GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN.
CHAPTER I. That the Holy Spirit is naturally of God, and in the Son, and through Him and in His Substance.
14 He shall glorify Me: for He shall take of Mine, and shall declare it unto you.
As the Holy Spirit was about to reveal to those who should be found worthy the mystery that is in Christ, and to demonstrate completely Who He is by nature, and how great is His power and might, and that He reigneth over all with the Father, Christ is impelled to say, He shall glorify Me. For He sets our mind above the conceits of the Jews, and does not suffer us to entertain so limited and dwarfed a conception as to think that He is a mere Man, slightly surpassing the prophets in the stature they attained, or even falling short of their renown—-for we find that the leaders of the Jews had this idea concerning Him, because they not knowing the mystery of piety, frequently uttered blasphemies against Christ, and, encountering His sayings with their mad folly, said on one occasion: Who art Thou? Abraham is dead, and the prophets are dead; and Thou sayest, If a man keep My word, He shall never see death. Whom makest Thou Thyself? And on another occasion they cast in His teeth the meanness of His birth according to the flesh, and His great insignificance in this respect: Is not this the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How then doth He say, I am come down out of heaven? Note herein the miserable reasoning of the Jews. As then the multitude were so disposed and thought that the Lord was not truly God because in this human frame He was liable to death, and because they did not scruple to entertain the basest conception of His Nature, the Spirit, when He came down from heaven, illustrated completely His glory to the Saints; not that we should say, that He merely convinced them by wise words, but that He by actual proof also satisfied the minds of all that He was truly God, and the fruit of the Substance of God the Father. What then is this proof? And how did He increase the honour and admiration in which Christ was held? By exercising His activity universally in a marvellous and Divine manner, and by implanting in the Saints complete and perfect knowledge, He furthered His glory. For to the Sovereign Nature of the Universe alone must we ascribe omniscience and the sight of all things naked and laid open to the view, and the ability to accomplish all His purposes.
The Comforter then, that is, His own Spirit, being omnipotent and omniscient, glorifies the Son. And how does He glorify Him? Surely what His Spirit knows and is able to effect, Christ knows and is able to effect. And if, as He says, the Spirit receives of Him, the Spirit Himself being omnipotent, surely He Himself has a power which is universal. And we must in no wise suppose that the Comforter, that is, the Spirit, is lacking in innate and inherent power in such a way that, if He did not receive assistance from without, His own power would not be self-sufficient to fully accomplish the Divine designs. Any one who merely imagined any such idea to be true about the Spirit would with good reason undergo the charge of the worst blasphemy of all. But it is because He is Consubstantial with the Son, and divinely proceeds through Him, exercising universally His entire activity and power, that Christ says, “He shall receive of Me.” For we believe that the Spirit has a self-supporting existence and is in truth that which He is, and with the qualities predicated of Him; though, being inherent in the Substance of God, He proceeds and issues from it and has innate in Himself all that that nature implies. For the Divine Substance is not His by participation or by relation, still less is It His as though He had a separate existence from It, since He is an attribute of It. For just as the fragrance of sweet-smelling flowers, proceeding in some sort from the essential and natural exercise of the functions or qualities of the flowers that emit it, conveys the perception thereof to the outer world by meeting those organs of smell in the body, and yet seems in some way, so far as its logical conception goes, to be separate from its natural cause, while (as having no independent existence) it is not separate in nature from the source from which it proceeds and in which it exists, even so you may conceive of the relation of God and the Holy Spirit, taking this by way of illustration. In this way then the statement that His Spirit receives something from the Only-begotten is wholly unimpeachable and cannot be cavilled at. For proceeding naturally as His attribute through Him, and having all that He has in its entirety, He is said to receive that which He has. And if this meaning is conveyed in language that is obscure, far from being offended at it, we should with more justice lay the blame on the poverty of our own language, which is not able to give expression to Divine truths in a suitable way. And what language is adequate to explain the ineffable Nature and Glory of God? He says then that the Comforter “will receive of Mine, and will show it unto you;” that is, He will say nothing that is not in harmony with My purpose; but, since He is My Spirit, His language will be in every way identical with Mine, and He will show you of My Will.
CHAPTER II. That His Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, is naturally in the Son and in His Substance, as He is also in the Substance of the Father.
15 All things whatsoever the Father hath are Mine: and therefore I said unto you, that He taketh of Mine and shall declare it unto you.
The Son once more shows to us herein the complete and perfect character of the Person of the Father Himself also, and allows us to see why He said that He, being the fruit of the Father’s Substance, engrosses in Himself all that belongs to It, and says that It is all His own, and with reason. For, as there is nothing to dissever or estrange the Son from the Father, so far as their complete similarity and equality is concerned, save only that He is not Himself the Father, and as the Divine Substance does not show Itself differently in the Two Persons, surely Their attributes are common, or rather identical; so that what the Father hath is the Son’s, and what He That begat hath, belongs also to Him that is begotten of Him. For this reason, I think, in His watchful care over us, He has thus spoken to us concerning this. For He did not say, All things whatsoever the Father hath I have also, in order to prevent our imagining He meant a mere likeness founded on similarity, only moulded by adventitious graces into conformity with the Archetype, as is the case with us; for we are after God’s likeness. Rather, when He says, All things whatsoever the Father hath are Mine, He illustrates hereby the perfect union which He hath with His Father, and the meaning of their Consubstantiality existing in unchangeable attributes. And this you may see, that He clearly says elsewhere, when addressing the Father, All things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine. For surely they are identical in nature, in whom there is no severance at all, but complete and perfect essential equality and likeness. God the Father then hath, of Himself, and in Himself, His own Spirit; that is, the Holy Spirit, through Whom He dwelleth in the Saints, and reveals His mysteries to them; not as though the Spirit were called to perform a merely ministerial function (do not think this), but rather, as He is in Him essentially, and proceeds from Him inseparably and indivisibly, interpreting what is in reality His own when He interprets that which belongs to Him in Whom He exists, and from Whom He springs. For God only has union with the creation through His Son in the Spirit. And this Spirit is also an attribute of the Only-begotten, for He is Consubstantial with the Father.
Since then, He says, it is seen to be natural to God the Father to reveal Himself in His own Spirit to those who are worthy of Him, and to accomplish through Him all His purposes, and since this kind of action belongs to Me also, for this cause I said, “He receiveth of Me and will show it unto you.” And let no man be perplexed when he here hears the word “receiveth,” but rather let him consider the following fact, and he will do well. The things of God are spoken of in language as though God were even as we are; but this is not really the case, for His ways are superhuman. We say then that the Spirit receives of the Father and the Son the things that are Theirs in the following way; not as though at one moment He were devoid of the knowledge and power inherent in Them, and at the next hardly acquires such knowledge and power when He is conceived of as receiving from Them. For the Spirit is wise and powerful, nay, rather, absolute Wisdom and Power, not by participation in anything else, but by His own Nature. But, rather, just as we should say that the fragrance of sweet-smelling herbs which assails our nostrils is distinct from the herbs so far as their conception in thought is concerned, but proceeds from the herbs in which it originates only by being a recipient of their faculty of giving scent in order to its display, and is not in fact distinct from them, because its existence is due to, and is wrapped up in, them; even such an idea, or rather one transcending this, must you imagine about the relation of God to the Holy Spirit. For He is, as it were, a sweet savour of His Substance, working plainly on the senses, conveying to the creature an effluence from God, and instilling in him through Itself participation in the Sovereign Substance of the Universe. For if the fragrance of sweet herbs imparts some of its power to garments with which it comes in contact, and in some sort transforms its surroundings into likeness with itself, surely the Holy Ghost has power, since He [is by nature of God, to make those in whom He abides partakers in the Divine Nature through Himself. The Son then, being the Fruit and express Image of the Father’s Person by nature, engrosses all that is His. And therefore He says, All things whatsoever the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I unto you, that He taketh of Mine and shall declare it unto you—-the Spirit, that is, Who is through Him and in Him, by Whom He personally dwells in the Saints. For His Spirit is not distinct from Him, even though He may be conceived of as having a separate and independent existence: for the Spirit is Spirit, and not the Son.
16 A little while, and ye behold Me no more; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me; because I go to the Father.
After having first said that He would reveal to them by His Spirit everything that was necessary and essential for them to know, He discourses to them of His Passion, nigh unto which was His Ascension into heaven, rendering the coming of the Spirit very necessary; for it was no longer possible for Him, after He had gone up to the Father, to hold converse in the flesh with His holy Apostles. And He makes His discourse with the greatest caution, thereby robbing their sorrow of its sting; for well He knew that great fear would once more reign in their hearts, and that they would be consumed with an agony of grief, expecting to be overwhelmed by terrible and unendurable evils, when their bereavement should come to pass and the Saviour ascend to the Father. For this cause, I think, He does not tell them that He would die—-the madness of the Jews requiring even His life of Him—-but keeps this secret. Rather in His great consideration for them He greatly softens the rigour of His discourse, and shows them that close upon their suffering would follow the joy of heart which His Resurrection would occasion them, saying: A little while, and ye behold Me no more; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me. For now the time of His death drew nigh which would take the Lord out of the sight of His disciples for a very short season, until, after despoiling hell and throwing open the gates of darkness to those that dwelt therein, He built up again the temple of His Body. Whereupon He manifested Himself once more to His disciples, and promised to be with them alway [even unto the end] of the world, according to the Scripture. For even though He be absent in the body, taking His place for our sake at the Father’s side and sitting at His right Hand, still He dwells by the Spirit with those who are worthy of Him, and has perpetual converse with His Saints; for He has promised that He will not leave us comfortless. As then, there was but a short interval of time before His Passion would begin, He says, A little while, and ye see Me no more; for He was to be hidden from sight in a manner by death for a brief space: and again, He says, a little while, and ye shall see Me. For on the third day He revived, having preached unto the spirits in prison. The proof of His love towards mankind was hereby rendered most complete by His giving salvation, I say, not merely to the quick, but also by His preaching remission of sins to those who were already dead, and who sat in darkness in the depths of the abyss according to the Scripture.
And remark how, with reference to His Passion and His Resurrection, He said: A little while, and ye behold Me no more; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me; and how, merely adding, because I go to My Father, leaves the rest unsaid. He did not explain to them how long He would remain there, or when He would come again. And why was this? Because it is not for us to know times and seasons which the Father hath set within His own authority, according to the words of our Saviour Himself.
17, 18 Some of His disciples therefore said one to another, What is this that He saith unto us, A little while, and ye behold Me not; and again a little while, and ye shall see Me; and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that He saith, A little while? We know not what He saith.
The inspired disciples, not yet understanding what He had said, converse among themselves, and are in doubt as to what a little while, and again a little while, and ye shall not see Me, might mean. Christ, however, anticipates their desire for information, and once more very seasonably shows them that He knows their hearts as God, and that He is as well aware of what they are turning over in their minds, and what was as yet buried in the depths of their hearts, as though they had already given utterance to it in speech. For what is there which can be hid from Him before Whom all things are naked? Wherefore also He saith to one of the Saints: Who is this that hideth counsel from Me, and putteth together words in his heart and thinketh that he keepeth it secret from Me? He then at every turn uses occasion as it offers to nurture in them secure and unshaken faith.
19, 20 Jesus perceived that they were desirous to ask Him, and He said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves concerning this, that I said, A little while, and ye behold Me not, and again a little while, and ye shall see Me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
As then they were thirsting for information and sought to know more exactly the meaning of His words, He gives a clearer exposition of His Passion, and vouchsafes them the foreknowledge of the sufferings that He was about to undergo to their great profit. It was not in order that He might engender in them premature alarm that He deemed it meet to give them this explanation beforehand, but in order that, forearmed by their knowledge, they might perchance be found more courageous to withstand the terror that would assail them. For that of which the advent is expected is milder in its approach than that which is wholly unlooked for. When then you who are truly Mine and united to Me by your love towards Me shall behold your Guide and Master undergoing the brunt of the madness of the Jews, their insults and outrages, and all that their mad frenzy will prompt, then, indeed, ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; that is, those who are not minded to follow God’s Will, but are, as it were, enchained by worldly lusts. He refers also to the vulgar herd of Jewish rabble, as well as the impious band of enemies of God who had secured the lead among them, namely, the Scribes and Pharisees, who made jests at the trials our Saviour had to endure, and raised many cries to their own damnation, at one time saying, If Thou art the Son of God come down now from the cross, and we will believe Thee: and at another, Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest it in three days, save Thyself—-for such will be the foul utterances of the blasphemous tongue of the Jews. But while the men of the world would be of this mind, and such will be their deeds and cries, “you will mourn;” but not for long will you have this suffering to endure, for your sorrow will be turned into joy. For I shall live again, and will wholly remove the cause of your despondency, and I will comfort the mourners, and will renew in them a good courage that will be eternal and without end. For the joy of the Saints ceaseth not. For Christ is alive for evermore, and through Him the bonds of death are loosed for all mankind. It is perhaps, too, not impertinent to reflect that the worldly will contrariwise be doomed to a fate of endless misery. For if, when Christ died after the flesh, those who were truly His mourned, but the world rejoiced at His Passion; and if, when death and corruption were rendered powerless by the Resurrection of our Saviour Christ from the dead, the mourning of the Saints was turned into joy, surely in like manner also the joy of the worldly-minded will be lost in sorrow.
21, 22 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but when she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world. And ye therefore now have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one taketh from you.
He once more dilates upon the solace He had given them, and illustrates it by divers words, in every way aiding them to dispel the bitterness of their sorrow. For observe how earnestly He persuades them, by obvious illustration, of the necessity of endurance, and of not being over dismayed by troubles or sorrows, if they must surely and inevitably end in rejoicing. For the child, He says, is the fruit of sore travail; and it is through pain that the joy they have in their children comes to mothers. And if at the first they had felt fainthearted at the prospect of the travail of childbirth, they would never have consented to conceive; but would rather have chosen to escape marriage, which is the cause, and would never have become mothers at all; avoiding by their cowardice a state which is highly desirable and thrice blest. In like manner then will your suffering also not fail to meet its reward. For you will rejoice when you see a new child born into the world, incorruptible and beyond the reach of death. Plainly He alludes to Himself here. He tells them that the joy of heart that they will have in Him cannot be taken away from them or lost. For, as Paul says, or rather as the Very Truth Itself implies, having died once for all, He dieth no more. The joy of heart then that rests upon Him hath in very truth a sure foundation. For, if we mourned at His death, who shall take from us our joy, now that we know that He lives and will be alive for evermore—-He Who gives and ordains for us all spiritual blessings? No man then “taketh their joy” from the Saints, as our Saviour says; but they who nailed Him to the Cross were bereft of their joy once and for ever. For now that His suffering is ended, which they thought an occasion for rejoicing, sorrow will be their portion of inevitable necessity.
23, 24 And in that day ye shall ash Me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If ye shall ask anything of the Father, He will give it you in My Name. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be fulfilled.
He says that His holy disciples will increase in wisdom and knowledge when they should be clothed with power from on high according to the Scripture, and with their minds illumined by the torchlight of the Spirit should be able to conceive all wisdom, even though they asked no question of Him Who was no longer present with them in the flesh. The Saviour does not indeed say this because they will have no more need of light from Him, but because when they had received His own Spirit, and had Him indwelling in their! hearts, they would have in their minds no lack of every good thing, and would be fulfilled with the most perfect knowledge. And by perfect knowledge we mean that which is correct and incapable of error, and which cannot endure to think or say any evil thing, and which has a right belief concerning the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity. For if we see now in a mirror darkly, and we know in part, still while we wander not astray from the doctrines of the truth but adhere to the spirit of the holy and inspired writings, the knowledge that we have is not imperfect, a knowledge which no man can acquire save by the light of the Holy Spirit given unto him. Hereby he exhorts the disciples to pray for spiritual graces, and at the same time gives them this encouragement—-that what they ask they will not fail to obtain; adding the comforting assurance of the word “verily” to His promise that if they will go to the Father’s throne and make any request, they will receive it of Him, He Himself acting as Mediator and leading them into the Father’s Presence. For this is the meaning of the words in my Name; for we cannot draw nigh unto God the Father save by the Son alone. For through Him we have obtained access in One Spirit unto the Father, according to the Scripture. Therefore also He saith: I am the Door: I am the Way: no one cometh unto the Father but by Me. For inasmuch as the Son is also God, together with the Father He conveys good gifts to the Saints, and associates Himself with Him in granting us the portion of the blessed. Moreover, the inspired Paul most evidently confirms our belief herein by writing these words: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And in right of His titles, Mediator, High Priest, and Advocate, He conveys to the Father prayers on our behalf, for He gives us all boldness to address the Father. In the Name then of Our Saviour Christ we must make our requests, for so will the Father most readily grant them, and will give to those that ask good gifts, that we may take them and rejoice therein. So being fulfilled with spiritual graces, and enriched with the grant of knowledge from Him through the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts, we shall gain a very easy triumph over every strange and abominable lust; and thus being active in good works, and attaining to the practice of every virtue with fervent zeal, and strengthened with everything whatsoever that maketh for sanctification, we rejoice with exceeding joy at the prospect of the reward that awaits us; and, dismissing the despondency that springs from an evil conscience, we have our hearts enriched with the joy that is in Christ. This did not enter into the life of the men of old time; they never practised this manner of prayer, for they knew it not. But now is it ordained for us by Christ, at the appropriate season, when the time of the accomplishment of our redemption was fulfilled, and the perfect fruition of all good was gained for us by Him. For just as the Law accomplished nothing, and as righteousness according to the Law was incomplete, so also was the mode of prayer inculcated thereby.
25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: the hour cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but shall tell you plainly of the Father.
By proverbs He means language that is indistinct and does not bear its meaning on the surface, but is in some sort veiled by obscurities so subtle that He says His hearers could not very readily comprehend it; for this was the fashion of what was said in proverbs. What I have told you then, He says, I have told you as it were in proverbs and riddles, reserving for the fitting season which has not yet come, though it is drawing nigh, the revelation of these things beyond possibility of doubt. For the hour will indeed come, He says; that is, the proper time in which I shall in plain language expound to you the things that concern the Father’s glory, and implant in you a knowledge that surpasses human understanding. What that time would be, He did not tell them very clearly. We must surmise that He either meant that time when we were enriched with the knowledge that comes to us through the Spirit, Whom Christ Himself brought down to us after His Resurrection from the dead; or it may be the time to come after the end of the world, in which we shall behold unveiled and open to our gaze the glory of God, Who will Himself impart to us knowledge concerning Himself in perfect clearness. Therefore also Paul says, that prophecies shall be done away, and knowledge shall cease, having no other meaning in his mind than that which we have accepted for this passage. For we see in a mirror, and we know in part, as we just now said. But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. How or in what manner this shall come to pass I will go on to explain, if you are willing to listen.
For, just as in the darkness of the night the bright beauty of the stars shines forth, each casting abroad its own ray of light, but when the sun arises with his radiant beams then that light which is but in part is done away, and the lustre of the stars waxes feeble and ineffective, in like manner I think also the knowledge that we now have will cease, and that which is in part will vanish away at that moment of time when the perfect light has come upon us, and sheds forth its radiancy, filling us with perfect knowledge of God. Then, when we are enabled to approach God in confidence, Christ will tell us the things which concern His Father. For now by shadows and illustrations, and various images and types deduced from different phases of human life, we feebly trace our steps to a vague uncertain knowledge, through the inherent weakness of our minds. Then, however, we shall stand in no need of any type or riddle or parable, but shall behold after a fashion, face to face and with unshackled mind, the fair vision of the Divine Nature of God the Father, having seen the glory of Him Who proceeded from Him. For we shall see Him even as He is, according to the saying of John. For now we know Him in the perfection of the glory that belongs to His Divine Nature because of our humanity. But when the season of His incarnation is past, and the mystery of our redemption completely wrought out, henceforth He will be seen in His own glory and in the glory of God the Father. For being God by Nature, and thereby Consubstantial with His Father, He will surely enjoy equal honours with Him, and will shine henceforth in the glory of His Godhead.
26, 27 In that day ye shall ask in My Name: and I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father.
He suffers them not to ask for anything at all by prayer and supplication, except only in His Name. He promises, however, that His Father will very readily grant their requests, not indeed as induced thereto by the intercessions of the Son in His capacity as our Mediator and Advocate, but prompted by His own Will to be liberal in His dealings towards them, and making haste to shower upon those who love Christ the exceeding riches of His goodness, as though He were but paying them their due. And no man in his senses can think, nor can any one be so ignorant as to affirm, that the disciples or any others of the Saints stand in no need of the mediation of the Son in working out their own salvation. For all things proceed through Him from the Father in the Spirit, since He is the Advocate, as John saith, not for our sins only, but also for the whole world. And in saying this, He shows us too, to our profit, that very acceptable to God the Father is the honour and love which we have towards His Offspring. Not understanding this, the miserable people of the Jews did not shrink from assailing Him with intolerable blasphemies, and sought to kill Him, according to the Scripture, because of the conversion of the mind of His believers from the obscure commandment of the Law to the clearness of the life according to the Gospel. For these wretched men said in their ignorance, or rather in their desire to sharpen their blasphemous tongues against Him, If this man were from God, He would not have broken the Sabbath day. He says then, that God the Father will very readily vouchsafe His favour to those who have undoubting faith, and are well assured that He came out from God the Father. For the Father will, as it were, He says, hail in advance, and anticipate, the request of the Mediator, and overwhelm with spiritual blessings the mind of those who have a right understanding concerning Me, and not according to the imaginations of those who are too much enamoured of the letter of the Law.
And by the words I came out from God, we must surmise that He means either I was begotten from, and manifested Myself out of, His Substance (the words being taken with reference to what goes before as to His existing in a sense independently of His Father but not altogether separately from Him; for the Father is in the Son, and the Son again by Nature in the Father); or we must take the words “I came out from,” as meaning I became even as you are; that is, a Man, endued with your form and nature. For the peculiar nature of any being may be conceived of as the place from which it proceeds, when it is transformed into anything else and becomes what it was not before. We are indeed far from asserting that when He took the form of man even as ourselves, being at the same time truly the Only-begotten, He divested Himself of His Godhead. For He is the same yesterday, and today, yea and for ever. But when He took upon Himself a nature that was not His own, while at the same time He retained His peculiar attributes, He may be conceived of as having come forth from God, in a sense appropriate to this passage. You may take, if you choose, the words I came forth from the Father, in yet another sense, as follows: The Pharisees, only apt in error, as I have already said, thought that Christ came before the world like one of the false prophets, with no mission from God, but of His own motion; inasmuch as they were accustomed to point out to those that went to Him, that Christ’s teaching conflicted with the Law. And for this reason they considered Him guilty of disobedience, declaring that the keeping of the Law is most acceptable to God the Father, but it was broken by His teaching. They therefore rejected Christ as an enemy of God, and as having chosen to oppose the dispensation given to them from Him through Moses, and argued that He was for this reason an alien from God. But not so the blessed disciples. For they loved Him, and had their minds exalted above the madness of the Jews, and they had a genuine faith that He came out from God, as we have just been told. For this cause then were they beloved of the Father, and were requited, as it were, by receiving equal favour from Him. And if they who believe that the Son came out from God are very dear and acceptable to God the Father, surely they who are diseased with the contrary opinion are accursed and abominable in God’s sight. And if God is very ready to hearken to those who love the Son, clearly He will not accept the prayers of His enemies; and this is what is said by the mouth of Isaiah to them: And when ye spread forth your hands to Me, I will hide Mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
28 I came out from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father.
Herein, then, in the fact that our Lord went back to the Father and returned with power to the place from which He knew that He had gone forth, is proof clear and incontrovertible, that He was not one of the false prophets, and that He did not come to utter to us the promptings of man’s private judgment, or to teach us doctrines contrary to the Father’s Will, as the demented Jews ignorantly imagined. Granting then, (so a man might speak, wishing to combat the perverse opinions of the Jews) that He was not the true Christ, as you say. O Jews, and that without the approval of God the Father He introduced the teaching of the life according to the Gospel, showing that the commandment of the Law was now barren, and so profitless for the attainment of perfection in piety; (for you accuse Him as a Sabbath-breaker, and, when He did any wonderful works among you, you impiously said that He used to do them by Beelzebub the prince of the devils); how then was it that He ascended into heaven itself? How was it that the Father gave a share of His throne, and the angels threw open wide the gates of heaven, to Him Who combated His decrees as you say, and propounded doctrines contrary to the Will of the Sovereign of the Universe? Was His Ascension unobserved? Of a truth, great was the crowd of witnesses to whom the Divine and heavenly messenger spake the words: Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, Which was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld Him going into heaven. What hast thou, O Jews, to say in reply? Wilt thou not honour with obedience even the voice of an angel? Wilt thou not accept the testimony of the witnesses, though those who gazed upon the scene were many in number? And yet the Law says clearly, In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. How then any longer can the reproach of being a false prophet be brought with any justice against Him, Who of His own power returns to the Father in heaven? And will it not rather follow, by the convincing logic of facts, that we should entertain the firm conviction that He came from God, that is from the Father, and is in fact no other than He Whom the Law and the prophets foretold unto us?
And when He says that He came into this world and again left the world and went to the Father, He does not mean that He either abandoned the Father when He became Man, nor that He abandoned the race of man when in His flesh He went to the Father; for He is truly God, and with His ineffable power filleth all things, and is not far from anything that exists.
29, 30 His disciples say unto Him, Lo, now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now know we that Thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask Thee: by this we believe that Thou earnest forth from God.
They marvel at the convincing nature of the proof He gives them, and are amazed at the clearness of His language, for without any concealment He made His speech to them right openly. They rejoice therefore at receiving a proof rid of all difficulty, and declare that His words have in them nothing hard to understand, but that His language here is so easily intelligible that it does not seem in the smallest degree to partake of the nature of a parable. And they get also this additional benefit: Since Thou knowest, they say, what is whispered in secret, and hast now given us this information in the words Thou hast just spoken, anticipating thereby the questions we might have asked in our desire to elicit it, we are persuaded that Thou art indeed come from God. For to know, they say, what is secret and hidden can belong to the God of all and to none other. And since Thou knowest all things of Thyself, is it not beyond question that Thou hast emanated from God that knoweth all things? So this truly Divine and marvellous sign also availed to nurture in the disciples with the rest undoubting faith, so that we can see in them the truth of the saying: Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. And they say, “Now are we sure;” not meaning thereby that they then let into their minds the first beginning of faith when they heard these words and recognised the sign, I mean the omniscience of Christ; but rather that they began to establish firmly in their hearts the faith that had at first gained admittance there, and to attain a state of unalterable conviction that He was God, and sprang from the true and living God. We shall accept then the expression “Now are we sure,” as referring not to the first beginning of faith, but to the occasion of its first being firmly settled in that apprehension of Christ’s Nature now honoured with approval.
31, 32 Jesus answered them, Be ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea is now come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.
The Saviour, however, very gently tells them that the time when they should be confirmed in all goodness was not yet; but that this would come to pass on the occasion of the descent of the Holy Ghost unto them from heaven and power from on high, according to the Scripture. For then, declaring that their human faintheartedness was perfected in strength, they were pre-eminent for their invincible hardihood, not fearing the risings of the Jews against them, nor the unbridled wrath of the Pharisees, nor any other peril, but showing themselves the champions of the Divine message, and openly declaring: We must obey God rather than men; for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard. While then He points out that they are not yet confirmed in perfect faith, through their not having partaken of communion with the Spirit; setting before them, as a proof, the cowardice that they would presently display; at the same time, by foretelling that this would shortly come to pass, He manifestly confers on them no small benefit. For they would be grounded more firmly in the faith, that He was by Nature God, when they had fully grasped the belief that the future was in no way hid from Him. Behold then, He says, the time will shortly come, nay, is now at hand, when ye will leave Me alone and depart to your own. Herein He says indirectly, only by implication, that, overcome by unmanly cowardice, they would take thought only for their own lives; and, preferring their own safety to the affection they owed to their Master, would flee to the nearest place of refuge. How then “are ye now sure,” when you have not yet quit yourselves of the reproach of imputations on your courage, because as yet you have no participation in the courage which is given by the Spirit? And that the blessed disciples betook themselves to flight and were terrified at the onslaught of the Jews, when the traitor appeared bringing with him the impious band of soldiers and the servants of the leaders, is beyond question. Then did they leave Christ alone; that is, with reference to the absence of all those who were wont to follow and attend upon Him: for He was not alone, insomuch as He was God, and of God, and in God, by Nature and indivisibly. Christ indeed says this, speaking rather as Man and for our sakes, with intent to teach us that when we are assailed by temptation, persecution, and such like, and are called to encounter some peril that may bring us glory, I mean in God’s service, we are not therefore to be fainthearted about our ability to escape, because none of our brethren of kindred soul to us are running the race side by side with us, cheering us so far as in them lies, and all but sharing by their sympathy the danger which is imminent. For even if all these betake themselves to flight, gaining in their own persons an advantage over us by their cowardice which is grievous and hard to bear, we ought to bear in mind that God’s arm will not be shortened on that account. For He will alone avail to save him that is faithful unto Him. For we are not alone; and, though we see no friend beside us, as I have just said, we have God Who is all powerful with us at our side, to aid and fight in the conflict, shielding us with all-sufficient succour, as the Psalmist says: With favour hast Thou encompassed us as with a shield! We make these observations on this passage, not as considering love of life something honourable and worthy admiration, on occasions when we can bring our life in the body to a glorious end, fighting in the ranks with those who risk their lives for God’s sake, but that we may rather be persuaded of this, that even though there be none willing and zealous to share the conflict with us, we ought not to be faint at heart, for we shall not be alone, for God is with us.
33 These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Christ herein, so to say, well sums up to our profit His discourse to them; and, compressing into a few words the meaning of what He had said, sets before them in brief the knowledge of His Will. For I have now, He says, spoken these words unto you, exhorting you to have peace in Me, and that ye may also know clearly that you will meet with trouble in the world, and will be involved in many tribulations for My sake. But you will not be vanquished by the perils that encompass you, for I have overcome the world.
But that I may make what I have said as clear as possible unto you, come let me first explain what “having peace in Christ” means. For the world, or those who are enamoured of the things in the world, are continually at peace among themselves, but in nowise have they peace in Christ. As, for example, the dissolute seekers of the pleasures of sense are therefore most dear and acceptable to those of similar pursuits; and the man who covets riches that do not belong to him, and is for this reason grasping or thievish, will be altogether to the taste of those who practise a kindred vice. For every creature loves his kind, according to the saying, and man will be attracted to his like. But in all connexions of this sort the holy name of peace is put to base uses; and the proverb is true, but it is not with the Saints as it is with the wicked. For sin is not the bond of peace, but faith, hope, love, and the power of piety towards God. And this is in Christ. The chiefest then of all good gifts towards us is clearly peace in Christ, which brings in its train brotherly love as near akin to itself. Paul says that love is the perfect fulfilling of the Divine Law; and that to those who love one another will surely come the love of God Himself above all things else is beyond question, as John says that if a man love his brother he will as a consequence love God Himself.
He points out also another truth, I mean in the words: In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Any one choosing to construe these words in a simple sense might reason thus: Christ appeared superior to, and stronger than, every sin and worldly hindrance; and since He has conquered, He will also bestow the power to conquer upon such as attempt the struggle for His sake. And if any man seek to find a more recondite meaning for the words, he might reflect in this wise: Just as we have hereby overcome corruption and death, since as Man, for us and for our sakes Christ became alive again, making His own Resurrection the beginning of the conquest over death, the power of His Resurrection will surely extend even unto us, since He that overcame death was one of us, insomuch as He was Incarnate Man; and as we overcome sin, and as we overcome death that wholly died in Christ first, Christ, that is, being the purveyor to us of the blessing as His own kindred, so also we ought to be of good cheer, because we shall overcome the world; for Christ as Man overcame it for our sakes, being herein the Beginning and the Gate and the Way for the race of man. For they who once were fallen and vanquished have now overcome and are conquerors, through Him Who conquered as one of ourselves, and for our sakes. For if He conquered as God, then it profiteth us nothing; but if as man, we are herein conquerors. For He is to us the Second Adam come from heaven, according to the Scripture. Just as then we have borne the image of the earthy, according to its likeness falling under the yoke of sin, so likewise also shall we bear the image of the heavenly, that is Christ, overcoming the power of sin and triumphing over all the tribulation of the world; for Christ has overcome the world.
CHAPTER III. That no man should consider that the Son has any lack of God-befitting glory, though He be found to say, Father, glorify Thy Son.
xvii. 1 These things spake Jesus; and lifting up His eyes to heaven He said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee.
Having given His disciples a sufficiency of things necessary for salvation, and incited them by fitting words and arguments to a more accurate apprehension of His doctrines, and made them best able to battle against temptation, and confirmed the courage of each one, he straightway changes the form of His speech for our profit, and turns it into a kind of prayer, allowing no interval to elapse between His discourse to them and His prayer to God the Father; herein also by His own conduct suggesting to us a type of admirable life. For the man who aims at serving God ought, I think, to bear in mind that he ought at all events either to be fond of discoursing to his brethren of things profitable or necessary for their salvation, or, if he be not so engaged, to hasten to employ the service of the tongue in supplications to God, so as to render it impossible for any random words to slip in between; for in this way the governance of the tongue may be well and suitably ordered. For is it not quite obvious that, in vain conversations, things blameworthy may very readily escape a man? Moreover, a wise man has said: In the multitude of words thou shalt not escape sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
You may find besides another thing to admire, which is in no small degree profitable for us. The beginning of His prayer has reference to His own glory and that of God the Father, and afterwards, in intimate connexion with this, He introduces His prayer for us. And why is this? The reason is one which convinces the pious man that loves God, and actually disposes the worker of good deeds to prayer. For just as we ought to perform good actions, and do all things, not turning to our own glory our zeal herein, but to the glory of the Father of the Universe, I mean God, for He says: Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Which is in heaven; so also it best befits us, when occasion calls us to prayer, to pray for what redounds to God’s glory before what concerns ourselves, as indeed Christ also Himself enjoins us when He says: After this manner pray ye: Our Father Which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done as in Heaven so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. What Christ here does, then, ought to be to us the pattern of prayer. For it was necessary that not an elder or messenger, but Christ Himself, should manifest Himself to be our Leader and Guide in all good, and in the way which leadeth to God. For we are called, and are in very truth, as the prophet says, taught of God.
And what He says to His Father it is right that we should consider with the greatest care. For I think we ought in a spirit of the most earnest attention to handle the investigation of His words, and most carefully search after the true intent of His teaching. Father, then, He says, The hour is come; glorify Thy Son that Thy Son may also glorify Thee. So far as the mere form of His language is concerned, one could think that the speaker had some lack of glory; but any one who considers the majesty of the Only-begotten would, I think, quickly shrink from so grievous a conclusion. For it were great folly to think that the Son has any lack of glory, or falls short of the honour which is His due, though He is the Lord of glory, for so the inspired writings call Him. Especially when in another place we observe Him saying to His Father: O Father, glorify Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. Then who can any longer doubt, or who is so demented and so far the enemy of all truth as not to know and confess that the Only-begotten is not bereft of Divine glory so far as His own Nature is concerned; but that since being in the form of God, and in perfect equality with Him, He counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but nevertheless descended to the humiliation of human nature, and emptied Himself of His glory, wearing this mean body; and from love towards us putting on the likeness of human littleness, now that the fitting time had actually arrived, at which He was destined, after fulfilling the mystery of our redemption, to gird Himself about with His pristine and essential glory; having wrought out the salvation of the whole world, and secured life and the knowledge of God to those that are therein; herein I say He shows that He has God’s Will and favour, and makes this speech to Him, saying that He ought to recover the majesty due unto His Nature.
And how does He ascend into heaven? Surely He That even in the flesh showed Himself able to accomplish the deeds of a God was not in this subject to another’s power, but ascended of Himself, being the Wisdom and Might of God the Father. For we must think that thus in no other way He accomplishes the words of a God with power. For all things are from the Father, but not without the Son. For how could God the Father perform any of His proper functions, if His Wisdom and Might, I mean the Son, were not with Him, and accomplishing with Him those things in which His power is seen in active operation? Therefore also the wise Evangelist who wrote this book at the beginning of His work says: All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made. Since then the doctrine of His Consubstantiality compels us by consequence to think that all things proceed from the Father, but wholly through the Son in the Spirit, and that He, having slain death and corruption and taken away from the devil his kingdom, was about to illumine the whole world with the light of the Spirit, and to show Himself thereby henceforth in very deed the true God by Nature, He is impelled to say, Father, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee. And no man of sense would maintain that the Son asks glory from the Father as a man from man, but rather that He also promises to give Him glory, as it were, in return. For it would be very unbecoming, nay rather wholly foolish, to have such an idea about God. The Saviour indeed spake these words to show how very necessary His own glory was to the Father, that He might be known to be Consubstantial with Him. For just as it would entail dishonour on God the Father, that the Son That was begotten of Him should not be such as He That is God by Nature and of God ought to be, so I think, to have His own Son invested with those attributes, which He is conceived of as having, and which are predicated of Him, will confer honour and glory upon Him. The Father therefore is glorified in the glory of His Offspring, as I said just now; giving glory to the Son, by considering throughout His earthly career, both from how great, and of what, a Father the Only-begotten sprang; and in turn receiving glory from the Son by the consideration of how great indeed is the Son, of Whom He is the Father. The honour and glory then, which is Theirs essentially and by Nature, will be reflected from the Son on the Father, and in turn from the Father on the Son.
If any man concede that, owing to the degradation of His Incarnation, our Lord here speaks more humbly than His true Nature warrants, for this was His custom, he will not altogether miss arriving at a proper conclusion, but will not quite attain to the truth in the inquiry. For, if He were seeking only honour from the Father, there would be nothing unlikely in setting down the request to the inferiority of human nature; but, since He promises to glorify the Father in turn, does it not follow of necessity, that we should readily embrace the view we have just given?
CHAPTER IV. That it will in no way damage the glory of the Son, when He is said to have received aught from God the Father, since for this we can assign a pious reason.
2 Even as Thou gavest Him authority over all flesh, that whatsoever Thou hast given Him, to them He shall give eternal life.
In these words Christ expounds once more to us the kind of glory whereby God will exalt and glorify His own Son; and He will also Himself be glorified in turn by His own Offspring. And He expands the saying, and makes the point clear to our edification and profit. For what need had God the Father, Who knoweth all things, of learning the kind of request? He invites then the Father’s goodness towards us. For since He is the High Priest of our souls, insomuch as He appeared as Man, though being by Nature God together with the Father, He most fittingly makes His prayer on our behalf; trying to persuade us to believe that He is, even now, the propitiation for our sins, and a righteous Advocate; as John saith. Therefore also Paul, wishing us to be of this mind, thus exhorts us: For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but One that hath been in all points tempted like as we are; yet without sin.Then, since He is an High Priest, insomuch as He is Man, and, at the same time, brought Himself a blameless sacrifice to God the Father, as a ransom for the life of all men, being as it were the firstfruits of mortality, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence, as Paul says; and He reconciles to Him the reprobate race of man upon the earth, purifying them by His own Blood, and shaping them to newness of life through the Holy Spirit; and since, as we have often said, all things are accomplished by the Father through the Son in the Spirit; He moulds the prayer for blessings towards us, as Mediator and High Priest, though He unites with His Father in giving and providing Divine and spiritual graces. For Christ divideth the Spirit, according to His own Will and pleasure, to every man severally, as He will.
So far with reference to this. Now let us examine and declare what is meant by the form of prayer used. Father, then, He saith, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee. How then, or in what manner, will what I have said be brought to pass? I will, He says, that as Thou hast given Me power over all flesh, that so also, all that Thou hast given Me may have life eternal. For the Father glorified His own Son, putting the whole world under His rule: and He was glorified Himself also in turn by Him. For the Son was glorified of the Father, being believed of all to be the Offspring and Fruit of Him That is all-powerful, and at His pleasure puts all things under the yoke of His Son’s kingly power; and the Father was glorified in turn, so to speak, by His own Son. For since the Son was known to be able to accomplish all things at His pleasure, the splendour of His reputation has reached to Him That begat Him. As therefore, He says, Thou didst glorify and wast glorified, giving to the Son power and sovereignty over all, after the manner just now stated, so I will that nothing that Thou hast given Me be lost; for this honour will pass from the Father to the Son, and from the Son to the Father. For it was meet that all those who were wholly subject to, and under, the rule of the Word, the all-powerful God, now having been saved once for all, should also abide in blessings without end; so as to be freed from the power of death, and the dominion of corruption and sin, and should no longer lie in subjection to their ancient enemies.
And, as the words, Thou gavest Him authority over all flesh, may possibly perplex some simple-minded hearers, let us make a few reflections thereon which may be useful; without scruple, as it is necessary, even though language may be wholly inadequate to such an exposition. For the Lord will say this most suitably in the character He had assumed; I mean His humiliation and His lowly humanity. For listen to the argument: If indeed we feel ashamed, when we hear that He became a slave for our sakes, though Lord of all with the Father; and that He was set up as King upon His holy hill of Zion, though He had the power to reign over the universe by right of His own Nature, and borrowed it not from others; we must needs also feel ashamed, if He says that He receives anything as Man. And, if we marvel at His voluntary subjection, when we bear in mind the dignity that is His by birthright, why are we not also astonied when we hear this saying? For, possessing all things as God, He says that He receives as Man, to whom kingly power comes, not by natural right, but by gift. For What hast thou that thou didst not receive? will suit the limitations of created beings; and Christ is also a creature in so far as He is Man; though by Nature uncreate, in so far as He came from God. For all things are conceived of, as naturally and individually being in God’s hand, and are so in truth; but all good things in us are borrowed and brought down to us by Divine grace. When then, as Man, being appointed to rule over us, He says that the Father has given Him power over all flesh, we must not be offended at it; for we must bear in mind the scheme of our redemption. But, if you choose to listen to His words as having more reference to His Divinity, think on what the Lord said to the Jews: Verily, verily, I say unto you, no man can come to Me except the Father which sent Me draw Him. For whom the Father will quicken, them, as by His own life-giving power, He brings to His Son, and through Him gives them power and wisdom; nay. if He will to bring any into subjection to His own rule, He calls them in no other way, save by the living and all-sufficient Might, whereby He rules over the universe—-I mean His Son. For men, who have of themselves no power to accomplish anything that is above and beyond themselves, borrow from God the power, which can bring all things superhuman into subjection; for through Him, kings have their dominion, according to the Scripture, and monarchs through Him rule over the earth. And the God of the universe, having this power in Himself alone, subjects to Himself the race of man, who are reprobates from His love, and have shaken off the yoke of His kingdom, together with all beside; receiving, as it were, from His own might, the gift of dominion over them, and subjugating thereby whatsoever He will. For God the Father subjects them to His Son, as to His own power; and through Him wholly, and in no other way, all things that exist become His willing subjects, through obedience to His yoke. For as He endows with wisdom, and quickens with life, all things through Him, so also He rules over the universe through Him.
We must observe, however, that it was not to Israel alone any longer, that the favour of the Divine love of mankind was confined, but it was extended to all flesh. For that which is wholly subject to the power of the Saviour, will wholly partake in life and grace from Him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him Whom Thou didst send, even Jesus Christ.
He defines faith as the mother of eternal life, and says that the power of the true knowledge of God will be such as to cause us to remain for ever in a state of incorruption, and blessedness, and sanctification. And we say that that is true knowledge of God, which cannot incur the reproach of turning aside to aught else, or running after things unseemly. For some have worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, and have dared to say to a block of wood: Thou art my Father; and to a stone, Thou hast begotten me. For to such abysmal ignorance did miserable men relapse, that they even gave, in all its fulness, the great Name of God, to senseless blocks of wood; and invested them with the ineffable glory of that Nature, which is over all. He calls God the Father, then, the only true God, by contrast to spurious gods, and with the intention to distinguish the true God, from those who are so named in error; for this is the object of His words. Very appropriately, then, He first speaks of God as being One and One only, and then makes mention of His own glory in the words: And Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent. For a man can in nowise attain to complete knowledge of the Father, unless side by side, and in most intimate connexion with it, he lay hold on the knowledge of His Offspring; that is, the Son. For, if a man know what the Father is, he cannot but know also the Son. When, then, He said that the Father was the true God, He did not exclude Himself. For being in Him, and of Him, by Nature, He will be also Himself the true God and the only God, as He is the only God: for beside Him, there is none other god who is the only true God. For the gods of the heathen are devils. For the creation is enslaved, and I know not how any worship them, or sink into such a slough of unreasoning and sensuous folly. With the many gods, then, in this world, who are erroneously so conceived, and have won this spurious title, the only true God is brought into contrast; and the Son also, Who is by Nature in Him, and of Him, at once in diversity and in identity of Nature, according to a natural Unity. I say in diversity of Nature, because He has in fact an individual Existence; for the Son is the Son, and not the Father. In identity of Nature also, because the Son, Who came forth from Him, is inseparably joined by Nature, with the existence of His Father. For the Father is one with the Son, even though He is the Father; and is so spoken of, because He did in fact beget Him.
This, then, He says, is eternal life, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent. Then one of those who are never weary of hearkening to the Scripture, and seriously pursue the study of Divine doctrines, will ask: Do we say that knowledge is eternal life; and that to know the one true and living God will suffice to give us complete security of expectation, and nothing else be lacking? Then how is faith apart from works dead? And when we speak of faith, we mean the true knowledge of God, and nothing else; for by faith comes knowledge: and the prophet Isaiah bears us witness, who said to some: If ye do not believe neither shall ye understand. And that the writings of the holy men are referring to the knowledge which consists in barren speculations, a thing wholly profitless, I think you will perceive from what follows. For one of the holy disciples said: Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the devils also believe and shudder. What then shall we say to this? How does Christ speak truth, when He says that eternal life is the knowledge of God the Father, the One true God, and (with Him) of the Son? I think, indeed, we must answer that the saying of the Saviour is wholly true. For this knowledge is life, travailing as it were in birth of the whole meaning of the mystery, and vouchsafing unto us participation in the mystery of the Eucharist, whereby we are joined unto the living and life-giving Word. And for this reason, I think, Paul says that the Gentiles are made fellow-members of the body and fellow-partakers of Christ; inasmuch as they partake in His blessed Body and Blood; and our members may in this sense be conceived of, as being members of Christ. This knowledge, then, which also brings to us the Eucharist by the Spirit, is life. For it dwells in our hearts, shaping anew those who receive it into sonship with Him, and moulding them into incorruption and piety towards God, through life according to the Gospel. Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, knowing that the knowledge of the One true God brings unto us, and, so to speak, promotes our union with, the blessings of which we have spoken, says that it is eternal life; insomuch as it is the mother and nurso of eternal life, being in its own power and nature pregnant with those things which cause life, and lead unto it.
And I think we ought attentively to observe in what way Christ says that the knowledge of the One true God is perfected in us in all its fulness. For see how it cannot exist apart from the contemplation of the Son, and it is clear that it cannot exist apart from the Holy Spirit; for such is the nature of the belief in each Person of the Trinity, according to the Scripture. The Jews indeed, following in the steps of Moses’ commandments, rejected the many false gods, and betook themselves to the worship of the One true God, under his guidance. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, saith the Law, and Him only shalt thou serve. But those who still cling to the worship of the One true God, as not yet having complete knowledge of Him they worship, are called thereto to know not that the Creator of all things is one only, the One true God, but that He is a Father and has begotten a Son; and moreover, and yet more than all this, to gaze attentively on Him in His unchangeable Likeness, that is, the Son. For through the lineaments of that which is modelled, we can readily attain to perfect knowledge of the model. Very necessary then was it, for our Lord Jesus Christ to tell us, that those who have been called through faith to sonship and eternal life, not only ought to learn that the true God is One only, but that He is also a Father; and is the Father of One Who became flesh for our sakes, and Who was sent to restore the corrupted nature of rational beings, that is, of mankind.
CHAPTER VI. That the Son is not bare of God-befitting glory, even though He is found saying to the Father, And now glorify Me with the glory which I had, &c.
4, 5 I glorified Thee on the earth: I accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do it. And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own Self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.
Our Saviour’s speech now intertwines the human element in His Nature with the Divine, and is of composite nature, looking both ways; not merging overmuch the Person of the Speaker in the perfect power and glory of His Divinity, nor allowing it altogether to rest on the lowly level of His Humanity; but mingling the twain into one, which is not foreign to either. For our Lord Jesus Christ thought that He ought to teach His believers, not merely that He is God the Only-begotten, but that He also became Man for us, that He might reconcile us all to God the Father, and mould us into newness of life; purchasing humanity with His own Blood, and venturing His life for the salvation of the world, while, though He was One, He was more precious than all mankind. He says, then, that He glorified the Father upon the earth, for He finished the work which He gave Him to do.
Come now, let us follow out, as it were, two roads, in our investigation of this passage, and say that it has reference both to His Divine and His Human Nature. If then, as Man, He says this, you may take it in this way: Christ is for us a type and origin and pattern of the. Divine life, and shows us plainly how, and in what way, we ought to live our lives; for after this fashion the commentators on the Divine writings give a most subtle exposition of the passage. He instructs us, then, by what He here says, that each one of us, if he fulfils his allotted task, and follows out to the end what is commanded of God, then in truth he glorifies Him by his righteous acts; not indeed as though He had any lack of glory, for the Ineffable Nature of God is complete, but because he causes His praise to be sung by those who see his acts, and are profited thereby. Yea, the Saviour saith: Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Which is in heaven. For when we are made truly manly, and willing to do good works for God’s sake, we are not winning for our own selves the reputation thereof, but are carrying God’s worship into our actions, to the honour and glory of Him That ruleth over all. For just as when, for leading a profligate life displeasing to God, we are rightly called to account, as doing despite unto His unspeakable glory, and make our own souls liable to punishment, as the prophet tells, if we hearken to his voice: My Name through you is continually blasphemed among the Gentiles, on the same grounds I think that when we display pre-eminent virtue, we are then preparing for Him a song of praise. When, therefore, we have accomplished the work that God has given us to do, then and most rightly may we attain to a freedom of speech in His own most seemly words; and claim, as it were, like glory in return from God Who has been glorified by us: For as I live, saith the Lord, them that honour Me will I honour, and he that lightly esteemeth Me shall be lightly esteemed. In order, then, that He might show us, that we might suitably ask for glory in return from the only true God, I mean glory in the world to come, when we have displayed towards Him perfect and blameless obedience, and have shown ourselves keepers of His commandments to the letter, Christ says that He glorified the Father, when He finished the work upon earth that He gave Him. He requests, however, for Himself in return, no foreign or borrowed glory, as we do, but rather that honour and renown which is His own. For we were bound to ask for it, and not He. Observe how in and through His own Person, He first renders possible to our nature this boldness of speech, on two accounts. For in Him first, and through Him, we have been enriched both with the ability to fulfil those things essential to our salvation, which are entrusted to us by God, and also the duty of boldly asking for the honour which is due to those who distinguish themselves in His service. For of old time, through the sin that reigned in us, and the fall that was in Adam, we both failed of ability to accomplish any of those things which make for virtue, and also were very far removed from freedom of speech with God. Yea, God, to that end, out of the abundance of His kindness, spake consolation by the voice of the prophet, saying: Fear not, because Thou hast been ashamed, neither be confounded because thou hast been put to shame. As, then, in all other things that are good our Lord Jesus Christ is the Beginning, and the Gate, and the Way, so also is He here.
But if the Saviour is seeking His own glory that He had before the world began, and we, suiting the meaning of the passage so as to make it apply to our case, maintain that we ourselves ought also with great zeal to do God’s Will, and so boldly ask for glory from above, let no one think that we say this,—-that it becomes a man imitating Christ, to ask for some ancient glory that was before the world began, as due also to himself; but let him rather remember that each ought to speak according to his deserts. For if Christ, like us, had only the human element in His Nature, let Him then speak only as befits the earth-born, and not exceed the limits of humanity. But if the Word, being God, became Flesh, when He says anything as God, it will be suitable to Himself alone, and not to those who are not as He is.
Considering, then, the passage as though He spoke it more as a Man, we shall take it in the sense above given; but if we reflect, on the other hand, on the Divine dignity of Christ, we rightly think it has a meaning above human nature. We say, then, that He glorified His own Father, God, when He fulfilled the work which He received from Him, not being His servant or in any ministerial capacity; and this as of necessity, that the Lord of all might not appear in the lowliness of our nature and that of the creation which is enslaved. For to perform the duties of a servant, and submissively obey the Divine commands, is the part of men and angels. Rather, we say that He, being the Power and Wisdom of His Father, well accomplished the task of our redemption, entrusted as it were to Him; as indeed also said the Divine Psalmist, expounding the meaning of the mystery: O God, command Thy Strength; strengthen, O God, that which Thou hast wrought for us. For in order that he may clearly prove that the Son is the Power of the Father, though not separate from Him so far I mean as His identity of Essence and Nature is concerned, he first says, Command Thy Strength, bringing in a duality of Persons—-I mean Him that commands and Him to Whom the command is given—-he suddenly unites them in their natural unity, attributing to the Ineffable Nature of God in its entirety the result achieved; for he says in his wisdom: “Strengthen, O God, that which Thou hast wrought for us.” The Son, then, receives or has entrusted to Him from the Father, the work of saving the world. But in what manner, or how, God commands His own Strength, we ought to examine and explain, so far as it is possible humanly to interpret things which exceed man’s understanding. Let us take for example, then, some man among us, and imagine him learned in the art of making bronzes. Then let us suppose that he sets himself to mould a statue, or perhaps to repair one that is decayed or mutilated. How, then, will he work, or how will he repair, as he has determined? Clearly he will entrust to the power of his hands and his skill in the art, the fulfilment of what he chooses to do. But if any one thinks his wisdom and power appear distinct in some sense from himself, so far as their conception is concerned, still are they not in fact distinct. For these also are included in the definition of his essence. You must think the case is something like this wise, but must not accept the illustration as exactly similar. For God is above all things, and must be thought superior to any power of illustration. The sun and the fire, taking this by way of illustration, may be thought to occupy a similar relative position. For, just as the sun commands the light which it sheds to illumine the whole world, and allots to the power of its rays as their function, so to say, to cast the power of their heat on all things that receive it, so likewise also the fire commands and enjoins in some sort the peculiar qualities of its nature to fulfil its peculiar duties; but we do not, on this account, say that the ray and the light are in the position of ministers and servants to the sun, or the power of burning to the fire. For each of the two works by means of its own inherent qualities. But if they appear to be in a sense not self-working, yet are they not distinct in nature from their own. Some such idea we must hold about the relation between God the Father and the Word Who is by Nature begotten of Him, whenever He is said to be entrusted with work to do to us-ward.
His Wisdom and Power, therefore, that is Christ, glorified God the Father upon the earth, having finished the work which He gave Him. And, as He brings His work to its fitting termination, He claims the glory which always attaches to Him; and now that occasion calls for the recovery of His ancient glory He seeks it. What work, then, has He fulfilled, whereby He says that He glorified the Father? For while He was the true God He became Man, by the approval and will of the Father, through His desire to save the whole world, and raise up anew the fallen race on the earth to endless life and the true knowledge of God. And this was in very truth accomplished by the Divine power and might of Christ, Who made death powerless, upset the dominion of the devil, destroyed sin, and showed incomparable love towards us, by remitting the charges against us all, and giving light to those astray, who now know the One true God. Christ, then, having accomplished this by His own power, the Father was glorified by all—-I mean all those in the world who knew His wisdom, and power, and the mercy and love towards mankind, which is in Him. For He has shone forth and manifested Himself in the Son, Who is, as it were, the Likeness and Express Image of His Person; and by its fruit the tree is known, according to the Scripture. And when the works were fulfilled, and the wonderful scheme of our redemption brought to its fitting conclusion, He returns to His own glory, and assumes His ancient honour; save only, that being still endued with the human shape, He moulds accordingly the form of His prayer, and asks as though He possessed it not: for man hath all things from God. For though in the fullest sense, as He was God of God the Father, He was invested with Divine glory, still, since at the season of His Incarnation for us He in a sense diminished it, taking upon Him this mean body, He with reason seeks it as though He had it not, speaking the words as Man. The wise Paul also himself had some such idea, when he enjoins us concerning Him: Let this mind be in each of you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the Cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the Name which is above every name; that in the Name of Jesus Christ every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. For though the Son is high, inasmuch as He proceeded as God and Lord from the Father, none the less is the Father recorded to have exalted man in Him, for on man the degradation of his nature brings the need of exaltation. He prays, then, for the recovery of His own glory, even in the flesh. He is not wholly bereft of His own glory when He so speaks, even though He were to ask without receiving, for the Word, being the true God, was never robbed of His own majesty. He rather refers to the glory which belongs ever to Him, and its appropriate temple in the heavens, and His own return thither in the raiment of the flesh, on which the interval of His humiliation had been consequent. For that He may not appear to be claiming for Himself a strange and unusual glory to which He had not been accustomed in time past, He distinguishes it by the addition of the epithet “before the world was,” and the words “with Thine own Self.” For the Son has never been excluded from the honour of the Father, but ever reigneth with Him, and with Him is adored and worshipped by us and by the holy angels as God, and of God, and in God, and with God. And this is, I think, what the inspired Evangelist John means to teach us, when He says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
CHAPTER VII. That the fact that something is said to have been given to the Son from the Father does not rob Him of God-befitting dignity; but He plainly appears to be Consubstantial, and of the Father, even if He is said to receive aught.
6, 7, 8 I manifested Thy Name unto the men whom Thou hast given Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou hast given them to Me; and they have kept Thy word. Now they know that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are from Thee,: for the words which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them; and they received them and knew of a truth that I came forth from Thee, and they believed that Thou didst send Me.
I have previously stated with reference to the passages I have just examined, not without care, if I may say so, that Christ made His prayer to the Father in the heavens both as Man and also as God. For He carefully moderates His language so as to avoid either extreme, neither keeping it altogether within the limits of humanity, nor yet allowing it to be wholly affected by His Divine glory; and none the less here also may we see the same characteristic observed. For, as being by Nature God, and the express Image of His unspeakable Nature, He says to His Father: I manifested Thy Name unto the men, using the word “Name” instead of “glory;” for this is the usual practice in speech amongst us. Moreover, the wise Solomon wrote: A good name is more to be desired than great riches; that is, “a good reputation and honour” is better than the splendour and eminence which wealth confers. And God Himself says, by the mouth of Isaiah, to those who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, Let not the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep My commandments, and choose the things that please Me, Even unto them will I give in Mine house and within My walls a place and a name better than of sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name. And no man ought to imagine, I think, if he be wise, that the honour with which God will requite them will be paid out in bare names and titles to those who, with noble and virtuous aspirations, have wrestled with worldly pleasure, and have mortified their members which are upon the earth, and regarded only those things which are not displeasing to the Divine law; rather He uses the word name instead of glory, for they who reign with Christ will be enviable and worthy all admiration.
The Saviour therefore plainly declares that He has manifested the Name of God the Father; that is, He has established His glory throughout the whole world. And how? Clearly by the manifestation of Himself, through His exceeding great works. For the Father is glorified in the Son, as in an Image and Type of His own form, for in the lineaments of that which is modelled, the beauty of the model is always clearly seen. The Only-begotten, then, has manifested Himself, being in His Essence Wisdom and Life, Architect and Creator of the universe, superior to death and corruption, holy, blameless, compassionate, sacred, pure. Hereby all men know that He That begat Him is even as He is; for He cannot be different in Nature from His Offspring. He showed Himself, therefore, as in an Image and Type of His own form, in the glory of the Son. Such was indeed the language concerning Him among the men of old time, but now has He manifested Himself to our very sight, and that which we see with our eyes is more convincing than any words.
I think, indeed, that what we have here stated is not irrelevant. We must now, however, tread another path, that is, enter on another line of speculation. For the Son manifested the Father’s Name clearly by bringing us to the knowledge and perfect apprehension, not of the fact that He is God alone (for this message was conveyed to us before His coming by the inspired Scripture), but that, besides being God in truth, He is also Father in no spurious sense; having in Himself, and proceeding from Himself, His own Offspring, Coequal and Coeternal with His own Nature. For He did not beget in time the Creator of the ages. And God’s Name of “Father” is in some sort greater than the Name God itself; for the one is symbolical only of His Majesty, while the other is explanatory of the essential attribute of His Person. For, when a man speaks of God, he indicates the Sovereign of the universe; but, when he utters the Name of Father, he touches on the definition of His individuality, for he manifests the fact that He begat. And Christ Himself gives to God the Name of Father, as in some sense a more appropriate and truer appellation; saying on one occasion, not “I and God” but I and the Father are One; and on another occasion, with reference to Himself, For Him the Father, even God, hath sealed. And also when He bade His disciples baptise all nations, He did not bid them do this in the Name of God, but He expressly enjoined them to do this into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And the inspired Moses, when he was explaining the origin of the world, did not attribute its creation to a single person, for he wrote, And God said, Let us make man in our Image, after our Likeness: and by the words Let us make, and in our Likeness, the Holy Trinity is signified; for the Father created and called into being the universe, through the Son, in the Spirit. But the men of old found such expressions hard to understand, and the language obscure; for the Father was not individually named, nor was the Person of the Son expressly introduced. Our Lord Jesus Christ, however, without any concealment, and with perfect freedom of speech, called God His Father; and by naming Himself Son, and showing that He was Himself in very truth the Offspring of the Sovereign Nature of the universe, He manifested the Father’s Name, and brought us to perfect knowledge of Him. For the perfect knowledge of God and the Creator of the universe standeth not in believing merely that He is God, but in believing also that He is the Father; and the Father also of a Son, not unaccompanied of course by the Holy Spirit. For the bare belief, that God is God, suits us no better than those under the Law; for it does not exceed the limit of the knowledge the Jews attained. And just as the Law, when it brought in this axiom of instruction, which was insufficient to sustain a life of piety in God’s service, perfected nothing, so also the knowledge which it instilled about God was imperfect; only able to restrain men from love of false gods, and persuade them to worship the One true God: For thou shalt have, it says, no other gods beside Me. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve. But our Lord Jesus Christ sets better things before those who are under the Law of Moses; and, giving them instruction clearer than the commandment of the Law, vouchsafed them better and clearer knowledge than that of old. For He has made it plain to us, not merely that the Originator and Sovereign of the world is God, but also that He is a Father; and facts prove this; for He has set Himself before us as His Likeness, saying, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. I and the Father are One.
And this, as we suppose, as being God and of God by Nature, He saith openly, in His Divine character, to His Father; but He adds at once, speaking more as Man: Whom Thou hast given Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou hast given them to Me. We must think that our Lord says this, not as though some separate and particular portion had been allotted and belonged to the dominion of the Father, in which the Son Himself had no part, for He is King before the ages began, as the Psalmist says, and eternally shares the Father’s rule. Moreover, the wise Evangelist John, teaching us that all things belong to Him and are put under His sway, wrote: He came unto His own, and they that were His own received Him not; calling those His own who knew Him not, and were rejecting the yoke of His kingdom. He spake this on this occasion, from the wish to make clear to His hearers, that there were some in this world, who did not even so much as receive into their minds the One true God, but served the creature, and devils, and the inventions of devils. Still, though they knew not the Creator of the world, and were astray from the truth, they were God’s; insomuch as He is Lord of all, as their Creator. For all things belong to God, and there is nothing that exists over which the One God is not ruler, though the creature may not know his Maker. For no man can maintain that the fact, that some have gone astray from Him, can avail to deprive the Creator of the world of His universal dominion; but he must rather admit that all things are subjected to His rule, through His having made them and brought them into being. Since, then, this is the truth, even they who were fast bound by the snares of the devil, and entangled in the vanities of the world, belonged in fact to the living God. And how were they given to the Son? For God the Father consented that Emmanuel should reign over them; not as though He then first began His reign—-for He was ever Lord and King as being God by Nature—-but because, having become Man and ventured His life for the salvation of the world, He purchased all men for Himself, and through Himself brought them to God the Father. He then, That of old reigneth from the beginning with His Father, was appointed King as a Man, to Whom like all else the sceptre comes by gift, according to the limitations of human nature. For not in the same sense as that in which man is a rational being, capable of thought and knowledge (these things being included in his natural advantages), is he also a king; for while the former attributes are comprehended in the definition of his essence, the latter is extraneous and additional, and not among those which attach inseparably to his nature; for kingly power is given and taken away from a man, without affecting in any degree at all the definition of his essence. The dignity of kingship, therefore, is thrust upon a man by God as a gift, and from without: For by Me, He says, kings rule, and princes reign over the earth. He then, That ruleth over all with the Father, insomuch as He was, and is, and will be, by Nature God, receives power over the world, according to the form and limits proper to a man.
And therefore He saith: All things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are from Thee. For in a special and peculiar sense all things are God’s, and are given to us His creatures. Universal possession and power are most appropriate to God, but to us it is most fitting to receive. He bore witness, however, before His devout believers, to what was fitting to the servant, and prompted to obedience. For, He saith, the words which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them, and they received them and knew of a truth that I came forth from Thee, and they believed that Thou didst send Me. He expressly here calls His own words the sayings of God the Father, because of Their identity of Substance, and because He is God the Word declaratory of His Father’s Will; just as the word, which proceeds out of our own mouths, and by its utterance assailing the hearing of one who stands by, interprets the hidden mysteries of the heart. Therefore also the saying of the Prophet declared concerning Him: His Name is called Messenger of Great Counsel. For the truly great, wonderful, and mysterious counsel of the Father is conveyed to us by the Word That is in Him, and of Him, through the words He uttered as a Man, when He came among us, and also by the knowledge and light of the Spirit after His ascent into heaven; for He revealeth to His Saints His mysteries, as Paul bears witness, saying: If ye seek a proof of Christ That speaketh in Me.
He testified then to those who love Him, that they received and kept the words given Him by the Father, and were besides satisfied that He came, and was sent, from God; while those who were diseased with the contrary opinion were otherwise minded. For they who neither received His words nor kept their minds open to conviction, were not disposed to believe that He came from God, and was sent by Him. Moreover, the Jews said on one occasion: If this Man were from God, He would not have broken the Sabbath; and on another, We are disciples of Moses: we know that God hath spoken unto Moses, but as for this Man we know not whence He is. You see how they denied His mission; so that they even cried in their shamelessness, they knew not whence He was. And that they did not admit His unspeakably high birth from everlasting, I mean His proceeding from God the Father, diseased as they were by the great perversity of their thoughts, and ready to stone Him with stones merely because of His Incarnation, you may easily satisfy yourself, if you will listen to the words of the Evangelist: For this cause therefore the Jews sought to kill Him, because He not only brake the Sabbath, but also called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. And what the impious Jews said unto Him is also recorded: For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy; because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God. You will understand then very clearly, that those who truly keep His words have believed and confessed that He manifested Himself from the Father (for this is, I think, what I came forth means), and that He was sent to us to tell us the commandment of the Lord, as is said in the Psalms; while they who laughed to scorn the Word, Who was thus Divine and from the Father, rejected the faith, and plainly denied that He was God and from the Father, and that He came to us for our salvation, and dwelt among us, yet without sin. Justly, then, does He commend to God the Father, those who are good men, and are His own, and have submitted their souls to the hearing of His words, and will ever hold them in remembrance; that what He said may be made clear, beginning from the time of His sojourn amongst us. And what are His words? Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father Which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father Which is in heaven. This also God the Father Himself long ago declared that He would do, speaking by the mouth of Isaiah: Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, and the servant whom I have chosen. Our Saviour then speaks, at the same time, in His character as God, and in His character as Man. For He was at once God and Man, speaking in either character without reproach, suiting each occasion with appropriate words as it required.
CHAPTER VIII. That nothing which is spoken of as belonging to the Father will be excluded from the kingdom of the Son, for Both alike rule over all.
9, 10, 11 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for those whom Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine: and all things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them. And I am no more in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to Thee.
He once more mediates as Man, the Reconciler and Mediator of God and men; and being our truly great and all-holy High Priest, by His own prayers He appeases the anger of His Father, sacrificing Himself for us. For He is the Sacrifice, and is Himself our Priest, Himself our Mediator, Himself a blameless Victim, the true Lamb Which taketh away the sin of the world. The Mosaic ceremonial was then, as it were, a type and transparent shadowing forth of the mediation of Christ, shown forth in the last times, and the high priest of the Law indicated in his own person that Priest Who is above the Law. For the things of the Law are shadows of the truth. For the inspired Moses, and with him the eminent Aaron, continually intervened between God and the assembly of the people; at one time deprecating God’s anger for the transgressions of the people of Israel, and inviting mercy from above upon them when they were faint; at another, praying and blessing the people, and ordering sacrifices according to the Law and offerings of gifts besides in their appointed order, sometimes for sins, and sometimes thank-offerings for the benefits they felt that they had received from God. But Christ Who manifested Himself in the last times above the types and figures of the Law, at once our High Priest and Mediator, prays for us as Man; and at the same time is ever ready to cooperate with God the Father, Who distributes good gifts to those who are worthy. Paul showed us this most plainly in the words: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. He then prays for us as Man, and also unites in distributing good gifts to us as God. For He, being a holy High Priest, blameless and undefiled, offered Himself not for His own weakness, as was the custom of those to whom was allotted the duty of sacrificing according to the Law, but rather for the salvation of our souls, and that once for all, because of our sin, and is an Advocate for us: And He is the propitiation for our sins, as John saith; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.
But perhaps someone, wishing to controvert what we have said, will exclaim, “Is not what the disciple says quite contrary to the Saviour’s words?” For our Lord Jesus Christ expressly in these words repudiates the necessity of praying to God for the whole world, while the wise John affirmed quite the contrary. For he maintains that the Saviour will be the Advocate and propitiation, not merely for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world. It is not hard to find the solution to this difficulty, or to say how the disciple may be seen to be in accord with his Master’s saying. For the blessed John, as he was a Jew and of the Jews, that some might not perhaps think that our Lord was merely an Advocate for the Israelites, and not in any sense for the rest of the nations scattered over the whole world, though destined to distinguish themselves by faith on Him and to be shortly called to knowledge of salvation through Christ, is perforce impelled to declare that our Lord will not only be the propitiation for the race of Israel, but also for the whole world; that is, those of every nation and kindred, who shall be called through faith to righteousness and sanctification. Our Lord Christ distinguishes from His own those who are otherwise minded, and who have chosen to insult Him by stubborn disobedience; and, referring to those who are prone to listen to His Divine commands, and who have already submitted, as it were, the necks of the hearts, and well-nigh bound round them the yoke of submission to God, said that for them only it was most fitting for Him to pray. For to those only, whose Mediator and High Priest He is, He thought it meet to bring the blessings of His mediation; to those, I mean, who, He says, were given to Himself, but were the Father’s, as there is no other way of fellowship with God save by the Son. And He will Himself teach you this in the words: No one cometh unto the Father, but by Me. For observe how the Father, when He gave to His Son those of whom He speaks, won them over to Himself. And the Apostle, who was so conversant with the sacred writings, knowing this well, says: God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. For when Christ acted as Mediator, and received those who come to Him by faith, and brought them aright through Himself to the Father, the world was reconciled to God. Therefore also the Prophet Isaiah taught us, in anticipation, to choose peace with God, in Christ: Let us have peace with Him; let us who are in the way have peace. For if we banish from our hearts whatsoever estrangeth us from the love of Christ, I mean the base lasciviousness which hankers after sinful pleasure and is ever inclined to the delights of the world, and is besides the mother and nurse of all vice, and leads us widely astray, we shall become united in fellowship with Christ, and shall make peace with God, being joined to the Father Himself through the Son, inasmuch as we receive in ourselves the Word That was begotten of Him, and cry out in the Spirit, Abba, Father.
Those then who have been given to Christ are the Father’s, but are not therefore removed from Christ. For God the Father reigneth with Him, and through Him ruleth over His own. For the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity share the same kingdom, and their universal dominion is one and the same; and whatever is the Son’s will be subject to the glory of the Son and the Father; and also, whatever is said to be under the rule of the Father, over that the Son will surely hold sway. And therefore He saith: And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine. For as in Them perfect identity of Nature is visible and evident, the opinion held about Their majesty is not various, and does not attribute anything individually to One apart from the Other, but considers one and the same glory, identical in every respect, to attach to Both. For He That is by right of His Nature the Heir of His Father’s Divine dignities will clearly have all that the Father hath, and will also show that His Father hath all that He Himself hath. For Either naturally reveals the Other in Himself; and the Son is seen in the Father, and the Father also in the Son. This kind of instruction the inspired writings gave us in the mystery. When, then, universal dominion is one of the dignities of the Father, it will belong also to the Son; for He is the express Image of His Person, and can endure no shadow of unlikeness or variance at all. He declares that He has been glorified in them, showing that His prayer for them is, as it were, a recompence well deserved.
What then is His request, and why does He endeavour to obtain God’s favour for His followers? I am no more in the world, He says, and these are in the world, and, I come to Thee. For while He yet lived in converse with His holy Apostles in the flesh upon earth, the consolation of His visible Presence was ever with them in their daily path, as it were to give instant succour to those in peril; and they were therefore sustained in courage. For the mind of man is readier to rely upon the things that are seen than the things that are unseen, for encouragement or pleasure. When we say this, we are far from asserting that the Lord is powerless to save, if He be not visibly present; for any one who thought this would rightly be convicted of folly. For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, yea, and for ever. But He knew that His disciples were very faint at heart, left desolate as it were on the earth, with the world raging round them like fierce billows, and ever ready to beleaguer with intolerable terrors and imminent and great dangers those who persist in bearing God’s tidings to the uninitiated.
Since then, He says, I come to Thee, for I shall soon ascend to sit on the throne of God the Father, and reign with Him, and these will remain the while in the world, I pray for them, for Thou gavest them Me; and as Thine and Mine now I rightly care for them, and I am glorified in them, for all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are Thine, and Thine are Mine. And the saying is true. For those in the world who have been given to Christ, and are on that account the Father’s, have not therefore disavowed the duty of praising Him through Whom they were united to God the Father, and having been brought to Him, will remain none the less His. For He hath all things in common with the Father, together with His inherent Godhead and power. For there is one God in us, Who is worshipped in the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity; and we all of us belong to the one true God, being subject as servants to the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity.
CHAPTER IX. That the dignity of Godhead is inherent in the Son; even though He is said to have received this from the Father, because of His humanity and the form of His humiliation.
11 Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are.
He still preserves the blending of two things into one: the human element, I mean, which, so far as we are concerned, imparts humiliation, and the Divine element, which is pregnant with the most exalted majesty. For His speech is combined of both; and, just as we stated in our interpretation of the foregoing passage, the Divine element is not perfectly exalted to the height, nor yet is it wholly sundered from the limitations of humanity, holding as it were a middle place by an unspeakable and ineffable fusion of the two, so as not to pass outside the limits of true Godhead, nor yet altogether to leave behind those of humanity. For His ineffable descent from God the Father exalts Him, inasmuch as He is the Word and Only-begotten, into a Divine Nature and the majesty which naturally accompanies it, while His humiliation brings Him down in some sort to our level, not as though it availed perforce to overpower the kingship over the universe which He shares with the Father, for the Only-begotten could never submit to violence against His Will. Rather was His humiliation self-chosen, accepted and maintained from love towards us. For He humbled Himself, that is, of His own Will and not by any compulsion. For He would be proved to have undergone the Incarnation against His Will, if there were any one at all able to prevail over Him, and who bade Him unwillingly take this upon Him. He humbled Himself therefore willingly for our sakes, for we should never have been called His sons and God’s, if the Only-begotten had not undergone humiliation for us and on our account; to Whose Likeness we are conformed by participation in the Spirit, and so become children of God, and God’s. Whenever, therefore, in His sayings, He blends together in some way the human with the Divine, do not be therefore offended, nor lightly relinquish the admiration you ought to feel at the incomparable art displayed in His sayings, skilfully preserving for us in divers ways their twofold character, so that we can see at the same time the God and the Man speaking truly in His Nature, marvellously combining the humiliation of His Humanity with the glory of His ineffable Divinity; preserving wholly blameless and irreproachable the harmonious fusion of the two.
And how is it that, when we say this, we do not affirm that the Nature of the Word is degraded from its original majesty? To think this would indeed display the greatest ignorance; for that which is Divine is altogether and wholly changeless, and endureth no shadow of turning but rather ever remaineth on one stay. We rather make such a statement because the manner of His voluntary degradation, as by necessary inference investing Him with the form of humiliation, causes the Only-begotten, Who is coequal with, and in the Likeness of, the Father, and in Him and proceeding from Him, to be apparently in an inferior position to Him. Be not astonished at hearing this, if the Son appear to fall short of the Father’s majesty because of His Humanity, when for this very reason Paul declared that He was thus inferior even to the angels, in the following words: Him Who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, though the holy angels were bidden to worship Him for when, He says, He bringeth in the Firstborn into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him, as well as also the Holy Seraphim, who stood around and fulfilled the office of servants when He appeared unto the prophet sitting on a high and lofty throne. Then, so far as His being begotten and proceeding from God the Father is concerned, His Humanity is not proper to the Son; but it is proper to Him in so far as He is Incarnate Man, and remaineth ever what He was and is, and will be such for evermore, and debaseth Himself to what He was not of old for our sakes.
He saith, then: Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me; that they may be one, even as We are. He desires His disciples to be kept by the power and might of the Ineffable Divine Nature, well and suitably attributing the power of saving whomsoever He will, yea, and with ease, to the true and living God; and thereby, again, He glorifies no other nature than His own, as in the Person of the Father, from Whom He proceeded as God. Therefore He saith,Father, keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me; that is, the Name of God. He says again, that the Name of God was not given unto Him as though He had not been God by Nature, and were now called from without to the dignity of Godhead. For then would He be created, and possess a spurious and elective glory and an adulterate nature, which it were impious for us to imagine. For thereby He would be mulcted of His inherent character of Sonship. But since, as the inspired writings prophesy, the Word became flesh, that is, man, He says that He received Divine attributes by gift; for clearly the title and actuality of Divine glory could not naturally attach to man. But consider, and attentively reflect, how He showed Himself the living and inherent Power of God the Father, whereby He doeth all things. For when, addressing His Father, He says, Keep them, He did not indeed suffice for them alone, but suitably brought in Himself as working for their preservation and being for that purpose also the power and instrument of His Father; for He says: Keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me. Note how guarded the saying is. For allotting and attributing as suitable only to the Nature of God providential care over us, He declares at once that to Himself has been given the glory of Godhead, because of the form of manhood, saying that what was His by natural right was given to Him; that is,the Name which is above every name. Therefore also we say that this Name belongs to the Son by nature, as proceeding from the Father; but, so far as He is Man, those things are His by gift which He receives as Man, using herein the form of speech applicable to ourselves; for man is not God by nature, but Christ is God by nature, even though He be conceived of as Human because He was amongst us.
He wishes indeed the disciples to be kept in unity of mind and purpose, being blended, as it were, with one another in soul and spirit and the bond of brotherly love; and to be linked together in an unbroken chain of affection, so that their unity may be so far perfected as that their elective affinity may resemble the natural unity which exists between the Father and the Son; and, remaining undebased and invincible, may not be distorted by anything whatever that exists in the world, or by the lusts of the flesh, into dissimilarity of purpose; but rather preserving in the unity of true piety and holiness the power of love intact, which also came to pass. For, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul, in the unity that is of the Spirit. And this is what Paul himself also meant, when he said: One body and one Spirit; for we who are many are one body in Christ, for we all partake of the one bread,and we have all received the unction of one Spirit, that is, the Spirit of Christ. As, then, they were to be one body, and to partake of one and the selfsame Spirit, He desires His disciples to be preserved in a unity of spirit which nothing could disturb, and in unbroken singleness of mind. And if any man suppose that after this manner the disciples are united even as the Father and the Son are One, not merely in Substance, but also in purpose (for the holy Nature of God has one Will, and one and the selfsame purpose altogether), let him so think. For He will not stray wide of the mark, since we can see identity of purpose among true Christians, though we have not consubstantiality as the Father and the Word That proceeded from Him, and is in Him.
12, 13 While I was with them, I kept them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me: and I guarded them, and not one of them perished, but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to Thee.
Our Saviour’s speech soon proceeds to illustrate His meaning more plainly; and while at the first dark hints were given, it is now proclaimed and revealed like a storm breaking into sunshine. For the disciples thought that our Saviour’s abandonment of them,—-I mean in the flesh,—-would inflict on them great loss; for nothing could prevent His being with them as God. But they expected that no one could then save them after Christ’s Ascension into heaven, but that they would fall a prey to those who wished to injure them, and that there would be nothing to restrain the hand of their powerful adversaries, but rather that any one so disposed might work his will on them without hindrance, and involve them in any peril. But wise as they were and fathers in the faith, and bearers of light to the world, we need not shrink from saying that they ought not merely to have regarded the Incarnate Presence of our Saviour Christ, but to have known that even though He were to deprive them of converse with Him in the flesh, and they saw Him not with the eye of the body, yet that it was their duty at any rate to think of Him as present with them for evermore in the power of His Godhead. For will God ever lose the attributes of His Person? Or what power can resist an Omnipotent Nature, or is able perforce to hinder it in the performance of its functions? And it is the power and actuality of God’s Being to be present everywhere, and unspeakably to fill the heavens and also the earth, and to contain all things, but to be contained of none. For God is not bounded by place, nor separated by distance within any sphere, however great; for such like things cannot avail to affect that Nature which has nothing to do with the dimensions of space. Then, since Christ was at the same time God and Man, the disciples ought to have been aware that, though He were absent in the body, yet He would not wholly forsake them, but would be ever with them by reason of God’s unspeakable might. And for this reason also our Saviour Himself said, in the foregoing passage: Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me; and here again:While I was with them, I kept them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me; almost pointing out this fact to His disciples, that the ability to save them suited rather the working of His power as God than His Presence in the flesh: for this very flesh was not sanctified of itself; but when, by His Incarnation, the Word was made one with it, it was in some sort transformed into His inherent power, and is now become the channel of salvation and sanctification to those who partake thereof. We must not then attribute the whole of the Divine activities of Christ to the flesh by itself, but we shall be rather right if we ascribe them to the Divine power of the Word. For does not “keeping the disciples in the Name of the Father” mean this, and nothing else? For they are kept by the glory of God. He removes, then, from His disciples’ minds, the fear which they felt because they thought themselves forsaken; often following the same course of thought, He assures them that they will be in perfect safety, not through living with their Master in the body, but rather because He is by Nature God. Evidently the universal dominion and might which are His have no end; for He can suffer no change or alteration from that state in which He dwells eternally, but will keep them safe with ease for evermore, and rescue them from every peril that may assail them. Consider also the forethought wrapped up in the saying, to our profit and edification. For when He asks that they—-I mean His holy disciples —-should be kept by God the Father, He declares that He Himself had done this, showing Himself like in power and works to His Father, or rather, His inherent might. For surely He Who is seen to have the same power as God, He Who is acknowledged the true God, must be thought to be wholly inherent in Him, and to possess equality of power and identity of Nature with Him. And how can He Who kept them as God in the Name of God, and as a God crowned them with the glory that proceeded from righteous actions befitting the title, be foreign to God, or of different nature? Is He not in very deed shown to be that which He is, namely, God? For nothing that exists can do those works which are peculiar to God, without being in its own nature that which we imagine God to be. He still preserves in the passage the twofold conception of His character owing to His Incarnation. For He takes away, as it were, from His Nature, as a created Being, the power of saving and preserving all to whom this is due for their piety towards God. and ascribes it to the Name of the Father, attributing to the Divine Nature alone the things which are of God. And for this reason, again, though He says that He kept the disciples, He did not give the honour of taking up the work to His Humanity, but rather says that it was fulfilled in the Name of God; excluding Himself, in a manner, from its accomplishment, so far as He is flesh and is so conceived of, but not excluding Himself from the power of keeping them, and of accomplishing the works of a God, insomuch as He is God, and from God, the all-working power of the Father—-a Divine force which even when at rest displays by its very attributes the Nature from which it ineffably proceeded. And if here too, again, He says that the Name of God has been given unto Him, although He is in fact God by Nature, as the Only-begotten Who proceeded from Him, He is not thereby in truth degraded, nor would He thereby exclude Himself from the honour and glory which is His due. Far from it. For to receive is appropriate to His Humanity, and can be fittingly ascribed thereto; for, of itself, humanity possesses nothing.
He says that He so kept His disciples, and had such care for them, that none of them was lost save one, whom He called the son of perdition; as though he were doomed to destruction of his own choice, or rather his own wickedness and impiety. For it is inconceivable that the traitor disciple was by a Divine and irresistible decree entangled, as it were, in the snare of the fowler, and brought within the devil’s noose; for then would he surely have been guiltless when he succumbed to the verdict of heaven. For who shall oppose the decree of God? And now he is condemned and accursed, and it would have been better for him if he had never been born. And why? Surely the wretched man met his doom as a consequence of his own volitions, and is not convicted by destiny. He that was so enamoured of destruction may well be called a son of perdition, inasmuch as he merited ruin and corruption, and ever awaits the day of perdition as fraught with anguish and lamentation.
And as Christ added to the words He used concerning him, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, we have given an explanation which may be useful to readers of this passage. For it was not because of any prophecy in Scripture that the traitor was lost, and became so vile as to barter for a few coins the precious Blood of Christ, but rather, as through his own innate wickedness he betrayed his Lord, and was infallibly destined to destruction on that account, the Scripture, which cannot lie, foretold that so it would be. For the Scripture is the Word of God, Who knows all things, and carries in His own consciousness the character and life of each one of us, and his conversation from the beginning to the end. Moreover, the Psalmist, attributing to Him knowledge of all things, of the past as well as of the future, thus addresses Him: Thou understandest all my thoughts afar off; Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. The Divine Word, then, Which had complete foreknowledge, and saw the future as though it were already present, besides all the rest which It told us about Christ, revealed unto us that he that was ranked a disciple would also die the death of a traitor. Still, the foreknowledge and foretelling of the future indicated not the pleasure and commandment of God; nor yet was the prophecy directed to compel the actual fulfilment of the evil that was foreshadowed and the conspiracy against the Saviour, but rather to avert it. For when Judas had this knowledge he might, at any rate, if he had so chosen, have shunned and avoided the result, as he was free to determine his inclinations in any direction.
Put perhaps you will say, “How, then, can Christ be said to have kept His disciples, if merely in pursuance of the inclinations and volitions of their own wills the rest escaped the devil’s net while Judas alone was taken, ill-fated beyond the others? How, then, can the safekeeping here spoken of be said to have been of profit?
Nay, my good friend, we answer, soberness is indeed a good thing, and the keeping guard over our minds profiteth much, together with an earnest endeavour towards the doing of good works and stablishing ourselves in virtue, for so shall we work out our own salvation; but this alone will not avail to save the soul of man. For it stands in urgent need of assistance and grace from above, to make what is difficult of achievement easy to it, and to render the steep and thorny path of righteousness smooth. And to prove to you that we are not able to do anything at all of ourselves without the aid of Divine grace, hearken to the voice of the Psalmist: If the Lord build not the house, their labour is in vain that build it: and if the Lord keep not the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
I say, then, that it is our bounden duty to foster and practise a home-bred self-denial and a religious frame of mind; but in so doing also to ask help of God, and, receiving the aid that comes from above as a panoply proof against every assault, to acquit ourselves like men. When God has once for all vouchsafed to grant our prayer, and it is therefore in our power to subdue the might of our adversaries, and conquer the power of the devil, if we do not choose to follow him when he allures us to pleasure or any other kind of sin; then, I say, if we let our wills comply with him, and, yielding to our wicked inclinations, are entangled in his noose, how can we any more with justice accuse any one else, or fail to attribute our doom to our own folly? For is not this what Solomon said long ago: The foolishness of man perverteth his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord? And this is unquestionably the case. If, however, the traitor was unable to enjoy the succour of the Saviour as much as the other disciples, let any man only prove this, and we submit; but if, while he was, in common with the rest, encompassed by the Divine grace, of his own will he relapsed into the abyss of perdition, how can Christ be said not to have kept him, when He vouchsafed him the riches of His mercy, and increased, so far as it was possible in any man’s case, his chance of safety, if he had not chosen his doom of his own will? His grace, moreover, was conspicuous in the rest, continually keeping in safety those who made their own free-will, as it were, co-operate therewith. For this is the manner in which the salvation of each one of us is achieved.
13 And these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.
Keep in mind once more what we were just now saying, and you will easily understand the drift of the passage. For He on all occasions preserved the juxtaposition of the two aspects of His character, at the same time displaying the Divine majesty for which He was pre-eminent, and not discarding the proper limitations of the Human Nature which He assumed at His Incarnation. For there would be something absurd in the supposition that He wished to disown what He had willingly taken upon Himself. For being Himself in lack of nothing, but the all-perfect Son of a perfect Father, He emptied Himself of His glory, not to do Himself any service, but rather to convey to us the blessing which would result from His humiliation. Showing Himself, then, to them as at the same time both God and Man, He, as it were, induces His disciples to reflect that absent, as well as present, He would work the things which made for their salvation in God; and that, as He had them in His keeping while He was yet with them on the earth in the form of Man, so also would He keep them while absent from them as God, through the excellency of His Substance. For that which is Divine is not bounded by space, and is not far from anything that exists, but fills and pervades the universe, and though present in all things is contained of none. When, addressing His own Father, He says: Holy Father, keep them, He at once refers, by right of its existence, to the universal working of the power of the Father; and at the same time shows that He standeth not apart from His Nature, but, being in it and proceeding from it, is indivisibly united with it, though He be conceived of as independently existing. Keep them, He says, in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me; and again: While I was with them, I kept them in Thy Name which Thou hast given Me. We are bound, therefore, to think that, if He had kept them hitherto in the Name given Him by the Father, that is, in the glory of Godhead, for He gave unto Him the Name which is above every name; and if He wishes the Father Himself also to keep them in the Name given unto Him, He will not be excluded from acting in the work; for the Father will keep those who are knit to Him by faith through the agency of the Only-begotten, Who is His power and might. For He will not exercise His power in any way save through Him. Then, if even in the flesh He kept them, by the power and glory of His Godhead, how can we think that He will fail to think His disciples worthy of the mercy which they need; and how can they ever lose His sure support while the Divine power of the Only-begotten abideth evermore, and the power which is His by Nature is for ever firmly established? For that which is Divine admits of no variance at all, or of any change into any evil agency, but shines forth for ever in those attributes which belong to it eternally.
I have spoken then, He says, these things in the world, that My disciples might have My joy fulfilled in them. What kind of joy is meant we will proceed to show, putting away from us fear of dispute, because of the obscurity of the expression. The blessed disciples, then, thought indeed that while Christ was present with them in their daily lives, I mean, of course, in the flesh, they could easily rid themselves of every calamity and readily escape danger from the Jews, and that they would remain proof against every assault of their foes; but that when He was separated from them, and had gone up to heaven, they would fall an easy prey to perils of every sort, and would have to bear the attack of the king of terrors himself, as there was no one any more with them who was strong to save, and who could scare away the temptations that assailed them. For this cause, then, our Lord Jesus Christ neither disavowed the Manhood He had once for all taken upon Himself, nor yet showed Himself deficient in Divine power; speaking plainly to this intent, and saying that the Name of God had been given to Him as Man, but that through Him, and in Him, the Father c showed mercy to those who worshipped Him, and had them in safe keeping. What, then, was the wise object that He here had in view”? It was that the blessed disciples might understand and know well, if they only slightly considered this saying, that even when He was in the flesh, it was not through the flesh that He was working for their salvation, but in the omnipotent glory and might of His Godhead. My absence in the flesh then, He says, will do My disciples no harm, while the Divine power of the Only-begotten can easily keep them safe, even though He be not visibly present in the body.
We give this explanation, not as making of no account the holy Body of Christ—-God forbid; but because it were more fitting that the accomplishment of His Word should be ascribed to the glory of the Godhead. For even the Body Itself of Christ was sanctified by the power of the Word made one with it. and it is thus endowed with living force in the blessed Eucharist, so that it is able to implant in us its sanctifying grace. Therefore also our Saviour Christ Himself, once conversing with the Jews, and speaking many things concerning His own Body, calling it the true Bread of Life, said: The bread which I will give you is My Flesh,; which I will give for the life of the world. And when they were sore amazed and perplexed to know how the nature of earthly flesh could be to them the channel of eternal life, He answered and said: It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I spake unto you are spirit, and are life. For here, too, He says that the flesh can profit nothing, that is, to sanctify and quicken those who receive it, so far, that is, as it is mere human flesh; but when it is understood and believed to be the temple of the Word, then surely it will be a channel of sanctification and life, but not altogether of itself, but through God, Who has been made one with it, Who is holy and Life. Ascribing everything, then, to the power of His Godhead, He says that His disciples will suffer no loss from His departure in the body, with reference, at any rate, to their seeking to be in His keeping. For the Saviour, though He be vanished into heaven, will yet not be far from those who love Him, but will be with them by the power of His Godhead.
In order, then, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves, He says, I have spoken these things in the world. What, then, is this joy which is fulfilled and perfect? It is the knowledge and belief that Christ was not a mere Man as we are, but that, besides being as we are, yet without sin, He is also the true God. It is clear, then, and beyond dispute, that He will always have the power to save those who worship Him at any time He will, even though He be not present in the body. For this knowledge will involve the perfect fulfilment of our own joy, inasmuch as we have an ally ever near us, Who is strong enough to rescue us from every evil.
14, 15 I have given them Thy Word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them from the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil one.
He points out to us the most needful increase of favour from above and from the Father, which, He says, is almost owed by Him to those who incur danger for His sake, as a just and well-deserved return. For the world hateth on God’s account those who worship Him, and who are obedient to the laws that He has laid down, and who lightly esteem worldly pleasure, and who also, as is most right, will receive succour and grace from Him, and continuance in well-being. For surely they who after a manner rely upon Him, and are of good courage and engage in warfare on His account, will receive a recompense in harmony with the aim they have in view. Therefore the Saviour says: I have given them Thy Word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. For they received with great gladness, He says, Thy Word given unto them by Me, that is, the Gospel message, which easily extricates from a worldly life and thoughts of earth, those who welcome it. Therefore also are they hated of the world, that is, of those who choose to have at heart the things of this world, and who love this pleasure-loving and most impure life. For the conversation of Saints is displeasing to worldlings; ever making light as it does of the hardships of this life, and pointing out how abominable is a worldly career, and accusing its vileness, and assailing with bitter rebukes those who think that pleasure consists in succumbing to temptation, and in having continual intercourse with the evil of this world, and triumphing over all selfish desire, and contemning ambition, and teaching men to abhor covetousness the mother of all evils, and to cast it far from them, and furthermore bidding those who are ensnared in the net of the devil to escape from old deceits, and to betake themselves to the God of the universe.
For this cause, therefore, O Father, He says, are they hated. For they are in ill odour with the world, not because they have been convicted of any crime or impiety, but because I have given unto them Thy Word, so that they are also out of the world even as I am. For the life and conduct that is in Christ is wholly dissevered from earthly thoughts and worldly conversation; that life, by following after which we shall ourselves also, so far as possible, escape being reckoned among the men of this world. Therefore the inspired Paul enjoins us to follow His steps; and we shall then best follow Him, when we love only the things that are not of this world, and, lifting our minds above fleshly thoughts, gaze only on heavenly things. He ranks Himself, too, with His disciples because of His Manhood, by imitating which, in the conception of Him as Man, we attain every kind of virtue, as we just now said; passing unscathed through all the wickedness of the world, and showing ourselves strangers and aliens to its wickedness. Just so, then, the Divine Paul indeed himself exhorts us; and, with reference to himself and Christ, through Which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world, bids us, speaking in another place, Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ. Paul did not indeed imitate Christ in so far as our Lord is Creator of the world; for he did not establish a new firmament, nor did he ever reveal to us new seas, or a new earth. How, then, did he imitate Him? Surely it was by moulding in his own character and conduct an admirable pattern of the life of which Christ was Himself the exemplar, so far at least as Paul could attain to it; for who can be equal to Christ?
Putting Himself, then, on a level with us, because of His Human Nature, or, to speak more accurately, as first presenting us with the blessing of taking ourselves out of the world by the life which transcends worldly things, for the life and teaching of the Gospel is above the world, He says that He Himself is not of the world, and that we are even as He is, since His Divine Word has taken up its abode in our hearts. Furthermore, He declares that as the world hated Him so will it also hate them. The world indeed hateth Christ, because it is in conflict with His words, and accepts not His teaching, men’s minds being wholly yielded up to base desires; and even as the world hates our Saviour Christ, it hath hated also the disciples who carry through Him His message, as Paul also did, who said: We are ambassadors, therefore, on behalf of Christ, as though God were intreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God.
What, then, is His prayer, after that He has shown that the disciples are hated by those who are fast bound by the evil things of the world? I pray not, He saith, that Thou shouldest take them from the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil one. For Christ does not wish them to be quit of human affairs, or to be rid of life in the body, when they have not yet finished the course of their apostleship, or distinguished themselves by the virtues of a godly life; but he wishes them, after they have lived their lives in the company of men in the world, and have guided the footsteps of those who are His to a state of life well pleasing to God, then at last, with the glory they have achieved, to be carried into the heavenly city, and to dwell with the company of the holy angels. We find, moreover, one of the Saints approaching the God Who loves virtue with the cry: Take me not away in the midst of my days; for pious souls cannot, without a pang, put off the garment of the flesh before they have perfected their life in holiness above their fellows. Therefore also the Law of Moses, teaching us that sinners are visited as in wrath, and by way of penalty, with premature death, often reiterates the warning to stand aloof from evil, that thou diest not before thy time. Besides, if the Saints chose to keep themselves apart from our daily life, it would infer no small loss to those who are unstable in the faith; nay, they could in nowise be guided in the way of righteousness, without the aid of those who are able to lead them therein. Paul knew this when he said, To depart and be with Christ is far better for me, yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake.Christ, therefore, in His care for the salvation of the uninstructed, says that those who are in the world ought not to be left desolate without the Saints, who are men of light, and the salt of the earth; but prays rather for the safe keeping of His holy ones, and that they may be ever untouched by the malice of the evil one, shunning the assault of temptations by the power of His Omnipotent Father.
We must also remark that He calls the Word, which is His, and came forth from Him—-I mean the Gospel—–the Word of God the Father, showing that He is not separate from the Father, but Consubstantial with Him. For we shall find in the writings of the Evangelists that the people of the Jews were amazed at Him, because He taught them as one having authority, and not as their Scribes. For these latter were seen to apply the teaching of the Law in every case in their discourses to them; while our Lord Jesus Christ did not at all follow slavishly the types shadowed forth in those writings, but, illumining His own Word by Divine power, exclaimed: It was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, Thou shalt not covet; though the Law expressly says, with reference to the statutes of God, that none should add thereto or take away therefrom: but Christ took away from, and also added unto them, changing the type into truth. Therefore He cannot be reckoned among those under the Law, that is, among creatures; for on whomsoever Nature has put the brand of slavery, on him is imposed the necessity of being under the Law. Christ, then, represented His own Word as the Word of the Father. For He is the Word That is in the Father and proceedeth from Him, and That enunciates the Will of the Godhead—-I mean the only true Godhead Which is in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
16, 17 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Holy Father, keep them in truth: Thy Word is truth.
By these words He indicates once more, and makes clear to us, the reason why He requires to ascend to God the Father, and why so to do becomes Him, while He is still our Mediator, and High Priest, and Advocate, according to the Holy Scripture; and shows us that it is in order that, if at any time we encounter failure, or miss the straight path in thought or action, or are assailed by unexpected perils or buffeted by the tempest of the devil’s malice, He may approach His Father on our behalf in His appropriate character as Mediator; and join with Him in granting good gifts to those who are worthy. For it would well become Him so to do, as He is God by Nature. Those then, He says, who have received Thy Word, O Father, through Me, show forth My Likeness in themselves and are conformed to the pattern of Thine own Son, who, like Him, pass unscathed through the ocean of the world’s wickedness, and have shown themselves foreigners and strangers to the love of pleasure in this life, and every kind of vice. Therefore keep them in Thy truth, for exceeding purity is inherent in Christ. For He is truly God, and cannot be subject to sin nor endure it, but is rather the fountain of all goodness, and the beauty of holiness. For the Divine Nature, that ruleth over all, can do nothing but what is in truth suitable and belongeth thereto. And the holy disciples, I mean all who believe on Him, cannot otherwise exhibit purity unspotted by the wickedness of this world than by means of forgiveness and grace from above, which putteth away the defilement of previous offences and the accusing sins of their past lives; and, further, conferring on them the glory of a life of sanctification, though their continuance therein be not free from conflict, as Paul wisely teaches us, saying: Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. For our life is cast upon the deep, and we are tossed by divers storms, as the devil tempts without ceasing, and continually assails and strives to defile if he can, by the insidious inventions of malice, even those who have been already made pure. For his meat is well chosen, as the prophet says. Having then borne witness to His disciples that their life was out of the world, and that they were conformed to the likeness of His own essential purity, He proceeds to pray to His Father to keep them. It is almost as though He said: O Holy Father, if they were in the world—-that is, if they lived the life that has honour in this world—-if, sowing the seed of earthly and temporary pleasure in their hearts, they imprinted on themselves the foul image of the evil one, would not have attacked them with temptation, nor have armed himself against his own children, for he would have in them the likeness of his own inherent wickedness. But since they, following after Me, laugh to scorn the deceitfulness of this world, and are out of the world, and, moreover, in their conduct show most clearly the impress of My incomparable holiness, and on that account have Satan, who is ever murmuring against the Saints, for their bitter foe, ever lying in wait for them; therefore of necessity I desire them to be in Thy safe keeping. And to be in Thy safe keeping is not to be far from Thy truth, that is, from Me. For I am by Nature Thy truth, O Father, the Essential, True, and Living Word.
We must suppose that this is what He thinks right to say. See how, in all His sayings, so to speak, He insinuates His own Person into the action of the Father, whatever that action has reference to, and puts Himself altogether side by side with Him, wishing probably to show how true the statement is: All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made. In the previous passage, indeed, He briefly besought His Father to keep the disciples in the Name which had been given unto Himself. In this, however, He desires His prayer on their behalf to be fulfilled in the truth of the Father. What, then, does this mean; or what does the change in the language signify? Is it meant to show that the working of the Father, shown through Him in mercy to the Saints, is not uniform? For in the first passage, when He says that His disciples ought to be kept in the Name of the Father, that is to say, in the glory and power of His Godhead, so that they should be out of the power of the enemy, He declares that aid is vouchsafed to the Saints in whatever happens unto them, after the secret fashion that Christ at the proper season revealed to His disciples when He said: Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: but I made supplication for thee, that thy fail not. For many of God’s dealings concerning us are in secret, Christ taking thought for the life of each of us, and covering us as with a shield. But here, when He says Keep them in the truth, He signifies clearly their being led by revelation of the truth to apprehend it. For no man can attain to the knowledge of truth without the light of the Spirit, nor can he at all, humanly speaking, work out for himself an accurate comprehension of the Divine doctrines. For the mysteries of Holy Writ exceed our understanding, and glorious is the blessing of having even a moderate knowledge concerning Christ.
The blessed Peter, moreover, when he confessed that the Lord was in truth the Son of the living God, heard the words: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father Which is in heaven.For He reveals to the Saints His Son, Who is truth, and does not allow Satan to lead the mind of His believers astray to false knowledge; relying on whom, in their season, Hymenaeus and Alexander have made shipwreck concerning the faith, rejecting the true doctrine of the faith. Of great avail, then, towards a right continuance in the straight path of thought and action, is our safe keeping by the Father in the Name of God and in truth; that we may not fail in making our light shine forth in action, nor, by turning aside to folly, stray far away from the doctrines of true holiness. And this may easily be our lot, if we are seen to be out of the world while not disavowing our birth in the world; for of the dust of the earth are we all framed, as the Scripture saith, but by the quality of our deeds we rid ourselves of life in the world. For while they walk upon earth, those who love conformity with Christ are citizens of heaven.
We must also remark that He very appropriately here calls the Father holy, almost, as it were, reminding Him that, as He is holy, He takes pleasure in those that are holy. And all men are holy, whosoever are seen to be unspotted by the world, and whosoever are by nature in Christ, in the Father’s likeness adopted, and chosen to be His disciples by the sanctification according to grace, and the light and goodness of their lives. For a man may thus be conformed to the Image of God, Which transcends the world.
CHAPTER X. That Christ is not holy from participation in anything different from Himself; and that the sanctification through the Spirit is not alien to His Substance.
18, 19 As Thou didst send Me into the world, even so sent I them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
After giving the Father here especially the name of Holy, and praying that the disciples might be kept in the truth, that is, in His Spirit (for the Spirit is the truth, as John says, as He is also the Spirit of truth, that is, of the Only-begotten Himself), He declares that He sent them into the world after the fashion of His own mission; for Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, as Paul says, in the appropriate character of His Manhood, and by the way of His humiliation. He says, then, that the disciples, after having been once for all thereto prepared, stand wholly in need of sanctification by the Holy Father, Who implanteth in them the Holy Spirit through the Son. For in truth the disciples of the Saviour would never have become so illustrious as to be the torchbearers of the whole world, nor would they have withstood the brunt of the temptations of their enemies, nor the terrible assaults of the devil, had they not had their minds fortified by communion with the Spirit; and had they not been continually thereby enabled to accomplish a bidding unheard of before and passing mere human power; and had they not been ever led by the light of the Spirit, without effort, to a perfect knowledge of the inspired writings and the holy doctrines of the Church. Furthermore, the Saviour, being assembled together with them after His resurrection from the dead, as is recorded, and bidding them preach grace through faith throughout the whole world, charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which they had heard of Him as well as by the mouth of the holy prophets. For it shall come to pass in those days, saith the Lord, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh. And the Saviour Himself plainly declared that His Holy Spirit would be shed forth upon them, in the words: I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He shall guide you into all truth; and again: I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter. For the Spirit belongeth unto God the Father, and none the less also unto the Son Himself, not as distinct Entities, or as though He was inherent or existed in Either divisibly; but, inasmuch as the Son by Nature proceeds from the Father and is in Him (being the true Offspring of His Essence), the Spirit—-Which is the Father’s by Nature—-is brought down to men; shed forth indeed from the Father, but through the Son Himself conveyed to the creature; not merely ministerially or in the manner of a servant, but, as I said just now, proceeding from the Substance Itself of God the Father; and shed forth on those worthy to receive Him through the Word, Which is Consubstantial with and proceeded from Him, and so proceeded as to have a self-dependent being, and ever abideth in Him, at the same time in unity, and also, as it were, with an individual existence. For we maintain that the Son has an independent existence, but still inheres in His Father, and has in Himself Him that begat Him; and that the Spirit of the Father is indeed the Spirit of the Son; and that, when the Father sends or promises to distribute the Spirit to the Saints, the Son also vouchsafes the Spirit to them as His own, because of His identity in Substance with the Father. And that the Father works in every respect through Him He has Himself very clearly pointed out to us in the words: It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away the Comforter cannot come unto you; but when I depart I will send Him unto you. And again: I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter. Plainly here He promises to send us the Comforter.
Since, then, the disciples, who respect My sayings, have been sent forth on their mission in the world, even as I myself, keep them, Holy Father, in Thy truth; that is, in Thy Word, in Which, and through Which, the Spirit Which sanctifies is and proceeds. And what is the Saviour’s aim in saying this? He besought the Father for that sanctification which is in and through the Spirit to be given to ourselves; and He desires that which was in us at the first age of the world, and at the beginning of creation by gift of God, to be quickened anew into life. This we say, because the Only-begotten is our Mediator, and fulfils the part of Advocate for us before our Father Which is in heaven. But that we may free our explanation from all obscurity, and make the meaning of what is said clear to our hearers, let us say a few words about the creation of the first man.
The inspired Moses said concerning him, that God took dust from the earth and formed man of it. He then goes on to tell the manner in which, after the body was perfectly joined together, life was given to it. He breathed, he says, into his nostrils the breath of life; signifying that not without sanctification by the Spirit was life given to man, nor yet was it wholly devoid or barren of the Divine Nature. For never could anything, which had so base an origin, have been seen to be created in the Image of the Most High, had it not taken and received, through the Spirit moulding it, so to speak, a fair mask, by the Will of God. For as His Spirit is a perfect Likeness of the Substance of the Only-begotten, according to the saying of Paul: For whom He foreknew, He also fore-ordained to be conformed to the Image of His Son, He maketh those in whom He abides to be conformed to the Image of the Father, that is, the Son; and thus all thoughts are uplifted through the Son to the Father, from Whom He proceeds by the Spirit. He desires, therefore, the nature of man to be renewed, and moulded anew, as it were, into its original likeness, by communion with the Spirit; in order that, putting on that pristine grace, and being shaped anew into conformity with Him, we may be found able to prevail over the sin that reigns in this world, and may simply cling to the love of God, striving with all our might after whatsoever things be good, and, lifting our minds above fleshly lusts, may keep the beauty of His Image implanted in ourselves unspoiled. For this is spiritual life, and this is the meaning of worship in the Spirit.
And if we may sum up in brief the whole matter, Christ called down upon us the ancient gift of humanity, that is, sanctification through the Spirit and communion with the Divine Nature, His disciples being the first to receive it; for the saying is true, that the husbandman that laboureth must be the first to partake of the fruits. But that He might herein also indeed have the preeminence (for it was meet that He, being, as it were, one of many brethren, and still Man even as we are men, should, through being in our likeness, be seen to be and in fact be the Beginning, and the Gate, and the Way, of every good thing for us), He is impelled to add what follows, namely, the words: For their sakes I sanctify Myself.
And, indeed, the saying is hard to explain and difficult to understand. Still, the Word Which maketh all things clear, and discovereth deep things out of darkness, will reveal to us even this mystery. That which is brought by any one to God by way of an offering or gift, as sacred to Him, is said to be sanctified according to the custom of the Law; as, for example, every firstborn child that opens the womb among the children of Israel. For sanctify unto Me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb, God said to the good Moses; that is, offer and dedicate and set down as holy. We do not indeed assert, nor would we listen to any one’s suggestion, that God bade Moses impose on any the sanctification of the Spirit, for the stature of created beings attains not unto ability to perform any such act, but it is adapted and can be ascribed to God only. Moreover, when He wished to appoint to office the elders together with Him, He did not bid Moses himself impose sanctification upon those who were selected; but, instead, plainly said that He would take of the Spirit That was upon him and would put It upon each of those who were called. For the power of sanctifying by communion with the Spirit belongs only to the Nature of the Ruler of the Universe; and what the meaning of sanctification is, I mean so far as the customs of the Law are concerned, the saying of Solomon will make quite clear to us: It is a snare to a man hastily to sanctify anything that is his, for after he has made his vow repentance cometh.
Since, then, this is what sanctification is, so far as the custom of offering and setting apart is concerned, we say that the Son sanctified Himself for us in this sense. For He brought Himself as a Victim and holy Sacrifice to God the Father,reconciling the world unto Himself, and bringing into kinship with Him that which had fallen away therefrom, that is, the race of man. For He is our Peace, according to the Scripture. And, indeed, our reconciliation to God could no otherwise have been accomplished through Christ that saveth us than by communion in the Spirit and sanctification. For that which knits us together, and, as it were, unites us with God, is the Holy Spirit; Which if we receive, we are proved sharers and partakers in the Divine Nature, and we admit the Father Himself into our hearts, through the Son and in the Son. Further, the wise John writes for us concerning Him: Hereby know we that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And what does Paul also say? And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father, as, if we had chanced to remain without partaking of the Spirit, we could never at all have known that God was in us; and, if we had not been enriched with the Spirit that puts us into the rank of sons, we should never have been at all the sons of God. How, then, should we have had added to us, or how should we have been shown to be partakers in, Divine Nature, if God had not been in us, nor we been joined to Him through having been called to communion with the Spirit? But now are we both partakers and sharers in the Substance That transcends the universe, and are become temples of God. For the Only-begotten sanctified Himself for our sins; that is, offered Himself up, and brought Himself as a holy Sacrifice for a sweet-smelling savour to God the Father; that, while He as God came between and hedged off and built a wall of partition between human nature and sin, nothing might hinder our being able to have access to God, and have close fellowship with Him, through communion, that is, with the Holy Spirit, moulding us anew to righteousness and sanctification and the original likeness of man. For if sin sunders and dissevers man from God, surely righteousness will be a bond of union, and will somehow set us by the side of God Himself, with nothing to part us. We have been justified through faith in Christ, Who was delivered up for our trespasses, according to the Scripture, and was raised for our justification. For in Him, as in the first-fruits of the race, the nature of man was wholly reformed into newness of life, and ascending, as it were, to its own first beginning, was moulded anew into sanctification. Sanctify them, He says, O Father, in Thy truth; that is, in Me, for Thy Word is truth; that is, I once more. For I sanctified Myself for them; that is, brought Myself as an offering, One dying for many, that I might reform them into newness of life, and that they might be sanctified in truth, that is. in Me.
Now that the foregoing speech has been explained, and understood in the sense we have just given out, we shall not be slack to enter on another investigation. For to be very zealous in searching out the meaning of difficult passages in Scripture, must, I think, reflect much honour both on those who have this desire, and also on those who listen to them attentively. Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, said that He sanctified Himself for our sakes, that we also may be sanctified in truth. In what sense He is sanctified, being Himself by Nature holy, in order that we may be sanctified also, let us then, adhering to the doctrines of the Church, and not starting aside from the right rule of faith, so far as we can, carefully consider. We say, then, that the Only-begotten, being by Nature God, and in the form of God the Father, and in equality with Him, emptied Himself according to the Scripture, and became Man born of a woman, receiving all the properties of man’s nature, sin only excepted, and in an unspeakable way uniting Himself to our nature by His own free will, in order that He might in Himself first, and through Himself, regenerate it into that glory which it had at the beginning; and that He, having proved Himself the second Adam, that is, a heavenly Man, and being found first of all, and the firstfruits of those who are built up into newness of life, in incorruption that is, and in righteousness and the sanctification which is through the Spirit, He might henceforth through Himself send good gifts to the whole race. For this cause, though He is Life by Nature, He became as one dead; that, having destroyed the power of death in us, He might mould us anew into His own life; and being Himself the righteousness of God the Father, He became sin for us. For, according to the saying of the Prophet, He Himself beareth our sins, and He was counted together with us among transgressors, that He might justify us through Himself, rending the bond that was against us, and nailing it to His cross, according to the Scripture. Being also Himself by Nature holy as God, and granting to the whole creation participation in the Holy Spirit, to their continuance and stablishing and sanctification, He is sanctified on our account in the Holy-Spirit; no one else sanctifying Him, but rather He Himself working for Himself to the sanctification of His own Flesh. For He receiveth His own Spirit, and partakes of It in so far as He was Man; yea, and giveth it unto Himself as God. And He did this for our sakes, not for His own, that, originating in Him first, the grace of sanctification might henceforth reach even unto all mankind. Just as by Adam’s transgression and disobedience, as in the founder of the race, human nature was doomed to die by the fault of one man, the first of men hearing the sentence, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return; in the same way, I think, through the obedience and righteousness of Christ, in so far as He became under the Law, though as God He was Himself the Lawgiver, the Eucharist and the quickening power of the Spirit might be extended unto men universally. For the Spirit reforms into incorruption that which was by sin corrupted, and fashions into newness of life that which was obsolete through apathy, and verging to decay.
But perhaps you will ask, How, then, was He That is holy by Nature sanctified, and that through participation? And in what sense does He Who granteth His own Spirit to all who are worthy to receive it, both those, I mean, in heaven and those on earth, do Himself this service? Such things are indeed hard to fathom or comprehend, and difficult to explain, when you consider the Word That proceeded from God as still devoid of, or as only partially endued with, the humanity so sanctified; but when you think with wonder on His incomprehensible Incarnation and union with the flesh, and have present before your minds the true God now become Man, even as we are men, you will no longer be surprised; but, putting off all perplexity of mind, and having before your thoughts the Son Who is at the same time God and Man, you will not think that the proper attributes of humanity ought to be cast aside, even though they be merged in the Person of One Who is the Son by Nature, I mean Christ. For do we not think, for example, that death is foreign to the Nature of the all-quickening Word?
Still, you will say, He endured death in the flesh; for the body is mortal, and therefore is said to die, for His own Body died.
You are quite right in your idea, and say well; for of a truth in His scheme for our redemption, He did give up His Body to die, and again infused His own life into it, and did not, that is, rescue Himself from the bonds of death, by the power He actually has as God. For He came among us and became Man, not for His own sake, but rather He prepared the way, through Himself and in Himself, for human nature to escape from death and to return to its original incorruption. Let us, then, by an analogous train of reasoning, find out the manner of His sanctification. Can we then at all maintain that the body, which is of earth, is holy by the law of its own nature, even if it receive not sanctification from God, Who is by Nature holy? How could this be? For what difference could there then be any longer between earth-born flesh and that Substance Which is holy and pure? And if it be true to say that all rational creatures, and in general everything that has been called into being and ranks among created things, do not enjoy sanctification as the fruit of their own nature, but, as it were, borrow grace from That Which is by Nature holy, would it not be the height of absurdity to think that the flesh had no need of God, Who is able to sanctify all things? Since, then, the flesh is not of itself holy, it was therefore sanctified, even in the case of Christ—-the Word That dwelt therein sanctifying His own Temple through the Holy Spirit, and changing it into a living instrument of His own Nature. For the Body of Christ is for this cause holy and pure; as being, in accordance with what I said just now, in a corporeal sense, as Paul says, the Temple of the Word united with it. Therefore the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descends upon Him from heaven; and the wise John bore testimony to this, that we might also know that on Christ first, as on the first-fruits of the renewed nature of man, the Spirit came down, in so far as He was Man, and so capable of sanctification. We do not indeed affirm that Christ then became holy as to His Flesh, when the Baptist saw the Spirit descending upon Him; for He was holy when He was still unborn and in the womb. Yea, and it was said unto the Blessed Virgin, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Rather was the sight given as a sign to the Baptist. We are of opinion, nevertheless, that Christ’s Flesh was sanctified by the Spirit; the Word, Which ia by Nature holy, and proceedeth from the Father, anointing His own Temple that is in Him, like all else that is created. And the Psalmist, knowing this, exclaimed, while he gazed upon the human Person of the Only-begotten: Therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows. For when the Son anoints the Temple of His Body, the Father is said so to do. For He only works through the Son. For whatsoever the Son doeth is referred to the Father from Whom He springs, as the Father is, as it were, the Root and Source of His Offspring.
And no marvel if He declares that even He Himself is sanctified, though by Nature He is holy, when the Scripture calls God His Father, though He is Himself by Nature God. But I think one may well and justly attribute such expressions, without fear of error, to the requirements of human reason, and to analogy with human relationships. Just as, then, He died in the flesh for our sakes as Man, though being by Nature God; and just as, ranking Himself among creatures, and under subjection on account of His Manhood, He calls God His Father, though He was Lord of all; so He affirms that He sanctifies Himself for our sakes: that, when the influence thereof reaches even to us, as through the firstfruits of regenerate human nature in Him, we also may be sanctified in truth, that is, in the Holy Spirit. For the Spirit is the truth, as John says; for the Spirit is not separate from the Son, in Substance at any rate, inasmuch as He exists in Him and proceeds through Him.
He says that He was sent into the world, though He was in it before His Incarnation. For He was in the world, though the world knew Him not, according to the Scripture; signifying that the manner in which His mission was given Him was by the unction of the Holy Spirit, in so far as He was Man, and was the Angel of great counsel, after the analogy of the prophetic office. And when He says that His disciples have been prepared, as He was Himself, and sent from Him to announce to the world the message of the Gospel from heaven, He declares that they stand in great need of being sanctified in truth, that they may be enabled well and strenuously to run the course of their apostleship to the end.
CHAPTER XI. That the Son is naturally One with God His Father; and that He is in the Father and the Father in Him, according to the essential bond and character of their Unity; and that likewise also we ourselves, when we receive faith in Him, are proved one with each other and with God, both in a corporeal and in a spiritual sense.
20, 21 Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.
Christ is, as it were, the Firstfruits of those who are built up into newness of life, and Himself the first heavenly Man. For, as Paul says: The second Adam, is the Lord from heaven. Therefore also John wrote: And no man hath ascended into heaven, but He That descended out of heaven, even the Son of man. And in close connexion with Him, the Firstfruits, yea, and far nearer unto Him than others, were those who were chosen to be disciples, and who held the rank of His followers; who also with their own eyes beheld His glory, ever attending upon Him, and in converse with Him, and gathering in, as it were, the firstfruits of His succour into their hearts. They were then, and are after Him, Who is far above all others, the Head of the body, the Church, the precious and more estimable members thereof. Furthermore, He prays that on them the blessing and sanctification of the Spirit may be sent down from His Father, but through Him wholly; for it could not be otherwise, since He is the living, and true, and active, and all-performing wisdom and power of Him That begat Him. But that none of those, who are not well-practised attentively to hearken to the inspired writings, might thoughtlessly imagine that upon the disciples only He prayed that the Spirit of God might come down, and that He did not pray for us, who clearly follow after them, and live in an early age of Christianity, the Mediator between God and man, the Advocate and High Priest of our souls, is induced, with a view to check beforehand the foolish imaginations of such men, to add this passage to what He had said, namely: Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on Me through their word. For it would have been in a manner absurd, that the sentence of condemnation should fall upon all men through one man, who was the first, I mean Adam; and that those who had not sinned at that time, that is, at which the founder of our race transgressed the commandment given unto him, should wear the dishonourable image of the earthy; and yet that when Christ came among us, Who was the Man from heaven, those who were called through Him to righteousness, the righteousness of course that is through faith, should not all be moulded into His Image. And, just as we say that the unlovely image of the earthy is seen in types, and in a form bearing the defilement of sin, and the weakness of death and corruption, and the impurity of fleshly lusts and worldly thoughts; so also, on the other hand, we think that the Image of the heavenly, that is, Christ, shines forth in purity and sincerity, and perfect incorruption, and life, and sanctification. It was, perhaps, impossible for us who had once fallen away through the original transgression to be restored to our pristine glory, except we obtained an ineffable communion and unity with God; for the nature of men upon the earth was ordered at the beginning. And no man can attain to union with God, save by communion with the Holy Spirit, Who implants in us the sanctification of His own Person, and moulds anew into His own life the nature which was subject to corruption, and so brings back to God and to His Likeness that which was bereft of the glory that this confers. And the Son is the express Image of the Father, and His Spirit is the natural Likeness of the Son. For this cause, moulding anew, as it were, into Himself the souls of men, He stamps them with the Likeness of God, and seals them with the Image of the Most High.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, prays not for the twelve Apostles alone, but rather for all who were destined in every age to yield to and obey the words that exhort those who hear to receive that sanctification that is through faith, and to that purification which is accomplished in them through partaking of the Spirit. And He thought it not right to leave us in doubt about the objects of His prayer, that we might learn hereby what manner of men we ought to show ourselves, and what path of righteousness we ought to tread, to accomplish those things which are well-pleasing to Him. What, then, is the manner of His prayer? That, He says, they may be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us. He asks, then, for a bond of love, and concord, and peace, to bring into spiritual unity those who believe; so that their unitedness, through perfect sympathy and inseparable harmony of soul, might resemble the features of the natural and essential unity that exists between the Father and the Son. But the bond of the love that is in us, and the power of concord, will not of itself altogether avail to keep them in the same unchangeable state of union as exists between the Father and the Son, Who preserve the manner of Their union in identity of Substance. For the one is, in fact, natural and actual, and is seen in the very definition of the existence of God; while the other only assumes the appearance of the unity which is actual. For how can the imitation be wholly like the reality? For the semblance of truth is not the same in conception with truth itself, but presents a similar appearance, and will not differ from it so long as there does not occur an occasion of distinction.
Whenever, then, a heretic, imagining that he can upset the doctrine of the natural identity and consequent unity of the Son with God the Father, and then, to demonstrate and establish his crazy theory, brings forward our own case, and says, “Just as we are not all one by reason of actual physical identity, nor yet by the fusion of our souls together, but in temper and disposition to love God, and in a united and sympathetic purpose to accomplish His Will, so also the Son is One with the Father,” we shall then reject him wholly, as guilty of great ignorance and folly. And for what reason? Because things superhuman do not entirely follow the analogy of ourselves; nor can that which has no body be subject to the laws to which bodies are subject; nor do things Divine resemble things human. For if there were nothing at all to separate or create a distinction between us and God, we might then apply the analogy of our own case to the things which concern God; but if we find the interval betwixt us to be something we cannot fathom, why do men set up the attributes of our own nature as a rule and standard for God, conceiving of that Nature Which is not bound by any law in the light of our own weaknesses, and so suffer themselves to be guilty of doing a thing which is most irrational and absurd? In so doing, they are constructing the reality from the shadow, and the truth from that which is conformed to its image; giving the second place of honour to that which has of right the first, and inferring their conception of that which is first from that which is second to it.
But that we may not seem to dwell too long on the discussion of this subject, and so to be straying away from the text, we must once more repeat the assertion, that when Christ brings forward the essential unity which the Father has with Himself, and Himself also with the Father, as an Image and Type of the inseparable fellowship, and concord, and unity that exists in kindred souls, He desires us in some sort to be blended with one another in the power that is of the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity; so that the whole body of the Church may be in fact one, ascending in Christ through the fusion and concurrence of two peoples into one perfect whole. For as Paul says: For He is our peace, Who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in His Flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that He might create in Himself of the twain one New Man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one Body unto God through the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby. And this was, in fact, accomplished; those who believed on Christ being of one soul one with another, and receiving, as it were, one heart, through their complete resemblance in piety towards God, and their obedience in believing, and aspirations after virtue. And I think that what I have said is not wide of the mark, but is rather requisite and necessary. But, as the meaning of the passage compels us, leaving this subject, to enter upon a more profound inquiry, and our Saviour’s words especially incite us thereto: Even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us, we must attentively consider what explanation we must here give. For in what has gone before we rightly maintained that the union of believers, in concord of heart and soul, ought to resemble the manner of the Divine unity, and the essential identity of the Holy Trinity, and Their intimate connexion with Each Other; but in this place we are now desirous of pointing out a sort of natural unity by which we are joined into each other, and all of us to God, not altogether falling short of a kind of physical unity, I mean with each other, even though we are distinguished by having different bodies, each one of us, as it were, retiring to his own personal environment and individuality. For Peter cannot be Paul, or be spoken of as such; or again, Paul as Peter, even though both be in fact one, after the manner of their union through Christ. Taking for granted, then, the physical unity that exists between the Father and the Son, and also of course the Holy Spirit (for we believe and glorify One Godhead in the Holy Trinity), let us further inquire in what manner we are proved to be one with each other and with God, both in a corporeal and a spiritual sense. The Only-begotten, then, proceeding from the very Substance of God the Father, and having entirely in His own Nature Him That begat Him, became Flesh according to the Scripture, blending Himself, as it were, with our nature by an unspeakable combination and union with this body that is earthy; and thus He That is God by Nature became, and is in truth, a Man from heaven; not inspired merely, as some of those who do not rightly understand the depth of the mystery imagine, but being at the same time God and Man, in order that, uniting as it were in Himself things widely opposed by nature, and averse to fusion with each other, He might enable man to share and partake of the Nature of God. For even unto us has reached the fellowship and abiding Presence of the Spirit, which originated through Christ and in Christ first, when He is in fact become even as we are, that is, a Man, receiving unction and sanctification, though He is by Nature God, insomuch as He proceeded from the Father Himself, sanctifying with His own Spirit the temple of His Body as well as all the creation that to Him owes its being, and to which sanctification is suitable. The mystery, then, that is in Christ is become, as it were, a beginning and a way whereby we may partake of the Holy Spirit and union with God; for in Him are we all sanctified, after the manner I have just indicated.
In order, then, that we ourselves also may join together, and be blended into unity with God and with each other, although, through the actual difference which exists in each one of us, we have a distinct individuality of soul and body, the Only-begotten has contrived a means which His own due Wisdom and the Counsel of the Father have sought out. For by one Body, that is, His own, blessing through the mystery of the Eucharist those who believe on Him, He makes us of the same Body with Himself and with each other. For who could sunder or divide from their natural union with one another those who are knit together through His holy Body, Which is one in union with Christ? For if we all partake of the one Bread, we are all made one Body; for Christ cannot suffer severance. Therefore also the Church is become Christ’s Body, and we are also individually His members, according to the wisdom of Paul. For we, being all of us united to Christ through His holy Body, inasmuch as we have received Him Who is one and indivisible in our own bodies, owe the service of our members to Him rather than to ourselves. And that, while Christ is accounted the Head, the Church is called the rest of the Body, as joined together of Christian members, Paul will prove to us by the words: That we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but, speaking truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him, Which is the Head, even Christ; from Whom all the Body, fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several member, maketh the increase of the Body unto the building up of itself in love. And that those who partake of His holy Flesh do gain therefrom this actual physical unity, I mean with Christ, Paul once more bears witness, when he says, with reference to the mystery of godliness: Which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto His holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit; to wit, that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ. And if we are all of us of the same Body with one another in Christ, and not only with one another, but also of course with Him Who is in us through His Flesh, are we not then all of us clearly one both with one another and with Christ? For Christ is the bond of union, being at once God and Man. With reference, then, to the unity that is by the Spirit, following in the same track of inquiry, we say once more, that we all, receiving one and the same Spirit, I mean the Holy Spirit, are in some sort blended together with one another and with God. For if, we being many, Christ, Who is the Spirit of the Father and His own Spirit, dwells in each one of us severally, still is the Spirit one and indivisible, binding together the dissevered spirits of the individualities of one and all of us, as we have a separate being, in His own natural singleness into unity, causing us all to be shown forth in Him, through Himself, and as one. For as the power of His holy Flesh maketh those in whom It exists to be of the same Body, so likewise also the indivisible Spirit of God That abideth in all, being one, bindeth all together into spiritual unity. Therefore also the inspired Paul thus addressed us: Forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one Body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is over all, and through all, and in all. For while the Spirit, Which is One, abideth in us, the One God and Father of all will be in us, binding together into unity with each other and with Himself whatsoever partaketh of the Spirit. And that we are made one with the Holy Spirit through partaking of It, will be made manifest hereby. For if, giving up the natural life, we have surrendered ourselves wholly to the laws of the Spirit, is it not henceforth beyond question, that by denying, as it were, our own lives, and taking upon ourselves the transcendent Likeness of the Holy Spirit, Who is joined unto us, we are well-nigh transformed into another nature, so to say, and are become no longer mere men, but also sons of God, and heavenly men, through having been proved partakers of the Divine Nature? We are all, therefore, one in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; one, I mean, both in identity of mental condition (for I think we ought not to forget what we said at first), and also in conformity to the life of righteousness, and in the fellowship of the holy Body of Christ, and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, Which is One, as we just now said.
CHAPTER XII. That the Son is by Nature One with God His Father, though He says that He received, as by way of grace, His being One with the Father.
22, 23 And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as We are One: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and lovedst them, even as Thou lovedst Me.
We say, and therein we are justified, that the Only-begotten hath an essential and natural unity with His Father, insomuch as He was both in the true sense begotten, and from Him proceeds, and is in Him: and though He seem in His own Person to have a separate and distinct Being, yet that He is accounted, by reason of His innate identity of Substance, as One with the Father. But since, in His Incarnation, on our behalf, in order to save our souls, He abdicated, as it were, that place which was His at the beginning, I mean His equality with God the Father, and appears to have been in some sort so far removed therefrom as to have stepped outside His invisible glory, for this is what is meant by the expression, He made Himself of no reputation, He that of old and from the very beginning was enthroned with the Father, receives this as a gift when in the Flesh; His earthy and mortal frame and human form, which was actually part of His Nature, of necessity requiring as a gift that which was His by Nature; for He was and is in the form of the Father, and in equality with Him. Though, therefore, the flesh from a woman’s womb, that temple wherewith the Virgin endowed Him, was not in any wise consubstantial with God the Father, nor of like Nature with Him; yet, when once received into the Body of the Word, henceforth it was accounted as One with Him. For Christ is One, and the Son is One, even when He became Man. In this aspect of His Person He is conceived of as taken into union with the Father, being admitted thereto even in the Flesh, which originally enjoys not union with God. And, to speak more concisely and clearly, the Only-begotten says, that that which was given unto Him was given to His Flesh; given too, of course, wholly by the Father, through Himself, in the Spirit. For in no other way than this can union with God be effected, even in the case of Christ Himself, so far as He manifested Himself as, and indeed became, Man. The flesh, that is, was sanctified by union with the Spirit, the twain coming together in an ineffable way; and so unconfusedly attains to God the Word, and through Him to the Father, in habit of mind, that is, and not in any physical sense. This favour and glory then, He says, given unto Me, O Father, by Thee, that is, the glory of being One with Thee, I have given unto them, that they may be one, even as We are One.
For we are made one with each other after the manner already indicated, and we are also made one with God. And in what sense we are made one with Him, the Lord very clearly explained, and to make the benefit of His teaching plain, added the words: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfected into one. For the Son dwells in us in a corporeal sense as Man, commingled and united with us by the mystery of the Eucharist; and also in a spiritual sense as God, by the effectual working and grace of His own Spirit, building up our spirit into newness of life, and making us partakers of His Divine Nature. Christ, then, is seen to be the bond of union between us and God the Father; as Man making us, as it were, His branches, and as God by Nature inherent in His own Father. For no otherwise could that nature which is subject to corruption be uplifted into incorruption, but by the coming down to it of That Nature Which is high above all corruption and variableness, lightening the burthen of ever sinking humanity, so that it can attain its own good; and by drawing it into fellowship and intercourse with Itself, well-nigh extricating it from the limitations which suit the creature, and fashioning into conformity with Itself that which is of itself contrary to It. We have, therefore, been made perfect in unity with God the Father, through the mediation of Christ. For by receiving in ourselves, both in a corporeal and spiritual sense, as I said just now, Him that is the Son by Nature, and Who has essential union with the Father, we have been glorified and become partakers in the Nature of the Most High.
When Christ desires us to be admitted to union with God the Father, He at the same time calls down upon our nature this blessing from the Father, and also declares that the power which the grace confers will be a convincing refutation of those who think that He is not from God. For what ground will there be any longer for this false accusation, if of Himself He exalts to union with the Father those who have been brought near to Him through faith and sincere love? When, then, O Father, they gain union with Thee, through Me, then the world will know that Thou didst send Me; that is, that I came to succour the earth by Thy lovingkindness, and to work out the salvation of those who err therein. Besides, none the less, He says, will they know, who have partaken of a grace so acceptable, that Thou lovedst them, even as Thou lovedst Me. For surely He that received into union with Himself Him that is Man, even as we are, that is, Christ, and deemed Him worthy of so great love (we are arguing here concerning Christ as Man), and gave to us the chance of gaining this blessing, surely He would speak of His love as dealt out to us in equal measure. And let not any attentive hearer be perplexed hereby. For it is clear beyond dispute, that the servant can never vie with his master, and that the Father will not give as full a measure of His love to His creatures, as to His own Son. But we must consider that we are here looking upon Him That is beloved from everlasting, as commencing to be loved when He became Man. What, therefore, He then, as it were, took and received, we shall find that He took not for Himself, but for us. For just as, when He lived again after subduing the power of death, He accomplished not His Resurrection for Himself, for He is the Word and God, but gave us this blessing through Himself, and in Himself (for man’s nature was in Christ in its entirety, fast bound by the chains of death); in like manner we must suppose that He received the Father’s love, not for Himself, because He was continually beloved of Him from the beginning, but rather He accepts it at His Hands upon His Incarnation, that He may call down upon us the Father’s love. Just as, then, we shall be, nay, we are even now, as in Christ first the Firstfruits of our race, made conformable to His Resurrection and His glory, even so are we, as it were, like Him; beloved, but yielding the supremacy in all things to the Only-begotten, and justly marvelling at the incomparable mercy of God, shown towards us; Who showers, as it were, upon us the things that are His, and shares with His creatures what appertains to Himself alone.
24 Father, those whom Thou hast given Me, I will that where I am, they also may be with Me; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.
After having prayed for His disciples, or rather all those who come to Him through faith, and having required of the Father that they may have union with Him, and love, and sanctification, He proceeds at once to add these words; showing that to live with Him and to be deemed worthy to see His glory, belongeth only to those who have been already united to the Father through Him, and have obtained His love, which He must be conceived to enjoy from the Father. For we are loved as sons, according as we are like Him Who is actually by Nature His Son. For though it be not dealt out to us in equal measure, yet as it is a complete semblance of the love the Father hath for the Son, and is coincident therewith, it images forth the glory of the Son. I will, therefore, He says, O Father, that those who are Mine, through their coming to Me through faith, and the light that proceedeth from Thee, may be with Me and see My glory. And what language can reveal the greatness of the blessing which is implied in being with Christ Himself? For we shall enjoy ineffable fruition of soul, and eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor mind conceived, what God hath prepared for those that love Him. For what thing that maketh for the fulness of joy can be lacking to those who have allotted to them the portion of being with Christ Himself, the Lord of all? Yea, the wise and holy Paul seems to have thought it a thing surpassing conception, for he says, to depart and be with Christ is far better. And surely he that preferred this great and acceptable reward to this world’s life, will bear us true testimony that great is the blessing of converse with Him which He confers on His own; He that giveth all things to all men plenteously. And the word spoken through him to us will also help to support our contention. For having in himself Christ speaking, and revealing the powers of the age to come, he spoke also after this manner: For the dead shall rise, he says, and also we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Further, our Lord Himself plainly promised us this blessing, saying: I go and will prepare a place for you. I will come again, and will receive you with Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also with Me.
For either, without thinking deeply on the subject, we shall readily conclude that our abiding home in heaven is meant, or, following another line of thought, we shall suppose that the same place will be allotted to us as to Christ; that is, similar and analogous honours, according to our likeness to Himself. For we shall be conformed to His glory, and shall reign with Him, according to Holy Writ; and He promises that, like as He is wont, we shall also be enthroned in the kingdom of the heavens.
Leaving, then, for the present, as beyond dispute, any further proof that we shall be with Christ and share His glory, and be partakers in His kingdom, we proceed to the other point, I mean the words, that they may behold My glory. Not, therefore, to the profane and sinners, nor to those who dishonour the law of God, will it be given to gaze on the vision of Christ’s glory; but only to the holy and righteous. This also we may know by the prophet’s words: Let the impious man be taken away, that he see not the glory of the Lord; and in the Gospel message of our Saviour Christ: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. And who can the pure in heart be but they who, by union with God, through the Son, in the Spirit, have rid themselves of fleshly lusts, and put far away from them the pleasure of the world, and have, as it were, denied their own lives, and resigned them wholly to the Will of the Spirit, and who are in all purity and sincerity fellow-citizens with Christ; such as was Paul, who out of his own exceeding purity feared not to say: I have been crucified with Christ, yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me? I hear also the voice of another of the Saints in his song: Make me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Give me again the comfort of Thy salvation, and establish me with Thy free Spirit. He calleth the Spirit the comfort of salvation, as giving men joy unceasing and perpetual, and affording them guidance through all the changes and chances of the world; for the Spirit belongeth to the only true Saviour, that is, Christ. He giveth Him many names, and adds a pure heart to his prayer, and straightway invokes the Spirit; since they who are not yet united unto God, and made partakers of Christ’s blessing through the Spirit, have not a perfect heart, but rather one that is froward and distraught.
To sum it up, therefore, in brief: Christ desired that to His followers might be granted in special the blessing of being with Him, and beholding His glory; for He says that He was loved even before the foundation of the world, hereby clearly showing how ancient was the great mystery of the redemption He wrought for us, and that the way of our salvation, effected through the mediation of Christ, was foreknown by God the Father. This knowledge was not, indeed, vouchsafed to men upon earth at the beginning, but the Law intervened, which was our schoolmaster to teach us the Divine life, creating in us a dim knowledge through types, God the Father keeping for the fitting time the blessing through the Saviour. And this knowledge seems to us of much avail to show how groundless was the scorn and impious murmuring of the children of Israel, who chose continually to advocate the Law, even when at the advent of the truth, they ought henceforth to have made of no account the types; and it seems very useful also to controvert the others who think that the counsel of the Father, Which contrived the great mystery of our redemption, was an afterthought. Therefore also Paul said concerning Christ (destroying the contention of those who hold this view), that He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the last times.
We must observe, also, that He says that the Father had given unto Him the disciples themselves, as well as Divine glory and universal dominion; not in His character as by Nature God, the Lord of all, Who therefore has kingly dignity inherent in Himself, but rather in so far as He manifested Himself as man, who has all things as gifts from God, and not as his birthright. For the created world receives everything from God; and nothing at all that is in it is its own, though it appear to possess things that are good.
25 O righteous Father, the world knew Thee not, but I knew Thee; and these knew that Thou didst send Me.
He here calls the Father righteous, where He might have used another title. For He is holy, pure, undefiled, Maker and Creator of the world, and whatever else befits the Ruler of the Universe. It is very desirable, then, to inquire why Christ entitled Him righteous, when He might have given Him another name. It will, then, be productive to us of much profit, if we do not allow any passages of Holy Writ to escape us. When, then, Christ desired us to be sanctified by the favour of His Father, fulfilling Himself the character of Advocate and Mediator, He made His intercession for us in the words: Holy Father, keep them in Thy Truth; meaning by Truth nothing but His own Spirit, by Whom He secureth our souls, sealing them in His Likeness, and edifying them, as it were, by His ineffable power, so that courage is undaunted; and exhorting us to manifest unrestrained zeal in abundant good works, and to let nothing stand in our way, or avail to call us back, that so we may hasten eagerly on our course to do God’s pleasure, and may set at naught the manifold inventions of the devil and the pleasures of the world. For they who have once been sealed by the Holy Spirit, and who receive into their minds the earnest of His grace, have their hearts fortified, as they are girded with power from on high. Christ, therefore, besought the Father that He would sanctify us, in order that we might enjoy blessings so acceptable. Here, too, I think, He seems to have some such idea in His mind. For besides what He said about our need of sanctification from the Father, He also added these words concerning us: And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them;that they may be one, even as We are One; for Thou lovedst them, even as Thou lovedst Me; and again: Father, those whom Thou hast given Me, I will that where I am, they also may be with Me.
After thus speaking, He straightway calls the Father righteous, and with reason; for by His approval and consent the Son became Man, that He might endow the nature of man, which was created for good works, with sanctification through the Spirit, and union with God, and with an abiding place in the mansions above, there to live and reign with Him. For God did not create man at the beginning to work wickedness; but his nature was perverted into vice by the impious wiles of the devil, and was led astray from its guidance of old by the hand of God, and, as it were, upheaved from its foundation. Truly, it well beseemed the righteous Father to lift up again that human nature which had been cast down through the devil’s malice, and to establish in its former position that which had been unduly debased, and to rid it of the foulness of sin, and, as it were, transform it into its original image as it had been at first created, and also to subject the adversary that assaulted man and impiously dared to compass his ruin, that is, Satan, to the vengeance that was meet; though methinks any kind of chastisement were slight for him who exhibited such madness against God. Therefore He saith: O righteous Father—-for Thou art righteous and good, and true is Thy judgment; for Thou hast sent down Me, Who am Thine own true Son, to the world to succour and renew it. But, alas for the blindness of the world! He says: For though Thou wert such as I have said, the world knew Thee not. For surely they should straightway have seen the loving-kindness of Thy judgment and Thy merciful Will, and should have hastened to welcome their Saviour, and have brought Him willing service.
Christ, then, held this discourse with the Father, offering up, as it were, thanks on our behalf and for our sake, inasmuch as He, in His righteousness, had vouchsafed salvation to those who had suffered through the devil’s malice, and had doomed the devil to perdition. And the world, He says, that is, they who oppose the Divine message of the Gospel through their worldly-mindedness, have not learnt that the Father is righteous, for the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, as Paul says, that the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ should not dawn upon them. But He bore witness to His own disciples that they knew and understood Him, and hereby He endows them once more with a great and enviable dignity. For He shows them to be far above all the humiliation and contumely of the world, through their knowledge of the Father, and clearly also through their confession that Christ was the Son. When, therefore, at the same time as the charge was brought against the world that it knew not the Father, that is, the true and living God, He bore witness to the disciples that they knew Him, is it not henceforth quite beyond dispute, that they were not of the world now that they had become Christ’s, Who is above the world, according to the saying of Paul: Through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world; who saith again concerning us: And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof? When we say that the disciples were out of the world, we do not mean that they were absent so far as their bodies and position in space were concerned, for they appear as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of Life. We rather mean that, while they still walked upon earth, they were citizens of heaven; and that, bidding farewell to the lusts of the flesh, and lifting their minds high above all worldly desire, they had attained to an exceeding height of virtue, according to the saying in the Psalms: The mighty men of God have been exalted high above the earth. For they who have reached true manliness through God have put aside the grovelling thoughts of earth, and turned their minds heavenward; for this, I think, is the meaning of the word exalted. The world then, He says, O Father, knew not Thee in Thy righteousness. But I know Thee, for I am Thy Counsel and Wisdom. I regarded not the glory and Divine dignity that is Mine by Nature, but humbled Myself, and descended to human poverty, that I might save with Thine approval the race that had fallen away from kinship with Us. Though the world knew not this, yet were the disciples enriched with this knowledge, and verily comprehended that Thou hast sent Me; that is, that I have come to bring Thy purpose to a glorious issue, by rescuing the world which was in peril.
26 And I made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known; that the love wherewith Thou lovedst Me may be in them, and I in them.
He says that knowledge of God the Father was at once in Him and in the disciples who attended Him. And, lest any man should be beguiled into gross extravagances of opinion, and think that His disciples had this knowledge in an equal degree with Himself, Christ at once distinguishes between them and Himself, and makes the difference very clear, showing that He revealed God unto them, while they, through Him, received knowledge. For our Lord Jesus Christ, as He is the Word, and Counsel, and Wisdom of the Father, intuitively knows what is in Him, and concerns Himself about His Father’s most secret thoughts; just as, indeed, the mind of a man knows what is in him, and as nothing that is in our hearts is hidden from our human understanding. The inspired disciples, on the other hand, do not enjoy, as the fruit of their own understanding, the ability to form any conception about God; but, through the light of the Spirit, lay hold of the true meaning of the mysteries of the Son, and so are enabled to know the Father. Very appropriately, then, and to our profit, Christ added the words: And I made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known.
Observe, too, how Both Persons, I mean the Father and the Son, effectually work together to make the Godhead comprehensible to men. For the Father makes us wise by revealing to us His own Son, and none the less also the Son makes us wise by revealing to us the Father. To the blessed Peter, moreover, He spake these words, about the parts of Caesarea called Philippi: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father Which is in heaven. For the disciple confessed and maintained his belief that He was Christ, the Son of the living God. And now He says, concerning Himself: I made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known. For the Only-begotten ceaseth not to reveal unto us the meaning of the mystery concerning Himself, as He revealed it to His first followers at the beginning; and this He doeth continually, implanting in each of us the light of the Spirit, and guiding those that love Him to knowledge of those things which pass their understanding and conception. What His purpose is, and what kind of benefit He will confer on us by His declaration that He had already revealed the Father unto the disciples, and would also make Him known to their successors, He pointed out to us, when He said, that the love wherewith Thou lovedst Me may be in them, and I in them. For they who have been able, by purity of thought, to know God the Father, and have been throughly instructed in the knowledge of the mystery that is in Christ, will wholly gain and indisputably enjoy the perfect love of the Father, like unto the Son. For the Father loves His Son with a perfect love; and Christ also Himself abideth in Him, through the Holy Spirit, uniting, through Himself, into spiritual fellowship with God the Father him that knows Him, and is in travail, as it were, with the unperverted word of Divine Truth. He makes known to us the Name of the Father by declaring to us Himself, Who is His Son. For hand in hand with the knowledge of Him That was begotten will be closely linked the knowledge of Him That begat Him, just as the converse is also true. And if the saying is true, and to be accepted without question, that the conception of the Son is necessarily implied in that of the Father, and so also the conception of the Father in that of the Son, and the knowledge of One is contained in the knowledge of the Other; how can the Son any more be a creature, as some impious men say? For if a man speak of the Son, he thereby instils the idea of a Father in his hearers; while if he were to call Him a creature, he leads them on to the conception of a maker. But as the Son calls God Father, not Maker or Creator, He is clearly conscious that He is Himself in fact a Son. Therefore the Son is deemed, and is, a Son, and not a creature, as they say, which would imply that He That made Him was His Creator, and not His Father. And the force of the argument will be no whit damaged by the fact, that the title of child or son is accounted human. For the attributes which peculiarly and especially belong to Him, as being by Nature the Son of God His Father, these were brought down even to us; Holy Writ often so applying them on occasion, and at times investing those who are sons by adoption with the attributes of a son by nature. And it is no marvel, if we also have obtained the title of son, and that God has thus chosen to honour us in His loving-kindness, as He has even called those gods who are avowedly sprung from the earth.
xviii. 1, 2 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, Himself and His disciples. Now Judas also, which betrayed Him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with His disciples.
After having enlightened His disciples, and turned them by suitable instruction to all those things that make for righteousness, and after having bidden them choose the life which is most spiritual and pleasing to God, and besides also promising Himself to fulfil them with spiritual graces, and saying that blessings from the Father above would be showered down upon them, Jesus goes forth readily, not shrinking from the time of His suffering, nor yet fearing to die for all men. For what likelihood could there be that He should do this, Who was brought face to face with suffering, that, by His own agony, He might purchase exemption for all; when, too, for this purpose only He had come, that He might by His own Blood reconcile the whole earth to God the Father? It is true, that often when the Jews chose to rage against Him, and attempted in their fury to stone Him, He escaped by His Divine power, rendering Himself invisible, and withdrawing Himself with the greatest ease from the reach of those who sought Him; for He was not willing yet to suffer, the fitting time not yet calling Him thereto. But, as the time had now come, Christ left the house where He had instructed His disciples in the mystery, and came to the place whither He Himself, the Saviour of all mankind, was wont often to resort, together with His holy disciples. He did this, too, from a wish to make it easy for the traitor to find Him. The place was a garden, typifying the Paradise of old. For in it, as it were, all places were summed up; and in it was consummated our return to man’s ancient condition. For in Paradise the troubles of mankind had their origin; while in the garden began Christ’s suffering, which brought us deliverance from all evil that had befallen us in time past.
3 Judas then, having received the band of soldiers and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither, with lanterns, and torches, and weapons.
Very appropriately, then, the inspired Evangelist says that Jesus was in the garden, when no number of men, nor any crowd, were congregating together, or contemplated coming to His succour; and that He was alone with His disciples, that He might display, in all its nakedness, the great folly of the thoughts the traitor harboured in his heart. For our conscience is very apt to create alarms in us, and torment us with the pangs of cowardice, whenever we are bent on any unholy deed. Such, I think, was the state of the traitor’s mind, when he brought in his train the cohort, armed with weapons of war, together with the officers of the Jews, as though to capture a notorious malefactor. For in all likelihood he knew that he could never take Him, unless He chose to suffer, and encountered death by His own Will. But he had his understanding perverted by his unholy enterprise, and was, as it were, intoxicated by his own excessive audacity; and so he did not see whither he was tending, nor perceive that he was attempting what it was beyond his power to perform. For he thought, that by the multitude of his followers, and by the hand of man, he could prevail over the Divine power of Christ. And be not amazed that the miserable man should be afflicted with such madness, and be convicted of conceiving so ridiculous an idea. For when he gave up the rudder of his mind into another’s hand, and sold to the devil the power over his desires, he was wholly possessed by his madness; for the devil leapt upon him once for all, and nestled in his bosom like a poisonous snake. Surely, one may well wonder at the traitor’s fall, and find in it cause for ceaseless weeping. He that had just been supping with Christ, and shared His food, and partaken at the Holy Table, and, equally with the rest, had had the benefit of His words exhorting unto righteousness, and had heard Him declare plainly that one of you shall betray Me, so to say, leapt up from his seat at that very Table, and straightway, after reclining with Him at the Board, hurried off to the Jews to earn the reward of his treachery. He gave no thought to Christ’s inspiring words, entertained not the desire of future glory, and paid no heed to the honour given unto him; in short, preferred before the perfect blessedness, which has no end, a mean and paltry sum of money, and proved himself the net and snare wherewith the devil entrapped Christ, the prime mover and fellow-worker with the Jews in their iniquity against God.
The following thought, too, moves my scorn in no small degree. The crowd that attended the traitor, when they made their attack upon Christ, carried lanterns and torches. They would seem to have guarded against stumbling in the dark, and falling into pitfalls unawares, for such accidents often happen in darkness. But, alas for their blindness! The miserable men, in their gross ignorance, did not perceive that they were stumbling on the stone concerning which God the Father says: Behold, I lay in Sion a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offence. They who were on occasion seized with fear of a small pitfall, saw not that they were rushing into the depths of the abyss, and the very bowels of the earth; and they, who were suspicious of the twilight of evening, took no account of perpetual and endless night. For they who impiously plotted against the Light of God, that is, Christ, were doomed to walk in darkness and the dead of night, as the prophet says; and not only so, but also to vanish away into outer darkness, there to give an account of their impiety against Christ, and to be consigned to bitter and endless punishment.
4, 5, 6 Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth, and saith unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am He. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, was standing with them. When therefore He said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
During the night the traitor appeared, bringing with him the servants of the Jews together with the band of soldiers. For, as we said just now, he thought that he would take Him even against His will, trusting in the number of his followers, and believing that he would find Him lingering in the spot whither He was wont to resort, and that day had not yet dawned to allow of His going forth elsewhere, but that night would be still detaining the Lord in the place of His lying down. Christ, then, in order to show that Judas, in holding either view, had been regarding Him as a mere Man, and that his plans were vain, anticipates their attack and goes out readily to meet them; showing thereby that He well knew what Judas presumed to attempt, and that, though it were easy for Him, through His foreknowledge, to escape unawares, He went of His own Will to meet His sufferings, and was not, by the malice of any man, involved in peril; to the intent that the scorn of philosophers among the Greeks might not be moved thereby, who, in their levity, make the Cross a stumblingblock and a charge against Him, and that Judas, the murderer of his Lord, might not be highly exalted against Christ, thinking that he had prevailed over Him against His Will. He inquires of those who come to capture Him, Whom they have come in search of, not because He did not know (for how could that be?), but that He might thereby prove, that those who were for that very reason come, and were gazing upon Him, were not able so much as to recognise Him of Whom they were in search, and so confirm us in the true conviction that He would never have been taken, if He had not of His own Will gone to those who sought Him. For observe, that when He openly asks, Whom seek ye? they did not at once rejoin, We are here to take Thee Who thus speakest; but they reply, as though He were not yet present or before their eyes, and say, Jesus of Nazareth.
But perhaps some may reply: The Roman soldier perhaps knew not Jesus, and the servants of the Jews shared their ignorance. We answer that any such suggestion is groundless. For how could they who were selected to the priesthood fail to know Him, Who was in their power continually when He was teaching daily in the temple, as our Saviour Himself says? But that no one should trust in arguments of this sort, and miss apprehending the truth, the inspired Evangelist, foreseeing this, is impelled to add, that with the soldiers and the servants was standing Judas also, which betrayed Him. Then how could the traitor fail to recognise the Lord? You may answer that it was night, and dark, and therefore not easy to see Him of Whom they were in search. How worthy our admiration is the writer of the book, in that not even so small a point as this has escaped his notice! For he has said that, when they came into the garden, they had lanterns and torches in their hands. A solution, therefore, is found to this curious inquiry, and the Divine dignity of Christ is seen, Who brought Himself to those who were seeking Him, though they could no longer of themselves recognise Him. In order to prove that they were so blinded as not to be able to recognise Him, He says plainly, I am He. And that He might show the fruitlessness of numbers, and the utter incapacity of all human power to affect anything against the ineffable power of God, by merely addressing them in mild and courteous language He bows down to the earth the multitude of those who sought Him, that they might be taught how powerless to endure His threatenings is the nature of created beings, unable as it is to bear one word of God, and that spoken in kindness; according to the word of the Psalmist: Terrible art Thou, and who shall withstand Thy wrath? That which happened to a portion, and befell those who came to take Him, is, as it were, symbolical of the humbling of the entire race; yea, the prophet Jeremiah laments for the Jews, saying: The house of Israel is fallen: there is none to raise it up. That which here happened is a type of what inevitably comes to pass in a similar case; for it teaches us, that he is altogether doomed to fall who practises iniquity against Christ.
7, 8, 9 Again, therefore, He asked them, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I told you that I am He: if therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way: that the word might be fulfilled which He spake, Of those whom Thou hast given Me I lost not one.
He asks them again a second time, of set purpose, that He might show the extent of the blindness He had put in their minds. For they were robbed of their right judgment, and had their minds, as it were, deranged by their impiety, and knew not that they were speaking to Him Whom they sought. Christ, indeed, proved by His actions the truth of what He professed: I am, He says, the Good Shepherd: the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep. Christ, then, saves the Apostles as with a shield; and, bearing the brunt of the danger Himself, advances to those who were come to lead Him to death, sent thereunto, that is, by the high priests and Pharisees. When they answered, Jesus of Nazareth, to His question, Whom have ye come to take and bind in the bonds of death? He pointed to Himself, and, well-nigh accusing them of delay, bade them take Him away and let the rest go free; for it was necessary that One should die for all, Whose life was an equivalent for the lives of all men, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
For other reasons, too, it were wholly impossible to accept the opinion of some that the deaths of the holy Apostles themselves also resulted in the overthrow of death and corruption, when they must themselves be reckoned among those who have been delivered from death and corruption; and with great reason, for their nature is one with ours, and over us death had dominion. It was necessary, then, that alone, and first of all, the Son of the living Father should give over His own Body to death as a ransom for the lives of all men, that by connexion with the Life of the Word, Which was united with Itself, It might so prepare the way, that our mortal bodies might be enabled henceforth also to triumph over. the bondage of death. For the Lord is the Firstfruits of them that are asleep, and the Firstborn from the dead; and so, by His own Resurrection, makes smooth for those who come after Him the way to incorruption. He therefore withdraws the disciples from the peril of the moment, as well knowing that the conflict was in special meet for Himself; and showing thereby that our redemption was the work of none other, save only that Nature Which is supreme over the universe.
The wise Evangelist turns to a clear proof of the general and universal mercy, which will be shown to all who come to Him through faith, this partial and special care here manifested to those who were with Him. For, he says, He procured that His disciples should be suffered to go their way, that the word might be fulfilled which He spake, Of those whom Thou gavest Me I lost not one. For how can there be any question that He will show mercy on them that come after the disciples? For where care is shown in small things, how can there be neglect in greater? And is it likely that He, Who showed mercy to a mere handful, will pay no heed to a multitude whom no man can number? For the multitude of believers is exceeding great. You must receive, then, the partial as a type of the universal; and you can easily perceive, by His refusal to put His disciples in any danger at all, what and how great will be His wrath against His murderers. For does He not altogether hate whatever opposes His Will? Can there be any further doubt that severe and endless punishment awaits those who do the things which are hateful to Him?
10 Simon Peter therefore, having a sword, drew it, and struck the high-priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. Now the servant’s name was Malchus.
What was it, someone may say, that induced the inspired Evangelist to make mention of this, and point out to us the disciple using a sword, contrary to his wont, against those who came to take Christ, and stirred to a hotter and more precipitate fit of wrath than was meet, and Christ thereupon rebuking him? This narrative may, perhaps, seem superfluous; but it is not so. For he has here given us a pattern expressly for our learning; for we shall know, from what took place here, to what lengths our zeal in piety towards Christ may proceed without reproach, and what we may choose to do in conflicts such as this, without stumbling on something displeasing to God. For this typical instance forbids us to draw a sword, or lift up stones, against any man, or to strike our adversaries with a stick, when, through our piety towards Christ, we are in conflict with them: for our weapons are not of the flesh, as Paul saith; but we ought rather to treat even our murderers with kindness when occasion precludes our escape. For it is far better for other men to be corrected for their sins against us by Him That judgeth righteously, than that we ourselves should make excuses for our blood-guiltiness, making piety our plea. Besides, we may call it most irrational to honour by the death of our persecutors Him Who, to set men free from death, Himself cheerfully suffered death. And herein we must surely follow Christ Himself; for if He had been called to die perforce and of necessity, as unable by His own power to repel the assault of His foes, who were invincible through the number of the servants of the Jews, there might perhaps have been nothing unreasonable in those who chose to love Him succouring Him with all their might, and showing the utmost courage in order to rescue Him from the peril, into which He had been brought by the impiety of His foes, against His Will. But since, being truly God, He was able to destroy His adversaries, root and branch, and at the very outset of the conflict, so to say, had given them such a token of His might, as by a single word, and that spoken in courtesy, to lay them low on the earth, for they all fell backward; how could it be right for us, in unbridled and inordinate wrath, to wilfully and recklessly proceed to lengths that He did not, though He might have done so with the utmost ease? We find also traces of the same spirit elsewhere recorded by the holy Evangelists. For our Saviour once came to a village bordering on Judaea, to lodge there. It belonged to the Samaritans; and when He was drawing nigh unto it they roughly drove Him away. The disciples were enraged thereat, and came to Him, and said: Lord, wilt Thou that we bid fire to come down from heaven, and consume them? And the Saviour answered them: Let them alone; know ye not that I can beseech My Father, and He shall even now send Me twelve legions of angels? For He came not as God to use His own innate power against those who vented their fury upon Him; but rather to school us to patient forbearance under every affliction, and to be Himself a type of the most perfect and passionless tranquillity. Therefore also He said: Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.
The purpose of Peter in drawing his sword against the adversaries does not trespass outside the commandment of the Law; for the Law bade us requite unreproved evildoers—-foot for foot, hand for hand, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. For with what other object did they come armed with swords and staves, equipped with armour, and banded together in numbers, than to wage such a conflict as they thought the disciples would wage in their extremity? For that they brought swords and staves, the Saviour tells us plainly, when He says elsewhere to them: Are ye come out as against a robber with swords and staves to seize Me? I sat daily in the temple teaching, and ye took Me not. The passion of Peter, therefore, was lawful, and accorded with the old enactments; but our Lord Jesus Christ, when He came to give us teaching superior to the Law, and to reform us to His meekness of heart, rebukes those passions which are in accordance with the Law, as incompatible with the perfect accomplishment of true virtue. For perfect virtue consists not in requital of like for like, but is rather seen in perfect forbearance.
Someone may now, perhaps, raise the question, and ask himself. Why did Peter carry a sword? We reply, that the duty of repelling the assaults of evil-doers, according to the Law, brought the need of a sword. For if one of the disciples had chosen to strike the innocent with a sword, how could the same issue have been tried? It is likely, too, that the holy disciples, as they were hurrying at midnight from their place of rest, and expected to find woods and gardens in their way, were suspicious of the attacks of wild beasts; for of these Judaea was very fertile. Perhaps you may rejoin: “But what need had the disciples of a sword? Was not Christ sufficient for them in time of peril; and could not He scare away wild beasts, and release them from all fear on that account?” If you say this, you say well; for Christ can do all things. But we shall find that, though Christ might have effected it otherwise, the disciples continued to live after the manner usual to men. For must we not suppose that Christ was able to turn stones into bread, and out of nothing to create money sufficient to defray their expenses? Still they fetched loaves and carried a purse, taking alms of those who brought them. And when Christ wished to cross the sea in their company, they entered into a ship, though He might have walked over the billows, if He had been so minded. It is fruitless, then, to cavil at the disciples, for following the ordinary usages of mankind.
Peter strikes off the right ear of the servant, and his action points, as in a figure, to the inability of the Jews to hear aright. For they would not hearken to Christ’s words. They rather, so to say, honoured the left ear, obeying simply the dictates of their own misguided prejudice, deceiving and being deceived, according to the Scripture; for even when walking in the Law ordained them of old, they turned to doctrines the precepts of men.
11 Jesus therefore said unto Peter, Put up thy sword into its sheath: the cup which the Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?
Christ’s bidding is fraught with the enactment of life according to the Gospel, and the spirit, not of the Mosaic Law revealed to the men of old time, but of the dispensation of Christ; which so dissuades us from using the sword, or offering resistance, that if a man choose to smite us on one cheek, and then to demand the other to be smitten, we ought to turn to him the other also; cutting out, as it were, by the roots the human weakness of our hearts. But, He says, in effect, even if no law had been laid down by Me concerning forbearance under evil, thy mind, Peter, has failed to reason aright, and thou hast made an attempt altogether un-suited to the occasion. For when it was the decree and pleasure of God the Father, that I should drink this cup, that is, willingly undergo, as it were, the deep sleep of death, in order to overthrow death and corruption, how then can I shrink from it, when so great blessings are certain to result to the race of man through My drinking it? The foregoing words well explain the drift of the passage before us. There is another passage also of a similar purport. Our Lord Jesus Christ, wishing to confirm the disciples in the faith, and to remove, in anticipation, the stumblingblock of His precious Cross, said once to them in His discourse, as they were halting on the way: Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man is betrayed unto the hands of sinners: and they shall crucify Him, and shall hill Him, and the third day He shall be raised up. And the inspired Peter, not considering the benefits of His death, but only regarding the ignominy of the Cross, said: Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall never be unto Thee. What answered Christ? Get thee behind Me, Satan; thou art a stumblingblock unto Me: for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men. For he that savourest the things that be of God, makes it his end and object to set at naught worldly honours, and to account as nothing the loss of reputation among men, so long as the good of his fellow-men is achieved thereby; for love, the Apostle says, seeketh not its own. But he who is absorbed in the contemplation of the things of men, deems the loss of the paltry honours of earth intolerable, and looks only to his own advantage, and feels no sympathy with the losses of others. Just as, in that passage, Christ called Peter an offence unto Him, though he was not wont so to be, and though he spoke out of love, which yet could not escape blame, because he looked only at the death on the Cross, and not at the benefits to result therefrom; Peter tried, so far as in him lay, to prevent that which had been resolved and determined for the salvation of all men. So also here we see him doing the same, by his passion and impetuous act with his sword. He is once more rebuked, not merely by the words: Put up thy sword into its sheath; but, according to another Evangelist, Christ added: For all they that take the sword, shall perish with the sword. And, to repeat once more what we said before, seeing that His capture was effected by His own Will, and did not merely result from the malice of the Jews, how could it be right to repel or thwart, in any way, and with a sword, too, the bold attack of His combined foes and the impious conspiracy of the Jews? He says, that God the Father gave unto Him the cup, that is, death, though it was prepared for Him by the obstinate hatred of the Jews; because it would never have come to pass if He had not suffered it for our sakes. Therefore also Christ said to boasting Pilate: Thou wouldest have no power against Me, except it were given thee from above. When Christ says that power was given Pilate from above, He refers to His own willingness to suffer death, and the consent of His Father in heaven
12, 13, 14 So the band, and the chief captain, and the officers of the Jews, seized Jesus and bound Him, and led Him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was high priest that year. Now Caiaphas was he which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
Now that all obstacles had been overcome, and Peter had put away his sword, and Christ had, as it were, surrendered Himself to the hand of the Jews, though He need not have died, and it was easier for Him to escape, the soldiers and servants, together with their guide, give way to cruel rage, and are transported with the ardour of victory. They took the Lord, Who gave Himself up wholly to their will, and put fetters upon Him, though He came to us to release us from the bondage of the devil, and to loose us from the chains of sin. And they bring Him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, whence we may conclude that he was the prime mover and contriver of the iniquity against Christ, and that the traitor, when he received his hire, obtained from him the band to take Christ. He is, therefore, taken away to him first of all. For the Jews were bent on showing to us, that that was indeed truly spoken of them which the prophet put into their mouths: Let us bind the righteous Man, for He is useless unto us. Christ was, indeed, to the Jews useless, not because of His own Nature, but because, as they were prone to love sin and pleasure, He seemed to bring them no good thing, when He expounded to them a righteousness exceeding the Law, and set before them, without concealment, the knowledge of the pleasure of the God that loves virtue, when the Law pointed out no such way, but rather, in the darkness of allegory, feebly and indirectly indicated what might be of profit to its hearers. Just as, then, the sunlight is useless to those whose sight is injured, and brings them no profit, because the disease prevents it; and just as, to people in bad health, healthy food sometimes seems the most useless, though it used to bring the health so much desired; so likewise to the Jews the Lord seemed useless, though He was the Prince of Salvation. For they refused to be saved.
They sent Him bound to Caiaphas, the high priest. Now Caiaphas was he which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. The sacred and holy Victim, then, that is, Christ, was captured by the malice of Annas and the services of his hirelings; and, ensnared within the net, was led to him that compassed and instigated the slaughter of the innocent. This was Caiaphas, and he was adorned with the office of the priesthood. And by his questions he seems to have begun the shedding of blood, as he also is convicted of having originated the impious enterprise. He receives Jesus bound, and, as the fruit of his counsel and impious designs, the miserable man committed the most impious act that has ever been committed. For what can be more grievous than impiety against Christ?
15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did the other disciple.
While the other disciples, it seems, were panic-stricken, and fled from the present wrath of the murderers, Peter, who was always moved thereto by more fervent passion, clings to his love for Christ, and follows Him at the peril of his life, and watches the issue of events; the other disciple accompanying him, and, with like courage, sustaining a similar resolution. This was John, the truly pious writer of this Divine work. For he calls himself that other disciple, without giving himself a definite name, fearing to seem boastful, and abhorring the appearance of being better than the rest. For the crowning achievements of virtue, if manifested by any of the righteous, yet are never blazoned forth to the world by their own mouth. For it very ill beseems a man to win praise rather out of his own mouth than the conversation of other men. In the Book of Proverbs it is written: Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
15 Now that disciple was known unto the high priest, and entered in with Jesus into the court of the high priest.
The Apostle shows great forethought in condescending to mention this fact, and does not scruple to enter into detail where it is profitable for us. For, as he was about to set down in order in his book what was done and said in the palace of the high priest, he was, as it were, compelled to show us how he was able to enter there with Christ; for, he says, he was known unto the high priest. He enters, therefore, without hindrance, his knowledge of the leader of the people—-for he has not thought proper to say friendship—-allowing him free entrance within the doors. In order, then, that he might convince us that he did not compile his account of what took place in the palace from information drawn from others, but that he himself saw and heard what passed, he has given us this most useful explanation of his knowledge of the high priest.
16 But Peter was standing at the door without. So the other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, went out, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
Peter did not lag behind from any lack of fervour of heart, but only because the vigilance of the damsel at the gate made entrance perilous for those with whom she had no previous acquaintance. And though it might not have been difficult for a man to push a woman aside, yet it might have involved a charge of unruly behaviour. The disciple, therefore, though in great distress of mind, was compelled to stay without, till the other, seeing that he was much grieved thereat, brought him in with himself by speaking to the maiden presiding at the door, and asking as a favour that his companion in jealous fervour might accompany him.
17 The maid, therefore, that kept the door, saith unto Peter, Art thou also one of this Man s disciples? He saith, I am not.
As Christ had already foretold to Peter that he would thrice deny our Saviour Christ, and that before the cock crew his faith would fail, the inspired Evangelist relates in detail where, and how, the prophecy was fulfilled. The maid, seated at the door, then, inquires of him whether he was not one of the number of the disciples of Him Who was undergoing the unjust trial. Peter denies it, and parries the question as though it were a charge, saying, “I am not;” not fearing at all to be taken, or shrinking from proclaiming the truth, but disregarding and making light of enduring any kind of evil against his will in comparison with being with Christ. His transgression, then, proceeds from love, and his denial has its root in the love of God; not indeed proceeding from any just reasoning, but, at any rate, testifying to the fervour of his desire to be with Christ.
18 Now the servants and the officers were standing there, having made a fire of coals; for it was cold, and they were warming themselves: and Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
Peter, having passed inside the door, and finding himself encircled by the servants, affects to do what they do (though bowed down with grief and with an intolerable burden of agony at heart), that he might not be convicted by his despondent and sorrowful countenance of feeling sympathy with the Man Who was on trial, and be cast out from the doors which contained all he loved. For it is quite incredible that the disciple should have been so carnally minded as to seek out a means of appeasing the chill of winter, when he was thus heavy with grief. For if he might have enjoyed greater luxuries than this, he could not have borne to do so while Christ was thus afflicted. He intentionally models his behaviour on the apathy of the attendants, and, as though he had no inducement to despondency, shakes off the chill of winter, in order that he might create the belief that he was one of the inmates of the house, and might thus for the future escape answering any further questions with a denial. But the word of the Saviour could not be falsified; for He foretold to the disciple what He, as God, knew would certainly happen.
19 The high priest therefore asked Jesus of His disciples, and of His teaching.
A teacher of the people, learned in the Law, one of those on whom the Divine bidding lays the duty, “Judge ye righteous judgment,” after having taken the Lord, as though He had been a notorious robber, by a band of armed soldiers and a number of impious officers, asks Him of His disciples and of His doctrine, showing thereby that he was in want of charges to bring against Him. For the Man Who was now on trial knew no sin. He asks Him about His doctrine, to elicit from Him whether it accorded with the Mosaic Law, or coincided and concurred with the old dispensation; and what purpose His disciples had implanted in their hearts, whether to submit to be guided by ancient customs, or to practise any strange and novel kind of worship. He did this in malice, for he supposed that Christ would make an outspoken attack on the Law, and that, by pleading for the rejection of the Mosaic dispensation, He would excite the Jews to embittered and furious revilings against Himself, so that He might in the future appear to be paying a just penalty for deliberately fighting against God. For to enter the lists against the Divine commandments, if any mere human being were convicted of any word or deed with that intent, were to declare oneself an open enemy of God. And they were treating Christ as a mere man, and thought that they were doing well to chastise the Lord of the Law for the transgression of the Law, not remembering him that said: Impious is he that saith unto a king, Thou art a law-breaker.
20 Jesus answered him, I have spoken openly to the world; I ever taught in synagogues, and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and in secret spake I nothing.
It were fruitless labour, Christ says, to search out as obscure what is universally known; and how can it be seemly, where full knowledge is present, to set up a pretence of ignorance? This is what Christ seems to us to say, with the object of releasing Himself from the charges that had been fabricated and maliciously devised against Him by the malice of the leaders of the people. But I think, also, that there is a suggestion of another meaning. For He says: I have spoken openly to the world; that is to say, the utterances given to you by the mediation of Moses come in types and shadows, and do not teach expressly the Will of God, but rather create a vision of the actual truth beyond themselves, and, wrapped up in the obscurity of the letter, do not completely reveal the knowledge of those things which are needful for us. I have spoken openly to the world; and, apart from riddles, and the shadow, as it were, of the form of that which is good, I set before you the right, and pointed out the straight path of piety towards God without any tortuous turnings. I spake to the world—-not, He says, to the one nation of the Israelites; for if the things that are of Me are not yet known throughout the whole world, they will be so in due season. I ever taught in synagogues. We can scarcely fail to see what He means here. He reminds those of the Jews who were in His Presence, methinks, however reluctant, of prophecy which thus spoke concerning Him. For what said the Divine Isaiah, putting the words in Christ’s mouth? I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; and again: I have spread out My hands all the day unto a disobedient and rebellious people. For what else can “not speaking in secret, in a dark place” mean, but giving discourses openly, and speaking in places where there is no small concourse of hearers? Very well and appropriately He brings to their recollection the saying of the prophet, that they might learn that they are judging impiously that Messiah, Who was the due fulfilment of their hopes. For to the Jews belonged the promise, as Paul says.
21 Why askest thou Me? Ask them that have heard Me, what I spake unto them: behold, these know the things which I said.
He rebukes those learned in the Law, for that they themselves sinned against the Law in which they took pride. For before He had been condemned, they passed premature sentence upon Him, and yet busied themselves in seeking for errors on His part. Why, then, He says, dost thou question Me, and call on Me to answer, Who have already endured your attack, and had punishment allotted Me before conviction? Or you may put another construction on what He said: Those who already hate Me, and receive with such extreme dishonour whatever I tell them of the things that are Mine, would not, perhaps, shrink from proclaiming what is false. Learn, then, from the lips of others. The search for witnesses would not be at all difficult, for these heard My words. Someone may, perhaps, imagine that He That knoweth the hearts and reins indicated some of the bystanders as having chanced to hear His words. But it is not so. For He referred to certain of the officers who once marvelled at His doctrine; and perhaps, to make our meaning clear, we ought to explain the time and occasion when this occurred. This same inspired Evangelist has told us, that once, when our Saviour Christ was preaching, and unfolding the doctrine concerning the Kingdom of Heaven to the assembled Jews, the teachers of the Jewish ordinances were sore enraged, and full of bitter envy of Him. and strove to remove Him from their midst. In the words of the Evangelist: And the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to take Him. But as our Saviour was continuing His long and full discourse, those which were sent by the Jews were convinced along with all the rest, and were more amazed than any one else among the multitude of His hearers. Thus speaks the Evangelist: The officers, therefore, came to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why did ye not bring Him? The officers answered, Never man so spake. The Pharisees, therefore, answered them, Are ye also led astray? Observe how distressed at heart the Pharisees were, when they found that the officers had been at length convinced and sore amazed. The Saviour, then, knowing this, says: Ash them that have heard Me: behold, these know the things which I said. Either, then, He says, these know, looking at those who were then standing by, or else referring to the fact, that even they who ministered to the impiety of the chief priests themselves marvelled at the beauty of His teaching.
22 And when He had said this, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying unto Him, Answerest Thou the high priest so?
It had been foretold, by the mouth of the prophet, that with Christ this would come to pass: I gave My back to the scourge, and My cheeks to them that smite. He was being led on in truth to the end long ago foretold, to the verdict of Jewish presumption, which was also the abolition and determination of our deserved dishonour, for that we sinned in Adam first, and trampled under foot the Divine commandment. For He was dishonoured for our sake, in that He took our sins upon Him, as the prophet says, and was afflicted on our account. For as He wrought out our deliverance from death, giving up His own Body to death, so likewise, I think, the blow with which Christ was smitten, in fulfilling the dishonour that He bore, carried with it our deliverance from the dishonour by which we were burthened through the transgression and original sin of our forefather. For He, being One, was yet a perfect Ransom for all men, and bore our dishonour. But I think the whole creation would have shuddered, had it been suffered to be conscious of such presumption. For the Lord of glory was insulted by the impious hand of the smiter.
And I think that it would display a spirit of pious research to desire to learn why this insolent and presumptuous officer smites Jesus, Who had made no stubborn or angry reply at all, but had returned a very gentle answer to all the charges brought against Him. And it may be observed, that the leader of the Jewish nation had not bidden him smite Jesus, and assail Him with such extravagant impiety. Some may, perhaps, allege as a reason the ordinary and received custom among the officers, when they brought to the rulers men accused of some transgression to compel them to reply courteously, even against their will, and treat them at times with contumely when they returned a rude answer. But I do not think this ever occurred to excite his passion against Christ; and, if we fix our attention on what has already been said, we shall find another reason for his insolence. For we said just now, that certain of the officers, who were bidden to take Jesus, came into collision with the rulers, and returned so far initiated into the mysteries of Christ, and amazed at Him, that they openly declared: Never man so spake. Whereat the Pharisees were greatly enraged, and said: Are ye also led astray? Hath any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him? But this multitude, who know not the Law, are accursed. As, then, the Saviour’s words reminded the rulers of the indignation then stirred up in them against the officers (for He referred to them as witnesses of His teaching, saying: Behold, these know the things which I said), the officer was charged before them with having been struck with admiration of Christ; and, wishing to repel the suspicion of being well-disposed towards Him, and to divert their thoughts elsewhere, smote Him on the mouth, not suffering Him to say anything that could injure the reckless band of officers.
23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou Me?
He proves the officer guilty of a gross wrong, even if He That was on His trial had been a man of obscure position. For he smote Him causelessly, contrary to his express duty; not urged thereto by legal commands, but rather incited to brutal ferocity of behaviour by his own inbred madness. Call in question, if it please thee, and refute My words, as not spoken aright; but if thou canst not do this, why smitest thou Me, with Whose speech thou canst find no fault?
This is, indeed, the ordinary and most usual interpretation of the passage; but I think the meaning of the passage is different from this. For it may be, that He convicts the officer as guilty of the greater sin; not because he smote Him merely, but because, after having been previously amazed at His teaching, and not having now found Him in any wise guilty, he yet endured to treat Him with contumely. For if, He says, thou hadst not once been struck by My words; if I had not then seemed to you to teach most noble doctrines, and thou hadst not been convinced that I expounded Holy Writ in a marvellous way; if thou hadst not thyself exclaimed: Never man so spake, perhaps some plea might have been found for giving mercy to thy inexperience, and acquitting thee of this charge; but since thou hast known and hast marvelled at My teaching, and wouldst not, perhaps, Christ says, have borne witness against My words, if thou didst now think it right to bear in mind thine own words, how canst thou have any cloak for thy sin? You may understand the passage in this way; but also remark how the Saviour herein sketches for us the pattern of His great long-suffering towards us, in all its incomparable excellence, and, as in a well-defined portrait, by the actions of His life, gives us a type of the nature of His exceeding great mercy. For He That, by one single word, might have brought utter ruin on the Jews, endures to be smitten as a slave. He offers no resistance, and does not requite His persecutors with instant chastisement; for He is not subject to our infirmities, nor under the dominion of passion, or resentment, or discomposed by their malicious insults; but He gently puts His adversary to shame, and tells him, that he did not right to strike One Who answered courteously, and in the hour of His imminent peril forgets not the virtues He continually practised. For, by proper argument, He strives to induce the servant that ministered to the malice of the Jews to abandon his fit of passion, Himself receiving evil for good, according to the Scripture, but requiting those who were dishonouring Him with good instead of evil.
But our Lord Jesus Christ, even when He was smitten, endured it patiently, though He was truly God, the Lord of heaven and earth; and we poor miserable mortals, mean and insignificant as we are, mere dust and ashes, and likened to the green herb: For, as for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth, according to the Scripture,—-when one of our brethren happens to have some words with us, and lets fall some vexatious expression, we think we do right to be enraged with the fury of dragons, and cease not to pelt him with a storm of words in return for one; not granting forgiveness to human littleness, nor considering the frailty of our common humanity, nor burying in brotherly love the passions that thus arise, nor looking unto Jesus Himself, the Author and Perfecter of our faith; but eager to avenge ourselves, and that to the uttermost, though Holy Writ declares in one place: He that pursueth vengeance, pursueth it to his own death; and in another: Let none of you harbour resentment in your heart against your brother. But let Christ, the Lord of all, Himself be unto us a Pattern of gentleness to one another, and exceeding great forbearance; for He, for this very reason, saith unto us: A disciple is not above his master, nor a servant above his lord.
[End of the eleventh book.]