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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Epistle to Gregory and Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John.: Chapter XXXII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

32.  John Calls Jesus a “Lamb.”  Why Does He Name This Animal Specially?  Of the Typology of the Sacrifices, Generally.

“And he sayeth, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” 4954   There were five animals which were brought to the altar, three that walk and two that fly; and it seems to be worth asking why John calls the Saviour a lamb and not any of these other creatures, and why, when each of the animals that walk is offered of three kinds he used for the sheep-kind the term “lamb.”  The five animals are as follows:  the bullock, the sheep, the goat, the turtle-dove, the pigeon.  And of the walking animals these are the three kinds—bullock, ox, calf; ram, sheep, lamb; he-goat, goat, kid.  Of the flying animals, of pigeons we only hear of two young ones; of turtle doves only of a pair.  He, then, who would accurately understand the spiritual rationale of the sacrifices must enquire of what heavenly things these were the pattern and the shadow, and also for what end the sacrifice of each victim is prescribed, and he must specially collect the points connected with the lamb.  Now that the principle of the sacrifice must be apprehended with reference to certain heavenly mysteries, appears from the words of the Apostle, who somewhere 4955 says, “Who serve a pattern and shadow of heavenly things,” and again, “It was necessary that the patterns of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”  Now to find out all the particulars of these and to state in its relation to them that sacrifice of the spiritual law which took place in Jesus Christ (a truth greater than human nature can comprehend)—to do this belongs to no other than the perfect man, 4956 who, by reason of use, has his senses exercised to discern good and evil, and who is able to say, from a truth-loving disposition, 4957 “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect.”  Of these things truly and things like these, we can say, 4958 “Which none of the rulers of this world knew.”



John i. 29.


Heb. 8:5, Heb. 9:23.


Heb. v. 14.


1 Cor. ii. 6.


Exod. xxix. 38-44.

Next: Chapter XXXIII

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