The Berean Expositor
Volume 21 - Page 173 of 202
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IRENAEUS (A.D.120-202).--Born in Smyrna, educated under Polycarp, who knew
the apostle John personally. He became Bishop of Lyons in 177, and his writings make a
folio volume of about 500 pages. He was martyred under Serverus.
(A.D.150-215).--Became master of the
Catechetical School at Alexandria in 190.
TERTULLIAN (A.D.155-230).--A Roman, born at Carthage. His writings fill a
large folio. Vincentius said, "What Origen was for the Greeks, that is to say first of all,
Tertullian has been for the Latins, that is to say incontestably the first among us."
These three men, representing three great areas, Greek, Coptic and Latin, are
witnesses that cannot be denied.
The testimony of Irenaeus.--Irenaeus is the most voluminous of all ancient writers
who quote the N.T. Scriptures. The N.T. could almost be reconstructed from his works,
so full are his citations. He was born only seventeen years after the death of the apostle
John. No amount of extracts or lists of quotations can give the same effect as the perusal
of a few pages of this man's writings. Many of his citations are without reference, as, for
example, the following:--
"For in that blessed dwelling place, heaven, there will be that distance placed by God
Himself between those who have borne fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixty and others
thirtyfold, and this is the reason why our Savoiur said, that in His Father's house there are
many mansions."
We cannot of course quote Irenaeus, but must be satisfied with a summary. He speaks
of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as "the gospel with the four faces",
from which it is evident that there were four, and no more, at the time. He quotes the
Acts of the Apostles over sixty times, and shows the harmony of the Acts with Paul's
epistles. He cites I Corinthians over 100 times, Romans over eighty times, Ephesians
over thirty times, Galatians nearly thirty times, Philippians eleven times, I Peter
eleven times, II Thessalonians ten times, I Timothy five times, II Timothy four times,
Titus three times, I John three times, and I Thessalonians twice.
Clement of Alexandria.--Clement himself says in the first book of his Stromata that
he "approached very near the days of the apostles". Kirchhoper says:--
"Clement, almost in every page, cites passages taken from the New Testament, from
all the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, each of Paul's epistles, the 1st and 2nd Epistles
of John, that of Jude, that of Hebrews, and the Apocalypse."
Tertullian.--Although Tertullian is the latest of these three, he is the most ancient of
the Latins whose writings have been preserved. Lardner says of Tertullian:--
"The quotations made by this father alone from the little volume of the New
Testament are more extensive and more abundant than those from the works of Cicero by
all the writers of all kinds and all ages."