I think this is going to be the last church father on predestination for a while just so we can move unto other reformational doctrines that are present in the fathers. I don’t want it to be all about predestination. There are other things they taught you know!
Irenaeus was probably the best apologist of his time and displayed that in his works. He was a close disciple to Polycarp, who was a disciple of John.
In his works Irenaeus does write about predestination and we will take a look at some of the things he says.
Firstly concerning the fall and the sovereignty of God he writes, “…God predetermining all things for the perfection of man, and for the bringing about and manifestation of his dispositions, that goodness may be shown, and righteousness perfected, and the church be conformed to the image of his Son, and at length become a perfect man, and by such things be made ripe to see God, and enjoy him.” (Against Heresies Book 4, ch. 37, sec. 7; cf. Book 2, ch. 2, sec. 4)
Can’t you just hear a Reformer saying these things? Irenaeus is giving us an overall birds-eye view of the complete sovereignty of God in predestining “all things for the perfection [glorification] of man…”.
Next Irenaeus very beautifully gives a summary of the redemption that God decreed in Christ–applied in us, drawing from both Old and New Testaments. He writes, “And those of them who declare that God would make a new covenant with men, not such as that which He made with the fathers at Mount Horeb, and would give to men a new heart and a new spirit; and again, “And remember ye not the things of old: behold, I make new things which shall now arise, and ye shall know it; and I will make a way in the desert, and riven in a dry land, to give drink to my chosen people, my people whom I have acquired, that they may show forth my praise,” plainly announced that liberty which distinguishes the new covenant, and the new wine which is put into new bottles, the faith which is in Christ, by which He has proclaimed the way of righteousness sprung up in the desert, and the streams of the Holy Spirit in a dry land, to give water to the elect people of God, whom He has acquired, that they might show forth His praise, but not that they might blaspheme Him who made these things, that is, God.” (Against Heresies Book 4, ch. 33, sec. 14)
Concerning the resurrection and final judgement he writes, “God is not so poor and indigent as not to give to every body its own soul as its proper form completed the number which he before determined with himself, all those who are written, or ordained unto life, shall rise again, having their own bodies, souls, and spirits, in which they pleased God; but those who are deserving of punishment shall go into it, having also their own souls and bodies in which they departed from the grace of God.” (Irenaeus, Fragment, Graec. ad. calcem. L. 2)
Lastly Irenaeus mentions people who think they are “Christians” but are deceived claiming to be of the “elect seed” all the while remaining “ignorant of God” and “committing many other abominations and impieties”. (Against Heresies, Book 1, ch. 6, sec. 4)
So much for early church fathers not having a developed doctrine on things that the Reformers revived.