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Salvation Through Jesus Versus The Law

Barnabus

And again He says to them, “Did I command your fathers, when they went out from the land of Egypt, to offer unto Me burnt-offerings and sacrifices? But this rather I commanded them, Let no one of you cherish any evil in his heart against his neighbor, and love not an oath of falsehood.” …We ought therefore, brethren, carefully to inquire concerning our salvation, lest the wicked one, having made his entrance by deceit, should huff us forth from our [true] life.

Justin Martyr

And Trypho again inquired, “But if some one, knowing that this is so, after he recognizes that this man is Christ, and has believed in and obeys Him, wishes, however, to observe these [institutions], will he be saved?” I said, “In my opinion, Trypho, such an one will be saved, if he does not strive in every way to persuade other men – I mean those Gentiles who have been circumcised from error by Christ, to observe the same things as himself, telling them that they will not be saved unless they do so. This you did yourself at the commencement of the discourse, when you declared that I would not be saved unless I observe these institutions.”

…As I have learned also from the memoirs. For He exhorted His disciples to surpass the pharisaic way of living, with the warning, that if they did not, they might be sure they could not be saved; and these words are recorded in the memoirs: ‘Unless your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ – ibid

Ireneaus

The teaching of the Lord, with whom not only is the adulterer rejected, but also the man who desires to commit adultery; and not only is the actual murderer held guilty of having killed another to his own damnation, but the man also who is angry with his brother without a cause: who commanded [His disciples] not only not to hate men, but also to love their enemies; and commanded them not only not to swear falsely, but not even to swear at all; and not only not to speak evil of their neighbors, but not even to style any one “Raca” and “fool;” [declaring] that otherwise they were in danger of hell-fire; and not only not to strike, but even, when themselves struck, to present the other cheek [to those that maltreated them]; and not only not to refuse to give up the property of others, but even if their own were taken away, not to demand it back again from those that took it; and not only not to injure their neighbors, nor to do them any evil, but also, when themselves wickedly dealt with, to be long-suffering, and to show kindness towards those [that injured them], and to pray for them, that by means of repentance they might be saved.

For the tradition of the elders themselves, which they pretended to observe from the law, was contrary to the law given by Moses. Wherefore also Isaiah declares: “Your dealers mix the wine with water,” showing that the elders were in the habit of mingling a watered tradition with the simple command of God; that is, they set up a spurious law, and one contrary to the [true] law; as also the Lord made plain, when He said to them, “Why do you transgress the commandment of God, for the sake of your tradition?” For not only by actual transgression did they set the law of God at naught, mingling the wine with water; but they also set up their own law in opposition to it, which is termed, even to the present day, the pharisaical. In this [law] they suppress certain things, add others, and interpret others, again, as they think proper, which their teachers use, each one in particular; and desiring to uphold these traditions, they were unwilling to be subject to the law of God, which prepares them for the coming of Christ. – ibid

“This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me: howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching the doctrines and the commandments of men.” He does not call the law given by Moses commandments of men, but the traditions of the elders themselves which they had invented, and in upholding which they made the law of God of none effect, and were on this account also not subject to His Word. For this is what Paul says concerning these men: “For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” – ibid

As He does Himself declare: “Unless your righteousness shall exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” For what meant “exceed” (that of the scribes and Pharisees) referred to? In the first place, [we must] believe not only in the Father, but also in His Son now revealed; for He it is who leads man into fellowship and unity with God. In the next place, [we must] not only say, but we must do; for they said, but did not. And [we must] not only abstain from evil deeds, but even from the desires after them. Now He did not teach us these things as being opposed to the law, but as fulfilling the law, and implanting in us the varied righteousness of the law. – ibid

And for this reason did the Lord, instead of that [commandment], “You shall not commit adultery,” forbid even concupiscence; and instead of that which runs thus, “You shall not kill,” He prohibited anger; and instead of the law commanding the giving of tithes, [He told us] to share all our possessions with the poor; and not to love our neighbors only, but even our enemies; and not merely to be liberal givers and bestowers, but even that we should present a gratuitous gift to those who take away our goods. For “to him that takes away your coat,” He says, “give to him your cloak also; and from him that takes away your goods, ask them not again; and as you would that men should do unto you, do you unto them:” so that we may not grieve as those who are unwilling to be defrauded, but may rejoice as those who have given willingly, and as rather conferring a favor upon our neighbors than yielding to necessity. “And if any one,” He says, “shall compel you [to go] a mile, go with him twain;” so that you may not follow him as a slave, but may as a free man go before him, showing yourself in all things kindly disposed and useful to your neighbor, not regarding their evil intentions, but performing your kind offices, assimilating yourself to the Father, “who makes His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sends rain upon the just and unjust.” Now all these [precepts], as I have already observed, were not the injunctions of one doing away with the law, but of one fulfilling, extending, and widening it among us. – ibid

Why, then, did the Lord not form the covenant for the fathers? Because “the law was not established for righteous men.” But the righteous fathers had the meaning of the Decalogue written in their hearts and souls, that is, they loved the God who made them, and did no injury to their neighbor. – ibid

Tertuallian

For men were of old were accustomed to require “eye for eye, and tooth for tooth” and to repay with usury “evil with evil;” for, as yet, patience was not on earth, because faith was not either. Of course, meantime, impatience used to enjoy the opportunities which the law gave. That was easy, while the Lord and Master of patience was absent. But after He has supervened, and has united the grace of faith with patience, now it is no longer lawful to assail even with word, nor to say “fool” even, without “danger of the judgment.” Anger has been prohibited, our spirits retained, the petulance of the hand checked, the poison of the tongue extracted.

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