Irenaeus, On the Apostolic Preaching 33–34

For Good Friday

[From St. Irenaeus of Lyons, On the Apostolic Preaching, Popular Patristics Series 17, trans. John Behr (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997).]

And the transgression which occurred through the tree was undone by the obedience of the tree—which [was shown when] the Son of Man, obeying God, was nailed to the tree, destroying the knowledge of evil, and introducing and providing the knowledge of good: and evil is to disobey God, just as to obey God is good. And this is why the Word says by the prophet Isaias, foretelling the thing<s> that would come to pass—for this reason were they prophets: because they related things to come—so, in this way the Word says by him that, “I am not disobedient and do not contradict; I placed my back to the scourging, and <my> cheeks to the blows, and my face I did not turn from the shame of [the] spittle.” So, by means of the obedience by which He obeyed unto death, hanging upon the tree, He undid the old disobedience occasioned by the tree.

And since He is the Word of God Almighty, who invisibly pervades <…> the whole creation, and encompasses (συνέχω) its length, breadth, height and depth—for by the Word of God everything is administered—so too was the Son of God crucified in these [fourfold dimensions], having been imprinted in the form of the cross in everything; for it <was> necessary for Him, becoming visible, to make manifest His <form of the cross> <in> everything, that He might demonstrate, by His visible form [on the cross], His activity which is on the <in>visible [level], for it is He who illumines the ‘heights’, that is, the things in heaven, and holds the ‘deeps’, which is beneath the earth, and stretches the ‘length’ from the East to the West, and who navigates the ‘breadth’ <of> the northern and southern regions, inviting the dispersed from all sides to the knowledge of the Father.

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