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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 5

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 5.—Of God’s Coming Down to Confound the Languages of the Builders of the City.

We read, “The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men built:”  it was not the sons of God, but that society which lived in a merely human way, and which we call the earthly city.  God, who is always wholly everywhere, does not move locally; but He is said to descend when He does anything in the earth out of the usual course, which, as it were, makes His presence felt.  And in the same way, He does not by “seeing” learn some new thing, for He cannot ever be ignorant of anything; but He is said to see and recognize, in time, that which He causes others to see and recognize.  And therefore that city was not previously being seen as God made it be seen when He showed how offensive it was to Him.  We might, indeed, interpret God’s descending to the city of the descent of His angels in whom He dwells; so that the following words, “And the Lord God said, Behold, they are all one race and of one language,” and also what follows, “Come, and let us go down and confound their speech,” are a recapitulation, explaining how the previously intimated “descent of the Lord” was accomplished.  For if He had already gone down, why does He say, “Come, and let us go down and confound?”—words which seem to be addressed to the angels, and to intimate that He who was in the angels descended in their descent.  And the words most appropriately are, not, “Go ye down and confound,” but, “Let us confound their speech;” showing that He so works by His servants, that they are themselves also fellow-laborers with God, as the apostle says, “For we are fellow-laborers with God.” 877



1 Cor. 3.9.

Next: Chapter 6

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