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Quotes from the Ante Nicene Fathers

Books that will challenge your current Biblical perspective.
The Fire That Consumes
The Parousia
The Biblical Church
Clinging to a Counterfeit Cross

Obedience and the Christian Life

Note: The following quotes are listed to show that the early Church has never accepted the teaching that obedience is optional in the Christian life.

Ignatius (A.D. 35-107):

"… that he [God] may both hear you, and perceive by your works that you are indeed the members of his Son." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.51)

"Faith cannot do the works of unbelief, nor unbelief the works of faith." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.53)

"The tree is made manifest by its fruit. So those who profess themselves to be Christians will be recognized by their conduct." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.55)

Polycarp (A.D. 69-156):

"He who raised him (Jesus) up from the dead will raise us up also - if we do his will, and walk in his commandments, and love what he loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.33)

Barnabas, Epistle of (A.D. 70-100):

"The way of light, then, is as follows. If anyone desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. pg.148)

"The whole past time of your faith will profit you nothing, unless now in this wicked time we also withstand coming sources of danger. … Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called, we fall asleep in our sins. For then, the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, will thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord. … And you should pay attention to this all the more, my brothers, when you reflect on and see that after such great signs and wonders had been performed in Israel, they were still abandoned. Let us beware lest we be found to be, as it is written, the 'many who are called,' but not the 'few that are chosen.'" (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.139)

Clement of Rome (1st century):

"We are justified by our works, and not our words." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.13)

2nd Clement (A.D. 150):

"This, then, is our reward if we will confess him by whom we have been saved. But in what way will we confess him? We confess him by doing what he says, not transgressing his commandments, and honoring him not only with our lips, but with all our heart and all our mind. … Let us, then, not only call him Lord, for that will not save us. For he says, 'Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will be saved, but he that works righteousness.' For that reason, brethren, let us confess him by our works, by loving one another." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 7, pg.518)

"Therefore, brethren, by doing the will of the Father, and keeping the flesh holy, and observing the commandments of the Lord, we will obtain eternal life." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 7, pg.519)

"Let us then practice righteousness so that we will be saved unto the end." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 7, pg.523)

Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150-215):

"It is neither the faith, nor the love, nor the hope, nor the endurance of one day; rather, 'he that endures to the end will be saved.'" (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.600)

"And he does not believe God, who does not do what God has commanded." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.416)

"To obey the Word, whom we call the Instructor, is to believe in him, going against him in nothing." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.350)

"No one, then, can be a believer and at the same time be licentious." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.505)

"It is the will of God that he who repents of his sins and is obedient to the commandments should be saved." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.263)

"When we hear, 'Your faith has saved you,' we do not understand him to say absolutely that those who have believed in any way whatever will be saved. For works must follow." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.505)

"For by grace are ye saved" – but not, indeed, without good works. Rather, we must be saved by being molded for what is good." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.445)

"Whoever obtains this and distinguishes himself in good works will gain the prize of everlasting life. … Others, attaching slight importance to the works that tend to salvation, do not make the necessary preparation for attaining to the objects of their hope." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.591)

Caius (early 3rd century):

"Some of the [heretics] … simply deny the Law and the Prophets for the sake of their lawless and impious doctrine. And under the pretence of grace, they have sunk down to the lowest abyss of perdition." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, pg.602)

Commodianus (A.D. 240):

"Being a believing man, if you seek to live as the Gentiles do, the joys of the world remove you from the grace of Christ." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 4, pg. 214)

Cyprian (A.D. 258):

"He follows Christ who stands in his commandments, who walks in the way of his teaching, who follows in his footsteps and his ways, who imitates that which Christ both did and taught. … To put on the name of Christ, and yet not go in the way of Christ – what else is this but a mockery of the divine name! It is a desertion of the way of salvation. For he himself teaches and says that the person who keeps his commandments will come into life." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, pg.494)

"You are still in the world. You are still in the battlefield. You daily fight for your lives. So you must be careful, that … what you have begun to be with such a blessed commencement will be consummated in you. It is a small thing to have first received something. It is a greater thing to be able to keep that which you have attained. Faith itself and the saving birth do not make alive by merely being received. Rather, they must be preserved. It is not the actual attainment, but the perfecting, that keeps a man for God. The Lord taught this in his instruction when he said, 'Look! You have been made whole. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you. … Solomon, Saul, and many others were able to keep the grace given to them so long as they walked in the Lord's ways. However, when the discipline of the Lord was forsaken by them, grace also forsook them." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, pg.284)

"By enduring suffering and by going forward to Christ by the narrow way that Christ trod, we may receive the reward of his life." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 5. pg.472)

Hermas (1st or 2nd century):

"Only those who fear the Lord and keep his commandments have life with God; but as for those who do not keep his commandments, there is no life in them." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.25)

"Life is the possession of all who keep the commandments of the Lord." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.42)

"For the Lord has sworn by his glory, in regard to his elect, that if any one of them sin after a certain day which has been fixed, he will not be saved. For the repentance of the righteous has limits. Filled up are the days of repentance to all the saints. But to the unbeliever, repentance will be possible even to the last day. … For the Lord has sworn by his Son, that those who denied their Lord have abandoned their life in despair." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.11)

"He will bestow on them the blessing which he has promised them, with much glory and great joy, if only they will keep the commandments of God, which they have received in great faith." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.10)

Hippolytus (A.D. 170-236):

"Hoodwinking multitudes, [Marcus, the Gnostic heretic] deceived many persons of this description who had become his disciples. He taught them that they were prone, no doubt, to sin. However, he said that they were beyond the reach of danger because they belonged to the perfect power. … Subsequent to baptism, these [heretics] promise another, which they call Redemption. And by this, they wickedly subvert those who remain with them in expectation of redemption." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, pg.92)

Ignatius (A.D. 35-107):

"… that he [God] may both hear you, and perceive by your works that you are indeed the members of his Son." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.51)

"Faith cannot do the works of unbelief, nor unbelief the works of faith." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.53)

"The tree is made manifest by its fruit. So those who profess themselves to be Christians will be recognized by their conduct." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.55)

Irenaeus (A.D. 130-200):

"Those who do not obey him, being disinherited by him, have ceased to be his sons." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.525)

"We should not therefore, as the presbyter remarks, be puffed up, nor be severe upon them of olden times. Rather, we should fear ourselves, least perchance, after [we have come to] the knowledge of Christ, if we do things displeasing to God, we obtain no further forgiveness of sins, but are shut out from his kingdom. And for that reason, Paul said, 'For is [God] spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest he also spare not you.'" (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.499)

"It was not to those who are on the outside that he said these things, but to us – lest we should be cast forth from the kingdom of God, by doing any such thing." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.500)

"Those men who are devoid of sense [i.e., the Gnostics] . . . endeavor to bring in another Father. They point to [the punishments of the Old Testament]. They then contrast this with the great things the Lord did at his coming to save those who received him, taking compassion upon them. However, they keep silent with regard to his judgments and all those things which will come upon those who have heard his words, but have not done them. For it would be better for them if they had not been born." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.501)

Lactantius (A.D. 250-325):

"We cannot attain to immortality by a delicate and easy course of life. Rather, he can arrive at the unspeakable reward of eternal life with only the utmost difficulty and great labors." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 7, pg.200)

"The spirit must earn immortality by works of righteousness." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 7, pg.127)

Melito (A.D. 170):

"He has set before you all of these things, and shows you that, if you follow after evil, you will be condemned for your evil deeds. But, if you follow goodness, you will receive from him abundant good, together with immortal life forever." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 8, pg.754)

Origen (A.D. 185-255):

"Certain ones of those [heretics] who hold different opinions misuse this passage. They essentially destroy free will by introducing ruined natures incapable of salvation and by introducing others as being saved in such a way that they cannot be lost." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 3, pg.308)

"Therefore, let each one lose his own sinning life, that having lost that which is sinful, he may receive that which is saved by right actions." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 9, pg.465)

Theophilus (A.D. 180):

"To those who by patient continuance in well doing seek immortality, he will give life everlasting." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, pg.93)

"So, by obeying the will of God, he who wants to can procure for himself life everlasting. For God has given us a law and holy commandments. And everyone who keeps them can be saved. And, obtaining the resurrection, he can inherit incorruption." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 2, og.105)

Turtullian (A.D. 160-230):

"Grace with the Lord, when once learned and undertaken by us, should never afterward be cancelled by repetition of sin." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 3, pg.660)

"The world returned to sin … and so it is destined to fire. So is the man who after baptism renews his sins." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 3, pg.673)

"God had foreseen … that faith – even after baptism- would be endangered. He saw that most persons – after obtaining salvation – would be lost again, by soiling the wedding dress, by failing to provide oil for their torches." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 3, pg.639)

"We ought indeed to walk so holily, and with so entire substantiality of faith, as to be confident and secure in regard of our own conscience, desiring that it may abide in us to the end. Yet, we should not presume [that it will]. For he who presumes, feels less apprehension. He who feels less apprehension, takes less precaution. He who takes less precaution, runs more risk. Fear is the foundation of salvation. Presumption is an impediment to fear. … More useful, then, is it to apprehend that we may possibly fail, than to presume that we cannot. For apprehending will lead us to fear, fear to caution, and caution to salvation. On the other hand, if we presume, there will be neither fear nor caution to save us." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 4, pg.19)

"It is for this reason that [the Gnostics] neither regard works as necessary for themselves, nor do they observe any of the calls of duty, eluding even the necessity of martyrdom on any pretense that may suit their pleasure." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 3, pg.517)

Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165):

"'Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin' (Ps. 32:2). That is, having repented of his sins, he can receive remission of them from God. But this is not as you [Jews] deceive yourselves, and some others who resemble you in this. For they say, that even though they remain sinners, the Lord will not impute sin unto them, because they know God." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.270)

"Let those who are not found living as he taught, be understood not to be Christians, even though they profess with the lips the teaching of Christ. For it is not those who make profession, but those who do the works, who will be saved." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.168)

"But there is no other [way] than this: to become acquainted with Christ, to be washed in the fountain spoken of by Isaiah for the remission of sins, and for the rest, to live sinless lives." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.217)

"Each man goes to everlasting punishment or salvation according to the value of his actions." (Ante Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, pg.166)

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Comments (2)

Topic: Quotes from the Ante Nicene Fathers
0/5 (0)
Colene Stovall says...
Just wondering if you know who was the first person to say the quote,"All truth is God's truth"? It was not Plato, Socrates or Augustine and was after the completion of the Bible...maybe around 90ad. Thanks
5th February 2015 7:44pm
Nathan MacCormack says...
All Truth is God's Truth
I literally just read this webpage and your question this morning after taking these notes last night! Justin Martyr's Second Apology, chapter 13: "Whatever things were rightly said among all men, are the property of us Christians" For all the writers were able to see realities darkly through the sowing of the implanted Word that was in them. For the seed and imitation imparted according to capacity is one thing, and quite another is the thing itself, of which there is the participation and imitation according to the grace which is from Him. Whether they overtly borrowed from the scriptures or merely spoke from the "implanted Word" of their conscience about God, whatever the philosophers spoke truly is integral to Christianity as well. This may be one of the first statements that "all truth is God's truth". -- It's not a direct statement/quote, but I hope this at least helps to trace the IDEA to! - Nate
5th February 2015 7:48pm
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