and punishments. The tortures are such as occur during life. For some are punished with losses, others with want, others with sicknesses of various kinds, and others with all kinds of disorder and confusion; others are insulted by unworthy persons and exposed to suffering in many other ways, for many, becoming unstable in their plans, try many things, and none of them at all succeed, and they say they are not successful in what they do. It does not occur to their minds that they have done evil deeds, but they blame the Lord.


“So, when they have been afflicted with all kinds of affliction, then they are delivered to me for good training, and they are made strong in the faith of the Lord; and for the rest of the days of their life, they are subject to the Lord with pure hearts and are successful in all they do, obtaining from the Lord everything they ask. Then they glorify the Lord for delivering them to me, and they no longer suffer any evil.”



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Similitude 7:


The angel said, “I know some people have repented with their whole heart. But do you think the sins of those who repent are erased? Not entirely, but he who repents must torture his own soul and be extremely humble in all he does, and suffer many punishments. Then, if he endures the punishments, He who created all things and gave them power will have compassion on the man and heal him. He will do this when He sees that the heart of the repentant person has been purified from every evil thing. So, it is for your good and for your family’s good that you suffer punishments now.



Clement of Alexandria’s Miscellanies, Book 4

(Early 3rd Century)

Chapter 24, Paragraph 3:


Punishment doesn’t help a person undo his sin, but it does help him not to sin anymore and helps others not to sin in the same way. So, the good God corrects people for these three reasons: first, so that the person being corrected may become better than he was before; second, so that those who can be saved by the example of others will take warning not to sin; and third, so that the person who was hurt by the sin won’t be hurt again.


And there are two methods of correction -- the instructive and the punitive, which we have called the disciplinary. Know, then, that those who fall into sin after baptism are subjected to discipline, for the deeds done before baptism are paid for, and those done after baptism are purged.



Cyprian’s Address to Demetrianus

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 7:


Listen, the Lord is angry and ready to take action. He threatens you because you won’t turn to Him. And in your stubbornness and disrespectful turning away from God, you wonder why there hasn’t been much rain and the ground dries up, and why hail destroys and weakens the vines, or why the wind uproots the olive plant, or why a drought stops the wells from flowing, or why disease fills the air and lays waste to man.



Novatian’s On the Trinity

(Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 5:


It is not a sin for God to be angry. He is angry for our good, for He is merciful even when He threatens us. It is by these threats that men are called back to righteousness. Fear motivates people to live a virtuous life because if they can’t make themselves live righteously by the power of their reason alone, they’ll at least respond to the terror of punishment.


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Find more of what the early Christians thought on my Christian History page!

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