The Writings of the Early Church: The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus (Part 3: Chapters 11-12)

To read chapters 1-5, click here.

To read chapters 6-10, click here.

Chapter 11: These Things are Worthy to be Known and Believed
Just so you know, I’m not speaking about anything I don’t know about. I’m no stranger to these things, and nothing I’m speaking about is inconsistent with proper reason. I have been a disciple of the Apostles, and I am a teacher of the Gentiles. I convey the teaching I have received to those who choose to be disciples and are worthy of the truth. After all, who, after being so rightly taught, and indeed begotten by the loving Word Himself, would not want to learn as accurately as possible the things that have been clearly shown by the Word to His disciples?

Paul in Athens

The Word Himself was manifest to them, and He revealed things to them in plain language. Such things weren’t understood by unbelievers, but those who conversed with the disciples who were counted as faithful by Him were able to acquire a knowledge of the mysteries of the Father. This is the reason why He sent the Word, so that He could be manifested to the world. After He was despised by the Jews, His Apostles preached to the Gentiles, and they ended up putting their faith in Him.

This is the One who existed from the beginning, who appeared as if new, and was found to be of old. And yet, He is ever born afresh in the hearts of the saints. This is the One who, although He has existed from everlasting, is yet today called the Son, and through Him the Church is enriched, and grace is spread more widely and continues to increase among the saints. Through the Church, He furnishes understanding, reveals mysteries, announces the times, rejoices over the faithful, and gives to those who seek. And it is the job of the Church to make sure that the limits of the faith are not broken through, nor the boundaries set forth by the Fathers passed over.

When that happens, the fear of the law is chanted, the grace of the prophets is known, the faith of the gospels is established, the Tradition of the Apostles is preserved, and the grace of the Church rejoices. It is through that grace that you can know all those things that the Word teaches, through whomever He wills, and whenever He pleases. For whatever we are moved to speak about by the will of the Word, whenever He commands us, we make sure to communicate it to you the best we can, and out of the love of the things that have been revealed to us.

Chapter 12: The Importance of Knowledge to True Spiritual Life
Once you have carefully read and listened to these things, I am confident that you will know what God gives to those who rightly love Him. He makes you into a paradise of delight, and produces within you a tress that bears all kinds of flourishing fruit and produce. For it is in this place that the tree of knowledge and the tree of life have been planted. But let’s be clear: it is not the tree of knowledge that destroys; it is disobedience that brings about destruction. For that story tells us how, from the very beginning, God planted the tree of life in the midst of paradise, and revealed that the way to life was through knowledge. Yet when those who were first formed did not use this knowledge properly, they were stripped naked because of the fraud of the Serpent. For life cannot exist without knowledge, and knowledge is not secure without life. That is why both were planted close together.

 

The Apostle Paul saw this very clearly, and so when he said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up,” he was speaking of the kind of knowledge that, without true doctrine, is allowed to influence life. For our lives bear witness to the fact that the person who thinks he knows anything, yet doesn’t have true knowledge, doesn’t really know anything. Instead, he is deceived by the Serpent, and does not truly love life. But the one who combines knowledge with fear, and seeks after life, he plants in hope and looks for its fruit.

So, let your heart be your wisdom, and let your life be the true knowledge that is inwardly received. If you bear this tree and display its fruit, you will always gather the things that God desires, the things that the Serpent can never reach, and the things that deception cannot come close to. Eve will not be corrupted, but will instead be a trusted virgin.

Salvation is now on full display, and the Apostles are filled with understanding! The Passover of the Lord approaches, and the choirs are gathered together, arranged in their proper order, and the Word is rejoicing as He teaches the saints, by whom the Father is glorified!

And to Him be the glory, forever and ever. Amen!

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