The Treasure Hid in the Scriptures is Christ
If any one, therefore, reads the Scriptures with attention, he will find in them an account of Christ, and a foreshadowing of the new calling [vocationis]. For Christ is the treasure which was hid in the field, (1) that is, in this world (for "the field is the world"); (2) but the treasure hid in the Scriptures is Christ, since He was pointed out by means of types and parables. Hence His human nature could not (3) be understood, prior to the consummation of those things which had been predicted, that is, the advent of Christ. And therefore it was said to Daniel the prophet: "Shut up the words, and seal the book even to the time of consummation, until many learn, and knowledge be completed. For at that time, when the dispersion shall be accomplished, they shall know all these things." (4) But Jeremiah also says, "In the last days they shall understand these things." (5) For every prophecy, before its fulfilment, is to men [full of] enigmas and ambiguities. But when the time has arrived, and the prediction has come to pass, then the prophecies have a clear and certain exposition. And for this reason, indeed, when at this present time the law is read to the Jews, it is like a fable; for they do not possess the explanation of all things pertaining to the advent of the Son of God, which took place in human nature; but when it is read by the Christians, it is a treasure, hid indeed in a field, but brought to light by the cross of Christ, and explained, both enriching the understanding of men, and showing forth the wisdom of God and declaring His dispensations with regard to man, and forming the kingdom of Christ beforehand, and preaching by anticipation the inheritance of the holy Jerusalem, and proclaiming beforehand that the man who loves God shall arrive at such excellency as even to see God, and hear His word, and from the hearing of His discourse be glorified to such an extent, that others cannot behold the glory of his countenance, as was said by Daniel: "Those who do understand, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and many of the righteous (6) as the stars for ever and ever." (7) Thus, then, I have shown it to be, (8) if any one read the Scriptures. For thus it was that the Lord discoursed with the disciples after His resurrection from the dead, proving to them from the Scriptures themselves "that Christ must suffer, and enter into His glory, and that remission of sins should be preached in His name throughout all the world." (9) And the disciple will be perfected, and [rendered] like the householder, "who bringeth forth from his treasure things new and old." (10) -- Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book Four
1. Matt. xiii. 44.
2. Matt. xiii. 38.
3. Harvey cancels "non," and reads the sentence interrogatively.
4. Dan. xii. 4, 7.
5. Jer. xxiii. 20.
6. The Latin is "a multis justis," corresponding to the Greek version of the Hebrew text.
7. Dan. xii. 3.
8. The text and punctuation are here in great uncertainty, and very different views of both are taken by the editors.
9. Luke xxiv. 26, 47. [The walk to Emmaus is the fountain-head of Scriptural exposition, and the forty days (Acts i. 3) is the river that came forth like that which went out of Eden. Ecclesiasticus iv. 31.]
10. Matt. xiii. 52. [I must express my delight in the great principle of exposition here unfolded. The Old Scriptures are a night-bound wilderness, till Christ rises and illuminates them, glorying alike hill and dale, and, as this author supposes, every shrub and flower, also, making the smallest leaf with its dewdrops glitter like the rainbow.]