Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
On Luke x. 22. (Illud Omnia, &c.): Sense in which, and end for which all things were delivered to the Incarnate Son.
§2. Sense in which, and end for which all things were delivered to the Incarnate Son.
For whereas man sinned, and is fallen, and by his fall all things are in confusion: death prevailed from Adam to Moses (cf. Rom. v. 14), the earth was cursed, Hades was opened, Paradise shut, Heaven offended, man, lastly, corrupted and brutalised (cf. Ps. xlix. 12), while the devil was exulting against us;—then God, in His loving-kindness, not willing man made in His own image to perish, said, Whom shall I send, and who will go? (Isa. vi. 8). But while all held their peace, the Son 441 said, Here am I, send Me. And then it was that, saying Go Thou, He delivered to Him man, that the Word Himself might be made Flesh, and by taking the Flesh, restore it wholly. For to Him, as to a physician, man was delivered to heal the bite of the serpent; as to life, to raise what was dead; as to light, to illumine the darkness; and, because He was Word, to renew the rational nature (τὸ λογικόν). Since then all things were delivered to Him, and He is made Man, straightway all things were set right and perfected. Earth receives p. 88 blessing instead of a curse, Paradise was opened to the robber, Hades cowered, the tombs were opened and the dead raised, the gates of Heaven were lifted up to await Him that cometh from Edom (Ps. 24:7, Isa. 63:1). Why, the Saviour Himself expressly signifies in what sense all things were delivered to Him, when He continues, as Matthew tells us: Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matt. xi. 28). Yes, ye were delivered to Me to give rest to those who had laboured, and life to the dead. And what is written in Johns Gospel harmonises with this: The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand (Joh. iii. 35). Given, in order that, just as all things were made by Him, so in Him all things might be renewed. For they were not delivered unto Him, that being poor, He might be made rich, nor did He receive all things that He might receive power which before He lacked: far be the thought: but in order that as Saviour He might rather set all things right. For it was fitting that while through Him all things came into being at the beginning, in Him (note the change of phrase) all things should be set right (cf. John 1:3, Eph. 1:10). For at the beginning they came into being through Him; but afterwards, all having fallen, the Word has been made Flesh, and put it on, in order that in Him all should be set right. Suffering Himself, He gave us rest, hungering Himself, He nourished us, and going down into Hades He brought us back thence. For example, at the time of the creation of all things, their creation consisted in a fiat, such as let [the earth] bring forth, let there be (Gen. 1:3, 11), but at the restoration it was fitting that all things should be delivered to Him, in order that He might be made man, and all things be renewed in Him. For man, being in Him, was quickened: for this was why the Word was united to man, namely, that against man the curse might no longer prevail. This is the reason why they record the request made on behalf of mankind in the seventy-first Psalm: Give the King Thy judgment, O God (Ps. lxxii. 1): asking that both the judgment of death which hung over us may be delivered to the Son, and that He may then, by dying for us, abolish it for us in Himself. This was what He signified, saying Himself, in the eighty-seventh Psalm: Thine indignation lieth hard upon me (Ps. lxxxviii. 7). For He bore the indignation which lay upon us, as also He says in the hundred and thirty-seventh: Lord, Thou shalt do vengeance for me (Ps. cxxxviii. 8, LXX.).
This dramatic representation of the Mission of the Son stands alone in the writings of Athanasius, and, if pressed, lends itself to a conception of the relation of the Son to the Father which, if not Arian, is at least contrary to the more explicit and mature conception of Athanasius as formulated for example in Orat. ii. 31 (and see note 7 there). The same idea appears in Miltons Paradise Lost (e.g. Book X.). See Newman, Arians 4, p. 93, note.
Next: By 'all things' is meant the redemptive attributes and power of Christ.
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