Helping restore Father's people
to the Ancient Paths of scripture.
Walking in the Ten Words (Commandments) and the Power of the Holy Spirit
(Rev.12:17, Luk.10:19, Mat.28:19-20)
Irenaeus was born during the first half of the 2nd century (the exact date is disputed: between the years 115 and 125 according to some, or 130 and 142 according to others), and he is thought to have been a Greek from Polycarp's hometown of Smyrna in Asia Minor, now İzmir, Turkey. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was brought up in a Christian family rather than converting as an adult. During the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor from 161–180, Irenaeus was a priest of the Church of Lyons. The clergy of that city, many of whom were suffering imprisonment for the faith, sent him in 177 to Rome with a letter to Pope Eleuterus concerning the heresy Montanism, and that occasion bore emphatic testimony to his merits. While Irenaeus was in Rome, a massacre took place in Lyons. Returning to Gaul, Irenaeus succeeded the martyr Saint Pothinus and became the second Bishop of Lyons. During the religious peace which followed the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the new bishop divided his activities between the duties of a pastor and of a missionary (as to which we have but brief data, late and not very certain). Almost all his writings were directed against Gnosticism. The most famous of these writings is Adversus haereses (Against Heresies). Irenaeus alludes to coming across Gnostic writings, and holding conversations with Gnostics, and this may have taken place in Asia Minor or in Rome. However, it also appears that Gnosticism was present near Lyon: he writes that there were followers of 'Magus the Magician' living and teaching in the Rhone valley. Little is known about the career of Irenaeus after he became bishop. The last action reported of him (by Eusebius, 150 years later) is that in 190 or 191, he exerted influence on Pope Victor I not to excommunicate the Christian communities of Asia Minor which persevered in the practice of the Quartodeciman celebration of Passover.
Apostolic authority In his writing against the Gnostics, who claimed to possess a secret oral tradition from Jesus himself, Irenaeus maintained that the bishops in different cities are known as far back as the Apostles and that the bishops provided the only safe guide to the interpretation of Scripture. In a passage that became a locus classicus of Catholic-Protestant polemics, he emphasized the unique position of the bishop of Rome. With the lists of bishops to which Irenaeus referred, the later doctrine of the apostolic succession of the bishops could be linked. This succession was important to establish a chain of custody for orthodoxy. He felt it important, however, to also speak of a succession of elders (presbyters). Irenaeus' point when refuting the Gnostics was that all of the Apostolic churches had preserved the same traditions and teachings in many independent streams. It was the unanimous agreement between these many independent streams of transmission that proved the orthodox Faith, current in those churches, to be true. Had any error crept in, the agreement would be immediately destroyed.
The Repairer of the Breach. - Helping restore Father's people to the Ancient paths of scripture.