Monday, February 15, 2021

Early Christian Quotes on Christian Living

Early Christian Quotes On Christian Living


The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Commandment 8:


The angel said, “Listen to the good deeds you should do; you don’t need to limit yourself in these. First is faith, then the fear of the Lord, love, harmony with others, words of righteousness, truth, and patience. Nothing is better than these in the life of men. If anyone puts effort into these and doesn’t limit himself from practicing them, he will be blessed.


“From these things follows helping widows, looking after orphans and the needy, rescuing the servants of God from poverty, being hospitable (for in hospitality you always find good to do), never opposing anyone, being quiet, having fewer needs than all men, respecting the aged, practicing righteousness, watching the brotherhood, bearing with the arrogant, being patient, encouraging those who are sick in soul, not casting those who have fallen into sin from the faith but turning them back and restoring them to peace of mind, warning sinners, not oppressing those in debt or the needy, and if there are any other actions like these.”



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Commandment 12, Chapter 2:


The angel said, “The worst evil desire is the desire for someone else’s wife or husband, then having too much money and useless fancy foods and drinks and many other foolish luxuries; for all luxury is foolish and empty in the servants of God. These are the evil desires that kill the servants of God. For this evil desire is the daughter of the devil. You must refrain from evil desires so that you can live to God.”



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Commandment 12, Chapter 3, 4:


The angel said, “If you set in your mind that you can keep these commands, then you will keep them easily; they won’t be hard. But if you imagine that people can’t keep them, then you will not keep them. And if you don’t keep them, but neglect them, you will not be saved…


“God created the world for the sake of man, and subjected all creation to him, and gave him the power to rule over everything under heaven. So, if man is lord of the creatures of God and rules over all, is he not able to master these commandments? For the man who has the Lord in his heart can also be lord of all, including every one of these commandments. But to those who have the Lord only on their lips, but their hearts hardened, and who are far from the Lord, the commandments are hard and difficult. So, you who are empty and fickle in your faith, put the Lord in your heart, and you will know that there is nothing easier or sweeter or more manageable than these commandments.”



The Acts of Paul

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 2:


Paul said:


“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.


“Blessed are those who keep their body under control, for they will become the temple of God.


“Blessed are those who are sexually pure, for God will speak to them.


“Blessed are those who have renounced this world, for they will be well-pleasing to God.


“Blessed are those who have wives but do not indulge in sexual activity, for they will inherit God.


“Blessed are those who fear God, for they will become God’s messengers.


“Blessed are those who tremble at the words of God, for they will be comforted.


“Blessed are those who accept the wisdom of Jesus Christ, for they will be called sons of the Most High.


“Blessed are those who have been obedient after their baptism, for they will rest with the Father and with the Son.


“Blessed are those who have put effort into understanding Jesus Christ, for they will be in the light.


“Blessed are those who, because they love God, have left this world’s way of doing things, for they will judge angels and will be blessed at the right hand of the Father.


“Blessed are the merciful, for they will obtain mercy and will not see the bitter day of judgment.


“Blessed are the bodies of the virgins, for they will be well-pleasing to God and will not lose the reward of their self-control, for the word of the Father will save them in the day of His Son, and they will have rest from the world without end.”



Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs

(1st or 2nd Century)

Testament 12, Paragraph 6:


The mind of the good man is not under the power of Beliar’s deceit, for the angel of peace guides his soul. He is not passionate about temporal things. He does not gather riches to spend on his pleasure. He does not delight in pleasure. He does not hurt his neighbor. He doesn’t treat himself to fancy food. He does not lust for what he sees. Instead, the Lord is his portion.


The mind of the good man does not glorify or dishonor men. It does not deceive or fight with others, for the Lord lives in Him and gives light to his soul. He delights in all men all the time.


The mind of the good man does not have two tongues: of blessing and of cursing, of insult and of honor, of sorrow and of joy, of quietness and of trouble, of hypocrisy and of truth, of poverty and of wealth. But it has one mode of speaking, pure and un-corrupt toward all men.


The mind of the good man has no double sight, nor double hearing, for he knows that in everything he does or speaks or sees, the Lord watches his soul. He cleanses his mind, so God and other men won’t find fault with him.



The Christian Sibylline Oracles

(2nd Century)

Book 2:62-188:


Every human soul is God's free gift,

And it’s not right for men to stain it with vile deeds.


Do not get rich unrighteously,

But lead a life of strong morality in your finances.


Be satisfied with what you have

And keep yourself from what belongs to another.


Do not lie,

But love all things that are true.


Do not show respect to idols uselessly,

But always honor the God Who Cannot Die first,

Then honor your parents.


Give everyone what you owe them,

And you will not be judged unjustly.


Don’t cast the poor aside unrighteously,

Nor judge by outward show.


If you judge others wickedly,

God will soon judge you.


Do not lie about others;

Tell the truth.


Maintain your virgin purity

And guard love among all.


Don’t cheat anyone when measuring out how much to give them,

For it’s beautiful when you give full measures to all.


Don’t tip the scales in your favor,

But make them equal.


Do not go back on your word either by neglect or willingly;

God hates the man who doesn’t follow through.


Never take a gift that is gained by wrong actions.


Do not steal seed;

You will be cursed for many generations.


Do not indulge lust. Do not slander or kill.


Give the workman his wages; do not afflict the poor man.


Give help to orphans and widows and the needy.


Talk with sense;

Keep a secret securely in your heart.


Be unwilling to act unjustly

And do not tolerate unrighteous men.


Give to the poor at once

And do not say, "Come tomorrow."


Give your grain to the need with a sweaty hand.

He who gives to the poor knows how to lend to God.


Mercy redeems from death when judgment comes.


God does not desire sacrifices.

He desires mercy rather than sacrifice.


Clothe the naked. Share your bread with the hungry.

Take the homeless into your house and lead the blind.


Pity those who have been shipwrecked,

For the voyage is uncertain.


Give a hand to the fallen

And save the man that stands without defense.


Suffering is common to all;

Life's a wheel, and riches unstable.


Having wealth, reach out your hand to the poor.

Give to the needy from what God gave you.


Common is the whole life of mortal men;

But it comes out unequal.


When you see a poor man,

Never tease him with words,

Nor be too hard on the one in the wrong.


Death is the endpoint of your life;

Whether a person was unlawful or just

Will be decided when he comes to judgment.


Do not cloud your mind with wine, nor drink excessively.


Do not eat blood, and do not eat what was sacrificed to idols.


Do not wear a sword to kill but only for self-defense;

And do not use it lawlessly or unjustly,

For if you kill an enemy, you defile your hand.


Stay out of your neighbor’s field; do not trespass on it.

Every property line is just, and trespassing brings pain.


Having lawful possessions is useful,

But unrighteous gains are worthless.


Do not destroy any fruit growing in the field.


Honor strangers equally with citizens,

For everyone will experience long hospitality

As each other’s guests.

But do not let anyone be a stranger

Because all of you mortals are of one blood

And no land is permanent.


Do not wish for or pray for wealth,

But pray to live on little

And do not possess anything that is unjust.


The love of gain is the mother of all evil.

Do not long for gold and silver;

In them is a double-edged and soul-destroying iron sword.

Gold and silver are continual snares to men.

To gold, that source of life, that life-destroying troubler,

I say, “I wish you were not something men longed for.

Because of you, wars come, and pillaging, and murders,

And children hate their parents and brothers and sisters,

Those of their own blood.”


Do not plan to deceive anyone

And do not put up emotional defenses against a friend.


Do not think secretly something different than what you say

And don’t be like a rock-clinging sea anemone that changes depending on the place where it is.


Be straightforward with everyone and speak from the soul.


Whoever willfully commits a wrong is an evil man,

But he who is forced to do it has an uncertain future.

Only let everyone have the right will.


Do not pride yourself on your wisdom, power, or wealth;

God is the only wise and mighty one, full of riches.


Do not trouble your heart with past evils,

For what is done can never be undone.


Do not be hasty to react in anger, but curb your ferocity,

For many people committed murder without planning to just by striking out.


Let the punishment be limited, neither too severe nor too long.


Having nice things hasn’t done anything to help men,

And having a lot of luxuries leads to lusting for more and more.


Having a lot of wealth makes you want to hunt for more

And attack others to get it.


Passion can creep in and cause someone to act destructively

Without fully realizing what they’re doing.

Anger is a passion,

And when it grows too much, it becomes wrath.


It’s good when good men become excited about good things,

But when common men get excited about common things, it’s meaningless.


The boldness of wicked men is destructive,

But good men who are bold will be respected by all.


To be honored is to be loved purely,

But being known for chasing romantic love increases shame.


A fool’s friends speak well of him.


Eat, drink, and talk with others in moderation.

Moderation in all things is best,

And going too far will make you sorry.


Do not be envious, faithless, abusive,

Evil-minded, or a deceiver.


Be cautious and keep yourself from shameless acts.


Do not copy someone’s evil behavior,

But leave vengeance to justice.


Using persuasion is useful,

But arguing leads to more arguing.


Do not be too trusting before you see the result.



Aristides’ Apology

(Early 2nd Century)

Chapter 15:


O King, the Christians have searched for and found the truth. As we learn from their writings, they have come closer to the truth and real knowledge than any other group.


They know and trust God, the Creator of heaven and earth, in Whom and from Whom are all things. There is no other God like Him, and He has given them His commandments, which they have engraved in their minds and follow in the hope of sharing in the world to come.


So, they do not commit adultery nor fornication, nor bear false witness, nor embezzle others’ money, nor covet what is not theirs. They honor father and mother and are kind to those near to them. And whenever they are judges, they judge morally and justly.


They do not worship idols made in the image of man, and whatever they wouldn’t someone to do to them, they do not do to others. They don’t eat food sacrificed to idols, for they are pure. And they speak gently to those who are oppressing them and make them their friends. They do good to their enemies.


And their women, O King, are as pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest. Their men keep themselves from every unlawful sexual relation and from all uncleanness in the hope of gaining a reward in the world to come.


And if any of them have slaves or servants or children, and through loving them, they persuade them to become Christians, then, they call them brothers and sisters without distinguishing between their social classes. They do not worship strange gods, and they live in all modesty and cheerfulness. Not one of them is dishonest, and they love one another. They respect widows, and they rescue the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a brother; for they do not call people brothers who are brothers of the flesh, but brothers of the spirit and in God.


And whenever one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them, according to his ability, pays respects to him and carefully sees to his burial. And if they hear that one of their own is imprisoned or suffering on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his needs. If it is possible to pay for him to be released, they set him free. And if there is any poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days to supply the needy with their lack of food.


They observe their Messiah's commands carefully, living in righteousness and seriousness as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and every hour, they give thanks and praise to God for His loving-kindnesses toward them.; They offer thanksgiving to Him for their food and their drink. And if any righteous man among them passes from the world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God. They escort his body as if he were setting out on a journey to a nearby city. And when a child has been born to one of them, they give thanks to God; and likewise, if he happens to die in childhood, they give thanks to God all the more, as the child was one who has passed through the world without sins. And further, if they see that any one of them dies in his ungodliness or in his sins, they grieve bitterly for him. They are mournful, as they would mourn for one who goes to meet his doom.



Mathetes’ Letter to Diognetus

(Mid-2nd Century)

Chapter 5:


Christians are not distinguished from other men by their country, language, or the customs they observe. They do not inhabit cities of their own, speak in a particular way, or lead a life that is marked out by any single notable feature. The course of conduct they follow has not been crafted under the opinion or consideration of nosy, power-hungry men, nor do they.  proclaim themselves to be the advocates of merely human doctrines.


But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according to their lot in life, and following the customs of the natives with regards to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners—one who is simply passing through. As citizens, they share in all things with others and yet endure all things as if foreigners. They consider every foreign land as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.


They marry, as do all others. They have children, but they do not destroy their offspring through abortion or abusive mistreatment. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They live in the flesh, but they do not live to satisfy the desires of the flesh.


They live their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time, surpass the laws in the way they conduct their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned. They are put to death and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich. They lack all things, and yet have an abundance in all. They are dishonored, and yet in their very dishonor, are glorified. They are spoken of unjustly, and yet are justified. They are vilified, but bless others nonetheless. They are insulted and repay the insult with kindness. They do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When they are punished, they rejoice as if they were raised from the dead. They are bashed by the Jews as foreigners and are persecuted by the Greeks. But those who hate them are unable to give any reason for their hatred.



Justin Martyr’s First Apology

(Mid-2nd Century)



We formerly delighted in careless, ungodly sexual relations, but now embrace monogamy or abstinence alone. We who previously used superstition and witchcraft now dedicate ourselves to the good and infinite God. We who valued the acquisition of wealth and possessions more than anything now bring what we have into a common fund and help everyone in need. We used to hate and destroy one another. Because of their different characteristics we would not live with men of a different tribe. Now, since the coming of Christ, we live well with them. Now we pray for our enemies and seek to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live in submission to the good doctrine of Christ. We hope that in the end they will become like us, recipients of the same joyful hope of a reward from God, the Ruler of all.



Tertullian’s Apology

(Late 2nd Century)

Chapter 39, Paragraph 1:


We are a body knit together by a common religious line of work, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. As a family and congregation, we meet together that offers prayers to God as a united, single force. We may wrestle with Him in our appeal for His mercy. God delights in this holy violence. We also pray for the leaders, kings, and presidents. We pray for all in authority. We pray for the welfare of the world, for the popularity of peace, for the delay of the end. We gather to read our sacred religious writings if anything happening makes it necessary for us to give warnings or reminders. We feed and nourish our faith with the sacred words. We bring our hope to life. We make our confidence more unwavering. Through obedience to God’s commands, we confirm good habits.


In the same place, encouragement is given amd correction and reprimand are administered. With great importance, the work of judging is carried on among us, as agrees with those who feel assured that they are in the sight of God. You have the most notable example of judgment to come when anyone has sinned so badly as to require his parting from us in prayer, in the congregation, and in all sacred situations.


The tried men of our elders rule over us, receiving that honor not by purchase but by established character. There is no buying and selling of any sort in the things of God. Though we have our treasure chest, it is not made up of purchase-money, like a religion that has its price.


On the monthly day, if he likes, each puts in a small donation, but only if it be his pleasure and only if he be able, for there is no requirement; all is voluntary. These gifts are, as it were, piety’s deposit fund. For they are not taken and spent on feasts and drinking and eating out, but it is to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined now to their house; such, too, as have suffered shipwreck; and if there happen to be any in the mines or banished to the islands or shut up in the prisons for nothing but their loyalty to the cause of God’s Church, they are cared for as a result of their confession.


One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives.


Our feast explains itself by its name. The Greeks call it agape, i.e., unconditional love. Whatever it costs, our outlay in the name of loyalty is gain, since with the good things of the feast, we benefit the needy; not as it is with you. Do parasites aspire to the glory of satisfying their corrupt desires, selling themselves for a belly-feast to all disgraceful treatment?


But as it is with God Himself, a special respect is shown to the lowly. If the object of our feast is good, consider its further regulations. As it is an act of religious service, it permits no lewd behavior or immodesty. The participants, before reclining, offer prayer to God. As much is eaten as satisfies the cravings of hunger; as much is drunk as satisfies the thirst. They say it is enough, as those who remember that they have to worship God even during the night. They talk as those who know that the Lord is one of their auditors. After manual cleaning and the bringing in of lights, each is asked to stand forth and sing, as he can, a hymn to God, either one from the holy Scriptures or one of his own composing—a proof of the measure of our drinking. As the feast commenced with prayer, so with prayer, it is closed.



Sentences of Sextus

(Early 3rd Century)



(175) Those who curse the name of God are dead before God.


(177) May your life confirm your words before those who hear.


(178) If it is not right to do, do not even consider doing it.


(310) Everything God possesses, the wise man also has.


(319) After honoring God, honor a wise man since he is the servant of God.


(383) The faithful do not speak many words, but their works are numerous.


(388) What is right to do, do willingly.


(389a) What is not right to do, do not do it in any way.



Origen's On Prayer

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 15, Paragraphs 1 and 7:


He who prays for the coming of the kingdom of God prays with good reason for rising and fruit bearing and perfecting of God's kingdom within him.


If God rules us, do not let sin rule in our body or let us obey its commands when it calls our soul to the works of the flesh that are foreign to God. Instead, let us tame our members on earth and bear the fruits of the Spirit so that the Lord may walk in us in a spiritual garden. Submit to God, who rules over us alone, with His Christ seated within us on the right of the Holy Spirit that we pray to receive, sitting until all His enemies within us become a footstool for His feet and every rule and authority and power be undone in us.



Cyprian's On the Lapsed

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 6:


[As to why God allowed a recent period of persecution:] Each one desired to increase their estate. They forgot what believers had either done before in the times of the apostles or always should do. They, with the unquenchable greed of earthly things, devoted themselves to the increase of their property. Among the priests, there was no devotedness of religion; among the ministers, there was no sound faith: in their works, there was no mercy; in their manners, there was no discipline.


Men destroyed their beards; women covered their face with makeup: their eyes were falsified from what God's hand had made them; their hair was colored with a falsehood. They used crafty frauds to deceive the hearts of the simple, subtle meanings for bypassing brothers and sisters of the faith. They united in the bond of marriage with unbelievers; they prostituted the members of Christ to the Gentiles. They would make careless and false statements and would despise those set over them with arrogant thoughts. They would speak evil of one another with enraged tongues. They would quarrel with one another with steadfast hatred. Bishops who should furnish both warning and example to others, despising their divine charge, became agents in secular business. They renounced their throne, deserted their people, wandered about over foreign provinces, hunted the markets for gainful merchandise, while brothers and sisters in the Church were starving. They sought to stockpile money. They seized estates by sneaky tricks, increasing their gains by multiplying and increasing interest due to loans.



Cyprian's On the Lapsed

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 35:


[Concerning repentance:] Do you think that He will easily have mercy upon those of you who have declared Him not to be your God?


You must pray and beg more eagerly. You must spend the day in grief and wear out nights in watchings and weepings. Occupy all your time in sincere mourning. Lying stretched on the ground, you must cling close to the ashes and be surrounded with sackcloth and filth. You must be willing now to have no clothing since you have lost the clothing of Christ. After the devil's meat, you must prefer fasting. Be heartfelt in righteous works so that sins may be purged and removed. Frequently apply yourself to charity, an act that frees souls from death. What the enemy took from you, let Christ receive. Because you were tricked and overpowered, do not love or hold your wealth and possessions tightly. Avoid wealth like an enemy. Flee from it like a robber. Dread it like you would a sword and poison. So that all you have is usable. That way, the crime committed and the fault of the robber can be made right. Do good works immediately, and largely; let all your estate be laid out for the healing of your wound; let us lend of our wealth and our means to the Lord, who will judge us. Faith flourished in the time of the apostles as the first people of believers kept Christ's commands: they were prompt, they were generous, they gave their all to be distributed by the apostles, and yet they were not redeeming sins as bad as denying Him.



Apocalypse of Elijah

(Mid-3rd Century)



A pure and genuine fast is what I created, with a pure heart and pure hands. It releases sin. It heals diseases. It casts out demons. It is effective up to the throne of God for an ointment and for a release from sin by means of a pure prayer.



Lactantius' The Divine Institutes, Book 6

(Early 4th Century)

Chapter 4, Paragraph 1:


One ways of life belongs to that accuser who, having invented false religions, turns men away from the heavenly path and leads them into the way of suffering and damnation…In it are all things that are counted on earth as good things—I mean wealth, honor, quietness, pleasure…But the end of this way is as follows:


When they have reached the point from which there is no return, the illusion is so suddenly removed, together with all its beauty, that no one is able to foresee the fraud before he falls headlong into a deep abyss. For whoever is captivated by the appearance of present goods and busies himself pursuing and enjoying them will not have foreseen the things that are about to follow death. He will have turned his back from God and will be cast down to Hell and be condemned to eternal punishment.



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