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ANF01. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus
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Chapter XLIII.—He concludes that the law had an end in Christ, who was born of the Virgin.

“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 forementioned 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. But since the mystery of His birth now demands our attention I shall speak of it. Isaiah then asserted in regard to the generation of Christ, that it could not be declared by man, in words already quoted:20682068    Chap. xiii. ‘Who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the earth: for the transgressions of my people was He led20692069    Or, “was I led.” to death.’20702070    Isa. liii. 8. The Spirit of prophecy thus affirmed that the generation of Him who was to die, that we sinful men might be healed by His stripes, was such as could not be declared. Furthermore, that the men who believe in Him may possess the knowledge of the manner in which He came into the world,20712071    Literally, “He was in the world, being born.” the Spirit of prophecy by the same Isaiah foretold how it would happen thus: ‘And the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, Ask for thyself a sign from the Lord thy God, in the depth, or in the height. And Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And Isaiah said, Hear then, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to contend with men, and how do you contend with the Lord? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and his name shall be called Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, before he knows or prefers the evil, and chooses out the good;20722072    See Chap. lxvi. for before the child knows good or ill, he rejects evil20732073    Literally, “disobeys evil” (ἀπειθεῖ πονηρά). Conjectured: ἀπωθεῖ, and ἀπειθεῖ πονηρία. by choosing out the good. For before the child knows how to call father or mother, he shall receive the power of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria in presence of the king of Assyria. And the land shall be forsaken,20742074    The mss. of Justin read, “shall be taken:” καταληφθήσεται. This is plainly a mistake for καταλειφθήσεται; but whether the mistake is Justin’s or the transcribers’, it would be difficult to say, as Thirlby remarks. which thou shalt with difficulty endure in consequence of the presence of its two kings.20752075    The rendering of this doubtful: literally, “from the face of the two kings,” and the words might go with “shall be forsaken.” But God shall bring on thee, and on thy people, and on the house of thy father, days which have not yet come upon thee since the day in which Ephraim took away from Judah the king of Assyria.’20762076    Isa. vii. 10–17 with Isa. viii. 4 inserted. The last clause may also be translated, “in which He took away from Judah Ephraim, even the king of Assyria.” Now it is evident to all, that in the race of Abraham according to the flesh no one has been born of a virgin, or is said to have been born [of a virgin], save this our Christ. But since you and your teachers venture to affirm that in the prophecy of Isaiah it is not said, ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive,’ but, ‘Behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son;’ and [since] you explain the prophecy as if [it referred] to Hezekiah, who was your king, I shall endeavour to discuss shortly this point in opposition to you, and to show that reference is made to Him who is acknowledged by us as Christ.


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