Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Anti-Marcion/The Prescription Against Heretics/Chapter XXII

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Chapter XXII.—Attempt to Invalidate This Rule of Faith Rebutted. The Apostles Safe Transmitters of the Truth. Sufficiently Taught at First, and Faithful in the Transmission.

But inasmuch as the proof is so near at hand,[1] that if it were at once produced there would be nothing left to be dealt with, let us give way for a while to the opposite side, if they think that they can find some means of invalidating this rule, just as if no proof were forthcoming from us. They usually tell us that the apostles did not know all things: (but herein) they are impelled by the same madness, whereby they turn round to the very opposite point,[2] and declare that the apostles certainly knew all things, but did not deliver all things to all persons,—in either case exposing Christ to blame for having sent forth apostles who had either too much ignorance, or too little simplicity. What man, then, of sound mind can possibly suppose that they were ignorant of anything, whom the Lord ordained to be masters (or teachers),[3] keeping them, as He did, inseparable (from Himself) in their attendance, in their discipleship, in their society, to whom, “when they were alone, He used to expound” all things[4] which were obscure, telling them that “to them it was given to know those mysteries,”[5] which it was not permitted the people to understand? Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called “the rock on which the church should be built,”[6] who also obtained “the keys of the kingdom of heaven,”[7] with the power of “loosing and binding in heaven and on earth?”[8] Was anything, again, concealed from John, the Lord’s most beloved disciple, who used to lean on His breast[9] to whom alone the Lord pointed Judas out as the traitor,[10] whom He commended to Mary as a son in His own stead?[11] Of what could He have meant those to be ignorant, to whom He even exhibited His own glory with Moses and Elias, and the Father’s voice moreover, from heaven?[12] Not as if He thus disapproved[13] of all the rest, but because “by three witnesses must every word be established.”[14] After the same fashion,[15] too, (I suppose,) were they ignorant to whom, after His resurrection also, He vouchsafed, as they were journeying together, “to expound all the Scriptures.”[16] No doubt[17] He had once said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot hear them now;” but even then He added, “When He, the Spirit of truth, shall come, He will lead you into all truth.”[18] He (thus) shows that there was nothing of which they were ignorant, to whom He had promised the future attainment of all truth by help of the Spirit of truth.  And assuredly He fulfilled His promise, since it is proved in the Acts of the Apostles that the Holy Ghost did come down. Now they who reject that Scripture[19] can neither belong to the Holy Spirit, seeing that they cannot acknowledge that the Holy Ghost has been sent as yet to the disciples, nor can they presume to claim to be a church themselves[20] who positively have no means of proving when, and with what swaddling-clothes[21] this body was established. Of so much importance is it to them not to have any proofs for the things which they maintain, lest along with them there be introduced damaging exposures[22] of those things which they mendaciously devise.


  1. Expedita.
  2. Susam rursus convertun.
  3. Magistros.
  4. Mark iv. 34.
  5. Matt. xiii. 11.
  6. Matt. xvi. 18. [See Kaye p. 222, also Elucidation II.]
  7. Ver. 19.
  8. Ver. 19.
  9. John xxi. 20.
  10. John xiii. 25. [N.B. loco suo.]
  11. John xix. 26.
  12. Matt. xvii. 1–8.
  13. Reprobans.
  14. Deut. xix. 15, and 2 Cor. xiii. 1.
  15. Itaque, ironical.
  16. Luke xxiv. 27.
  17. Plane.
  18. John xvi. 12, 13.
  19. See Tertullian’s Anti-Marcion, iv. 5, and v. 2 (Trans. pp. 187 and 377).
  20. Nec ecclesiam se dicant defendere.
  21. Incunabulis, infant nursing.
  22. Traductiones.