Irenaeus on the Incarnation

Adoration of the Shepherds, ca. 1700, Wikimedia Commons

Of course, Irenaeus—the late second-century bishop of Lyon (Gaul, now France) who wrote a long work Against Heresies—had a lot to say about the incarnation, but I thought this passage does an especially good job of relating the incarnation to the rescue of humans from their plight.

For the Word of God became man, and He who is God’s Son became the Son of man to this end, [that man,] having been united with the Word of God and receiving adoption, might become a son of God. Certainly, in no other way could we have received imperishability and immortality unless we had been united with imperishability and immortality. But how could we be united with imperishability and immortality unless imperishability and immortality had first become what we are, in order that the perishable might be swallowed up by imperishability, and the mortal by immorality, that we might receive the adoption of sons?

Against Heresies 3.19.1, trans. Unger and Steenberg, p. 93

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