All talks » Irenaeus of Lyon

Series thumbnail for Standing on their Shoulders

05 Aug 2020

Paulo Carvalho

Church History and “The Church Fathers”

His Life

130 AD born

- mentored by Polycarp (goes back to the apostle John);

- moves to Lyon (Gaul, modern-day France);

170 AD goes back to Rome to discuss heresies

- Pothinus (his bishop in Lyon) is persecuted and martyred

- On his return Irenaeus is appointed bishop

202? Date of death


 “Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching” – the Christian faith is the oldest and best story. The Son of God is foretold and present at every step and it is the climax of his coming and work that the apostles proclaim.

 “Against the Heresies” – His masterpiece answering the Gnostic heresy



1) - Physical and bodily things are bad - flesh (bad) against the Spirit (good);

2) - The Spirit seeks liberation from the flesh;

3) - Salvation is about self-improvement through this liberation;

4) - that happens through a kind of secret knowledge;

5) - not through the apostles’ teaching but through entering the inner circle of certain illuminated teachers

6) - rejection of the OT.


How to read the Scriptures and keep from error

(Why) teaching from the Bible is not enough – it matters how you approach the Bible

We must read the Bible in line with the principles we learn from the Bible – “take the text out of context, and you’ll end up with a con”.


The Bible is all about Jesus (John 5.39)

The Bible is one book (2 Cor 1.20)

The Bible interprets itself

“The demonstrations of the things contained in the Scriptures cannot be demonstrated except from the Scriptures themselves” (AH 3: 12:9)

 Case study: The rich young man (Mark 10) and the help of Acts 5.4


Humanity was created by God as a child who will grow to maturity

Humanity as a river seen from the source to the river mouth.

They were in their development, while (…) the man was very little, since he was an infant, and it was necessary for him to reach full-development by growing” (Dem 12)


Jesus comes as another Adam to set humanity back on the road towards maturity

Jesus Christ, in His infinite love, has become what we are, in order that He may make us entirely what He is.” Irenaeus of Lyon


Recapitulation = Christ as the second Adam, undoing the evils brought about by the first Adam

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned (…)For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (…) For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be righteous.” (Romans 5.12, 15b-17, 19)

The Incarnation is the key to God’s grand plan of bringing the fleshy humanity he created to its goal.


Christ acts in our place in everything the he did and is doing.

For as by one man came death [Adam], by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor 15.21-22)