There is a twofold sense understanding to the scriptures one being the literal the second is the spiritual sense of Scripture. Ezekiel speaks of two different types of statutes. One is good being the spiritual, the other is the letter which is not good as God declares.


Celsus adds, that it was foretold to the Jews, that if they did not obey the law, they would be treated in the same way as they treated their enemies; and then he quotes from the teaching of Christ some precepts which he considers contrary to those of the law, and uses that as an argument against us. But before proceeding to this point, we must speak of that which precedes. We hold, then, that the law has a twofold sense, – the one literal, the other spiritual, – as has been shown by some before us. Of the first or literal sense it is said, not by us, but by God, speaking in one of the prophets, that “the statutes are not good, and the judgments not good;” (Eze_20:25) whereas, taken in a spiritual sense, the same prophet makes God say that “His statutes are good, and His judgments good.” Yet evidently the prophet is not saying things which are contradictory of each other. Paul in like manner says, that “the letter killeth, and the spirit giveth life,” (2Co_3:6) meaning by “the letter” the literal sense, and by “the spirit” the spiritual sense of Scripture. We may therefore find in Paul, as well as in the prophet, apparent contradictions. Indeed, if Ezekiel says in one place, “I gave them commandments which were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live,” and in another, “I gave them good commandments and judgments, which if a man shall do, he shall live by them,” (Eze_20:21, Eze_20:25) Paul in like manner, when he wishes to disparage the law taken literally, says, “If the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious?” (2Co_3:7, 2Co_3:8) But when in another place he wishes to praise and recommend the law, he calls it “spiritual,” and says, “We know that the law is spiritual;” and, “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Rom_7:12, Rom_7:14)

~Origen- Against Celsus Book VII Vol. 4

XI. — The Law Abrogated; The New Testament Promised and Given by God.

Jesus is taught to be the one who is who is the new covenant, he is the new law. Doing the Torah to the letter is what was done away with. The spiritual Israel are the followers of these spiritual laws.


“There will be no other God, O Trypho, nor was there from eternity any other existing” (I thus addressed him), “but He who made and disposed all this universe. Nor do we think that there is one God for us, another for you, but that He alone is God who led your fathers out from Egypt with a strong hand and a high arm. Nor have we trusted in any other (for there is no other), but in Him in whom you also have trusted, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. But we do not trust through Moses or through the law; for then we would do the same as yourselves. But now — (for I have read that there shall be a final law, and a covenant, the chiefs of all, which it is now incumbent on all men to observe, as many as are seeking after the inheritance of God. For the law promulgated on Horeb is now old, and belongs to yourselves alone; but this is for all universally. Now, law placed against law has abrogated that which is before it, and a covenant which comes after in like manner has put an end to the previous one; and an eternal and final law — namely, Christ — has been given to us, and the covenant is trustworthy, after which there shall be no law, no commandment, no ordinance. Have you not read this which Isaiah says: ‘Hearken unto Me, hearken unto Me, my people; and, ye kings, give ear unto Me: for a law shall go forth from Me, and My judgment shall be for a light to the nations. My righteousness approaches swiftly, and My salvation shall go forth, and nations shall trust in Mine arm?’ And by Jeremiah, concerning this same new covenant, He thus speaks: ‘Behold, the days come, said the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt’ [Jer_31:31, Jer_31:32]). If, therefore, God proclaimed a new covenant which was to be instituted, and this for a light of the nations, we see and are persuaded that men approach God, leaving their idols and other unrighteousness, through the name of Him who was crucified, Jesus Christ, and abide by their confession even unto death, and maintain piety. Moreover, by the works and by the attendant miracles, it is possible for all to understand that He is the new law, and the new covenant, and the expectation of those who out of every people wait for the good things of God. For the true spiritual Israel, and descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham (who in uncircumcision was approved of and blessed by God on account of his faith, and called the father of many nations), are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ, as shall be demonstrated while we proceed.

~Justin Martyr- Dialogue of Justin Vol. 1

XIII. — Christ Did Not Abrogate the Natural Precepts of the Law, but Rather Fulfilled and Extended Them. He Removed the Yoke and Bondage of the Old Law, so That Mankind, Being Now Set Free, Might Serve God with That Trustful Piety Which Becometh Sons.

 The meaning to “fulfill the law” is thus explained as not doing away with it but exceeding its very nature to a higher level than what the Pharisees were walking. The Heretic Marcion taught that Yahushua came to do away with the law, which was a grievous error that robs saints of immortality. The natural law (or the letter) were for the slaves, but out of our own free will we become friends of Yahweh by wanting to walk what Yahushua taught, which was to walk out a higher level of obedience out of our love for Yahweh of his commandments.

  1. And that the Lord did not abrogate the natural [precepts] of the law, by which man is justified, which also those who were justified by faith, and who pleased God, did observe previous to the giving of the law, but that He extended and fulfilled them, is shown from His words. “For,” He remarks, “it has been said to them of old time, Do not commit adultery. But I say unto you, That every one who hath looked upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Mat_5:27-28) And again: “It has been said, Thou shalt not kill. But I say unto you, everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Mat_5:21-22) And, “It hath been said, Thou shalt not forswear thyself. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; but let your conversation be, Yea, yea, and Nay, nay.” (Mat_5:33, etc.) And other statements of a like nature. For all these do not contain or imply an opposition to and an overturning of the [precepts] of the past, as Marcion’s followers do strenuously maintain; but [they exhibit] a fulfilling and an extension of them, as He does Himself declare: “Unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat_5:20) For what meant the excess referred to? In the first place, [we must] believe not only in the Father, but also in His Son now revealed; for He it is who leads man into fellowship and unity with God. In the next place, [we must] not only say, but we must do; for they said, but did not. And [we must] not only abstain from evil deeds, but even from the desires after them. Now He did not teach us these things as being opposed to the law, but as fulfilling the law, and implanting in us the varied righteousness of the law. That would have been contrary to the law, if He had commanded His disciples to do anything which the law had prohibited. But this which He did command — namely, not only to abstain from things forbidden by the law, but even from longing after them — is not contrary to [the law], as I have remarked, neither is it the utterance of one destroying the law, but of one fulfilling, extending, and affording greater scope to it.


  1. For the law, since it was laid down for those in bondage, used to instruct the soul by means of those corporeal objects which were of an external nature, drawing it, as by a bond, to obey its commandments, that man might learn to serve God. But the Word set free the soul, and taught that through it the body should be willingly purified. Which having been accomplished, it followed as of course, that the bonds of slavery should be removed, to which man had now become accustomed, and that he should follow God without fetters: moreover, that the laws of liberty should be extended, and subjection to the king increased, so that no one who is convened should appear unworthy to Him who set him free, but that the piety and obedience due to the Master of the household should be equally rendered both by servants and children; while the children possess greater confidence [than the servants], inasmuch as the working of liberty is greater and more glorious than that obedience which is rendered in [a state of] slavery.


  1. And for this reason did the Lord, instead of that [commandment], “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” forbid even concupiscence4; and instead of that which runs thus, “Thou shalt not kill,” He prohibited anger; and instead of the law enjoining the giving of tithes, [He told us] to share (Mat_19:21) all our possessions with the poor; and not to love our neighbors only, but even our enemies; and not merely to be liberal givers and bestowers, but even that we should present a gratuitous gift to those who take away our goods. For “to him that taketh away thy coat,” He says, “give to him thy cloak also; and from him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again; and as ye would that men should do unto you, do ye unto them:” (Luk_6:29-31) so that we may not grieve as those who are unwilling to be defrauded, but may rejoice as those who have given willingly, and as rather conferring a favour upon our neighbours than yielding to necessity. “And if anyone,” He says, “shall compel thee [to go] a mile, go with him two;” (Mat_5:41) so that thou mayest not follow him as a slave, but may as a free man go before him, showing thyself in all things kindly disposed and useful to thy neighbor, not regarding their evil intentions, but performing thy kind offices, assimilating thyself to the Father, “who maketh His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sendeth rain upon the just and unjust.” (Mat_5:45) Now all these [precepts], as I have already observed, were not the injunctions of one doing away with the law, but of one fulfilling, extending, and widening it among us; just as if one should say, that the more extensive operation of liberty implies that a more complete subjection and affection towards our Liberator had been implanted within us. For He did not set us free for this purpose, that we should depart from Him (no one, indeed, while placed out of reach of the Lord’s benefits, has power to procure for himself the means of salvation), but that the more we receive His grace, the more we should love Him. Now the more we have loved Him, the more glory shall we receive from Him, when we are continually in the presence of the Father.


  1. Inasmuch, then, as all natural precepts are common to us and to them (the Jews), they had in them indeed the beginning and origin; but in us they have received growth and completion. For to yield assent to God, and to follow His Word, and to love Him above all, and one’s neighbor as one’s self (now man is neighbor to man), and to abstain from every evil deed, and all other things of a like nature which are common to both [covenants], do reveal one and the same God. But this is our Lord, the Word of God, who in the first instance certainly drew slaves to God, but afterwards He set those free who were subject to Him, as He does Himself declare to His disciples: “I will not now call you servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends, for all things which I have heard from My Father I have made known.” (Joh_15:15) For in that which He says, “I will not now call you servants,” He indicates in the most marked manner that it was Himself who did originally appoint for men that bondage with respect to God through the law, and then afterwards conferred upon them freedom. And in that He says, “For the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth,” He points out, by means of His own advent, the ignorance of a people in a servile condition. But when He terms His disciples “the friends of God,” He plainly declares Himself to be the Word of God, whom Abraham also followed voluntarily and under no compulsion (sine vinculis), because of the noble nature of his faith, and so became “the friend of God.” (Jas_2:23) But the Word of God did not accept of the friendship of Abraham, as though He stood in need of it, for He was perfect from the beginning (“Before Abraham was,” He says, “I am” [Joh_8:58]), but that He in His goodness might bestow eternal life upon Abraham himself, inasmuch as the friendship of God imparts immortality to those who embrace it.

~Irenaus- Against Heresies Book IV Vol. 1

XII. — It Clearly Appears That There Was but One Author of Both the Old and the New Law, from the Fact That Christ Condemned Traditions and Customs Repugnant to the Former, While He Confirmed Its Most Important Precepts, and Taught That He Was Himself the End of the Mosaic Law.

To “fulfill the law” is widely misunderstood among most modern believers. However, the fulfillment of the law is love, and love is the obedience to the commandments. The Pharisees added their own traditions and doctrines. When Yahushua rebuked the Pharisees for them following the doctrines of man was not referring to Moses. The same precepts and commandments are the same in the Old and New Testament, and examples of Yahushua and Paul establishing them are proven.

  1. For the tradition of the elders themselves, which they pretended to observe from the law, was contrary to the law given by Moses. Wherefore also Isaiah declares: “Thy dealers mix the wine with water,” (Isa_1:22) showing that the elders were in the habit of mingling a watered tradition with the simple command of God; that is, they set up a spurious law, and one contrary to the [true] law; as also the Lord made plain, when He said to them, “Why do ye transgress the commandment of God, for the sake of your tradition?” (Mat_15:3) For not only by actual transgression did they set the law of God at nought, mingling the wine with water; but they also set up their own law in opposition to it, which is termed, even to the present day, the pharisaical. In this [law] they suppress certain things, add others, and interpret others, again, as they think proper, which their teachers use, each one in particular; and desiring to uphold these traditions, they were unwilling to be subject to the law of God, which prepares them for the coming of Christ. But they did even blame the Lord for healing on the Sabbath-days, which, as I have already observed, the law did not prohibit. For they did themselves, in one sense, perform acts of healing upon the Sabbath-day, when they circumcised a man [on that day]; but they did not blame themselves for transgressing the command of God through tradition and the aforesaid pharisaical law, and for not keeping the commandment of the law, which is the love of God.


  1. But that this is the first and greatest commandment, and that the next [has respect to love] towards our neighbor, the Lord has taught, when He says that the entire law and the prophets hang upon these two commandments. Moreover, He did not Himself bring down [from heaven] any other commandment greater than this one, but renewed this very same one to His disciples, when He enjoined them to love God with all their heart, and others as themselves. But if He had descended from another Father, He never would have made use of the first and greatest commandment of the law; but He would undoubtedly have endeavoured by all means to bring down a greater one than this from the perfect Father, so as not to make use of that which had been given by the God of the law. And Paul in like manner declares, “Love is the fulfilling of the law:” (Rom_13:10) and [he declares] that when all other things have been destroyed, there shall remain “faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of all is love;” (1Co_13:13) and that apart from the love of God, neither knowledge avails anything, (1Co_13:2) nor the understanding of mysteries, nor faith, nor prophecy, but that without love all are hollow and vain; moreover, that love makes man perfect; and that he who loves God is perfect, both in this world and in that which is to come. For we do never cease from loving God; but in proportion as we continue to contemplate Him, so much the more do we love Him.


  1. As in the law, therefore, and in the Gospel [likewise], the first and greatest commandment is, to love the Lord God with the whole heart, and then there follows a commandment like to it, to love one’s neighbour as one’s self; the author of the law and the Gospel is shown to be one and the same. For the precepts of an absolutely perfect life, since they are the same in each Testament, have pointed out [to us] the same God, who certainly has promulgated particular laws adapted for each; but the more prominent and the greatest [commandments], without which salvation cannot [be attained], He has exhorted [us to observe] the same in both.


  1. 4. The Lord, too, does not do away with this [God], when He shows that the law was not derived from another God, expressing Himself as follows to those who were being instructed by Him, to the multitude and to His disciples: “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens, and lay them upon men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not so much as move them with a finger.” (Mat_23:2-4) He therefore did not throw blame upon that law which was given by Moses, when He exhorted it to be observed, Jerusalem being as yet in safety; but He did throw blame upon those persons, because they repeated indeed the words of the law, yet were without love. And for this reason, were they held as being unrighteous as respects God, and as respects their neighbors. As also Isaiah says: “This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me: howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching the doctrines and the commandments of men.” (Isa_29:13) He does not call the law given by Moses commandments of men, but the traditions of the elders themselves which they had invented, and in upholding which they made the law of God of none effect, and were on this account also not subject to His Word. For this is what Paul says concerning these men: “For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” (Rom_10:3-4) And how is Christ the end of the law, if He be not also the final Cause of it? For He who has brought in the end has Himself also wrought the beginning; and it is He who does Himself say to Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have come down to deliver them;” (Exo_3:7-8) it being customary from the beginning with the Word of God to ascend and descend for the purpose of saving those who were in affliction.


  1. Now, that the law did beforehand teach mankind the necessity of following Christ, He does Himself make manifest, when He replied as follows to him who asked Him what he should do that he might inherit eternal life: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Mat_19:17-18, etc.) But upon the other asking “Which?”” again the Lord replies: “Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor father and mother, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” — setting as an ascending series (velut gradus) before those who wished to follow Him, the precepts of the law, as the entrance into life; and What He then said to one He said to all. But when the former said, “All these have I done” (and most likely he had not kept them, for in that case the Lord would not have said to him, “Keep the commandments”), the Lord, exposing his covetousness, said to him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell all that thou hast, and distribute to the poor; and come, follow me;” promising to those who would act thus, the portion belonging to the apostles (apostolorum partem). And He did not preach to His followers another God the Father, besides Him who was proclaimed by the law from the beginning; nor another Son; nor the Mother, the enthymesis of the Aeon, who existed in suffering and apostasy; nor the Pleroma of the thirty Aeons, which has been proved vain, and incapable of being believed in; nor that fable invented by the other heretics. But He taught that they should obey the commandments which God enjoined from the beginning, and do away with their former covetousness by good works, and follow after Christ. But that possessions distributed to the poor do annul former covetousness, Zaccheus made evident, when he said, “Behold, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one, I restore fourfold.” (Luk_19:8)

~Irenaeus- Against Heresies Book IV Vol. 1

XLIII. — He Concludes That the Law Had an End in Christ, Who Was Born of the Virgin.

Christ is the end of doing the Torah in the letter, the literal, no longer a physical circumcision but a spiritual one, no longer a physical sabbath but a spiritual. Justin Martyr explains how even the Jews tried to alter scriptures that had to do with the prophecies of Christ. The letter of the law was given to the people because of the hardness of their heart, and following the word in the literal sense will bring not holiness or righteousness. We are to follow the spiritual and eternal decress.


“As, then, circumcision began with Abraham, and the Sabbath and sacrifices and offerings and feasts with Moses, and it has been proved they were enjoined on account of the hardness of your people’s heart, so it was necessary, in accordance with the Father’s will, that they should have an end in Him who was born of a virgin, of the family of Abraham and tribe of Judah, and of David; in Christ the Son of God, who was proclaimed as about to come to all the world, to be the everlasting law and the everlasting covenant, even as the aforementioned prophecies show. And we, who have approached God through Him, have received not carnal, but spiritual circumcision, which Enoch and those like him observed. And we have received it through baptism, since we were sinners, by God’s mercy; and all men may equally obtain it. But since the mystery of His birth now demands our attention I shall speak of it. Isaiah then asserted in regard to the generation of Christ, that it could not be declared by man, in words already quoted: ‘Who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth: for the transgressions of my people was He led to death.’ (Isa_53:8) The Spirit of prophecy thus affirmed that the generation of Him who was to die, that we sinful men might be healed by His stripes, was such as could not be declared. Furthermore, that the men who believe in Him may possess the knowledge of the manner in which He came into the world, the Spirit of prophecy by the same Isaiah foretold how it would happen thus: ‘And the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, Ask for thyself a sign from the Lord thy God, in the depth, or in the height. And Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And Isaiah said, hear then, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to contend with men, and how do you contend with the Lord? Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and his name shall be called Immanuel. Butter and honey, shall he eat, before he knows or prefers the evil, and chooses out the good; for before the child knows good or ill, he rejects evil by choosing out the good. For before the child knows how to call father or mother, he shall receive the power of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria in presence of the king of Assyria. And the land shall be forsaken, which thou shalt with difficulty endure in consequence of the presence of its two kings. But God shall bring on thee, and on thy people, and on the house of thy father, days which have not yet come upon thee since the day in which Ephraim took away from Judah the king of Assyria.’ Now it is evident to all, that in the race of Abraham according to the flesh no one has been born of a virgin, or is said to have been born [of a virgin], save this our Christ. But since you and your teachers venture to affirm that in the prophecy of Isaiah it is not said, ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive,’ but, ‘Behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son;’ and [since] you explain the prophecy as if [it referred] to Hezekiah, who was your king, I shall endeavor to [discuss shortly this point in opposition to you, and to show that reference is made to Him who is acknowledged by us as Christ.



XLVI. — Trypho Asks Whether a Man Who Keeps the Law Even Now Will Be Saved. Justin Proves That it Contributes Nothing to Righteousness.


“But if some, even now, wish to live in the observance of the institutions given by Moses, and yet believe in this Jesus who was crucified, recognizing Him to be the Christ of God, and that it is given to Him to be absolute Judge of all, and that His is the everlasting kingdom, can they also be saved?” he inquired of me.

And I replied, “Let us consider that also together, whether one may now observe all the Mosaic institutions.”


And he answered, “No. For we know that, as you said, it is not possible either anywhere to sacrifice the lamb of the Passover, or to offer the goats ordered for the fast; or, in short, [to present] all the other offerings.”


And I said, “Tell [me] then yourself, I pray, some things which can be observed; for you will be persuaded that, though a man does not keep or has not performed the eternal decrees, he may assuredly be saved.


Then he replied, “To keep the Sabbath, to be circumcised, to observe months, and to be washed if you touch anything prohibited by Moses, or after sexual intercourse.”


And I said, Do you think that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, and Job, and all the rest before or after them equally righteous, also Sarah the wife of Abraham, Rebekah the wife of Isaac, Rachel the wife of Jacob, and Leah, and all the rest of them, until the mother of Moses the faithful servant, who observed none of these [statutes], will be saved?”


And Trypho answered, “Were not Abraham and his descendants circumcised?”


And I said, “I know that Abraham and his descendants were circumcised. The reason why circumcision was given to them I stated at length in what has gone before; and if what has been said does not convince you, let us again search into the matter. But you are aware that, up to Moses, no one in fact who was righteous observed any of these rites at all of which we are talking, or received one commandment to observe, except that of circumcision, which began from Abraham.


And he replied, “We know it, and admit that they are saved.”


Then I returned answer, “You perceive that God by Moses laid all such ordinances upon you on account of the hardness of your people’s hearts, in order that, by the large number of them, you might keep God continually, and in every action, before your eyes, and never begin to act unjustly or impiously. For He enjoined you to place around you [a fringe] of purple dye, (Num_15:38) in order that you might not forget God; and He commanded you to wear a phylactery, (Deu_6:6) certain characters, which indeed we consider holy, being engraved on very thin parchment; and by these means stirring you up to retain a constant remembrance of God: at the same time, however, convincing you, that in your hearts you have not even a faint remembrance of God’s worship. Yet not even so where you dissuaded from idolatry: for in the times of Elijah, when [God] recounted the number of those who had not bowed the knee to Baal, He said the number was seven thousand; and in Isaiah He rebukes you for having sacrificed your children to idols. But we, because we refuse to sacrifice to those to whom we were of old accustomed to sacrifice, undergo extreme penalties, and rejoice in death, — believing that God will raise us up by His Christ, and will make us incorruptible, and undisturbed, and immortal; and we know that the ordinances imposed by reason of the hardness of your people’s hearts, contribute nothing to the performance of righteousness and of piety.”

~Justin Martyr- Dialogue with Trypho Vol. 1

XIII. — History of the Septuagint

Ptolemy II the King of Egypt was building a library in Alexandria by collecting books from the four corners of the earth. He came across a sacred Hebrew text of the Torah and brought 70 wise men who were schooled in both the Hebrew and Greek languages. After if was written, the king noticed that the translations of the 70 were consistent and did not contradict each other, and were in complete agreement. He realized that this translation was divinely done.


But if anyone says that the writings of Moses and of the rest of the prophets were also written in the Greek character, let him read profane histories, and know that Ptolemy, king of Egypt, when he had built the library in Alexandria, and by gathering books from every quarter had filled it, then learnt that very ancient histories written in Hebrew happened to be carefully preserved; and wishing to know their contents, he sent for seventy wise men from Jerusalem, who were acquainted with both the Greek and Hebrew language, and appointed them to translate the books; and that in freedom from all disturbance they might the more speedily complete the translation, he ordered that there should be constructed, not in the city itself, but seven stadia(stadium) off (where the Pharos was built), as many little cots as there were translators, so that each by himself might complete his own translation; and enjoined upon those officers who were appointed to this duty, to afford them all attendance, but to prevent communication with one another, in order that the accuracy of the translation might be discernible even by their agreement. And when he ascertained that the seventy men had not only given the same meaning, but had employed the same words, and had failed in agreement with one another not even to the extent of one word; but had written the same things, and concerning the same things, he was struck with amazement, and believed that the translation had been written by divine power, and perceived that the men were worthy of all honor, as beloved of God; and with many gifts ordered them to return to their own country. And having, as was natural, marveled at the books, and concluded them to be divine; he consecrated them in that library. These things, ye men of Greece, are no fable, nor do we narrate fictions; but we ourselves having been in Alexandria, saw the remains of the little cots at the Pharos still preserved, and having heard these things from the inhabitants, who had received them as part of their country’s tradition, we now tell you what you can also learn from others, and specially from those wise and esteemed men who have written of these things, Philo and Josephus, and many others. But if any of those who are wont to be forward in contradiction should say that these books do not belong to us, but to the Jews, and should assert that we in vain profess to have learnt our religion froth them, let him know, as he may from those very things which are written in these books, that not to them, but to us, does the doctrine of them refer. That the books relating to our religion are to this day preserved among the Jews, has been a work of Divine Providence on our behalf; for lest, by producing them out of the Church, we should give occasion to those who wish to slander us to charge us with fraud, we demand that they be produced from the synagogue of the Jews, that from the very books still preserved among them it might clearly and evidently appear, that the laws which were written by holy men. For instruction pertain to us.

~Justin Martyr- Hortatory Address to the Greeks Vol. 1

XIV. — If God Demands Obedience from Man, if He Formed Man, Called Him and Placed Him Under Laws, it Was Merely for Man’s Welfare; Not That God Stood in Need of Man, but That He Graciously Conferred upon Man His Favors in Every Possible Manner.

God’s provision has continued through all the ages for man through everything spoken to mankind which has always been Torah that would form us into His image. God doesn’t need anyone to serve him, but he grants eternal life who does so out of their free will. God doesn’t need anything from us, He has communion with humans for their benefit, not his. He gave the Torah to teach us who are prone to idol worship to serve God. The idols are the things of the letter, the carnal, the temporal, however we are to serve Him by making our focus on the eternal and spirit realm that is in His Word.   

  1. In the beginning, therefore, did God form Adam, not as if He stood in need of man, but that He might have [someone] upon whom to confer His benefits. For not alone antecedently to Adam, but also before all creation, the Word glorified His Father, remaining in Him; and was Himself glorified by the Father, as He did Himself declare, “Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” (Joh_17:5) Nor did He stand in need of our service when He ordered us to follow Him; but He thus bestowed salvation upon ourselves. For to follow the Savior is to be a partaker of salvation, and to follow light is to receive light. But those who are in light do not themselves illumine the light, but are illumined and revealed by it: they do certainly contribute nothing to it, but, receiving the benefit, they are illumined by the light. Thus, also, service [rendered] to God does indeed profit God nothing, nor has God need of human obedience; but He grants to those who follow and serve Him life and incorruption and eternal glory, bestowing benefit upon those who serve [Him], because they do serve Him, and on His followers, because they do follow Him; but does not receive any benefit from them: for He is rich, perfect, and in need of nothing. But for this reason does God demand service from men, in order that, since He is good and merciful, He may benefit those who continue in His service. For, as much as God is in want of nothing, so much does man stand in need of fellowship with God. For this is the glory of man, to continue and remain permanently in God’s service. Wherefore also did the Lord say to His disciples, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you;” (Joh_15:16) indicating that they did not glorify Him when they followed Him; but that, in following the Son of God, they were glorified by Him. And again, “I will, that where I am, there they also may be, that they may behold My glory;” (Joh_17:24) not vainly boasting because of this, but desiring that His disciples should share in His glory: of whom Isaiah also says, “I will bring thy seed from the east, and will gather thee from the west; and I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth; all, as many as have been called in My name: for in My glory I have prepared, and formed, and made him.” (Isa_43:5) Inasmuch as then, “wheresoever the carcase is, there shall also the eagles be gathered together,” (Mat_24:28) we do participate in the glory of the Lord, who has both formed us, and prepared us for this, that, when we are with Him, we may partake of His glory.


  1. Thus it was, too, that God formed man at the first, because of His munificence; but chose the patriarchs for the sake of their salvation; and prepared a people beforehand, teaching the headstrong to follow God; and raised up prophets upon earth, accustoming man to bear His Spirit [within him], and to hold communion with God: He Himself, indeed, having need of nothing, but granting communion with Himself to those who stood in need of it, and sketching out, like an architect, the plan of salvation to those that pleased Him. And He did Himself furnish guidance to those who beheld Him not in Egypt, while to those who became unruly in the desert He promulgated a law very suitable [to their condition]. Then, on the people who entered into the good land He bestowed a noble inheritance; and He killed the fatted calf for those converted to the Father and presented them with the finest robe. (Luk_15:22-23) Thus, in a variety of ways, He adjusted the human race to an agreement with salvation. On this account also does John declare in the Apocalypse, “And His voice as the sound of many waters.” (Rev_1:15) For the Spirit [of God] is truly [like] many waters, since the Father is both rich and great. And the Word, passing through all those [men], did liberally confer benefits upon His subjects, by drawing up in writing a law adapted and applicable to every class [among them].


  1. Thus, too, He imposed upon the [Jewish] people the construction of the tabernacle, the building of the temple, the election of the Levites, sacrifices also, and oblations, legal monitions, and all the other service of the law. He does Himself truly want none of these things, for He is always full of all good, and had in Himself all the odor of kindness, and every perfume of sweet-smelling savors, even before Moses existed. Moreover, He instructed the people, who were prone to turn to idols, instructing them by repeated appeals to persevere and to serve God, calling them to the things of primary importance by means of those which were secondary; that is, to things that are real, by means of those that are typical; and by things temporal, to eternal; and by the carnal to the spiritual; and by the earthly to the heavenly; as was also said to Moses, “Thou shalt make all things after the pattern of those things which thou sawest in the mount.” (Exo_25:40) For during forty days He was learning to keep [in his memory] the words of God, and the celestial patterns, and the spiritual images, and the types of things to come; as also Paul says: “For they drank of the rock which followed them: and the rock was Christ.” (1Co_10:11) And again, having first mentioned what are contained in the law, he goes on to say: “Now all these things happened to them in a figure; but they were written for our admonition, upon whom the end of the ages is come.” For by means of types they learned to fear God, and to continue devoted to His service.

~Irenaeus- Against Heresies Book IV Vol. 1

XVIII. - The Mosaic Law the Fountain of All Ethics, and the Source from Which the Greeks Drew Theirs.

We see here clement describing the law, and explaining the attributes of the law compared to the human character and the character we are supposed to adopt being believers of the divine God Yahweh. We see a clear distinction of the love and how we are to love one another and how important the commandments are to help us birth the Virtues of Christ.


It is then clear also that all the other virtues, delineated in Moses, supplied the Greeks with the rudiments of the whole department of morals. I mean valour, and temperance, and wisdom, and justice, and endurance, and patience, and decorum, and self-restraint; and in addition to these, piety.


But it is clear to everyone that piety, which teaches to worship and honor, is the highest and oldest cause; and the law itself exhibits justice, and teaches wisdom, by abstinence from sensible images, and by inviting to the Maker and Father of the universe. And from this sentiment, as from a fountain, all intelligence increases. “For the sacrifices of the wicked are abomination to the Lord; but the prayers of the upright are acceptable before Him,” (Pro_15:8) since righteousness is more acceptable before God than sacrifice.” Such also as the following we find in Isaiah: “To what purpose to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? saith the Lord;” and the whole section. (Isa_1:11, etc.) Break every bond of wickedness; for this is the sacrifice that is acceptable to the Lord, a contrite heart that seeks its Maker.”(Isa_48:6) “Deceitful balances are abomination before God; but a just balance is acceptable to Him.” (Pro_11:1) Thence Pythagoras exhorts “not to step over the balance;” and the profession of heresies is called deceitful righteousness; and “the tongue of the unjust shall be destroyed, but the mouth of the righteous droppeth wisdom.” (Pro_10:31) “For they call the wise and prudent worthless.” But it were tedious to adduce testimonies respecting these virtues, since the whole Scripture celebrates them. Since, then, they define manliness to be knowledge of things formidable, and not formidable, and what is intermediate; and temperance to be a state of mind which by choosing and avoiding preserves the judgments of wisdom; and conjoined with manliness is patience, which is called endurance, the knowledge of what is bearable and what is unbearable; and magnanimity is the knowledge which rises superior to circumstances. With temperance also is conjoined caution, which is avoidance in accordance with reason. And observance of the commandments, which is the innoxious keeping of them, is the attainment of a secure life. And there is no endurance without manliness, nor the exercise of self-restraint without temperance. And these virtues follow one another; and with whom are the sequences of the virtues, with him is also salvation, which is the keeping of the state of well-being. Rightly, therefore, in treating of these virtues, we shall inquire into them all; for he that has one virtue gnostically, by reason of their accompanying each other, has them all. Self-restraint is that quality which does not overstep what appears in accordance with right reason. He exercises self-restraint, who curbs the impulses that are contrary to right reason, or curbs himself so as not to indulge in desires contrary to right reason. Temperance, too, is not without manliness; since from the commandments spring both wisdom, which follows God who enjoins, and that which imitates the divine character, namely righteousness; in virtue of which, in the exercise of self-restraint, we address ourselves in purity to piety and the course of conduct thence resulting, in conformity with God; being assimilated to the Lord as far as is possible for us beings mortal in nature. And this is being just and holy with wisdom; for the Divinity needs nothing and suffers nothing; whence it is not, strictly speaking, capable of self-restraint, for it is never subjected to perturbation, over which to exercise control; while our nature, being capable of perturbation, needs self-constraint, by which disciplining itself to the need of little, it endeavors to approximate in character to the divine nature. For the good man, standing as the boundary between an immortal and a mortal nature, has few needs; having wants in consequence of his body, and his birth itself, but taught by rational self-control to want few things.


What reason is there in the law’s prohibiting a man from “wearing woman’s clothing”? (Deu_22:5) Is it not that it would have us to be manly, and not to be effeminate neither in person and actions, nor in thought and word? For it would have the man, that devotes himself to the truth, to be masculine both in acts of endurance and patience, in life, conduct, word, and discipline by night and by day; even if the necessity were to occur, of witnessing by the shedding of his blood. Again, it is said, “If anyone who has newly built a house, and has not previously inhabited it; or cultivated a newly-planted vine, and not yet partaken of the fruit; or betrothed a virgin, and not yet married her;” – such the humane law orders to be relieved from military service: from military reasons in the first place, lest, bent on their desires, they turn out sluggish in war; for it is those who are untrammeled by passion that boldly encounter perils; and from motives of humanity, since, in view of the uncertainties of war, the law reckoned it not right that one should not enjoy his own labors, and another should without bestowing pains, receive what belonged to those who had labored. The law seems also to point out manliness of soul, by enacting that he who had planted should reap the fruit, and he that built should inhabit, and he that had betrothed should marry: for it is not vain hopes which it provides for those who labor; according to the Gnostic word: “For the hope of a good man dead or living does not perish,” (Pro_10:7, Pro_11:7) says Wisdom; “I love them that love me; and they who seek me shall find peace,” (Pro_8:17) and so forth. What then? Did not the women of the Midianites, by their beauty, seduce from wisdom into impiety, through licentiousness, the Hebrews when making war against them? For, having seduced them from a grave mode of life, and by their beauty ensnared them in wanton delights, they made them insane upon idol sacrifices and strange women; and overcome by women and by pleasure at once, they revolted from God, and revolted from the law. And the whole people was within a little of falling under the power of the enemy through female stratagem, until, when they were in peril, fear by its admonitions pulled them back. Then the survivors, valiantly undertaking the struggle for piety, got the upper hand of their foes. “The beginning, then, of wisdom is piety, and the knowledge of holy things is understanding; and to know the law is the characteristic of a good understanding.” (Pro_9:10) Those, then, who suppose the law to be productive of agitating fear, are neither good at understanding the law, nor have they in reality comprehended it; for “the fear of the Lord causes life, but he who errs shall be afflicted with pangs which knowledge views not.” (Pro_19:23) Accordingly, Barnabas says mystically, “May God who rules the universe vouchsafe also to you wisdom, and understanding, and science, and knowledge of His statutes, and patience. Be therefore God-taught, seeking what the Lord seeks from you, that He may find you in the day of judgment lying in wait for these things.” “Children of love and peace,” he called them gnostically.


Respecting imparting and communicating, though much might be said, let it suffice to remark that the law prohibits a brother from taking usury: designating as a brother not only him who is born of the same parents, but also one of the same race and sentiments, and a participator in the same word; deeming it right not to take usury for money, but with open hands and heart to bestow on those who need. For God, the author and the dispenser of such grace, takes as suitable usury the most precious things to be found among men – mildness, gentleness, magnanimity, reputation, renown. Do you not regard this command as marked by philanthropy? As also the following, “To pay the wages of the poor daily,” teaches to discharge without delay the wages due for service; for, as I think, the alacrity of the poor with reference to the future is paralyzed when he has suffered want. Further, it is said, “Let not the creditor enter the debtor’s house to take the pledge with violence.” But let the former ask it to be brought out, and let not the latter, if he have it, hesitate. (Deu_24:10, Deu_24:11) And in the harvest the owners are prohibited from appropriating what falls from the handfuls; as also in reaping [the law] enjoins a part to be left unreaped; signally thereby training those who possess to sharing and to large-heartedness, by foregoing of their own to those who are in want, and thus providing means of subsistence for the poor? You see how the law proclaims at once the righteousness and goodness of God, who dispenses food to all ungrudgingly. And in the vintage it prohibited the grape-gatherers from going back again on what had been left, and from gathering the fallen grapes; and the same injunctions are given to the olive-gatherers. (Lev_19:9, Lev_22:22; Deu_24:19) Besides, the tithes of the fruits and of the flocks taught both piety towards the Deity, and not covetously to grasp everything, but to communicate gifts of kindness to one’s neighbors. For it was from these, I reckon, and from the first-fruits that the priests were maintained. We now therefore understand that we are instructed in piety, and in liberality, and in justice, and in humanity by the law. For does it not command the land to be left fallow in the seventh year, and bids the poor fearlessly use the fruits that grow by divine agency, nature cultivating the ground for behoof of all and sundry? (Exo_23:10, Exo_23:11; Lev_25:2-7) How, then, can it be maintained that the law is not humane, and the teacher of righteousness? Again, in the fiftieth year, it ordered the same things to be performed as in the seventh; besides restoring to each one his own land, if from any circumstance he had parted with it in the meantime; setting bounds to the desires of those who covet possession, by measuring the period of enjoyment, and choosing that those who have paid the penalty of protracted penury should not suffer a life-long punishment. But alms and acts of faith are royal guards, and blessing is on the head of him who bestows; and he who pities the poor shall be blessed.” (Pro_20:28, Pro_11:26, Pro_14:21) For he shows love to one like himself, because of his love to the Creator of the human race. The above-mentioned particulars have other explanations more natural, both respecting rest and the recovery of the inheritance; but they are not discussed at present.


Now love is conceived in many ways, in the form of meekness, of mildness, of patience, of liberality, of freedom from envy, of absence of hatred, of forgetfulness of injuries. In all it is incapable of being divided or distinguished: its nature is to communicate. Again, it is said, “If you see the beast of your relatives, or friends, or, in general, of anybody you know, wandering in the wilderness, take it back and restore it; and if the owner be far away, keep it among your own till he return, and restore it.” It teaches a natural communication, that what is found is to be regarded as a deposit, and that we are not to bear malice to an enemy. “The command of the Lord being a fountain of life” truly, “causeth to turn away from the snare of death.” (Pro_14:27) And what? Does it not command us “to love strangers not only as friends and relatives, but as ourselves, both in body and soul?” (Lev_19:33, Lev_19:34; Deu_10:19, Deu_23:7) Nay more, it honored the nations, and bears no grudge against those who have done ill. Accordingly it is expressly said, “Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian, for thou wast a sojourner in Egypt;” (Deu_23:7) designating by the term Egyptian either one of that race, or any one in the world. And enemies, although drawn up before the walls attempting to take the city, are not to be regarded as enemies till they are by the voice of the herald summoned to peace. (Deu_20:10)


Further, it forbids intercourse with a female captive so as to dishonor her. “But allow her,” it says, “thirty days to mourn according to her wish, and changing her clothes, associate with her as your lawful wife.” (Deu_21:10-13) For it regards it not right that this should take place either in wantonness or for hire like harlots, but only for the birth of children. Do you see humanity combined with continence? The master who has fallen in love with his captive maid it does not allow to gratify his pleasure, but puts a check on his lust by specifying an interval of time; and further, it cuts off the captive’s hair, in order to shame disgraceful love: for if it is reason that induces him to marry, he will cleave to her even after she has become disfigured. Then if one, after his lust, does not care to consort any longer with the captive, it ordains that it shall not be lawful to sell her, or to have her any longer as a servant, but desires her to be freed and released from service, lest on the introduction of another wife she bear any of the intolerable miseries caused through jealousy.


What more? The Lord enjoins to ease and raise up the beasts of enemies when labouring beneath their burdens; remotely teaching us not to indulge in joy at our neighbour’s ills, or exult over our enemies; in order to teach those who are trained in these things to pray for their enemies. For He does not allow us either to grieve at our neighbor’s good, or to reap joy at our neighbor’s ill. And if you find any enemy’s beast straying, you are to pass over the incentives of difference, and take it back and restore it. For oblivion of injuries is followed by goodness, and the latter by dissolution of enmity. From this we are fitted for agreement, and this conducts to felicity. And should you suppose one habitually hostile, and discover him to be unreasonably mistaken either through lust or anger, turn him to goodness. Does the law then which conducts to Christ appear humane and mild? And does not the same God, good, while characterized by righteousness from the beginning to the end, employ each kind suitably in order to salvation? “Be merciful,” says the Lord, “that you may receive mercy; forgive, that you may be forgiven. As ye do, so shall it be done to you; as ye give, so shall it be given to you; as ye judge, so shall ye be judged; as ye show kindness, so shall kindness be shown to you: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Mat_5:1-48, Mat_6:1-34, Mat_7:1-29; Luk_6:1-49) Furthermore, [the law] prohibits those, who are in servitude for their subsistence, to be branded with disgrace; and to those, who have been reduced to slavery through money borrowed, it gives a complete release in the seventh year. Further, it prohibits suppliants from being given up to punishment. True above all, then, is that oracle. As gold and silver are tried in the furnace, so the Lord chooseth men’s hearts. The merciful man is long-suffering; and in every one who shows solicitude there is wisdom. For on a wise man solicitude will fall; and exercising thought, he will seek life; and he who seeketh God shall find knowledge with righteousness. And they who have sought Him rightly have found peace.” (Pro_19:11, Pro_14:23, Pro_17:12) And Pythagoras seems to me, to have derived his mildness towards irrational creatures from the law. For instance, he interdicted the immediate use of the young in the flocks of sheep, and goats, and herds of cattle, on the instant of their birth; not even on the pretext of sacrifice allowing it, both on account of the young ones and of the mothers; training man to gentleness by what is beneath him, by means of the irrational creatures. “Resign accordingly,” he says, “the young one to its dam for even the first seven days.” For if nothing takes place without a cause, and milk comes in a shower to animals in parturition for the sustenance of the progeny, he that tears that, which has been brought forth, away from the supply of the milk, dishonors nature. Let the Greeks, then, feel ashamed, and whoever else inveighs against the law; since it shows mildness in the case of the irrational creatures, while they expose the offspring of men; though long ago and prophetically, the law, in the above-mentioned commandment, threw a check in the way of their cruelty. For if it prohibits the progeny of the irrational creatures to be separated from the dam before sucking, much more in the case of men does it provide beforehand a cure for cruelty and savageness of disposition; so that even if they despise nature, they may not despise teaching. For they are permitted to satiate themselves with kids and lambs, and perhaps there might be some excuse for separating the progeny from its dam. But what cause is there for the exposure of a child? For the man who did not desire to beget children had no right to marry at first; certainly not to have become, through licentious indulgence, the murderer of his children. Again, the humane law forbids slaying the offspring and the dam together on the same day. Thence also the Romans, in the case of a pregnant woman being condemned to death, do not allow her to undergo punishment till she is delivered. The law too, expressly prohibits the slaying of such animals as are pregnant till they have brought forth, remotely restraining the proneness of man to do wrong to man. Thus also it has extended its clemency to the irrational creatures; that from the exercise of humanity in the case of creatures of different species, we might practice among those of the same species a large abundance of it. Those, too, that kick the bellies of certain animals before parturition, in order to feast on flesh mixed with milk, make the womb created for the birth of the foetus its grave, though the law expressly commands, “But neither shalt thou seethe a lamb in its mother’s milk.” (Deu_14:21) For the nourishment of the living animal, it is meant, may not become sauce for that which has been deprived of life; and that, which is the cause of life, may not co-operate in the consumption of the body. And the same law commands “not to muzzle the ox which treadeth out the corn: for the labourer must be reckoned worthy of his food.” (Deu_25:4; 1Ti_5:18)


And it prohibits an ox and ass to be yoked in the plough together; (Deu_22:10) pointing perhaps to the want of agreement in the case of the animals; and at the same time teaching not to wrong any one belonging to another race, and bring him under the yoke, when there is no other cause to allege than difference of race, which is no cause at all, being neither wickedness nor the effect of wickedness. To me the allegory also seems to signify that the husbandry of the Word is not to be assigned equally to the clean and the unclean, the believer and the unbeliever; for the ox is clean, but the ass has been reckoned among the unclean animals. But the benignant Word, abounding in humanity, teaches that neither is it right to cut down cultivated trees, or to cut down the grain before the harvest, for mischief’s sake; nor that cultivated fruit is to be destroyed at all either the fruit of the soil or that of the soul: for it does not permit the enemy’s country to be laid waste.


Further, husbandmen derived advantage from the law in such things. For it orders newly planted trees to be nourished three years in succession, and the superfluous growths to be cut off, to prevent them being loaded and pressed down; and to prevent their strength being exhausted from want, by the nutriment being frittered away, enjoins tilling and digging round them, so that [the tree] may not, by sending out suckers, hinder its growth. And it does not allow imperfect fruit to be plucked from immature trees, but after three years, in the fourth year; dedicating the first-fruits to God after the tree has attained maturity.


This type of husbandry may serve as a mode of instruction, teaching that we must cut the growths of sins, and the useless weeds of the mind that spring up round the vital fruit, till the shoot of faith is perfected and becomes strong. For in the fourth year, since there is need of time to him that is being solidly catechized, the four virtues are consecrated to God, the third alone being already joined to the fourth, the person of the Lord. And a sacrifice of praise is above holocausts: “for He,” it is said, “giveth strength to get power.” (Deu_8:18) And if your affairs are in the sunshine of prosperity, get and keep strength, and acquire power in knowledge. For by these instances it is shown that both good things and gifts are supplied by God; and that we, becoming ministers of the divine grace, ought to sow the benefits of God, and make those who approach us noble and good; so that, as far as possible, the temperate man may make others continent, he that is manly may make them noble, he that is wise may make them intelligent, and the just may make them just.

~Clement- Stromata Book II Vol. 2