Heavenly Mindedness in the Early Church

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 10 vols.   -              Edited By: Alexander Roberts      When Cyprian (d. 258 AD) wrote to Christians who were being persecuted, one thing he told them (among many) was to keep their eyes fixed on heaven. Perhaps with Hebrews 11 in the background, Cyprian told fellow believers to stand firm in the Christian faith and focus on the life to come. Here are a few examples of his pastoral call to heavenly mindedness.

“The one peaceful and trustworthy tranquility, the one solid and firm and constant security, is this, for a man to withdraw from these eddies of a distracting world, and, anchored on the ground of the harbor of salvation, to lift his eyes from earth to heaven.”

“Let us not look to things which are behind, whither the devil calls us back, but to the things which are before, whither Christ calls us. Let us lift up our eyes to heaven, lest the earth with its delights and enticements deceive us.”

“But we who live in hope, and believe in God, and trust that Christ suffered for us and rose again, abiding in Christ, and through him and in him rising again, why either are we ourselves unwilling to depart hence from this life, or do we bewail and grieve for our friends when they depart as if they were lost, when Christ himself our Lord and God encourages us and says, ‘I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he die, yet shall live; and whoever liveth and believeth in me shall not die eternally?’ If we believe in Christ, let us have faith in his words and promises; and since we shall not die eternally, let us come with a glad security unto Christ, with whom we are both to conquer and to reign for ever.”

“We should consider…that we are…living here as guests and strangers. Who that has been placed in foreign lands would not hasten to return to his own country? Who that is hastening to return to his friends would not eagerly desire a prosperous gale, that he might sooner embrace those dear to him?”

These – and many other such excellent quotes – are found in the letters and treatises of Cyprian. You can read these in The Ante Nicene Fathers, volume 5, pages 279, 287, and 473f.

shane lems