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On the Incarnation

By Theodore of Mopsuestia


Translated by Rowan A Greer, III and R. A. Norris, Jr.

Book I

Thus in making this sort of confession Nathaniel is shown to have no knowledge of the Divinity. (Even though the Jews and Samaritans hoped so strongly for such things, how far they were from the knowledge of God the Word) So also Martha in her confession is proved not to have had knowledge of (Christ's) divinity at that time, and, obviously, neither did St. Peter. For up until then it was enough for those who received this revelation to have an idea of Christ as something extraordinary and greater than other men. However, after the resurrection, when they were brought to knowledge by the Spirit, they received perfect knowledge of the revelation, with the result that they knew that the exceptional quality in him came not by a mere bestowal of dignity from God, as in other men, but through his union with God the Word, whereby, after his ascension into heaven, he became partaker of every dignity with the Word.

After describing the temptations, the Evangelist Matthew says that angels came and ministered to him: which means that they were set in company with him and cooperating with him, because now, through his struggle with the Devil, he was more clearly manifested. But we learn also from the Gospels that angels were with him on the eve of his passion; and when he rose, they were seen at the tomb. In all of this the majesty of Christ is made clear, because angels were continuously with him, ministering to him in every way. For just as angels keep separate from sinners, so they deservedly assist those who are honored. How rightly then does the Lord say, you will see a greater thing, and that the heaven will be opened for all through me, and all the angels will be forever with me, now ascending and now descending, as upon a friend and servant of God.

Book II

Jesus is a man. For what is man, that thou are mindful of him? Yet the Apostle asserts that this passage refers to Jesus: for, he says, We see him who was made a little lower than the angels, Jesus. What then do we conclude? The man Jesus was like all men, and differed in no way from those whose nature he shares, save that to him a grace was given. But the grace that was given does not change his nature. But after death was destroyed, God have him the name above every name.. The one who gave is God. The one to whom it was given is the man Jesus Christ, the first-fruits of those who are raised. For he is the first-born from the dead. Therefore. he ascended, and sits at the right hand of the Father, and is above all. 0 grace higher than all things which was given Jesus! 0 grace which surpassed the nature of all things! He who is of the same nature as I has been manifested above the heaven! He sits at God's right hand, and I say to him: “Your nature is not the same as mine. You are in heaven, while I am in the world of passions; you are above every principality and power, while I live in mud and mire.” But in reply to this I hear, “The Father was well-pleased in me.” The thing made cannot say to its Maker, why did you make me? And to this I have. nothing to say. But my brethren, who are sons of the same mother [i.e. the Church] as I, say to me: “Do not separate man and God, but speak of one and prosopon the same, and say that man is of the same nature as God.” But if I should say that God is of the same nature as man, tell me in what way man and God are one. Is it not impossible that there be one nature of man and God, of Lord and servant, of Creator and creature? Man is co-essential with man, and God is co-essential with God. How then can man and God be one through unity of essence , so that he who saves and he who is saved, he who is before all ages and he who appeared from Mary's womb, are one and the same?

Book V

Whenever anyone distinguishes the natures, he must necessarily find one and another; and, I believe, not even they [i.e.. Theodore's opponents] will repudiate this view, since they concede that God the Word is by nature one thing and that which was assumed (whatever it may be) is another. At the same time, Christ is found to, be one, and the same in prosopon, by no means through a confusion of natures, but because of the union which is fashioned of the one assumed to the One who assumes. For if it be justly conceded that the former is different from the latter by nature, it is also obvious that what is assumed is not equal to the One who assumes, nor the former similar to the latter, nor is what is assumed the same as the One who assumes.. It is clear that he is found to be one and the same in virtue of thee union of prosopon. Therefore for this reason it is proper to make a distinction among the attributes of Christ. And there is nothing to oppose such a distinction, for it is in close accord with the divine Scriptures. Thus neither a confusion of natures arises, nor any perverse division of the prosopon. For let there both remain an unconfused account of the natures, and let the prosopon be recognized as undivided: the former by reason of the characteristic property of the nature, that which is assumed being distinct from Him who assumes; and the latter by reason of the union of prosopon, since He who assumes and the nature of the one assumed are included in the denotation of a single name. And then (if I may phrase it so) in using the name 'Son', we are at one and the same time calling upon God the Word, and denoting the assumed nature (whatever it is) because of the union which it has with Him.

Book VI

If therefore by speaking of Christ as a man we seem to them justly named “man-worshipers,” [let us reply that] before we were saying this, Scripture taught it to all men in those passages in which it does not refuse to call him a man--as we showed a little before that Christ in many places is called by this name. “But,” they say, “by asserting that Christ is mere man, we deserve to be called man-worshipers.” Now this is an open lie, if indeed this is what they wish to say. For no one has ever heard us say this. And I do not believe that even they can undertake to lie so openly: not because they do not knowingly resort to falsehood, but because they see how easily they can be refuted. Although, if they are careless of being refuted, perhaps they might resort to this stratagem. For we consider that it is the height of madness to deny divinity to the Only-begotten. Otherwise, what reason would there be for us to be distinguished from the heretics? For what cause do we bear both so many and such great persecutions? Or who is ignorant of the constant war waged upon us by the heretics? Every mine and every desert-place is filled with men of our party who are there because of their orthodox beliefs. [section missing] Moreover, all of these misfortunes which blessed Meletius first suffered from the heretics, and with him afterwards many others throughout province, state and town--for what reason was this? Was it not because they confessed the true Lord Christ? Was it not because they preached the true Son of God, begotten from the paternal essence, existing co-eternally with the Father who begets him? And was it not because they add also the orthodox confession concerning the Holy Ghost? And so how can we who have suffered so much for this confession suffer from them the false accusation that we consider Christ merely human, when the very fact of the matter refutes this accusation as a clear calumny?

Book VII

For if we would learn how the indwelling takes place, we should learn both the general manner of the indwelling and its differentiating characteristic. To proceed with the argument: some assert that the indwelling takes place by essence, and others that it takes place by active operation. So let us ask whether either of these assertions is true.

And first, let us be instructed as to whether God dwells in everyone or not. Now, it is evident to begin with that God's indwelling is not in everyone. For God promises such indwelling to the saints as something exceptional--or, speaking generally, to those whom he wishes to be dedicated to him, as he once promised, saying: I will dwell among them, and walk among them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Would he then be bestowing upon them something out of the ordinary if all men shared in this in common? Thus, unless he dwells in all (for this is evident, I mean, not only with regard to every thing, but also with regard to men), there must necessarily be a distinct and special kind of indwelling according to which he is present only in those in whom he is said to dwell.

It is, then, most inappropriate to say that God indwells by essence. For in that case, either his essence must be limited exclusively to those in whom he is said to dwell, and he will be external to all others (which is an impossible conclusion because of God's boundless nature, which is present everywhere and circumscribed by no place), or else, if it be asserted that God is present everywhere in respect of his essence, then absolutely all things must share in his indwelling--no longer only men, but also irrational animals, and even lifeless things, if we say that the indwelling is. effected in them by essence. Now both of these conclusions are evidently unseemly. For to say that God dwells in all things is downright absurd. And to circumscribe His essence is ridiculous. Therefore, to say that the indwelling takes place by essence would be highly simple-minded.

The same thing might be said with regard to the expression “active operation.” For it is necessary in this case too for him to limit his activity exclusively to those in whom he dwells. And how will we then maintain our account of the universe: that God 'foreknows everything, and governs all things, and actively works in all things what is suitable? Or, contrariwise, suppose that everything shares in His active operation. This is indeed fitting and logical, since all things are empowered by Him, in that he both constitutes every creature in existence and enables it to operate according to its own nature. We should then say that He dwells in everything. Therefore it is impossible to say that God makes His indwelling either by essence or, further, by active operation.

What then is left? What explanation shall we use which will guard and make clear the proper balance between these two extremes? It seems evident, we shall say, that the indwelling should fittingly be described as talking place 'by good pleasure' [eudokia] . And “good pleasure” means that best and noblest will of God, which He exercises when He is pleased with those who are zealous to be dedicated to Him, because of the good and fine reputation and character which they have in His sight. This is customarily the sense in which the word is taken when it is found in Scripture. Thus the blessed David writes: He delighteth not in the strength of the horse; he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those who hope in his mercy. (Ps. 146: 10-11 LXX) He says this because He does not see fit to assist others, nor does He wish to cooperate with any but those who, it says, fear him. Of these He makes great account, and He sees fit to cooperate with them and to come to their aid. It is, therefore, proper to speak of the indwelling in this fashion. For since He exists boundless and uncircmscribed by nature, He is present with all. But by “good pleasure” He is far from some and near to others. For in accordance with this opinion, the Scripture says, The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Ps. 33:19 (LXX)). And elsewhere it says, Cast me not away from thy presence: and take not they Holy Spirit from me. (Ps. 1: 13 LXX). For by inclination He is present to those who are worthy of such nearness. And, on the other hand, He is far from sinners. But it is not by nature that He is either separated from some or closer to others; He effects both relationships by the disposition of His will. It is in this way that He is near and far by virtue of His good pleasure. (For it is quite clear from what we have previously said. what we mean by “good pleasure”: it was to make this clear .that we took such great pains to establish the meaning of-the word.) And in the same way by His good pleasure He perfects His indwelling, not confining His essence or His energy to those whom He indwells and remaining apart from the rest, but remaining present to all by His essence, and separate from those who are unworthy by the disposition of His grace. In this way His limitlessness is the better preserved to Him, since it is not made to seem that His very limitlessness subjects Him to an external necessity. For if He were present everywhere by good pleasure, He would be seen to be subjected in another way to an external necessity, since He would no longer effect His presence by will, but by the boundlessness of His nature, and His will would be subservient to that. But since He is present to all by nature, and is separated from whom He wishes by will, no one who is unworthy is profited by God' presence, while the true and pure limitlessness of his nature is preserved to Him.

In this way, therefore, He is present to some by good pleasure and separated from others--present with these just as if tie were separated from the others by essence. Therefore, just as the indwelling takes place by good pleasure, so also His good pleasure alters the mode of His indwelling. For that which effects the indwelling of God, and which makes Him known as present everywhere by reason of His essence while He indwells (by good pleasure, I mean) a very few, this same factor also altogether determines the mode of His indwelling. For just as He is present to all by essence, but is said to dwell, not in all, but only in those to whom He is present by good pleasure; so too, even though He be said to indwell, yet His indwelling is not all of a kind, but even the mode of indwelling will vary directly in proportion to His good pleasure.

Therefore, whenever He is said to dwell in either the Apostles or just men generally, He makes His indwelling as one who takes pleasure in those who are righteous--as one who takes delight in men who are duly virtuous. But we do not say that God's indwelling took place in Christ in this way: for we could never be so insane as that. On the contrary, the indwelling took place in him as in a son: it was in this. sense that He took pleasure in him and indwelt him.

But what does it mean to say 'as in a son'? It means that having indwelt him, He united the one assumed as a whole to Himself and equipped him to share with Himself in all the honor in which He, being Son by nature, participates: so as to be counted one prosopon according to the union with Him and to share with him. all His dominion; and in this way to accomplish everything in him, so that even the examination and judgment of the world shall be fulfilled through him and his advent. Of course [in all this] the difference in natural characteristics is kept in mind.

Therefore just as we, if we come at last to the future state, shall be perfectly governed by the Spirit in body and soul, but now possess a kind of partial first-fruits of that condition in as much as, being aided by the Spirit, we are not compelled to heed the counsels of the soul: so also the Lord, although at a later stage he had, in a perfect way, God the Word working within him and throughout him, so as to be inseparable from the Word in his every operation, yet even before this he had as much as was needed for accomplishing in himself the mighty things required. Before his crucifixion, because it was needful, he was permitted to fulfill by his own intents a righteousness which was for our sakes, and he was urged on by the Word even in this undertaking, and strengthened for the perfect fulfillment of what was fitting. For he had union with Him straightway from the beginning when he was formed in his mother's womb. And when he had arrived at the age of maturity when there is born implanted in men a judgment of what is good and what is not--rather even before this age,--he demonstrated in these matters a much quicker and more acute power of judgment than other men. Indeed, even among other men the power of judgment is not born in all alike at the same time, but some pursue what is needful more quickly and with greater purpose, and others acquire this skill only in greater tine by training. This quality in him--which was exceptional by comparison to other men--was born in him sooner than the usual age in others. And it was suitable that he should have something beyond the ordinary in his human qualities, because he was not born according to the common nature of men, of a man and a woman,but he was fashioned by the divine energy of the Spirit.

And he had an inclination beyond. the ordinary towards better things because of his union with God the Word, of which deemed worthy by the foreknowledge of God the Word, who united him to Himself. So for all these reasons he was possessed, together with judgment, of a great hatred for evil, and with indissoluble love he molded himself to the good, receiving also, in proportion to his own purpose, the cooperation of God the Word. Immoveable, he kept faithfully for the rest of the time his conversion towards the better. On the one hand, he held fast to this conduct by his own free will, and, on the other hand, this purpose was faithfully guarded in him by the cooperating energy of God the Word. And he passed over with the greatest ease to a consummate virtue, whether in keeping the law before his Baptism or in following the citizenship in grace after his Baptism. He furnishes us a type of this citizenship and is himself a way, so to speak, established for this end. Thus later, after the resurrection and ascension, when he had shown himself worthy of the union by his on will (having received. the union even before this in his very fashioning by the good pleasure of the Lord), he also unmistakably furnished for ever after the proof of the union, since he had nothing to separate and cut him off from the working of God the Word, but had God the Word accomplishing everything in him through the union.

Moreover, the unity of prosopon is recognized by the fact that He accomplishes everything through him. This unity is effected by the indwelling according to good pleasure. For this reason, in asserting that the Son of God will come as judge from heaven, we understand at one and the same time the advent both of the man and of God the Word, not because God the Word is degraded to be similar to him in nature, but because by good pleasure there will be a unity with Him wherever he is, since through him He accomplishes everything.

And so, therefore, prior to the Cross we see him suffer hunger, and we know he thirsted, and we learn he was afraid, and we find him ignorant--seeing that he contributed his virtuous intent of himself. Isaiah the Prophet is a witness of these things when he says: Therefore, before the child has come to know good or evil, he will reject the evil and choose the good (cf. Isa. 7:15-16). Clearly Isaiah means that the child will do this by passing judgment--by hating the one and loving the other. For it is always by passing judgment that a choice of the better is made. How then could this be before The child has come to know? This means: before he comes to that age at which ordinary men normally make decisions about what to do; and the explanation is that he possessed some greater and more special gift than ordinary men. For if there are still often found among us mere children in years who nonetheless furnish demonstrable evidence of great understanding, so that they lead those who see them to amazement, because they show a natural prudence beyond their age; then surely it is fitting that that Man should surpass all his fellows.

And Jesus increased in age and in wisdom and in grace with God and men (Lk. 2:52). To be sure, he increased in age because time went on, and in wisdom because he acquired understanding according to his advancing years. But he increased in grace by pursuing the virtue which is attendant upon understanding and knowledge. Because of this, the grace which was his from God received assistance, and in all these ways he advanced in the sight of God and men. Men observed this growth; and God not only observed it, but also testified to it and bestowed His cooperation in what was happening. Therefore it is evident that he fulfilled virtue more exactly and more easily than was possible for other men, in as much as, according to His foreknowledge of the sort of person someone will be, God the Word had united him with Himself at the very beginning of his formation, and furnished him. with a greater cooperation for the accomplishment of what was needful. The Word governed everything that concerned him for the sake of the salvation of all mankind: and He urged him on towards a larger perfection, the while lightening for him the greater part of his toils, whether they were of the soul or of the body. Thus He prepared him for a greater and easier fulfillment of virtue.

The one who was assumed according to foreknowledge was united with God from the beginning, since he received the foundation of the union in his very fashioning in his mother's womb. And having already been judged worthy of the union, he gained everything that could properly be gained by a man united to the Only-Begotten and Ruler of the universe, being counted worthy of, better things than the rest of mankind according as the special gift of the union came to be his. Thus he was the first to be deemed worthy of the indwelling of the Spirit in a degree surpassing the rest of mankind: and worthy of it in a way differing from the rest of mankind. For he received the whole grace of the Spirit in himself, and furnished to others a partial participation in the entire Spirit. So too it happened that the Spirit in its wholeness operated within him. What was spoken, so far as the utterance of the sound went, was human; but the power of what was said was something different and mighty.


And I gave them the glory that you gave me (Jn. 17:22). What is this? It is to participate in the adoption of sons. For in his humanity he received this himself when, in the Jordan, he was the first to be baptized. There our baptism was foreshadowed and the rebirth which takes place was testified to by the Father's voice, which said, Thiis is my beloved son in whom I have good pleasure. (Mt. 3:17). And the Spirit descended and remained upon him, just as we too in our baptism shall participate in the Spirit--even though, to be sure, this happened to him in an extraordinary way, since through his union with God the Word, he shares. in the dignities which belong to God's natural Son.

In every way, then, it is clear in the first place that the notion of 'mixture' is both exceptionally unsuitable and incongruous, since each of the natures remains indissolubly in itself. Moreover it is also quite evident that, the notion of “union” is thoroughly congruous, for by means of it the natures which are brought together make up one prosopon according to the union. Thus when the Lord says of man and woman: Wherefore they are no longer two but one flesh (Mt. 19:6), we may say, in accordance with the logic of union, “They are no longer two prosopa, but one,” even though, obviously, the natures are distinct. For just as in the example of marriage the mention of unity of flesh is not contradicted by the duality of subjects, so in the case of Christ the union of prosopon is not destroyed by the distinction of natures. For whenever we distinguish the natures, we speak of the nature of God the Word as complete and of His prosopon as complete (for there is no hypostasis without its prosopon). Moreover the nature of the Man is complete and likewise its prosopon. But when we contemplate the union, then we speak of one prosopon.

In the same way, then, we say that the essence of God the Word is His own, and that the essence of the Man is his own. For the natures are distinct, but the prosopon effected by the union is one. In this way, when we try to distinguish the natures, we say that the prosopon of the Man is complete and that that of the Godhead is complete. But when we consider the union, then we preach that both natures are one prosopon, since the humanity receives from the Divinity honor beyond that which belongs to a creature, and the Divinity brings to perfection in the Man everything that is fitting.

Book IX

So then we find no other possible interpretation of the expression was made (Jn. 1:14) than to refer it to appearance. Indeed, we have taught more exactly in what was, previously discussed that this is said in Holy Scripture (and especially concerning the Lord) in other places. So the Word was made flesh is a matter of appearance: but appearance, not in the sense that the Word did not assume true flesh, but in the sense that He did not become flesh. For when it says he took (cf. Phil. ii, 7), it means this not according to appearance but according to the true fact of the matter. But when it says was made, then it means according to appearance; for the Word was not changed into flesh. Thus, attention must be paid to the intent of the Evangelist, for in this way we shall know the true force of what was said.

In any case, if the expression The Word became flesh refers to a process of alteration, what is to be understood by He dwelt? For it is plain to everyone that. that which indwells is other than that which is indwelt. For He dwelt among us assuming and indwelling our nature, and working in it everything pertaining to our salvation. How then did God the Word become flesh by indwelling? Obviously not because He was changed or altered: otherwise there would have been no mention of indwelling.

For what in our case is spoken of according to its disposition in space, is spoken of in the case of God according to the disposition of His will. For as we say of ourselves, “I was in this place,”so also we say of God that He was in this place: since what movement brings about in our case if effected by will in the case of God, since by nature He is present everywhere.

Book X

For just as we are taught through such testimonies from Holy Scripture the distinctive characteristics of the natures, so too do we learn of the union whenever it brings together the distinctive qualities of both natures and speaks as of one subject. This is simply to show at one and the same time both the different natures and the unity of prosopon. From the different things said, the difference of the natures is understood. But when they are considered collectively, we grasp the manifest unity. And so blessed John the Evangelist says The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he or whom I said, after me cometh a man which is preferred before me, for he was before me. (Jn. 1:29-30). Now by saying, He saw Jesus coming to him and said, behold the Lamb of God, he clearly seems to me to be pointing out the humanity. For John the Baptist saw that which had received death, namely the body which was offered for the whole world. But what follows-- who taketh away the sin of the world--is by no means suitably to be ascribed to the flesh. For it did not belong to the flesh to take away the sin of the whole world. On the contrary, this was most assuredly the work of the divinity.

And there appeared to him an angel from heaven strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed the more strongly. And there came sweat from him, as it were drops of blood falling down on the ground. (Lk. 22:43-44). Therefore we understand from these words that Christ endured an agony, and that clearly no ordinary one. [Fragment missing] What connection is there between the expression The one who came down from heaven, and the expression the one who is in heaven (Jn. 3:13)? For the one is contradicted by the other: to have come down from heaven is inconsistent with being in heaven, and conversely. And yet, He came dorm by His indwelling in the Man, and He is in heaven because He is present everywhere in virtue of His uncircumscribed nature.

What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou visitest him? (Ps. 8:5)? So let us consider who the man is concerning whom the Psalmist marvels and is amazed because the Only-Begotten deemed it right to be mindful of him and to visit him. Now it has been shown in what was previously said that this statement is not made about every man, and it is also perfectly clear that it does not refer to even one among ordinary men. But in order that we may consider everything, let us receive what is most credible of all: the apostolic witness. Writing to the Hebrews, then, and speaking of Christ, the Apostle asserts that his person is not acceptable among them, and says: But one hath somewhere testified, saying, What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou visitest him? Thou made him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: thou didst put all things in subjection under his feet. (Heb. 2:6-8) And when he had cited the testimony, he interpreted it by adding: For in that he subjected all things unto him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we see not yet all things subjected to him. And he teaches us who this man is (since the language of the blessed David left some doubt) by adding: But we behold him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor. Well then if from the Gospels we are taught that blessed David said everything in the Psalm with reference to the Lord-- that thou art mindful, and visitest, and hast made lower, and hast subjected; while we learn from the Apostle that it is Jesus of whom David speaks when he says both that He is mindful of him and that He visited him, and also that He has subjected all things to him even though He had made him a little lower than the angels: then cease finally from your impudence and acknowledge what is just. For you see, 0 most wicked of men, how great is the difference of the natures: for the one passage marvels that He deigned both to be mindful of man and to visit him, and to make him a sharer in the other gifts in which He brought him to share; while, on the contrary, the other is amazed that [the Man] won the privilege of sharing in such gifts, being as they were above his nature. The Word is magnified as one who confers a benefit and furnishes great gifts which surpass the nature of him who receives the benefit; while the Man is magnified as one who receives a benefit and accepts from the Word gifts which are far above him.

Book XI

And so, surely, for these points what we have said will suffice: where we showed both the distinction of the natures and the unity of the prosopon, and that the one receives benefit whereas the other confers it, since a sure union has been constituted on the basis of which an indivisible honor is rendered [to him] by the whole creation.

Book XII

Therefore he does not say, He spoke to use in the son, but simply in [a] son. By saying this and making no separation, he was able to signify both in a single expression. First of all, he signifies the true Son (and by true Son I mean the One who possesses sonship by his natural birth); and in the second place, he includes also in this designation the one who shares truly in the dignity of sonship because of his union with Him.Will they not, then, from now on cease from shameless battle and leave off vain contention, paying reverence to what is so plainly stated: for it says, He led many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10). See then how, in this account of the sonship, the Apostle appears to include also the Man who was assumed with the many; not because he shares the sonship as they do, but because, like them, he received the sonship by grace, since the Godhead alone possesses the sonship by nature. For it is quite evident that the extraordinary gift of sonship belongs to him in a way surpassing other men, in virtue of his union with the Word. For that reason too he is included in the denotation of the expression “the Son .” But they argue against us that if we speak of two complete [natures], we also necessarily speak of two sons. However, remember that in Holy Scripture he is called 'son' in his own right, apart from the Divinity, since he is classed with other men; and still we do not speak of two sons, but rightly acknowledge one Son. For the distinction of natures ought necessarily to remain, and the union of the prosopon to be inseparably preserved.

And having said, Leading many sons to glory, he adds, to make perfect through sufferings the captain of their salvation. See how clearly he states that the Word has brought the Man who was assumed to perfection through sufferings, whom also he calls the captian of salvation, since he was first deemed worthy of this salvation himself, and at the same time established. the ground of salvation for others.

For they continue, in accordance with this interpretation, to apply the name of son to all such as these. For since the language is more appropriate to what is human, they judged it right to use this phrase, which happens also to be his [the Man’s] appellation. And because the name Jesus is the appellation of the one who was assumed, just as Peter and Paul are the names of the apostles and other men have other names, so too he was called by this name after his birth from Mary.

But they say to this that the name Jesus signifies “savior.” And how, they say, may a man be called “savior”? They forget that the son of Nun is also called Jesus, and, what is more remarkable, that he was not so called by some chance at his birth, but had his name changed by Moses. It is clear that Moses would not have allowed the name to be applied to a man, if it necessarily signified a divine nature.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in the past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His son (Heb 1.1-2) Clearly, when he says by His son, he refers to the Man. For to whihc of the angels did he ever say, thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee? (Heb 1.5) No angel, Paul says, did He ever make a sharer in the dignity of the Son. For the expression I have betoggen thee is used as if to say that through this act He conferred participation in sonship; and by what is said the angel appears quite openly as having no communion with God the Word. [Fragment missing] When he bringeth the firstborn into the world, he saith, and let all the angels of God worship him. (Heb 1.6) Who is it then who is brought into the world and begins his rule, on account of which he obtains even the right to be worshiped by the angels? For not even some fool will say that God the Word was “brought in,” who by His unspeakable power created all things when they did not exist, conferring existence upon them.

But in reply to this, the blessed Apostle tries to show in what way he is a sharer in divine honor, and that he enjoys it, not on accountof his own nature, but on account of the Nature which indwells him.

Therefore, he not only calls him 'Son' in separation from God the Word; but he is also show to include him, in respect of sonship, with the rest of those who share in the sonship. For indeed it is by grace that he too shares in the sonship (not being naturally begotten of the Father). But he surpasses the rest of mankind because he possesses the sonship in virtue of his union with the Word: which lavishes on him a supreme share in the reality of sonship.

And thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called son of the Most High. (Lk 1:32) See then how, in proclaiming the good news of the Son of Mary, he commands, speaking according to the flesh, that he be called Jesus, but announces that he shall be called 'son' of the Most High. And this is appropriate. He commands the one name to be given as the title of the infant, and he announces that the child will be called by the other, since the name was significant of the honor which participation in the reality subsequently confirmed.

It is clear at any rate that in the distinction of natures we must be altogether watchful to understand that while the divine Word is called 'son' in respect of his natural birth, the Man is said to enjoy the dignity of sonship through his conjunction with the Word, 'since the Son is much greater than what he is in himself.

But if anyone should wish to inquire what in the end I say that Jesus Christ is, I answer: “God and the Son of God.”


Who was manifested in the flesh and justified in the spirit. (1 Tim 3:16). It says he was justified in the spirit either because before the baptism he kept the Law, or because even afterwards he fulfilled the citizenship of grace with greater exactness, by the cooperating energy of the Spirit.

For not even the statement of John to him, I have need to be baptized of you, and you come to me. (Mt.)--not even this statement denies the fact that it was the Man who was baptized. For the saying fits him even in his manhood, since by reason of his virtue itself he was possessed of superiority over John--and through the indwelling nature of the Godhead, not over John only, but also over all men. Already he was justly acknowledged as having a dignity surpassing creaturely nature . . . . So when the Lord wishes, in his need for food, to demonstrate at once endurance and virtue, he does not ask for it. For showing that he cares little for food, and that nothing is more precious to him than virtue, he says to the Tempter: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God (Mt. 4:4) For this was the aim which the Devil zealously pursued--to persuade him that God had no thought at all of him. Whence he said, If you are the son of God, do this: that is, demonstrate by a deed that God cares for you. But he himself promised great things, with view to alienating Jesus from God by this means, and claiming him as his own through his promises. And in the first temptation he offered him bread, cajoling him by pleasure to enter into temptation. . . . Therefore, when the Lord had three times defeated him, he bestowed upon us a right as against him. When he did not ask for bread from God, he showed that he had conquered pleasure. When he did not cast himself down, he overlooked his glory, persuading all that he did not care for this. And in the third temptation, when he prevailed over the goods of this world, he showed that for the sake of piety he was overcome by none of them.

It is appropriate at this point to conclude specifically what is the force of what we have said, whether concerning his mode of life, or his baptism, or his crucifixion, or his death, or his burial and resurrection. In speaking of these matters, we do not refer them to a mere man. (For lest we furnish our calumniators

with occasion for slander, we do not hesitate, in each of these connections, to add this qualification.) Rather, we refer them to a Man indwelt by God the Word from the time of his very fashioning in his mother's womb--but to one indwelt, not in the ordinary way, nor in accordance with the sort of grace which is seen in the multitude of men: but in accordance with a certain extraordinary mode of grace, according to which we say even that the two natures are united and that one prosopon is effected in consequence of the union.

So it is from this that such great honor also arose for the Man. He was deemed worthy of the divine indwelling, so as to sit down at the right hand of the Father and to be worshiped by the whole creation. For God would not simply and without any profitable reason have assumed the Man in this way and united him to Himself, preparing him to be worshiped by the whole creation, nor would He have judged that the intelligible natures should adore him, unless what took place in him were of common benefit for the whole creation.

And this we shall say justly even of the Lord: that God the Word, in accordance with His foreknowledge, straightway from the beginning of his formation; and having united him to Himself by prosopon the disposition of His will, he furnished him with a larger grace, so that the grace given him might thereafter be bestowed throughout mankind. Thus it was also that the Man preserved inviolate his purpose for good.

For we shall not say that the Man had no purpose of will, but that the good was his aim. The point is that he was possessed, in virtue of his own purposes, of the greatest love of the good and hatred for its contrary. The purity of his intent was preserved for him by the divine grace, since God from on high knew with certainty the quality of his character, and by His own indwelling furnished, for the Man's strengthening, a mighty cooperative activity for the sake of the salvation of us all. For this reason no one may say that there was any injustice in the fact that an extraordinary gift surpassing other men, was bestowed upon the Man assumed-by the Lord.

And he holds the place of God's image for two reasons. For men who love certain of their fellows quite frequently set up images of them after their have died. They, consider that this is a sufficient consolation for their loss, and they think that they see the one who is not seen and is not present by looking at him, so to speak, in an image. Thus they appease the flame and strength of desire. Then too, those who from city to city keep images of the emperors seem to honor those who are not present as though they were present and seen, by the worship and adoration of images. But both of these uses of images are fulfilled through Christ. For all those who are together with him and pursue virtue and are prepared to pay the debts due to God, love him and honor him exceedingly. And indeed, even though the divine Nature be invisible, these men fulfill their love in him who is seen by all. Thus they believe that through him they see God and that they are ever present with him. And they attribute all honor to him, just as to an imperial image, since the divine Nature is, as it were, in him and is seen in him. For though it is believed by every creature to be inseparable in every way from the Son; and the Spirit moreover is not absent (since the Spirit was with him by way of unction) and is always with the one who was assumed. And it is not to be marveled at when it is also said that the Father is together with the Son within any man whatever who pursues virtue; for The Father and I shall come and shall make our dwelling with him (Jn, 14: 23). And that the Spirit too is inseparable from this sort of man, is certain to all.

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Theology 302 class (American Baptist College - Nashville, TN)