XLVII. —Justin Communicates With Christians Who Observe The Law. Not a Few Catholics Do Otherwise.

Justin Martyr Proclaims that Christ is the everlasting law (Torah) and the everlasting covenant, and that the oral Torah contributes nothing to the performance of righteousness and holiness. He proves that the dead letter and natural way of following the Torah doesn’t lead to salvation, but the spiritual Torah does as the patriarchs before Moses followed them.

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And Trypho again inquired, “But if someone, knowing that this is so, after he recognizes that this man is Christ, and has believed in and obeys Him, wishes, however, to observe these [institutions], will he be saved?

 

I said, “In my opinion, Trypho, such an one will be saved, if he does not strive in every way to persuade other men, —I mean those Gentiles who have been circumcised from error by Christ, to observe the same things as himself, telling them that they will not be saved unless they do so. This you did yourself at the commencement of the discourse, when you declared that I would not be saved unless I observe these institutions.”

 

Then he replied, “Why then have you said, ‘In my opinion, such an one will be saved,’ unless there are some who affirm that such will not be saved?”

 

“There are such people, Trypho,” I answered; “and these do not venture to have any intercourse1 with or to extend hospitality to such persons; but I do not agree with them. But if some, through weak-mindedness, wish to observe such institutions as were given by Moses, from which they expect some virtue, but which we believe were appointed by reason of the hardness of the people’s hearts, along with their hope in this Christ, and [wish to perform] the eternal and natural acts of righteousness and piety, yet choose to live with the Christians and the faithful, as I said before, not inducing them either to be circumcised like themselves, or to keep the Sabbath, or to observe any other such ceremonies, then I hold that we ought to join ourselves to such, and associate with them in all things as kinsmen and brethren. But if, Trypho,” I continued, “some of your race, who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do not approve of them. But I believe that even those, who have been persuaded by them to observe the legal dispensation along with their confession of God in Christ, shall probably be saved. And I hold, further, that such as have confessed and known this man to be Christ, yet who have gone back from some cause to the legal dispensation, and have denied that this man is Christ, and have repented not before death, shall by no means be saved. Further, I hold that those of the seed of Abraham who live according to the law, and do not believe in this Christ before death, shall likewise not be saved, and especially those who have anathematized and do anathematize this very Christ in the synagogues, and everything by which they might obtain salvation and escape the vengeance of fire. For the goodness and the loving-kindness of God, and His boundless riches, hold righteous and sinless the man who, as Ezekiel tells, repents of sins; and reckons sinful, unrighteous, and impious the man who fails away from piety and righteousness to unrighteousness and ungodliness. Wherefore also our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘In whatsoever things I shall take you, in these I shall judge you.’

~Justin Martyr- Dialogues of Justin Martyr Vol. 1

VIII. — The Gifts of the Holy Spirit Which We Receive Prepare Us for Incorruption, Render Us Spiritual, and Separate Us from Carnal Men. These Two Classes Are Signified by the Clean and Unclean Animals in the Legal Dispensation.

Irenaeus outlines the meaning of being ‘carnal’, comparing different animals to various types of people. Those meditating on the Word of God are considered spiritual, adorned with works of righteousness. When we receive the Spirit of God we move closer to perfection- this impartation prepares us for in-corruption. However, those deemed ‘carnal’ are unclean, falling prey into their own lusts, being sealed with a beastly nature.

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  1. But we do now receive a certain portion of His Spirit, tending towards perfection, and preparing us for incorruption, being little by little accustomed to receive and bear God; which also the apostle terms “an earnest,” that is, a part of the honor which has been promised us by God, where he says in the Epistle to the Ephesians, “In which ye also, having heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, believing in which we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.” (Eph_1:13, etc.) This earnest, therefore, thus dwelling in us, renders us spiritual even now, and the mortal is swallowed up by immortality. (2Co_5:4) “For ye,” he declares, “are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” (Rom_8:9) This, however does not take place by a casting away of the flesh, but by the impartation of the Spirit. For those to whom he was writing were not without flesh, but they were those who had received the Spirit of God, “by which we cry, Abba, Father.” (Rom_8:15) If therefore, at the present time, having the earnest, we do cry, “Abba, Father,” what shall it be when, on rising again, we behold Him face to face; when all the members shall burst out into a continuous hymn of triumph, glorifying Him who raised them from the dead, and gave the gift of eternal life? For if the earnest, gathering man into itself, does even now cause him to cry, “Abba, Father,” what shall the complete grace of the Spirit effect, which shall be given to men by God? It will render us like unto Him and accomplish the will of the Father; for it shall make man after the image and likeness of God.

 

  1. Those persons, then, who possess the earnest of the Spirit, and who are not enslaved by the lusts of the flesh, but are subject to the Spirit, and who in all things walk according to the light of reason, does the apostle properly term “spiritual,” because the Spirit of God dwells in them. Now, spiritual men shall not be incorporeal spirits; but our substance, that is, the union of flesh and spirit, receiving the Spirit of God, makes up the spiritual man. But those who do indeed reject the Spirit’s counsel, and are the slaves of fleshly lusts, and lead lives contrary to reason, and who, without restraint, plunge headlong into their own desires, having no longing after the Divine Spirit, do live after the manner of swine and of dogs; these men, [I say], does the apostle very properly term “carnal,” because they have no thought of anything else except carnal things.

 

  1. For the same reason, too, do the prophets compare them to irrational animals, on account of the irrationality of their conduct, saying, “They have become as horses raging for the females; each one of them neighing after his neighbour’s wife.” (Jer_5:3) And again, “Man, when he was in honour, was made like unto cattle.” (Psa_49:20) This denotes that, for his own fault, he is likened to cattle, by rivalling their irrational life. And we also, as the custom is, do designate men of this stamp as cattle and irrational beasts.

 

  1. Now the law has figuratively predicted all these, delineating1 man by the [various] animals: (Lev_11:2; Deu_14:3, etc.) whatsoever of these, says [the Scripture], have a double hoof and ruminate, it proclaims as clean; but whatsoever of them do not possess one or other of these [properties], it sets aside b themselves as unclean. Who then are the clean? Those who make their way by faith steadily towards the Father and the Son; for this is denoted by the steadiness of those which divide the hoof; and they meditate day and night upon the words of God, (Psa_1:2) that they may be adorned with good works: for this is the meaning of the ruminants. The unclean, however, are those which do neither divide the hoof nor ruminate; that is, those persons who have neither faith in God, nor do meditate on His words: and such is the abomination of the Gentiles. But as to those animals which do indeed chew the cud, but have not the double hoof, and are themselves unclean, we have in them a figurative description of the Jews, who certainly have the words of God in their mouth, but who do not fix their rooted steadfastness in the Father and in the Son; wherefore they are an unstable generation. For those animals which have the hoof all in one piece easily slip; but those which have it divided are more sure-footed, their cleft hoofs succeeding each other as they advance, and the one hoof supporting the other. In like manner, too, those are unclean which have the double hoof but do not ruminate: this is plainly an indication of all heretics, and of those who do not meditate on the words of God, neither are adorned with works of righteousness; to whom also the Lord says, “Why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say to you?” (Luk_6:46) For men of this stamp do indeed say that they believe in the Father and the Son, but they never meditate as they should upon the things of God, neither are they adorned with works of righteousness; but, as I have already observed, they have adopted the lives of swine and of dogs, giving themselves over to filthiness, to gluttony, and recklessness of all sorts. Justly, therefore, did the apostle call all such “carnal” and “animal,” (1Co_2:14, 1Co_3:1, etc.) — [all those, namely], who through their own unbelief and luxury do not receive the Divine Spirit, and in their various phases east out from themselves the life-giving Word, and walk stupidly after their own lusts: the prophets, too, spoke of them as beasts of burden and wild beasts; custom likewise has viewed them in the light of cattle and irrational creatures; and the law has pronounced them unclean.

~Irenaeus- Against Heresies Book V Vol. 1

XI. — Treats upon the Actions of Carnal and of Spiritual Persons; also, That the Spiritual Cleansing Is Not to Be Referred to the Substance of Our Bodies, but to the Manner of Our Former Life.

Irenaeus shows the cleansing is to do with the carnal works of the flesh being removed by washing which is done by the Holy Spirit being imparted into us, so our former works of flesh that resemble the man of the earth are cleansed when we are brought to life by impartation of the Holy Spirit which brings resemblance of the Heavenly man, it is not about our actual bodies being removed but our works of the earthly man in behavior and conversation.

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  1. [The apostle], foreseeing the wicked speeches of unbelievers, has particularized the works which he terms carnal; and he explains himself, lest any room for doubt be left to those who do dishonestly pervert his meaning, thus saying in the Epistle to the Galatians: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are adulteries, fornications, uncleanness, luxuriousness, idolatries, witchcrafts, hatreds, contentions jealousies, wraths, emulations, animosities, irritable speeches, dissensions, heresies, envying’s, drunkenness, carousing’s, and such like; of which I warn you, as also I have warned you, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal_5:19, etc.) Thus does he point out to his hearers in a more explicit manner what it is [he means when he declares], “Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” For they who do these things, since they do indeed walk after the flesh, have not the power of living unto God. And then, again, he proceeds to tell us the spiritual actions which vivify a man, that is, the engrafting of the Spirit; thus saying, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, benignity, faith, meekness, continence, chastity: against these there is no law.” (Gal_5:22) As, therefore, he who has gone forward to the better things, and has brought forth the fruit of the Spirit, is saved altogether because of the communion of the Spirit; so also, he who has continued in the aforesaid works of the flesh, being truly reckoned as carnal, because he did not receive the Spirit of God, shall not have power to inherit the kingdom of heaven. As, again, the same apostle testifies, saying to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not err,” he says: “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor revilers, nor rapacious persons, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And these ye indeed have been; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified, but ye have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” (1Co_6:9-11) He shows in the clearest manner through what things it is that man goes to destruction, if he has continued to live after the flesh; and then, on the other hand, [he points out] through what things he is saved. Now he says that the things which save are the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.

 

  1. Since, therefore, in that passage he recounts those works of the flesh which are without the Spirit, which bring death [upon their doers], he exclaimed at the end of his Epistle, in accordance with what he had already declared, And as we have borne the image of him who is of the earth, we shall also bear the image of Him who is from heaven. For this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (1Co_15:49, etc.) Now this which he says, “as we have borne the image of him who is of the earth,” is analogous to what has been declared, “And such indeed ye were; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified, but ye have been justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” When, therefore, did we bear the image of him who is of the earth? Doubtless it was when those actions spoken of as “works of the flesh” used to be wrought in us. And then, again, when [do we bear] the image of the heavenly? Doubtless when he says, “Ye have been washed,” believing in the name of the Lord, and receiving His Spirit. Now we have washed away, not the substance of our body, nor the image of our [primary] formation, but the former vain conversation. In these members, therefore, in which we were going to destruction by working the works of corruption, in these very members are we made alive by working the works of the Spirit.

~Irenaeus- Against Heresies Book V Vol. 1

XII. — The Jews Violate the Eternal Law and Interpret Ill That of Moses.

Christ had come to give us a new covenant of following the law in the spiritual sense now. Instead of celebrating the Sabbath one day a week, we now keep the Sabbath perpetually. The only way to keep this new holy covenant that Christ came to give us is by having eyes to see and ears to hear.

 

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I also adduced another passage in which Isaiah exclaims: “‘Hear My words, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people: nations which know not Thee shall call on Thee; peoples who know not Thee shall escape to Thee, because of thy God, the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified Thee.’ This same law you have despised, and His new holy covenant you have slighted; and now you neither receive it, nor repent of your evil deeds. ‘For your ears are closed, your eyes are blinded, and the heart is hardened,’ Jeremiah has cried; yet not even then do you listen. The Lawgiver is present, yet you do not see Him; to the poor the Gospel is preached, the blind see, yet you do not understand. You have now need of a second circumcision, though you glory greatly in the flesh. The new law requires you to keep perpetual Sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true Sabbaths of God. If anyone has impure hands, let him wash and be pure.

~Justin Martyr- Dialogue of Justin Vol. 1