Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume I/IRENAEUS/Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus/XXXVI.

Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. I, Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus by Irenaeus, translated by Philip Schaff et al.


True[1] knowledge, then, consists in the understanding of Christ, which Paul terms the wisdom of God hidden in a mystery, which “the natural man receiveth not,”[2] the doctrine of the cross; of which if any man “taste,”[3] he will not accede to the disputations and quibbles of proud and puffed-up men,[4] who go into matters of which they have no perception.[5] For the truth is unsophisticated (ἀσχημάτιστος); and “the word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart,”[6] as the same apostle declares, being easy of comprehension to those who are obedient. For it renders us like to Christ, if we experience “the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.”[7] For this is the affinity[8] of the apostolical teaching and the most holy “faith delivered unto us,”[9] which the unlearned receive, and those of slender knowledge have taught, not “giving heed to endless genealogies,”[10] but studying rather [to observe] a straightforward course of life; lest, having been deprived of the Divine Spirit, they fail to attain to the kingdom of heaven. For truly the first thing is to deny one’s self and to follow Christ; and those who do this are borne onward to perfection, having fulfilled all their Teacher’s will, becoming sons of God by spiritual regeneration, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven; those who seek which first shall not be forsaken.


  1. This extract and the next three were discovered in the year 1715 by [Christopher Matthew] Pfaff, a learned Lutheran, in the Royal Library at Turin. The mss. from which they were taken were neither catalogued nor classified, and have now disappeared from the collection. It is impossible to say with any degree of probability from what treatises of our author these four fragments have been culled. For a full account of their history, see Stieren’s edition of Irenæus, vol. ii. p. 381. [But, in all candor, let Pfaff himself be heard. His little work is full of learning, and I have long possessed it as a treasure to which I often recur. Pfaff’s Irenæi Fragmenta was published at The Hague, 1715.]
  2. 1 Cor. ii. 14.
  3. 1 Pet. ii. 3.
  4. 1 Tim. vi. 4, 5.
  5. Col. ii. 18.
  6. Rom. x. 8; Deut. xxx. 14.
  7. Phil. iii. 10.
  8. Harvey’s conjectural emendation, ἐπιπλοκὴ for ἐπιλογὴ, has been adopted here.
  9. Jude 3.
  10. 1 Tim. i. 4.