Trinity College of Biblical Studies-Free Online Bible College
Trinity College of Biblical Studies-Undergraduate Studies
Trinity College of Biblical Studies Library
Register for this free online bible class by clicking on this link
Students in this course will:
·Understand the question "Who is Jesus Christ?";
·Appreciate the context of the New Testament;
·Learn about the various meanings and approaches to Christology;
·Appreciate the historical Jesus and what He was all about;
·Learn about the various terms and names of Jesus.
·Appreciate what the resurrection is all about;
·See the different Biblical Christology's;
·Understand the role of Tradition;
·Appreciate the patristic Christological struggles;
·See how modern man interprets Jesus Christ.
Rome & Africa
- Tertullian, Hippolytus, Novatian -
Secondary Source Readings: Studer. Trinity & Incarnation; and,
Chp. 6; Kelly. Early Xian Doctrines. Chp 5.1-4; 6.4. ]
1. How do the author's explain the reality of the humanity of Christ?
2. How do the author's explain the reality of Christ's divinity? Are there any attempts to explain binitarian or trinitarian unity of the godhead? What is the relationship of the Son to the Father? [In Both # Q.1 & 2, important are the words, analogies or concepts used to explain these realities]
3. How (and with what words) do they explain Christ's "origin" or pre -- existence?
4. What are some of the doctrines that they are rejecting?
5. Do you sense a different theological style or approach from the author's read to date?
a. Then, too, the common people have now some knowledge of Christ, and think of Him as but a man, one indeed such as the Jews condemned, so that some may naturally enough have taken up the idea that we are worshippers of a mere human being. But we are neither ashamed of Christ -- for we rejoice to be counted His disciples, and in His name to suffer -- nor do we differ from the Jews concerning God. We must make, therefore, a remark or two as to Christ's divinity.
b. The sacred writers withal, in giving previous warning of these things, all with equal clearness ever declared that, in the last days of the world, God would, out of every nation, and people, and country, choose for Himself more faithful worshippers, upon whom He would bestow His grace, and that indeed in ampler measure, in keeping with the enlarged capacities of a nobler dispensation. Accordingly, He appeared among us, whose coming to renovate and illuminate man's nature was pre-announced by God -- I mean Christ, that Son of God. And so the supreme Head and Master of this grace and discipline, the Enlightener and Trainer of the human race, God's own Son, was announced among us, born -- but not so born as to make Him ashamed of the name of Son or of His paternal origin. It was not His lot to have as His father, by incest with a sister, or by violation of a daughter or another's wife, a god in the shape of serpent, or ox, or bird, or lover, for his vile ends transmuting himself into the gold of Danaus. They are your divinities upon whom these base deeds of Jupiter were done. But the Son of God has no mother in any sense which involves impurity; she, whom men suppose to be His mother in the ordinary way, had never entered into the marriage bond [i.e.consummated marriage with Mary].
c. But, first, I shall discuss His essential nature, and so the nature of His birth will be understood. We have already asserted that God made the world, and all which it contains, by His Word, and Reason, and Power. It is abundantly plain that your philosophers, too, regard the Logos -- that is, the Word and Reason -- as the Creator of the universe. For Zeno lays it down that he is the creator, having made all things according to a determinate plan; that his name is Fate, and God, and the soul of Jupiter, and the necessity of all things. Cleanthes ascribes all this to spirit, which he maintains pervades the universe. And we, in like manner, hold that the Word, and Reason, and Power, by which we have said God made all, have spirit as their proper and essential substratum, in which the Word has in being to give forth utterances, and reason abides to dispose and arrange, and power is over all to execute. We have been taught that He proceeds forth from God, and in that procession He is generated; so that He is the Son of God, and is called God from unity of substance with God. For God, too, is a Spirit. Even when the ray is shot from the sun, it is still part of the parent mass; the sun will still be in the ray, because it is a ray of the sun -- there is no division of substance, but merely an extension. Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled. The material matrix remains entire and unimpaired, though you derive from it any number of shoots possessed of its qualities; so, too, that which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, He is made a second in manner of existence -- in position, not in nature; and He did not withdraw from the original source, but went forth. This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, is in His birth God and man united. The flesh formed by the Spirit is nourished, grows up to manhood, speaks, teaches, works, and is the Christ.
d. As, then, under the force of their pre-judgment, they had convinced themselves from His lowly guise that Christ was no more than man, it followed from that, as a necessary consequence, that they should hold Him a magician from the powers which He displayed, -- expelling devils from men by a word, restoring vision to the blind, cleansing the leprous, reinvigorating the paralytic, summoning the dead to life again, making the very elements of nature obey Him, stilling the storms and walking on the sea; proving that He was the Logos of God, that primordial first -- begotten Word, accompanied by power and reason, and based on Spirit, -- that He who was now doing all things by His word, and He who had done that of old, were one and the same.
e. We say, and before all men we say, and torn and bleeding under your tortures, we cry out, "We worship God through Christ." Count Christ a man, if you please; by Him and in Him God would be known and be adored.
Chapter 27— The Distinction of the Father and the Son, Thus Established, He Now Proves the Distinction of the Two Natures, Which Were, Without Confusion, United in the Person of the Son. The Subterfuges of Praxeas Thus Exposed.
a. But why should I linger over matters which are so evident, when I ought to be attacking points on which they seek to obscure the plainest proof? For, confuted on all sides on the distinction between the Father and the Son, which we maintain without destroying their inseparable union—as (by the examples) of the sun and the ray, and the fountain and the river—yet, by help of (their conceit) an indivisible number, (with issues) of two and three, they endeavour to interpret this distinction in a way which shall nevertheless tally with their own opinions: so that, all in one Person, they distinguish two, Father and Son, understanding the Son to be flesh, that is man, that is Jesus; and the Father to be spirit, that is God, that is Christ. Thus they, while contending that the Father and the Son are one and the same, do in fact begin by dividing them rather than uniting them. For if Jesus is one, and Christ is another, then the Son will be different from the Father, because the Son is Jesus, and the Father is Christ. Such a monarchy as this they learnt, I suppose, in the school of Valentinus, making two—Jesus and Christ.
b. But this conception of theirs has been, in fact, already confuted in what we have previously advanced, because the Word of God or the Spirit of God is also called the power of the Highest, whom they make the Father; whereas these relations are not themselves the same as He whose relations they are said to be, but they proceed from Him and appertain to Him. However, another refutation awaits them on this point of their heresy. See, say they, it was announced by the angel: "Therefore that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." [Lk 1.35] Therefore, (they argue, ) as it was the flesh that was born, it must be the flesh that is the Son of God. Nay, (I answer, ) this is spoken concerning the Spirit of God. For it was certainly of the Holy Spirit that the virgin conceived; and that which He conceived, she brought forth. That, therefore, had to be born which was conceived and was to be brought forth; that is to say, the Spirit, whose "name should be called Emmanuel which, being interpreted, is, God with us." [Mt 1.23] Besides, the flesh is not God, so that it could not have been said concerning it, "That Holy Thing shall be called the Son of God," but only that Divine Being who was born in the flesh, of whom the psalm also says, "Since God became man in the midst of it, and established it by the will of the Father." [Ps 87.5]
c. Now what Divine Person was born in it? The Word, and the Spirit which became incarnate with the Word by the will of the Father. The Word, therefore, is incarnate; and this must be the point of our inquiry: How the Word became flesh,—whether it was by having been transfigured, as it were, in the flesh, or by having really clothed Himself in flesh. Certainly it was by a real clothing of Himself in flesh. For the rest, we must needs believe God to be unchangeable, and incapable of form, as being eternal. But transfiguration is the destruction of that which previously existed. For whatsoever is transfigured into some other thing ceases to be that which it had been, and begins to be that which it previously was not. God, however, neither ceases to be what He was, nor can He be any other thing than what He is. The Word is God, and "the Word of the Lord remains for ever,"—even by holding on unchangeably in His own proper form. Now, if He admits not of being transfigured, it must follow that He be understood in this sense to have become flesh, when He comes to be in the flesh, and is manifested, and is seen, and is handled by means of the flesh; since all the other points likewise require to be thus understood.
d. For if the Word became flesh by a transfiguration and change of substance, it follows at once that Jesus must be a substance compounded of two substances—of flesh and spirit,—a kind of mixture, like electrum, composed of gold and silver; and it begins to be neither gold (that is to say, spirit) nor silver (that is to say, flesh),—the one being changed by the other, and a third substance produced. Jesus, therefore, cannot at this rate be God for He has ceased to be the Word, which was made flesh; nor can He be Man incarnate for He is not properly flesh, and it was flesh which the Word became. Being compounded, therefore, of both, He actually is neither; He is rather some third substance, very different from either.
e. But the truth is, we find that He is expressly set forth as both God and Man; the very psalm which we have quoted intimating (of the flesh), that "God became Man in the midst of it, He therefore established it by the will of the Father,"—certainly in all respects as the Son of God and the Son of Man, being God and Man, differing no doubt according to each substance in its own especial property, inasmuch as the Word is nothing else but God, and the flesh nothing else but Man. Thus does the apostle also teach respecting His two substances, saying, "who was made of the seed of David; " in which words He will be Man and Son of Man. "Who was declared to be the Son of God, according to the Spirit; " [Rom 1.34] in which words He will be God, and the Word—the Son of God. We see plainly the twofold state, which is not confounded, but conjoined in One Person—Jesus, God and Man. Concerning Christ, indeed, I defer what I have to say. (I remark here), that the characteristic property of each nature [communion of properties] is so wholly preserved, that the Spirit on the one hand did all things in Jesus suitable to Itself, such as miracles, and mighty deeds, and wonders; and the Flesh, on the other hand, exhibited the affections which belong to it. It was hungry under the devil's temptation, thirsty with the Samaritan woman, wept over Lazarus, was troubled even unto death, and at last actually died. If, however, it was only a tertium quid, some composite essence formed out of the Two substances, like the electrum (which we have mentioned), there would be no distinct proofs apparent of either nature. But by a transfer of functions, the Spirit would have done things to be done by the Flesh, and the Flesh such as are effected by the Spirit; or else such things as are suited neither to the Flesh nor to the Spirit, but confusedly of some third character. Nay more, on this supposition, either the Word underwent death, or the flesh did not die, if so be the Word was converted into flesh; because either the flesh was immortal, or the Word was modal. Forasmuch, however, as the two substances acted distinctly, each in its own character, there necessarily accrued to them severally their own operations, and their own issues.
f. Learn then, together with Nicodemus, that "that which is born in the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." Neither the flesh becomes Spirit, nor the Spirit flesh. In one Person they no doubt are well able to be co-existent. Of them Jesus consists—Man of the flesh; of the Spirit, God—and the angel designated Him as "the Son of God," in respect of that nature, in which He was Spirit, reserving for the flesh the appellation "Son of Man." In like manner, again, the apostle calls Him "the Mediator between God and Men," [1 Tim 2.5] and so affirmed His participation of both substances. Now, to end the matter, will you, who interpret the Son of God to be flesh, be so good as to show us what the Son of Man is? Will He then, I want to know, be the Spirit? But you insist upon it that the Father Himself is the Spirit, on the ground that "God is a Spirit," just as if we did not read also that there is "the Spirit of God; "in the same manner as we find that as "the Word was God," so also there is "the Word of God."
On the Flesh of Christ
Chapter I.—The General Purport of This Work. The Heretics, Marcion, Apelles, and Valentinus, Wishing to Impugn the Doctrine of the Resurrection, Deprive Christ of All Capacity for Such a Change by Denying His Flesh.
a. They who are so anxious to shake that belief in the resurrection which was firmly settled before the appearance of our modern Sadducees, as even to deny that the expectation thereof has any relation whatever to the flesh, have great cause for besetting the flesh of Christ also with doubtful questions, as if it either had no existence at all, or possessed a nature altogether different from human flesh. For they cannot but be apprehensive that, if it be once determined that Christ's flesh was human, a presumption would immediately arise in opposition to them, that flesh must by all means rise again, which has already risen in Christ. Therefore we shall have to guard our belief in the resurrection from the same armoury, whence they get their weapons of destruction.
b. Let us examine our Lord's bodily substance, for about His spiritual nature all are agreed. It is His flesh that is in question. Its verity and quality are the points in dispute. Did it ever exist? whence was it derived? and of what kind was it? If we succeed in demonstrating it, we shall lay down a law for our own resurrection. Marcion, in order that he might deny the flesh of Christ, denied also His nativity, or else he denied His flesh in order that he might deny His nativity; because, of course, he was afraid that His nativity and His flesh bore mutual testimony to each other's reality, since there is no nativity without flesh, and no flesh without nativity. As if indeed, under the prompting of that licence which is ever the same in all heresy, he too might not very well have either denied the nativity, although admitting the flesh,—like Apelles, who was first a disciple of his, and afterwards an apostate,—or, while admitting both the flesh and the nativity, have interpreted them in a different sense, as did Valentinus, who resembled Apelles both in his discipleship and desertion of Marcion. At all events, he who represented the flesh of Christ to be imaginary was equally able to pass off His nativity as a phantom; so that the virgin's conception, and pregnancy, and child-bearing, and then the whole course of her infant too, would have to be regarded as putative. These facts pertaining to the nativity of Christ would escape the notice of the same eyes and the same senses as failed to grasp the full idea of His flesh.
Chapter 3—Christ's Nativity Both Possible and Becoming. The Heretical Opinion of Christ's Apparent Flesh Deceptive and Dishonourable to God, Even on Marcion's Principles.
a. Since you think that this lay within the competency of your own arbitrary choice, you must needs have supposed that being born was either impossible for God, or unbecoming to Him. With God, however, nothing is impossible but what He does not will.
b. Let us consider, then, whether He willed to be born (for if He had the will, He also had the power, and was born). I put the argument very briefly. If God had willed not to be born, it matters not why, He would not have presented Himself in the likeness of man. Now who, when he sees a man, would deny that he had been born? What God therefore willed not to be, He would in no wise have willed the seeming to be. When a thing is distasteful, the very notion of it is scouted; because it makes no difference whether a thing exist or do not exist, if, when it does not exist, it is yet assumed to exist. It is of course of the greatest importance that there should be nothing false (or pretended) attributed to that which really does not exist. But, say you, His own consciousness (of the truth of His nature) was enough for Him. If any supposed that He had been born, because they saw Him as a man, that was their concern.
c. Yet with how much more dignity and consistency would He have sustained the human character on the supposition that He was truly born; for if He were not born, He could not have undertaken the said character without injury to that consciousness of His which you on your side attribute to His confidence of being able to sustain, although not born, the character of having been born even against! His own consciousness! Why, I want to know, was it of so much importance, that Christ should, when perfectly aware what He really was, exhibit Himself as being that which He was not?
d. You cannot express any apprehension that, if He had been born and truly clothed Himself with man's nature, He would have ceased to be God, losing what He was, while becoming what He was not. For God is in no danger of losing His own state and condition. But, say you, I deny that God was truly changed to man in such wise as to be born and endued with a body of flesh, on this ground, that a being who is without end is also of necessity incapable of change. For being changed into something else puts an end to the former state. Change, therefore, is not possible to a Being who cannot come to an end.
e. Without doubt, the nature of things which are subject to change is regulated by this law, that they have no permanence in the state which is undergoing change in them, and that they come to an end from thus wanting permanence, whilst they lose that in the process of change which they previously were. But nothing is equal with God; His nature is different from the condition of all things. If, then, the things which differ from God, and from which God differs, lose what existence they had whilst they are undergoing change, wherein will consist the difference of the Divine Being from all other things except in His possessing the contrary faculty of theirs,—in other words, that God can be changed into all conditions, and yet continue just as He is?
f. On any other supposition, He would be on the, same level with those things which, when changed, lose the existence they had before; whose equal, of course, He is not in any other respect, as He certainly is not in the changeful issues of their nature.
g. You have sometimes read and believed that the Creator's angels have been changed into human form, and have even borne about so veritable a body, that Abraham even washed their feet, and Lot was rescued from the Sodomites by their hands; an angel, moreover, wrestled with a man so strenuously with his body, that the latter desired to be let loose, so tightly was he held. Has it, then, been permitted to angels, which are inferior to God, after they have been changed into human bodily form, nevertheless to remain angels? And will you deprive God, their superior, of this faculty, as if Christ could not continue to be God, after His real assumption of the nature of man? Or else, did those angels appear as phantoms of flesh? You will not, however, have the courage to say this; for if it be so held in your belief, that the Creator's angels are in the same condition as Christ, then Christ will belong to the same God as those angels do, who are like Christ in their condition.
h. If you had not purposely rejected in some instances, and corrupter in others, the Scriptures which are opposed to your opinion, you would have been confuted in this matter by the Gospel of John, when it declares that the Spirit descended in the body of a dove, and sat upon the Lord. When the said Spirit was in this condition, He was as truly a dove as He was also a spirit; nor did He destroy His own proper substance by the assumption of an extraneous substance. But you ask what becomes of the dove's body, after the return of the Spirit back to heaven, and similarly in the case of the angels. Their withdrawal was effected in the same manner as their appearance had been. If you had seen how their production out of nothing had been effected, you would have known also the process of their return to nothing. If the initial step was out of sight, so was also the final one. Still there was solidity in their bodily substance, whatever may have been the force by which the body became visible. What is written cannot but have been.
Chapter 4—God's Honour in the Incarnation of His Son Vindicated. Marcion's Disparagement of Human Flesh Inconsistent as Well as Impious. Christ Has Cleansed the Flesh. The Foolishness of God is Most Wise.
a. Since, therefore, you do not reject the assumption of a body as impossible or as hazardous to the character of God, it remains for you to repudiate and censure it as unworthy of Him. Come now, beginning from the nativity itself, declaim against the uncleanness of the generative elements within the womb, the filthy concretion of fluid and blood, of the growth of the flesh for nine: months long out of that very mire. Describe the womb as it enlarges from day to day, heavy, troublesome, restless even in sleep, changeful in its feelings of dislike and desire. Inveigh now likewise against the shame itself of a woman in travail which, however, ought rather to be honoured in consideration of that peril, or to be held sacred in respect of (the mystery of) nature.
b. Of course you are horrified also at the infant, which is shed into life with the embarrassments which accompany it from the womb; you likewise, of course, loathe it even after it is washed, when it is dressed out in its swaddling-clothes, graced with repeated anointing, smiled on with nurse's fawns. This reverend course of nature, you, O Marcion, (are pleased to) spit upon; and yet, in what way were you born? You detest a human being at his birth; then after what fashion do you love anybody? Yourself, of course, you had no love of, when you departed from the Church and the faith of Christ. But never mind, if you are not on good terms with yourself, or even if you were born in a way different from other people. Christ, at any rate, has loved even that man who was condensed in his mother's womb amidst all its uncleanness, even that man who was brought into life out of the said womb, even that man who was nursed amidst the nurse's simpers. For his sake He came down (from heaven), for his sake He preached, for his sake "He humbled Himself even unto death—the death of the cross." He loved, of course, the being whom He redeemed at so great a cost. If Christ is the Creator's Son, it was with justice that He loved His own (creature); if He comes from another god, His love was excessive, since He redeemed a being who belonged to another. Well, then, loving man He loved his nativity also, and his flesh as well.
c. Nothing can be loved apart from that through which whatever exists has its existence. Either take away nativity, and then show us your man; or else withdraw the flesh, and then present to our view the being whom God has redeemed—since it is these very conditions which constitute the man whom God has redeemed. And are you for turning these conditions into occasions of blushing to the very creature whom He has redeemed, (censuring them), too, us unworthy of Him who certainly would not have redeemed them had He not loved them? Our birth He reforms from death by a second birth from heaven; our flesh He restores from every harassing malady; when leprous, He cleanses it of the stain; when blind, He rekindles its light; when palsied, He renews its strength; when possessed with devils, He exorcises it; when dead, He reanimates it,—then shall we blush to own it?
d. If, to be sure, He had chosen to be born of a mere animal, and were to preach the kingdom of heaven invested with the body of a beast either wild or tame, your censure (I imagine) would have instantly met Him with this demurrer: "This is disgraceful for God, and this is unworthy of the Son of God, and simply foolish." For no other reason than because one thus judges. It is of course foolish, if we are to judge God by our own conceptions. But, Marcion, consider well this Scripture, if indeed you have not erased it: "God has chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise."
e. Now what are those foolish things? Are they the conversion of men to the worship of the true God, the rejection of error, the whole training in righteousness, chastity, mercy, patience, and innocence? These things certainly are not "foolish." Inquire again, then, of what things he spoke, and when you imagine that you have discovered what they are will you find anything to be so "foolish" as believing in a God that has been born, and that of a virgin, and of a fleshly nature too, who wallowed in all the before—mentioned humiliations of nature? But some one may say, "These are not the foolish things; they must be other things which God has chosen to confound the wisdom of the world." And yet, according to the world's wisdom, it is more easy to believe that Jupiter became a bull or a swan, if we listen to Marcion, than that Christ really became a man.
Chapter 5—Christ Truly Lived and Died in Human Flesh. Incidents of His Human Life on Earth, and Refutation of Marcion's Docetic Parody of the Same.
a. There are, to be sure, other things also quite as foolish (as the birth of Christ), which have reference to the humiliations and sufferings of God. Or else, let them call a crucified God "wisdom." But Marcion will apply the knife to this doctrine also, and even with greater reason. For which Is more unworthy of God, which is more likely to raise a blush of shame, that God should be born, or that He should die? that He should bear the flesh, or the cross? be circumcised, or be crucified? be cradled, or be coffined? be laid in a manger, or in a tomb? Talk of "wisdom!" You will show more of that if you refuse to believe this also. But, after all, you will not be "wise" unless you become a "fool" to the world, by believing" the foolish things of God."
b. Have you, then, cut away all sufferings from Christ, on the ground that, as a mere phantom, He was incapable of experiencing them? We have said above that He might possibly have undergone the unreal mockeries of an imaginary birth and infancy. But answer me at once, you that murder truth: Was not God really crucified? And, having been really crucified, did He not really die? And, having indeed really died, did He not really rise again?
c. Falsely did Paul determine to know nothing amongst us but Jesus and Him crucified; falsely has he impressed upon us that He was buried; falsely inculcated that He rose again. False, therefore, is our faith also. And all that we hope for from Christ will be a phantom. O thou most infamous of men, who has acquitted of all guilt the murderers of God! For nothing did Christ suffer from them, if He really suffered nothing at all. Spare the whole world's one only hope, thou who art destroying the indispensable dishonour of our faith Whatsoever is unworthy of God, is of gain to me. I am safe, if I am not ashamed of my Lord. "Whosoever," says He, "shall be ashamed of me, of him will I also be ashamed." [Mat 10.33]
d. Other matters for shame find I none which can prove me to be shameless in a good sense, and foolish in a happy one, by my own contempt of shame. The Son of God was crucified; I am not ashamed because men must needs be ashamed of it. And the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd. And He was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is impossible. But how will all this be true in Him, if He was not Himself true—if He really had not in Himself that which might be crucified, might die, might be buried, and might rise again? I mean this flesh suffused with blood, built up with bones, interwoven with nerves, entwined with veins, a flesh which knew how to be born, and how to die, human without doubt, as born of a human being. It will therefore be mortal in Christ, because Christ is man and the Son of man. Else why is Christ man and the Son of man, if he has nothing of man, and nothing from man?
e. Unless it be either that man is anything else than flesh, or man's flesh comes from any other source than man, or Mary is anything else than a human being, or Marcion's man is as Marcion's god. Christ could not be described as being man without flesh, nor the Son of man without any human parent; just as He is not God without the Spirit of God, nor the Son of God without having God for His father.
f. Thus the nature of the two substances displayed Him as man and God,—in one respect born, in the other unborn; in one respect fleshly in the other spiritual; in one sense weak in the other exceeding strong; in on sense dying, in the other living. This property of the two states—the divine and the human—is distinctly asserted with equal truth of both natures alike, with the same belief both in respect of the Spirit and of the flesh. The powers of the Spirit, proved Him to be God, His sufferings attested the flesh of man. If His powers were not without the Spirit in like manner, were not His sufferings without the flesh. if His flesh with its sufferings was fictitious, for the same reason was the Spirit false with all its powers. Wherefore halve Christ with a lie? He was wholly the truth. Believe me, He chose rather to be born, than in any part to pretend—and that indeed to His own detriment—that He was bearing about a flesh hardened without bones, solid without muscles, bloody without blood, clothed without the tunic of skin, hungry without appetite, eating without teeth, speaking without a tongue, so that His word was a phantom to the ears through an imaginary voice. A phantom, too, it was of course after the resurrection, when, showing His hands and His feet for the disciples to examine, He said, "Behold and see that it is I myself, for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as ye see me have; " without doubt, hands, and feet, and bones are not what a spirit possesses, but only the flesh. How do you interpret this statement, Marcion, you who tell us that Jesus comes only from the most excellent God, who is both simple and good? See how He rather cheats, and deceives, and juggles the eyes of all, and the senses of all, as well as their access to and contact with Him! You ought rather to have brought Christ down, not from heaven, but from some troop ofcharlatans, not as God besides man, but simply as a man, a magician; not as the High Priest of our salvation, but as the conjurer in a show; not as the raiser of the dead, but as the misleader of the living,—except that, if He were a magician, He must have had a nativity!
Chapter 10— Another Class of Heretics Refuted. They Alleged that Christ's Flesh Was of a Finer Texture, Animalis, Composed of Soul.
a. I now turn to another class, who are equally wise in their own conceit. They affirm that the flesh of Christ is composed of soul, that His soul became flesh, so that His flesh is soul; and as His flesh is of soul, so is His soul of flesh. But here, again, I must have some reasons.
b. If, in order to save the soul, Christ took a soul within Himself, because it could not be saved except by Him having, it within Himself, I see no reason why, in clothing Himself with flesh, He should have made that flesh one of soul, as if He could not have saved the soul in any other way than by making flesh of it. For while He saves our souls, which are not only not of flesh, but are even distinct from flesh, how much more able was He to secure salvation to that soul which He took Himself, when it was also not of flesh?
c. Again, since they assume it as a main tenet, that Christ came forth not to deliver the flesh, but only our soul, how absurd it is, in the first place, that, meaning to save only the soul, He yet made it into just that sort of bodily substance which He had no intention of saving! And, secondly, if He had undertaken deliver our souls by means of that which He carried, He ought, in that soul which He carried to have carried our soul, one (that is) of the same condition as ours; and whatever is the condition of our soul in its secret nature, it is certainly not one of flesh. However, it was not our soul which He saved, if His own was of flesh; for ours is not of flesh. Now, if He did not save our soul on the ground, that it was a soul of flesh which He saved, He is nothing to us, because He has not saved our soul. Nor indeed did it need salvation, for it was not our soul really, since it was, on the supposition, a soul of flesh. But yet it is evident that it has been saved. Of flesh, therefore, it was not composed, and it was ours; for it was our soul that was saved, since that was in peril of damnation. We therefore now conclude that as in Christ the soul was not of flesh, so neither could His flesh have possibly been composed of soul.
Refutation of All Heresies
Chapter 28 -- The Doctrine of the Truth.
a. The first and only (one God), both Creator and Lord of all, had nothing co-eqal with Himself; not infinite chaos, nor measureless water, nor solid earth, nor dense air, not warm fire, nor refined spirit, nor the azure canopy of the stupendous firmament. But He was One, alone in Himself. By an exercise of His will He created things that are, which antecedently had no existence, except that He willed to make them. For He is fully acquainted with whatever is about to take place, for foreknowledge also is present to Him. The different principles, however, of what will come into existence, He first fabricated, viz., fire and spirit, water and earth, from which diverse elements He proceeded to form His own creation. And some objects He formed of one essence, but others He compounded from two, and others from three, and others from four. And those formed of one substance were immortal, for in their case dissolution does not follow, for what is one will never be dissolved. Those, on the other hand, which are formed out of two, or three, or four substances, are dissoluble; wherefore also are they named mortal. For this has been denominated death; namely, the dissolution of substances connected. I now therefore think that I have sufficiently answered those endued with a sound mind, who, if they are desirous of additional instruction, and are disposed accurately to investigate the substances of these things, and the causes of the entire creation, will become acquainted with these points should they peruse a work of ours comprised (under the title), Concerning the Substance of the Universe. I consider, however, that at present it is enough to elucidate those causes of which the Greeks, not being aware, glorified, in pompous phraseology, the parts of creation, while they remained ignorant of the Creator. And from these the heresiarchs have taken occasion, and have transformed the statements previously made by those Greeks into similar doctrines, and thus have framed ridiculous heresies.
Chapter 29 -- The Doctrine of the Truth Continued.
a. Therefore this solitary and supreme Deity, by an exercise of reflection, brought forth the Logos first; not the word in the sense of being articulated by voice, but as a ratiocination of the universe, conceived and residing in the divine mind. Him alone He produced from existing things; for the Father Himself constituted existence, and the being born from Him was the cause of all things that are produced. The Logos was in the Father Himself, bearing the will of His progenitor, and not being unacquainted with the mind of the Father. For simultaneously with His procession from His Progenitor, inasmuch as He is this Progenitor's first-born, He has, as a voice in Himself, the ideas conceived in the Father. And so it was, that when the Father ordered the world to come into existence, the Logos one by one completed each object of creation, thus pleasing God. And some things which multiply by generation He formed male and female; but whatsoever beings were designed for service and ministration He made either male, or not requiring females, or neither male nor female. For even the primary substances of these, which were formed out of nonentities, viz., fire and spirit, water and earth, are neither male nor female; nor could male or female proceed from any one of these, were it not that God, who is the source of all authority, wished that the Logos might render assistance in accomplishing a production of this kind. I confess that angels are of fire, and I maintain that female spirits are not present with them. And I am of opinion that sun and moon and stars, in like manner, are produced from fire and spirit, and are neither male nor female. And the will of the Creator is, that swimming and winged animals are from water, male and female. For so God, whose will it was, ordered that there should exist a moist substance, endued with productive power. And in like manner God commanded, that from earth should arise reptiles and beasts, as well males and females of all sorts of animals; for so the nature of the things produced admitted. For as many things as He willed, God made from time to time. These things He created through the Logos, it not being possible for things to be generated otherwise than as they were produced. But when, according as He willed, He also formed (objects), He called them by names, and thus notified His creative effort [or will]. And making these, He formed the ruler of all, and fashioned him out of all composite substances. The Creator did not wish to make him a god, and failed in His aim; nor an angel, -- be not deceived, -- but a man. For if He had willed to make you a god, He could have done so. You have the example of the Logos. His will, however, was, that you should be a man, and He has made you a man. But if you art desirous of also becoming a god, obey Him that has created you, and resist not now, in order that, being found faithful in that which is small, you may be enabled to have entrusted to you also that which is great [Matt. 25.21, 23; Luke 16.10-12].
b. The Logos alone of this God is from God himself; wherefore also the Logos is God, being the substance of God. Now the world was made from nothing [creatio ex nihilo]; wherefore it is not God; as also because this world admits of dissolution whenever the Creator so wishes it. But God, who created it, did not, nor does not, make evil. He makes what is glorious and excellent; for He who makes it is good. Now man, that was brought into existence, was a creature endued with a capacity of self-determination, yet not possessing a sovereign intellect, nor holding sway over all things by reflection, and authority, and power, but a slave to his passions, and comprising all sorts of contrarieties in himself. But man, from the fact of his possessing a capacity of self-determination, brings forth what is evil, that is, accidentally; which evil is not consummated except you actually commit some piece of wickedness. For it is in regard of our desiring anything that is wicked, or our meditating upon it, that what is evil is so denominated. Evil had no existence from the beginning, but came into being subsequently. Since man has free will, a law has been defined for his guidance by the Deity, not without answering a good purpose. For if man did not possess the power to will and not to will, why should a law be established? For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason, but a bridle and a whip; [cf. Ps 32.9] whereas to man has been given a precept and penalty to perform, or for not carrying into execution what has been enjoined. For man thus constituted has a law been enacted by just men in primitive ages. Nearer our own day was there established a law, full of gravity and justice, by Moses, to whom allusion has been already made, a devout man, and one beloved of God.
c. Now the Logos of God controls all these; the first begotten Child of the Father, the voice of the Dawn antecedent to the Morning Star [Ps 110.3; 2 Pet 1.18, 19]. Afterwards just men were born, friends of God; and these have been styled prophets, on account of their foreshadowing future events. And the word of prophecy was committed unto them, not for one age only; but also the utterances of events predicted throughout all generations, were vouchsafed in perfect clearness. And this, too, not at the time merely when seers furnished a reply to those present; but also events that would happen throughout all ages, have been manifested beforehand; because, in speaking of incidents gone by, the prophets brought them back to the recollection of humanity; whereas, in showing forth present occurrences, they endeavoured to persuade men not to be remiss; while, by foretelling future events, they have rendered each one of us terrified on beholding events that had been predicted long before, and on expecting likewise those events predicted as still future. Such is our faith, O all you men, -- ours, I say, who are not persuaded by empty expressions, nor caught away by sudden impulses of the heart, nor beguiled by the plausibility of eloquent discourses, yet who do not refuse to obey words that have been uttered by divine power. And these injunctions has God given to the Word. But the Word, by declaring them, promulgated the divine commandments, thereby turning man from disobedience, not bringing him into servitude by force of necessity, but summoning him to liberty through a choice involving spontaneity.
d. This Logos the Father in the latter days sent forth, no longer to speak by a prophet, and not wishing that the Word, being obscurely proclaimed, should be made the subject of mere conjecture, but that He should be manifested, so that we could see Him with our own eyes. This Logos, I say, the Father sent forth, in order that the world, on beholding Him, might reverence Him who was delivering precepts not by the person of prophets, nor terrifying the soul by an angel, but who was Himself -- He that had spoken -- corporally present amongst us. This Logos we know to have received a body from a virgin, and to have remodelled the old man by a new creation. And we believe the Logos to have passed through every period in this life, in order that He Himself might serve as a law for every age, [cf. Irenaeus?] and that, by being present (among) us, He might exhibit His own manhood as an aim for all men. And that by Himself in person He might prove that God made nothing evil, and that man possesses the capacity of self-determination, inasmuch as he is able to will and not to will, and is endued with power to do both. This Man we know to have been made out of the compound of our humanity. For if He were not of the same nature with ourselves, in vain does He ordain that we should imitate the Teacher. For if that Man happened to be of a different substance from us, why does He lay injunctions similar to those He has received on myself, who am born weak; and how is this the act of one that is good and just? In order, however, that He might not be supposed to be different from us, He even underwent toil, and was willing to endure hunger, and did not refuse to feel thirst, and sunk into the quietude of slumber. He did not protest against His Passion, but became obedient unto death, and manifested His resurrection. Now in all these acts He offered up, as the first-fruits, His own manhood, in order that you, when you art in tribulation, may not be disheartened, but, confessing thyself to be a man (of like nature with the Redeemer), may dwell in expectation of also receiving what the Father has granted unto this Son.
Chapter 30 -- The Author's Concluding Address.
a. Such is the true doctrine in regard of the divine nature, O you men, Greeks and Barbarians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, Egyptians and Libyans, Indians and Ethiopians, Celts, and you Latins, who lead armies, and all you that inhabit Europe, and Asia, and Libya. And to you I am become an adviser, inasmuch as I am a disciple of the benevolent Logos, and hence humane, in order that you may hasten and by us may be taught who the true God is, and what is His well-ordered creation. Do not devote your attention to the fallacies of artificial discourses, nor the vain promises of plagiarizing heretics, but to the venerable simplicity of unassuming truth. And by means of this knowledge you shall escape the approaching threat of the fire of judgement, and the rayless scenery of gloomy Tartarus, where never shines a beam from the irradiating voice of the Word!
b. You shall escape the boiling flood of hell's eternal lake of fire and the eye ever fixed in menacing glare of fallen angels chained in Tartarus as punishment for their sins; and you shall escape the worm that ceaselessly coils for food around the body whose scum has bred it. Now such (torments) as these shall you avoid by being instructed in a knowledge of the true God. And you shall possess an immortal body, even one placed beyond the possibility of corruption, just like the soul. And you shall receive the kingdom of heaven, you who, whilst you did sojourn in this life, did know the Celestial King. And you shall be a companion of the Deity, and a co-heir with Christ, no longer enslaved by lusts or passions, and never again wasted by disease. For you have become God: [cf. 2 Pet 1.4 compared with John 17.22, 23 & Rev 3.21] for whatever sufferings you did undergo while being a man, these He gave to you, because you was of mortal mould, but whatever it is consistent with God to impart, these God has promised to bestow upon you, because you have been deified, and begotten unto immortality [cf. John 10.34 with Rev 5.10]. This constitutes the import of the proverb, "Know thyself; " i.e., discover God within thyself, for He has formed you after His own image. For with the knowledge of self is conjoined the being an object of God's knowledge, for you art called by the Deity Himself. Be not therefore inflamed, O you men, with enmity one towards another, nor hesitate to retrace with all speed your steps. For Christ is the God above all, and He has arranged to wash away sin from human beings, rendering regenerate the old man. And God called man His likeness from the beginning, and has evinced in a figure His love towards you. And provided you obey His solemn injunctions, and becomes a faithful follower of Him who is good, you shall resemble Him, inasmuch as you shall have honour conferred upon you by Him. For the Deity, (by condescension,) does not diminish any of the divinity of His divine perfection; having made you even God unto His glory!
On the Trinity
Chapter 10 -- Argument -- That Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Truly Man, as Opposed to the Fancies of Heretics, Who Deny that He Took Upon Him True Flesh.
a. But of this I remind you, that Christ was not to be expected in the Gospel in any other wise than as He was promised before by the Creator, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament; especially as the things that were predicted of Him were fulfilled, and those things that were fulfilled had been predicted. As with reason I might truly and constantly say to that fanciful -- I know not what -- of those heretics who reject the authority of the Old Testament, as to a Christ feigned and coloured up from old wives' fables: "Who art you? Whence art you? By whom art you sent? Wherefore have you now chosen to come? Why such as you art? Or how have you been able to come? Or wherefore have you not gone to your own, except that you have proved that you have none of your own, by coming to those of another? What have you to do with the Creator's world? What have you to do with the Creator's man? What have you to do with the image of a body from which you take away the hope of resurrection? Why come you to another man's servant, and desire you to solicit another man's son? Why do you strive to take me away from the Lord? Why do you compel me to blaspheme, and to be impious to my Father? Or what shall I gain from you in the resurrection, if I do not receive myself when I lose my body? If you wish to save, you should have made a man to whom to give salvation. If you desire to snatch from sin, you should have granted to me previously that I should not fall into sin. But what approbation of law do you carry about with you? What testimony of the prophetic word have you? Or what substantial good can I promise myself from you, when I see that you have come in a phantasm and not in a bodily substance? What, then, have you to do with the form of a body, if you hate a body? Nay, you wilt be refitted as to the hatred of bearing about the substance of a body, since you have been willing even to take up its form. For you ought to have hated the imitation of a body, if you hated the reality; because, if you art something else, you ought to have come as something else, lest you should be called the Son of the Creator if you had even the likeness of flesh and body. Assuredly, if you hate being born because you hate ' the Creator's marriage-union, ' you ought to refuse even the likeness of a man who is born by the 'marriage of the Creator.'"
b. Neither, therefore, do we acknowledge that that is a Christ of the heretics who was -- as it is said -- in appearance and not in reality [ = Docetism]; for of those things which he did, he could have done nothing real, if he himself was a phantasm, and not reality. Nor him who wore nothing of our body in himself, seeing "he received nothing from Mary; "neither did he come to us, since he appeared "as a vision, not in our substance." Nor do we acknowledge that to be Christ who chose an ethereal or starry flesh, as some heretics have pretended. Nor can we perceive any salvation of ours in him, if in him we do not even recognise the substance of our body; nor, in short, any other who may have worn any other kind of fabulous body of heretical device. For all such fables as these are confuted as well by the nativity as by the death itself of our Lord. For John says: "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; " [Jn 1.14] so that, reasonably, our body should be in Him, because indeed the Word took on Him our flesh. And for this reason blood flowed forth from His hands and feet, and from His very side, so that He might be proved to be a sharer in our body by dying according to the laws of our dissolution. And that He was raised again in the same bodily substance in which He died, is proved by the wounds of that very body, and thus He showed the laws of our resurrection in His flesh, in that He restored the same body in His resurrection which He had from us. For a law of resurrection is established, in that Christ is raised up in the substance of the body as an example for the rest; because, when it is written that "flesh and blood do not inherit the kingdom of God," [2 Cor 16.50] it is not the substance of the flesh that is condemned, which was built up by the divine hands that it should not perish, but only the guilt of the flesh is rightly rebuked, which by the voluntary daring of man rebelled against the claims of divine law. Because in baptism and in the dissolution of death the flesh is raised up and returns to salvation, by being recalled to the condition of innocency when the mortality of guilt is put away.
Chapter 11 -- And Indeed that Christ Was Not Only Man, But God Also; That Even as He Was the Son of Man, So Also He Was the Son of God.
a. But lest, from the fact of asserting that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Creator, was manifested in the substance of the true body, we should seem either to have given assent to other heretics, who in this place maintain that He is man only and alone, and therefore desire to prove that He was a man bare and solitary; and lest we should seem to have afforded them any ground for objecting, we do not so express doctrine concerning the substance of His body, as to say that He is only and alone man, but so as to maintain, by the association of the divinity of the Word in that very materiality, that He was also God according to the Scriptures. For there is a great risk of saying that the Saviour of the human race was only man; that the Lord of all, and the Chief of the world, to whom all things were delivered, and all things were granted by His Father, by whom all things were ordained, all things were created, all things were arranged, the King of all ages and times, the Prince of all the angels, before whom there is none but the Father, was only man, and denying to Him divine authority in these things. For this contempt of the heretics will recoil also upon God the Father, if God the Father could not beget God the Son. But, moreover, no blindness of the heretics shall prescribe to the truth. Nor, because they maintain one thing in Christ and, do not maintain another, they see one side of Christ and do not see another, shall there be taken away from us that which they do not see for the sake of that which they do. For they regard the weaknesses in Him as if they were a man's weaknesses, but they do not count the powers as if they were a God's powers. They keep in mind the infirmities of the flesh, they exclude the powers of the divinity; when if this argument from the infirmities of Christ is of avail to the result of proving Him to be man from His infirmities, the argument of divinity in Him gathered from His powers avails to the result also of asserting Him to be God from His works. For if His sufferings show in Him human frailty, why may not His works assert in Him divine power? For if this should not avail to assert Him to be God from His powers, neither can His sufferings avail to show Him to be man also from them. For whatever principle be adopted on one or the other side, will be found to be maintained. For there will be a risk that He should not be shown to be man from His sufferings, if He could not also be approved as God by His powers.
b. We must not then lean to one side and evade the other side, because any one who should exclude one portion of the truth will never hold the perfect truth. For Scripture as much announces Christ as also God, as it announces God Himself as man. It has as much described Jesus Christ to be man, as moreover it has also described Christ the Lord to be God. Because it does not set forth Him to be the Son of God only, but also the Son of man; nor does it only say, the Son of man, but it has also been accustomed to speak of Him as the Son of God. So that being of both, He is both, lest if He should be one only, He could not be the other. For as nature itself has prescribed that he must be believed to be a man who is of man, so the same nature prescribes also that He must be believed to be God who is of God; but if he should not also be God when be is of God, no more should he be man although he should be of man. And thus both doctrines would be endangered in one and the other way, by one being convicted to have lost belief in the other. Let them, therefore, who read that Jesus Christ the Son of man is man, read also that this same Jesus is called also God and the Son of God. For in the manner that as man He is of Abraham, so also as God He is before Abraham himself. And in the same manner as He is as man the "Son of David," [Mt 23.42ff.] so as God He is proclaimed David's Lord. And in the same manner as He was made as man "under the law," [Gal 4.4] so as God He is declared to be "Lord of the Sabbath." [Lk 6.5]. And in the same manner as He suffers, as man, the condemnation, so as God He is found to have all judgement of the quick and dead. And in the same manner as He is born as man subsequent to the world, so as God He is manifested to have been before the world. And in the same way as He was begotten as man of the seed of David, so also the world is said to have been ordained by Him as God. And in the same way as He was as man after many, so as God He was before all. And in the same manner as He was as man inferior to others, so as God He was greater than all. And in the same manner as He ascended as man into heaven, so as God He had first descended thence. And in the same manner as He goes as man to the Father, so as the Son in obedience to the Father He shall descend thence. So if imperfections in Him prove human frailty, majesties in Him affirm divine power. For the risk is, in reading of both, to believe not both, but one of the two. Wherefore as both are read of in Christ, let both be believed; that so finally the faith may be true, being also complete. For if of two principles one gives way in the faith, and the other, and that indeed which is of least importance, be taken up for belief, the rule of truth is thrown into confusion; and that boldness will not confer salvation, but instead of salvation will effect a great risk of death from the overthrow of the faith.
Chapter 31 -- Argument -- But that God, the Son of God, Born of God the Father from Everlasting, Who Was Always in the Father, is the Second Person to the Father, Who Does Nothing Without His Father's Decree; And that He is Lord, and the Angel of God's Great Counsel, to Whom the Father's Godhead is Given by Community of Substance.
a. Thus God the Father, the Founder and Creator of all things, who only knows no beginning, invisible, infinite, immortal, eternal, is one God; to whose greatness, or majesty, or power, I would not say nothing can be preferred, but nothing can be compared; of whom, when He willed it, the Son, the Word, was born, who is not received in the sound of the stricken air, or in the tone of voice forced from the lungs, but is acknowledged in the substance of the power put forth by God, the mysteries of whose sacred and divine nativity neither an apostle has learnt, nor prophet has discovered, nor angel has known, nor creature has apprehended. To the Son alone they are known, who has known the secrets of the Father. He then, since He was begotten of the Father, is always in the Father. And I thus say always, that I may show Him not to be unborn, but born. But He who is before all time must be said to have been always in the Father; for no time can be assigned to Him who is before all time. And He is always in the Father, unless the Father be not always Father, only that the Father also precedes Him, -- in a certain sense, -- since it is necessary -- in some degree -- that He should be before He is Father. Because it is essential that He who knows no beginning must go before Him who has a beginning; even as He is the less as knowing that He is in Him, having an origin because He is born, and of like nature with the Father in some measure by His nativity, although He has a beginning in that He is born, inasmuch as He is born of that Father who alone has no beginning.
b. He, then, when the Father willed it, proceeded from the Father, and He who was in the Father came forth from the Father; and He who was in the Father because He was of the Father, was subsequently with the Father, because He came forth from the Father, -- that is to say, that divine substance whose name is the Word, whereby all things were made, and without whom nothing was made. For all things are after Him, because they are by Him. And reasonably, He is before all things, but after the Father, since all things were made by Him, and He proceeded from Him of whose will all things were made. Assuredly God proceeding from God, causing a person second to the Father as being the Son, but not taking from the Father that characteristic that He is one God. For if He had not been born -- compared with Him who was unborn, an equality being manifested in both -- He would make two unborn beings, and thus would make two Gods. If He had not been begotten -- compared with Him who was not begotten, and as being found equal -- they not being begotten, would have reasonably given two Gods, and thus Christ would have been the cause of two Gods. Had He been formed without beginning as the Father, and He Himself the beginning of all things as is the Father, this would have made two beginnings, and consequently would have shown to us two Gods also. Or if He also were not the Son, but the Father begetting from Himself another Son, reasonably, as compared with the Father, and designated as great as He, He would have caused two Fathers, and thus also He would have proved the existence of two Gods. Had He been invisible, as compared with the Invisible, and declared equal, He would have shown forth two Invisibles, and thus also He would have proved them to be two Gods. If incomprehensible, if also whatever other attributes belong to the Father, reasonably we say, He would have given rise to the allegation of two Gods, as these people feign.
c. But now, whatever He is, He is not of Himself, because He is not unborn; but He is of the Father, because He is begotten, whether as being the Word, whether as being the Power, or as being the Wisdom, or as being the Light, or as being the Son; and whatever of these He is, in that He is not from any other source, as we have already said before, than from the Father, owing His origin to His Father, He could not make a disagreement in the divinity by the number of two Gods, since He gathered His beginning by being born of Him who is one God. In which kind, being both as well only -- begotten as first -- begotten of Him who has no beginning, He is the only one, of all things both Source and Head. And therefore He declared that God is one, in that He proved Him to be from no source nor beginning, but rather the beginning and source of all things. Moreover, the Son does nothing of His own will, nor does anything of His own determination; nor does He come from Himself, but obeys all His Father's commands and precepts; so that, although birth proves Him to he a Son, yet obedience even to death declares Him the minister of the will of His Father, of whom He is. Thus making Himself obedient to His Father in all things, although He also is God, yet He shows the one God the Father by His obedience, from whom also He drew His beginning. And thus He could not make two Gods, because He did not make two beginnings, seeing that from Him who has no beginning He received the source of His nativity before all time. For since that is the beginning to other creatures which is unborn, -- which God the Father only is, being beyond a beginning of whom He is who was born, -- while He who is born of Him reasonably comes from Him who has no beginning, proving that to be the beginning from which He Himself is, even although He is God who is born, yet He shows Him to be one God whom He who was born proved to be without a beginning. He therefore is God, but begotten for this special result, that He should be God.
d. He is also the Lord, but born for this very purpose of the Father, that He might be Lord. He is also an Angel, but He was destined of the Father as an Angel to announce the Great Counsel of God. And His divinity is thus declared, that it may not appear by any dissonance or inequality of divinity to have caused two Gods. For all things being subjected to Him as the Son by the Father, while He Himself, with those things which are subjected to Him, is subjected to His Father, He is indeed proved to be Son of His Father; but He is found to be both Lord and God of all else. Whence, while all things put under Him are delivered to Him who is God, and all things are subjected to Him, the Son refers all that He has received to the Father, remits again to the Father the whole authority of His divinity. The true and eternal Father is manifested as the one God, from whom alone this power of divinity is sent forth, and also given and directed upon the Son, and is again returned by the communion of substance to the Father. God indeed is shown as the Son, to whom the divinity is beheld to be given and extended. And still, nevertheless, the Father is proved to be one God; while by degrees in reciprocal transfer that majesty and divinity are again returned and reflected as sent by the Son Himself to the Father, who had given them; so that reasonably God the Father is God of all, and the source also of His Son Himself whom He begot as Lord. Moreover, the Son is God of all else, because God the Father put before all Him whom He begot. Thus the Mediator of God and men, Christ Jesus, having the power of every creature subjected to Him by His own Father, inasmuch as He is God; with every creature subdued to Him, found at one with His Father God, has, by abiding in that condition that He moreover "was heard," [Heb 5.7] briefly proved God His Father to be one and only and true God.
- Arius, Athanasius & Hilary -
Readings: Studer. Trinity & Incarnation. Chp. 9 & 10; Kelly. Early Xian Doctrines. Chp 9.1-6; 11.1-3.
1. Are the authors beginning to use terms such as "nature" and "person"? What are the other ways they describe the reality of humanity and divinity?
2. How is the union of two natures described (eg. a mixture, communion, unclear, etc.) in the authors? Do they teach a form of the communion of properties?
3. Why is rejecting the notion that Christ was a mere "creature" (human) so important? How is this related to the virginity of Mary? And yet, why is a stress on the reality of his humanity also affirmed?
4. Why do they affirm the immpassibility of the divinity? How do they then explain the suffering and death of Christ?
5. Which Scriptural texts to they appeal to the most? Could these texts be interpreted in support of their opponent's positions?
6. Does Hilary think that Christ could raise himself? How does he explain this?
Athanasius of Alexandria (+373)
Letter to Maximus
1. To our beloved and most truly longed-for son, Maximus, philosopher, Athanasius greeting in the Lord. Having read the letter which arrived from you, I approve your piety: but, marvelling at the rashness of those who understand neither what they say nor whereof they confidently affirm, I had really decided to say nothing. For to reply upon matters which are so plain and which are clearer than light, is simply to give an excuse for shamelessness to such lawless men. ... Accordingly for some time I delayed, and have reluctantly yielded to your zeal for the truth, in view of the argumentativeness of men without shame. ... But if even after this they will not give in, yet do you remember the apostolic injunction, and "a man that is heretical after a first and second admonition refuse, knowing that such an one is perverted and sinned being self-condemned (see Titus 2.10-11)." For if they are Gentiles, or of the Judaisers, who are thus daring, let them, as Jews, think the Cross of Christ a stumbling-block, or as Gentiles, foolishness. But if they pretend to be Christians let them learn that the crucified Christ is at once "Lord of Glory," (1 Cor 2.8) and the power of God and wisdom of God ([cf. 1 Cor 1.24).
2. But if they are in doubt whether he is God at all, let them reverence Thomas, who handled the crucified and pronounced him Lord and God [cf. Jn 20.2]). Or let them fear the Lord himself, who said, after washing the feet of the disciples: "You call me Lord and teacher, and you say well, for so I am (Jn 13.13)." But in the same body in which he was when he washed their feet, he also carried up our sins to the Tree (Jn 13.13). And he was witnessed to as Lord of creation, in that the sun withdrew his beams and the earth trembled and the rocks were rent, and the executioners recognized that the crucified was truly Son of God. For the body they beheld was not that of some human being, but of God; since God was in that Body, when he was crucified, he raised the dead. Accordingly it is evil of them to say that the Word of God came into a certain holy man; for this was true of each of the prophets and of the other saints, and on that assumption he would clearly be born and die in the case of each one of them. But this is not so, far be the thought. But once for all "at the consummation of the ages, to put away sin, the Word was made flesh (Heb 8.3 & Jn 1.14) and proceeded forth from Mary the Virgin, human after our likeness, as also he said to the Jews, "Why do you seek to kill Me, a man that has told you the truth (Jn 8.40)?" We are made divine not by participating in the body of some man, but by receiving the body of the Word itself.
3.a. And at this also I am much surprised, how they have ventured to entertain such an idea as that the Word's becoming human was quite simply natural. For if this were so, the commemoration of Mary would be superfluous. For neither does nature know of a Virgin giving birth apart from a man. Because of the Father's good will, being true God, and Word and wisdom of the Father by nature, he became a human being with a true body for our salvation, in order that having something to offer [cf. Heb 8.3] for us he might save us all, who "through fear of death were subject to slavery for our whole life long (Heb 2.15)." For it was not some man that gave himself up for us; since every man is under sentence of death, according to what was said to all in Adam, "You are earth and to earth you shall return (Gen 3.19)." Nor yet was it any other of the creatures, since every creature is liable to change. But the Word himself offered His own Body on our behalf that our faith and hope might not be in human being, but that we might have our faith in the divine Word itself.
b. Why, even now that he is become man we behold His Glory, "glory as of one only- begotten of His Father---full of grace and truth [cf. Jn 1.14]." For what he endured by means of the Body, he magnified as God. And while he hungered in the flesh, as God he fed the hungry. And if anyone is offended by reason of the bodily reality should believe by reason of the actions of God. For as a human he enquires where Lazarus was laid, but raised him up through divine power. Let no one then laugh, calling him a child, and citing his age, his growth, his eating, drinking and suffering, lest while denying what is proper for the body, he deny utterly also his sojourn among us. And just as he has not become human in consequence of his nature, in like manner it was consistent that when he had taken a body he should display what was proper to it, lest the imaginary incarnation-theory of Manichaeus should prevail. Again it was consistent that when he went about in the body, he should not conceal his divinity, lest he [Paul] of Samosata should find an excuse to call him man, as distinct in person from God the Word.
4. Let then the unbelievers perceive this, and learn that while as a babe he lay in a manger, he was worshipped by the Magi and made them subject to him; and while as a child he came down to Egypt, he brought to nought the handmade objects of its idolatry: and crucified in the flesh, he raised the dead long since turned to corruption. And it has been made plain to all that not for his own sake but for ours he underwent all things, so that we, by his sufferings, might put on freedom from suffering and incorruptibility, and might live eternal life.
Letter to Adelphius
1. We have read what your reverence has written to us, and genuinely approve your piety toward Christ. And above all we glorify God, who has given you such grace as not only to have right opinions, but also, so far as that is possible, not to be ignorant of the devices of the devil. But we marvel at the perversity of the heretics, seeing that they have fallen into such a pit of impiety that they no longer retain even their senses, but have their understanding corrupted on all sides. ... How have they even ventured to utter this new blasphemy against the Saviour? ... For formerly, while denying the Godhead of the only-begotten Son of God, they pretended at any rate to acknowledge his coming in the Flesh. But now, gradually going from bad to worse, they have fallen from this opinion of theirs, and become godless on all hands, so as neither to acknowledge him as God, nor to believe that he has become man. For if they believed this they would not have uttered such things as your reverence has reported against them.
2. You, however, beloved and most truly longed-for, have done what befitted the tradition of the Church and your piety toward the Lord, in refuting, admonishing, and rebuking such men. ...[Let] them learn from your piety that this error of theirs belongs to Valentinus and Marcion, and to Manichaeus, of whom some substituted [the idea of] appearance for reality, while the others, dividing what is indivisible, denied the truth that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (Jn 1.14)." Why then, as they hold with those people, do they not also take up the heritage of their names? For it is reasonable, as they hold their error, to have their names as well. And for the future to be called Valentinians, Marcionists, and Manichaeans.
3. a. We do not worship a creature: that would be impossible. For such an error belongs to heathens and Arians. But we worship the Lord of creation, the Word of God become flesh. For if the flesh also is in itself a part of the created world, it has nonetheless become God's body. And we neither divide the body, being such, from the Word, and worship it by itself, nor when we wish to worship the Word do we set him far apart from the flesh, but knowing, as we said above, that "the Word was made flesh," we recognize him as God, even after its coming into being in flesh.
b. Who, accordingly, is so senseless as to say to the Lord: "Leave the body that I may worship you" or so impious as to join the Jews in saying, on account of the body, "Why do you, being a man, make yourself God (Jn 10.33)?" But the leper was not one of this sort, for he worshipped God in the body, and recognize that he was God, saying, "Lord, if you will it you can make me clean (Mt 8.2)." Neither by reason of the flesh did he think the Word of God a creature: nor because the Word was the maker of all creation did he despise the flesh which he had put on. But he worshipped the Creator of the universe as dwelling in a created temple, and was cleansed. So also the woman with an issue of blood, who believed, and only touched the hem of his garment, was healed (Mt 9.20ff.), and the sea with its foaming waves heard the incarnate Word, and ceased its storm (Mt 8.26), while the man blind from birth was healed by the fleshly spitting of the Word (Jn 9.6ff.). And, what is greater and more startling (for perhaps this even offended those most impious men), even when the Lord was hanging upon the actual cross---for it was his body and the Word was in it---the sun was darkened and the earth shook, the rocks were rent, and the veil of the temple rent, and many bodies of the saints who had died arose [cf. Mt 27.51-52; Lk 23.45].
4. a. These things then happened, and no one doubted, as the Arians now venture to doubt, whether one is to believe the incarnate Word; but even from beholding the man, they recognize that he was their maker, and when they heard a human voice, they did not, because it was human, say that the Word was a creature. On the contrary, they trembled, and recognized nothing less than that it was being uttered from a holy temple. How then can the impious fail to fear lest "as they refused to have God in their knowledge, they may be given up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting (Rom 1.28)?" For creation does not worship a creature. Nor again did she on account of his flesh refuse to worship her Lord. But she beheld her maker in the body, and "in the name of Jesus every knee" bowed, and "shall bow,"of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess," whether the Arians approve or not, "that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2.10-11)."
b. For the flesh did not diminish the glory of the Word---far be the thought. On the contrary, it was glorified by him. Nor did the divinity diminish, when the Son, who was in the form of God, assumed the form of a slave [kenosis: Phil 2.6-7]. On the contrary, he became the liberator of all flesh and of all creation. And if God sent the Son brought forth from a woman, this fact causes us no shame but rather glory and great grace. For he has become man, that he might deify us in himself, and he has been born of a woman, and begotten of a Virgin, in order to transfer to himself our erring generation, and that we may become henceforth a holy race, and "sharers in the divine nature," as blessed Peter wrote (2 Pet 1.4). And "what the law could not do, in that it was weak because of the flesh, God [did] sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, and he condemned sin in the flesh (Rom 8.3)."
8.a. ... Therefore he that dishonours the temple dishonours the Lord in the temple; and he that separates the Word from the body rejects the grace given to us through the Word. And let not the most impious Arian madmen suppose that, since the body is created, the Word also is a creature, nor let them, because the Word is not a creature, disparage his body. For their error is matter for wonder, in that they at once confuse and disturb everything, and devise pretexts only in order to number the Creator among the creatures.
b. But let them listen. If the Word were a creature, he would not assume the created body to give life to it. For what help can creatures derive from a creature that itself needs salvation? But since the Word being Creator has himself made the creatures, therefore also at the consummation of the ages he put on the creature, that he as Creator might once more consecrate it, and be able to recover it. But a creature could never be saved by a creature, any more than the creatures were created by a creature, if the Word was not creator.
c. Accordingly, let them not lie against the divine Scriptures nor give offence to simple brethren; but if they are willing, let them change their minds, and no longer worship the creature instead of God who created all things. But if they wish to abide by their impieties, let them alone take their fill of them, and let them gnash their teeth like their father the devil, because the faith of the catholic Church knows that the Word of God is creator and maker of all things; and we know that while "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God" (Jn 1.1), now that he has become also man for our salvation, we worship him, not as though he had become an equal in an equal body, but as Lord, assuming the form of the servant, and as maker and Creator coming in a creature in order that, in it delivering all things, he might bring the world closer to the Father, and make all things to be at peace, things in heaven and things on the earth. For thus also we acknowledge the divinity he shares with the Father, and worship his presence in the flesh, even if the Arian madmen burst themselves in sunder.
Against the Arians
Chapter 26— Introductory to Texts from the Gospels on the Incarnation.
26. a. For behold, as if not wearied in their words of irreligion, but hardened with Pharaoh, while they hear and see the Saviour's human attributes in the Gospels, they have utterly forgotten, like the Samosatene, the Son's paternal Godhead, and with arrogant and audacious tongue they say, "How can the Son be from the Father by nature, and be like him in essence, who says, 'All power is given unto Me' [Mt 28.18]; and 'The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son' [Jn 5.22]; and 'The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand; he that believeth in the Son has everlasting life' [Jn 3.35-36]; and again, 'All things were delivered unto Me of My Father, and no one knows the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him' [Mt 11.27]; and again, 'All that the Father has given unto Me, shall come to Me [Jn 6.37].'" On this they observe, "If he was, as you say, Son by nature, he had no need to receive, but he had by nature as a Son."
b. Or how can he be the natural and true Power of the Father, who near upon the season of the passion says, "'Now is My soul troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour; but for this came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy Name.' Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, 'I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again [Jn 12.27-8].'" And he said the same another time; "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me;" [Mt 26.39] and "When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit and testified and said, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.'" [Jn 13.21] Then these perverse men argue; "If he were Power, he had not feared, but rather he had supplied power to others."
c. Further they say; "If he were by nature the true and own Wisdom of the Father, how is it written, 'And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man?'" [Lk 2.52] In like manner, when he had come into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked the disciples whom men said that he was; and when he was at Bethany he asked where Lazarus lay; and he said besides to His disciples, "How many loaves have ye? [Mk 6.38] "How then," say they, "is he Wisdom, who increased in wisdom and was ignorant of what he asked of others?"
d. This too they urge; "How can he be the own Word of the Father, without whom the Father never was, through whom he makes all things, as ye think, who said upon the Cross 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?' [Mt 27.46] and before that had prayed, 'Glorify Thy Name,' [Jn 12.28] and, 'O Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.'" [Jn 17.5] And he used to pray in the deserts and charge his disciples to pray lest they should enter into temptation; and, "The spirit indeed is willing," he said, "but the flesh is weak." And, "Of that day and that hour knows no man, no, nor the Angels, neither the Son." [Mk 13.32]
e. Upon this again say the miserable men, "If the Son were, according to your interpretation, eternally existent with God, he had not been ignorant of the Day, but had known as Word; nor had been forsaken as being coexistent; nor had asked to receive glory, as having it in the Father; nor would have prayed at all; for, being the Word, he had needed nothing; but since he is a creature and one of things originate, therefore he thus spoke, and needed what he had not; for it is proper to creatures to require and to need what they have not."
27. a. This then is what the irreligious men allege in their discourses; and if they thus argue, they might consistently speak yet more daringly; "Why did the Word become flesh at all?" and they might add; "For how could he, being God, become man?" or, "How could the Immaterial bear a body?" or they might speak with Caiaphas still more Judaically, "Wherefore at all did Christ, being a man, make himself God?" [cf. Jn 10.33] for this and the like the Jews then muttered when they saw, and now the Ariomaniacs disbelieve when they read, and have fallen away into blasphemies.
b. If then a man should carefully parallel the words of these and those, he will of a certainty find them both arriving at the same unbelief, and the daring of their irreligion equal, and their dispute with us a common one. For the Jews said; "How, being a man, can he be God?" And the Arians, "If he were very God from God, how could he become man?"
c. And the Jews were offended then and mocked, saying, "Had he been Son of God, he had not endured the 'Cross.'" And the Arians standing over against them, urge upon us, "How dare ye say that he is the Word proper to the Father's Essence, who had a body, so as to endure all this?" ... Again, whereas the Jews said, "Is not this the Son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?" How then is it that he said, "Before Abraham was, I am, and I came down from heaven?" [Jn 8.58] The Arians on the other hand make response and say conformably, "How can he be Word or God who slept as man, and wept, and inquired?" Thus both parties deny the Eternity and Godhead of the Word in consequence of those human attributes which the Saviour took on him by reason of that flesh which he bore.
28. a. ... [The truth will illuminate you once you see it], then at once will truth shine on you out of darkness, and ye will no longer reproach us with holding "two Eternals," but ye will yourselves acknowledge that the Lord is God's true Son by nature, and not as merely eternal, but revealed as co-existing in the Father's eternity. For there are things called eternal of which he is Framer; for in the twenty-third Psalm it is written, "Lift up your gates, O you rulers, and be lifted up, everlasting gates;" [Ps 24.7] and it is plain that through him these things were made; but if even of things everlasting he is the Framer, who of us shall be able henceforth to dispute that he is anterior to those things eternal, and in consequence is proved to be Lord not so much from His eternity, as in that lie is God's Son; for being the Son, he is inseparable from the Father, and never was there when he was not [v.s Arius], but he was always; and being the Father's Image and Radiance, he has the Father"s eternity.
b. Now what has been briefly said above may suffice to show their misunderstanding of the passages they then alleged; and that of what they now allege from the Gospels they certainly give an unsound interpretation, we may easily see, if we now consider the scope of that faith which we Christians hold, and using it as a rule, apply ourselves, as the Apostle teaches, to the reading of inspired Scripture. For Christ's enemies, being ignorant of this scope, have wandered from the way of truth, and have stumbled on a stone of stumbling, thinking otherwise than they should think.
29. a. Now the scope and character of Holy Scripture, as we have often said, is this,—it contains a double account of the Saviour; that he was ever God, and is the Son, being the Father's Word and Radiance and Wisdom; and that afterwards for us he took flesh of a Virgin, Mary Bearer of God [Theotokos-Mother of God], and was made man.
b. And this scope is to be found throughout inspired Scripture, as the Lord himself has said, "Search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of Me." [Jn 5.39] But lest I should exceed in writing, by bringing together all the passages on the subject, let it suffice to mention as a specimen, first John saying, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was made not one thing." [Jn 1.1-3] Next, "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of one Only- begotten from the Fathers;" and next Paul writing, "Who being in the form of God, thought it not a prize to be equal with God, but emptied himself [kenosis], taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion like a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross." [Phil 2.6-8]
c. Any one, beginning with these passages and going through the whole of the Scripture upon the interpretation which they suggest, will perceive how in the beginning the Father said to him, "Let there be light," and "Let there be a firmament," and "Let us make man;" [cf. Genesis] but in fulness of the ages, he sent him into the world, not that he might judge the world, but that the world by him might be saved, and how it is written "Behold, the Virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his Name Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us." [Mt 1.23]
30.a. The reader then of divine Scripture may acquaint himself with these passages from the ancient books; and from the Gospels on the other hand he will perceive that the Lord became a human being; for "the Word," he says, "became flesh, and dwelt among us." [Jn 1.14]
b. And he became human, and did not come into human being [v.s. an "adoptionism"]; for this it is necessary to know, lest perchance these irreligious men fall into this notion also, and beguile any into thinking, that, as in former times the Word was used to come into each of the Saints, so now he sojourned in a man, hallowing him also, and manifesting himself as in the others. For if it were so, and he only appeared in a man, it were nothing strange, nor had those who saw him been startled, saying, "Where does he come from?" [Mk 4.41] and "wherefore do you, being a man, make yourself God?" [Jn 10.33] for they were familiar with the idea, from the words, "And the Word of the Lord came" to this or that of the Prophets.
c. But now, since the Word of God, by whom all things came to be, endured to become also Son of man, and humbled himself, taking a servant's form [kenosis], therefore to the Jews the Cross of Christ is a scandal, but to us Christ is "God"s power" and "God"s wisdom;" [1 Cor 23-34] for "the Word," as John says, "became flesh" (it being the custom of Scripture to call man by the name of "flesh," as it says by Joel the Prophet, "I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh;" [Joel 2.28] and as Daniel said to Astyages, "I do not worship idols made with hands, but the Living God, who has created the heaven and the earth, and has sovereignty over all flesh;" for both he and Joel call mankind flesh).
31.a. In former times he came to be with the Saints individually, and to hallow those who rightly received him; but neither, when they were begotten was it said that he had become man, nor, when they suffered, was it said that he himself suffered. But when he came among us from Mary once and for all for the summing up [recapitulation-anakephalaiosis] of all ages and for the abolition of sin [Heb 9.26] (for so it was pleasing to the Father, to send His own Son made of a woman, made under the Law [cf. Gal 4.4]), then it is said, that he took flesh and became man, and in that flesh he suffered for us (as Peter says, "Christ therefore having suffered for us in the flesh" [1 Pet 4.1], that it might be shewn, and that all might believe, that whereas he was ever God, and hallowed those to whom he came, and ordered all things according to the Father's will, afterwards for our sakes he became human, and "the Godhead dwelt bodily" [Col 2.9], as the Apostle says, in the flesh. This is as much as to say, "Being God, he had his own body, and using this as an instrument, he became human for our sakes."
b. And on account of this, the properties of the flesh are said to be his, since he was in it, such as to hunger, to thirst, to suffer, to weary, and the like, of which the flesh is capable; while on the other hand the works proper to the Word himself, such as to raise the dead, to restore sight to the blind, and to cure the woman with an issue of blood, he did through His own body. And the Word bore the infirmities of the flesh, as his own, for his was the flesh; and the flesh ministered to the works of the Godhead, because the Godhead was in it, for the body was God's. [the above is an expression of the "communion of properties"].
c. And well has the Prophet said "carried [or bore];" and has not said, "He remedied our infirmities," [Mk 8.17] lest, as being external to the body, and only healing it, as he has always done, he should leave humanity subject still to death; but he carries our infirmities, and he himself bears our sins, [Is 53.4] that it might be shown that he has become man for us, and that the body which in him bore them, was his own body; and, while he received no hurt himself by "bearing our sins in His body on the tree," [1 Pet 2.24] as Peter speaks, we men were redeemed from our own affections, and were filled with the righteousness of the Word.
32.a. Whence it was that, when the flesh suffered, the Word was not external to it; and therefore is the passion said to be his: and when he did divinely His Father's works, the flesh was not external to him, but in the body itself did the Lord do them. Hence, when made human, he said, "If I do not the works of the Father, believe Me not; but if I do, though you believe not Me, believe the works, that you may know that the Father is in me and I in him." [Jn 10.37-38] And thus when there was need to raise Peter's wife's mother, who was sick of a fever, he stretched forth his hand humanly, but he stopped the illness divinely. And in the case of the man blind from the birth, human was the spittle which he gave forth from the flesh, but divinely did he open the eyes through the clay. And in the case of Lazarus, he gave forth a human voice as human; but divinely, as God, did he raise Lazarus from the dead. These things were so done, were so manifested, because he had a body, not in appearance, but in truth [v.s. docetism]; and it became the Lord, in putting on human flesh, to put it on whole with the affections proper to it; that, as we say that the body was His own, so also we may say that the affections of the body were proper to him alone, though they did not touch him according to His Godhead.
b. If then the body had been another's, to him too had been the affections attributed; but if the flesh is the Word's (for "the Word became flesh"), of necessity then the affections also of the flesh are ascribed to him, whose the flesh is. And to whom the affections are ascribed, such namely as to be condemned, to be scourged, to thirst, and the cross, and death, and the other infirmities of the body, of him too is the triumph and the grace. For this cause then, consistently and fittingly such affections are ascribed not to another, but to the Lord; that the grace also may be from him, and that we may become, not worshippers of any other, but truly devout towards God, because we invoke no originate thing, no ordinary human, but the natural and true Son from God, who has become human, yet is not the less Lord and God and Saviour.
33.a. Who will not admire this? or who will not agree that such a thing is truly divine? for if the works of the Word's Godhead had not taken place through the body, humanity had not been deified; and again, had not the properties of the flesh been ascribed to the Word, humanity had not been thoroughly delivered from them; but though they had ceased for a little while, as I said before, still sin had remained in him and corruption, as was the case with mankind before him. This is obvious.
b. Many for instance have been made holy and clean from all sin; nay, Jeremiah was hallowed even from the womb, and John, while yet in the womb, leapt for joy at the voice of Mary Bearer of God; nevertheless "death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression;" [Rom 5.14] and thus man remained mortal and corruptible as before, liable to the affections proper to their nature.
c. But now the Word having become man and having appropriated what pertains to the flesh, no longer do these things touch the body, because of the Word who has come in it, but they are destroyed by him, and henceforth men no longer remain sinners and dead according to their proper affections, but having risen according to the Word's power, they abide ever immortal and incorruptible.
d. Whence also, whereas the flesh is born of Mary Bearer of God, he himself is said to have been born, who furnishes to others an origin of being; in order that he may transfer our origin into himself, and we may no longer, as mere earth, return to earth, but as being knit into the Word from heaven, may be carried to heaven by him. Therefore in like manner not without reason has he transferred to himself the other affections of the body also; that we, no longer as being men, but as proper to the Word, may have share in eternal life. For no longer according to our former origin in Adam do we die; but henceforward our origin and all infirmity of flesh being transferred to the Word, we rise from the earth, the curse from sin being removed, because of him who is in us, and who has become a curse for us [Gal 3.13]. And with reason; for as we are all from earth and die in Adam, so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit [1 Cor 15.22; Jn 3.5], in the Christ we are all quickened; the flesh being no longer earthly, but being henceforth made Word, by reason of God's Word who for our sake "became flesh."
34.a. And that one may attain to a more exact knowledge of the impassibility [= divine apatheia] of the Word's nature and of the infirmities ascribed to him because of the flesh, it will be well to listen to the blessed Peter; for he will be a trustworthy witness concerning the Saviour. He writes then in his Epistle thus; "Christ then having suffered for us in the flesh." [1 Pet 4.1] Therefore also when he is said to hunger and thirst and to toil and not to know, and to sleep, and to weep, and to ask, and to flee, and to be born, and to deprecate the cup, and in a word to undergo all that belongs to the flesh, let it be said, as is congruous, in each case "Christ then hungering and thirsting 'for us in the flesh;'" and saying he did not know, and being buffeted, and toiling "for us in the flesh;" and being exalted too, and born, and growing "in the flesh;" and "fearing and hiding "in the flesh;" and saying, "If it be possible let this cup pass from Me," and being beaten, and receiving, "for us in the flesh;" and in a word all such things "for us in the flesh." For on this account has the Apostle himself said, "Christ then having suffered," not in His Godhead, but "for us in the flesh," that these affections may be acknowledged as, not proper to the very Word by nature, but proper by nature to the very flesh.
b. Let no one then stumble at what belongs to man, but rather let a man know that in nature the Word himself is impassible, and yet because of that flesh which he put on, these things are ascribed to him, since they are proper to the flesh, and the body itself is proper to the Saviour. And while he himself, being impassible in nature, remains as he is, not harmed by these affections, but rather obliterating and destroying them, men, their passions as if changed and abolished in the impassible, henceforth become themselves also impassible and free from them for ever, as John taught, saying, "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him is no sin." [1 Jn 3.5] ...
35.a. These points we have found it necessary first to examine, that, when we see him doing or saying taught divinely through the instrument of His own body, we may know that he so works, being God, and also, if we see him speaking or suffering humanly, we may not be ignorant that he bore flesh and became a human being, and hence he so acts and so speaks. For if we recognise what is proper to each, and see and understand that both these things and those are done by one [agent], we are fight in our faith, and shall never stray. But if a man looking at what is done divinely by the Word, deny the body, or looking at what is proper to the body, deny the Word's presence in the flesh, or from what is human entertain low thoughts concerning the Word, such a one, as a Jewish vintner, mixing water with the wine, shall account the Cross an offence, or as a Gentile, will deem the preaching folly. This then is what happens to God's enemies the Arians; for looking at what is human in the Saviour, they have judged him a creature. Therefore they ought, looking also at the divine works of the Word, to deny the origination of His body, and henceforth to rank themselves with Manichees. But for them, learn they, however tardily, that "the Word became flesh;" and let us, retaining the general scope of the faith, acknowledge that what they interpret ill, has a right interpretation.
Chapter 27 - Texts Explained: Matthew 11. 27: John 3 35.
35 a. Consider these texts: For, "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand" [Jn 3.35]; and, "All things were given unto Me of My Father;" [Mt 11.27] and, "I can do nothing of Myself, but as I hear, I judge;" [Jn 5.30] and the like passages do not show that the Son once had not these prerogatives—for had not he eternally what the Father has, who is the only Word and Wisdom of the Father in essence, who also says, "All that the Father has are mine," [Jn 16.15] and what are mine, are the Father's? For if the things of the Father are the Son's and the Father has them ever, [cf Jn 16.15; 17.10] it is plain that what the Son has, being the Father's, were ever in the Son,—not then because once he had them not, did he say this, but because, whereas the Son has eternally what he has, yet he has them from the Father.
36. a. For lest a human, perceiving that the Son has all that the Father has, from the exact likeness and identity of that he has, should wander into the irreligion of Sabellius [=modalism], considering him to be the Father, therefore he has said "Was given unto Me," and "I received," and "Were delivered to Me," only to show that he is not the Father, but the Father's Word, and the Eternal Son, who because of His likeness to the Father, has eternally what he has from him, and because he is the Son, has from the Father what he has eternally.
b. Moreover that "Was given" and "Were delivered," and the like, do not impair the Godhead of the Son, but rather shew him to be truly Son, we may learn from the passages themselves. For if all things are delivered unto him, first, he is other than that all which he has received; next, being heir of all things, he alone is the Son and proper according to the Essence of the Father. For if he were one of all, then he were not "heir of all," but every one had received according as the Father willed and gave. But now, as receiving all things, he is other than them all, and alone proper to the Father.
c. Moreover that "Was given" and "Were delivered" do not show that once he had them not, we may conclude from a similar passage, and in like manner concerning them all; for the Saviour himself says, "As the Father has life in himself, so has he given also to the Son to have life in himself." [Jn 5.26] Now from the words "Has given," he signifies that he is not the Father; but in saying "so," he shows the Son's natural likeness and propriety towards the Father. If then once the Father had not, plainly the Son once had not; for as the Father, "so" also the Son has. But if this is irreligious to say, and religious on the contrary to say that the Father had ever, is it not unseemly in them when the Son says that, "as" the Father has, "so" also the Son has, to say that he has not "so," but otherwise? Rather then is the Word faithful, and all things which he says that he has received, he has always, yet has from the Father; and the Father indeed not from any, but the Son from the Father. For as in the instance of the radiance, if the radiance itself should say, "All places the light has given me to enlighten, and I do not enlighten from myself, but as the light wills," yet, in saying this, it does not imply that it once had not, but it means, "I am proper to the light, and all things of the light are mine;" so, and much more, must we understand in the instance of the Son. For the Father, having given all things to the Son, in the Son still has all things; and the Son having, still the Father has them; for the Son"s Godhead is the Father"s Godhead, and thus the Father in the Son exercises his Providence over all things. ...
40.a. Furthermore, the power which he said he received after the resurrection, that he had before he received it, and before the resurrection. For he of himself rebuked Satan, saying, "Get thee behind Me, Satan" [Mt 4.10]; and to the disciples he gave the power against him, when on their return he said, "I beheld Satan, as lightning, fall from heaven." [Lk 10.18]
b. And again, that what he said that he had received, that he possessed before receiving it, appears from His driving away the demons, and from His un-binding what Satan had bound, as he did in the case of the daughter of Abraham; and from His remitting sins, saying to the paralytic, and to the woman who washed His feet, "Thy sins be forgiven thee;" [Mt 9.5; Lk 7.48]and from His both raising the dead, and repairing the first nature of the blind, granting to him to see. And all this he did, not waiting till he should receive, but being "possessed of power."
c. From all this it is plain that what he had as Word, that when he had become man and was risen again, he says that he received humanly; that for His sake men might henceforward upon earth have power against demons, as having become partakers of a divine nature; [2 Pet 1.4] and in heaven, as being delivered from corruption, might reign everlastingly. [Rom 8.21] Thus we must acknowledge this once for all, that nothing which he says that he received, did he receive as not possessing before; for the Word, as being God, had them always; but in these passages he is said humanly to have received, that, whereas the flesh received in him, henceforth from it the gift might abide surely for us. For what is said by Peter, "receiving from God honour and glory, Angels being made subject unto him," [2 Pet 1.17; 1 Pet 3.22] has this meaning. As he inquired humanly, and raised Lazarus divinely, so "he received" is spoken of him humanly, but the subjection of the Angels marks the Word's Godhead.
41.a. Cease then, O abhorred of God, and degrade not the Word; nor detract from His Godhead, which is the Father's, as though he needed or were ignorant; lest ye be casting your own arguments against the Christ, as those who once stoned him. For these belong not to the Word, as the Word; but are proper to men and, as when he spat, and stretched forth the hand, and called Lazarus, we did not say that the triumphs were human, though they were done through the body, but were God's, so, on the other hand, though human things are ascribed to the Saviour in the Gospel, let us, considering the nature of what is said and that they are foreign to God, not impute them to the Word's Godhead, but to His manhood. For though "the Word became flesh," yet to the flesh are the affections proper; and though the flesh is possessed by God in the Word, yet to the Word belong the grace and the power. He did then the Father's works through the flesh; and as truly contrariwise were the affections of the flesh displayed in him; for instance, he inquired and he raised Lazarus, he chid His Mother, saying, "My hour is not yet come," and then at once he made the water wine. For he was verily God in the flesh, and he was true flesh in the Word. Therefore from His works he revealed both himself as Son of God, and his own Father, and from the affections of the flesh he showed that he bore a true body, and that it was His own.
Hilary of Poitiers (+366)
On the Trinity
24. In what remains we have the appointment of the Father's will. The virgin, the birth, the body, then the cross, the death, the visit to the lower world; these things are our salvation. For the sake of mankind the Son of God was born of tile virgin and of the Holy Spirit. In this process he ministered to himself; by His own power---the power of God---which overshadowed her, he sowed the beginning of his body, and entered on the first stage of his life in the flesh. He did it that by his incarnation he might take to himself from the virgin the fleshly nature, and that through the association produced by this mixture there might come into being a hallowed body of all humanity; that so through that Body which he was pleased to assume all mankind might be hid in him, and he in return, through His unseen existence, be reproduced in all. Thus the invisible image of God [cf. Col 1.15] did not reject not the shame which marks the beginnings of human life. He passed through every stage; through conception, birth, wailing, cradle and each successive humiliation.
25. What worthy return can we make for so great a condescension? The One Only-begotten God, ineffably born of God, entered the virgin's womb and grew and took the frame of poor humanity. He who upholds the universe, within whom and through whom are all things, was brought forth by common childbirth; he at whose voice archangels and angels tremble, and heaven and earth and all the elements of this world are melted, was heard in childish wailing. The invisible and incomprehensible, whom sight and feeling and touch cannot gauge, was wrapped in a cradle. If any person believes that this was unworthy of God will admit to being more obliged for such a great gift, to the extent that this is less consistent with God's majesty. He by whom humanity was made, had nothing to gain by becoming man; we need God to become incarnate and dwell among us, making all flesh his home by taking upon him the flesh of one person. We were raised because he was lowered; shame to him was glory to us. He, being God, made flesh his residence, and we in return are reconstituted from flesh to God.
3. We will offer later an explanation of these texts in the words of the Gospels and Epistles themselves. But first we hold it right to remind the members of our common faith, that the knowledge of the eternal is presented in the same confession which gives eternal life. One has absolutely no knowledge of one's life, if one does not know that Jesus Christ is true God as well as a true human being. It is equally perilous, whether we deny that Christ Jesus was God the Spirit as to deny that he was flesh of our body: "Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven (Mt 10.32-33)." So said the Word made flesh; so taught the man Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, constituted mediator in His own person for the salvation of the Church, and being in that very mystery of mediatorship between men and God, himself one Person, but both man and God. For he, being of two natures united for that mediatorship, is the full reality of each nature; while abiding in each, he is wanting in neither; he does not cease to be God because he becomes man, nor fail to be man because he remains for ever God. This is the true faith for human blessedness, to preach at once the Godhead and the manhood, to confess the Word and the flesh, neither forgetting the God, because he is man, nor ignoring the flesh, because he is the Word.
4. It is contrary to the nature of our experience, that he should be born man and still remain God; but it accords with the tenor of our expectation, that being born man, he still remained God, for when the higher nature is born into the lower, it is credible that the lower should also be born into the higher one. And, indeed, according to the laws and habits of nature, the working of our expectation even anticipates the divine mystery. For in every tiling that is born, nature has the capacity for increase, but has no power of decrease. Look at the trees, the crops, the cattle. Regard man himself, the possessor of reason. He always expands by growth, he does not contract by decrease; nor does he ever lose the self into which he has grown. He wastes indeed with age, or is cut off by death; he undergoes change by lapse of time, or reaches the end allotted to the constitution of life, yet it is not in his power to cease to be what he is; I mean that he cannot make a new self by decrease from his old self, that is, become a child again from an old man. So the necessity of perpetual increase, which is imposed on our nature by natural law, leads us on good grounds to expect its promotion into a higher nature, since its increase is according to, and its decrease contrary to, nature. It was God alone who could become something other than before, and yet not cease to be what he had ever been---who could shrink within the limits of womb, cradle, anti infancy, yet not depart from the power of God. This is a mystery, not for himself, but for us. The assumption of our nature was no advancement for God, but his willingness to lower himself is our promotion, for he did not resign his divinity but conferred divinity on man.
7. For our sake, therefore, Jesus Christ, retaining all these attributes, and being born man in our body, spoke after the fashion of our nature without concealing that the divinity belonged to his own nature. In his birth, his passion, and his death, he passed through all the circumstances of our nature, but he bore them all by the power of his own. He was himself the cause of his birth, he willed to suffer what he could not suffer, he died though he lives for ever. Yet God did all this not merely through man, for he was born of himself, he suffered of his own free will, and died of himself. He did it also as man, for he was really born, suffered and died. These were the mysteries of the secret counsels of heaven, determined before the world was made. The only-begotten God was to become man of his own will, and man was to abide eternally in God. God was to suffer of his own will, that the malice of the devil, working in the weakness of human infirmity, might not confirm the law of sin in us, since God had assumed our weakness. God was to die of his own will, that no power, after that the immortal God had constrained himself within the law of death, might raise up its head against him, or put forth the natural strength which he had created in it. Thus God was born to take us into himself, suffered to justify us, and died to avenge us; for our humanity abides for ever in him, the weakness of our infirmity is united with his strength, and the spiritual powers of iniquity and wickedness are subdued in the triumph of our flesh, since God died through the flesh [cf. Col 2.15]."
8. The Apostle [Paul], who knew this mystery, and had received the knowledge of the faith through the Lord himself; since he knew that neither the world, nor mankind, nor philosophy could grasp him, he wrote, "Take heed, lest there shall be any one that leads you astray through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Jesus Christ, for in him dwells all the fulness of the divinity bodily, and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principalities and powers (Col 2.8-10)." After the announcement that in Christ dwells all the fulness of the divinity bodily, follows immediately the mystery of our assumption, in the words, "in him you are made full." As the fulness of the divinity is in him, so we are made full in him. The apostle says not merely you are made full, but, in him you are made full; for all who are, or shall be, regenerated through the hope of faith to life eternal, abide even now in the body of Christ; and afterwards they shall be made full no longer in him, but in themselves, at the time of which the apostle says, "Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory (Phil 3.21)." Now, therefore, we are made full in him, that is, by the assumption of his flesh, for in him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. ... Every tongue shall confess this. But though all things in heaven and earth shall bow their knees to him, yet herein he is head of all principalities and powers, that to him the whole universe shall bow the knee in submission, in whom we are made full, who through the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him bodily, shall be confessed in the glory of God the Father.
9. But after the announcement of the mystery of Christ's nature, and our assumption, that is, the fulness of divinity abiding in Christ, and ourselves made full in him by his birth as man, the apostle continues the dispensation of human salvation in the words: "In whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the stripping off of the body of the flesh, but with the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, wherein you were also raised with him through faith through the action of God, who raised him from the dead (Col 2.11-12)." We are circumcised not with a fleshly circumcision but with the circumcision of Christ, that is, we are born again into a new man; for, being buried with him in his baptism, we must die to the old man, because the regeneration of baptism has the force of resurrection [cf. Rom 6.4-6]. The circumcision of Christ does not mean the putting off of foreskins, but to die entirely with him, and by that death to live henceforth entirely to him. For we rise again in him through faith in God, who raised him from the dead; wherefore we must believe in God, by whose action Christ was raised from the dead, for our faith rises again in and with Christ.
10.a. Then is completed the entire mystery of the assumption of humanity, "And you being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you I say, did he give life together with him, having, forgiven you all your trespasses, blotting out the bond written in ordinances, that was against us, which was contrary to us; and he has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross, and having put off from himself his flesh, he has made a show of powers, triumphing over them in himself (Col 2.13-15)." The worldly man cannot receive the faith of the apostle, nor can any language but that of the apostle explain his meaning. God raised Christ from the dead; Christ in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily. But he also gave us life together with him, forgiving us our sins, blotting out the bond of the law of sin, which stood against us ... , taking it out of the way, and fixing it to his cross, stripping himself of his flesh by the law of death, holding up the powers to display, and triumphing over them in himself. Concerning the powers and how he triumphed over them in himself, and held them up to display, and the bond which he blotted out, and the life which he gave us, we have already spoken.
b. But who can understand or express this mystery? The working of God raises Christ from the dead; the same working of God gives life to us together with Christ, forgives our sins, blots out the bond, and fixes it to the cross; he puts off from himself his flesh, holds up the powers to show, and triumphs over them in himself. We have the working of God raising Christ from the dead, and we have Christ working in himself the very things which God works in him, for it was Christ who died, stripping from himself His flesh. Hold fast then to Christ the man, raised from the dead by God, and hold fast to Christ the God, working out our salvation when he was yet to die. God works in Christ, but it is Christ who strips from himself His flesh and dies. It was Christ who died, and Christ who worked with the power of God before His death, yet it was the working of God which raised the dead Christ, and it was none other who raised Christ from the dead but Christ himself, who worked before His death, and put off his flesh to die.
11. Do you understand already the mysteries of the apostle's faith? Do you think to know Christ already? Tell me, then, who is it who strips from himself His flesh, and what is that flesh stripped off? I see two thoughts expressed by the apostle, the flesh stripped off, and him who strips it off: and then I hear of Christ raised from the dead by the working of God. If it is Christ who is raised from the dead, and God who raises him; who, pray, strips from himself the flesh? Who raises Christ from the dead, and gives us life with him? If the dead Christ be not the same as the flesh stripped off, tell me the name of the flesh stripped off, and expound me the nature of him who strips it off. I find that Christ the God, who was raised from the dead, is the same as he who stripped from himself his flesh, and that flesh, the same as Christ who was raised from the dead; then I see him holding principalities and powers up to show, and triumphing in himself. Do you understand this triumphing in himself? Do you perceive that the flesh stripped off, and he who strips it off, are not different from one another? He triumphs in himself, that is in that flesh which he stripped from himself. Do you see that thus are proclaimed his humanity and his divinity, that death is attributed to the man, and the life-giving of the flesh to the God, though he who dies and he who raises the dead to life are not two, but one person? The flesh stripped off is the dead Christ---he who raises Christ from the dead is the same Christ who stripped from himself the flesh. See his divine nature in the power to raise again, and recognize in his death the dispensation of his manhood. And though either function is performed by its proper nature, yet remember that he who died, and raised to life, was one, Christ Jesus.
12. I remember that the Apostle often refers to God the Father as raising Christ from the dead; but he is not inconsistent with himself or at variance with the Gospel faith, for the Lord himself says: "Therefore does the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one shall take it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command have I received from the Father (Jn 10.17-18)." And again, when asked to show a sign concerning himself, that they might believe in him, he says of the temple of his body, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up (Jn 2.19)." By the power to take his soul again and to raise the temple up, he declares himself God, and the resurrection his own work: yet he refers all to the authority of his Father's command. This is not contrary to the meaning of the apostle, when he proclaims Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1.24), thus referring all the magnificence of his work to the glory of the Father. For whatever Christ does, the power and the wisdom of God does; and whatever the power and the wisdom of God does, without doubt God himself does, whose power and wisdom Christ is. So Christ was raised from the dead by the working of God; for he himself worked the works of God the Father with a nature indistinguishable from God's. And our faith in the resurrection rests on the God who raised Christ from the dead.
13. It is this preaching of the double aspect of Christ's person which the blessed apostle emphasizes. He points out in Christ his human infirmity, and his divine power and nature. Thus to the Corinthians he wrote, "For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he lives through the power of God" (2 Cor 13.4), attributing his death to human infirmity, but his life to divine power. And again to the Romans, "For the death, that he died unto sin, he died once; but the life, that he lives, he lives unto God. But you consider yourselves as dead to sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus" (Rom 6.10-11), ascribing his death to sin, that is, to our body, but his life to God, whose nature it is to live. We ought, therefore, he says, to die to our body, that we may live to God in Christ Jesus, who after the assumption of our body of sin, lives now wholly unto God, uniting the nature he shared with us with the participation of divine immortality.