29 The next day he seeth Jesus coming to him.
In a very little time, the Baptist is declared to be Prophet alike and Apostle. For Whom he was heralding as coming, Him now come he points out. Therefore, he bounded beyond even the measure of prophets, as the Saviour Himself saith when discoursing with the Jews concerning him, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A prophet, yea, I say unto you and more than a prophet. For they in their times prophesied that Christ should be revealed, but he, crying that He shall come, also pointed Him out come. For the next day, saith he, he seeth Jesus coming to him.
And saith, Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world.
No longer has prepare ye the way fit place, since He at length is seen and is before the eyes for Whom the preparation is made: the nature of the thing began to need other words. It needed to explain, Who He is Who is come, and to whom He maketh His descent Who hath come to us from Heaven. Behold, therefore, saith he, the Lamb of God Which taketh away the sin of the world, Whom the Prophet Isaiah did signify to us, saying,He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb: Whom of old, too, saith he, the law of Moses typified, but then it saved in part, not extending mercy to all (for it was a type and shadow): but now He Who of old was dimly pictured, the very Lamb, the spotless Sacrifice, is led to the slaughter for all, that He might drive away the sin of the world, that He might overturn the destroyer of the earth, that dying for all He might bring to nought death, that He might undo the curse that is upon us, that He might at length end Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return, that He might become the second Adam, not of the earth, but from heaven, and might be the beginning of all good to the nature of man, deliverance from the imported corruption, Bestower of eternal life, foundation of our reconciliation to God, beginning of godliness and righteousness, way to the Kingdom of Heaven. For one Lamb died for all, saving the whole flock on earth to God the Father, One for all, that He might subject all to God, One for all, that He might gain all: that at length all should not henceforth live to themselves but to Him Which died for them and rose again. For since we were in many sins, and therefore due to death and corruption, the Father hath given the Son a redemption for us, One for all, since all are in Him, and He above all. One died for all, that all should live in Him. For death having swallowed up the Lamb for all, hath vomited forth all in Him and with Him. For all we were in Christ, Who on account of us and for us died and rose again. But sin being destroyed, how could it be that death which was of it and because of it should not altogether come to nothing? The root dying, how could the shoot yet survive? wherefore should we yet die, now that sin hath been destroyed? therefore jubilant in the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God we say: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? For all iniquity, as the Psalmist sings somewhere, shall stop her mouth, no longer able to accuse those who have sinned from infirmity. For it is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, that we might escape the curse from transgression.
30 This is He of Whom I said.
He leads the hearers to remembrance of his words, and yields to Christ the superiority in glory, accomplishing the work, not of love, but rather of truth and necessity. For the creature is subject, even if it willeth not, to the Creator? the bond to the Lord, the supplied to the Giver. But in what manner Christ was after John, but preferred before him, for He was before him, as himself confesseth, we have spoken sufficiently in what has preceded.
31 And I knew Him not, but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
He that leaped in the depth of the womb of his mother at the voice of the Holy Virgin while yet bearing the Lord, prophet before the travail-pang, disciple in the womb, says of the Saviour, I knew Him not, and says truly, for he does not lie. For God knows all things of Himself and untaught, but the creature, by being taught. For the Spirit indwelling in the Saints, fulfils what is lacking, and gives to human nature His Own good, I mean, knowledge of things to come, and of the hidden mysteries. Therefore the holy Baptist saying that he does not know the Lord, will by no means speak untruly, in regard of the property of human nature, and the measure befitting the creature, but will attribute the knowledge of all things to God Alone, Who through the Holy Ghost enlighteneth man to the apprehension of hidden things. And very profitably doth he say that of himself he knew not Christ, but is come for that very purpose, to make Him manifest to Israel, that he may not seem to run of his own accord to bear testimony, nor be thought by any the minister of his own will, but the worker of the Divine dispensation, the minister of the Counsel from above revealing to him the Lamb Which taketh away the sin of the world.
In order therefore that the Jews may the more easily come to believe on our Saviour Christ, and may have the most worthy conception of Him, he says that having not known Him, he knows Him, that they may understand then at length God Who revealed Him, and awestruck at the judgment from above, may receive his word concerning Him, and, seeing the servant so great, may proportionally estimate the Dignity of the Master. For his saying, that he was come to make Him manifest to Israel, how does it not denote the care belonging to a servant?
CHAPTER I. That the Holy Ghost is in the Son not by participation, not from without, but Essentially and by Nature.
32, 33 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven like a dove, and It abode upon Him. And I knew Him not: but He That sent me to baptize with water, the Same said unto me, Upon Whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, the Same is He Which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
Having said above that he knew Him not, he profitably explains and uncovers the Divine Mystery, both shewing that He Who told him was God the Father, and clearly relating the manner of the revelation. By all does he profit the mind of the headers; and whereby he says that the Mystery of Christ to men-ward was taught him of God, he shews that his opposers are fighting against the decree from above, and to their own peril arraying themselves against the mighty purpose of the Father. For this was the part of one skillfully persuading them to desist from their vain counsel, and to receive Him Who by the goodwill of the Father came for the salvation of all. He therefore testifieth, both that he saw the Spirit descending from Heaven upon Him, in the form of a Dove, and that It abode upon Him. Then besides, he says that himself was the ear-witness of Him Who sent himto baptize with water, that He upon Whom the Spirit came and abode upon Him is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. Most worthy of belief then the witness, supernatural the sign, above all the Father Who revealed.
And these things are thus. But perchance the heretic fond of carping will jump up, and with a big laugh, say; What again, sirs, say ye to this too, or what argument will ye bring forth, wresting that which is written? Lo, he saith that the Spirit descendeth upon the Son; lo, He is anointed by God the Father; That Which He hath not, He receives forsooth, the Psalmist co-witnessing with us and saying, as to Him: Wherefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. How then will the Son any more be Consubstantial with the Perfect Father, not being Himself Perfect, and therefore anointed? To this then I think it right to say to those who overturn the holy doctrines of the Church, and pervert the truth of the Scriptures: Awake, ye drunkards, from your wine, that viewing the clear beauty of the truth, ye may be able with us to cry to the Son: Of a truth Thou art the Son of God. For if thou fully believe that He is by Nature God, how will He not have perfection? For time is it that ye now speak impiously against the Father Himself also: for whence must He needs, as thou sayest, have perfection? how will He not be brought down to the abasement of His Offspring, which according to you is imperfect, in that the Divine Essence in the Son has once received the power of not having Perfection, according to your unlearned and uninstructed reasoning? For we will not divide that Great and Untaint Nature into different Words, so that it should be imperfect perchance in one, and again Perfect in the other. Since the definition of human nature too is one in respect of all men, and equal in all of us, what man will be less, qua man? but neither will he be considered more so than another. And I suppose that one angel will differ in nothing from another angel in respect of their being what they are, angels to wit, from sameness of nature, being all linked with one another unto one nature. How then can the Nature Which is Divine and surpassing all, shew Itself in a state inferior to things originate in Its own special good, and endure a condition which the creature cannot endure? How will It be at all simple and uncompounded, if Perfection and imperfection appear in It? For It will be compounded of both, since Perfection is not of the same kind as imperfection. For if they be of the same kind, and there be no difference between them, every thing which is perfect will without distinction be also imperfect: and if ought again be imperfect, this too will be perfect. And the charge against the Son will be nought, even though according to your surmisings He appear not Perfect: but neither will the Father Himself, though witnessed to in respect of His Perfection, surpass the Son, and there is an end of our dispute. But if much interval severs imperfection from perfection, and the Divine Nature admits both together, It is compound, and not simple.
But perchance some one will say, that contraries are incompatible, and not co-existent in one subject at the same time, as for instance in a body white and black skin together. Well, my friend, and very bravely hast thou backed up my argument. For if the Divine Nature be One, and there be none other than It, how, tell me, will It admit of contraries? How will things unlike to one another come together into one subject? But since the Father is by Nature God, the Son too is by Nature God. He will therefore in nothing differ, in respect of being Perfect, from the Father, since He is begotten of His Divine and most Perfect Essence. For must not He needs be Perfect Who is of a Perfect Parent, since He is both His exact Likeness,and the express Image of His Person, as it is written? But every one will I suppose consent and agree to this. Or let him come forward and say, how the Son is the exact Image of the Perfect Father, not having Perfection in His Own Nature, according to the uncounsel of some. For since He is the Impress and Image, He is Himself too perfect as He, Whose Image He is.
But, says one, John saw the Spirit descending from Heaven upon the Son, and He has Sanctification from without, for He receives it as not having it. Time then is it to call Him openly a creature, barely honoured with a little excellence, perfected and sanctified in equal rank with the rest, and having His supply of good things an acquired one. Then how does the Evangelist not lie, when he says, Of His fulness have all we received? For how will He be full in His Own Nature, Who Himself receiveth from Another? Or how will God be at all conceived of as Father if the Only-Begotten is a creature, and not rather Son? For if this be so, both Himself will be falsely called Father, and the Son will not be Truth, having upon Him a spurious dignity, and a title of bare words. The whole therefore will come to nothing; the Father being neither truly father, nor the Son this by Nature, which He is said to be. But if God be truly Father, He surely has whereof He is Father, the Son, that is, of Himself.
Then how will the Godhead Holy by Nature beget that of Itself which is void of holiness, and bring forth Its own Fruit destitute of Its own inherent Properties? For if He hath sanctification from without, as they babbling say;—-they must needs confess, even against their will, that He Was not always holy, but became so afterwards, when the Spirit descended upon Him, as John saith. How then was the Son holy even before the Incarnation? for so did the Seraphim glorify Him, repeating the Holy, in order, from the first to the third time. If then He was holy, even before the Incarnation, yea rather being ever with the Father, how needed He a sanctifier, and this in the last times, when He became Man? I marvel how this too escapes them, with all their love of research. For must we not needs conceive, that the Son could at any time reject sanctification, if it be not in Him essentially, but came to Him as it does to us, or any other reasonable creature? But that which falls away from sanctification, will it not be altogether under the bonds of sin, and sink to the worse, no longer retaining power to be apart from vice? Therefore neither will the Son be found to be unchangeable, and the Psalmist will lie crying in the Spirit as to Him, But Thou art the Same.
Besides what has been already said, let this too be considered, for it brings in a kindred idea: All reasoning will demonstrate that the partaken is somewhat other by nature than the partaker. For if this be not true, but that shall in no wise differ from this, and is the same; that which partakes of ought partakes of itself, which is incredible even to think of (for how can any one be imagined to partake of himself?). But if the things mentioned lie altogether in natural diversity one to another, and the necessity of reasoning separates them, let them who give the Spirit by participation to the Only-Begotten, see to what a depth of impiety they sink unawares. For if the Son is partaker of the Spirit, and the Spirit is by Nature holy, He Himself will not be by Nature holy, but is shewn to be hardly so through combination with another, transelemented by grace to the better, than that wherein He was at first. But let the fighter against God again see, into how great impiety the question casts him down. For first some change and turning, as we said before, will be found to exist respecting the Son. And being according to you changed, and having advanced unto the better, He will be shewn to be not only not inferior to the Father, but even somehow to have become superior: and how this is, we will say, taking it from the Divine Scripture. The divine Paul says somewhere of Him: Be each among you so 1 minded, according to what was also in Christ Jesus, Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself. Since then even before the Incarnation, He was in the form and equality of the Father, but at the time of the Incarnation receiving the Spirit from Heaven was sanctified, according to them, and became by reason of this better alike and greater than Himself, He surpasses at length it is plain even the measure of His Father. And if on receiving the Spirit He mounted up unto dignity above that of the Father, then is the Spirit superior even to the Father Himself, seeing that He bestows on the Son the superiority over Him. Who then will not shudder at the mere hearing of this? For hard is it in truth even to go through such arguments, but no otherwise can the harm of their stubbornness be driven off. Therefore we will say again to them: If when the Word of God became Man, He is then also sanctified by receiving the Spirit: but before the Incarnation was in the Form and Equality of the Father, not yet according to them sanctified, time is it they should boldly say, that God the Father is not holy, if the Word Who is in all things altogether Con-formal and Equal to Him, was not holy in the beginning, but barely in the last times became so. And again, if He is truly the Word of God, Who receiveth the Spirit, and is sanctified in His Own Nature, let our opponents say, whether in doing this, He became greater or less than Himself, or remained the Same. For if He hath nothing more from the Spirit, but remaineth the same as He was, be not offended at learning that It descended on Him. But if He was injured by receiving It, and became less, you will introduce to us the Word as passible, and will accuse the Essence of the Father as wronging rather than sanctifying. But if He became better by receiving the Spirit, but was in the Form and Equality of the Father, even before, according to you, He became bettered, the Father hath not attained unto the height of glory, but will be in that measure of it, in which the Son Who hath advanced to the better was Con-formal and Equal to Him. Convenient is it then, I deem, to say to the ill-instructed heretics, Behold o foolish people and without understanding, which have eyes, and see not; which have ears and hear not; for the god of this world hath indeed blinded the eyes of them, which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them: worthy of pity are they rather than of anger. For they understand not, what they read.
But that the reasoning is true, will be clear from hence, even if we have not, by our previous attempts, made the demonstration perfectly clear. Again shall this that is spoken by the mouth of Paul be brought forward: Be each among you, saith he, so minded, according to what was also in Christ Jesus, Who being in the Form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, and took upon Him the Form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself. Lo, he much marvels at the Son, as being Equal and Con-formal with God the Father, not, by reason of His Love to us, seizing this, but descending to lowliness, through the Form of a servant, emptied by reason of His Manhood. But if, sirs, He on receiving the Spirit were sanctified rather, when He became Man, and were, through the sanctification, rendered superior to Himself, into what kind of lowliness shall we see Him to have descended? How is That made low that was exalted, how did That descend that was sanctified, or how did it not rather ascend, and was exalted for the better? What emptiness hath filling through the Spirit? or how will He at all be thought to have been Incarnate for our sakes, Who underwent so great profit in respect of Himself? How did the Rich become poor for our sakes, who was enriched because of us? How was He rich even before His Advent, Who according to them received in it what He had not, to wit the Spirit? Or how will He not rather justly offer to us thank-offering for what by means of us He gained? Be astonished, as it is written, O ye heavens, at this: and be horribly afraid, saith the Lord: for the people of the heretics have in truth committed two evils, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm, and think it not grievous thus to incur such danger in the weightiest matters. For else would they, shedding bitter tears from their eyes, and lifting up a mighty voice on high, have approached, saying, Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to words of wickedness. For words of wickedness in truth are their words, travailing with extremest mischief to the hearers. But we, having expelled their babbling from our heart, will walk in the right way of the faith, bearing in mind that which is written: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Come then, and bringing into captivity our mind as to the subjects before us, let us subject it to the glory of the Only-Begotten, bringing all things wisely to His obedience, that is, to the mode of the Incarnation. For, being Rich, for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich.
Receive then, if you please, our proof through that also which is now before us, opening a forbearing ear to our words. The Divine Scripture testifies that man was made in the Image and Likeness of God Who is over all. And indeed, he who compiled the first book for us (Moses, who above all men was known to God) says, And God created man, in the Image of God created He him. But that through the Spirit he was sealed unto the Divine Image, himself again taught us, saying, And breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. For the Spirit at once began both to put life into His formation and in a Divine manner to impress His own Image thereon. Thus the most excellent Artificer God, having formed the reasonable living creature upon the earth, gave him the saving commandment. And he was in Paradise, as it is written, still keeping the Gift, and eminent in the Divine Image of Him That made him, through the Holy Ghost That indwelt him. But when perverted by the wiles of the devil, he began to despise his Creator, and by trampling on the law assigned him, to grieve his Benefactor, He recalled the grace given to him, and he that was made unto life then first heard Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And now the Likeness to God was through the inroad of sin defaced, and no longer was the Impress bright, but fainter and darkened because of the transgression. But when the race of man had reached to an innumerable multitude, and sin had dominion over them all, manifoldly despoiling each man’s soul, his nature was stripped of the ancient grace; the Spirit departed altogether, and the reasonable creature fell into extremest folly, ignorant even of its Creator. But the Artificer of all, having endured a long season, at length pities the corrupted world, and being Good hastened to gather together to those above His runaway flock upon earth; and decreed to trans-element human nature anew to the pristine Image through the Spirit. For no otherwise was it possible that the Divine Impress should again shine forth in him, as it did aforetime.
What then He contrives to this end, how He implanted in us the inviolate grace, or how the Spirit again took root in man, in what manner nature was re-formed to its old condition, it is meet to say. The first man, being earthy, and of the earth, and having, placed in his own power, the choice between good and evil, being master of the inclination to each, was caught of bitter guile, and having inclined to disobedience, falls to the earth, the mother from whence he sprang, and over-mastered now at length by corruption and death, transmits the penalty to his whole race. The evil growing and multiplying in us, and our understanding ever descending to the worse, sin reigned, and thus at length the nature of man was shewn bared of the Holy Ghost Which indwelt him. For the Holy Spirit of wisdom will flee deceit, as it is written, nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin. Since then the first Adam preserved not the grace given him of God, God the Father was minded to send us from Heaven the second Adam. For He sendeth in our likeness His own Son Who is by Nature without variableness or change, and wholly unknowing of sin, that as by the disobedience of the first, we became subject to Divine wrath, so through the obedience of the Second, we might both escape the curse, and its evils might come to nought. But when the Word of God became Man, He received the Spirit from the Father as one of us, (not receiving ought for Himself individually, for He was the Giver of the Spirit); but that He Who knew no sin, might, by receiving It as Man, preserve It to our nature, and might again in root in us the grace which had left us. For this reason, I deem, it was that the holy Baptist profitably added, I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven, and It abode upon Him. For It had fled from us by reason of sin, but He Who knew no sin, became as one of us, that the Spirit might be accustomed to abide in us, having no occasion of departure or withdrawal in Him.
Therefore through Himself He receives the Spirit for us, and renews to our nature, the ancient good. For thus is He also said for our sakes tobecome poor. For being rich, as God and lacking no good thing, He became Man lacking all things, to whom it is somewhere said and that very well, What hast thou that thou didst not receive? As then, being by Nature Life, He died in the Flesh for our sakes, that He might overcome death for us, and raise up our whole nature together with Himself (for all we were in Him, in that He was made Man): so does He also receive the Spirit for our sakes, that He may sanctify our whole nature. For He came not to profit Himself, but to be to all us the Door and Beginning and Way of the Heavenly Goods. For if He had not pleased to receive, as Man, or to suffer too, as one of us, how could any one have shewn that Hehumbled Himself? or how would the Form of a servant have been fittingly kept, if nothing befitting a servant were written of Him? Let not then the all-wise account of the dispensation be pulled to pieces, whereof the divine Paul himself rightly cries in admiration: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. For wisdom indeed and God-befitting, is the great mystery of the Incarnation seen to be.
Such an apprehension of our Saviour do I suppose that we who choose to be pious, and rejoice in orthodox doctrines, ought to have. For we too will not descend to such lack of reason as to suppose that in the Son by Nature was the Spirit by participation and not rather essentially inherent even as in the Father Himself. For as of the Father, so also of the Son, is the Holy Ghost. So did we also read in the Divine Scriptures. For it says:After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not.
But if it seem good to any one, with over contentious zeal, to object to our words hereon, and to assert again, that the Spirit is in the Son by participation, or that, not being in Him before, He then came to be in Him, when He was baptized, in the period of His Incarnation, let him see, into what and how great absurdities he will fall. For first, the Saviour saith: Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist. And the word is true: but we see him who hath attained to the summit of glory and virtue that belong to us, honouring Christ with incomparable excellencies. For I am not worthy, says he, to stoop down and unloose the latchet of His shoes. How then is it not absurd, yea rather impious, to believe that John was filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb, because it is so written of him: and to suppose that his Master, yea rather the Master and Lord of all, then first received the Spirit, when He was baptized, albeit holy Gabriel says to the holy Virgin:The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy Thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. And let the lover of learning see, with how great a meaning the word travaileth. For of John, it saith, he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost (for the Holy Ghost was in him as a gift, and not essentially), but of the Saviour, he no longer saith shall be filled, (in rightness of conception,) but that holy Thing which shall be born of thee. Nor did he add shall be, for It was always Holy by Nature, as God.
But since I deem that we ought to seek after what is profitable from all quarters; the voice of the archangel having been once brought forward, come, let us exercise ourselves a little in it. The Holy Ghost, says he, shall come upon thee, and the Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also That Holy Thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. Let him then, who from great unlearning, opposeth the right doctrines of the Church, tell us, whether even before the Incarnation the the Word of God the Father was Son, or had the glory in name only, but was a bastard, and falsely called. For if he say that He was not the Son at all, he will deny the Father (for of whom will He be the Father, if He have no Son?): and he will think contrary to all the Divine Scriptures. But if he confess that the Son even before the Incarnation both was and was called Son, how does the Archangel tell us that That which should be born of the holy Virgin shall be called the Son of God, albeit He was this by Nature even long before? As therefore the Son being from eternity with the Father, as having Origin of Being, is at the time of His Incarnation called Son of God, from His appearing in the world with a Body; so, having in Himself Essentially His Own Spirit, He is said to receive It as Man, preserving to the Humanity the order befitting it, and with it appropriating for our sakes the things befitting it. But how can the Word be thought of at all apart from Its Own Spirit? For would it not be absurd to say, that the spirit of man, which is in him, according to the definition of nature, and for the completeness of the living-being, was separated from him? But I suppose that this is most evident to all. How then shall we sever the Spirit from the Son, Which is so inherent and essentially united, and through Him proceeding and being in Him by Nature, that It cannot be thought to be Other than He by reason both of Identity of working, and the very exact likeness of Nature. Hear what the Saviour saith to His own disciples, If ye love Me, keep My Commandments, and I will pray the Father, and He shall give you Another Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive. Lo, plainly He calls the Holy Ghost Spirit of Truth. But that He and none other than He is the Truth, hear Him again saying, I am the Truth. The Son by Nature then being and being called Truth, see how great Oneness with Him the Spirit hath. For the disciple John saith somewhere of our Saviour, This is He that came by water and blood and the spirit 3, Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood: and it is the Spirit That beareth witness, because the Spirit is Truth. Therefore also, the Holy Ghost indwelling in our inner man, Christ Himself is said to dwell therein, and so it is. And indeed the blessed Paul most clearly teaching this, says, But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, If so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Apply, sir, a quick ear to what is said. Having named the Spirit of Christ That dwelleth in us, he straightway added, If Christ be in you, introducing the exact likeness of the Son with the Spirit, Which is His Own and proceeding from Him by Nature. Therefore He is called the Spirit of adoption also, and in Him we cry Abba, Father. And as the blessed John somewhere says, Hereby know we that He dwelleth in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.
I think then that these things will suffice, to enable the children of the Church to repel the mischief of the heretics. But if any one be soused in the unmixed strong drink of their unlearning, and suppose that the Son then first received the Spirit, when He became Man: let him shew that the Word of God was not holy before the Incarnation, and we will hold our peace.
But one may well wonder that the holy Evangelist every where preserves with much observance what befits the Divine Nature. For since he said above, that no man hath seen God at any time, and now says that the blessed Baptist saw the Spirit descend from Heaven upon the Son, he adds of necessity, I saw the Spirit, but in the form of a Dove, not Himself by Nature, as He is, but shadowed in the gentlest animal; that in this again He might be shewn to preserve His Natural Affinity and Likeness to the Son, Who saith, Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart. Therefore the Spirit will not fall away from being God by Nature: for the never having been seen at any time has been preserved to Him, save under the form of a dove, by reason of the need of the disciple. For the blessed Baptist says that the descent of the Spirit was given him by way of a sign and token, adding to his testimonies respecting our Saviour, He that sent me to baptize with water, the Same said unto me, Upon Whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the Same is He Which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. Therefore I think we may fitly laugh to scorn those senseless heretics who take as matter of fact, that which was set forth by way of sign, even though it took place as part of the economy, as hath been already said, for the need’s sake of the human race.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
Sure is the witness; who, what he hath actually seen, that he also speaketh. For haply he was not ignorant of that which is written, That which thine eyes have seen, tell. I saw then, says he, the sign, and understood That Which was signified by it. I bear record that this is the Son of God, Who was proclaimed by the Law that is through Moses, and heralded by the voice of the holy Prophets. The blessed Evangelist seems to me again to say with some great confidence, This is the Son of God, that is, the One, the Only by Nature, the Heir of the Own Nature of the Father, to Whom we too, sons by adoption, are conformed and through Whom we are called by grace to the dignity of sonship. For as from God the Father every family in Heaven and earth is named, from His being properly, and first, and truly Father, so is all sonship too from the Son, by reason of His being properly and Alone truly Son, not bastard nor falsely-called, but of the Essence of God the Father, not by off-cutting or emanation or division or severance (for the Divine Nature is altogether Impassible): but as One of One, ever Co-existing and Co-eternal and Innate in Him Who begat Him, being in Him, and coming forth from Him, Indivisible and without Dimensions; since the Divinity is neither after the manner of a body, nor bounded by space, nor of nature such as to make progressive footsteps. But like as from fire proceedeth the heat that is in it, appearing to be separate from it in idea, and to be other than it, though it is of it and in it by nature, and proceedeth from it without suffering any harm in the way of offcutting, division, or emanation (for it is preserved whole in the whole fire): so shall we conceive of the Divine Offspring too, thinking thereon in a manner most worthy of God, and believing that the Son subsists of Himself, yet not excluding Him from the One Ineffable Godhead, nor saying that He is Other in substance than the Father. For then would He no longer be rightly conceived of as Son, but something other than He, and a new god would arise, other than He That Only Is. For how shall not that which is not consubstantial with God by Nature, wholly fall away from being Very God? But since the blessed Baptist is both trustworthy, and of the greatest repute, and testifieth that This is the Son of God: we will confess the Son to be altogether Very God, and of the Essence of the Father. For this and nothing else, does the name of Sonship signify to us.
35, 36 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples, and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin of the world.
Already had the blessed Baptist pointed Him out before; but lo, repeating again the same words, he points Jesus out to his disciples, and calls Himthe Lamb of God, and says that He taketh away the sin of the world, all but bringing his hearers to remembrance of Him Who saith in the Prophets:I, even I, am He That blotteth out thy transgressions, and will not remember thy sins. But not in vain does the Baptist repeat the same account of the Saviour. For it belongs to skill in teaching, to infix in the souls of the disciples the not yet received word, not shrinking at repetition, but rather enduring it for the profit of the pupils. For therefore does the blessed Paul too say, To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.
Seest thou the fruit, handmaid of teaching, yielded therefrom? Seest thou how great gain accrued from repetition? Let him then who is entrusted with teaching learn from this, to shew himself superior to all indolence, and to esteem silence more hurtful to himself than to his hearers, and not to bury the Lord’s talent in listless sloth, as in the earth, but rather to give His money to the exchangers. For the Saviour will receive His own with usury, and will quicken as seed the word cast in. You have here a most excellent proof of what has been said. For the Baptist, not shrinking from pointing out the Lord to his disciples, and from saying a second time, Behold the Lamb of God, is seen to have so greatly profited them, as to at length even persuade them to follow Him and already to desire discipleship under Him.
38 Then Jesus turned and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?
Fitly does the Lord turn to them that follow Him, that thou mayest learn in act that which is sung, I sought the Lord, and He heard me. For while we do not yet seek the Lord by good habits and Tightness in believing, we are in some sort behind Him: but when, thirsting after His Divine law, we track the holy and choice way of righteousness, then at length will He look upon us, crying aloud what is written, Turn ye unto Me, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts. But He saith unto them, What seek ye? not as though ignorant (whence could it be so?), for He knoweth all things, as God; but making the question a beginning and root of His discourse.
They said unto Him, Rabbi, where dwellest Thou?
Like people well instructed do they that are asked reply. For already do they call Him, Master, thereby clearly signifying their readiness to learn. Then they beg to know His home, as about therein to tell Him at a fit season of their need. For probably they did not think it right to make talk on needful subjects the companion of a journey. Be what is said again to us for a useful pattern.
39 He saith unto them, Come and see.
He doth not point out the house, though asked to do it, but rather bids them come forthwith to it: teaching first, as by example, that it is not well to cast delays in the way of search after what is good (for delay in things profitable is altogether hurtful): and this too besides, that to those who are still ignorant of the holy house of our Saviour Christ, that is, the Church, it will not suffice to salvation that they should learn where it is, but that they should enter into it by faith, and see the things mystically wrought therein.
They came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
Assiduously did the disciples apply themselves to the attainment of the knowledge of the Divine Mysteries. For I do not think that a fickle mind beseems those who desire to learn, but rather one most painstaking, and superior to feeble mindedness in good toils, so as during their whole life time to excel in perfect zeal. For this I think the words, they abode with Him that day, darkly signify. But when he says, it was about the tenth hour,we adapting our own discourse to each man’s profit, say that in this very thing, the compiler of Divinity through this so subtle handling again teacheth us, that not in the beginning of the present world was the mighty mystery of our Saviour made known, but when time now draws towards its close. For in the last days, as it is written, we shall be all taught of God. Take again I pray as an image of what has been said about the tenth hour, the disciples cleaving to the Saviour, of whom the holy Evangelist says that having once become His guests they abode with Him: that they who through faith have entered into the holy house, and have run to Christ, may learn that it needs to abide with Him, and not to desire to be again estranged, either turning aside into sin, or again returning to unbelief.
40, 41, 42 One of the two which heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus.
They who even now received the talent, straightway make traffic of their talent, and bring it to the Lord. For such are in truth obedient and docile souls, not needing many words for profit, nor bearing the fruit of their instruction, after revolutions of years or months, but attaining the goal of wisdom along with the commencement of their instruction. For give, it says, instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man,and he will increase in learning. Andrew then saves his brother (this was Peter), having declared the whole mystery in a brief summary. For we have found, he says, Jesus, as Treasure hid in a field, or as One Pearl of great price, according to the parables in the Gospels.
And when Jesus beheld him, He said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona, thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone.
He after a Divine sort looketh upon him, Who seeth the hearts and reins; and seeth to how great piety the disciple will attain, of how great virtue he will be possessed, and at what consummation he will leave off. For He Who know-eth all things before they be is not ignorant of ought. And herein does He specially instruct him that is called, that being Very God, He hath knowledge untaught. For not having needed a single word, nor even sought to learn who or whence the man came to Him; He says of what father he was born, and what was his own name, and permits him to be no more called Simon, already exercising lordship and power over him, as being His: but changes it to Peter from Petra 4: for upon him was He about to found His Church.
43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee; and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow Me.
Likeminded with those preceding was Philip, and very ready to follow Christ. For Christ knew that he would be good. Therefore also He saysFollow Me, making the word a token of the grace that was upon him, and wherein he bid him follow, testifying to him that most excellent was his conversation. For Ho would not have chosen him, if he had not been altogether good.
45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him, of Whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth the Son of Joseph.
Exceeding swift was the disciple unto the bearing fruit, that hereby he might shew himself akin in disposition to them that had preceded. For hefindeth Nathanael, not simply meeting him coming along, but making diligent search for him. For he knew that he was most painstaking and fond of learning. Then he says that he had found the Christ Who was heralded through all the Divine Scripture, addressing himself not as to one ignorant, but as to one exceedingly well instructed in the learning both of all-wise Moses and of the prophets. For a not true supposition was prevailing among the Jews as regards our Saviour Jesus Christ, that He should be of the city or village of Nazareth, albeit the Divine Scripture says that He is a Bethlehemite, as far as pertains to this. And thou, Bethlehem, it says, in the land of Judah, house of Ephrata, art little to be among the thousands of Judah, for out of thee shall He come forth unto Me That is to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. For He was brought up in Nazareth, as the Evangelist himself too somewhere testified, saying, And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up;but He was not thence, but whence we said before, yea rather, as the voice of the prophet affirmed. Philip therefore following the supposition of the Jews says, Jesus of Nazareth.
46 Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?
Nathanael readily agrees that something great and most fair is that which is expected to appear out of Nazareth . It is, I suppose, perfectly clear, that not only did he take Nazareth as a pledge of that which he sought, but bringing together knowledge from the law and Prophets, as one fond of learning he gained swift understanding.
Come and see.
Sight will suffice for faith, says he, and having only conversed with. Him you will confess more readily, and will unhesitatingly say that He is indeed the Expected One. But we must believe that there was a Divine and Ineffable grace, flowing forth with the words of the Saviour, and alluring the souls of the hearers. For so it is written, that all wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His Mouth. For as His word is mighty in power, so too is it efficacious to persuade.
47 Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.
Not having yet used proof by means of signs, Christ endeavoured in another way to persuade both His own disciples, and the wiser of those that came to Him, that He was by Nature Son and God, but for the salvation of all was come in human Form. What then was the mode that led to faith? God-befitting knowledge. For knowledge of all things befitteth God Alone. He receiveth therefore Nathanael, not hurrying him by flatteries to this state, but by those things whereof he was conscious, giving him a pledge, that he knoweth the hearts, as God.
48 Whence knowest thou me?
Nathanael begins to wonder, and is called to a now firm faith: but desires yet to learn, whence He has the knowledge concerning him. For very accurate are learning-seeking and pious souls. But perhaps he supposed that somewhat of him had been shewn to the Lord by Philip.
Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee.
The Saviour undid his surmise, saying that even before his meeting and conversing with Philip, He had seen him under the fig-tree, though not present in Body. Very profitably are both the fig-tree and the place named, pledging to him the truth of his having been seen. For he that has already accurate knowledge of what was with him, will readily be admitted.
49 Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel.
He knows that God Alone is Searcher of hearts, and giveth to none other of men to understand the mind, considering as is likely that verse in the Psalms, God trieth the hearts and reins. For as accruing to none else, the Psalmist hath attributed this too as peculiar to the Divine Nature only. When then he knew that the Lord saw his thoughts revolving in his mind in yet voiceless whispers, straightway he calls Him Master, readily entering already into discipleship under Him, and confesses Him Son of God and King of Israel, in Whom are inexistent the Properties of Divinity, and as one well instructed he affirms Him to be wholly and by Nature God.
50 Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
Thou shalt be firmer unto faith, saith He, when thou seest greater things than these. For he that believed one sign, how shall he not by means of many be altogether bettered, especially since they shall be more wonderful than those now wondered at?
51 Verily, verily I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see Heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.
Common now to all is the word which seals the faith of Nathanael. But in saying that angels shall be seen speeding up and down upon the Son of Man, that is, ministering and serving His commands, for the salvation of such as shall believe, He says that then especially shall He be revealed as being by Nature Son of God. For it is not one another that the rational powers serve but surely God. And this does not take away subjection among the angels (for this will not be reasonably called bondage). But we have heard of the Holy Evangelists, that angels came to our Saviour Christ, and ministered unto Him.
Chap. ii.2,3 And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus was called, and His disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine.
Seasonably comes He at length, to the beginning of miracles, even if He seems to have been called to it without set purpose. For a marriage feast being held (it is clear that it was altogether holily), the mother of the Saviour is present, and Himself also being bidden comes together with His own disciples, to work miracles rather than to feast with them, and yet more to sanctify the very beginning of the birth of man: I mean so far as appertains to the flesh. For it was fitting that He, Who was renewing the very nature of man, and refashioning it all for the better, should not only impart His blessing to those already called into being, but also prepare before grace for those soon to be born, and make holy their entrance into being.
Receive also yet a third reason. It had been said to the woman by God, In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children. How then was it not needful that we should thrust off this curse too, or how else could we escape a condemned marriage? This too the Saviour, being loving to man, removes. For He, the Delight and Joy of all, honoured marriage with His Presence, that He might expel the old shame of child-bearing. For if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; and old things are passed away, as Paul saith, they are become new. He cometh therefore with. His disciples to the marriage. For it was needful that the lovers of miracles should be present with the Wonderworker, to collect what was wrought as a kind of food to their faith. But when wine failed the feasters, His mother called the Lord being good according to His wonted Love for man, saying, They have no wine. For since it was in His Power to do whatsoever He would, she urges Him to the miracle.
4 Jesus saith unto her Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.
Most excellently did the Saviour fashion for us this discourse also. For it behoved Him not to come hastily to action, nor to appear a Worker of miracles as though of His Own accord, but, being called, hardly to come thereto, and to grant the grace to the necessity rather than to the lookers on. But the issue of things longed for seems somehow to be even more grateful, when granted not off-hand to those who ask for it, but through a little delay put forth to most lovely hope. Besides, Christ hereby shews that the deepest honour is due to parents, admitting out of reverence to His Mother what He willed not as yet to do.
5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever He saith unto you, do.
The woman having great influence to the performing of the miracle, prevailed, persuading the Lord, on account of what was fitting, as her Son. She begins the work by preparing the servants of the assembly to obey the things that should be enjoined.
7, 8, 9, 10 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And He saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was (but the servants which drew the water knew); the governor of the feast called the bridegroom and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
The ministers accomplish what is commanded, and by unspeakable might was the water changed into wine. For what is hard to Him Who can do all things? He that calleth into being things which are not, how will He weary, trans-ordering into what He will things already made? They marvel at the thing, as strange; for such are Christ’s works to look upon. But the governor of the feast charges the bridegroom with expending what was better on the latter end of the feast, not unfitly, as appears to me, according to the narration of the story.
11 This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory, and His disciples believed on Him.
Many most excellent things were accomplished at once through the one first miracle. For honourable marriage was sanctified, the curse on women put away (for no more in sorrow shall they bring forth children, now Christ has blessed the very beginning of our birth), and the glory of our Saviour shone forth as the sun’s rays, and more than this, the disciples are confirmed in faith by the miracle.
The historical account then will stop here, but I think we ought to consider the other view of what has been said, and to say what is therein signified. The Word of God came down then from Heaven, as He Himself saith, in order that having as a Bridegroom, made human nature His own, He might persuade it to bring forth the spiritual offspring of Wisdom. And hence reasonably is the human nature called the bride, the Saviour the Bridegroom; since holy Scripture carries up language from human things to a meaning that is above us. The marriage is consummated on the third day, that is, in the last times of the present world: for the number three gives us beginning, middle, end. For thus is the whole of time measured. And in harmony with this do we see that which is said by one of the prophets, He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us, in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His Sight. Then shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord; His going forth is prepared as the morning. For He smote us for the transgression of Adam, saying, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. That which was smitten by corruption and death He bound up on the third day: that is, not in the first, or in the middle, but in the last ages, when for us made Man, He rendered all our nature whole, raising it from the dead in Himself. Wherefore He is also called the Firstfruits of them that slept. Therefore in saying it was the third day, whereon the marriage was being consummated, he signifies the last time. He mentions the place too; for he says it was in Cana of Galilee. Let him that loves learning again note well: for not in Jerusalem is the gathering, but without Judaea is the feast celebrated, as it were in the country of the Gentiles. For it is Galilee of the gentiles, as the prophet saith. It is I suppose altogether plain, that the synagogue of the Jews rejected the Bridegroom from Heaven, and that the church of the Gentiles received Him, and that very gladly. The Saviour comes to the marriage not of His own accord; for He was being bidden by many voices of the Saints. But wine failed the feasters; for the law perfected nothing, the Mosaic writing sufficed not for perfect enjoyment, but neither did the measure of implanted sobriety reach forth so as to be able to save us. It was therefore true to say of us too, They have no wine. But the Bounteous God doth not overlook our nature worn out with want of good things. He set forth wine better than the first, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. And the law hath no perfection in good things, but the Divine instructions of Gospel teaching bring in fullest blessing. The ruler of the feast marvels at the wine: for every one, I suppose, of those ordained to the Divine Priesthood, and entrusted with the house of our Saviour Christ, is astonished at His doctrine which is above the Law. But Christ commandeth it to be given to him first, because, according to the voice of Paul, The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.And let the hearer again consider what I say.
14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting.
The Jews are again hereby too convicted of despising the laws given them, and making of no account the Mosaic writings, looking only to their own love of gain. For whereas the law commanded that they who were about to enter into the Divine temple should purify themselves in many ways; those who had the power of forbidding it hindered not the bankers or money-changers, and others besides, whose employment was gain, usury and increase, in their lusts (for the whole aim of merchants is comprised in these things): they hindered them not from defiling the holy court, from entering into it as it were with unwashen feet, yea rather they themselves altogether used to enjoin it, that God might say truly of them,Many pastors have destroyed My vineyard, they have: trodden My portion under foot, they have made My pleasant portion a desolate wilderness, they have made it desolate. For of a truth the Lord’s vineyard was destroyed, being taught to trample on the Divine worship itself, and through the sordid love of gain of those set over it left bare to all ignorance.
15 And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple.
Reasonably is the Saviour indignant at the folly of the Jews. For it befitted to make the Divine Temple not an house of merchandise, but an house of prayer: for so it is written. But He shows His emotion not by mere words, but with stripes and a scourge thrusts He them forth of the sacred precincts, justly devising for them the punishment befitting slaves; for they would not receive the Son Who through faith maketh free. See I pray well represented as in a picture that which was said through Paul, If any man dishonour the Temple of God, him shall God dishonour.
16 Take these things hence; make not My Father’s House an house of merchandise.
He commands as Lord, He leads by the hand to what is fitting, as teacher; and along with the punishment He sets before them the declaration of their offences, through shame thereof not suffering him that is censured to be angry. But it must be noted that He again calls God His own Father specially, as being Himself and that Alone by Nature of Him, and truly Begotten. For if it be not so, but the Word be really Son with us, as one of us, to wit by adoption, and the mere Will of the Father: why does He alone seize to Himself the boast common to and set before all, saying, Make not My Father’s House, and not rather, our Father’s House. For this I suppose would have been more meet to say, if He had known that Himself too was one of those who are not sons by Nature. But since the Word knows that He is not in the number of those who are sons by grace, but of the Essence of God the Father, He puts Himself apart from the rest, calling God His Father. For it befits those who are called to sonship and have the honour from without, when they pray to cry, Our Father Which art in Heaven: but the Only Begotten being Alone One of One, with reason calls God His Own Father.
But if we must, applying ourselves to this passage, harmonize it more spiritually with that above, the lection must be considered differently.
And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep, &c.
See again the whole scheme of the Dispensation to usward drawn out by two things. For with the Cananites, I mean those of Galilee, Christ both feasts and tarries, and them that bade Him, and hereby honoured Him, He made partakers of His Table; He both aids them by miracles and fills up that which was lacking to their joy (and what good thing does He not freely give?): teaching as in a type that He will both receive the inhabitants of Galilee, that is the Gentiles, called as it were to them through the faith that is in them, and will bring them into the Heavenly Bridal-chamber, that is unto the church of the first-born, and will make them sit down with the saints (for the holy disciples sat down with the feasters): and will make them partake of the Divine and spiritual feast, as Himself saith, Many shall come from the east and west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of Heaven, nought lacking unto their joy. For everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. But the disobedient Jews He shall cast forth of the holy places, and set them without the holy inclosure of the saints; yea, even when they bring sacrifices He will not receive them: but rather will subject them to chastisement and the scourge, holden with the cords of their own sins. For hear Him saying, Take these things hence; that thou mayest understand again those things which long ago by the mouth of the Prophet Isaiah He saith, I am full of the burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts, and I delight not in the blood of bullocks and of he goats, neither come ye to appear before Me, for who hath required this at your hand? tread not My courts any more. If ye bring an offering of fine flour, vain is the oblation, incense is an abomination unto Me; your new moons and sabbaths and great day I cannot endure, your fasting and rest and feasts My soul hateth: ye are become satiety unto Me, I will no longer endure your sins. This He most excellently signifies in type, devising for them the scourge of cords. For scourges are a token of punishment.
17 And His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of Thine House hath eaten Me up.
The disciples in a short time get perfection of knowledge, and comparing what is written with the events, already shew great progress for the better.
18 What sign shewest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things?
The multitude of the Jews are startled at the unwonted authority, and they who are over the temple are extremely vexed, deprived of their not easily counted gains. And they cannot convict Him of not having spoken most rightly in commanding them not to exhibit the Divine Temple as a house of merchandise. But they devise delays to the flight of the merchants, excusing themselves that they ought not to submit to Him off-hand, nor without investigation to receive as Son of God Him Who was witnessed to by no sign.
19 Destroy this temple.
To them who of good purpose ask for good things, God very readily granteth them: but to them who come to Him, tempting Him, not only does He deny their ambition in respect of what they ask, but also charges them with wickedness. Thus the Pharisees demanding a sign in other parts of the Gospels the Saviour convicted saying, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. What therefore He said to those, this to these too with slight change: for these (as did those) ask, tempting Him. Nor to those who were in such a state of mind would even this sign have been given, but that it was altogether needful for the salvation of us all.
But we must know that they made this the excuse of their accusation against Him, saying falsely before Pontius Pilate, what they had not heard. For, say they, This Man saith, I am able to destroy the Temple of God. Wherefore of them too did Christ speak in the prophets, False witnesses did rise up: they laid to My charge things that I knew not: and again, For false witnesses are risen up against Me, and such as breathe out cruelty. But He does not urge them to bloodshed saying, Destroy this Temple, but since He knew that they would straightway do it, He indicates expressively what is about to happen.
20 Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and wilt Thou rear it up in three days?
They mock at the sign, not understanding the depth of the Mystery, but seize on the disease of their own ignorance, as a reasonable excuse for not obeying Him, and considering the difficulty of the thing, they gave heed rather as to one speaking at random, than to one who was promising ought possible to be fulfilled, that that may be shewn to be true that was written of them, Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not, and ever bow Thou down their backs: in order that in a manner ever stooping downwards and inclining to the things alone of the earth, they may receive no sight of the lofty doctrines of piety towards Christ, not as though God Who is loving to man grudged them those things, but rather with even justice was punishing them that committed intolerable transgressions.
For see how foolishly they insult Him, not sparing their own souls. For our Lord Jesus Christ calls God His Father, saying, Make not My Father’s House an House of merchandise. Therefore when they ought now to deem of Him as Son and God, as shining forth from God the Father, they believe Him to be yet bare man and one of us. Therefore they object the time that has been spent in the building of the Temple, saying, Forty and six years was this Temple in building, and wilt Thou rear it up in three days? O drunken with all folly, rightly, I deem, one might say to you, if a wise soul had been implanted in you, if ye believe that your Temple is the House of God, how ought ye not to have held Him to be God by Nature, Who dares fearlessly tell you, Make not My Father’s House an House of merchandise? How then, tell me, should He have need of a long time for the building of one house? or how should He be powerless for anything whatever, who in days only seven in number, fashioned this whole universe with ineffable Power, and has His Power in only willing? For these things the people skilled in the sacred writings ought to have considered.
21, 22 But He spake of the Temple of His Body. When therefore He was risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this unto them: and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
Acceptable to the wise man is the word of wisdom, and the knowledge of discipline abideth more easily with men of understanding, and as in wax not too hard, the impression of seals is well made, so in the more tender hearts of men the Divine Word is readily infixed: wherefore the hard of heart is also called wicked. The disciples then, being of a good disposition, become wise, and ruminate the words of divine Scripture, nourishing themselves to more accurate knowledge, and thence coming firmly to belief. Since the Body of Christ is called a temple also, how is not the Only-Begotten Word Which indwelleth therein, God by Nature, since he that is not God cannot be said to dwell in a Temple? Or let one come forward and say, what saint’s body was ever called a temple; but I do not suppose any one can shew this. I say then, what we shall find to be true, if we accurately search the Divine Scripture, that to none of the Saints was such honour attached. And indeed the blessed Baptist, albeit he attained unto the height of all virtue, and suffered none to exceed him in piety, was through the madness of Herod beheaded, and yet is no such thing attributed to him. On the contrary, the Evangelist devised a grosser word for his remains, saying this too, as appears to me by an oeconomy, in order that the dignity may be reserved to Christ Alone. For he writes thus; And the blood-shedder to wit, Herod, sent and beheaded John in the prison, and his disciples came and took up his carcase. If the body of John be called a carcase, whose temple will it be? In another sense indeed, we are called temples of God, by reason of the Holy Ghost indwelling in us. For we are called the temples of God, and not of ourselves.
But haply some one will say: How then, tell me, doth the Saviour Himself call His own Body a carcase, For wheresoever He saith the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. To this we say, that Christ saith this not of His Own Body, but in manner and guise of a parable He signifieth that concourse of the Saints to Him, that shall be at that time when He appeareth again to us, with the holy angels, in the glory of His Father. For like as, saith He, flocks of carnivorous birds rush down with a sharp whizzing to fallen carcases, so shall ye too be gathered together to Me. Which indeed Paul too doth make known to us, saying, For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible; And again in another place, and we shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. That therefore which is taken by way of similitude for an image will no wise damage the force of the truth.
23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover in the feast day, many believed in His Name, when they saw the miracles which He did.
Christ ceaseth not from saving and helping. For some He leads to Himself by wise words, the rest startling by God-befitting Power too, He taketh in His net to the faith, by the things which they see Him work persuaded to confess, that the Artificer of these so great wonders is of a truth God.
24 But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them.
Not firmly established is the judgment of new believers, nor is the mind firmly built upon fresh miracles. And how should they whose course of instruction was yet so to say green, be already rooted in piety? Therefore Christ doth not yet commit Himself to the novices, shewing that a great thing and most worthy of love is affinity with God, and that it doth not just lie before those who desire to have it, but is achieved by zeal for good, and diligence and time.
Let the stewards of the Mysteries of the Saviour hence learn, not suddenly to admit a man within the sacred veils, nor to permit to approach the Divine Tables, neophites untimely baptized and not in right time believing on Christ the Lord of all. For that He may be an Ensample to us in this also, and may teach us whom fittingly to initiate, He receives indeed the believers, but is seen not yet to have confidence in them, in that He doesnot commit Himself to them: that hence it may be manifest, that it befits novices to spend no small time under instruction; for scarce even so will they become faithful men.
25 Because He knew all, and needed not that any should testify of man; for He knew what was in man.
Divine is this excellence too along with the rest which are in Christ, and in no one of created beings is it. For to Him Alone Who is truly God doth the Psalmist ascribe it, saying, He fashioneth their hearts alike, He considereth all their works. But if while God Alone understandeth what is in us, Christ understandeth them: how shall He not be God by Nature, Who knoweth the secrets, and knoweth the deep and secret things, as it is written? For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Though no man knoweth, God will not be ignorant, for neither is He reckoned in the number of all, of whom “No man” may rightly be predicated, but as being external to all, and all things under His Feet, He will know. And Paul too will testify, saying, For the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart: neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the Eyes of Him. For as having planted the ear, He hears all things, and as having formed the eye, He observeth. And indeed He is introduced saying in Job, Who is this that hideth counsel from Me, holding words in his heart, and thinketh to conceal them from Me? In order then that we might acknowledge that the Son is by Nature God, needs does the Evangelist say that He needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
Chap. iii, 2 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night and said unto Him,
More ready is Nicodemus to believe, but overcome by no good fear, and not despising the opinion of men, he refuses boldness, and is divided in opinion into two, and halts in purpose, feeble upon both his knee joints, as it is written, forced by the convictions of his conscience to the duty of believing by reason of the exceedingness of the miracles, but esteeming the loss of rulership over his own nation a thing not to be borne, for he wasa ruler of the Jews. Deeming that he can both preserve his repute with them, and be a disciple secretly, he cometh to Jesus, making the darkness of the night an aider of his scheme, and by his secret coming convicted of double mindedness.
3, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a Teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him
In these words he supposes that he can attain complete piety, and imagines that it will be sufficient for his salvation, to marvel merely at those things which call for wonder: nought else but this does he seek. Calling him a Teacher from God, and a co-worker with Him, he does not yet know that He is by Nature God, nor understand the plan of the dispensation with Flesh, but still approaches as to a mere man, and hath but slight conception of Him.
4 Verily verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto Him,
Faith consisteth not, O Nicodemus, in what thou thinkest. Speech sufficeth not unto thee for righteousness, neither wilt thou achieve piety by mere words. For not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father Which is in Heaven. But the will of the Father is, that man be made partaker of the Holy Ghost, that the citizen of earth reborn unto an unaccustomed and new life, be called a citizen of Heaven. When He calls the new birth of the Spirit from above, He sheweth clearly that the Spirit is of the Essence of God the Father, as indeed Himself too saith of Himself, I am from above. And the most wise Evangelist again saith of Him, He that cometh from above is above all.
But that the Spirit is of the Essence of God the Father we shall speak more largely in its proper place.
5 How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered,
Nicodemus is convicted hereby of being still carnal, and therefore no way receiving the things of the Spirit of God. For he thinketh that this so dread and illustrious Mystery is foolishness. And hearing of the birth spiritual and from above, he imagineth the carnal womb returning to birth-pang of things already born, and, not attaining beyond the law of our nature, measureth things Divine; and finding the height of its doctrines unattainable by his own conceptions, he falleth down, and is carried off. For as things that are dashed by mighty blows upon the hard stones again rebound, so too I deem the unskilled mind falling upon conceptions of greater calibre than it, being relaxed returns, and ever glad to remain in the measure that suits it, despises an understanding better and loftier than itself. In which case the ruler of the Jews now being, receives not the spiritual birth.
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
Since the man did not understand as he ought, what the need of being born from above meant, He instructs him with plainer teaching, and sets before him the more open knowledge of the Mystery. For our Lord Jesus Christ was calling the new birth through the Spirit from above, shewing that the Spirit is of the Essence That is above all essences, through Whom we become partakers of the Divine Nature, as enjoying Him Who proceeds from It Essentially, and through Him and in Him re-formed to the Archetype-Beauty, and thus re-born unto newness of life, and re-moulded to the Divine Sonship. But Nicodemus not so understanding the word from above, imagined it was meant that the future birth should take place after the manner of bodies: therefore also falling into imaginations which shut him up in impossibility, he was caught alike senseless and hard of learning. Of necessity therefore does the Saviour answer yet more mildly, as to one more infirm of habit, and removing the veil that seemed to be thrown over His Words, He now says openly, Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.For since man is compound, and not simple in his nature, being combined of two, to wit, the sensible body and intellectual soul, he will require two-fold healing for his new birth akin to both the fore-named. For by the Spirit is the spirit of man sanctified, by the sanctified water again, his body. For as the water poured into the kettle, being associated with the vigour of fire, receives in itself the impress of its efficacy, so through the inworking of the Spirit the sensible water is trans-elemented to a Divine and ineffable efficacy, and sanctifieth those on whom it comes.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
By another argument again He persuades him to mount up to a higher understanding, and on hearing of spiritual birth, not to think of the properties of bodies. For as it is altogether necessary, saith He, that the offspring of flesh should be flesh, so also is it that those of the Spirit should be spirit. For in things the mode of whose being is different, in these must surely the mode of generation also be not the same. But it is to be known that we call the spirit of a man the offspring of the Spirit, not as being of It by Nature (for that were impossible), but in the first place, and that in order of time, because that through Him that which was not was called into being, and in the second place and oeconomically, because of its being re-formed unto God through Him, He stamping His Own Impress upon us, and trans-fashioning our understanding to His own Quality, so to speak. For so I deem, you will understand aright that too which is said to some by Paul, My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, and again, For in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel.
7, 8 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
It is the excellence of a teacher, to be able manifoldly to manage the mind of the hearers, and to go through many considerations, heaping up proofs where the argument appears hard. He takes then the figure of the mystery from examples, and says, This spirit belonging to the world and of the air, blows throughout the whole earth, and running where it listeth, is shewn to be present by sound only, and escapeth the eye of all, yet, communicating itself to bodies by the subtlest breaths, it infuseth some perception of its natural efficacy. So do thou, saith He, conceive of the new birth also through the Spirit, led on by little examples to what is greater, and by the reasoning brought forward as it were in an image, conceiving of what is above the senses.
9, 10 Nicodemus answered and said unto Him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him,
Long discourse nothing profits him who understandeth not a whit. Wise then is the saying in the book of Proverbs, Well is he that speaketh in the ears of them that will hear. And this the Saviour shewed by trial to be true, giving Himself an ensample to us in this too. For the teacher will be wholly free from the charge of not being able to persuade, saying what himself thinks good, though he profit nothing by reason of the dulness of the hearers. Besides we learn by this, that hardness in part is happened to Israel. For hearing they hear and understand not.
Art thou a master of Israel and knowest not these things?
By one Christ convicts all, that adorned with the name of teachers, and clothed with the mere repute of being learned in the law, they bear a mind full of ignorance, and unable to understand one of those things, which they ought not only to know, but also to be able to teach others. But if he that instructeth be in this condition, in what is he that is instructed, seeing that the disciple exceedeth not the measure of his master, according to the word of the Saviour? For the disciple, saith He, is not above his master. But since they were thus uninstructed, true is Christ in likening them to whited sepulchres. Most excellently doth Paul too say to the ruler of the Jews, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall.
11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know and testify that we have seen.
He finds the man careless of learning and exceedingly uninstructed and, by reason of his great grossness of mind, utterly unable to be led unto the comprehension of Divine doctrines, albeit many words had been expended with manifold examples. Whence letting alone, as was fitting, accurate explanation, He at length advises him to accept in simple faith, what he cannot understand. He testifies that Himself knows clearly what He saith, by the illustriousness of His Person shewing that yet to gainsay is most dangerous. For it was not likely that Nicodemus would forget, who had affirmed that he knew it of our Saviour Christ, that He was a Teacher come from God. But to resist one who is from God and God, how would it not be fraught with peril? for the thing is clearly a fighting with God. But hence we ought to know, who have authority to teach, that for those just come to the faith, faith in simple arguments is better than any deep reasoning, and more elaborate explanation. And Paul also used to feed with milksome, not yet able to bear stronger meats. And the most wise Solomon again somewhere says to us, Thou shalt wisely know the souls of thy flock,meaning that we should not set before those who come to us the word of doctrine indiscriminately, but fitly adapted to the measure of each.
And ye receive not our witness.
As having in Himself the Father and the Spirit Naturally, the Saviour set forth the person of the Witnesses in the plural number, that, as in the law of Moses, by the mouth of two or three witnesses, what is said may be established. For He shews that the Jews in no wise will to be saved, but with unbridled and heedless impetus are they being borne unto the deep pit of perdition. For if they can neither from their great unlearning understand what is proclaimed to them, nor yet receive it in faith, what other means of salvation may be devised for them? Well then and very justly did the Saviour say that Jerusalem would be without excuse, as snatching upon herself self-called destruction. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, saith He, that killest the prophets and stonest them, which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you.
12, 13 If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, the Son of man Which is in heaven.
A doctrine, saith He, not exceeding the understanding befitting man, ye from your extreme folly received not, and how shall I explain to you things more Divine? For they who in their own matters are most foolish, how shall they be wise in matters above them? And they who are powerless as to the less, how shall they not find the greater intolerable? And if, says He, ye believe not Me being Alone in speaking, but seek many witnesses for every thing, whom shall I bring to you as a witness of the heavenly Mysteries? For no man hath ascended up to heaven but He That came down from heaven the Son of man. For since the Word of God came down from heaven, He says that the son of man came down, refusing after the Incarnation to be divided into two persons, and not suffering certain to say that the Temple taken by reason of need of the Virgin is one Son, the Word again which appeared from God the Father another: save only as regards the distinction which belongs to each by nature. For as He is the Word of God, so Man too of a woman, but One Christ of both, Undivided in regard of Sonship and God-befitting Glory. For how does He clothe as its own the Temple of the Virgin, with what befitteth the bare Word Alone: and again appropriateth to Himself what befitteth the Flesh only? For now He saith that the Son of man hath come down from heaven: but at the time of His Passion, He feareth, and is sore afraid, and very heavy, and is recorded as Himself suffering the Sufferings which befitted His Human Nature only.
14, 15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in
Him should not perish but have eternal life. Having explained sufficiently, and set before him the reason, why His Word of teaching does not run forth into the boundless and supernatural, but descends again to those things that were typically done by Moses of old, knowing that he could by leadings by means of figures scarce arrive at knowledge of the truth, rather than by the exactitude of spiritual inspirations, He saith He must surelybe lifted up, as the serpent was by Moses, shewing that search of history is most necessary, and all but saying to this man of no understanding,Search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of Me. For serpents were springing upon them of Israel in the wilderness, and they, falling like ears of corn, and not a little distressed at this danger unexpectedly visiting them, with most piteous cry called for salvation from above and from God. But He, since He was Good and full of compassion, as God, commands Moses to set up a brazen serpent; and commands them therein to have a forethought of the salvation by faith. For the remedy to one bitten, was to look at the serpent put before him, and faith along with the sight wrought deliverance at the last extremity to the beholders. So much for the history. But it represents in act as it were in a type, the whole Mystery of the Incarnation. For the serpent signifies bitter and manslaying sin, which was devouring the whole race upon the earth, manifoldly biting the soul of man, and infusing the varied poison of wickedness. And no otherwise could we escape it thus conquering us, save by the succour alone which is from heaven. The Word of God then was made in the likeness oj sinful flesh, that He might condemn sin in the flesh, as it is written, and to those who gaze on Him with more steadfast faith, or by search into the Divine doctrines, might become the Giver of unending salvation. But the serpent being fixed upon a lofty base, signifies that Christ was altogether clear and manifest, so as to be unknown to none, or His being lifted up from the earth, as Himself says, by His Passion on the Cross.
16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever helieveth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
He desireth to shew openly herein, that He is God by Nature, since one must needs deem that He Who came forth from God the Father, is surely God also, not having the honour from without, as we have, but being in truth what He is believed to be. With exceeding skill does He say this, having joined therewith the love of God the Father to us, well and opportunely coming to discourse thereon. For He shames the unbelieving Nicodemus, yea rather, He shews that he is ungodly also. For the not coming readily to believe, when God teaches anything, what else is it, than laying upon the Truth a charge of falsehood? Besides this, in saying that He was given for the life of the world, He persuades him to consider seriously, of how great punishment they will be in danger, who from their mad folly, have made of no account so wondrous grace of God the Father. For God, says He, so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son.
Let the Christ-opposing heretic again hear, and let him come forward and say, what is the greatness of the Love of God the Father, or how we should reasonably marvel at it. But he will say that the marvel of the love is seen, in His giving His Son for us, and that the Only Begotten. In order then that the great love of God the Father may remain and be preserved, let Him be held to be Son not a creature, I mean Son of the Essence of the Father, that is to say, Consubstantial with Him Who begat Him, and God verily and in truth. But if, according to thy speech, o thou, He possesseth not the being of the Essence of God the Father, He will also lose the being by Nature Son and God, and the wide-spread marvel of the Love of God will at length come to nought: for He gave a creature for creatures, and not truly His Son. Vainly too will the blessed Paul trouble us, saying, He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God? For confessedly he that despised trampleth under foot, but not the Very Son, but a fellow servant of Moses, if indeed creature be always akin to creature, in respect at least of having been made, even if it surpass the glory of another, in the excellences of being greater or better. But the word of Paul is true; and a severer penalty shall he pay who hath trodden under foot the Son, not as though he were transgressing against a creature, or one of the fellow servants of Moses. Great then and above nature is the Love of the Father, Who for the life of the world gave His Own Son and Who is of Himself.
17 For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Having plainly called Himself the Son of God the Father, He thought not good to leave the word without witness, but brings forward proof from the quality, so to say, of the things themselves, making the hearers more steadfast unto faith. For I was not sent, saith He, like the law-expounder Moses, condemning the world by the law, nor introducing the commandment unto conviction of sin, nor do I perform a servile ministry, but I introduce loving-kindness befitting the Master: I free the embondaged, as Son and Heir of the Father, I transform the law that condemneth into grace that justifieth, I release from sin him that is holden with the cords of his transgressions, I am come to save the world, not to condemn it. For it was right, it was right, saith He, that Moses, as a servant, should be a minister of the law that condemns, but that I as Son and God should free the whole world from the curse of the law and, by exceedingness of lovingkindness, should heal the infirmity of the world. If then the grace that justifieth is better than the commandment that condemneth, how is it not meet to conceive that He surpasseth the measure of the servant Who introduceth so God-befitting authority, and releaseth man from the bonds of sin?
This then is one aim of the passage under consideration, and no mean one. A second besides this, revolving through the same circuit, and introducing a consideration akin to those above, will be given from love of learning. The Saviour saw that Nicodemus was cleaving to the law of Moses, and was fast held to the more ancient commandment, and was somehow startled at the new Birth through the Spirit, shrinking from the new and Gospel polity, supposing it seems that this would be more burdensome than the things already enjoined. Being therefore not ignorant, as God, of the fear which from his ignorance had sprung upon him, by using one short argument, He frees him from all trouble on this score, and shews that the commandment of Moses, by reason of its condemning the world, is harder to be borne, and introduces Himself as a mild Judge, saying, For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on the Son is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the Name of the Only Begotten Son of God.
Having proved by facts, that He is both Son of God the Father, and introduceth into the world grace which is more excellent than the ministration of Moses (for how is not the being justified by grace better than the being condemned by the law?), He devised, as God, another way to bring unto the faith, from all quarters driving together to salvation them that were lost. He puts forth then to the believer as his reward the not being called to judgement, to the unbeliever punishment, bringing into one and the same way by both, calling to come readily unto the faith, some by desire for the grace, others by fear of suffering. He shews that heinous and great is the crime of unbelief, since He is Son and Only Begotten. For by how much is that worthy of belief which is insulted, so much the more will that which despises be condemned for his dire transgression. He says that he that believeth not is condemned already, in that he hath already determined against himself the due sentence of punishment, by knowingly rejecting Him Who gives not to be condemned.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.
He lets not the condemnation of the unbelievers remain without consideration, but recounts its causes, and shews clearly that, according to the words of the Proverbs, Not unjustly is the net spread for the birds. For they, saith He, who when it was in their power to be illuminated preferred to remain in darkness, how will not they fairly be determiners of punishment against themselves, and self-invited to suffering which it was in their power to escape, if they had been right provers of things, choosing rather to be enlightened than not, and studying to make the baser things second to the better? But He preserved the mind of man free from the bonds of necessity, and tending by its own impulses to both sides, that it might justly receive praise for good things, and punishment for the contrary. As indeed He sheweth in another place, saying, If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall, eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
Profitably doth He go over what has been said, and convicts indolence unto things helpful of proceeding from love of evil, and of having its root in unwillingness to learn those things whereby one may become wise and good. For the doer of evil, says He, flees from and refuses the being in the Divine Light: not hiding from shame on account of evil (for so he would have been saved) but desiring to remain in ignorance of what is becoming, lest transgressing he should be smitten, falling upon the now keener convictions of his own conscience, and by means of at length clearly knowing what is good, should pay a more woeful account to the Judge, if he should not do what was pleasing to God. But he that doeth truth (that is, the lover and doer of the works of the Truth) cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God. For he doth not reject the illumination in the Spirit, by It specially led to be able to understand in all calm collectedness, whether he hath transgressed the Divine commandment, and whether he hath wrought all things according to the Law of God.
It is then a plain proof of an unbridled tendency to evil, and unrestrained pleasure in what is worse, not to wish to learn that whereby one may avail to attain unto what is better: again of desire for the best, to thirst for illumination, and to make His Law a rule so to say and index unto a conversation pleasing to God. And the Divine Psalmist knowing that this was so, sings, The Law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
22, 23, 24 After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judaea. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there; and they came, and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison.
After the conversation with Nicodemus had now reached its conclusion, the Divine Evangelist again prepares something else most profitable. For enlightened by the Divine Spirit to the exposition of things most needful, he knew that it would exceedingly profit his readers to know clearly, how great the excellence, and by how great measures, the baptism of Christ surpasses that of John. For it was indeed not far from his expectation, that certain would arise who of their folly should dare to say, either that there was no difference whatever between them, but that they ought to be crowned with equal honours; or, having stumbled into folly even wilder than this, say, that the vote of superiority ought to be taken away from Christ’s baptism, and the superiority shamelessly lavished on the baptism by water. For what daring is not attainable by the ill-instructed, or through what blasphemy do they not rush, who rising up against the holy doctrines of the Church, pervert all equity, as it is written? The most wise Evangelist then, that he might destroy beforehand the plea for their vain-babbling, introduces the holy Baptist laying before his disciples the solution of the question. Christ therefore baptizes through His own disciples: likewise John too, and not altogether by the hands of others, nor yet did he baptize in those same fountains, where Christ was manifested doing this, but near to Salim, as it is written, and in one of the neighbouring fountains. And through the very distinction (in a way) of the fountains of waters does he shew the difference of the baptism, and signify as in a figure that his baptism is not the same as that of our Saviour Christ: yet was it near and round about, bringing in a kind of preparation and introduction to the more perfect one. As then the law of Moses too is said to have a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things (for the Mosaic letter is a kind of preparatory exercise and pre-instruction for the worship in the Spirit, travailing with the truth hidden within), so shalt thou conceive too of the baptism unto repentance.
25, 26 Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and a Jew 7 about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him,
The Jews being powerless to commend the purifications of the law, and not able to advocate the cleansing through the ashes of an heifer, plan something against John’s disciples, whereby they thought to cause them no slight vexation, albeit easily worsted in their own matters. For since they who attended the blessed Baptist, appeared to be more excellent and of more understanding than the Pharisees, admiring the baptism of their own teacher, and opposing the purifications after the law; they are vexed at these things, who are diligent in reviling only and most ready unto all wickedness: and even overturning their own case, they praise Christ’s Baptism, not rightly disposed, nor pouring forth true praise on it, but exasperated to the mere distressing of them; and lending out a statement against their opinion, until their purpose should attain its accomplishment. They cannot then adduce any reasonable proof, nor do they even support Christ out of the holy Scriptures (for, whence were such understanding to the uninstructed?): but they merely allege in confirmation of their own arguments, that very few in number are those who come to John, but that they flock together to Christ. For haply they in their exceeding folly thought that they should carry off the vote of victory, and might speak out in behalf of the legal purifications, as having already conquered, by giving the palm over John’s to the Baptism bestowed by Christ on those who come to Him. And they vex those with whom their dispute was: but they get off with difficulty and leave the disciples of John, much more beaten by their ill-considered dispute. For they crown with compulsory praises, and against their will, the Lord.
27 Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to Whom thou barest witness, behold, the Same baptizeth, and all mencome to Him. John answered and said,
The disciples bitten by the words of the Pharisees, and looking to the very nature of the thing, were not able to convict them as liars, but were reasonably at a loss, and being ignorant of the great dignity of our Saviour, are exceedingly startled at John’s shortcoming, and mingling words of love with reverence and admiration, they desire to learn, why He That was borne witness to by his voice, prevents him in honour, outstrips him in grace, and in baptizing takes in His net, not a portion of the whole Jewish multitude, but even all of them. And they made the inquiry as it seems not without the Will of God: for hence the Baptist invites them to an accurate and long explanation respecting the Saviour, and introduces the clearest distinction between the baptisms.
A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
He says that there is nothing good in man, but must needs be wholly the gift of God, For it befits the creation to hear, What hast thou that thou didst not receive? I think then that we ought to be content with the measures allotted to us, and to rejoice in the honours apportioned to us from heaven, but by no means to stretch out beyond, nor in desire ever of what is greater unthankfully to despise the decree from above, and fight against the judgment of the Lord, in shame that one should appear to receive what is less than the more perfect: but with whatsoever God shall please to honour us, to value that highly. Let not my disciple therefore, saith he, be ashamed, if I do not overleap the measure given me, if I do not contemplate the greater, and am contracted to the glory befitting a man.
28 Ye yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him.
He brings his disciples to the recollection of the words which they have already often heard, partly reproving them rightly, as steeped in forgetfulness of things profitable, and slumbering in respect to this so most dread doctrine, partly persuading them to remember the Divine Scripture, as having been nourished in zeal for the knowledge of these things; Whom it preaches as the Christ to come, whom again as the Baptist the forerunner. For thus would they, having received knowledge of each, be in no wise angry, seeing them in the state befitting each. I shall need then, saith he, no other witnesses to this, I have my own disciples as ear-witnesses, I confessed my state of servitude, when I fore-announced, I was sent, I am not the Christ. Let Him overcome, prevail, shine forth yet more as Lord and God.
29 He That hath the bride is the Bridegroom: but the friend of the Bridegroom, which standeth and heareth Him, rejoiceth greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice; this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
The discourse again took its rise from likeness to our affairs, but leads us to the knowledge of subtle thoughts. For types of things spiritual are those which endure the touch of the hand, and the grossness of corporeal examples introduceth oftentimes a most accurate proof of things spiritual. Christ then, says he, is the Bridegroom and ruler of the assembly, I the bidder to the supper and conducter of the bride, having as my chiefest joy and illustrious dignity, to be only enrolled among His friends, and to hear the Voice of Him That feasteth. I have therefore even now that that I long for, and my dearest wish is fulfilled. For not only did I preach that Christ would come, but Him already present have I seen, and His very Voice do I lay up in my ears. But ye, most wise disciples, seeing the human nature that is betrothed to Christ, going to Him, and beholding the nature which was cut off and a run-away from its love to Him attaining to spiritual union through holy Baptism, grieve not, saith he, that it befits not me, but rather runs very gladly to the spiritual Bridegroom (for this were in truth just and more fitting). For He That hath the bride is the Bridegroom; that is, seek not in me the crown of the Bridegroom, not for me does the Psalmist rejoice, saying, Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people and thy father’s house, for the King hath desired thy beauty: nor seeking my chamber doth the bride say, Tell me, O Thou Whom my soul loveth, where Thou feedest, where Thou makest Thy flock to rest at noon: she has the Bridegroom from Heaven. But I will rejoice, having surpassed the honour becoming a bondman, in the title and reality of friendship.
I deem then that the meaning of the passage, has been full well interpreted: and having already sufficiently explained the spiritual marriage, I think it tedious to write any more about it.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
He convicts his disciples of being yet troubled about trifles, and of taking unseasonable offence at what they by no means ought, and of not yet knowing accurately, Who and whence Emmanuel is. For not thus far, saith he, shall His Deeds be marvelled at, nor because more are baptized by Him, shall He for this alone surpass my honour, but He shall attain to so great a measure of honour, as befitteth God. For He must needs come to increase of glory, and, through daily additions of miracles, ever mount up to the greater, and shine forth with greater splendour to the world: but Imust decrease, abiding in that measure wherein I appear, not sinking from what was once given me, but in such a degree inferior to Him That advanceth ever to an increase of glory, as He hasteth and passeth on.
And this the blessed Baptist interpreteth to us. But our discourse will advance profitably through examples, making the force of what has been said clearer. Let then a stake two cubits long be fixed in the ground: let there lie near a plant too, just peeping above the ground, putting forth green shoots into the air, and ever thrust up to a greater height by the resistless vigour from the roots; if then one could put voice into the stake, and it should then say of itself and its neighbour the plant, This must increase, but I decrease; one would not reasonably suppose that it indicated any harm to itself, nor that its existing measure would be clipped, but it would be affirming its decrease in that sort only, in which it is found less than that which is ever advancing towards increase. Again you may take an example akin to this one, and suppose the brightest of the stars to cry out saying of the sun, It must increase, but I decrease. For while in the gloom of night the depth of the atmosphere is darkened, one may well admire the morning star flashing forth its golden light, and conspicuous in its full glory: but when the sun now gives notice of its rising, and bedews the world with a moderate light, the star is surpassed by the greater, and gives place to him advancing little by little. And it too might well speak the words of John, being in that same state, which he says he is enduring.
CHAPTER II. That the Son is not in the number of things originate, but above all, as God of God.
31 He That cometh from above is above all.
No great thing is it, saith he, nor exceeding wonderful, if Christ surpass the glory of human nature: for not thus far doth He set the bounds of His own glory, but is over all creation, as God, is above all things made, not as numbered among all, but as excepted from all, and Divinely set over all. He adds the reason, shaming the gainsayer, and silencing the opposer. He That cometh from above, saith he, that is, He That is born of the root from above, preserving in Himself by Nature the Father’s Natural goodness, will confessedly possess the being above all. For it would be impossible that the Son should not altogether appear to be such as He That begat is conceived of, and rightly. For the Son Who excelleth in sameness of Nature, the Brightness and express Image of the Father, how will He be inferior to Him in glory? Or will not the Property of the Father be dishonoured in the Son, and we insult the Image of the Begotten, if we count Him inferior? But this I suppose will be manifest to all. Therefore is it written also, That all men, should honour the Son even as they honour the Father: he that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father. He That glorieth in equal honour with God the Father, by reason of being of Him by Nature, how will He not be conceived of as surpassing the essence of things originate? for this is the meaning of is above all.
But I perceive that the mind of the fighters against Christ will never rest, but they will come, as is probable, vainly babbling and say, “When the blessed Baptist says that the Lord sprang from above, what reason will compel us to suppose that He came of the Essence of the Father, by reason of the word from above, and not rather from heaven, or even from His inherent superiority above all, so that for this reason He should be conceived of and said to be also above all?” When therefore they aim at us with such words, they shall hear in return, Not your most corrupt reasonings o most excellent, will we follow, but rather the Divine Scriptures and the Sacred Writings only. We must then search in them, how they define to us the force of from above. Let them hear then a certain one of the Spirit-clad crying, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from, above, and cometh down from the Father of lights. Lo, plainly he says that from above is from the Father: for knowing that nought else surpasseth things originate save the Ineffable Nature of God, he rightly attached to it the term from above. For all things else fall under the yoke of bondage; God alone riseth above being ruled, and reigneth: whence He is truly above all. But the Son, being by Nature God and of God, will not be excluded from the glory in respect of this. But if ye deem that from above ought to be taken as Of heaven, let the word be used of every angel and rational power. For they come to us from heaven who inhabit the city that is above, and ascend and descend, as the Saviour somewhere says, upon the Son of man. What then persuaded the blessed Baptist to attribute that which was in the power of many to the Son Alone specially, and as to One coming down from above to call Him, He That cometh from above? For surely he ought to make the dignity common to the rest, and say, They that come from above are above all. But he knew that the expression was due to the One Son, as sprung of the Supreme Root.
Therefore from above does not mean from heaven: but will be piously and truly understood, in the sense we spoke of before. For how is He at allabove all, if from above signify not From the Father, but rather From Heaven? For if this be so, every one of the angels too will be above all, as coming from thence. But if each one escapes being reckoned among all, of whom at last will all be composed? or how will the word all remain intact, preserving accurately its meaning, while such a multitude of angels overpass and break down the boundary of all? For all it is no longer, if they remain outside, who were in all. But the Word That shone forth ineffably from God the Father, having His Proper Birth from above, and being of the Essence of the Father as of a fountain, will not by His coming wrong the word all, seeing He escapes being reckoned among all as if a part: but rather will be above all, as Other than they, both by Nature and God-befitting Power and all other Properties of Him Who begat Him.
But perchance they will say abashed at the absurd result of the investigation, “From above means not from heaven, but from His inherent superiority above all.” Come then, testing more accurately the force of what is said, let us see at what an end their attempt will terminate. First then, it is wholly foolish and without understanding, to say that the Son Himself hath come from His Own Dignity, and that as from a certain place or out of one, He One and the Same advances from His Own Excellency to be above all. In addition to this, I would also most gladly enquire of them, in respect of the excellence above all, whether they will grant it to the Son Essentially and irrevocably, or added from without in the nature of accident. If then they say that He hath the Excellence by acquisition, and is honoured with dignities from without, one must needs acknowledge that the Only-Begotten could exist deprived of glory, and be stripped of the acquired (as they call it) grace, and be deprived of being above all, and appear bare of the excellence which they now admire, since an accident may be lost, seeing that it belongeth not to the essence of its subject. There will therefore be change and varying in the Son: and the Psalmist will lie hymning Him with vain words, The heavens shall perish, but Thou shalt endure: yea all of them shall wax old like a garment, as a vesture shalt Thou change them and they shall be changed: but Thou art the Same, and Thy years shall have no end. For how is He the Same, if with us He changeth, and that with changes for the worse? Vainly too (it seems) doth He glory of Himself, saying, Behold, behold, I am, I change not, and there is no God beside Me. And how will not the passions of the offspring reach up to the Father Himself too, since He is His Impress and Exact Likeness? God the Father then will be changeable, and has the Supremacy over all accruing to Him: I omit the rest. For what belongs to the Image will of necessity appertain unto the Archetype. But they will not say that He hath the supremacy from without (shuddering at such difficulties alike and absurdities of their arguments), but Essential rather and irrevocable. Then again (o most excellent) how will ye not agree with us even against your will, that the Son being by Nature God, is above all, and therefore cometh of the Alone Essence of God the Father? For if there be nought of things originate which is not parted off by the force of the All, but the Son is above all,to wit, as Other than all, and having the Essential Supremacy over all, and not the same in nature with all, how will He not be at length conceived of as Very God? For He Who is Essentially separate from the multitude of created beings, and by Nature escapes the being classed among things originate, what else can He be, save God? For we see no mean, as far as regards existing essence. For the creation is ruled over, and God is conceived of as over it. If then the Son be by Nature God, and have been ineffably begotten of God the Father, from above signifies the Nature of the Father. Therefore the Only Begotten is above all, inasmuch as He too is seen to be of that Nature.
He that is of the earth is earthly and speaketh of the earth. The earthborn (says he) will not effect equally in power of persuasion with Him Who is God over all. For he that is of the earth will speak as man, and will rank merely as an adviser, committing to his disciples the whole reins of desire to believe: but He That cometh from above, as God, having used discourse with a certain Divine and ineffable grace, sends it into the ears of those who come to Him. But in proportion as He is by Nature Superior, so much the more effectually will He surely in-work. And with much profit does the blessed Baptist say such things to his disciples. For since they were beholding him surpassed by the glory of the Saviour, and were now not a little offended thereat, wherefore they came to him and said, Rabbi, He That was with thee beyond Jordan, to Whom thou barest witness, behold the Same baptizeth, and all men come to Him; needs did the Spirit-clad, cutting off the sickness of offence, and implanting in his disciples a healthful perception on most necessary points, explain the Saviour’s supremacy over all, and teach no less the cause why all men were already going to Him, and leaving the baptism by water alone, went to the more Divine and perfect one, to wit, that by the Holy Ghost.
He that cometh from heaven is above all. This testifieth (saith he) that very great and incomparable the distinction between those of the earth and the Word of God That cometh down from above and from Heaven. If I am not fit to teach, and my word alone suffice you not, the Son Himself will confirm it, testifying that in an incomprehensible degree differs the earth-born from the Beginning Which is above all. For disputing somewhere with the unholy Jews, the Saviour said, Ye are from beneath; I am from above. For He says that the nature of things originate is from beneath, as subject and of necessity in bondservice to God Who calleth them into being: from above again He calleth the Divine and Ineffable and Lordly Nature, as having all things originate under Its feet, and subjecting them to the yoke of His Authority. For not idly did the blessed Baptist add these things to, those above. For that; he may not be supposed by his disciples to be inventing empty arguments, and from fear of seeming with reason inferior to Christ, to call Him greater and from above, himself from beneath and of the earth; needs does he from what the Saviour Himself said, seal the force of the things said, and shew the explanation to be not as they thought, an empty excuse, but rather a demonstration of the truth.
But since the other part of the verse runs thus, And what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth, come we will discuss a few things on this too. We are so constituted and habituated, as to receive the full proof of everything, by means of two especial senses particularly, I mean sight and hearing. For having been both ear-witnesses and eye-witnesses of anything, we come to speak positively thereof. Persuading them therefore to hasten to belief in Christ (for He speaks, says he, that He knows accurately), he takes again, as it were, from the likeness to us, that we may understand it more Divinely, and says, What He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth.
And no man receiveth His testimony.
Not as though no one receiveth the testimony, that Christ is God by Nature and, sprung from above and the Father, is above all, does the blessed Baptist say this (for many received, and have believed it, and before all Peter, saying, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God): but as having himself conceived of the great dignity of the Speaker more rightly than they all, does he all but shaking his head, and smiting with right hand on his thigh, marvel at the folly of them that disbelieve Him.
CHAPTER III. That Christ is God and of God by Nature.
33 He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.
In no other way was it possible to shew the impiety of them that believe not, except the glorious achievement of the believers were made known. For by the contrast of good things is the evil easily discerned, and the knowledge of what is better convicts the worse. If any then (saith he) have assented to the words of Him That cometh from above, he hath sealed and confirmed by his understanding, that truth is ever akin and most dear to the Divine Nature. Whence the converse is manifest to them that see. For he who thrusts away the faith will surely witness against himself, that God is not true. But we must again take notice, that he removes the Son from consubstantiality with the creation, and shews by what has been said that He is by Nature God. For if he that believeth the things spoken by Him, and receiveth the testimony which He gave of Himself, sealed and well confirmed that God is true; how shall not Christ be conceived of as by Nature God, Who is testified of as true by the credit of the things just said? or let our opponent again say how the Divine Nature is honoured, as being true, by our Saviour’s testimony being received. For if He be not wholly by Nature God, he that believeth will not be reverencing the Divine Nature, as true, but rather one (according to them) the fairest of creatures. But since, when Christ is believed, the declaration of being true extendeth to God, it is I suppose altogether clear, that He being God, not falsely so called, Himself taketh honour to Himself from those who believe.
But the enemy of the truth will not (it seems) agree to these words of ours, but will start up strong, not admitting the Son to be by Nature God: and will say again, Thou cavillest, sir, and contrivest turns of many-varied reasonings, ever rejecting somehow the simple and right sense. For since the Word of God hath come down from Heaven, calling out openly, I speak not of Myself, but the Father Which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak: and again, All things that I have heard of My Father, I will make known unto you: or also, as the holy Baptist averred in the following words, For He Whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: therefore of Him is he saying, He that receiveth His testimony hath set to his seal, that God is True. For verily is God the Father true, but thou attemptest to bring round to the Son what is due to Another.
What then shall we say to these things? shall we class the Only-Begotten among the prophets, fulfilling the ministry befitting Prophets, and doing nought besides? For by whom is it not unhesitatingly received, that Prophets used to bring us voices from God? Then what excellence is there in the Son, if He accomplish this alone? how is He above all, if He is still ranked along with Prophets, and is clad in slave-befitting measure? How, as though surpassing them in glory doth He say in the Gospels, If He called them gods unto whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, say ye of Him Whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest: because I said, I am the Son of God? For in these words He clearly severeth Himself off from the company of Prophets, and saith that they were called gods, because the Word of God came to them, but Himself He con-fesseth Son. For to the holy Prophets was imparted grace by measure through the Spirit; but in our Saviour Christ it hath pleased all the full ness of the God-head to dwell bodily, as Paul saith; wherefore also of His fullness have all we received, as John affirmed. How then will the Giver be On a par with the recipients, or how will the Fullness of the God-head be reckoned in the portion of the minister?
Let them then hence consider narrowly, into how great blasphemy their argument will hazard them. And how one ought to understand the words, I speak not of Myself, but the Father Which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment what I should say and what I should speak, will be explained more at large in its proper time and place. But I think that at present the objections of our opponents ought to be made a foundation of piety, and from what they put forth, we ought to contend for the doctrines of the Church. They then affirm that the Son has received commandments from the Father, and says nothing of Himself: but whatsoever He heard, as Himself says, these things He is zealous to say to us too. Well, let him hold to this; for we will agree, since this nothing wrongeth the Son, as far at least as concerns the question of whence He is; yea rather it bringeth in a most beautiful ceconomy in respect of the present subject. Therefore when they hear Him say, I and the Father are One; He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: let them receive His testimony, let them set to their seal, that God the Father is true,persuading the Son to speak what He knoweth accurately; let them not disbelieve the words of the Saviour, interpreting to us the things of His Father.
34 For He Whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.
The Father then knoweth that His own Son is in Him the Same by Nature (for this I suppose the words, are One, signify, and nothing else), and acknowledgeth Him as Son not creature; Son I mean of His own Essence, and not honoured with the bare name of Sonship. For He knows that He is the Exact Image of His own Proper Self, so that He is perfectly seen in Him, and depicts in Himself Him That by Nature Ineffably beamed forth from Him, and hath in Himself the Son, is again in the Son, by reason of Sameness of Essence.
These things, o heretic, by considering, thou shalt release thyself from bitter disease, and us from trouble in argument and controversy. For He Whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God. If these words be considered simply, what will there be of marvel in the Son? For was not every one of the holy Prophets also both sent from God, and did he not declare His words? And indeed it is somewhere said to the hierophant Moses, And now come, I will send thee into Egypt, and thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord: to the most holy Jeremiah, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. What more then is there in the Son by Nature Who speaketh the words of God, because He is sent by Him? He will be declared to us again (it seems) as a Prophet, and nothing else, in respect of ministry. Therefore you will here understand hath sent, either in respect of the Incarnation and the Coming into this world with Flesh: or again you will take it in a more God-befitting and higher sense. For the Father hid not the Son in Himself, but He beamed forth of His Nature, as brightness from light, after the unspeakable and inexplicable mode of Divine Generation: which too the Only-Begotten was making known to us, in saying, I came forth from the Father, and am come. For the Son hath come forth from the Father into His Proper Being, even though He be in Him by Nature. And what I came forth there means, this again the being sent here signifies. The Word then (he says) That hath appeared and flashed forth from the Father, in that He is God of God, will use words befitting God: but the words befitting God are true words, and such as reject all stain of falsehood. He then that receiveth the testimony of the Saviour hath sealed that God is true; for He is indeed by Nature God.
For He giveth not the Spirit by measure. Promise now specially keen attention, my good friend, that with me you may wonder at the sober wisdom of the Saints. He said therefore that the Son was both sent of God, and speaketh the words of God. But he is observed as far as belongs to the simple force of the words to clothe Him with the prophetic measure, as we have just said. He: removes Him then in these words from equality with them, and through this one token gives us to understand, how great, yea, rather now how incomparable the difference. For it is impossible, saith he, that they who have received the Spirit by measure, could give It to another. For never hath saint to saint been the bestower of the Holy Ghost: but the Son giveth to all, as of His own fulness. He then giveth not by measure, nor hath He, as they, some little portion of the Spirit, and this by participation: but since He was shewn to be the Giver too of It, it is manifest I suppose that He hath It wholly Essentially in Himself. He then that hath so great superiority over them, will not speak the. things of God as one of them, but being God of God, will pour forth words befitting God.
But it will no how interfere with what has been said that certain deem that by Apostolic hands the Spirit was given to some: for we will believe them to be invokers of the Spirit, rather than truly givers of It: since the blessed Moses too was not enjoined himself to take of the Spirit that was on him but God kept this too in His Power alone, saying that he must put forth the seventy, and promising to take of the Spirit that was on him, and put it upon them. For He knew that it befits God Alone to perform things God-befitting.
CHAPTER IV. That not by participation are the Properties of God the Father in the Son, but Essentially and by Nature.
35 The Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into His Hand.
For since he had said, that it behoved not the Son Who had beamed forth God of God, to be able to use words other than He That begat Him, to wit, true words; for He Whom God hath sent, saith he, speaketh the words of God, needs does he subjoin what is before us, and saith, The Father loveth the Son. We shall not grieve (saith he) God the Father by clothing in equal honour Him That is begotten of Him, we shall not offend Him by crowning with God-befitting Glory Him Who is Essentially the Heir of the Father’s goods. For He loveth the Son. He will therefore be pleased at His being glorified by us, and be grieved by the contrary. And let no one suppose, saith he, that He hath His Own Son Heir of this one Divine Excellence only. For He hath given all things into His Hand; i. e., everything, which is essentially good in the Father, this is altogether in the power of the Son. For he calleth power Hand in these words, as when God saith by one of the Prophets, My right Hand hath spanned the heavens, instead of, My Power. But the Son hath in Himself the whole Property of the Father, not by participation, though the Father be said to have given it (for so He would have an acquired, not a Natural Godhead) but the Father gives all that is His to His Son, just as a man too may be conceived to give to the child born of him all the properties of manhood, or as the fire too may be said to give to the heat proceeding from it in the way of energy, the property of its own nature. In such things, both is the giving no loss to the givers (for not by division or severance is the going forth of what is conceived to be given) and the appearance of receiving is blameless on the part of the recipients. For only because of the ‘whence,’ are such things said, and the offspring are conceived of as being a certain natural quality, so to say, of their begetters, shewing clearly what the generator is by nature, and flashing forth the natural energy of their own source. And these things again are adduced by way of examples, but God is above them all. We will not for this accuse human language which is weak, for the glory of God hideth speech, as it is written. And if we see through a glassand darkly, and conceive in part, how shall we not be yet more powerless in the words through the tongue? You will then piously conceive, either that in this way all things are given by the Father to the Son: or you will take it again of the oeconomy with Flesh, no longer introducing the giving and receiving in respect of Natural Properties, but as putting the Son in authority over all things originate, that you may conceive of it in some such way as this,
The Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into His Hand.
Let not the slow to hearken (he says) be bold in speech, at seeing the Lord of all a Man, nor let him suppose that the Truth is false, rejecting the due belief in God by reason of the Flesh. Let him receive His testimony, let him readily set to his seal that God is true, lest he grieve the Father Which is in Heaven. For He loveth His Son: and the proof of His Love for Him, is that authority over all is given to Him. Which also the Saviour Himself says, All things are delivered unto Me of My Father, and again, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Nor do I suppose that because of the Son’s seeming to receive it, will He reasonably be predicated by any as lesser: and why? for He receives when He became Man, when He humbled Himself for our sakes, when the Lord was called a slave, when the Son, Who is free, became among servants. For how did He humble Himself? or how is He said to have descended from His Equality with God the Father? Dost thou not in these things see Him Who Divinely giveth, Him Who Humanly and as a servant is said to receive what as God He had? For not strictly a gift from the Father is that which appointed the Son to the beginning of Lordship over all things; but rather a return and regain with the Flesh also of the authority that He had before the Flesh. For not when He became Man, did He then begin to rule the creation.
Since to what lowliness would one say that He had descended, if, when He became Man, He then began to have lordship? how will He appear in the Form of a servant, if then at length and scarcely declared Lord of all? Away with the absurdity of the reasonings herein. But when He became Man, then even so begins He to rule, not losing by reason of His Flesh the Divine Dignity, but mounting again with the Flesh also, to what He was from the beginning. But that the things spoken of as Christ’s, were but the regain of what He had before, Himself will prove, saying, Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. Seest thou that He asketh not for a beginning of glory, but a renewal of the pristine glory, saying this too as Man? But that because of the Human Nature is it said that all things are given to the Son, he that is fond of learning will from all quarters heap up proofs with wisdom, and will be able to understand, but specially from that most dread vision of Daniel, wherein he savs that he saw the Ancient of Days set on His Throne, and declares that thousand thousands ministered unto Him and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. And hereto he added, And behold one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him, and there was given Him dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him. Thou seest how here is the whole Mystery of the Incarnation accurately delineated to us; thou seest how the Son is said to receive the kingdom of the Father; shewn to the Prophet as no bare Word, but as the Son of Man (for He humbled Himself, as it is written, being found for our sakes in fashion as a Man), that He first brought back to His Kingdom, might be shewn forth a Beginning and Way to us of Glory into the Kingdom. And as He being by Nature Life did for our sakes descend unto death after the Flesh for all, that He might free us both from death and corruption, by His likeness to us having immingled us as it were with Himself and rendered us partakers of eternal life: so doth He confashion Himself to our low repute, being Lord of Glory as God, that He might restore the nature of man to the royal honour also. For in all things He hath the preeminence, as Paul saith, being both the Way and the Door and the Firstfruits of the good things of human nature, from death to life, from corruption to incorruption, from weakness to might, from bondage to sonship, from dishonour and ignominy to honour and kingly glory. Therefore when the Son appears to receive as Man what He had as God, let us no wise be offended but let us consider rather the mode of the oeconomy on our account and for us. For so we shall preserve our mind unwounded and unhurt.
36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.
Not simply, nor without examination doth the most wise Baptist testify that to them that believe in Christ is life set forth, as their Reward, but he brings forth to us the proof of it from the very quality so to speak of things. For the Only Begotten is by Nature Life: for in Him we live and move and are. But He is introduced into us of a surety through faith, and dwelleth in us through the Holy Ghost: and the blessed John the Evangelist will testify saying in his epistles Hereby know we that He dwelleth in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit. Christ will therefore quicken them that believe in Him, as being Himself Life by Nature and dwelling in them. But that the Son indwelleth in us by faith, Paul will furnish proof, saying, For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. Since then through faith Life by Nature entereth into us, how is he not true that saith, He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting Life? that is to say, the Son Himself, nought else than Him being conceived of as Life.
and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life.
Doth then (will haply some one say) the Baptist preach to us another opinion, and corrupt the doctrine of the resurrection, saying that he that believeth shall be quickened, wholly asserting that he that doth not shall not see life? We shall not all, it seems, rise; his word introducing to us this distinction. Whither then will that pass away, that is said absolutely and as it were to all, The dead shall be raised? What is Paul too about, saying,For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad? I suppose then that he that is eager after learning ought to be praised, nevertheless most accurate scrutiny must be made in Holy Scripture. For see clearly, I pray you, the distinction between the things said. For of the believer he says that he shall have everlasting life, of the unbeliever, the word hath a different significance. For he does not say that he shall not have life: for he shall be raised by the common law of the resurrection; but he says that he shall not see life, that is, he shall not so much as arrive at the bare sight of the life of the saints, he shall not touch their blessedness, he shall remain untasting of their life passed in bliss. For that is indeed life. But to exist in punishment is bitterer than all death, holding the soul in the body only for the sensation of sufferings. Some such difference in life Paul also brings forward. Hear what he says to those who are dead to evil for Christ’s sake, For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God; when Christ, your 9 life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory. Seest thou how he calls appearing in glory with Christ the life of the saints? But what when the Psalmist too sings to us, saying, What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil. Shall we not say that herein is signified the life of the saints? but it is, I think, evident to all. For he does not, forsooth, bid some to refrain from evil, that they may obtain the resurrection of the flesh hereafter (for they will rise again even if they do not cease from evil), but he rouses them rather to that life, wherein they may wholly see good days, passing an endless life in bliss and glory.
but the wrath of God abideth on him.
More openly by means of this which follows did the blessed Baptist shew us the aim of what has been said. Let him who loves to search consider carefully the force of the thought. He that believeth not (he saith) on the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. But if it were possible to understand that the unbeliever should be indeed bereft of the life in the body, he would surely have immediately added, “but death abideth on him.” But since he calls it the wrath of God, it is plain that he is contrasting the punishment of the ungodly with the enjoyments of the saints, and that he calls that life, which is the true life in glory with Christ, and the torments of the ungodly, the wrath of God. That punishment is ofttimes called wrath by the Divine Scriptures, I will adduce two witnesses, Paul and John: for the one said to the converted among the Gentiles,And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others; and the other to the Scribes and Pharisees, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Chap. iv.2, 3 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself baptized not but His disciples), He left Judaea and departed again into Galilee.
Whence our history proceeds to this point, or from what commencement the order of the narrative progressing, introduces the Lord as knowing thatthe Pharisees had learnt what they enquired, it will not be amiss (it appears) to say. For in that the holy Evangelist saith When therefore the Lord knew, it clearly brings forth a certain declaration of a subject previously under consideration. For He knew all things, without any one telling Him, of Himself, as God, and not at their first coming into existence, but even before they be, as the prophet testified. But He awaiteth the right season for each, and yields rather to the order of things, than to His foreknowledge: for this too was worthy of God-befitting ceconomy.
There being then a question between some of John’s disciples and a Jew about purifying, there was much disputing on both sides. For the one taking the part of their own master, were contending that his Baptism was far superior to the legal sprinklings and typical purifications of the others. And indeed probably they were adducing as a proof of this, that many came to him, and very gladly left the more ancient and older customs. These again on the other hand, when the argument was being borne down headlong by the opposite party, and the force of truth rushing down like waters, was overwhelming the feeble mind of its opponents, go against their own opinion, and against their own will say that the baptism bestowed through Christ is far more excellent. And now they begin to have the upper hand, using like arguments for their proof, and rising up against their conquerors with the same arguments. For they were affirming that many more are seen going to Christ, and that all men hasten to Him rather than to John. Whence I suppose the disciples of John kindled with grief go to their master and say, Rabbi, He That was with thee beyond Jordan, to Whom thou barest witness, behold, the Same baptizeth, and all men come to Him. The propositions or arguments of the Jews put forth out of strife, they put forward interrogatively. Hence therefore the Evangelist says that the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made more disciples than John, then that He shunning their lawless jealousy, and keeping His Passion for its own time, retreats from the land of the Jews, and withdraws again into Galilee.
4, 5 And He must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh He to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
O great readiness of mind and deep prudence! He prevents by his answers the things that would have been asked of him. For some one would straightway have said, either speaking to another, or secretly reasoning, Why did our Lord Jesus Christ, in not fit season, give illumination to the Samaritans? For once there came to Him the Syrophenician woman, with tears entreating mercy for her wretched daughter; and what said the Compassionate to her? It is not meet, saith He, to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. For He did not think it right, I suppose, to pour forth upon the Gentiles before the time the grace assigned to them of Israel. And this Himself made clearer by saying, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. How then (will one say) did He Who was sent to Israel alone begin to instruct the race of the Samaritans, albeit Israel had not yet wholly spurned the grace? To such things does he introduce the reply persuasive with power, to wit, that He must needs go through Samaria. For not for this reason alone did He arrange His sojourn with the Samaritans, that He might preach the word among them, and wholly transfer the whole blessing from Israel: but since He must needs pass through, therefore doth He teach, fulfilling the work of wisdom.
For as fire will never cease from its inherent natural operation of burning; so I deem it wholly impossible, that the Wisdom of all should not work what befits wisdom. And as, while saying that it is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it unto dogs, yet to the woman who wept and entreated for pity with many words, He cast the grace, not admonished by another of the season for giving it, but Himself with the Father being Appointer of it, as Son and God and Lord: so did He pity the Samaritans too, and unveiling the Ineffable Might of His God-befitting Authority, He made the illumination of a whole country the bye-work of a journey.
It were besides strange, that Israel, who was already mad in folly, and imagining slaughter against the Lord, should be perfectly loved. But since they do not yet thoroughly persecute Him, but as yet only in measure, therefore our Lord Jesus the Christ also doth not yet wholly strip them of His grace, but doth nevertheless draw off the blessing by little and little to others. But His departing wholly from the country of the Jews, and hasting to go into that of aliens, by reason of the cruelty of His persecutors, was a threat, depicted on the nature of the thing as in a type, that they should endure the total loss of grace, and should dismiss unto others their own good, that is, the Christ, unless they abstained from their violence against Him.
6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well.
Having crossed the borders of Judaea, and being now among aliens, the Saviour rests upon Jacob’s well: shewing us again as in a type and darkly, that even though the preaching of the Gospel should depart from Jerusalem, and the Divine Word at length hasten forth to the Gentiles, there shall not be lost therewith to Israel the love to their fathers, but Christ shall cleave to them again, and shall again be refreshed and rest, as in His Saints, preserving to them the pristine unfading grace. For He loveth to dwell in the memories of His saints, that He may make Himself an en-sample to us in this also, and may become the Beginning and Door of the honour given to the fathers. But being wearied with His journey, as it is written, He resteth, that in this too He may accuse the impiety of those that drove Him away. For whereas they ought to have gained His friendship by kindly honours, cherishing Him with reverence and fear, as a Benefactor, they maltreat the Lord with toil and labours, that He may be true, saying of them in the book of Psalms, And they rewarded Me evil for good.
Herein then is seen the daring of the Jews. But what will the Arians again, neighbours of these in folly, answer us to this, yea rather to whom it would rightly be said, Sodom was justified by thee? For the one crucify Christ in the Flesh, but the others rage against the Ineffable Nature Itself of the Word. Lo, He was wearied with His journey: Who was He Who suffered this? will ye bring before us the Lord of Hosts lacking in might, and will ye lay upon the Only Begotten of the Father the toil of the journey, that He may be conceived of as even Passible, Who cannot suffer? Or will ye, acting rightly, refuse so to think, and attribute the charge of these to the nature of the Body only, yea rather will ye say that the toil befits the Human Nature, rather than Him Who is, and is conceived of, as bare Word by Himself? As then He Who possesseth in His Own Nature Power over all things, and is Himself the Strength of all, is said to be wearied (for do not I pray do not divide the One Christ into a Duality of Sons, even though He make His own the sufferings of His Human Nature) albeit He abideth Impassible, since He became Man, Who had it not in Him to be weary; so if He at all speak also of things which we think rather befit man, and not God, let us not hunt after words, nor, when we most need skill unto piety, be then caught in exceeding folly, putting the plan of the oeconomy of the Flesh far away from us, ascending hotly to the Very Godhead of the Word, and laying hold with much folly of the things above us. For if He were not altogether called Man, if He were not made in the form of a servant, it were right to be troubled, when one said anything servile of Him, and to demand rather all things according to what befits God. But if in firm faith and unswervingly we are confident, that according to the voice of John, The Word was made Flesh, and tabernacled among us, when thou seest Him speaking as Flesh, that is, as Man, receive discourse befitting man, for confirmation of the preaching. For in no other way could we know certainly, that He being God and Word, became Man, had not the Impassible been recorded to have suffered something, and the High One to have uttered something lowly.
it was about the sixth hour.
He shews that opportunely did Jesus rest upon the well. For the sun pouring down its strongest rays from the mid-vault on those upon the earth, and consuming bodies with its unmitigated strokes, it would not have been without hurt to have gone further, but was more convenient to rest a little, especially when He would easily have thrust away the charge of luxuriousness, if the fitness of the season had agreed thereto.
He does not say that it was the sixth hour precisely, but about the sixth hour, that we too may learn not to be indifferent even about the least things, but rather to try and practise truth in common things.
7, 8, 9 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink. (For His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat). Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him,
The Saviour was not ignorant of the woman’s coming. For right well did He know being Very God, that she would forthwith be there to draw the cold stream from the fountain. But when she was now come, He began to get His prey within the toils, and straightway holding forth the word of teaching, made His discourse from what was before Him.
The Law appointed for the Jews that they must not be defiled in any way, and therefore ordered them to withdraw from every unclean thing, and not to mix themselves up with strangers, or uncircumcised. But they, carrying forward the force of the commandment to something more, and following most empty observances, ratter than the exactness of the Law, nor venturing so much as to touch the flesh of any alien, used to think that they would incur all uncleanness, if they were found having to do with the Samaritans in anything. To so great an extent did their disagreement at length advance, that they recoiled from tasting water or food brought to them by the hand of aliens. In order then that the woman may exclaim, and that His unwonted conduct may invite her to ask Who He is, and whence, and how He despises the Jewish customs; and so at length the conversation may come to His aim, He makes as though thirsty, saying, Give Me to drink. But she said,
10 How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her,
Enquiry is the beginning of learning, and to those who are ignorant upon any subject, doubt concerning it is the root of understanding. This commencement the discourse aims at: wherefore the Saviour wisely hints, that He accounts of no value the customs of the Jews.
11 If thou knewest the gift of God, and Who It is That saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto Him,
Not knowing the Essence of the Only Begotten, surpassing earth and heaven, yea rather being wholly ignorant of the Incarnate Word, the woman was calling Him a Jew. And profitably is He silent to this, that the foundation of His discourse with her may be kept. Yet does He uplift her to a higher conception of Himself, saying that she knows not Who It is Who asked drink, or how great grace Divine gifts have, insomuch that if she had had knowledge of it, she would not have endured to be behindhand, for she would have prevented the Lord in asking. He rouses her then by these things to a very earnest wish to learn. Observe how now too fashioning His discourse skillfully and free from boast, He says that He is God, even though the woman be slow to understand. For inducing her to marvel at the gift of God, He introduces Himself as the Giver of it. For if (says He,) thou knewest the gift of God and Who It is That saith to thee, thou wouldest have asked of Him. But whom would it befit to give the things of God? would it not Him Who is by Nature God?
But He calls the quickening gift of the Spirit living water, whereby alone human nature, albeit well nigh parched to its very roots, rendered now dry and barren of all virtue by the villainies of the devil, runneth back to its pristine beauty of nature, and drinking in the life-giving grace, is adorned with varied forms of good things, and shooting forth into a virtuous habit puts forth most thriving shoots of love towards God. Some such thing as this God says to us by the Prophet Isaiah also, The beast of the field shall honour Me, the dragons and the owls, because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen, whom I have formed for Myself to declare Mine excellencies. And another of the Saints says that the soul of the righteous shall be as a fruitful tree, and shall spring up as grass among the waters, and shall appear as the willow by running water.
We might heap up, besides those already quoted, many other testimonies also from the Divine Scripture, whence it would be very easy to shew, that under the name of water, the Divine Spirit is often named. But it is no time to linger here. Wherefore we will swim to other places, pressing on upon the great and wide sea of Divine meditations.
Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast Thou that living water?
The woman imagines nothing more than what she is accustomed to; and by no means understands the force of what is said, but supposes that like some of those who are accustomed to work wonders by means of charms and devilish deceit, without a line or other contrivance He will draw up the water to her from the depths of the well. But she calls that living water, according to her own meaning, which has fresh flowed from the breasts of the fountain.
12, 13 Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her,
The woman arrests herself, and that as quickly as possible, being conscious that she had taken up ideas of Him neither holily nor surely true. For it was not possible that she should not be altogether profited to understanding, who is wholly enjoying the Divine words. Since then it was possible that He Who speaks should not be a magician, but rather a Prophet, and one of those surpassing in holiness, and had therefore promised to give her the living water, without the usual means of buckets, or having found water far better to use from another source, she straightway changes her discourse for the soberer, and as it were compares saint with saint, saying, Art Thou greater than our father Jacob who gave us this well? Receive the intelligence of her thought, from her no longer wondering at His promising water with out a rope, but speaking only of its quality to the taste.
The Samaritans then were aliens (for they were colonists of the Babylonians), but they call Jacob their father for two reasons. For as inhabiting a country bordering on, and the neighbour of the Jews’ land, they were taking a little impression themselves of their worship, and were accustomed to boast of the Jews’ ancestors. Besides, it was really true that the greater number of the inhabitants of Samaria were sprung from the root of Jacob. For Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, having gathered together ten tribes of Israel, and the half-tribe of Ephraim, departed from Jerusalem in the time of the kingdom of Rehoboam the son of Solomon, and took Samaria, and built houses therein and cities.
14, 15 Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto Him,
The woman of Samaria proposing, as a hard question and difficult to cope with. Art Thou greater than our father Jacob; the Saviour most skilfully avoids all boasting, not saying clearly that He is greater, yet from the nature of the actions does He persuade her to approve Him who excels. Therefore He shews that incomparable is the difference between the spiritual waters, and the sensible and grosser ones, saying, Whosoever shall drink of this water shall thirst again, but he that is filled (saith He) with My water, shall not only be shewn to be superior to thirst henceforth, but he shall have in him a well of water able to nourish him to eternal life. Therefore He that giveth the greater, is greater (saith He) than he that hath the less, and the worsted will not carry off the same glory as the conqueror.
We must know again, that the Saviour here calls the grace of the Holy Ghost water, whereof if any be partaker, he shall have the gift of the Divine teaching evermore flowing up within him, so as no more to be in need of admonition from others, yea rather, readily to suffice to exhort those who thirst after the Divine and heavenly Word, such as were some yet living in this present life and upon earth, the holy Prophets and Apostles, and the heirs of their ministrations, of whom it was written, And ye shall draw water with joy out of the wells of salvation.
16 Give me this water, that I thirst not neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her,
Again does she both speak and imagine only ordinary things, and of the things that were said understands no whit; but she supposes that in being released from petty toils, will consist all the aim of our Saviour, and to thirsting no more does she bound the measure of the grace of God, not so much as in bare idea receiving things above the world.
Go call thy husband, and come hither.
Well and not untruly might one say, that the minds of woman are womanish, and that an effeminate soul is in them, never having the power of understanding readily. But the nature of man somehow is apter for learning, and far more ready for reasoning, having a mind awake to wisdom, and (so to say) warm, and of matured manhood. For this reason (I suppose) did He bid the woman call her husband, secretly convicting her as having a heart most slow to learn, not practised in the words of wisdom; yet He is at the same time contriving something else most beautiful.
17, 18, 19 The woman saith to Him I have no husband. Jesus saith unto her, Thou hast well said I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto Him,
To whom is it not now evident that the Saviour was not ignorant that she was bereft of any rightful husband and that He made the enquiry about her husband who was not, a plea for making known hidden things? For He was, He was thus with difficulty able to help her no longer marvelling at Him as one of us, but as now above man, by reason of His wondrous knowledge of her circumstances. And profitably does He approve her saying she has no husband, although she had had so many; for not the coming together out of pleasure, but the approval of the law and bond of pure love make marriage blameless.
Sir, I perceive that THOU art a Prophet.
With difficulty does she brighten up to apprehension, and that again not yet perfect. For she still calls the Lord of Prophets a Prophet. But she has by degrees shewn herself better than before, in no way ashamed at reproof, seizing to her own profit the force of the sign and so going forth from her effeminate understanding, attaining to some extent to a vigorous mind, and stretching forth the eye of her heart to an unwonted view of things. Wherein we must chiefly admire alike the forbearance and power of our Saviour, who easily remodels our untutored understanding to an admirable condition.
20, 21 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and YE say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her,
Conceiving that the Lord is in truth a Prophet and a Jew, she boasts exceedingly of the customs of her country, and asserts that the Samaritans are far superior in wisdom to the Jews. For the Jews admitting too gross notions of the Divine and Incorporeal Nature, contended that in Jerusalemalone, or its neighbour Sion, ought the God over all to be worshipped, as though the whole Ineffable and Incomprehensible Nature had once for all there taken abode, and was enclosed in temples made with hands. Wherefore they were convicted of being utterly without understanding, by the voice of the Prophets, God saying, Heaven is My Throne and earth is My Footstool, what house will ye build Me, saith the Lord, or what is the place of My rest? The Samaritans again little remote from the folly of the Jews, bordering both in country alike and uninstructedness, supposing that in the mount called Gerizim they ought both to pray and worship, rightly escape not being laughed at. But the plea to them also of their senselessness was, that the blessing was given in Mount Gerizim, as we find written in Deuteronomy. This question the woman proposes to the Saviour, as some great and difficult problem, saying, Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, &c.
Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming, when neither in Jerusalem nor in this mountain, shall ye worship the Father.
He condemns alike the folly of all, saying that the mode of worship of both shall be transformed to the more truthful. For no longer (saith He) shall a place be sought, wherein they shall deem that God properly dwells, but as filling and able to contain all things, shall they worship the Lord every one from his place, as one of the holy Prophets says. He says that His own sojourn in the world with a Body is the time and season for a change of such customs.
Observe how with most gentle leading of discourse, does He guide the mind of the woman to right conceptions respecting the Son, by calling Godthe Father. For how shall the Father at all be conceived of, if the Son be not?
CHAPTER V. That the Son is not in the number of worshippers, in that He is Word and God, but rather is worshipped with the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
He speaks again as a Jew and a man, since the economy of the matter in hand demands now too this mode of speaking (for Christ would not have missed meet opportunity): yet does He attribute something more in respect of understanding to the worship of the Jews. For the Samaritans worship God simply and without search, but the Jews having received through the Law and Prophets the knowledge of Him Who is, as far as they were able. Therefore He says that the Samaritans know not, but that the Jews have good knowledge, of whom He affirms, that salvation shall be revealed, that is Himself. For Christ was of the seed of David according to the flesh, David of the tribe of Judah. Amongst the worshippers again as Man does He class Himself, Who together with God the Father is worshipped both by us and the holy angels. For since He had put on the garb of a servant, He fulfilleth the ministry befitting a servant, having not lost the being God and Lord and to be worshipped. For He abideth the Same, even though He hath become Man, retaining throughout the plan of the dispensation after the Flesh.
And even though thou see an abasement great and supernatural, approach wondering, not accusing, not faultfinding, but rather imitating. For such Paul desireth to see us, saying, Let this mind be in each of you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the Form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself: taking upon Him the form of a servant, made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself. Seest thou how the Son became to us a Pattern of lowliness, being in Equality and Form of the Father as it is written: yet descended for our sakes to a voluntary obedience and lowliness? How then could the garb of obedience, how could that of lowliness appear, otherwise than through deeds and words beneath His God-befitting Dignity, and having a great inferiority to those wherein He was while yet bare Word with the Father, and not involved in the form of a servant? How shall we say that He has at all descended, if we allow Him nothing unworthy of Him? How was He made in the likeness of men, according to the voice of Paul, if He imitated not what befits man? But a thing most befitting men is worship, regarded in the light of a debt, and offered by us to God. Therefore He worshippeth as Man, when He became Man; He is worshipped ever with the Father, since He was and is and will be, God by Nature and Very.
But our opponent will not endure this, but will withstand us, saying: “Think it not strange when we say that the Son worships: for we do not suppose that the Son ought to worship the Father, in the same way as we or the angels, for example: but the worship of the Son is something special and far better than ours.”
What then shall we reply to these things? Thou thinkest, fellow, to mislead us, by putting a most noble bondage about the Only-Begotten, and gilding over the dignity of a servant by certain words of deceit. Cease from glorifying the Son with dishonour, that thou mayest continue to honour the Father. For he that honoureth not the Son, neither doth he honour the Father, as it is written. For what (tell me) will it profit the Only-Begotten in respect of freedom, that His worship of the Father should be made more excellent than ours? For so long as He is found among worshippers, He will be altogether a bondman, and even though He be conceived of as a superior worshipper, yet will He by no means differ from creatures in respect of being originate, but only in the remaining excellencies, as to men is superior Michael or any other of the holy and reasonable powers, to whom superiority to those upon earth seems essentially to belong, either in respect of holiness or any superabundance of glory, it having been so decreed by the Chief Artificer of all things, God: but the being classed with things originate, as having been created, is common to them with the rest. The Word then Who is in the Father and of the Father by Nature will never escape being originate, even though He be said to worship in a more excellent way. Then how will that which is made be yet Son, or how will the bondman and worshipper be by Nature Lord? For I suppose that the royal and lordly dignity is pre-eminent in being worshipped: but the office of servant and slave is defined in his paying worship. We confess then by being subject that we hold ourselves bound to worship the Nature which is superior and above all. Wherefore it was proclaimed to the whole creation by the all-wise Moses, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve. So that to whatsoever servitude belongs by nature, and whatever boweth under the yoke of the Godhead, this full surely must needs worship, and submit to the garb of adoration. For in saying Lord, he defines the bond, in saying God, the creature. For together are they conceived of, and contrasted, the bond with Him who is by Nature Lord, and that which is brought into being, with the Inoriginate Godhead.
But seeing the Son is eternally in the Father and is Lord as God, I am at a loss to shew whence He can appear to owe worship. But let them proceed with their babbling: “The Only Begotten (says he) will worship the Father, neither as bond nor created, but as a Son the Father.” We must therefore take adoration into the definition of Sonship, and say that it altogether behoves the Son to worship the Father, for that in this consists His being, even as does ours in being reasonable mortal creatures, recipient of mind and knowledge, rather than in committing ourselves to motions external and impulsive, and to the mere swayings of will. For if there have been implanted by Nature into the Only Begotten, the duty wholly and of necessity to worship, and they so hold and say, how will they not be caught in naked blasphemy against the Father Himself? For it is altogether necessary to conceive of Him too as such, since the Son is His Image and Impress, and whatever things are in exact likeness, these full surely will differ in nothing. But if they say that the Son pays worship to the Father in will alone, they are guessers, rather than knowers of the truth. For what would hinder others too from saying, fabricating a hazardous piety, that it was the will of the Father to worship the Son, though not a worshipper by Nature?
“But (says he) fitness itself will remove the Person of the Father, will subject the Son to this, His worship of the Father not unwilled.”
What sayest thou, o sir? Dost thou again bring forth to us oracles as from shrines, or Greek tripods, or comest thou like that Shemaiah the Nehelamite, belching forth out of thine own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord? and dost thou not blush, opposing to us fitness, as though invincible in these matters? For dost thou not think it befits Him Who is by. Nature God, to have the Word begotten of Him God, and that He Whom the whole creation worships, should be called and be by Nature the Father of a Son Who is worshipped, rather than a worshipper? But I think I say nothing displeasing to the truly wise. But how shall we define that it also befits that the Father be worshipped by His Own offspring, when such a conception as to Both endures so great damage? For in the first place that which worships not will be neither in equality of dignity, nor in exact Image of nature with that which worships. For it worships as inferior, and that not measurable by quantity, in respect of any natural quality (for He That is God or Lord will not be lesser), but as differing in the definition of mode of being. Then how will He be shewn to be true in saying, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father? how doth He say that He ought to be honoured in no less degree than the Father, if He be not His Equal in glory by reason of His worshipping? Then besides, the Father will Himself too appear to be in no slight unseemliness. For it is His glory to beget such as Himself is by Nature: on the other hand it is no slight disgrace, to have a son of another kind and alien, and to be in such case as even the very nature of things originate shrinks from. For they that have received power to bear, bear not worse than themselves, by the ordinance and will of the Artificer of all things. For, saith He, let the earth bring forth grass, the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind and after his likeness. The Godhead then will be in worse case than things originate, since they are thus, It not so, but that which was adjudged alike to befit and to have been well arranged for the successions of things which are, this It Alone will be found without.
Who then, most excellent sirs, will endure you saying, that it befits the Son to worship His Father? But when it has been added to those words of yours, that neither is this unwilled by the Only-Begotten, and this gratuitous argument of yours ye fortify merely by fitness; come, let us consider this too from the Divine Scriptures, whence I think one ought zealously to look for proof on every disputed point. The law therefore enjoined the half of a didrachm to be paid by every one of the Jews to Him Who is God over all, not as devising a way of getting wealth, nor contributions of money to no purpose, but imparting us instruction by clearest types: first, that no one is lord of his own head, but that we all have one Lord, enrolled unto servitude by the deposit of tribute; next, depicting the mental and spiritual fruits, as in a grosser representation and act. For (says he) Honour the Lord with thy righteous labours, and render Him the first fruits of thy fruits of righteousness, which came to pass through the Gospel teaching, the worship after the law being at last closed. For no longer do we think we ought to worship with external offerings the Lord of all, pressing to pay the didrachm of corruptible matter: but being true worshippers, we worship God the Father in Spirit and in. truth. This meaning we must suppose to lie hid in the letter of the law.
When then the Lord was in Jerusalem, the gatherers of the didrachm were asking of Peter, saying, Doth not your Master pay the didrachm? But when he was come into the house, as it is written, Jesus prevented him, saying, of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own. children or of strangers? When he said, Of strangers, Jesus said, Then are the children free; yet lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a stater: that take and give unto them for Me and thee. Seest thou that the Son endured not to be under tribute, and as one of those under’ the yoke of bondage, to undergo a servile thing? For knowing the free dignity of His Own Nature He affirms that He owes nothing servile to God the Father: for He says, The children are free. How then hath He the worship befitting a slave, and that of His own will? He who shrank at even the bare type of the thing, how could He accept the verity? For shall we not reckon worship as a tribute and spiritual fruit-bearing, and say that it is a kind of service? For why did the law join service to worship, saying, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve? For worship is so to say the gate and way to service in deed, being the beginning of servitude to God. Wherefore the Psalmist says to some, O come, let us worship and fall down, and weep before the Lord our Maker. Seest thou how the duty of falling down follows upon, and is joined to, worshipping? than which what will be more befitting a servant, at least in the estimation of those who rightly weigh the qualities of things, I cannot say.
But if our opponents persist, bearing themselves haughtily in yet unbroken impudence, and cease not from their uninstructed reasonings on these subjects, let them going through the whole Holy Scripture, shew us the Son worshipping God the Father, while He was yet bare Word, before the times of the Incarnation and the garb of servitude. For now as Man, He worships unblamed: but then, not yet so. But they will not be able to shew this from the Divine and sacred Scriptures, but heaping up conjectures and surmisings of corrupt imaginations, will with reason hear. Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the glory of the Only Begotten. For that He does not worship in that He is Word and God, but having become as we, He undertook to endure this too as befits man, by reason of the dispensation of the Flesh—-; the proof shall not be sought by us from without, but we shall know it from His own Words. For what is it that He is saying to the woman of Samaria? YE worship ye know not what, WE know what we worship. Is it not hence too clear to every body that in using the plural number and numbering Himself with those who worship of necessity and as bond, that it is as made in human nature which is bond that He is saying this? For what (tell me) would hinder His drawing the worship apart into His own Person, if He wished to be conceived of by us as a worshipper? for He should rather have said, I know what I worship, in order that, unclassed with the rest, He might appropriate the force of the utterance to Himself alone. But, now most excellently and with all security He says WE, as already ranked among the bond by reason of His Manhood, as numbered among the worshippers, as a Jew by country.
23, 24, 25 But the hour is coming and now is when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. The woman saith to Him,
He is intimating the time now present of His Own Presence and says that the type shall be transferred to truth and the shadow of the Law to spiritual worship: He tells that through the Gospel teaching the true worshipper, that is, the spiritual man, shall be conducted to a polity well-pleasing unto the Father, hasting unto ownness with God. For God is conceived of as a Spirit, in reference to the embodied nature. Rightly therefore does He accept the spiritual worshipper, who does not in form and type carry in Jewish wise the form of godliness, but in Gospel manner resplendent in the achievements of virtue and in rightness of the Divine doctrines fulfilleth the really true worship.
We know that Messias is coming, Which is called Christ: when He is come, He will tell us all things.
Upon Christ teaching that the hour and season will come, rather is already present, wherein the true worshippers shall offer to God the Father the worship in spirit; forthwith the woman is winged to thoughts above her wont unto the hope spoken of by the Jews. She confesses that she knows that the Messiah will come in His own time, and to whom He will come, she does not exactly say, receiving (as is like) the common reports of Him without any investigation, as being a laughter-loving and carnal-minded woman; yet is she not wholly ignorant that He will be manifested to Israel as a bringer in of better teaching, finding most certainly this information too in the reports about Him.
26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He.
Not to untutored or wholly ignorant souls doth Christ reveal Himself, bat shines upon and appears the rather to those who are more ready to desire to learn, and travailing with the beginning of the faith in simple words, press forward to the knowledge of what is more perfect. Such an one as this was the woman of Samaria also shewn to us, giving her mind more grossly than she ought to the truly Divine ideas, but not entirely removed from the desire of understanding somewhat. For first, on Christ asking for drink, she does not readily give it: but beholding Him breaking (as far as one can speak humanly) the national customs of the Jews, she begins to seek first the reason of this, all but, by her mentioning it, inviting the Lord to an explanation: How is it (says she) that THOU being a Jew askest drink of me which am a woman of Samaria? But when during the progress of questioning, she at length begun to confess that He was a Prophet, having received His reproof a medicine unto salvation, she added another inquiry saying with zeal for learning: Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and YE say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. But He was teaching this again, that the time shall come, yea, is already present, when the true worshippers, rejecting worship on the mountains of earth, shall offer the higher and spiritual worship to God the Father. She attributing the best of all as the due of the Christ alone, and keeping the more perfect knowledge for those times, says, We know that Messias cometh Which is called Christ; when He is come, He will tell us all things. Seest thou how ready to believe the woman was already getting, and as though ascending a staircase, springs up from little questions to a higher condition? It was right then to lay open to her with now clearer voice what she longed for, telling her that that which was preserved in good hope is at length set before her in sight, I that speak unto thee am He.
Let them therefore who have the care of teaching in the Churches commit to the new-born disciples, the word of teaching to be digested, and so at length let them shew them Jesus, bringing them up from slight instruction to the more perfect knowledge of the faith. But let them who, taking hold of the alien and so proselyte, and bringing him within the inner veil, suffer him to offer the Lamb with hands yet unwashen, and crown with the dignity of the Priesthood him who is not yet instructed, prepare for a mighty account in the day of judgment. It is sufficient for me only to say this.
27 And upon this came His disciples
The presence of the disciples is the conclusion of His conversation with the woman. For the Saviour is at length silent, and having placed in the Samaritans the glowing spark of the faith, commits it to their inward parts to be kindled to a mighty flame. Thus you may understand what was said by Him, I am come to send fire on the earth, and what will I, if it be already kindled?
and marvelled that He talked with the woman:
The disciples again are astonished at the gentleness of the Saviour, and wonder at His meek way. For not after the manner of some who are fierce with unslacked religion, did He think right to shun conversation with the woman, but unfolds His Loving-kindness to all, and hereby shews, that He being wholly One Artificer, doth not to men alone impart the life through faith, but snareth the female race also thereto.
Let him that teacheth in the Church gain this too as a pattern, and not refuse to help women. For one must in every thing follow not one’s own will, but the service of preaching.
yet no man said, What seekest Thou? or, Why talkest Thou with her?
It was the work of wise disciples, and knowing how to preserve their Master’s honour, not to seem by their superfluous questions to be going off into strange surmises, because He was talking with a woman, but rather in reverence and fear to restrain their tongue within their teeth, and to await their Lord speaking of His own accord, and giving them a voluntary explanation. We must therefore herein marvel at Christ for His gentleness, at the disciples for their wisdom and understanding and knowledge of what is becoming.
28 The woman therefore left her waterpot and went her way into the city,
The woman now shews herself superior to and above the cares of the body, who two or three days ago was the wife of many, and she who ofttimes was easily taken captive by vain pleasures, now overreaches the flesh of its necessary want, disregarding alike thirst and drink, and is re-wrought unto another habit through faith. Forthwith doth she, exercising love the fairest of all virtues, and neighbourly-affection, diligently proclaiming to others also the good which appeared to her, hasten quickly into the city. For probably the Saviour was telling her, and secretly whispering in her mind, Freely ye received, freely give. Learn we hereby, not to imitate that sloth-loving servant, and who therefore hid his talent in the earth, but rather let us be diligent to trade with it. Which thing too that much-talked-of woman well doing, communicates to the rest the good which fell to her, no longer taking the water which she came to draw, from its fountain-depths, nor carrying home her waterpot of the earth, but rather with Divine and heavenly grace and the all-wise teaching of the Saviour filling the garners of her understanding.
We must hence learn, as in a type and outline, that by thoroughly despising little and corporal things, we shall receive of God things manifold more and better. For what is earthly water, compared with Heavenly wisdom?
29 and saith to the men Come see a Man which told me all things that ever I did; is not This the Christ?
O wondrous change! O truly great and God-befitting Might, translucent with unspeakable marvel! Skilful workwoman unto doctrine, and initiater is she, who understood none of the things that were said at first, and therefore rightly heard, Go, call thy husband and come hither. For see how skilfully she conversed with the Samaritans. She does not say at once that she has found the Christ, nor does she introduce Jesus at first into her account. For rightly would she have been rejected, as far surpassing the measure of words befitting her, finding her hearers not ignorant of her habits. She first then prepares the way for this wonder, and having first astonished them with the miracle, makes the way smoother, so to say, to the faith. Come and see, she wisely says; all but crying aloud with more earnest voice, Sight alone will suffice to belief, and will assure those present with its more note-worthy marvels. For He Who knoweth the hidden things, and hath this great and God-befitting dignity, how shall He not speed with prosperous course to the fulfilment of those things which He willeth?
30 They went out of the city, and came unto Him. The obedience of the Samaritans is a conviction of the hardness of heart of the Jews, and their inhumanity is clearly shewn in the gentleness of these. And let the seeker of learning see again the difference of habit in both, that he may justly wonder at Jesus, departing from the Synagogue of the Jews, and giving Himself rather to the aliens. For that Christ should come to the Jews, and for what causes He should be revealed, the law of Moses declared to us, the all-august choir of the Prophets did proclaim, and did point Him out at length all but present at the doors, saying, Behold your God, Behold the Lord; and last of all John, the great among them that are born of women,did manifest Him already appeared, and dwelling among us, saying, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world; and (yet more wonderfully than all) the Saviour was revealing Himself through many deeds of power and God-befitting authority. What then do these men unbridled unto strange counsels at last meditate yet? They devise murder unjustly, they plot impiously, they envy stubbornly, they drive forth of their land and city, the Life, the Light, the Salvation of all, the Way to the kingdom, the Remission of sins, the Bestower of sonship. Wherefore rightly said the Saviour, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the Prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you. But the Samaritans shew themselves superior to the folly of the Jews, and by obedience victorious over their innate unlearning, having given ear to one miracle only, they flock quickly to Jesus, not persuaded thereto by the voices of the holy Prophets, or by the proclamations of Moses, nor yet the actual pointings of John, but one only woman and she a sinner telling them of Him. With reason then, let us too admiring the sentence of the Saviour against them, say, Righteous art Thou, o Lord, and upright Thy Judgment.
31, 32 In the mean time His disciples prayed Him, saying Master, eat. But He saith unto them
Most excellently doth the Divine Evangelist manage the compilation of this book, and omits nothing which he believes will at all be of use to the readers. Hear therefore how he introduces Jesus again as the Ensample of a most note-worthy act. For I do not think that any thing has been put in vain in the writings of the saints, but what any man deems small, he sometimes finds pregnant with no contemptible profit. The conversion of the Samaritans being then begun, and they on the point of looking for Him (for He knew as God that they would come): wholly and entirely is He intent upon the salvation of them which are called, and makes no account of bodily food, although wearied with His journey, as it is written: that hereby again He might profit the teachers in the Churches, and persuade them to disregard all fatigue, and use more diligent zeal for those who are being saved, than for the care of their bodies. For Cursed, saith the Prophet, be he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently. In order then that we may learn that the Lord was accustomed to go without food at such times, he introduces the disciples, begging and all but on their knees, that He would take a little of their provisions, as inevitable and necessary food. For they had gone away into the city to buy meat which they had now got and come with.
I have meat to eat that YE know not of.
Skilfully does the Saviour fashion His answer from what was before Him. He all but says darkly, that if they knew that the conversion of the Samaritans was at the doors, they would have persuaded Him rather to cling to that as a delicacy than to nourish the flesh. From this again we may learn how great love for man the Divine Nature hath: for It considereth the return of the lost unto salvation as both meat and treat.
33, 34 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them,
The disciples not yet understanding the discourse which was obscure, were reasoning about what had often happened among themselves, and descend to common place ideas, fancying that food had been brought Him by some one, and that it was perhaps more costly or sweeter than what had been got together by them.
My meat is to do the Will of Him That sent Me and to complete His Work.
Having wholly torn away the veil from His speech, He shewed them in full translucence the truth, and forthwith introduces Himself as a type unto future teachers of the world, of steadfast and most exceeding excellent zeal, to wit in respect of the duty of teaching, and on this account fitly keeping thought for the needful care of the body secondary. For in saying that it was to Himself most pleasant meat, to do the Will of Him that sentHim and to finish His Work, He limns the office of the Apostolic ministry and clearly shews, what manner of men they ought to be in habit. For it was necessary (as it seems) that they should be strung to taking thought for teaching only, and it behoved them to be so far removed from the pleasure of the body, as at times not even to desire the service necessary for the mere accomplishing its preservation from death.
And let this be said for the present, as tending to the type and pattern of Apostolic polity. But if we must in addition to what has been said, apply ourselves to speak more doctrinally, He says that He was sent, clearly by God the Father, either in respect of the Incarnation, wherein He beamed on the world with Flesh, by the good Pleasure and Approbation of the Father; or as the Word proceeding in some way from the begetting Mind, and sent and fulfilling His decree, not as though taken as a minister of others’ wills, but Himself being alike both the Living Word and the most evident Will of the Father, readily saving those that were lost. Therefore in saying that it is the work of Him That hath sent Him, Himself is shewn as its Fulfiller: for all things are by the Father through the Son in the Spirit. For that the Son is the Word and Counsel and Will and Power of the Father is, I suppose, evident to all: but it is no trouble to prove it from the Divine Scripture also. Therefore let any one see that Ho is the Word in this, In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God: let him see Counsel, in that the Psalmist says, as to God the Father, In Thy Counsel Thou guidedst me and with glory didst Thou receive me: let him see Will again in his saying, Lord in Thy Will give strength to my beauty. For He strengthened the beauty of His saints, that is, their vigour unto every virtue, He, the Living and Hypostatic Will of the Father, that is the SON. That He is Power also, thou shalt again understand hence, Command, O God (he says) Thy strength: strengthen, O God, that which Thou wroughtest for us. Thou seest clearly herein, that by the good Pleasure of God the Father, His Power, that is, the Son, was Incarnate, that He might strengthen this body, which He perfected for us. For if He had not tabernacled among us, neither would the nature of the flesh at all have put off the infirmity of corruption. The Son then being Himself the good Will of the Father, perfects His Work, being shewn forth salvation to them that believe on Him.
But some one will say to this: “If the Son is Himself the Will of the Father, what will was He sent to fulfil? for the fulfilled must needs be other than the fulfiller.” What therefore do we say to this? The giving of names indeed demands difference in the things signified, but often there is no difference in respect of God, and word regarding the supreme Nature rejects accuracy herein. For Its Properties are spoken of, not altogether as they are in truth, but as tongue can express, and ear of man hear. For he that seeth darkly, darkly also he speaketh. For what wilt thou do when He Who is by Nature Simple introduceth Himself to us as compound, in that He saith of them of Israel, And their children they made pass through the fire, which I commanded not, neither came it into My heart? for must not the heart needs be other than he in whom it is? and how then shall God be yet conceived of as Simple? The things therefore about God, are spoken of after the manner of men: they are so conceived of, as befits God, and the measure of our tongue will not wrong the Nature That is above all. And therefore even though the Son be found speaking of the Will of the Father, as of something other than He, you will make no difference, attributing fitly to the weakness of our words their not being able to say any thing greater, nor to signify their meaning in any other way.
And let these things bo said in proof of the Son being conceived of as also the Will of the Father; but in the passage before us, no reason will compel us to conceive that the Will of the Father means the Son, but rather we may well receive it as His good Will to the lost.
35 Say not YE, There are yet four months and the harvest cometh?
He again taketh occasions of His Discourse from the time and event, and from the grosser things of sense He fashioneth His declaration of spiritual ideas. For it was yet winter at that time, and the tender sprouting and fresh stalk of the seed was scarce bristling forth from the soil: but after the expiration of four months, it was awaiting its fall into the hand of the reaper. Do not therefore YE men say (saith He) that there are yet four months, and the harvest cometh?
Behold I say unto you, Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest.
That is, raising up the eye of your understanding a little from the affairs of the earth, consider ye the spiritual sowing, that it hath progressed already and whitened unto the floor, and at length calls for the reaper’s sickle unto itself. But from the similarity to things in actual life, you will see what is meant. For you will conceive that the spiritual sowing and multitude of spiritual ears, are they who, tilled beforehand by the voice of the Prophets, are brought to the faith that should be shewn through Christ. But it is white, as being already ripe and ready to the faith, and confirmed unto piety. But the sickle of the reaper is the glittering and most sharp word of the Apostle, cutting away the hearers from the worship according to the law, transferring them to the floor, that is, to the Church of God: there they bruised and pressed by good toils shall be set forth pure wheat worthy of the garner of Him Who gathereth it.
36, 37 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal, that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. For herein is the saying true, One soweth and another reapeth.
It is the time (saith He) of the Word calling to the Faith, and shewing to the hearers the arrival at its consummation of the legal and Prophetic preachings. For the law by typical services, as in shadows did foreshew Him That should come, that is, Christ: the Prophets after it, interpreting the words of the Spirit, Yet a little while, were fore-signifying that He was even now at hand and coming. But since He hath stepped within the doors, the word of the Apostles will not remove to far distant hope that which was expected, but will reveal it already present: and will reap from legal worship those who are yet in bondage to the law and who rest in the letter only, and will transfer them as sheaves into the Evangelic habit and polity; and will likewise cut off from polytheistic straying the worshipper of idols, and will transfer him to the knowledge of Him That is in truth God, and, to speak all in brief and succinctly; will transform them who mind things on the earth unto the life of the Angels through faith to Christ-ward.
This (saith He) the word of the reapers will effect, yet shall it not be without an hire: for it shall surely gather for them fruit which nourisheth unto life eternal: nor shall they who receive rejoice in themselves alone but as having entered into the labours of the Prophets, and having reaped the seed fore-tilled by them, shall fill up one company with them. But I suppose that the most wise Paul, having throughly learnt the types of things to come, hence says of the holy fathers and Prophets that, These all, perfected through faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. For the Saviour thought good, that the reaper should rejoice together with him who before had sown.
38 I sent you to reap that whereon YE have not laboured: other men have laboured, and YE are entered into their labours.
He at length unveils to them the whole mystery, and having removed the dark cloak of words, renders most clear the understanding of His meaning. For the Saviour being a Lover of the Prophets, and a Lover of the Apostles, makes neither the labour of those to be apart from the hand of the Apostles, nor does He allot entirely to the holy Apostles the glorying in respect of those who should be saved through faith in Him: but having mingled as it were the toil of each with their mutual co-work, He says (and with great reason) that one shall be the honour to both. He affirms that the Apostles had entered into the labours of the holy Prophets, not suffering them to spring upon the good fame of those who proceded them, but persuading them rather to honour them, as having gone before them in labour and time. That this will be to us too a most beautiful lesson, who will refuse to admit?
39 And from that city many of the Samaritans believed on Him for the saying of the woman which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
Israel is again hereby too condemned, and by the obedience 11 of the Samaritans, is convicted of being alike reckless of knowing and harsh. For the Evangelist marvels much at the many who believed on Christ, saying, For the saying of the woman; although they who were instructed through the law to the knowledge hereof, neither received the words of Moses, nor acknowledged that they ought to believe the heraldings of the Prophets. He in these words prepares the way before, or rather wisely makes a defence before, for that Israel should with reason be thrust away from the grace and hope that is to Christ-ward and that instead should come in the more obedient fulness of the Gentiles, or aliens.
40, 41 So when the Samaritans were come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them: and He abode there two days. And many more believed because of His Own Word,
He explains in simplicity of words what took place: but prepares again another proof, that Israel ought justly to be cast off from their hope, and the aliens to be transplanted into it. For the Jews with their bitter and intolerable surmises, spitefully entreat Jesus manifoldly working miracles and radiant in God-befitting glory, and blush not to rage to so great an extent as to make Him an exile, and zealously to drive out of their city Him Who is the giver to them of all joy: while the Samaritans persuaded by the words of one woman, consider that they ought to come to Him with all speed. And when they were come, they began zealously to entreat Him to come into their city, and to pour forth to them of the word of salvation; and readily does Christ assent to both, knowing that the grace will not be unfruitful. For many believed because of His own Word.
Let him that is God-loving and pious hence know, that from them that grieve Him Christ departeth, but He dwelleth in them that gladden Him through obedience and good faith.
42 And said unto the woman, No longer do we believe, because of thy saying: for ourselves have heard Him and know that This is indeed the Saviour of the world.
From the greater things does the faith of the Samaritans spring, and not any longer from what they learn from others, but from those whereof they are the wondering ear-witnesses. For they say that they know that He is indeed the Saviour of the world, making the confession of their hope in Him the pledge of their faith.
43, 44 Now after the two days He departed thence unto Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.
He departs from Samaria, having now sown the Word of salvation, and like a husbandman hidden the faith in them that dwell there, not that it might be bound captive in the silence of them that received it, quiet and deep buried, but rather that it might grow in the souls of all, creeping on and advancing ever to the greater, and running to more evident might. But since He passes by Nazareth lying in the midst, wherein it is said that He was also brought up, so that He seemed to be from thence and its citizen, and goes down rather to Galilee; of necessity he offers an explanation of His passing it by, and says that Jesus Himself had testified that a prophet hath no honour in his own country. For it is our nature to think nothing of what we are accustomed to, even though it be great and of price. And the Saviour thought not good to seek honour from them, like a vain-glorious man and a braggart, but knew well that to those who have no thought that one ought to honour one’s teacher, neither would the word of the faith be any longer sweet and acceptable. With reason then does He pass by, not thinking it right to expend useless labours upon them who are nothing profited, and thus to lay down grace before them that despise it. For it was not reasonable that they who sinned so deeply should do so unpunished; since it is altogether confessed and undoubted, that they will undergo the severest punishments, who knowingly despise Him and spurn a gift so worthy of marvel.
45 When therefore He was come into Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did at Jerusalem at the feast; for they also went unto the feast.
Not without consideration do the Galileans receive Jesus, but in just astonishment at the wondrous works which they themselves had already seen Him do, both by their piety towards Him condemning the folly of the Jews, and found far superior in good feeling to those who were instructed in the law.
46 He came therefore again into Cana of Galilee where He made the water wine.
Christ loveth to dwell among those that are well disposed, and to those who more readily advance unto the perception and knowledge of benefits done them, He poureth forth supplies of greater goods. He cometh then to work miracles in Cana, thinking it fit to confer an additional benefit on those therein, in that He had through His signs already wrought there, the idea previously implanted in their minds, that He could do all things.
47, 48 And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he besought Him that He would come down and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said unto him,
The nobleman cometh as to One able to heal, but he understandeth not yet that He is by Nature God: he calleth Him Lord, but giveth not at all the true dignity of Lordship. For he would have straightway fallen down and besought Him, not that he should by all means come to his house, and go down with him to the sick lad; but should rather with authority and God-befitting command drive away the sickness that fell on him. For what need for Him to be present to the sick, whom He could easily heal, even absent? how was it not utterly without understanding to suppose that He is superior to death, and in no wise to hold Him God Who is filled with God-befitting Power?
49 Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. The nobleman saith unto Him,
A mind yet hard dwelleth in them who arc deceived, but mightier will be the more wonder-working power of Him That calleth them unto faith. Wherefore the Saviour says that they need wonders, that they may easily be re-instructed unto what is profitable, and acknowledge Him Who is by Nature God.
Lord, come down ere my child die.
Feeble indeed unto understanding is the nobleman, for ho is a child in his petition for grace, and almost dotes without perceiving it. For by believing that Christ had power not only when present, but that He would surely avail even absent, he would have had a most worthy conception of Him. But now both thinking and acting most foolishly, he asks power befitting God, and does not think He accomplishes all things as God, nor yet that He will be superior to death, although beseeching Him to gain the advantage over him that had all but overcome; for the child was at the point of death.
50 Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth.
Thus believing he ought to have come, but Christ doth not reject our lack of apprehension; but benefiteth even the stumbling, as God. That then which the man should have been admired for doing, this does he teach him even when he doth it not, revealed alike as the Teacher of things most lovely, and the Giver of good things in prayer. For in Go thy way is Faith: in thy son liveth is the fulfilment of his longings, granted with plenteous and God-befitting Authority.
51 The man believed the word that Jesus said to him, and went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.
The one command of the Saviour healeth two souls. For in the nobleman it worketh unwonted faith, the child it rescueth from bodily death. Which is healed first it is hard to say. Both, I suppose, simultaneously, the disease taking its departure at the command of the Saviour. And his servantsmeeting him tell him of the healing of the child, shewing at the same time the swiftness of the Divine commands (Christ ordering this very wisely), and by the fulfilment of his hope, speedily confirming their master weak in faith.
52, 53, 54 He therefore enquired of them the hour when he began to amend; and they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed and his whole house. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when He was come out of Judaea into Galilee.
He enquires of them the hour of the turn for the better of the sick child, to prove whether it coincides with the time of the grace. When he had learnt that thus it was, and no otherwise, he is saved with his whole house, attributing the power of the miracle to the Saviour Christ, and bringing to Him a firmer faith as a fruit of thank-offering for these things.
Chap. v.2, 3, 4 After this was the feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem the pool which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel of the Lord used to go down at a certain season into the pool, and trouble the water: whosoever therefore first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
Not for nothing does the blessed Evangelist straightway connect with what has been said the Saviour’s return thence to Jerusalem: but his aim probably was to shew how superior in obedience were the aliens to the Jews, how great a difference of habit and manners is seen between them. For thus and in no other way could we learn, that by the just judgment of God Who ruleth all and knoweth not to accept the person of man, Israel with reason falleth from the hope, and the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in in his place. It is not hard by looking at the contrast of the chapters 12to test what has been said. He shewed therefore that He had by one miracle saved the city of the Samaritans, by one likewise the nobleman, and by it had profited full surely (I ween) and exceeding much those who were therein. Having by these things testified the extreme readiness of the aliens to obedience, he brings the Miracle-worker back to Jerusalem, and shews Him accomplishing a God-befitting act. For He wondrously frees the paralytic from a most inveterate disease even as He had the nobleman’s son just dying. But the one believed with his whole house, and confessed that Jesus is God, while the others. who ought to have been astonished, straightway desire to kill, and persecute, as though blasphemously transgressing, their Benefactor, themselves against themselves pronouncing more shameful condemnation in that they are found to fall short of the understanding of the aliens, and their piety towards Christ. And this it was which was spoken of them in the Psalms, as to our Lord Jesus, Thou shalt make them the back. For they having been set in the first rank because of the election of the fathers, will come last and after the calling of the Gentiles. For when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in, then shall all Israel be saved.
This line of thought the well-arranged order of the compilation of chapters brings forth to us. But we will make accurate inquiry part by part of the meaning of single verses.
5, 6 And a certain man was there which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time,
The Jews having celebrated their feast of unleavened bread, in which it is their custom to kill the sheep, to wit, at the time of the Passover, Christ departeth from Jerusalem, and mingleth with the Samaritans and aliens, and teacheth among them, being grieved at the stubbornness of the Jews. And having barely returned at the holy Pentecost (for this was the next solemnity in Jerusalem and at no great interval), He heals at the waters of the pool the paralytic, who had passed long time in sickness (for it was even his thirty-eighth year): but who had not yet attained unto the perfect number of the Law, I speak of four times ten or forty.
Here then will end the course of the history; but we must transform again the typical letter unto its spiritual interpretation. That Jesus grieved departs from Jerusalem after the killing of the sheep, goes to the Samaritans and Galileans, and preaches among them the word of salvation, what else will this mean, save His actual withdrawal from the Jews, after His sacrifice and Death at Jerusalem upon the Precious Cross, when He at length began to freely give Himself to them of the Gentiles and aliens, bidding it to be shewn to His Disciples after His Resurrection, that He goeth before them all into Galilee? But His return again at the fulfilment of the weeks of holy Pentecost to Jerusalem, signifies as it were in types and darkly, that there will be of His Loving Kindness a return of our Saviour to the Jews in the last ages of the present world, wherein they who have been saved through faith in Him, shall celebrate the all-holy feasts of the saving Passion. But that the paralytic is healed before the full time of the law, signifies again by a corresponding type, that Israel having blasphemously raged against Christ, will be infirm and paralytic and will spend a long time in doing nothing; yet will not depart to complete punishment, but will have some visitation from the Saviour, and will himself too be healed at the pool by obedience and faith. But that the number forty is perfect according to the Divine Law, will be by no means hard to learn by them who have once read the Divine Scriptures. 7 Jesus saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered Him,
An evident proof of the extreme goodness of Christ, that He doth not wait for entreaties from the sick, but forecometh their request by His Loving Kindness. For He runneth, as you see, to him as he lieth, and compassionateth him that was sick without comfort. But the enquiry whether he would like to be relieved from his infirmity was not that of one asking out of ignorance a thing manifest and evident to all, but of one stirring up to more earnest desire, and inciting to most diligent entreaty. The question whether he willed to obtain what he longed for is big with a kind of force and expression, that He has the power to give, and is even now ready thereto, and only waits for the request of him who receiveth the grace.
8 Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise.
About the day of the holy Pentecost, Angels coming down from heaven used to trouble the water of the pool, then they would make the plash therefrom the herald of their presence. And the water would be sanctified by the holy spirits, and whoever was beforehand of the multitude of sick people in getting down, he would come up again disburdened of the suffering that troubled him,, yet to one alone, him who first seized it, was the might of healing meted out. But this too was a sign of the benefit of the law by the hands of Angels, which extended to the one race of the Jews alone, and healed none other save they. For from Dan so called even unto Beer-sheba, the commandments given by Moses were spoken, ministered by Angels in Mount Sinai in the days afterwards marked out as the holy Pentecost. For this reason, the water too of the pool used not to be troubled at any other time, signifying therethrough the descent of the holy Angels thereon. The paralytic then not having any one to thrust him into the water, with the disease that holds him, was bewailing the want of healers, saying, I have no man, to wit to let him down into the water. For he fully expected that Jesus would tell and advise him this.
9 Take up thy bed and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.
God-befitting the injunction, and possessing clearest evidence of power and authority above man. For He prays not for the loosing of his sickness for the patient, lest He too should seem to be as one of the holy Prophets, but as the Lord of Powers He commandeth with authority that it be so, telling him to go home rejoicing, to take his bed on his shoulders, to be a memento to the beholders of the might of Him That had healed him. Forthwith the sick man does as is bidden him, and by obedience and faith he gaineth to himself the thrice longed for grace. But since in the foregoing we introduced him as the image and type of the multitude of the Jews, who should be healed in the last times: come let us think of something again harmonizing with the thoughts hereto pertaining, analagous to those before examined.
On the Sabbath day doth Christ heal the man, when healed He immediately enjoins him to break through the custom of the law, inducing him towalk on the Sabbath and this laden with his bed, although God clearly cries aloud by one of the holy Prophets, Neither carry forth a burthen out of your house on the Sabbath day. And no one I suppose who is sober-minded would say that the man was rendered a despiser or unruly to the Divine commands, but that as in a type Christ was making known to the Jews, that they should be healed by obedience and faith in the last times of the world (for this I think the Sabbath signifies, being the last day of the week): but that having once received the healing through faith, and having been re-modelled unto newness of life, it was necessary that the oldness of the letter of the law should become of no effect, and that the typical worship as it were in shadows and the vain observance of Jewish custom should be rejected. Hence (I think) the blessed Paul too taking occasion of speech writes to them who after the faith were returning again to the Law, I say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing;and again, Ye are severed from Christ, whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace.
10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day, it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
Most seasonably (I think) doth He cry over them, Hear now this O foolish people and heartless, which have eyes and see not. For what can be more uninstructed than such people, or what greater in senselessness? For they do not even admit into their mind that they ought to wonder at the Power of the Healer: but being bitter reprovers, and skilled in this alone, they lay the charge of breaking the law about him who had just and with difficulty recovered from a long disease, and foolishly bid him lie down again, as though the honour due to the Sabbath were paid by having to be ill.
11, 12 He answered them, He That made me whole, He said unto me, Take up thy bed and walk. They asked him therefore
The sentence is replete with, wisest meaning and repulsive of the stubbornness of the Jews. For in that they say that it is not lawful on the sabbath day to take up his bed and go home, devising an accusation of breaking the law against him that was healed, needs does he bring against them a more resolved defence, saying that he had been ordered to walk by Him, Who was manifested to him as the Giver of health, all but saying something of this sort, Most worthy of honour (sirs) do I say that Ho is, even though He bid me violate the honour of the sabbath, Who hath so great power and grace, as to drive away my disease. For if excellence in these things belongeth not to every chance man, but will befit rather God-befitting Power and Might, how (saith he) shall the worker of these things do wrong? or how shall not He Who is possessed of God-befitting Power surely counsel what is well-pleasing to God? The speech then has within itself some pungent meaning.
13, 14 What Man is He Which said unto thee, Take up thy bed and walk? But he that was healed wist not Who it was: for Jesus had conveyed Himself away, a multitude being in the place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple and said unto him,
Insatiable unto bloodshed is the mind of the Jews. For they search out who it was who had commanded this, with design to involve Him together with the miraculously healed (for he alone, it seems, was like to be vexing them in respect of the Sabbath, who had but now escaped impassable toils and snares, and had been drawn away from the very gates of death) but he could not tell his Physician, although they make diligent enquiries, Christ having well and economically concealed Himself, that He might escape the present heat of their anger. And not as though He could suffer anything of necessity, unless He willed to suffer, doth He practise flight: but making Himself an Example to us in this also.
Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come to thee.
Being hid at first economically, He appears again economically, observing the time fit for each. For it was not possible that ought should be done by Him Who knew no sin, which should not really have its fit reason. The reason then of His speaking to him He made a message for his soul’s health, saying that it behoved him to transgress no more, lest he be tormented by worse evils than those past. Herein He teaches that not only does Godtreasure wp man’s transgressions unto the judgment to come, but manifoldly scourgeth those yet living in their bodies, even before the great and notable day of Him. That shall judge all. But that we are oftentimes smitten when we stumble and grieve God, the most wise Paul will testify, crying, For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep: for if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged: but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, thai we be not condemned with the world.
15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus Which had made him whole.
He makes Jesus known to the Jews, not that they by daring to do anything against Him should be found to be blasphemers, but in order that, if they too should be willing to be healed by Him, they might know the wondrous Physician. For observe how this was his aim. For he does not come like one of the faultfinders, and say that it was Jesus Who had bidden him walk on the Sabbath day, but Which had made him whole. But this was the part of one doing nought save only making known his Physician.
16, 17 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus and sought to slay Him, because He was doing these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them,
The narrative does not herein contain the simple relation of the madness of the Jews: for the Evangelist does not shew only that they persecute Him, but why they blush not to do this, saying most emphatically, Because He was doing these things on the sabbath day. For they persecute Him foolishly and blasphemously, as though the law forbad to do good on the sabbath day, as though it were not lawful to pity and compassionate the sick, as though it behoved to put off the law of love, the praise of brotherly kindness, the grace of gentleness: and what of good things may one not shew that the Jews did in manifold ways spurn, not knowing the aim of the Lawgiver respecting the Sabbath, and making the observance of it most empty? For as Christ Himself somewhere said, each one of them taketh his ox, or his sheep, and leadeth them away to watering, and that a man on the sabbath day receiveth circumcision, that the law of Moses be not broken: and then they are angry, because He made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day, by reason of the exceeding stubbornness alike and undisciplinedness of their habits, not even to brutes preferring him that is made in the Divine Image, but thinking that one ought to pity a sheep on the sabbath day, and unblamed to free it from famine and thirst, yet that they are open to the charge of transgressing the law to the last degree, who are gentle and good to their neighbour on the sabbath?
But that we may see that they were beyond measure senseless, and therefore with justice deserve to hear, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures;come let us taking somewhat from the Divine Scriptures too shew clearly, that Jesus was long ago foredepicted as in a type taking no account of the sabbath. The all-wise Moses then, having at a great age (as it is written) departed from things of men and been removed to the mansions above, by the judgment and decree of God That ruleth all, Joshua the son of Nun obtained and inherited the command over Israel. When he therefore, having set in array heavy armed soldiers ten thousand strong round about Jericho, was devising to take at length and overthrow it, he arranged with the Levites to take the ark round about for six whole days, but on the seventh day, that is, the Sabbath, he commanded the innumerable multitude of the host to shout along with the trumpets, and thus the wall was thrown down, and they rushing in, took the city, not observing the unseasonable rest of the Sabbath, nor refusing their victory thereon, by reason of the law restraining them, nor yet did they then withstand the generalship of Joshua, but wholly free from reproach did they keep the command of the man. And herein is the type: but when the Truth came, that is Christ, Who destroyed and overcame the corruption set up against man’s nature by the devil, and is seen doing this on the Sabbath, as in preface and commencement of action, in the case of the paralytic, they foolishly take it ill, and condemn the obedience of their fathers, not suffering nature to conquer on the sabbath day the despite done it by sickness, to such extent as to be zealous in persecuting Jesus Who was working good on the sabbath day.
My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
Christ is speaking, as it were, on the sabbath day (for this the word Hitherto must necessarily signify, that the force of the idea may receive its own fitting meaning) but the Jews, who were untutored, and knew not Who the Only-Begotten is by Nature, but attributed to God the Father alone the appointing of the Law through Moses, and asserted that we ought to obey Him Alone; these He attempts to clearly convince, that He works all things together with the Father, and that, having the Nature of Him Who begat Him in Himself, by reason of His not being Other than He, as far as pertains to Sameness of Essence, He will never think ought else than as seemeth good to Him Who begat Him. But as being of the Same Essence He will also will the same things, yea rather being Himself the Living Will and Power of the Father, He worketh all things in all with the Father.
In order then that He might repel the vain murmuring of the Jews and might shame them who were persecuting Him on those grounds whereon they thought good to be angry, as though the honour due to the sabbath were despised. He says, My Father worketh hitherto and I work. For He all but wisheth to signify some such thing as this, If thou believest, O man, that God, having created and compacted all things by His Command and Will ordereth the creation on the sabbath day also, so that the sun riseth, rain-giving fountains are let loose, and fruits spring from the earth, not refusing their increase by reason of the sabbath, the fire works its own work, ministering to the necessities of man unforbidden: confess and know of a surety that the Father worketh God-befitting operations on the sabbath also. Why then (saith He) dost thou uninstructedly accuse Him through Whom He works all things? for God the Father will work in no other way, save through His Power and Wisdom, the Son. Therefore says He, And I work. He shames then with arguments ad absurdum the unbridled mind of His persecutors, shewing that they do not so much oppose Himself, as speak against the Father, to Whom Alone they were zealous to ascribe the honour of the Law, not yet knowing the Son Who is of Him and through Him by Nature. For this reason does He call God specially His own Father, leading them most skilfully to this most excellent and precious lesson.
18 For this therefore did the Jews seek the more to kill Him, because He was not only breaking the sabbath, but saying also that God was His Father, making Himself Equal with God.
The mind of the Jews is wound up unto cruelty, and whereby they ought to have been healed, they are the more sick, that they may justly hear,How say ye, WE are wise? For when they ought to have been softened in disposition, transformed by suitable reasoning unto piety, they even devise slaughter against Him Who proves by His Deeds, that He hath in no whit transgressed the Divine Law by healing a man on the sabbath. They weave in with their wrath on account of the sabbath, the truth as a charge of blasphemy, snaring themselves in the meshes of their own transgressions unto wrath indissoluble. For they seemed to be pious in their distress that He being a Man, should say that God was His Father. For they knew not yet that He Who was for our sakes made in the form of a servant, is God the Word, the Life gushing forth from God the Father, that is, the Only-Begotten, to Whom Alone God is rightly and truly inscribed and is Father, but to us by no means so: for we are adopted, mounting up to excellency above nature through the will of Him That honoured us, and gaining the title of gods and sons because of Christ That dwelleth in us through the Holy Ghost. Looking therefore to the Flesh alone, and not acknowledging God Who dwelleth in the Flesh, they endure not His springing up to measure beyond the nature of Man, through His saying that God was His Father (for in saying, My Father, He would with reason introduce this idea) but they deem that He Whose Father God properly is, must be by Nature Equal with Him, in this alone conceiving rightly: for so it is, and no otherwise. Since then the word introduces with it this meaning, they perverting the upright word of truth are more angry.
CHAPTER VI. That the Son is not inferior to the Father either in power or in operation for any work but is Equal in Might and Consubstantial with Him, as of Him and that by Nature.
19 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Verily verily I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise.
What we have spoken of above, this again He interprets in another way, from all quarters snaring the hearers unto finding of the truth. For the word which was not received at first, by reason of the weakness of them that could not understand, He re-forms in another way, and going through the same thoughts introduceth it manifoldly. For this too is the work of the virtue that befits a teacher, namely not to make his word rapid and speeding beyond the knowledge of the pupils, but carefully wrought and diversely fashioned and that by frequent change of expression strips off the difficulties in the things under consideration. Mingling then human with Divine, and forming one discourse of both, He as it were gently sinks the honour befitting the Only-Begotten, and raises the nature of man; as being at once Lord and reckoned among servants, He says, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise. For in that He is able to do without distinction the works of God the Father and to work alike with Him That begat Him, He testifieth the identity of His Essence. For things which have the same nature with one another, will work alike: but those whose mode of being is diverse, their mode of working too will be in all respects not the same. Therefore as Very God of Very God the Father, He says that He can do these things equally with Him; but that He may appear not only Equal in Power to the Father, but likeminded in all things, and having in all things the Will One with Him, He saith that He can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do.
Just as though He should say distinctly to those who aro trying to persecute Him for healing a man on the Sabbath day, Ye deem the honour of the Sabbath broken, but I would not have done this, had I not seen My Father do the like; for He worketh for the good order of the world on the Sabbath too, even though through Me. It is then impossible (saith He) that I, the Son of Him by Nature, should not wholly in all things work and will the works of the Father, not as though I received from without by being taught the exemplar of action, or were called by a deliberate motion to will the same with the Father, but by the laws of Uncreated Nature I mount up to Equal Counsel and Action with God the Father. For the being able to do nothing of Himself, is excellently well defined herein. And thus I deem that piously minded we ought to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, as it is written.
But perchance the opposer of the truth will disbelieve, and will make what is said the food so to say of his own ill counsel saying: “If the Son were Equal to the Father, attributing to Him no Preeminence as of necessity, by reason of the inferiority of His Own Nature, what induced Him so unconcealedly to say, that He could do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do? For clearly (saith he) does He herein confess that He can do nothing at all of Himself, as knowing Him that is the Better and superior to Himself. But do thou again refute our argument.”
What then is to be said to these things by us? Bold unto blasphemy is the enemy of Christ and drunken with folly he perceives it not. For one must, most excellent sir, test accurately the force of what has been said, and not dash offhand to reasonings springing from unlearning. For to what kind of equality with the Father dost thou deem it right to bring down the Son, by reason of His saying that He can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do? Is it as not having Equality in Power that He says these things, although from the very passage under consideration one may see that the Son is Equal in Power with the Father, rather than inferior in God-befitting Might? For plainly He does not say, The Son can do nothing of Himself, except He receive Power of the Father (for this would be the part of one really weak) but, but what He seeth the Father do. But that by the sense of seeing, we are not usually called to be powerfnl, but to look at something, I suppose no one will dispute. The Son then in saying that He looketh on the works of His Father doth not shew Himself impotent, but rather a zealous Imitator, or Beholder: and how, shall be more accurately spoken of in what follows. But that through His exact and likest working, I mean in all things, He is shewn to have Equality in Power, Himself will clearly teach below, adding as of His Father, for what things soever He doeth, these (saith He) doeth also the Son likewise. How then is He inferior, Who is Eminent in equal workings with God the Father? for will the offspring of fire work ought different from fire, any change being seen in its work? how could it be so? How then will the Son work in like manner with the Father, if by reason of having inferiority He come short of equal Might with Him?
And these things were taken from the words at present under comment. But let us consider, going through other considerations also, whether the Nature of the Son admits any law of inferiority to that of the Father. Let the consideration of Power also be before us. Do they confess that the Son is God of God by Nature and verily and of the actual Essence of the Father; or do they say indeed that He is God, but blasphemously add, that He is outside of the Essence of the Father? If then they say that He is not of the Essence of the Father, He will neither be God by Nature, nor Very Son. For that which is not of God by nature, neither ought it at all to be conceived of as by nature God, nor yet Son if it be not begotten of the Essence of the Father, but they are bringing in privily to us some bastard and new god. If they do not say this, blushing at the absurdity that is in their own doctrines, but will grant that the Only-Begotten is truly of the Father, and is God by Nature and Verily: how will He be inferior to the Father, or how powerless to ought, and this not accuse the Essence of Him Who begat Him? For if it be possible that He Who is by Nature God should at all be impotent, what is to hinder the Father from being in the same case, if the Divine and Ineffable Nature once has the power of being so, and is already so manifested in the Son, according to their account? Hence then neither will the Divinity be Impassible, nor will It remain in sameness and Bliss wholly Unchangeable. But who (tell me) will endure them that hold such opinions? Who when the Scripture crieth aloud that the Son is the Lord of Hosts, will not shudder to say, that He must needs be strengthened, and is imperfect in that which of right is His alone with the Father and Holy Ghost?
But our opponent will say again, “We say, that the Father surpasses the Son in this. For the One is the First Beginner of works, as having Perfection both in Power and in the knowledge of all things: but the Son becomes first a spectator then a worker by receiving into Himself the imitation of the Father’s working, in order that through the similarity of works, He too might be thought to be God. For this He teacheth us, saying that He can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do.”
What art thou saying, thou all-daring? doth the Son receive into Himself the types of the Father’s Working, that thereby He may be thought to be God? By learning then will He be God, not by Nature. As in us is (it may be) knowledge and art, so is in Him the Dignity, and He is rather an Artificer of the works of Deity than Very God: yet is He (I suppose) altogether other than the art that is in Him, though it be God-befitting. Him then that has passed forth of the boundaries of the Godhead, and has his glory in the art alone, how do angels in Heaven worship Him, we too worship without blame, albeit the Holy Scripture admonisheth us that we ought not to serve any apart from Him Who is truly God? for it says, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve. Yet the holy multitude of Angels in particular erred not from what is befitting, but they worship the Son and serve Him with us, acknowledging Him to be God by Nature, and not by learning, as those babbling say: for they perceive not (it seems) into how great absurdities they will thence fall. For in the first place the Son will admit change and variation as from the less to the greater, albeit Himself saith through the Prophet, Behold, behold I am, and change not. The Psalmist too will surely lie in the spirit, crying out to the Son,But Thou art the Same. For He awaiteth, as those say, the Father’s working at something, as a Guide and Teacher, that He may see and imitate. Then how will not such an one appear to mount up from ignorance of certain things unto knowledge thereof, and to turn from worse to better, if we reckon that knowledge of any thing-good is better than not knowing it?
Next, what additional absurdity is herein beheld? Let them tell us who introduce God as an Instructer rather than a Father, Doth the Son await the sight of His Father’s works in ignorance of them, or having most perfect knowledge of them? If then they say that He awaits though He knows them, they clearly shew that He is doing something very superfluous, and the Father practising a most idle thing: for the One, as though ignorant looks at what He knows perfectly, the Other attempts to teach One Who knows: and to whom is it not evident, that such things incur the charge of the extremest absurdity? But perchance they will not say this; but will go over to the opposite alternative. For they will affirm that He awaiteth of necessity the Father working in order to learn by seeing. How then doth He know all things before they were? or how will He be true saying of Himself, Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Shall ought be hidden from Me? But how is it not absurd and unlearned to believe that the Spirit searcheth and knoweth the deep things of God, and to suppose that the Giver of the Spirit is in ignorance of the works of the Father and of His own Spirit, so as to come short in knowledge? For will not the Son at length lose His being Wisdom, if He be wholly ignorant and receive by learning? for He will be a recipient of wisdom, rather than Wisdom Itself by Nature. For wisdom is that which maketh wise, not that which is formed to become wise, just as light too is that which enlighteneth, not that which is formed to receive light. Therefore is He again other than the wisdom which is in Him, and in the first place He is not Simple, but compounded of two: next besides this, He will also lose the being God, I mean God by Nature and Essentially. For the Divine Nature endureth not the being taught by any at all, nor the duplication of composition, seeing It hath as Its Proper Good the being both Simple and All-Perfection. And if the Son be not God by Nature, how doth He both work and do things befitting God Alone? will they say that it suffices for Him unto God-befitting Power, only to see the Father working, and by the mere sight does He attain to being by Nature God, and to being able to do such things as He That sheweth Him doth? There is therefore nothing to hinder, but that many others too should be manifested to us as gods, if the Father be willing to shew them too the mode of His works, and the excellence of the Father’s Essence will consist in learning something over and above. For He that was taught (as those say) is found to have mounted up to the dignity of the God-head by Nature, saying, I and My Father are One, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.
Let them weigh then how great a crowd of blasphemies is heaped up by them, from their choosing so to think, and let them think truly of the Son as it is written. For neither by contemplation of what is performed by the Father, nor yet by having Him as antecedent to Himself in actions, is the Son a Doer or Wonder-worker, and by reason hereof God: but because a certain law of Nature carries Him to the Exact Likeness of Him who begat Him, even though it shine forth and is manifested through the unceasing likeness of Their Works. But setting before us again, if you please, the verse, and testing it with more diligent scrutiny, let us consider accurately, what is the force of the words and let us now see how we must think with piety. Therefore,
Verily verily I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise.
Thou seest how through the exact likeness too in the works, He sheweth Himself like in all things to the Father, that thereby He may be shewn to be Heir of His Essence also. For in that He must of necessity and incontrovertibly be conceived of as being God by Nature, Who hath Equal working with God the Father, the Saviour says thus. But let no one be offended, when He says economical, that He can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do. For in that He was now arrayed in the form of the servant and made Man by being united to flesh, He did not make His discourse free, nor altogether let loose unto God-befitting boldness, but used rather at times by an economy such discourse as befits alike God and Man. For He was really both in the same.
And this is one true word, but I think one ought again to explain what is before us in another way too, and to apply more keenly to the accurate meaning of the passage. The Son (it says) can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do. The word cannot, or impossibility, is predicated of certain things, or is applied to certain of things that are. For this being predicated we say is not indicative at all of necessity, nor of weakness; but often denotes the stability of natures and the immoveable condition of essences, in respect of what each thing mentioned either is or has been, and of what it can effect by nature and without change. But let our argument, if you please go through demonstration also. When for instance a man says that he cannot carry a piece of wood, immeasurable c perhaps and heavy, he predicates his innate weakness: but when another says, I being by nature a reasonable man, and born of a father by nature reasonable, cannot do anything my own and of myself, which I do not see belonging to the nature of my parent; the words “I cannot” express the stability of essence, and its inability to change into any thing but what it is. For (says he) I cannot of myself be not a reasonable creature, strengthened by increases accruing to me by nature: for I do not see the power of doing this in the nature of my father. In this way then you may hear Christ saying, The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do. For do not (saith He) blame the works of the Son: for He beholding, as in His Proper Thoughts or Natural Motions, the Essence of Him That begat Him; what things He seeth That Nature befittingly work, these He doeth and none other, not being able to suffer ought contrary to His Nature, by reason of His being of It. Thus, the Nature of the Father hath the Will to compassionate: the Son seeing this inherent therein, is Compassionate as being of Him by Nature, not being able to be Other than what It is. For He hath of the Father, as Essence, so the good things too of the Essence, simply that is and uncompound as God, therefore He wisely subjoins to the former words, For what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise: in these words collecting, so to say, the whole meaning of His being able to do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do.But by considering the cause why the Son says these things, you will apply your mind more accurately to the things spoken by us.
When then He on the sabbath day was compassionating the paralytic, the Jews began trying to persecute Him: but Christ shames them, shewing that Grod the Father hath mercy on the sabbath day. For He did not think He ought to hinder what things were tending to our salvation. And indeed He said at the beginning, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. But when they of their great ill-counsel shewed that they were vexed at these things, He subjoins again The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise. For since (saith He) the Father refuseth not to have mercy on the sabbath day, I, seeing that He is altogether full of compassion, am therefore Myself too wholly compassionate, not able to cut out anew in Myself the Essence of My Father, through not appearing and being such as He is by Nature. For I wholly work what is His, as being of Him.
But the saying that the Father is antecedent in the work, is not free from the deepest unlearning. For how should He ever of Himself and alone begin, Who has the Son as the operative Power for all things, Eternally with Him, the Exponent of His Will as to ought and of His motion to operation in respect of ought. But if they uninstructedly assert that He awaits the Separate Operation of the Father for each several work, in order to imitate equally, let them shew us that the Father wrought anything separately and of Himself, or what paralytic He having first healed, hath given the deed as a pattern to His Son.
20 For the Father loveth the Son
Those who were heedlessly blaspheming against Him by reason of the sabbath, Christ convicts of being foolishly exasperated to empty anger, making most clear proof of the matter by saying that He is loved by His Father. For if the Father wholly loveth the Son, it is plain that He loves Him not as grieving Him, but rather as gladdening Him in what He does and works. Vainly then do they persecute Him Who refuseth not to shew mercy on the sabbath, and hereby again are they found opposing the decrees of God the Father. For they think they ought to hate Him Whom Heloves, but it is altogether (I suppose) manifest, that He would never have loved Him if He had gone contrary to the Will of His Father, and been accustomed to do of Himself and Alone whatsoever Himself willed. But since He justly loves, He approves, it is plain, and agrees to the breaking of the sabbath, and shews that it has nothing in respect of which God the Lord of the Law might reasonably be angry.
and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth;
Needs does He subjoin this too to the preceding; and wherefore, I will say. Fathers who are among us, sometimes overcome by natural affection, bear with their sons grieving them, and seeing them attempt things against their judgment, they often suffer it. For vehement is the yearning love implanted in them in respect of their children persuading them to overcome all littleness of soul towards them. But not thus (saith He) does God the Father love the Son, for He cannot do anything which He too does not work by Nature, but as having One Essence with Him, He is called by certain Physical laws, so to say, to identical Will and Power. The Son then (saith He) worketh nothing contrary to what is pleasing or fitting to the Father, nor does He vaunt Himself in the love of the Father, as though a lover of novelty in His works and unbridled, but whatsoever things He sees Him doing, as in conception, all these He performeth restrained by Identity of Essence from falling aside in ought that is befitting God. For He hath no part with change in ought, or variableness: for He remaineth the Same unceasingly, as the Psalmist says. The Father again sheweth the Son what He Himself doeth, not as though setting before Him things depicted on a tablet, or teaching Him as though ignorant (for He knoweth all things as God): but depicting Himself wholly in the Nature of His Offspring, and shewing in Him His Own Natural Properties in order that from what Properties Himself is and is manifested, He may know of what kind and Who He is by nature That begat Him. Therefore Christ says, that no man knoweth Who the Son is but the Father, and Who the Father is, but the Son. For the accurate knowledge of each is in Both, not by learning, but by Nature. And God the Father seeth the Son in Himself, the Son again seeth the Father in Himself. Therefore He saith, I am in the Father and, the Father in Me. But “to see” and “to be seen” must here be conceived of after a Divine sort.
And greater works than these will He shew Him, that YE may marvel.
Above the blessed Evangelist says, The Jews were seeking to kill Jesus, because He was not only breaking the sabbath, but saying also that God was His Father, making Himself Equal with God. He therefore put down the accusation respecting the sabbath, by shewing that the Father Himself worked on the sabbath day, and expending many words thereupon: and endeavours to teach them that He is in Equality with the Father, even when made Man for our sakes (for this was what the argument yet lacked), and therefore does He say And greater works than these will He shew Him that YE may marvel. And what again does He will to shew us hereby?
The paralytic (it says) has been healed, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. And marvellous indeed the Power of Him That healed him, God-befitting exceedingly the Authority. This so great Wonderworker, no one (I suppose) in his senses would blame for saying that He is God, and since He is Son, Equal in all things to Him That begat Him. But since ye (He says) imagining things most wicked and foolish, are offended because of this mortal Body, ye must needs learn that My Authority and Power stop not here: for ye shall be, even though ye will it not, spectators of greaterwonders, to wit of the resurrection of the dead, and yet more shall ye be astonished, seeing Power and Glory befitting God, in Me Whom now ye charge with blasphemy and are not ashamed to persecute, for merely saying, I am the Son of God.
But how God the Father shews His Works to the Son, we have already said at much length.
21 For as the Father raiseth the dead and quickeneth them, so the Son too quickeneth whom He will.
See again in these words clear proof of His Equality. For He That worketh equally in respect of the reviving of the dead, how can He have inferiority in ought? or how shall He be of another nature and alien to the Father Who is radiant with the Same Properties? For the Power of quickening, which is in the Father alike and the Son, is a Property of the Divine Essence. But the Father doth not again separately and of Himself quicken some, the Son some separately and apart: for the Son having in Himself by Nature the Father, the Father doth all things and worketh all things through the Son. But since the Father hath the Power of quickening in His Own Nature, as also Himself too, He attributes the Power of quickening the dead as though accruing to each separately.
CHAPTER VII. That nought of God-befitting Dignities or Excellences is in the Son, by participation, or from without.
22 For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.
He introduceth another God-befitting and marvellous thing, in many ways persuading them that He is God by Nature and Verily. For to what other would it befit to judge the world, save Him Alone Who is God over all. Whom too the Divine Scriptures call to this, saying in one place, Arise, O God, judge the earth, in another again, For God is the Judge, He putteth down one and setteth up another. But He says that judgment has been given Him by the Father, not as being without authority hereto, but economically as Man, teaching that all things are more suitably referred to the Divine Nature, whereto Himself too being not external, in that He is Word and God, hath inherently authority over all; but in that He is made Man, to whom it is said, What hast thou that thou didst not receive, He fittingly acknowledges that He received it.
To these things again one of our opponents will say, “Lo, the Son evidently declares that He hath received judgement of the Father; but He receives (it is plain) aa not having. How then will not He That gives with Authority be greater and of Superior Nature to Him Who must needs receive?”
What then do we say to these things? Our prearranged argument has been, I think, not unskilfully managed, introducing a consideration specially befitting the time, to wit of the Incarnation, and most accordant with the economy of the Flesh, when He was called a servant, when He humbled Himself, made in our likeness. But since it seemeth good to thee haughtily to despise the simpler doctrines, and to make more critical examination of them, come then, opposing thy objections, let us first say, Not altogether, nor of necessity, sir, doth he that is said to give anything, impart it to the recipient as though he had it not, nor yet is the giver always greater than the receiver. For what wilt thou do, when thou seest the holy Psalmist saying in the Spirit, Give glory to God? Shall we consider that God is in need of glory, or that we who are commanded to offer Him this, are on this account greater than the Creator? But not even thou wilt dare to say this, who shunnest not the fear of blasphemies. For full of glory is the Godhead, even though It receive it not from us. For He who receives as honour, what He hath of Own, will never bo thought inferior to those who offer Him glory as a gift. One may often see that he who has received anything is not inferior to the giver, and that the Father is not therefore of Superior Nature to His offspring, because He hath committed to Him all judgment.
Next we must consider this too. To judge or to give judgment, are rather operations and acts conceived as properties of essences than themselves truly essences. For we in giving judgment do something, being in ourselves what we are. But if we grant that judging or giving judgment is of the nature of an essence, how must we not needs grant, even against our wills, that some cannot exist at all, except as judges, and that their being wholly ceases together with the termination of the judgment? But so to think, is most absurd. Judgment then is an operation, and nothing else. What then hath the Father committed to the Son? No accession from His Own Nature, in committing all judgment to Him, but rather an operation in respect of them that are judged. How then will He herein be greater, or of Superior Nature, by having added anything which was not in the Son Who saith, All things that the Father hath are Mine?
How then He must be conceived of as giving, hear now.
As God the Father, having the Power to create, createth all things through the Son, as through His own Power and Might: so having the Power too to judge, He will work this too through the Son, as His Own Righteousness. As though it were said that fire too yielded up burning to the operation that is of itself by nature, the fact taking this direction: so piously interpreting, Hath committed, shall we escape the snare of the devil. But if they persist in shamelessly asserting that glory is added to Him of the Father, through His being manifested Judge of the earth, let them teach us, how He is any longer to be considered Lord of glory, Who in the last times was crowned with the honours hereunto pertaining.
CHAPTER VIII. That the Son being God and of God by Nature, and the Exact Image of Him Who begat Him, hath equal honour and glory with Him.
23 That all should honour the Son even as they honour the Father: he that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father Which sent Him.
A cause and reason of the things already enumerated, is now evident, viz., that the Son ought to be honoured in Equality and likeness with the Father. For recapitulating a little, and carried back to a recollection of the preceding, you will view accurately the force of the passage. He said thenthat God was His Father, making Himself Equal with God; then again He began shewing that He was of Equal strength and skill, saying, For what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise. That He is both Life and Life-giving by Nature, as is He too Who begat Him, He shewed plainly, adding, For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, so the Son too quick-eneth whom He will. But that He will be also Judge of all, the Father in all things co-approving and consenting, He declared, saying, For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. What then is the cause of these things? what induced the Only-Begotten to say all this? That all men (He saith) should honour the Son even as they honour the Father. For if He hath all things whatever the Father hath, as far as appertains to God-befitting Dignity, how is it not fitting that He to Whom nothing is lacking to Identity of essence should be crowned with equal honours with Him? What then do they say to this too who pervert all equity, as saith the Prophet Isaiah?
“If (he says) by reason of its being said, That all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father, ye suppose that one ought to magnify the Son with equal honours with the Father, ye know not that ye are stepping far away from the truth. For the word As does not altogether introduce equality of acts, in respect of those things it is affixed to, but often marks out a kind of likeness, just as (he says) the Saviour counsels, saying, Be ye therefore merciful as your Father also which is in Heaven is merciful. Shall we then be as merciful as the Father, on account of the as? And again Christ says to His Father of His disciples: Thou hast loved them, AS Thou hast loved Me. But we will not grant that the disciples are loved just as the Son, on account of the as. Why then dost thou multiply words, and distort what is said into blasphemy, though it introduces no obligation on the hearers to honour the Son in equal measure with the Father?”
What then is our answer to these things? With bitter words do the fighters against God bay at us, but without are dogs, as Paul saith, without are evil workers, without the right faith are the concision. For we are sons of the truth and children of the light. Therefore we will glorify the Only-Begotten together with God the Father, not with any difference, but in equality of honour and glory, as God of God, and Light of Light, and Life of Life. And overmuch enquiry into what is to be received as faith, is not without hazard: nevertheless we must test the force of the As, lest our opponents be overwise in their own conceits. When therefore As is applied to things unlike in their nature, it does not wholly introduce absolute equality, but rather likeness and resemblance, as ye yourselves acknowledged above; but when it is applied to things in all respects like to one another, it shews equality in all things and similitude and whatever else is found to have the same force with these. Just as if I say, Bright is the sun in Heaven, bright too is silver which is of the earth, yet is the nature of the things mentioned diverse. Let any of the rich, of the earth, be supposed to say to his household servants, Let the silver shine as the sun. In this case we very justly say that earthly matter attains not to equal brightness with the sun, but to a certain likeness and resemblance, although the word As be used of it. But let Peter and John (suppose) of the holy disciples be brought forward, who both in respect of nature and of piety towards God, fail not of an accurate likeness one to another, let the As be applied, some one saying of them, as here, Let John be honoured by all, even as Peter, will the As here be powerless, so that equal honour ought not to be paid to both? But I do not suppose that any one will say such a thing: for he will see that there is nothing to prevent it.
According to this analogy of idea, when the As is applied to the Father and the Son, why should we shrink from crowning Both with equal honours? For He having considered before, as God, things to come, and having carefully viewed the envious opposition of thine unlearning hath brought in the As, not bare and bereft of the aid befitting it, but having strengthened it beforehand with convenient proofs, and shewn afore that He is God by Nature (for He made God His Father): having again fore-shewn that He is both God the Creator and of a truth Life, and having before introduced Himself, altogether glorying (so to say) in the Attributes of God the Father,—-He afterwards seasonably subjoins That all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father too. Then what objection still appears, what is there to hinder, that He, in Whom are Essentially the Properties and excellencies of the Father, should attain to an equal degree of honour? for we shall be found honouring the very Nature of God the Father, full well beaming forth in the Son. Wherefore He proceeds, He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which sent Him. For the charge of dishonouring the Son, and the force of blasphemy against Him, will mount up unto none other more truly than the Father Himself, Who put forth the Son as it were from the Fount of His Own Nature, even though He be seen throughout the whole Holy Scriptures as everlastingly with Him.
“Yea (saith the opponent) let the charge from dishonouring the Son go to whatsoever you please, or rather let it reach even unto God the Father Himself. For He will be angry, and that with reason, yet not wholly so, as though His Very Nature were insulted in the Son, according to our just now carefully finished argument, but since He is His Image and Impress, formed most excellently after His Divine and Ineffable Essence, He is with reason angry, and will wholly transfer the wrong to Himself. For it were indeed most absurd, that he who insulted the Divine Impresses, should not surely pay the penalty of his sin against the Archetype. Just as he who has in-suited the images of earthly kings, is punished as having indeed transgressed against the ruler himself. And in like manner shall we find it decreed by God in respect of ourselves also: for Whoso (saith He)sheddeth man’s blood, for his blood shall he be poured forth: because in the Image of God He made man. Seest thou then hereby very clearly (saith he) that if the Image be wronged, and not altogether the Divine Nature, God the Father deems it right to be angry? In this way then let that which is said by Christ be conceived of and adapted, He that honoureth not the Son, neither doth he honour the Father.”
Shall then the Only Begotten be classed with us as external to the Essence of the Father? how then will He yet be God by Nature, if He altogether slip out of the bounds of the Godhead, situate in some nature of his own and of other sort than that wherein the Father is? and we do wrong, it seems, in bringing into one count of Godhead, the order of the Holy Trinity. We ought, we ought at length to worship the Father as God, to impart some glory of Their Own to the Son and the Spirit, severing them as it were into different natures, and defining severally to Each the mode of His Existence. Yet do the Divine Scriptures declare unto us One God, classing with the Father the Son and the Spirit, so that through Their Essential and exact sameness the Holy Trinity is brought unto one count of Godhead. The Only-Begotten is not then alien from the Nature of Him who begat Him, but neither will He be a whit conceived of as Son in truth, if He beamed not forth from the Essence of the Father (for this and no other is the definition and mode of true son ship in all) but if there be no Son, God’s being Father will be wholly taken away too. How then will Paul be true in saying of Him, Of Whom every family in Heaven and earth is named? For if He have not begotten of Himself in God-befitting manner the Son, how shall the beginning of Fatherhood be in Him, going through in imitation to those who are in Heaven and earth? But God is in truth Father: the Only-Begotten therefore is by Nature Son, and is of a surety within the bounds of the Divinity. For God will be begotten of God even as man (for example) of man, and the Nature of God the Father, Which transcends all things, will not err by bearing fruit not befitting It.
But since some blasphemously and foolishly say, that it is not the Nature of God the Father That is insulted in the Son, when He does not receive due honour from any, but that He is angry reasonably and rightly, at His Own Image being dishonoured in Him; we must ask them in what sense they would have the Son be and be called the Image of the Father. Yea rather let us forestalling their account, determine beforehand the Nature of the Image, according to legitimate reasoning: for so will the result of our enquiries be clear and more distinct. Therefore one and the first mode of image is that of sameness of nature in properties exactly alike, as Abel of Adam, or Isaac of Abraham: the second again is that consisting in likeness of impress, and accurate impression of form, as the King’s delineation in wood, or made in any other way, most excellently and skilfully, as respects him. Another image again is taken in respect of habits and manners, and conversation and inclination to either good or bad, as for instance it may be said that the well-doer is like Paul, him that is not so like Cain (for the being equally good or bad, works likeness with either, and with reason confers it) Another form of image is, that of dignity and honour and glory and excellence, as when one for instance succeeds another in a command, and does all things with the authority which belongs to and becomes him. An image in another sense, is in respect of any either quality or quantity of a thing, and its outline and proportion: for we must speak briefly.
Let then the most critical investigators of the Divine Image teach us, whether they think one ought to attribute to the Only-Begotten the Essential and Natural Likeness, and thus say that the Only-Begotten Word proceeding from the Father is an Image of Him in the same sense as Abel is of Adam, who retained in himself the whole nature of his parent, and bore the count of human nature all-complete? or will they be vexed at this, compelled to confess the Son truly God of God by Nature, and turning aside according to their custom to fight against the truth, advance to the second kind of image, which is conceived to exist in mere form, impress and outline? But I suppose they will shrink from saying this. For no one, even if he be a very prater, will suppose that the Godhead can be estimated in respect of size, or circumscribed by outline, or meted by impress, or that the Unembodied will wholly undergo what belongs to bodies. Do they say then that He is conformed to Him in respect of manners and habits and will, and are they not ashamed to dress Him in this image? for how is He yet to be conceived of as God by Nature, Who has Likeness to Him in will only, but has another Being separately of Himself? For they will surely acknowledge that He subsists. Then what is there in Him more than in the creature? For shall we not believe that the angels themselves hasten to perform the Divine Will, who are by nature other than God? But what, when this is conceived of as belonging to us too? for does not the Only-Begotten teach us foolishly to jump at things above our nature, and to aim at impossibilities, saying, Be ye merciful, as your Father also which is in Heaven is merciful? For this were undoubtedly to say that we ought to gain the likeness of the Father by identity of will. And Paul too was an imitator of Christ, of the (as they babbling say) Image of the Father in will only. But they will shift their ground (I suppose) from these miserable conceptions, and as though thinking something greater and better, will surely say this, “The Only-Begotten is the Image of God the Father, in respect of identity of will, in respect of God-befitting Dignity and Glory and Power, in respect of Operation in creation and working miracles, in respect of reigning and ruling over all, in respect of judging and being worshipped by angels and men and in short by all creation. By all these He shewing us the Father in Himself, says that He is not of His Person, but is the Impress of His Person.” Therefore as we said just now, the Son is none of these by nature, but is altogether separate from all of them according at least to your most foolish reasoning, and is neither Very God, nor Son, nor King, nor Lord, nor Creator, nor Mighty, nor in respect of His own “Will is He by Nature Good: but in boasts solely and only of what is God-befitting is He seen. And as is the application of tints to paintings on tablets, beautifying them by the variety to the eye, but having nothing true: so as to the Son too, the beauty of the Excellencies of God the Father decks Him around with bare names only, but is as it were applied from without like certain tints: yea rather the Divine Nature is outlined in Him, and appears in bare type.
Next, how will ye not be shewn to be fighting outright with all the holy Scriptures, that ye may with justice hear, Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, YE are always resisting the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do YE too, for when do they not call the Son Very God, or when do they bear Him forth from the Essence of His Father? which of them has dared to say that He is by Nature neither Creator nor King nor Almighty nor to be worshipped? For the Divine Psalmist says as to the Only-Begotten Himself, Thy Throne, O God, is for ever and ever: Thomas again the most wise disciple in like wise calls Him God alike and Lord. He is called Almighty and Creator by every voice of saint, and as having not according to you the Dignity from without, but as being by Nature what He is said to be, and therefore is He worshipped both by the holy Angels and by us, albeit the Divine Scripture says that we ought to worship none other, save the Lord God Alone.
If then they hold that the God-befitting Dignity in Him is acquired and given, and think that they ought to worship such an one, let them know that they are worshipping the creature rather than the Creator, and making out to themselves a new and fresh God, rather than acknowledging Him Who is really so by Nature. But if while they say that the Son is external to the Essence of God the Father, they yet acknowledge Him to be Son and Very God and King and Lord and Creator, and to have Essentially in Himself the Properties and Excellencies of the Father, let them see whither there is risk that the end of those who thus think will be. For nothing at all will be found of sure faith in the Divine Nature, since the nature of things originate also is now capable of being whatever It is conceived to be. For it has been proved according to the most feeble reasoning of our opponents, that the Only-Begotten not being of the Divine Nature, hath yet truly in Himself Its Excellencies. Who will not shudder at the mere hearing the blasphemy of the doctrines? For all things are now overturned, when the Nature That is above all things descendeth so as to be classed with things originate, and the creation itself contrary to reason springs up to the measure above it, and not designed for it.
Therefore let us swimming away from the absurdity of such doctrines, as from a ship sinking in the sea, hasten to the Truth, as to a secure and unruffled haven, and let us ackowledge the Son to be the Image of God the Father, not plaistered over so to say with perishable honours, nor adorned merely with God-befitting titles, but Essentially Exact according to the likeness of His Father, and unalterably being by Nature That which He That begat Him is conceived to be, to wit Very God of God in truth, Almighty, Creator, Glorified, Good, to be worshipped, and whatever may be added to the things enumerated as befitting God. For then shewing Him to be Like in all things to God the Father, we shall also shew Him true, in saying that if any will not honour the Son, neither doth he honour the Father Which hath sent Him: for as to this our enquiry and the test of the things just now investigated had its origin.
24 Verily verily I say unto you, he that heareth My Word and believeth on Him That sent Me, hath everlasting Life, and cometh not into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.
Having now proved sufficiently by the foregoing, that the miserable Jews sin not against the Son only, by daring to find fault with the things which He says or does among them in His teaching, but do also ignorantly transgress against the Father Himself, and having as far as pertains to the force of what has been said, wrapped about their over-confidence with fear, and persuaded them to live more religiously in hope of things to come, He at length snares them to obedience. And not unskilfully again did He frame His speech to this end. For since He knew that the Jews were still diseased, and yet offended concerning Him, He again brings back their faith to the Person of God the Father, not as excluding Himself, but as honoured in the Father too by reason of Identity of Essence. For He affirms that they who believe shall not only be partakers of eternal life, but also shall escape the peril of the condemnation, being justified, that is: holding forth fear mixed with hope. For thus could He make His discourse more efficacious and more demonstrative to the hearers.
25 Verily verily I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.
Having said that believers shall pass from death to life, He introduces Himself as Performer of the promise, and Accomplisher of the whole thing, partly hinting to the Jews, that marvellous in truth is the Power shewn in the case of the paralytic, but that the Son will be revealed as a Worker of things yet more glorious, driving away from the bodies of men not only sickness and the infirmities of diseases, but also overthrowing death and the heavily-pressing corruption (for this was what was said a little before, The Father loveth the Son and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth and greater works than these will He shew Him, that YE may marvel; for the greater wonder is shewn in the raising of the dead), partly also preparing the way for that which would probably in no slight degree affright the hearers. For He plainly declares that He will raise the dead, and will bring the creature to judgment, that through the expectation of one day being brought before Him and giving account of everything, they might be found more backward in their daring to persecute Him, and might receive more zealously the word of teaching and guidance.
To these things then the aim of the chapter looks and tends: but we must now explain the words. The common account then is (as it seems) that the time will come, when the dead shall hear the Voice of Him That raiseth them: and they suppose that it is now too no less present, either as when Lazarus for instance is to hear the Voice of the Saviour, or as saying that the dead are those not yet called through faith unto eternal life, who will surely attain unto it, by having received the doctrine of the Saviour. And this method of considering it does indeed preserve a plausible appearance, but accuracy not at all. Wherefore ruminating again the force of the words, we will affix a more suitable sense, and thus open the reading:
Verily verily I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the Voice of the Son of God; the hour again that is, when they that hear shall live. By the words then in the beginning, He means the time of the resurrection, wherein He teaches through the word of the Judge that they that sleep shall rise again to answer for their life in the world, that as I said before, devising the fear thence arising as a bridle, He might persuade them to live full excellently and wisely: by the closing words He shews that the due time of believing is now come, but also says that everlasting life will be the reward of obedience: all but declaring, Ye shall all come to judgement, sirs, that is at the time of the Resurrection, but if it seem bitter to you to be punished, and to undergo endless penalties at the hand of the offended Judge, suffer not the time of obedience to pass by, but laying hold of it while yet present, haste ye to attain to everlasting life.
26, 27 For as the Father hath life in Himself, so gave He to the Son too to have life in Himself, and gave Him authority to execute judgment also because He is the Son of Man.
Observe again the economy in these words, that thou mayest marvel at the form of expression and not, by falling into offence thereat from ignorance, bring upon thyself perdition. For the Only-Begotten, being Man in respect of the nature of His Body, and seen as one of us while yet upon the earth with flesh, manifoldly instructing the Jews in matters pertaining to salvation, clothed Himself with the glory of two God-befitting things. For He clearly affirmed, that He would both raise the dead, and set them at His Judgement-seat to be judged. But it was extremely likely that the hearers would be vexed at this, accusing Him with reason, because He said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Having mingled therefore with God-befitting Authority and Splendour language befitting the human nature, He beguiles the weight of their wrath, saying more modestly and lowlily than was necessary, For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son too to have life in Himself.Marvel not (saith He) if I, Who am now as you, and am seen as a Man, promise to raise the dead, and threaten to bring them to judgement: the Father hath given Me Power to quicken, He hath given Me to judge with authority. But when He had hereby healed the readily-slipping ear of the Jews, He bestows zealous care for the profit too of what follows, and immediately explaining why He says that He hath received it, He alleges that human nature hath nothing of itself, saying, Because He is the Son of Man.
For that the Only Begotten is also Life by Nature, and not a partaker of life from another, and so quickeneth as doth the Father, I think it superfluous to say now, since no small discourse was expended hereupon in the beginning of the book, upon the words, In Him was Life.
28, 29 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His Voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of doom.
He signifies by these words the time of the resurrection of all, when, as the Divine Paul wrote to us, The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a summons, with the voice of the Archangel, with the trump of God, to judge the world in righteousness, and render to every man according to his works. He leads therefore by repetition of the same things the most unlearned understanding of the Jews, to be able clearly to understand, that He will be a Worker of greater deeds than those in which the paralytic was concerned, and that He will be revealed as a Judge of the world: and by profitably contrasting the healing of one sick person with the resurrection of the dead, He shews that greater and more noteworthy is the operation that undoes death and destroys the corruption of all, and reasonably and of necessity says, in respect of the lesser miracle, Marvel not at this.And let us not at all suppose that by these words He means to find fault with the glory of His own works, or to enjoin the hearers that they ought not to hold worthy of wonder, those things whereat one may reasonably wonder, but He wishes those who were astonished at that to know and believe that the subject of wonder as yet was small. For He raiseth by a word and God-befitting Operation not only the sick from little diseases, but those also who have been already submerged by death and overcome by invincible corruption. And hence introducing the greater, He says, The hour is coming in which all that are in their graves shall hear His Voice. For He who by a Word brought into being things that were not, how should He not be able to win back into being that which was already created? For thus each will be the effect of the same Operation, and the glorious production of one Authority. And profitably does He subjoin that they shall come forth of their graves, they that were holden of base deeds and that lived in wickedness to undergo endless punishment, the illustrious in virtue to receive the reward of their religiousness, eternal life: at once (as we said above) introducing Himself as the Dispenser of what belongs to each, in these words of His; and persuading them, either from fear of suffering dreadful punishments, to forego evil and to hasten to elect to live more soberly, or pricked with desire after some sort for eternal life, make more zealous and eager haste after good.
CHAPTER IX. That the Son is in nothing inferior to God the Father, but is of Equal Might in Operation unto all things as God of God.
30 I can of Mine Own Self do nothing: as I hear, I judge, and My Judgment is just, because 1 seek not Mine Own Will, but the Will of the Father Which sent Me.
Give more exact heed again to the things said, and receive the force of its thought with intelligence. For the Jews not knowing the deep Mystery of the economy of flesh, nor yet acknowledging the Word of God indwelling in the Temple of the Virgin, were often excited by zeal, mistaken and not according to knowledge, as Paul saith, to savageness of manners and fierce anger: and indeed were attempting to stone Him, for that He, being a Man, was making Himself God, and again because He said that God was His Father, making Himself Equal with God. But since they were thus hard of understanding and utterly unable to endure God-befitting words, but both thought and spake meanly of Him, the Saviour by an economy acts the child with them, and made His explanation a mixed one, neither wholly foregoing words befitting God, nor altogether rejecting human language: but having said something worthy of His Divine Authority, He forthwith represses the untutored mind of the hearers, by bringing in something human also; and again having said something human by reason of the economy, He suffers not what belongs to Him to be seen in mean estate only, shewing often by His Superhuman Might and Words that He is by Nature God. Some such contrivance will you find now too in the passage at present before us. For what did He say before? For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, so the Son too quickeneth whom He will, next again, For the hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear His Voice; and besides, that they shall also come forth to be judged and to receive their reward according to their works. But He That saith He can quicken whom He will, and in like manner as the Father: how shall He not be conceived of as clothed with Might befitting God? He Who openly says that He will be Judge of all, how shall He not with justice terrify those who deem that He is yet bare Man? For it was like that they being Hebrews and instructed in the Sacred Writings, should not be entirely ignorant that God should be Judge of the world, since they too sang often, Arise, O God, judge the earth, and again, For God is the Judge.
Since then He knew that the ignorant people of the Jews were vexed at these things, He rids them of their accustomed anger by saying in more human language, I can of Mine Own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge. As far then as one can say, taking the words superficially, He derides the understanding of the Jews. For the form of expression gives the idea of a sort of weakness, and of authority not altogether free; but it is not so in truth, since the Son being Equal in all things to the Father, hath by Nature the same Operation and Authority in respect to all things. But He saith that He can do nothing of Himself, but as He heareth, so He judgeth: in another way again shewing Himself Equal in Mind and Power to God the Father.
For neither will the Father be conceived of as doing anything without the Son, Alone and by Himself, seeing He hath Him as His Might and Power (therefore all things were made by Him, and without Him was not made any one thing) nor will the Son again do ought of Himself, the Father not co-with Him. Therefore He saith also, Of Myself I do nothing; but the Father That dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works. And we shall not suppose that the Son is strengthened by the Father, as though weak, and again that authority over all things is given Him: for then would He be no longer God by Nature, as having the glory of the Godhead bestowed; but neither would the Father Himself still exist in unimpaired excellency of good things, if He had the Word, the Impress of His Nature, such as to require Power and Authority from another. For a giver of the things spoken of will be sought for analogously for the Image and Archetype, and thus in short our argument will go forth into boundless controversy, and will run out into the deep sea of blasphemy. But since the Son being of the Essence of the Father takes to Himself by Nature all the Properties of Him who begat Him, and Essentially attains to one Godhead with Him, by reason of Identity of Nature, He is in the Father, and hath again the Father in Himself: wherefore He frequently, Unblamed and Truly, attributes to the Father the Power of His Own Works, not excluding Himself from the power of doing them but attributing all things to the Operation of the One Godhead: for One is the Godhead in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
And that the Son is not inferior to the Father either in Power or Operation unto ought, but is Like in all things and of Equal Might, has been demonstrated by us elsewhere, on the words, The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these doeth the Son too likewise. But since I think it just and becoming, to display the most devoted zeal in Divine doctrines; come let us after the custom of sailors on the sea wind back anew (as a cable) the whole argument of the chapter. For in this way one may see, that the Son does not accuse His Own Nature by saying that He can do nothing of Himself, but rather exposes the folly of the Jews, and plainly shews that they trample on the law of Moses. For in that to the words, I can do nothing of Myself, is immediately subjoined, As I hear, I judge, it frees the Son from all reproach of not being able to act of His Own Power: rather it shews clearly that He is in all things Filial and Consentient with Him Who begat Him. For if as though impotent He were borrowing His Power of the Father, as not having sufficient of Himself: how ought He not rather to say, Ican of Mine Own Self do nothing, I receive the power of my Father? But now as He does not say this, but rather adds to the being able to do nothing of Himself, that He so judges as He hears, it is evident that not in respect of weakness of operation as to ought, does He put that He cannot,but by reason of impossibility of transgressing in anything the Will of the Father. For since One Godhead is conceived of in the Father and the Son, the Will too (I suppose) will be surely the Same; and neither in the Father, nor yet in the Son or the Holy Ghost will the Divine Nature be conceived of as at variance with Itself; but whatsoever seemeth good to the Father (for example), this is the Will of the Whole Godhead.
Needs therefore does the Son introduce Himself as co-approving and consenting to the Father in whatever seemeth good to Him, explaining that He cannot do anything which is not altogether according to the Mind of the Father, for this is the meaning of Of Myself . Just as if He should say that He cannot commit sin, He would not rightly seem to any to incur the charge of weakness, but rather to set forth a wondrous and God-befitting Property of His Own Nature (for He gives to understand that He is Immoveable and Unchangeable): so when He acknowledges that He can do nothing of Himself, we shall rather be awestruck as seeing Unchangeableness the fruit of the Unchangeable Nature, than unseasonably account the not being able to be a mark of weakness.
Let these things be said by us conformably to our own ability, and let the lover of learning search out for better: but we will not shrink from interpreting the saying in another way too, lowering our manner of speech a little from the bounds of the Godhead and the Excellence of the Only-Begotten: and since the Son truly was and was called Man, translating the force of the passage to the economy with Flesh, and shewing that what follows is akin and connected with what preceded. Therefore He clearly testified that all that are in the graves shall hear His Voice, and that they shall come forth to be judged. When He has once begun on the subject of His judging the world, He not only promises to be a righteous Judge at that time, in which He says the Resurrection of the dead will take place, but also declares that even now He judges rightly and justly of matters in this life. What was the question and of what the discourse, hear. For our sakes was He born of a woman: for as Paul saith, He taketh not hold of angels, but of the seed of Abraham, wherefore it behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren. But since He was made Man and in servant’s form, He the Law-giver as God and Lord is made under the Law also. He speaks then sometimes as under the Law, sometimes again as above the Law, and hath undisputed authority for both. But He is discoursing now with the Jews as Law-keeper and Man, as not able to transgress the commands ordered from above, nor venturing to do ought of His Own Mind, which does not agree with the Divine Law. Wherefore He says, Ican of Mine own self do nothing; as I hear, I judge. By testifying to Himself that He can do nothing of Himself, which is not wholly in accordance with the Law, and that He judges and gives sentence in matters, according as He hears, to wit by declaration of the Law, He exposes the unbelief of the Jews, and lays bare their headstrong habit. For this too the words I can of Mine own self do nothing, well hint at, as contrasting with, YE recklessly transgress the commandments given you, ye were bold to do all things of yourselves, fearlessly, and in every matter are ye zealous to give judgments not consonant to the Divine decrees. For ye teach for doctrines the commandments of men, and make your own will a law.
What then is the aim of this way of speaking, or how He introduces Himself as judging justly, and they not, shall be told next. He had healed the paralytic on the Sabbath day, He compassionated a man who had spent long time in sickness, shewing forth right and good judgment upon him. For it was right to pity the sick man even on the sabbath day, and by no means to shut up His compassion from reverence for the sabbath day, practising a most vain piety. As the Father too works even on the sabbath day in regard of His economy towards His creatures, and that surely through the Son, so doth Himself also. For neither did He think that a man who needed compassion on the sabbath day ought to be deprived of it, by reason of the Sabbath, since He knew that the Son of Man was Lord of the sabbath. For not man was made for the sabbath, but the sabbath for man. Therefore righteous herein and good is the judgment of the Saviour, not restraining by reason of the sabbath His Loving-Kindness to the prostrate, but that which as God He knows how to perform (for the Divine Nature is the Fountain of Goodness), this He did even on the sabbath day: but the judgment of the Jews upon Him in that they were vexed on account of the sabbath, and therefore desired to kill Him Who had done them no wrong, how is not this exceedingly dissonant to the Divine Laws (for it is written, The innocent and righteous slay thou not) and the invention rather of their cruelty, and not of the holy Scriptures?
Understand then that Jesus says with a kind of emphasis to those who were angry at His deeds of good and found fault with His holy judgments, following only their own imaginations, and so to speak defining as law that which seemed to them to be right even though it be contrary to the Law:—- I can of Mine Own Self do nothing, i. e., I do all things according to the Law set forth by Moses, I endure not to do anything of Myself, as I hear, I judge. For what willeth the Law? Ye shall not respect persons in judgment, for the judgment is God’s. why then (saith He) are ye angry at Me because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day, and condemn not Moses who decreed that children should be circumcised even on the sabbath. Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the Law of Moses should not be broken, thus without due cause are ye vexed at seeing a man every whit healed on the sabbath day? I therefore judged justly, but ye by no means so, for ye do all things of yourselves. But I can of Mine Own Self do nothing; as I hear, I judge, and My Judgment is just, because I seek not Mine Own Will, as ye do, but the Will of the Father Which sent Me.
What manner of sending this is, and the mode of the being sent, we having before spoken of at length, will refrain from speaking any more thereof. But we must observe for profit’s sake that He says that the Law is the Will of God the Father.
31, 32 If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true: there is another that beareth witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesseth of Me is true.
The most wise Solomon, gathering together the things in which a man may very reasonably glory, and shew his manner of life to be enviable, and placing them before those who are apt to learn, says, The righteous man is his own accuser in the opening of the trial, and again, Let thy neighbour praise thee and not thine own mouth, a stranger and not thine own lips. For a thing truly burdensome and most intolerable to the hearers, is it that some like not to be praised by the voice of others, but attest unrestrainedly their own most noble and excellent deeds. But with reason is such language distrusted; for we are wont to be invited by certain (so to speak) natural and necessary drawings of self-love, readily to ascribe to ourselves nought that is ill, but ever to put about us and not altogether truthfully, the things whereby any may be thought well-behaved and good.
When then our Lord Jesus Christ adjudged to Himself that He judgeth righteous judgments, saying openly that He could do nothing of Himself, but that He makes the Will of the Father His Rule in all His Actions, and in saying this, introduced Himself as witness to Himself, although it was true, yet of necessity considering the sophistry of the Pharisees, and what they would say in their folly (for they knew not that He is God by Nature): He anticipates them in putting it forward, and says, Ye following the practice of the common people, and not advancing beyond surmise befitting Jews, will surely say, THOU bearest record of Thyself, Thy record is not true; but ye shall hear this in reply (saith He), I endure yet with your blasphemies, I am by no means exceeding angry with you belching forth your words from the ignorance most dear to you, I grant you for argument’s sake, that even this hath been well said by you: Be it so, ye reject My Voice, there is Another That beareth witness of Me. He here indicates God the Father Which is in heaven Who hath now in divers manners attested the Verity of the Essence of His Own Son; and He says that He knows that His witness is True shewing that His Own Judgement too is in fact most trustworthy and true. For lest by admitting as it were that He said things untrue of Himself, He should give room for malice, and a loophole against Himself to them who are accustomed to think otherwise, He having ceded of necessity to what is becoming and customary, that one ought not altogether to credit as true him who praises and approves himself, returns again as God to His due position and says that He knows that the witness of the Father is true, all bat teaching this; I being Very God know Myself (says Ho), and the Father will say nothing of favour concerning Me. For I am Such by Nature, as He, being True, will declare Me. In the former part then there was an assent so to say of condescension, and the words hypothetic 15 rather than true; in His saying that He knows that the witness of the Father is true, is the demonstration of God-befitting credibility.
But it must be observed that in respect of His Own Person the Father is Other than the Son, and is not, as some uninstructed heretics have imagined, introduced as the Son-Father.
33 YE have sent unto John, and he hath borne witness unto the Truth.
As we have just affirmed that it is disgraceful, and not without share of the uttermost folly, that any one should be seen as an admirer of his own excellencies, even though he should by reason of exceeding virtue escape untruth: so it is an absurdity cognate (so to say) and akin to this, that any not called upon to bear witness to any thing, should of their own accord appear before the judges or those who wish to enquire. For such an one would seem (and that justly) not altogether to be anxious to tell the truth, but rather to be over-eager to give his testimony, to make known not what the nature of the fact is, but rather his own account of it. Most skilfully then, yea rather as God, doth our Lord Jesus Christ, overturning beforehand the charge of the Pharisees in regard to this, say, YE have sent unto John: not of his own accord (says He) does the Baptist come to give his testimony to Me, he is clear from any charge of this: he gave free testimony; YE sent to ask John, and he hath borne witness unto the truth. For when he was asked by them who were sent to him, whether he were the Christ, he confessed and denied not, but confessed I am not the Christ, but am sent before Him. He hath then borne witness to the Truth, for Christ is the Truth.
34 But I receive not testimony from man, but these things I say, that YE might be saved.
He doth not reject the word of John as useless, nor declare the witness of the truth to be of none effect (for He would with justice have seemed to have wrought absurdity against Himself, by unreasonably dismissing from credence him whom He sent to cry. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God) but as striving with the unbounded disobedience of the Jews He proceeds to what is better and of more weight, saying that not of necessity is testimony to Himself from voice of man admitted, but rather giving them more glorious proof from the Authority befitting Him Who is by Nature God, and from the Excellence of the Divine Miracles. For a person will sometimes reject the voice of man, as not true, even though he be haply enrolled among the saints. Which some not scrupling to do, used to oppose the words of the Prophets, crying out.Speak unto us other things and declare unto us another deceit: and yet besides these, certain of them of Jerusalem, or of the land of Judah, who had escaped into Egypt: to wit, Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the proud men, as it is written, openly disbelieving the prophecies of Jeremiah, said, Thou speakest falsely, the Lord sent thee not to say to us, Go not into Egypt. But demonstration through miracles, what gainsaying will it admit of; and the being borne witness to by the Excellencies of God the Father, what mode of stubbornness will it yet grant to the faultfinders? And verily Nicodemus (he was one of their rulers, and ranked among those in authority) gave incontrovertible testimony from His miracles, saying, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a Teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that THOU doest, except God be with Him.
Since then to disbelieve even the holy Baptist himself who brought testimony as far as words go, was not too much for the malice of the Jews, He says again, in a sort of irony, The blessed Baptist hath borne witness to the truth, even though questioned by you, but since nothing has been left untried by you, and ye have foolhardily accustomed yourselves to launch forth into all manner of reviling, ye have, it is likely, rejected his voice. And since this too seems to you to be right, be it so: I am haply persuaded, I agree with you, I will put aside for your sakes the voice of John too, and with you except against his testimony: I have the Father from above bearing testimony. But teaching again that the expression implies assent for argument’s sake, He profitably subjoined, But these things I say that YE might be saved, that is, I used this manner of speech to you, not that the truth is so, but for argument’s sake, that by every means YE may be saved.
And here our second book shall end.