Early Church Leaders Views on Salvation
The early church leaders, of whom some were trained
by the apostles, were in unanimous agreement concerning our walk for salvation.
They all believed that we must walk worthy of God's commandments and live
pleasing to Him to receive eternal life. They exhorted all believers to
be steadfast and to beware of the wiles of Satan, lest they fall into sin
and be carried away with the wicked. If this is the case, then those who
fell away forfeited their salvation. This is the doctrine that was taught
by the apostles and the early church leaders during the development of
Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians [a.d. 65-100-155.]
Wherefore, girding up your loins,
serve the Lord in fear and truth, as those who have forsaken the vain,
empty talk and error of the multitude, and believed in Him who raised up
our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave Him glory, and a throne at
His right hand. To Him all things in heaven and on earth are subject. Him
every spirit serves. He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead.
His blood will God require of those who do not believe in Him. But He
who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will,
and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves
from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false
witness; "not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, or blow
for blow, or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said
in His teaching: "Judge not, that ye be not judged; forgive, and it shall
be forgiven unto you; be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; with what
measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again;" and once more, "Blessed
are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for
theirs is the kingdom of God."
Knowing, then, that "God is
not mocked," we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory. . .
.If we please Him in this present world, we shall receive also the future
world, according as He has promised to us that He will raise us again from
the dead, and that if we live worthily of Him. . . . . In like manner,
let the young men also be blameless in all things, being especially careful
to preserve purity, and keeping themselves in, as with a bridle, from every
kind of evil. For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts
that are in the world, since "every lust warreth against the spirit;" and
"neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
shall inherit the kingdom of God," nor those who do things inconsistent
Let us then serve Him in fear,
and with all reverence, even as He Himself has commanded us, and as the
apostles who preached the Gospel unto us, and the prophets who proclaimed
beforehand the coming of the Lord. Let us be zealous in the pursuit
of that which is good, keeping ourselves from causes of offence, from false
brethren, and from those who in hypocrisy bear the name of the Lord, and
draw away vain men into error.
Be all of you subject one to
another having your conduct blameless among the Gentiles, that ye may both
receive praise for your good works, and the Lord may not be blasphemed
through you. But woe to him by whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed!
Teach, therefore, sobriety to all, and manifest it also in your own conduct.
Epistle of Barnabas [a.d. 100.]
I am greatly grieved for Valens,
who was once a presbyter among you, because he so little understands the
place that was given him. I exhort you, therefore, that ye abstain from
covetousness, and that ye be chaste and truthful. Abstain from every form
of evil. For if a man cannot govern himself in such matters, how shall
he enjoin them on others? If a man does not keep himself from covetousness,
he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be judged as one of the heathen.
. . . . I am deeply grieved, therefore, brethren, for him (Valens) and
his wife; to whom may the Lord grant true repentance! And be ye then moderate
in regard to this matter, and do not count such as enemies, but call
them back as suffering and straying members, that ye may save your whole
It therefore behooves us, who
inquire much concerning events at hand, to search diligently into those
things which are able to save us. Let us then utterly flee from all the
works of iniquity, lest these should take hold of us; and let us hate the
error of the present time, that we may set our love on the world to come:
let us not give loose reins to our soul, that it should have power to run
with sinners and the wicked, lest we become like them.
Now, being desirous to write many
things to you, not as your teacher, but as becometh one who loves you,
I have taken care not to fail to write to you from what I myself possess,
with a view to your purification; We take earnest heed in these last days;
for the whole time of your faith will profit you nothing, unless now
in this wicked time we also withstand coming sources of danger, as becometh
the sons of God.
That the Black One (darkness)
may find no means of entrance, let us flee from every vanity, let us utterly
hate the works of the way of wickedness. Do not, by retiring apart,
live a solitary life, as if you were already justified; but coming
together in one place, make common inquiry concerning what tends to your
general welfare. For the Scripture saith, "Woe to them who are wise to
themselves, and prudent in their own sight!" Let us be spiritually-minded:
let us be a perfect temple to God. As much as in us lies, let us meditate
upon the fear of God, and let us keep His commandments, that we may rejoice
in His ordinances. The Lord will judge the world without respect of persons.
Each will receive as he has done: if he is righteous, his righteousness
will precede him; if he is wicked, the reward of wickedness is before him.
Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called, we
should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power
over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord.
Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians [a.d. 30-100.]
It is well, therefore that he
who has learned the judgments of the Lord, as many as have been written,
should walk in them. For he who keepeth these shall be glorified in the
kingdom of God; but he who chooseth other things shall be destroyed
with his works.
Since then all things are seen
and heard [by God], let us fear Him, and forsake those wicked works which
proceed from evil desires; so that, through His mercy, we may be protected
from the judgments to come. Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion
of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness,
avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together
with all drunkenness, seeking after change all abominable lusts, detestable
adultery, and execrable pride. "For God," saith [the Scripture], "resisteth
the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." Let us cleave, then, to those
to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord
and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering
and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words.
What shall we do, then, brethren?
Shall we become slothful in well-doing, and cease from the practice
of love? God forbid that any such course should be followed by us! But
rather let us hasten with all energy and readiness of mind to perform every
The good servant receives the
bread of his labor with confidence; the lazy and slothful cannot look
his employer in the face. It is requisite, therefore, that we be prompt
in the practice of well-doing; for of Him are all things. And thus He
forewarns us: "Behold, the Lord [cometh], and His reward is before His
face, to render to every man according to his work." He exhorts us,
therefore, with our whole heart to attend to this that we be not lazy or
slothful in any good work.
Let us therefore earnestly strive
to be found in the number of those that wait for Him, in order that we
may share in His promised gifts. But how, beloved, shall this be done?
If our understanding be fixed by faith rewards God; if we earnestly seek
the things which are pleasing and acceptable to Him; if we do the things
which are in harmony with His blameless will; and if we follow the way
of truth, casting away from us all unrighteousness and iniquity, along
with all covetousness, strife, evil practices, deceit, whispering, and
evil-speaking, all hatred of God, pride and haughtiness, vainglory and
Take up the epistle of the blessed
Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the Gospel first
began to be preached. Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote
to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties
had been formed among you. But that inclination for one above another entailed
less guilt upon you, inasmuch as your partialities were then shown towards
apostles, already of high reputation, and towards a man whom they had approved.
But now reflect who those are that have perverted you, and lessened the
renown of your far-famed brotherly love. It is disgraceful, beloved, yea,
highly disgraceful, and unworthy of your Christian profession that such
a thing should be heard of as that the most stedfast and ancient Church
of the Corinthians should, on account of one or two persons, engage in
sedition against its presbyters. And this rumor has reached not only us,
but those also who are unconnected with us; so that, through your infatuation,
the name of the Lord is blasphemed, while danger is also brought upon yourselves.
Let us therefore, with all haste, put an end to this; and let us fall down
before the Lord, and beseech Him with tears, that He would mercifully be
reconciled to us, and restore us to our former seemly and holy practice
of brotherly love. For [such conduct] is the gate of righteousness, which
is set open for the attainment of life.
First Apology of Justin [a.d. 110-165.]
Ye therefore, who laid the foundation
of this sedition, submit yourselves to the presbyters, and receive correction
so as to repent, bending the knees of your hearts. Learn to be subject,
laying aside the proud and arrogant self-confidence of your tongue. For
it is better for you that ye should occupy a humble but honorable place
in the flock of Christ, than that, being highly exalted, ye should be cast
out from the hope of His people. For thus speaketh all-virtuous Wisdom:"
Behold, I will bring forth to you the words of My Spirit, and I will teach
you My speech. Since I called, and ye did not hear; I held forth My words,
and ye regarded not, but set at naught My counsels, and yielded not at
My reproofs; therefore I too will laugh at your destruction; yea, I will
rejoice when ruin cometh upon you, and when sudden confusion overtakes
you, when overturning presents itself like a tempest, or when tribulation
and oppression fall upon you. For it shall come to pass, that when ye call
upon Me, I will not hear you; the wicked shall seek Me, and they shall
not find Me. For they hated wisdom, and did not choose the fear of the
Lord; nor would they listen to My counsels, but despised My reproofs. Wherefore
they shall eat the fruits of their own way, and they shall be filled with
their own ungodliness."
Epistle of Ignatius to Hero, a Deacon of Antioch [a.d.
And let those who are not found
living as He taught, be understood to be no Christians, even though they
profess with the lip the precepts of Christ; for not those who make
profession, but those who do the works, shall be saved, according to His
word: "Not every one who saith to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into
the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is
in heaven. For whosoever heareth Me, and doeth My sayings, heareth Him
that sent Me. And many will say unto Me, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten
and drunk in Thy name, and done wonders? And then will I say unto them,
Depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity.
Second Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians [a.d. 30-107.]
Give attention to reading, that
thou mayest not only thyself know the laws, but mayest also explain them
to others, as the earnest servant of God. "No man that warreth entangleth
himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath
chosen him to be a soldier; and if a man also strive for masteries,
yet is he not crowned except he strive lawfully."
of Ignatius to the Philadelphians [a.d. 30-107.]
Let us, then, be imitators of
our Lord in meekness, and strive who shall more especially be injured,
and oppressed, and defrauded. The work is not of promise, unless a man
be found in the power of faith, even to the end.
Apostolic Teachings on Salvation / Home
I therefore exhort you in the
Lord to receive with all tenderness those that repent and return to
the unity of the Church, that through your kindness and forbearance
they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, and becoming
worthy of Jesus Christ, may obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of
Christ. Brethren, be not deceived. If any man follows him that separates
from the truth, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God; and if any man
does not stand aloof from the preacher of falsehood, he shall be condemned