There is not only one revelation. There is revelation adapted to the situation first that of Paradise; then that of the elected nation; then that of the followers of Christ; and, sometimes, that of the Divine Spirit. There is, in all cases, a different kairos, a different right time. Such a kind of thinking liberates Christianity immediately from a narrowness in which its own revelation is declared to be the only one, and it is not seen in the context of the history of revelation, and which finally leads in Marcion as today, partly at least, in the Barthian school to an isolation of revelation over against the whole history of mankind.
Now Christologically, Irenaeus, for instance, says: “The invisible of the Son is the Father; the visible of the Father is the Son.” And this is eternally so. There is always something which potentially is visible in God or we would perhaps better say “manifest” in God and there is something which remains as mystery and abyss in God. These are the two sides which symbolically speaking are distinguished as Father and Son. Eternally the Son is the visible of the Father and the Father is the invisible of the Son, but it becomes manifest in the personal appearance of Jesus as the Christ. The Anti-Gnostic Fathers, because they had to do with Christian polytheistic tendencies, emphasized more the monotheistic element in Christianity than it was emphasized by the Apologists, whose discovery of the Logos doctrine brought them into some dangerous approximation to polytheistic ,or tri-theistic ,elements at least (if the Spirit is treated in the same way ., in which the Logos is treated.
In the line of thought leading from John to Ignatius to Irenaeus , the Logos is not so much a lesser hypostasis, a lesser form or power of being in God, but is much more God himself as revealer, as his self-manifestation. Irenaeus calls salvation anakephalaiosis, or recapitulatio , recapitulation, pointing to Ephesians I: All things in heaven and earth alike should be gathered up in Christ. Irenaeus constructs the idea of the history of salvation in connection with these words of Ephesians. For Irenaeus it means that the development which was broken in Adam namely the similitudo or immortality is taken up again by Christ and is fulfilled in him. In him the new mankind has started, that which mankind was supposed to become, namely a decided and tested new reality: this, mankind has become in Christ, after Adam had not been able to bring it about. But it’s not only mankind which finds its fulfillment in the appearance of the Christ, but it is the whole cosmos. But in order to do this, Christ had to participate in that nature which broke away from this straight development, namely, in the nature of Adam. To fulfill it, he had to participate in it. So he has become the beginning of the living, as Adam has been the beginning of the dead. Adam is fulfilled in Christ, which means that Christ is the essential man, the man Adam was essentially, and should become but did not become. That which Adam i. e., mankind as a whole, seen essentially has not reached but from which mankind has broken away, that is now the work of the Christ: to actualize this in himself. Adam was not fulfilled in the beginning; he could not have borne fulfillment, as Irenaeus says; he lived in childish innocence.