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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.: As to the passage “Far above all rule and authority &c.”

Early Church Fathers  Index     

23. I will deal shortly with the second passage which my brother tells me has been marked for blame, because the complaint is exceedingly frivolous, and bears on its face its calumnious character. The passage 3047 is that in p. 495 which Paul declares that God “made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come.” After stating various expositions which have been given, I came to the offices of the ministers of God, and spoke of the principalities and powers, the virtues and dominions: and I add:

“They must assuredly have others who are subject to them, who are under their power and serve them, and are fortified by their authority: and this distribution of offices will exist not only in the present world but in the world to come, so that each individual will rise or fall from one step of advancement and honour to another, some ascending and some descending, and will come successively under each of these powers, virtues, principalities, and dominions.”

I then went on to describe the various divine offices and ministries after the similitude of the palace of an earthly king, which I fully described; and I added:

“Can we suppose that God the Lord of lords and King of kings, is content with a single order of servants? We speak of an archangel because there are other angels of whom he is chief: and so there would be nothing said of Principalities, Powers and Dominions unless it were implied that there were others of inferior rank.”

But, if he thinks that I became a follower of Origen because I mentioned in my exposition these advancements and honours, these ascents and descents, increasings and diminishings; I must point out that to say, as Origen does, that Angels and Cherubim and Seraphim are turned into demons and men, is a very different thing from saying that the Angels themselves have various offices allotted to them,—a doctrine which is not repugnant to that of the church. Just as among men there are various degrees of dignity distinguished by the different kinds of work, as the bishop, the presbyter and the other Ecclesiastical grades have each their own order, while yet all are men; so we may believe that, while they all retain the dignity of Angels, there are various degrees of eminence among them, without imagining that angels are changed into men, and that men are new-made into angels.


Footnotes

494:3047

Eph. 1:20, 21


Next: As to the passage “That in the ages to come &c.“

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