Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

I. From the exposition of the oracles of the Lord. 1734

[The writings of Papias in common circulation are five in number, and these are called an Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord. Irenæus makes mention of these as the only works written by him, in the following words: “Now testimony is borne to these things in writing by Papias, an ancient man, who was a hearer of John, and a friend of Polycarp, in the fourth of his books; for five books were composed by him.” Thus wrote Irenæus. Moreover, Papias himself, in the introduction to his books, makes it manifest that he was not himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles; but he tells us that he received the truths of our religion 1735 from those who were acquainted with them [the apostles] in the following words:]

But I shall not be unwilling to put down, along with my interpretations, 1736 whatsoever instructions I received with care at any time from the elders, and stored up with care in my memory, assuring you at the same time of their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those who spoke much, but in those who taught the truth; nor in those who related strange commandments, 1737 but in those who rehearsed the commandments given by the Lord to faith, 1738 and proceeding from truth itself. If, then, any one who had attended on the elders came, I asked minutely after their sayings,—what Andrew or Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the Lord’s disciples: which things 1739 Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I imagined that what was to be got from books was not so profitable to me as what came from the living and abiding voice.



This fragment is found in Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. iii. 39.


Literally, “the things of faith.”


Papias states that he will give an exact account of what the elders said; and that, in addition to this, he will accompany this account with an explanation of the meaning and import of the statements.


Literally, “commandments belonging to others,” and therefore strange and novel to the followers of Christ.


Given to faith has been variously understood. Either not stated in direct language, but like parables given in figures, so that only the faithful could understand; or entrusted to faith, that is, to those who were possessed of faith, the faithful.


Which things: this is usually translated, “what Aristion and John say;” and the translation is admissible. But the words more naturally mean, that John and Aristion, even at the time of his writing, were telling him some of the sayings of the Lord.

Next: II.