St Irenaeus of Lyons
St Irenaeus of Lyons was born c. 130 AD in Asia Minor, and later became the Bishop of the city of Lugdunum in Gaul (now Lyons in France), where he martyred around 202 AD. In 1904 an old manuscript was discovered in an Armenian church which was proven to be a treatise written by St Irenaeus called “The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching.” This remarkable discovery of a work which until then had been considered lost, provided a great insight into the way in which the Christians of the second century understood, interpreted and lived their faith.
St Irenaeus himself lived alongside St Polycarp during his youth. He tells us that St Polycarp was instructed by the apostles, particularly St John the Theologian, and that he even spoke with many people that had seen Christ Himself. As a bishop in Smyrna, he would always proclaim “that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles—that, namely, which is handed down by the Church.” St Irenaeus became a key link in preserving this truth by the apostolic succession which he passed on to the Christians after his time.
In “The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching”, St Ireneaus masterfully synthesises the Old and New Testament Scriptures and sets out the key points of Christian doctrine: The Word of God and the Holy Spirit were always present with God the Father before time and throughout the Old Testament. The Word of God became flesh, fully God and fully human, born of the Holy Virgin, suffered in the flesh and rose from the dead, accomplishing the salvation of the fallen human race.
St Irenaeus summarises by saying: “This, beloved, is the preaching of the truth, and this is the manner of our redemption, and this is the way of life, which the prophets proclaimed, and Christ established, and the apostles delivered, and the Church in all the world hands on to her children. This must we keep with all certainty, with a sound will and pleasing to God, with good works and right-willed disposition.”
Source: Lychnos June – July 2017