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September 11, 2007 / vivator

Irenaeus and Church of Rome

Irenæus (c. 115 to 202 AD) was one of Church Fathers and bishop of Lyons (in present day France), then part of Roman Empire.  His major writing is Against Heresies, or Adversus haereses.  He wrote in Greek but only fragments are found in the writings of other Church Fathers.  We have complete manuscript in Latin translation made in c. 200 AD.  His other extant work is Proof (or Demonstration) of the Apostolic Preaching, of which we have translation in Armenian, discovered in 1904.  In Against Heresies, he wrote the following about the Church of Rome:

Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.

The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy [2 Timothy 3:21]. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles.

Irenæus, Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 3.2-3

Extracted from Anti Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1


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