Iranaeus was the Bishop of Lyons in Gaul and lived about 125-202. As bishop of Lyons and a distinguished theologian he probably did more than any one to establish chiliasm in the West. His treatise Against Heresies form a comprehensive anthology of messianic and millennial prophecies from the Old and New Testaments. Iranaeus laid the foundations of Christian theology and by refuting the errors of the Gnostics kept the youthful Catholic Church from corruption.

Born in Greece and receiving a Christian education, Iranaeus' education was especially liberal with knowledge of the scriptures, Greek philosophy, and literature. His deepest impression was made by St. Polycarp and had the privilege of sitting at the feet of those who knew the apostles. It is generally supposed that the account of the persecutions at Lyons was written by him.

In 177 Iranaeus was chosen for a mission to Rome bearing a letter to Pope Eleutherius urging him to deal firmly with the Montanist faction in faraway Phrygia, for this so called heresy was now rampant in the East. Because of this trip he was spared from the persecution in Lyons from Marcus Aurelius. When Irenaeus returned from Rome it was to fill the empty Bishopric and he succeeded the martyr Pothinus as Bishop of Lyons and ruled his diocese with great propriety. Iranaeus extended the sphere of Christian influence by sending missionaries to other parts of Gaul. Speaking in the vernacular, he encouraged other priests to do the same.

Iranaeus produced the first systematic exposition of the Church's belief. A zealous opposer of heresies in general, Iranaeus wrote the book “Against Heresies” about 187. “ For some do certainly, and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleanses from evil spirits frequently both believe in Christ, and join themselves to the church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole... the dead even have been raised up.”

He was, Tertullian tells us "a curious explorer of all kinds of learning". His book, written in Greek and translated into Latin, was widely circulated, and from this time on, Gnosticism presented no serious threat. According to tradition he suffered martyrdom under Septimus Severus and was beheaded in 202.
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