Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Against the Arians. (Orationes contra Arianos IV.): Texts Explained; Sixthly, Proverbs viii. 22, Continued. Our Lord not said in Scripture to be 'created,' or the works to be 'begotten.' 'In the beginning' means in the case of the works 'from the beginning.' Scripture passages explained. We are made by God first, begotten next; creatures by nature, sons by grace. Christ begotten first, made or created afterwards. Sense of 'First-born of the dead;' of 'First-born among many brethren;' of 'First-born of all creation,' contrasted with 'Only-begotten.' Further interpretation of 'beginning of ways,' and 'for the works.' Why a creature could not redeem; why redemption was necessary at all. Texts which contrast the Word and the works.
Chapter XXI.—Texts Explained; Sixthly, Proverbs viii. 22, Continued. Our Lord not said in Scripture to be created, or the works to be begotten. In the beginning means in the case of the works from the beginning. Scripture passages explained. We are made by God first, begotten next; creatures by nature, sons by grace. Christ begotten first, made or created afterwards. Sense of First-born of the dead; of First-born among many brethren; of First-born of all creation, contrasted with Only-begotten. Further interpretation of beginning of ways, and for the works. Why a creature could not redeem; why redemption was necessary at all. Texts which contrast the Word and the works.
57. For had He been a creature, He had not said, He begets me, for the creatures are from without, and are works of the Maker; but the Offspring is not from without nor a work, but from the Father, and proper to His Essence. Wherefore they are creatures; this Gods Word and Only-begotten Son. For instance, Moses did not say of the creation, In the beginning He begat, nor In the beginning was, but In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth 2581 . Nor did David say in the Psalm, Thy hands have “begotten me,” but made me and fashioned me 2582 , everywhere applying the word made to the creatures. But to the Son contrariwise; for he has not said I made, but I begat 2583 , and He begets me, and My heart uttered a good Word 2584 . And in the instance of the creation, In the beginning He made; but in the instance of the Son, In the beginning was the Word 2585 . And there is this difference, that the creatures are made upon the beginning, and have a beginning of existence connected with an interval; wherefore also what is said of them, In the beginning He made, is as much as saying of them, From the beginning He made:—as the Lord, knowing that which He had made, taught, when He silenced the Pharisees, with the words, He which made them from the beginning, made them male and female 2586 ; for from some beginning, when they were not yet, were originate things brought into being and created. This too the Holy Spirit has signified in the Psalms, saying, Thou, Lord, at the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth 2587 ; and again, O think upon Thy congregation which Thou hast purchased from the beginning 2588 ; now it is plain that what takes place at the beginning, has a beginning of creation, and that from some beginning God purchased His congregation. And that In the beginning He made, from his saying made, means began to make, Moses himself shews by saying, after the completion of all things, And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it He had rested from all His work which God began to make 2589 . Therefore the creatures began to be made; but the Word of God, not having beginning of being, certainly did not begin to be, nor begin to come to be, but was ever. And the works have their beginning in their making, and their beginning precedes their coming to be; but the Word, not being of things which come to be, rather comes to be Himself the Framer of those which have a beginning. And the being of things originate is measured by their becoming 2590 , and from some beginning does God begin to make them through the Word, that it may be known that they were not before their origination; but the Word has His being, in no other beginning 2591 than the Father, whom 2592 they allow to be without beginning, so that He too exists without beginning in the Father, being His Offspring, not His creature.
p. 380 58. Thus does divine Scripture recognise the difference between the Offspring and things made, and shew that the Offspring is a Son, not begun from any beginning, but eternal; but that the thing made, as an external work of the Maker, began to come into being. John therefore delivering divine doctrine 2593 about the Son, and knowing the difference of the phrases, said not, In the beginning has become or been made, but In the beginning was the Word; that we might understand Offspring by was, and not account of Him by intervals, but believe the Son always and eternally to exist. And with these proofs, how, O Arians, misunderstanding the passage in Deuteronomy, did you venture a fresh act of irreligion 2594 against the Lord, saying that He is a work, or creature, or indeed offspring? for offspring and work you take to mean the same thing; but here too you shall be shewn to be as unlearned as you are irreligious. Your first passage is this, Is not He thy Father that bought thee? did He not make thee and create thee 2595 ? And shortly after in the same Song he says, God that begat thee thou didst desert, and forgattest God that nourished thee 2596 . Now the meaning conveyed in these passages is very remarkable; for he says not first He begat, lest that term should be taken as indiscriminate with He made, and these men should have a pretence for saying, Moses tells us indeed that God said from the beginning, “Let Us make man 2597 ,” but he soon after says himself, God that begat thee thou didst desert, as if the terms were indifferent; for offspring and work are the same. But after the words bought and made, he has added last of all begat, that the sentence might carry its own interpretation; for in the word made he accurately denotes what belongs to men by nature, to be works and things made; but in the word begat he shews Gods lovingkindness exercised towards men after He had created them. And since they have proved ungrateful upon this, thereupon Moses reproaches them, saying first, Do ye thus requite the Lord? and then adds, Is not He thy Father that bought thee? Did He not make thee and create thee 2598 ? And next he says, They sacrificed unto devils, not to God, to gods whom they knew not. New gods and strange came up, whom your fathers knew not; the God that begat thee thou didst desert 2599 .
59. For God not only created them to be men, but called them to be sons, as having begotten them. For the term begat is here as elsewhere expressive of a Son, as He says by the Prophet, I begat sons and exalted them; and generally, when Scripture wishes to signify a son, it does so, not by the term created, but undoubtedly by that of begat. And this John seems to say, He gave to them power to become children of God, even to them that believe on His Name; which were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God 2600 . And here too the cautious distinction 2601 is well kept up, for first he says become, because they are not called sons by nature but by adoption; then he says were begotten, because they too had received at any rate the name of son. But the People, as says the Prophet, despised their Benefactor. But this is Gods kindness to man, that of whom He is Maker, of them according to grace He afterwards becomes Father also; becomes, that is, when men, His creatures, receive into their hearts, as the Apostle says, the Spirit of His Son, crying, Abba, Father 2602 . And these are they who, having received the Word, gained power from Him to become sons of God; for they could not become sons, being by nature creatures, otherwise than by receiving the Spirit of the natural and true Son. Wherefore, that this might be, The Word became flesh, that He might make man capable of Godhead. This same meaning may be gained also from the Prophet Malachi, who says, Hath not One God created us? Have we not all one Father 2603 ? for first he puts created, next Father, to shew, as the other writers, that from the beginning we were creatures by nature, and God is our Creator through the Word; but afterwards we were made sons, and thenceforward God the Creator becomes our Father also. Therefore Father is proper to the Son; and not creature, but Son is proper to the Father. Accordingly this passage also proves, that we are not sons by nature, but the Son who is in us 2604 ; and again, that God is not our Father by nature, but of that Word in us, in whom and because of whom we cry, Abba, Father 2605 . And so in like manner, the Father calls them sons in whomsoever He sees His own Son, and says, I begat; since begetting is significant of a Son, and making is indicative of the works. And thus it is that we are not p. 381 begotten first, but made; for it is written, Let Us make man 2606 ; but afterwards, on receiving the grace of the Spirit, we are said thenceforth to be begotten also; just as the great Moses in his Song with an apposite meaning says first He bought, and afterwards He begat; lest, hearing He begat, they might forget their own original nature; but that they might know that from the beginning they are creatures, but when according to grace they are said to be begotten, as sons, still no less than before are men works according to nature.
60. And that creature and offspring are not the same, but differ from each other in nature and the signification of the words, the Lord Himself shews even in the Proverbs. For having said, The Lord created me a beginning of His ways; He has added, But before all the hills He begat me. If then the Word were by nature and in His Essence 2607 a creature, and there were no difference between offspring and creature, He would not have added, He begat me, but had been satisfied with He created, as if that term implied He begat; but, as it is, after saying, He created me a beginning of His ways for His works, He has added, not simply begat me, but with the connection of the conjunction But, as guarding thereby the term created, when he says, But before all the hills He begat me. For begat me succeeding in such close connection to created me, makes the meaning one, and shews that created is said with an object 2608 , but that begat me is prior to created me. For as, if He had said the reverse, The Lord begat me, and went on, But before the hills He created me, created would certainly precede begat, so having said first created, and then added But before all the hills He begat me, He necessarily shews that begat preceded created. For in saying, Before all He begat me, He intimates that He is other than all things; it having been shewn to be true 2609 in an earlier part of this book, that no one creature was made before another, but all things originate subsisted at once together upon one and the same command 2610 . Therefore neither do the words which follow created, also follow begat me; but in the case of created is added beginning of ways, but of begat me, He says not, He begat me as a beginning, but before all He begat me. But He who is before all is not a beginning of all, but is other than all 2611 ; but if other than all (in which all the beginning of all is included), it follows that He is other than the creatures; and it becomes a clear point, that the Word, being other than all things and before all, afterwards is created a beginning of the ways for works, because He became man, that, as the Apostle has said, He who is the Beginning and First-born from the dead, in all things might have the preeminence 2612 .
61. Such then being the difference between created and begat me, and between beginning of ways and before all, God, being first Creator, next, as has been said, becomes Father of men, because of His Word dwelling in them. But in the case of the Word the reverse; for God, being His Father by nature, becomes afterwards both His Creator and Maker, when the Word puts on that flesh which was created and made, and becomes man. For, as men, receiving the Spirit of the Son, become children through Him, so the Word of God, when He Himself puts on the flesh of man, then is said both to be created and to have been made. If then we are by nature sons, then is He by nature creature and work; but if we become sons by adoption and grace, then has the Word also, when in grace towards us He became man, said, The Lord created me. And in the next place, when He put on a created nature and became like us in body, reasonably was He therefore called both our Brother and First-born 2613 . For though it was after us 2614 that He was made man for us, and our brother by similitude of body, still He is therefore called and is the First-born of us, because, all men being lost, according to the transgression of Adam, His flesh before all others was saved and liberated, as being the Words body 2615 ; and henceforth we, becoming incorporate with It, are saved after Its pattern. For in It the Lord becomes our guide to the Kingdom of Heaven and to His own Father, saying, I am the way and the door 2616 , and through Me all must enter. Whence also is He said to be First-born from the dead 2617 , not that He died before us, for we had died first; but because having undergone death for us and abolished it, He was the first to rise, as man, for our sakes raising His own Body. Henceforth He having risen, we too from Him and because of Him rise in due course from the dead.
p. 382 62. But if He is also called First-born of the creation 2618 , still this is not as if He were levelled to the creatures, and only first of them in point of time (for how should that be, since He is Only-begotten?), but it is because of the Words condescension 2619 to the creatures, according to which He has become the Brother of many. For the term Only-begotten is used where there are no brethren, but First-born 2620 because of brethren. Accordingly it is nowhere written in the Scriptures, the first-born of God, nor the creature of God; but Only-begotten and Son and Word and Wisdom, refer to Him as proper to the Father 2621 . Thus, We have seen His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father 2622 ; and God sent His Only-begotten Son 2623 ; and O Lord, Thy Word endureth for ever 2624 ; and In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God 2625 ; and This is My beloved Son; and Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God 2626 . But first-born implied the descent to the creation 2627 ; for of it has He been called first-born; and He created implies His grace towards the works, for for them is He created. If then He is Only-begotten, as indeed He is, First-born needs some explanation; but if He be really First-born, then He is not Only-begotten 2628 . For the same cannot be both Only-begotten and First-born, except in different relations;—that is, Only-begotten, because of His generation from the Father, as has been said; and First-born, because of His condescension to the creation and His making the many His brethren. Certainly, those two terms being inconsistent with each other, one should say that the attribute of being Only-begotten has justly the preference in the instance of the Word, in that there is no other Word, or other Wisdom, but He alone is very Son of the Father. Moreover 2629 , as was before 2630 said, not in connection with any reason, but absolutely 2631 it is said of Him, The Only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father 2632 ; but the word First-born has again the creation as a reason in connection with it, which Paul proceeds to say, for in Him all things were created 2633 . But if all the creatures were created in Him, He is other than the creatures, and is not a creature, but the Creator of the creatures.
63. Not then because He was from the Father was He called First-born, but because in Him the creation came to be; and as before the creation He was the Son, through whom was the creation, so also before He was called the First-born of the whole creation, not the less was the Word Himself with God and the Word was God. But this also not understanding, these irreligious men go about saying, If He is First-born of all creation, it is plain that He too is one of the creation. Senseless men! if He is simply First-born 2634 of the whole creation, then He is other than the whole creation; for he says not, He is First-born above the rest of the creatures, lest He be reckoned to be as one of the creatures, but it is written, of the whole creation, that He may appear other than the creation 2635 . Reuben, for instance, is not said to be first-born of all the children of Jacob 2636 , but of Jacob himself and his brethren; lest he should be thought to be some other beside the children of Jacob. Nay, even concerning the Lord Himself the Apostle says not, that He may become First-born of p. 383 all, lest He be thought to bear a body other than ours, but among many brethren 2637 , because of the likeness of the flesh. If then the Word also were one of the creatures, Scripture would have said of Him also that He was First-born of other creatures; but in fact, the saints saying that He is First-born of the whole creation 2638 , the Son of God is plainly shewn to be other than the whole creation and not a creature. For if He is a creature, He will be First-born of Himself. How then is it possible, O Arians, for Him to be before and after Himself? next, if He is a creature, and the whole creation through Him came to be, and in Him consists, how can He both create the creation and be one of the things which consist in Him? Since then such a notion is in itself unseemly, it is proved against them by the truth, that He is called First-born among many brethren because of the relationship of the flesh, and First-born from the dead, because the resurrection of the dead is from Him and after Him; and First-born of the whole creation, because of the Fathers love to man, which brought it to pass that in His Word not only all things consist 2639 , but the creation itself, of which the Apostle speaks, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, shall be delivered one time from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God 2640 . Of this creation thus delivered, the Lord will be First-born, both of it and of all those who are made children, that by His being called first, those that come after Him may abide 2641 , as depending on the Word as a beginning 2642 .
64. And I think that the irreligious men themselves will be shamed from such a thought; for if the case stands not as we have said, but they will rule it that He is First-born of the whole creation as in essence—a creature among creatures, let them reflect that they will be conceiving Him as brother and fellow of the things without reason and life. For of the whole creation these also are parts; and the First-born must be first indeed in point of time but only thus, and in kind and similitude 2643 must be the same with all. How then can they say this without exceeding all measures of irreligion? or who will endure them, if this is their language? or who can but hate them even imagining such things? For it is evident to all, that neither for Himself, as being a creature, nor as having any connection according to essence with the whole creation, has He been called First-born of it: but because the Word, when at the beginning He framed the creatures, condescended to things originate, that it might be possible for them to come to be. For they could not have endured His nature, which was untempered splendour, even that of the Father, unless condescending by the Fathers love for man He had supported them and taken hold of them and brought them into existence 2644 ; and next, because, by this condescension of the Word, the creation too is made a son 2645 through Him, that He might be in all respects First-born of it, as has been said, both in creating, and also in being brought for the sake of all into this very world. For so it is written, When He bringeth the First-born into the world, He saith, Let all the Angels of God worship Him 2646 . Let Christs enemies hear and tear themselves to pieces, because His coming into the world is what makes Him called First-born of all; and thus the Son is the Fathers Only-begotten, because He alone is from Him, and He is the First-born of creation, because of this adoption of all as sons 2647 . And as He is First-born among brethren and rose from the dead the first fruits of them that slept 2648 ; so, since it became Him in all things to have the preeminence 2649 , therefore He is created a beginning of ways, that we, walking along it and entering through Him who says, I am the Way and the Door, and partaking of the knowledge of the Father, may also hear the words, Blessed are the undefiled in the Way, and Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God 2650 .
65. And thus since the truth declares that the Word is not by nature a creature, it is fitting now to say, in what sense He is beginning of p. 384 ways. For when the first way, which was through Adam, was lost, and in place of paradise we deviated unto death, and heard the words, Dust thou art, and unto dust 2651 shalt thou return, therefore the Word of God, who loves man, puts on Him created flesh at the Fathers will 2652 , that whereas the first man had made it dead through the transgression, He Himself might quicken it in the blood of His own body 2653 , and might open for us a way new and living, as the Apostle says, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh 2654 ; which he signifies elsewhere thus, Wherefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new 2655 . But if a new creation has come to pass, some one must be first of this creation; now a man, made of earth only, such as we are become from the transgression, he could not be. For in the first creation, men had become unfaithful, and through them that first creation had been lost; and there was need of some one else to renew the first creation, and preserve the new which had come to be. Therefore from love to man none other than the Lord, the beginning of the new creation, is created as the Way, and consistently says, The Lord created me a beginning of ways for His works; that man might walk no longer according to that first creation, but there being as it were a beginning of a new creation, and with the Christ a beginning of its ways, we might follow Him henceforth, who says to us, I am the Way:—as the blessed Apostle teaches in Colossians, saying, He is the Head of the body, the Church, who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence.
66. For if, as has been said, because of the resurrection from the dead He is called a beginning, and then a resurrection took place when He, bearing our flesh, had given Himself to death for us, it is evident that His words, He created me a beginning of ways, is indicative not of His essence 2656 , but of His bodily presence. For to the body death was proper 2657 ; and in like manner to the bodily presence are the words proper, The Lord created me a beginning of His ways. For since the Saviour was thus created according to the flesh, and had become a beginning of things new created, and had our first fruits, viz. that human flesh which He took to Himself, therefore after Him, as is fit, is created also the people to come, David saying, Let this be written for another generation, and the people that shall be created shall praise the Lord 2658 . And again in the twenty-first Psalm, The generation to come shall declare unto the Lord, and they shall declare His righteousness, unto a people that shall be born whom the Lord made 2659 . For we shall no more hear, In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die 2660 , but Where I am, there ye shall be also; so that we may say, We are His workmanship, created unto good works 2661 . And again, since Gods work, that is, man, though created perfect, has become wanting through the transgression, and dead by sin, and it was unbecoming that the work of God should remain imperfect (wherefore all the saints were praying concerning this, for instance in the hundred and thirty-seventh Psalm, saying, Lord, Thou shalt requite for me; despise not then the works of Thine hands 2662 ); therefore the perfect 2663 Word of God puts around Him an imperfect body, and is said to be created for the works; that, paying the debt 2664 in our stead, He might, by Himself, perfect what was wanting to man. Now immortality was wanting to him, and the way to paradise. This then is what the Saviour says, I glorified Thee on the earth, I perfected the work which Thou hast given Me to do 2665 ; and again, The works which the Father hath given Me to perfect, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me; but the works 2666 He here says that the Father had given Him to perfect, are those for which He is created, saying in the Proverbs, The Lord created me a beginning of His ways, for His works; for it is all one to say, The Father hath given me the works, and The Lord created me for the works.
67. When then received He the works to perfect, O Gods enemies? for from this also He created will be understood. If ye say, At the beginning when He brought them into being out of what was not, it is an untruth; for they were not yet made; whereas He appears to speak as taking what was already in being. Nor is it pious to refer to the time p. 385 which preceded the Words becoming flesh, lest His coming should thereupon seem superfluous, since for the sake of these works that coming took place. Therefore it remains for us to say that when He has become man, then He took the works. For then He perfected them, by healing our wounds and vouchsafing to us the resurrection from the dead. But if, when the Word became flesh, then were given to Him the works, plainly when He became man, then also is He created for the works. Not of His essence then is He created indicative, as has many times been said, but of His bodily generation. For then, because the works were become imperfect and mutilated from the transgression, He is said in respect to the body to be created; that by perfecting them and making them whole, He might present the Church unto the Father, as the Apostle says, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish 2667 . Mankind then is perfected in Him and restored, as it was made at the beginning, nay, with greater grace. For, on rising from the dead, we shall no longer fear death, but shall ever reign in Christ in the heavens. And this has been done, since the own Word of God Himself, who is from the Father, has put on the flesh, and become man. For if, being a creature, He had become man, man had remained just what he was, not joined to God; for how had a work been joined to the Creator by a work 2668 ? or what succour had come from like to like, when one as well as other needed it 2669 ? And how, were the Word a creature, had He power to undo Gods sentence, and to remit sin, whereas it is written in the Prophets, that this is Gods doing? For who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by transgression 2670 ? For whereas God has said, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return 2671 , men have become mortal; how then could things originate undo sin? but the Lord is He who has undone it, as He says Himself, Unless the Son shall make you free 2672 ; and the Son, who made free, has shewn in truth that He is no creature, nor one of things originate, but the proper Word and Image of the Fathers Essence, who at the beginning sentenced, and alone remitteth sins. For since it is said in the Word, Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return, suitably through the Word Himself and in Him the freedom and the undoing of the condemnation has come to pass.
68. Yet, they say, though the Saviour were a creature, God was able to speak the word only and undo the curse. And so another will tell them in like manner, Without His coming among us at all, God was able just to speak and undo the curse; but we must consider what was expedient for mankind, and not what simply is possible with God 2673 . He could have destroyed, before the ark of Noah, the then transgressors; but He did it after the ark. He could too, without Moses, have spoken the word only and have brought the people out of Egypt; but it profited to do it through Moses. And God was able without the judges to save His people; but it was profitable for the people that for a season judges should be raised up to them. The Saviour too might have come among us from the beginning, or on His coming might not have been delivered to Pilate; but He came at the fulness of the ages 2674 , and when sought for said, I am He 2675 . For what He does, that is profitable for men, and was not fitting in any other way; and what is profitable and fitting, for that He provides 2676 . Accordingly He came, not that He might be ministered unto, but that He might minister 2677 , and might work our salvation. Certainly He was able to speak the Law from heaven, but He saw that it was expedient to men for Him to speak from Sinai; and that He has done, that it might be possible for Moses to go up, and for them hearing the word near them the rather to believe. Moreover, the good reason of what He did may be seen thus; if God had but spoken, because it was in His power, and so the curse had been undone, the power had been shewn of Him who gave the word, but man had become such as Adam was before the transgression, having received grace from without 2678 , and not having it united to the body; (for he was such when he was placed in Paradise) nay, perhaps had become worse, p. 386 because he had learned to transgress. Such then being his condition, had he been seduced by the serpent, there had been fresh need for God to give command and undo the curse; and thus the need had become interminable 2679 , and men had remained under guilt not less than before, as being enslaved to sin; and, ever sinning, would have ever needed one to pardon them, and had never become free, being in themselves flesh, and ever worsted by the Law because of the infirmity of the flesh.
69. Again, if the Son were a creature, man had remained mortal as before, not being joined to God; for a creature had not joined creatures to God, as seeking itself one to join it 2680 ; nor would a portion of the creation have been the creations salvation, as needing salvation itself. To provide against this also, He sends His own Son, and He becomes Son of Man, by taking created flesh; that, since all were under sentence of death, He, being other than them all, might Himself for all offer to death His own body; and that henceforth, as if all had died through Him, the word of that sentence might be accomplished (for all died 2681 in Christ), and all through Him might thereupon become free from sin and from the curse which came upon it, and might truly abide 2682 for ever, risen from the dead and clothed in immortality and incorruption. For the Word being clothed in the flesh, as has many times been explained, every bite of the serpent began to be utterly staunched from out it; and whatever evil sprung from the motions of the flesh, to be cut away, and with these death also was abolished, the companion of sin, as the Lord Himself says 2683 , The prince of this world cometh, and findeth nothing in Me; and For this end was He manifested, as John has written, that He might destroy the works of the devil 2684 . And these being destroyed from the flesh, we all were thus liberated by the kinship of the flesh, and for the future were joined, even we, to the Word. And being joined to God, no longer do we abide upon earth; but, as He Himself has said, where He is, there shall we be also; and henceforward we shall fear no longer the serpent, for he was brought to nought when he was assailed by the Saviour in the flesh, and heard Him say, Get thee behind Me, Satan 2685 , and thus he is cast out of paradise into the eternal fire. Nor shall we have to watch against woman beguiling us, for in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the Angels 2686 ; and in Christ Jesus it shall be a new creation, and neither male nor female, but all and in all Christ 2687 ; and where Christ is, what fear, what danger can still happen?
70. But this would not have come to pass, had the Word been a creature; for with a creature, the devil, himself a creature, would have ever continued the battle, and man, being between the two, had been ever in peril of death, having none in whom and through whom he might be joined to God and delivered from all fear. Whence the truth shews us that the Word is not of things originate, but rather Himself their Framer. For therefore did He assume the body originate and human, that having renewed it as its Framer, He might deify it 2688 in Himself, and thus might introduce us all into the kingdom of heaven after His likeness. For man had not been deified if joined to a creature, or unless the Son were very God; nor had man been brought into the Fathers presence, unless He had been His natural and true Word who had put on the body. And as we had not been delivered from sin and the curse, unless it had been by nature human flesh, which the Word put on (for we should have had nothing common with what was foreign), so also the man had not been deified, unless the Word who became flesh had been by nature from the Father and true and proper to Him. For therefore the union was of this kind, that He might unite what is man by nature to Him who is in the nature of the Godhead, and his salvation and deification might be sure. Therefore let those who deny that the Son is from the Father by nature and proper to His Essence, deny also that He took true human flesh 2689 of Mary Ever-Virgin 2690 ; for in neither case had it been of profit to us men, whether the Word were not true and naturally Son p. 387 of God, or the flesh not true which He assumed. But surely He took true flesh, though Valentinus rave; yea the Word was by nature Very God, though Ario-maniacs rave 2691 ; and in that flesh has come to pass the beginning 2692 of our new creation, He being created man for our sake, and having made for us that new way, as has been said.
71. The Word then is neither creature nor work; for creature, thing made, work, are all one; and were He creature and thing made, He would also be work. Accordingly He has not said, He created Me a work, nor He made Me with the works, lest He should appear to be in nature and essence 2693 a creature; nor, He created Me to make works, lest, on the other hand, according to the perverseness of the irreligious, He should seem as an instrument 2694 made for our sake. Nor again has He declared, He created Me before the works, lest, as He really is before all, as an Offspring, so, if created also before the works, He should give Offspring and He created the same meaning. But He has said with exact discrimination 2695 , for the works; as much as to say, The Father has made Me, into flesh, that I might be man, which again shews that He is not a work but an offspring. For as he who comes into a house, is not part of the house, but is other than the house, so He who is created for the works, must be by nature other than the works. But if otherwise, as you hold, O Arians, the Word of God be a work, by what 2696 Hand and Wisdom did He Himself come into being? for all things that came to be, came by the Hand and Wisdom of God, who Himself says, My hand hath made all these things 2697 ; and David says in the Psalm, And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands 2698 ; and again, in the hundred and forty-second Psalm, I do remember the time past, I muse upon all Thy works, yea I exercise myself in the works of Thy hands 2699 . Therefore if by the Hand of God the works are wrought, and it is written that all things were made through the Word, and without Him was not made one thing 2700 , and again, One Lord Jesus, through whom are all things 2701 , and in Him all things consist 2702 , it is very plain that the Son cannot be a work, but He is the Hand 2703 of God and the Wisdom. This knowing, the martyrs in Babylon, Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, arraign the Arian irreligion. For when they say, O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord, they recount things in heaven, things on earth, and the whole creation, as works; but the Son they name not. For they say not, Bless, O Word, and praise, O Wisdom; to shew that all other things are both praising and are works; but the Word is not a work nor of those that praise, but is praised with the Father and worshipped and confessed as God 2704 , being His Word and Wisdom, and of the works the Framer. This too the Spirit has declared in the Psalms with a most apposite distinction, the Word of the Lord is true, and all His works are faithful 2705 ; as in another Psalm too He says, O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in Wisdom hast Thou made them all 2706 .
72. But if the Word were a work, then certainly He as others had been made in Wisdom; nor would Scripture distinguish Him from the works, nor while it named them works, preach Him as Word and own Wisdom of God. But, as it is, distinguishing Him from the works, He shews that Wisdom is Framer of the works, and not a work. This distinction Paul also observes, writing to the Hebrews, The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, reaching even to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, neither is there any creature hidden before Him, but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom is our account 2707 . For behold he calls things originate creature; but the Son he recognises as the Word of God, as if He were other than the creatures. And again saying, All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom is our account, he signifies that He is other than all of them. For hence it is that He judges, but each of all things originate is bound to give account to Him. And so also, when the whole creation is groaning together with us in order to be set free from the bondage of corruption, the Son is thereby shewn to be other than the creatures. For if He were creature, He too would be one of those who groan, and would need one who should bring adoption and deliverance to Himself as well as others. But if the whole creation groans together, for the sake of freedom from the bondage of corruption, whereas the Son is not of those that groan nor of those who need freedom, but He it is who gives sonship and freedom to all, saying to the Jews of His p. 388 time 2708 , The servant remains not in the house for ever, but the Son remaineth for ever; if then the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed 2709 ; it is clearer than the light from these considerations also, that the Word of God is not a creature but true Son, and by nature genuine, of the Father. Concerning then The Lord hath created me a beginning of the ways, this is sufficient, as I think, though in few words, to afford matter to the learned to frame more ample refutations of the Arian heresy.
Gen. i. 1.379:2582
Ps. cxix. 73.379:2583
Ps. ii. 7.379:2584
Ps. xlv. 1.379:2585
John i. 1.379:2586
Matt. xix. 4.379:2587
Ps. cii. 25.379:2588
Ps. lxxiv. 2.379:2589
Gen. ii. 3.379:2590
Supr. i. 29, n. 10.379:2591
ἀρχῇ, vid. Orat. iv. 1.379:2592
In this passage was from the beginning is made equivalent with was not before generation, and both are contrasted with without beginning or eternal; vid. the bearing of this on Bishop Bulls explanation of the Nicene Anathema, supr. Exc. B, where this passage is quoted.380:2593
θεολογῶν, vid. §71, note.380:2594
The technical sense of εὐσέβεια, ἀσέβεια, pietas, impietas, for orthodoxy, heterodoxy, has been noticed supr. p. 150, and derived from 1 Tim. iii. 16. The word is contrasted ch. iv. 8. with the (perhaps Gnostic) profane and old-wives fables, and with bodily exercise.380:2595
Deut. xxxii. 6. LXX.380:2596
Gen. i. 26.380:2598
Deut. xxxii. 6.380:2599
John 1:12, 13.380:2601
παρατηρήσεως, §12, note.380:2602
De Decr. 31 fin.380:2603
Mal. ii. 10.380:2604
τὸν ἐν ἡμῖν υἱ& 231·ν. vid. also supr. 10. circ. fin. 56. init. and τὸν ἐν αὐτοῖς οἰκοῦντα λόγον. 61. init. Also Orat. i. 50 fin. iii. 23–25. and de Decr. 31 fin. Or. i. 48, note 7, §56, n. 5. infr. notes on 79.380:2605
Gal. iv. 6.381:2606
Gen. i. 26.381:2607
§45, note 2.381:2608
pp. 367, 374.381:2610
§6, note 49.381:2612
Col. i. 18.381:2613
Rom. viii. 29. Bishop Bulls hypothesis about the sense of πρωτοτόκος τῆς κτίσεως has been commented on supr. p. 347. As far as Athan.s discussion proceeds in this section, it only relates to πρωτοτόκος of men (i.e. from the dead), and is equivalent to the beginning of ways.381:2614
Marcellus seems to have argued against Asterius from the same texts (Euseb. in Marc. p. 12), that, since Christ is called first-born from the dead, though others had been recalled to life before Him, therefore He is called first-born of creation, not in point of time, but of dignity. vid. Montacut. Not. p. 11. Yet Athan. argues contrariwise. Orat. iv. 29.381:2615
§10. n. 7; Orat. iii. 31. note.381:2616
John xiv. 6; x. 9.381:2617
Rev. i. 5.382:2618
Here again, though speaking of the first-born of creation, Athan. simply views the phrase as equivalent to first-born of the new creation or “brother” of many; and so infr. first-born because of the brotherhood He has made with many.382:2619
Bp. Bull considers συγκατάβασις as equivalent to a figurative γέννησις, an idea which (vid. supr. p. 346 sq.) seems quite foreign from Athan.s meaning. In Bulls sense of the word, Athan. could not have said that the senses of Only-begotten and First-born were contrary to each other, Or. i. 28. Συγκαταβῆναι occurs supr. 51 fin. of the Incarnation. What is meant by it will be found infr. 78–81. viz. that our Lord came to implant in the creatures a type and semblance of His Image; which is just what is here maintained against Bull. The whole passage referred to is a comment on the word συγκατάβασις, and begins and ends with an introduction of that word. Vid. also c. Gent. 47.382:2620
Vid. Rom. viii. 29.382:2621
This passage has been urged against Bull supr. Exc. B. All the words (says Athan.) which are proper to the Son, and describe Him fitly, are expressive of what is internal to the Divine Nature, as Begotten, Word, Wisdom, Glory, Hand, &c., but (as he adds presently) the first-born, like beginning of ways, is relative to creation; and therefore cannot denote our Lords essence or Divine subsistence, but something temporal, an office, character, or the like.382:2622
John i. 14.382:2623
1 John iv. 9.382:2624
Ps. cxix. 89.382:2625
1 Cor. i. 24.382:2626
Matt. iii. 17; xvi. 16.382:2627
This passage is imitated by Theodoret. in Coloss. i. 15, but the passages from the Fathers referable to these Orations are too many to enumerate.382:2628
This passage is imitated by Theodoret. in Coloss. i. 15, but the passages from the Fathers referable to these Orations are too many to enumerate.382:2629
We now come to a third and wider sense of πρωτότοκος, as found (not in Rom. 8:29, Col. 1:18, 15, where by creation Athan. understands all things visible and invisible. As then for the works was just now taken to argue that created was used in a relative and restricted sense, the same is shewn as regards first-born by the words for in Him all things were created.382:2630
ἀπολελυμένως; supr. i. 56, note 6, and §§53, 56, and so ἀπολύτως Theophylact to express the same distinction in loc. Coloss.382:2632
John i. 18.382:2633
Col. i. 16.382:2634
It would be perhaps better to translate first-born to the creature, to give Athan.s idea; τῆς κτίσεως not being a partitive genitive, or πρωτότοκος a superlative (though he presently so considers it), but a simple appellative and τῆς κτ. a common genitive of relation, as the king of a country, the owner of a house. First-born of creation is like author, type, life of creation. Hence S. Paul goes on at once to say, for in Him all things were made, not simply by and for, as at the end of the verse; or as Athan. says here, because in Him the creation came to be. On the distinction of διὰ and ἐν, referring respectively to the first and second creations, vid. In illud Omn. 2. (Supr. p. 88.)382:2635
To understand this passage, the Greek idiom must be kept in view. Cf. Miltons imitation the fairest of her daughters Eve. Vid. as regards the very word πρῶτος, John i. 15; and supr. §30, note 3, also πλείστην ἢ ἔμπροσθεν 3 Maccab. 7, 21. Accordingly as in the comparative to obviate this exclusion, we put in the word other (ante alios immanior omnes), so too in the Greek superlative, Socrates is wisest of “other” heathen. Athanasius then says in this passage, that first-born of creatures implies that our Lord was not a creature; whereas it is not said of Him first-born of brethren, lest He should he excluded from men, but first-born “among” brethren, where among is equivalent to other.382:2636
Gen. xlix. 3, LXX. Vid. also contr. Gent. 41 sq. where the text Col. i. 15 is quoted.383:2637
Rom. viii. 29.383:2638
Col. i. 15.383:2639
Rom. 8:19, 21. Thus there are two senses in which our Lord is first-born to the creation; viz. in its first origin, and in its restoration after mans fall; as he says more clearly in the next section.383:2641
De Decr. 19, n. 3.383:2642
i. 48, n. 7.383:2643
He does not here say with Asterius that God could not create man immediately, for the Word is God, but that He did not create him without at the same time infusing a grace or presence from Himself into his created nature to enable it to endure His external plastic hand; in other words, that he was created in Him, not as something external to Him (in spite of the διὰ supr.63, n. 1. vid. supr. de Decr. 19. 3. and Gent. 47. where the συγκατάβασις is spoken of.383:2645
As God created Him, in that He created human nature in Him, so is He first-born, in that human nature is adopted in Him. Leo Serm. 63. 3.383:2646
Heb. i. 6.383:2647
Thus he considers that first-born is mainly a title, connected with the Incarnation, and also connected with our Lords office at the creation (vid. parallel of Priesthood, §8, n. 4). In each economy it has the same meaning; it belongs to Him as the type, idea, or rule on which the creature was made or new-made, and the life by which it is sustained. Both economies are mentioned Incarn. 13, 14. Orat. i. 51. iii. 20. infr. 76. init. He came τὴν τοῦ ἀρχετύπου πλάσιν ἀναστήσασθαι ἑαυτῷ contr.Apoll. ii. 5. And so again, ἡ ἰδέα ὅπερ λόγον εἰρήκασι. Clem. Strom. v. 3. ἰδέαν ἰδεῶν καὶ ἀρχὴν λεκτέον τὸν πρωτότοκον πάσης κτίσεως Origen. contr. Cels. vi. 64. fin. Whatever God was about to make in the creature, was already in the Word, nor would be in the things, were it not in the Word. August. in Psalm xliv. 5. He elsewhere calls the Son, ars quædam omnipotentis atque sapientis Dei, plena omnium rationum viventium incommutabilium. de Trin. vi. 11. And so Athan. infr. iii. 9. fin. Eusebius, in commenting on the very passage which Athan. is discussing (Prov. viii. 22), presents a remarkable contrast to these passages, as making the Son, not the ἰδέα, but the external minister of the Fathers ἰδέα. de Eccl. Theol. pp. 164, 5. vid. supr. §31, n. 7.383:2648
1 Cor. xv. 20.383:2649
Col. i. 18.383:2650
Ps. cxix. 1; Matt. v. 8.384:2651
Gen. iii. 19.384:2652
§31, n. 8.384:2653
Vid. Or. i. §48, 7, i. 51, 5, supr. 56, 5. Irenæus, Hær. iii. 19, n. 1. Cyril. in Joan. lib. ix. cir. fin. This is the doctrine of S. Athanasius and S. Cyril, one may say, passim.384:2654
Heb. x. 20.384:2655
2 Cor. v. 17.384:2656
§45, n. 2.384:2657
Athanasius here says that our Lords body was subject to death; and so Incarn. 20, e. also 8, b. 18. init. Orat. iii. 56. And so τὸν ἄνθρωπον σαθρωθέντα. Orat. iv. 33. And so S. Leo in his Tome lays down that in the Incarnation, suscepta est ab æternitate mortalitas. Ep. 28. 3. And S. Austin, Utique vulnerabile atque mortale corpus habuit [Christus] contr. Faust. xiv. 2. A Eutychian sect denied this doctrine (the Aphthartodocetæ), and held that our Lords manhood was naturally indeed corrupt, but became from its union with the Word incorrupt from the moment of conception; and in consequence it held that our Lord did not suffer and die, except by miracle. vid. Leont. c. Nest. ii. (Canis. t. i. pp. 563, 4, 8.) vid. supr. i. 43 and 44, notes; also infr. 76, note. And further, note on iii. 57.384:2658
Ps. cii. 18.384:2659
Gen. ii. 17.384:2661
John xiv. 3; Eph. ii. 10.384:2662
Ps. cxxxviii. 8.384:2663
Cf. Orat. iv. 11.384:2664
ἀνθ᾽ ἡμῶν τὴν ὀφειλὴν ἀποδιδούς, and so the Lords death λύτρον πάντων. Incarn. V.D. 25. λύτρον καθάρσιον. Naz. Orat. 30, 20. fin. also supr. 9, 13, 14, 47, 55, 67. In Illud. Omn. 2 fin.384:2665
John xvii. 4.384:2666
Eph. v. 27.385:2668
Vid. de Decr. 10, 2. 4; Or. i. 49, §16, n. 7. Iren. Hær. iii. 20.385:2669
Cf. infr. Orat. iv. 6. vid. also iii. 33 init. August. Trin. xiii. 18. Id. in Psalm 129, n. 12. Leon. Serm. 28, n. 3. Basil. in Psalm 48, n. 4. Cyril. de rect. fid. p. 132. vid. also Procl. Orat. i. p. 63. (ed. 1630.) Vigil. contr. Eutych. v. p. 529, e. Greg. Moral. xxiv. init. Job. ap. Phot. 222. p. 583.385:2670
Mic. vii. 18.385:2671
Gen. iii. 19.385:2672
Vid. John viii. 36.385:2673
Vid. also Incarn. 44. In this statement Athan. is supported by Naz. Orat. 19, 13. Theodor. adv. Gent. vi. p. 876, 7. August. de Trin. xiii. 13. It is denied in a later age by S. Anselm, but S. Thomas and the schoolmen side with the Fathers. vid. Petav. Incarn. ii. 13. However, it will be observed from what follows that Athan. thought the Incarnation still absolutely essential for the renewal of human nature in holiness. Cf. de Incarn. 7. That is, we might have been pardoned, we could not have been new-made, without the Incarnation; and so supr. 67.385:2674
Gal. iv. 4.385:2675
John xviii. 5.385:2676
Was it not in His power, had He wished it, even in a day to bring on the whole rain [of the deluge]? in a day, nay in a moment? Chrysost. in Gen. Hom. 24, 7. He proceeds to apply this principle to the pardon of sin. On the subject of Gods power as contrasted with His acts, Petavius brings together the statements of the Fathers, de Deo, v. 6.385:2677
Vid. Matt. xx. 28385:2678
Athan. here seems to say that Adam in a state of innocence had but an external divine assistance, not an habitual grace; this, however, is contrary to his own statements already referred to, and the general doctrine of the fathers. vid. e.g. Cyril. in Joan. v. 2. August. de Corr. et Grat. 31. vid also infr. §76, note.386:2679
εἰς ἄπειρον, de Decr. 8.386:2680
De Decr. 10.386:2681
2 Cor. v. 14.386:2682
διαμείνωσιν, §63, n. 8; §73, Gent. 41, Serm. Maj. de Fid. 5.386:2683
John xiv. 30. ἔχει t. rec. εὑρίσκει Ath. et al.386:2684
1 John iii. 8.386:2685
Matt. xvi. 23.386:2686
Mark xii. 25.386:2687
Gal. vi. 15; iii. 28.386:2688
ἐν ἑαυτῷ θεοποιήσῃ. supr. p. 65, note 5. vid. also ad Adelph. 4. a. Serap. i. 24, e. and §56, note 5. and iii. 33. De Decr. 14. Orat. i. 42. vid. also Orat. iii. 23. fin. 33. init. 34. fin. 38, b. 39, d. 48. fin. 53. For our becoming θεοὶ vid. Orat. iii. 25. θεοὶ κατὰ χάριν. Cyr. in Joan. p. 74. θεοφορούμεθα. Orat. iii. 23, c. 41, a. 45 init. χριστόφοροι. ibid. θεούμεθα. iii. 48 fin. 53. Theodor. H. E. i. p. 846. init.386:2689
§45, n. 2.386:2690
Vid. also Athan. in Luc. (Migne xxvii. 1393 c). This title, which is commonly applied to S. Mary by later writers, is found Epiph. Hær. 78, 5. Didym. Trin. i. 27. p. 84. Rufin. Fid. i. 43. Lepor. ap Cassian. Incarn. i. 5. Leon. Ep. 28, 2. Cæsarius has ἀειπαῖς. Qu. 20. On the doctrine itself vid. a letter of S. Ambrose and his brethren to Siricius, and the Popes letter in response. (Coust. Ep. Pont. p. 669–682.) Also Pearson On the Creed, Art. 3. [§§9, 10, p. 267 in Bohns ed.] He replies to the argument from until in Matt. i. 25, by referring to Gen. xxviii 15; Deut. xxxiv. 6; 1 Sam. xv. 35; 2 Sam. vi. 23; Matt. xxviii. 20. He might also have referred to Psalm cx. 1; 1 Cor. xv. 25. which are the more remarkable, because they were urged by the school of Marcellus as a proof that our Lords kingdom would have an end, and are explained by Euseb. Eccl. Theol. iii. 13, 14. Vid. also Cyr. Cat. 15, 29; where the true meaning of until (which may be transferred to Matt. i. 25), is well brought out. He who is King before He subdued His enemies, how shall He not the rather be King, after He has got the mastery over them?387:2691
De Syn. 13, n. 4.387:2692
i. 48, n. 7.387:2693
§45, note 2.387:2694
ὄργανον, note on iii. 31.387:2695
§22, n. 2.387:2697
Is. lxvi. 2.387:2698
Ps. cii. 25.387:2699
John i. 3.387:2701
1 Cor. viii. 9.387:2702
Col. i. 17.387:2703
§31, n. 4.387:2704
θεολογούμενος. vid. de Decr. 31, n. 5. also Incarn. c. Ar. 3. 19, Serap. i. 28. 29. 31. contr. Sab. Greg. and passim ap. Euseb. contr. Marcell. e.g. p. 42, d. 86, a. 99, d. 122, c. 124, b. &c. κυριολογεῖν, In Illud. Omn. 6, contr. Sab. Greg. §4, f.387:2705
Ps. xxxiii. 4.387:2706
Heb. 4:12, 13.388:2708
§1, n. 6.388:2709
John 8:35, 36.
Next: Texts Explained; Sixthly, the Context of Proverbs viii. 22 Vz. 22-30. It is right to interpret this passage by the Regula Fidei. 'Founded' is used in contrast to superstructure; and it implies, as in the case of stones in building, previous existence. 'Before the world' signifies the divine intention and purpose. Recurrence to Prov. viii. 22, and application of it to created Wisdom as seen in the works. The Son reveals the Father, first by the works, then by the Incarnation.
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: http://St-Takla.org / Contact us at