Matt. 5:17-20 (Part 1)

5:17ff JUSTIN MARTYR: We do not trust through Moses or through the law; for then we would do the same as yourselves. But now — (for I have read that there shall be a final law, and a covenant, the chiefest of all, which it is now incumbent on all men to observe, as many as are seeking after the inheritance of God. For the law promulgated on Horeb is now old, and belongs to yourselves alone; but this is for all universally. Now, law placed against law, has abrogated that which was before it, and a covenant which comes after in like manner has put an end to the previous one; and an eternal and final law—namely, Christ— has been given to us. Dialogue With Trypho, A Jew, 1.200.

JUSTIN MARTYR: [Addressed to the Jews:] Wash therefore, and be clean, and put away iniquity from your souls, as God bids you be washed in this laver, and be circumcised with the true circumcision. For we too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined you,—namely, on account of your transgression and the hardness of your hearts. For if we patiently endure all things contrived against us by wicked men and demons, so that even amid cruelties unutterable, death and torments, we pray for mercy to those who inflict such things upon us, and do not wish to give the least retort to any one, even as the new Lawgiver commanded us: how is it that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us,—I speak of fleshly circumcision, and Sabbaths, and feasts? Dialogue With Trypho, A Jew, 1.203.

JUSTIN MARTYR: As, then, circumcision began with Abraham, and the Sabbath and sacrifices and offerings and feasts with Moses, and it has been proved they were enjoined on account of the hardness of your people’s heart, so it was necessary, in accordance with the Father’s will, that they should have an end in Him who was born of a virgin, of the family of Abraham and tribe of Judah, and of David; in Christ the Son of God, who was proclaimed as about to come to all the world, to be the everlasting law and the everlasting covenant, even as the aforementioned prophecies show. And we, who have approached God through Him, have received not carnal, but spiritual circumcision, which Enoch and those like him observed. And we have received it through baptism, since we were sinners, by God’s mercy; and all men may equally obtain it.
Dialogue With Trypho, A Jew, 1.216.

IRENAEUS: Therefore by newness of the spirit is our calling, and not in the oldness of the letter; even as Jeremiah prophesied: “Behold the days come, says the Lord, that I will accomplish for the house of Israel and for the house of Judah the covenant: of the testament which I covenanted with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt: because they did not continue in the covenant, and I did not regard them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant of the testament that I will covenant with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach any more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will pardon and be merciful unto the sins of their iniquities, and their sins will I remember no more.”

And that these promises the calling from among the Gentiles should inherit, to whom also the new testament was opened up, Isaiah says thus: “These things says the God of Israel: In that day a man shall trust in his Maker, and his eyes shall look to the Holy One of Israel: and they shall not trust in altars, nor in the work of their own hands, which their fingers have made. For very plainly this was said of such as have forsaken idols and believed in God our Maker through the Holy One of Israel. And the Holy One of Israel is Christ: and He became visible to men, and to Him we look eagerly and behold Him; and we do not trust in altars, nor in the works of our hands.” And that He should become visible amongst us—for the Son of God became Son of man—and be found of us who before had no knowledge of Him, the Word Himself says thus in Isaiah: “I became manifest to them that did not seek me; I was found of them that asked not for me. I said, Behold, here am I, to a race that called not on my name.”

And that this race was to become an holy people was declared in the Twelve Prophets by Hosea, thus: “I will call that which was not my people, my people; and her that was not beloved, beloved. It shall come to pass that in the place where it was called not my people, there shall they be called sons of the Living God.” This also is that which was said by John the Baptist: “That God is able of these stones to raise up sons to Abraham.” For our hearts being withdrawn and taken away from the stony worship by means of faith behold God, and become sons of Abraham, who was justified by faith.

And therefore God says by Ezekiel the prophet: “And I will give them another heart, and a new spirit will I give them: and I will withdraw and take away the stony heart from their flesh, and I will give them another heart of flesh: so that they shall walk in my precepts, and shall keep my ordinances and do them. And they shall be to me for a people, and I will be to them for a God.”

So then by the new calling a change of hearts in the Gentiles came to pass through the Word of God, when He was made flesh and tabernacled with men; as also His disciple John says: “And his Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

Therefore the Church bears much fruit of the redeemed: because no longer Moses as mediator nor Elijah as messenger, but the Lord Himself has redeemed us, granting many more children to the Church than to the first Synagogue; as Isaiah declared, saying: “Rejoice you barren, that did not bear.” The barren is the Church, which never at all in former times presented sons to God. “Cry out and call, you that did not travail: for the children of the desolate are more than of her which has an husband.” Now the first Synagogue had as husband the law.

Moreover Moses in Deuteronomy says that the Gentiles should be the head, and the unbelieving people the tail. And again he says: “You provoked me to jealousy with those that are no gods, and angered me with your idols: and I will provoke you to jealousy with that which is no nation, and with a foolish nation will I anger you.” Because they forsook the God who is, and worshipped and served the gods who are not; and they slew the prophets of God, and prophesied for Baal, who was the idol of the Canaanites. And the Son of God, who is, they despised and condemned, but they chose Barabbas the robber who had been taken for murder: and the eternal King they disavowed, and they acknowledged as their king the temporal Caesar. So it pleased God to grant their inheritance to the foolish Gentiles, even to those who were not of the polity of God and did not know what what God is. Since, then, by this calling life has been given us, and God has summed up again for Himself in us the faith of Abraham, we ought not to turn back any more—I mean, to the first legislation. For we have received the Lord of the law, the Son of God; and by faith in Him we learn to love God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves. Now the love of God is far from all sin, and love to the neighbor works no ill to the neighbor.

Therefore also we do not need the law of Moses as a tutor. Behold, with the Father we speak, and in His presence we stand, being children in malice, and grown strong in all righteousness and soberness. For no longer shall the law say, “Do not commit adultery,” to him who has no desire at all for another’s wife; and “Do not kill,” to him who has put away from himself all anger and enmity; and “Do not covet your neighbor’s field or ox or ass,” to those who have no care at all for earthly things, but store up the heavenly fruits: nor “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” to him who counts no man his enemy, but all men his neighbors, and therefore cannot stretch out his hand at all for vengeance. It will not require tithes of him who consecrates all his possessions to God, leaving father and mother and all his kindred, and following the Word of God. And there will be no command to remain idle for one day of rest, to him who perpetually keeps sabbath, that is to say, who in the temple of God, which is man’s body, does service to God, and in every hour works righteousness.
The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching.

IRENAEUS: Since, then, the law originated with Moses, it terminated with John as a necessary consequence. Christ had come to fulfill it: therefore “the law and the prophets were” with them “until John.” And therefore Jerusalem, taking its commencement from David, and fulfilling its own times, must have an end of legislation when the new covenant was revealed. For God does all things by measure and in order; nothing is unmeasured with Him, because nothing is out of order.
Against Heresies, 1.466.

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