Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril.: On the Words, the Only-Begotten Son of God, Begotten of the Father Very God Before All Ages, by Whom All Things Were Made.
p. 64 Lecture XI.
On the Words, the Only-Begotten Son of God, Begotten of the Father Very God Before All Ages, by Whom All Things Were Made.
Hebrews i. 1
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.
1. That we have hope in Jesus Christ has been sufficiently shewn, according to our ability, in what we delivered to you yesterday. But we must not simply believe in Christ Jesus nor receive Him as one of the many who are improperly called Christs 1232 . For they were figurative Christs, but He is the true Christ; not having risen by advancement 1233 from among men to the Priesthood, but ever having the dignity of the Priesthood from the Father 1234 . And for this cause the Faith guarding us beforehand lest we should suppose Him to be one of the ordinary Christs, adds to the profession of the Faith, that we believe In One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God.
2. And again on hearing of a “Son,” think not of an adopted son but a Son by nature 1235 , an Only-begotten Son, having no brother. For this is the reason why He is called “Only-begotten,” because in the dignity of the Godhead, and His generation from the Father, He has no brother. But we call Him the Son of God, not of ourselves, but because the Father Himself named Christ 1236 His Son 1237 : and a true name is that which is set by fathers upon their children 1238 .
3. Our Lord Jesus Christ erewhile became Man, but by the many He was unknown. Wishing, therefore, to teach that which was not known, He called together His disciples, and asked them, Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am 1239 ? —not from vain-glory, but wishing to shew them the truth, lest dwelling with God, the Only-begotten of God 1240 , they should think lightly of Him as if He were some mere man. And when they answered that some said Elias, and some Jeremias, He said to them, They may be excused for not knowing, but ye, My Apostles, who in My name cleanse lepers, and cast out devils, and raise the dead, ought not to be ignorant of Him, through whom ye do these wondrous works. And when they all became silent (for the matter was too high for man to learn), Peter, the foremost of the Apostles and chief herald 1241 of the Church, neither aided by cunning invention, nor persuaded by human reasoning, but enlightened in his mind from the Father, says to Him, Thou art the Christ, not only so, but the Son of the living God. And there follows a blessing upon his speech (for in truth it was above man), and as a seal upon what he had said, that it was the Father who had revealed it to him. For the Saviour says, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father which is in heaven 1242 . He therefore who acknowledges our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, partakes of this blessedness; but he who denies the Son of God is a poor and miserable man.
4. Again, I say, on hearing of a Son, underp. 65 stand it not merely in an improper sense, but as a Son in truth, a Son by nature, without beginning 1243 ; not as having come out of bondage into a higher state of adoption 1244 , but a Son eternally begotten by an inscrutable and incomprehensible generation. And in like manner on hearing of the First-born 1245 , think not that this is after the manner of men; for the first-born among men have other brothers also. And it is somewhere written, Israel is My son, My first-born 1246 . But Israel is, as Reuben was, a first-born son rejected: for Reuben went up to his fathers couch; and Israel cast his Fathers Son out of the vineyard, and crucified Him.
To others also the Scripture says, Ye are the sons of the Lord your God 1247 : and in another place, I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are all sons of the Most High 1248 . I have said, not, “I have begotten.” They, when God so said, received the sonship, which before they had not: but He was not begotten to be other than He was before; but was begotten from the beginning Son of the Father, being above all beginning and all ages, Son of the Father, in all things like 1249 to Him who begat Him, eternal of a Father eternal, Life of Life begotten, and Light of Light, and Truth of Truth, and Wisdom of the Wise, and King of King, and God of God, and Power of Power 1250 .
5. If then thou hear the Gospel saying, The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham 1251 , understand “according to the flesh.” For He is the Son of David at the end of the ages 1252 , but the Son of God Before All Ages, without beginning 1253 . The one, which before He had not, He received; but the other, which He hath, He hath eternally as begotten of the Father. Two fathers He hath: one, David, according to the flesh, and one, God, His Father in a Divine manner 1254 . As the Son of David, He is subject to time, and to handling, and to genealogical descent: but as Son according to the Godhead 1255 , He is subject neither to time nor to place, nor to genealogical descent: for His generation who shall declare 1256 ? God is a Spirit 1257 ; He who is a Spirit hath spiritually begotten, as being incorporeal, an inscrutable and incomprehensible generation. The Son Himself says of the Father, The Lord said unto Me, Thou art My Son, to-day have I begotten Thee 1258 . Now this to-day is not recent, but eternal: a timeless to-day, before all ages. From the womb, before the morning star, have I begotten Thee 1259 .
6. Believe thou therefore on Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, and a Son Only-Begotten, according to the Gospel which p. 66 says, For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life 1260 . And again,He that believeth on the Son is not judged, but hath passed out of death into life 1261 . But he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him 1262 . And John testified concerning Him, saying, And we beheld His glory, glory as of the only-begotten from the father,—full of grace and truth 1263 : at whom the devils trembled and said, Ah! what have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of the living God 1264 .
7. He is then the Son of God by nature and not by adoption 1265 , begotten of the Father. And he that loveth Him that begat, loveth Him also that is begotten of Him 1266 ; but he that despiseth Him that is begotten casts back the insult upon Him who begat. And whenever thou hear of God begetting, sink not down in thought to bodily things, nor think of a corruptible generation, lest thou be guilty of impiety. God is a Spirit 1267 , His generation is spiritual: for bodies beget bodies, and for the generation of bodies time needs must intervene; but time intervenes not in the generation of the Son from the Father. And in our case what is begotten is begotten imperfect: but the Son of God was begotten perfect; for what He is now, that is He also from the beginning 1268 , begotten without beginning. We are begotten so as to pass from infantile ignorance to a state of reason: thy generation, O man, is imperfect, for thy growth is progressive. But think not that it is thus in His case, nor impute infirmity to Him who hath begotten. For if that which He begot was imperfect, and acquired its perfection in time, thou art imputing infirmity to Him who hath begotten; if so be, the Father did not bestow from the beginning that which, as thou sayest, time bestowed afterwards 1269 .
8. Think not therefore that this generation is human, nor as Abraham begat Isaac. For in begetting Isaac, Abraham begat not what he would, but what another granted. But in God the Fathers begetting there is neither ignorance nor intermediate deliberation 1270 . For to say that He knew not what He was begetting is the greatest impiety; and it is no less impious to say, that after deliberation in time He then became a Father. For God was not previously without a Son, and afterwards in time became a Father; but hath the Son eternally, having begotten Him not as men beget men, but as Himself only knoweth, who begat Him before all ages Very God.
9. For the Father being Very God begat the Son like unto Himself, Very God 1271 ; not as teachers beget disciples, not as Paul says to some, For in Christ Jesus I begat you through the Gospel 1272 . For in this case he who was not a son by nature became a son by discipleship, but in the former case He was a Son by nature, a true Son. Not as ye, who are to be illuminated, are now becoming sons of God: for ye also become sons, but by adoption of grace, as it is written, But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right 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 1273 . And we indeed are begotten of water and of the Spirit, but not thus was Christ begotten of the Father. For at the time of His Baptism addressing Him, and saying, This is My Son 1274 , He did not say, “This has now become My Son,” but, This is My Son; that He might make manifest, that even before the operation of Baptism He was a Son.
10. The Father begat the Son, not as among men mind begets word. For the mind is substantially existent in us; but the word when spoken is dispersed into the air and comes to an end 1275 . But we know Christ to have been begotten not as a word pronounced 1276 , but as a Word substantially existing 1277 and living; not spoken by the lips, and dispersed, but begotten of the Father eternally and ineffably, in substance 1278 . For, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God 1279 , sitting at Gods right p. 67 hand;—the Word understanding the Fathers will, and creating all things at His bidding: the Word, which came down and went up; for the word of utterance when spoken comes not down, nor goes up; the Word speaking and saying, The things which I have seen with My Father, these I speak 1280 : the Word possessed of power, and reigning over all things: for the Father hath committed all things unto the Son 1281 .
11. The Father then begat Him not in such wise as any man could understand, but as Himself only knoweth. For we profess not to tell in what manner He begat Him, but we insist that it was not in this manner. And not we only are ignorant of the generation of the Son from the Father, but so is every created nature. Speak to the earth, if perchance it may teach thee 1282 : and though thou inquire of all things which are upon the earth, they shall not be able to tell thee. For the earth cannot tell the substance of Him who is its own potter and fashioner. Nor is the earth alone ignorant, but the sun also 1283 : for the sun was created on the fourth day, without knowing what had been made in the three days before him; and he who knows not the things made in the three days before him, cannot tell forth the Maker Himself. Heaven will not declare this: for at the Fathers bidding the heaven also was like smoke established 1284 by Christ. Nor shall the heaven of heavens declare this, nor the waters which are above the heavens 1285 . Why then art thou cast down, O man, at being ignorant of that which even the heavens know not? Nay, not only are the heavens ignorant of this generation, but also every angelic nature. For if any one should ascend, were it possible, into the first heaven, and perceiving the ranks of the Angels there should approach and ask them how God begat His own Son, they would say perhaps, “We have above us beings greater and higher; ask them.” Go up to the second heaven and the third; attain, if thou canst, to Thrones, and Dominions, and Principalities, and Powers: and even if any one should reach them, which is impossible, they also would decline the explanation, for they know it not.
12. For my part, I have ever wondered at the curiosity of the bold men, who by their imagined reverence fall into impiety. For though they know nothing of Thrones, and Dominions, and Principalities, and Powers, the workmanship of Christ, they attempt to scrutinise their Creator Himself. Tell me first, O most daring man, wherein does Throne differ from Dominion, and then scrutinise what pertains to Christ. Tell me what is a Principality, and what a Power, and what a Virtue, and what an Angel: and then search out their Creator, for all things were made by Him 1286 . But thou wilt not, or thou canst not ask Thrones or Dominions. What else is there that knoweth the deep things of God 1287 , save only the Holy Ghost, who spake the Divine Scriptures? But not even the Holy Ghost Himself has spoken in the Scriptures concerning the generation of the Son from the Father. Why then dost thou busy thyself about things which not even the Holy Ghost has written in the Scriptures? Thou that knowest not the things which are written, busiest thou thyself about the things which are not written? There are many questions in the Divine Scriptures; what is written we comprehend not, why do we busy ourselves about what is not written? It is sufficient for us to know that God hath begotten One Only Son.
13. Be not ashamed to confess thine ignorance, since thou sharest ignorance with Angels. Only He who begat knoweth Him who was begotten, and He who is begotten of Him knoweth Him who begat. He who begat knoweth what He begat: and the Scriptures also testify that He who was begotten is God 1288 . For as the Father hath life in Himself, so also hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself 1289 ; and, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father 1290 ; and, as the Father quickeneth whom He will, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will 1291 . Neither He who begat suffered any loss, nor is anything lacking to Him who was begotten (I know that I have said these things many times, but it is for your safety that they are said so often): neither has He who begat, a Father, nor He who was begotten, a brother. Neither was He who begat changed into the Son 1292 , nor did He who was begotten become the Father 1293 . Of One Only Father there is One p. 68 Only-begotten Son: neither two Unbegotten 1294 , nor two Only-begotten; but One Father, Unbegotten (for He is Unbegotten who hath no father); and One Son, eternally begotten of the Father; begotten not in time, but before all ages; not increased by advancement, but begotten that which He now is.
14. We believe then In the Only-Begotten Son of God, Who Was Begotten of the Father Very God. For the True God begetteth not a false god, as we have said, nor did He deliberate and afterwards beget 1295 ; but He begat eternally, and much more swiftly than our words or thoughts: for we speaking in time, consume time; but in the case of the Divine Power, the generation is timeless. And as I have often said, He did not bring forth the Son from non-existence into being, nor take the non-existent into sonship 1296 : but the Father, being Eternal, eternally and ineffably begat One Only Son, who has no brother. Nor are there two first principles; but the Father is the head of the Son 1297 ; the beginning is One. For the Father begot the Son Very God, called Emmanuel; and Emmanuel being interpreted is, God with us 1298 .
15. And wouldest thou know that He who was begotten of the Father, and afterwards became man, is God? Hear the Prophet saying, This is our God, none other shall be accounted of in comparison with Him. He hath found out every way of knowledge, and given it to Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved. Afterwards He was seen on earth, and conversed among men 1299 . Seest thou herein God become man, after the giving of the law by Moses? Hear also a second testimony to Christs Deity, that which has just now been read, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever 1300 . For lest, because of His presence here in the flesh, He should be thought to have been advanced after this to the Godhead, the Scripture says plainly, Therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows 1301 . Seest thou Christ as God anointed by God the Father?
16. Wouldest thou receive yet a third testimony to Christs Godhead? Hear Esaias saying, Egypt hath laboured, and the merchandise of Ethiopia: and soon after, In Thee shall they make supplication, because God is in Thee, and there is no God save Thee. For Thou art God, and we knew it not, the God of Israel, the Saviour 1302 . Thou seest that the Son is God, having in Himself God the Father: saying almost the very same which He has said in the Gospels: The Father is in Me, and I am in the Father 1303 . He says not, I am the Father, but the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father. And again He said not, I and the Father am 1304 one, but, I and the Father am one, that we should neither separate them, nor make a confusion of Son-Father 1305 . One they are because of the dignity pertaining to the Godhead, since God begat God. One in respect of their kingdom; for the Father reigns not over these, and the Son over those, lifting Himself up against His Father like Absalom: but the kingdom of the Father is likewise the kingdom of the Son. One they are, because there is no discord nor division between them: for what things the Father willeth, the Son willeth the same. One, because the creative works of Christ are no other than the Fathers; for the creation of all things is one, the Father having made them through the Son: For He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created, saith the Psalmist 1306 . For He who speaks, speaks to one who hears: and He who commands, gives His commandment to one who is present with Him.
17. The Son then is Very God, having the Father in Himself, not changed into the Father; for the Father was not made man, but the Son. For let the truth be freely spoken 1307 . The Father suffered not for us, but the Father sent Him who suffered. Neither let us say, There was a time when the Son was not; nor let us admit a Son who is the Father 1308 : but let us walk in the kings highway; let us turn aside neither on the left hand nor on the right. Neither from thinking to honour the Son, let us call Him the Father; nor from p. 69 thinking to honour the Father, imagine the Son to be some one of the creatures. But let One Father be worshipped through One Son, and let not their worship be separated. Let One Son be proclaimed, sitting at the right hand of the Father before all ages: sharing His throne not by advancement in time after His Passion, but by eternal possession.
18. He who hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father 1309 : for in all things the Son is like to Him who begat Him 1310 ; begotten Life of Life and Light of Light, Power of Power, God of God; and the characteristics of the Godhead are unchangeable 1311 in the Son; and he who is counted worthy to behold Godhead in the Son, attains to the fruition of the Father. This is not my word, but that of the Only-begotten: Have I been so long time with you, and hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father 1312 . And to be brief, let us neither separate them, nor make a confusion 1313 : neither say thou ever that the Son is foreign to the Father, nor admit those who say that the Father is at one time Father, and at another Son: for these are strange and impious statements, and not the doctrines of the Church. But the Father having begotten the Son, remained the Father and is not changed. He begat Wisdom, yet lost not wisdom Himself; and begat Power, yet became not weak: He begat God, but lost not His own Godhead: and neither did He lose anything Himself by diminution or change; nor has He who was begotten any thing wanting. Perfect is He who begat, Perfect that which was begotten: God was He who begat, God He who was begotten; God of all Himself, yet entitling the Father His own God. For He is not ashamed to say, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God 1314 .
19. But lest thou shouldest think that He is in a like sense Father of the Son and of the creatures, Christ drew a distinction in what follows. For He said not, “I ascend to our Father,” lest the creatures should be made fellows of the Only-begotten; but He said, My Father and your Father; in one way Mine, by nature; in another yours, by adoption. And again, to my God and your God, in one way Mine, as His true and Only-begotten Son, and in another way yours, as His workmanship 1315 . The Son of God then is Very God, ineffably begotten before all ages (for I say the same things often to you, that it may be graven upon your mind). This also believe, that God has a Son: but about the manner be not curious, for by searching thou wilt not find. Exalt not thyself, lest thou fall: think upon those things only which have been commanded thee 1316 . Tell me first what He is who begat, and then learn that which He begat; but if thou canst not conceive the nature of Him who hath begotten, search not curiously into the manner of that which is begotten.
20. For godliness it sufficeth thee to know, as we have said, that God hath One Only Son, One naturally begotten; who began not His being when He was born in Bethlehem, but Before All Ages. For hear the Prophet Micah saying, And thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephrata, art little to be among the thousands of Judah. Out of thee shall come forth unto Me a Ruler, who shall feed My people Israel: and His goings forth are from the beginning, from days of eternity 1317 . Think not then of Him who is now come forth out of Bethlehem 1318 , but worship Him who was eternally begotten of the Father. Suffer none to speak of a beginning of the Son in time, but as a timeless Beginning acknowledge the Father. For the Father is the Beginning of the Son, timeless, incomprehensible, without beginning 1319 . The fountain of the river of righteousness, even of the Only-begotten, is the Father, who begat Him as Himself only knoweth. And wouldest thou know that our Lord Jesus Christ is King Eternal? Hear Him again saying, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad 1320 . And then, when the Jews received this hardly, He says what to them was still harder, Before Abraham was, I am 1321 . And again He saith to the Father, And now, Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was 1322 . He says plainly, “before the world was, I had the glory which is with Thee.” And again when p. 70 He says, For Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world 1323 , He plainly declares, “The glory which I have with thee is from eternity.”
21. We believe then In One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, Begotten of His Father Very God Before All Worlds, by Whom All Things Were Made. For whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were made through Him 1324 , and of things created none is exempted from His authority. Silenced be every heresy which brings in different creators and makers of the world; silenced the tongue which blasphemes the Christ the Son of God; let them be silenced who say that the sun is the Christ, for He is the suns Creator, not the sun which we see 1325 . Silenced be they who say that the world is the workmanship of Angels 1326 , who wish to steal away the dignity of the Only-begotten. For whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or anything that is named, all things were made by Christ. He reigns over the things which have been made by Him, not having seized anothers spoils, but reigning over His own workmanship, even as the Evangelist John has said, All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made 1327 . All things were made by Him, the Father working by the Son.
22. I wish to give also a certain illustration of what I am saying, but I know that it is feeble; for of things visible what can be an exact illustration of the Divine Power? But nevertheless as feeble be it spoken by the feeble to the feeble. For just as any king, whose son was a king, if he wished to form a city, might suggest to his son, his partner in the kingdom, the form of the city, and he having received the pattern, brings the design to completion; so, when the Father wished to form all things, the Son created all things at the Fathers bidding, that the act of bidding might secure to the Father His absolute authority 1328 , and yet the Son in turn might have authority over His own workmanship, and neither the Father be separated from the lordship over His own works, nor the Son rule over things created by others, but by Himself. For, as I have said, Angels did not create the world, but the Only-begotten Son, begotten, as I have said, before all ages, By Whom All Things Were Made, nothing having been excepted from His creation. And let this suffice to have been spoken by us so far, by the grace of Christ.
23. But let us now recur to our profession of the Faith, and so for the present finish our discourse. Christ made all things, whether thou speak of Angels, or Archangels, of Dominions, or Thrones. Not that the Father wanted strength to create the works Himself, but because He willed that the Son should reign over His own workmanship, God Himself giving Him the design of the things to be made. For honouring His own Father the Only-begotten saith, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do; for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise 1329 . And again, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work 1330 , there being no opposition in those who work. For all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, saith the Lord in the Gospels 1331 . And this we may certainly know from the Old and New Testaments. For He who said, Let us make man in our image and after our likeness 1332 , was certainly speaking to some one present. But clearest of all are the Psalmists words, He spake and they were made; He commanded, and they were created 1333 , as if the Father commanded and spake, and the Son made all things at the Fathers bidding. And this Job said mystically, Which alone spread out the heaven, and walketh upon the sea as on firm ground 1334 ; signifying to those who understand that He who when present here walked upon the sea is also He who aforetime made the heavens. And again the Lord saith, Or didst Thou take earth, and fashion clay into a living being 1335 ? then afterwards, Are the gates of death opened to Thee through fear, and did the door-keepers of hell shudder at sight of Thee 1336 ? thus signifying that He who through loving-kindness descended into hell, also in the beginning made man out of clay.
24. Christ then is the Only-begotten Son of God, and Maker of the world. For He was in the world, and the world was made by Him; and He came unto His own, as the Gospel teaches us 1337 . And not only of the things which are seen, but also of the things which are not seen, is Christ the Maker at the Fathers bidding. For in Him, according to the Apostle, were all things created that are in the heavens, and that are upon the earth, things visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things have been created by Him and for Him; and He is before all, and p. 71 in Him all things consist 1338 . Even if thou speak of the worlds, of these also Jesus Christ is the Maker by the Fathers bidding. For in these last days God spake unto us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds 1339 . To whom be the glory, honour, might, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.
Compare x. 11, 15; xvi. 13: xxi. 1.64:1233
ἐκ προκοπῆς. See x. 5. note 8.64:1234
Compare x. 14, note 9.64:1235
θετόν. Athanasius (de Sententiâ Dionysii, § 23), represents Arius as saying that the Word “is not by nature (κατὰ φύσιν) and in truth Son of God, but is called Son, He too, by adoption (κατὰ θέσιν), as a creature.” Again (c. Arian. Orat. iii. 19), he says, “This is the true God and the Life eternal, and we are made sons through Him by adoption and grace (θέσει καὶ χάριτι).” Cf. vii. 10, and § 4, below.64:1236
The mss. all read αὐτὸν Χριστόν which might mean “Christ and no other.” But Χριστόν is probably a gloss introduced from the margin.64:1237
Compare the passages in which Cyril quotes Ps. ii. 7, as Cat. vii. 2; x. 2; xi. 5; xii. 18.64:1238
“It was one of the especial rights of a father to choose the names for his children, and to alter them if he pleased” (Dict. Greek and Roman Antiq. “Nomen. 1 Greek.”) The right to the name given by the father is the subject of one of the Private Orations of Demosthenes (Πρὸς Βοιωτὸν περὶ τοῦ ὀνόματος).64:1239
Matt. xiii. 16.64:1240
Compare iv. 7: “God of God begotten;” xiii. 3 and 13: “God the Son of God.” Here however, the mss. vary, and the reading of Cod. Coisl. Υἱῷ Θεοῦ μονογενεῖ is approved by the Benedictine Editor, though not adopted. The confusion of Υἱῷ and Θεῷ is like that in John i. 18.64:1241
ὁ πρωτοστάτης τῶν ᾽Αποστόλων καὶ τῆς ᾽Εκκλησίας κορυφαῖος κήρυξ. Cf. ii. 19.64:1242
Matt. xvi. 17.65:1243
Athanasius (de Synodis, § 15) quotes a passage from the Thalia of Arius, in which he says: “We praise Him as without beginning, because of Him who has a beginning: and adore Him as eternal, because of Him who in time has come to be. He who is without beginning made the Son a beginning of things created.”
It is important, therefore, to notice the sense in which Cyril here calls the Son ἄναρχος. The word has two meanings, which should be clearly distinguished, (i) unoriginate, (ii) without beginning in time. The former referring to origin, or cause, can properly be applied to the One true God, or to God the Father only, as it is used by Clement of Alexandria (Protrept. cap. v. § 65: τὸν πάντων ποιητὴν…ἀγνοοῦντες, τὸν ἄναρχον Θεόν. [Strom. IV. cap. xxv. § 164: ὁ Θεὸς δὲ ἄναρχος ἀρχὴ τῶν ὅλων παντελὴς ἀρχῆς ποιητικός]. [Stromat. V. cap. xiv. § 142: ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἀνάρχου]. Methodius (ob. 312 a.d. circ.) in a fragment (On things created, § 8, English Trans. Clarks Ante-Nic. Libr.) comments thus on John i. 1-3: “And so after the peculiar unbeginning beginning, who is the Father, He (the Word) is the beginning of other things, by whom all things are made.”
In this sense Cyril has said (iv. 4) that God alone is “unbegotten, unoriginate:” and in xi. 20 he explains this more fully,—“Suffer none to speak of a beginning of the Son in time (χῥονικὴν ἀρχήν), but as a timeless beginning acknowledge the Father. For the Father is the beginning of the Son, timeless, incomprehensible, without beginning.” From a confusion of the two meanings the word came to be improperly applied in the sense of “unoriginate” to the Son, and to the Spirit; and this improper usage is condemned in the 49th Apostolic Canon, which Hefele regards as amongst the most ancient Canons, and taken from the Apostolic Constitutions, vi. 11: “If any Bishop or Presbyter shall baptize not according to our Lords ordinance into the Father, and Son, and Spirit, but into three Unoriginates, or three Sons, or three Paracletes let him be deposed.” (ii.) Athanasius frequently calls the Son ἄναρχος in the sense of timeless, as being the co-eternal brightness (ἀπαύγασμα) of the Eternal Light: see de Sent. Dionys. §§ 15, 16, 22; “God is the Eternal Light, which never either began or shall cease: accordingly the Brightness is ever before Him, and co-exists with Him, without beginning and ever-begotten (ἄναρχον καὶ ἀειγενές).”65:1244
εἰς προκοπὴν υἱοθεσίας. Cf. § 2, note 4.65:1245
Πρωτότοκον. The word occurs in Heb. i. 6, which had been read in the Lesson before this Lecture. The exact dogmatic sense of the word is carefully explained by Athanasius (c. Arian. Or. ii. 62): “The same cannot be both Only-begotten and Firstborn, 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.” See Mr. Robertsons discussion of the word πρωτότοκος (Athan. p. 344, in this series), and Bp. Bull (Def. Fid. Nic. iii. 5–8).65:1246
Ex. iv. 22.65:1247
Deut. xiv. 1.65:1248
Ps. lxxxii. 6.65:1249
ἐν πᾶσιν ὅμοιος. See the note on iv. 7. That the phrase was not equivalent to ὁμοούσιος, and did not adequately express the relation of the Son to the Father is clearly shewn by Athanasius (de Synodis, cap. iii. § 53).65:1250
The additions which the Benedictine Editor has here made to the earlier text, as represented by Milles, may be conveniently shewn in brackets. ἀλλὰ Υἱὸς [τοῦ Πατρὸς]* ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἐγεννήθη, [ὑπεράνω πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ αἰώνων τυγχάνων]*, Υιὸς τοῦ Πατρὸς [ἐν πᾶσιν]† ὅμοιος τῷ γεγεννηκότι· [ἀΐδιος ἐξ ἀϊδίου Πατρός,]* ζωὴ ἐκ ζωῆς γεγεννημένος. …καὶ Θεὸς ἐκ Θεοῦ, [καὶ δύναμις ἐκ δυνάμεως]‡.
* Codd. Coisl. Ottob. Mon. 2. † Coisl. Ottob. Roe, Casaub. Mon. 1, 2.
‡ Coisl. Ottob. Mon. 1, 2.65:1251
Matt. i. 1.65:1252
Heb. ix. 26.65:1253
See § 4, note 3.65:1254
τὸ μὲν κατὰ τὸν Δαβίδ.…τὸ δὲ κατὰ τὴν Θεότητα.65:1256
Isa. liii. 8. Compare § 7, below.65:1257
John iv. 24.65:1258
Ps. ii. 7.65:1259
Ps. cx. 3. “From the womb of the morning thou hast the dew of thy youth” (R.V.). There is a remarkable various reading in Codd. Roe, Casaub. Τό εἶ σύ, ἄχρονον καὶ ἀΐδιον· τὸ δὲ σήμερον πρόσφατον, ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἀΐδιον, οἰκειουμένου τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τὴν κάτω γέννησιν. Καὶ πάλιν λέγει· ᾽Εκ γαστρὸς πρὸ ἑωσφόρου γεγέννηκά σε· τοῦτο μόνον τῆς Θεότητος· Πίστευσον, κ.τ.λ The words “Thou art My Son,” are thus referred to the eternal generation, and “This day” to the birth in time: whereas in the received text, followed in our translation, σήμερον refers to the timeless and eternal generation of the Son. The former interpretation of Ps. ii. 7 is found in many Fathers, as for example in Tertullian (adv. Prax. vii. xi.), and Methodius (Conviv. Virg. VIII. cap. ix.): “He says Thou art, and not Thou hast become, shewing that He had not recently attained to the position of Son.…But the expression, This day have I begotten Thee, signifies that He willed that existing already before the ages in heaven He should also be begotten for the world, that is that He who was before unknown should be made known. The same interpretation was held by many Fathers, some referring σήμερον to the Nativity, as Cyprian (adv. Judæos Testim. ii. 8), others to the Baptism (Justin M. Dialog. cap. lxxxviii.; Tertullian. adv. Marcion. iv. 22). Athanasius (c. Arian. iv. § 27), has a long discussion on the question whether Ps. cx. 3, ἐκ γαστρὸς πρὸ ἑωσφόρου γεγέννηκά σε, refers to the eternal generation of the Son, or to His Nativity.66:1260
John iii. 16.66:1261
John 3:18, John 5:24.66:1262
Luke iv. 34.66:1265
φύσει καὶ οὐ θέσει. Cf. § 2, note 4.66:1266
1 John v. 1.66:1267
John iv. 24. Cf. § 5.66:1268
γεγεννημένος ἀνάρχως. Cf. § 5, note 4.66:1269
ὃ χρόνος. Bened. c. Codd. Roe, Casaub. Coisl. ὃ χρόνοις Ottob. Mon. 1, 2. A. With the latter reading, the meaning will be—“if He did not bestow from the beginning, as thou sayest, what He bestowed in after times.” Cyril does not here address his auditor, but an imaginary opponent,—“O man.”
Compare Athan. (de Synodis, § 26).66:1270
The Arians appear to have made use of a dilemma: If God begat with will and purpose, these preceded the begetting, and so ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν, there was a time when the Son was not: if without will and purpose, then He begat in ignorance and of necessity. The answer is fully given by Athanasius (c. Arian. iii. 58–67, pp. 425–431 in this Series).66:1271
Athanasius (ad Episcopos Ægypti, § 13), referring to 1 John v. 20, This is the true (ἁληθινός) God, writes: “But these men (the Arians), as if in contradiction to this, allege that Christ is not the true God, but that He is only called God, as are other creatures, in regard of His participation in the Divine nature.” Again (c. Arian. iii. 9), “He gave us to know that of the true Father He is the true Offspring (ἀληθινὸν γέννημα).66:1272
1 Cor. iv. 15.66:1273
John 1:12, 13.66:1274
Matt. iii. 17.66:1275
Compare Athanasius (de Sententiâ Dionysii, § 23): “the mind creates the word, being manifested in it, and the word shews the mind, having originated therein.” Tertullian (adv. Prax. vii.): “You will say what is a word but a voice and sound of the mouth, and (as the Grammarians teach) air when struck against, intelligible to the ear, but for the rest a sort of void, empty, and incorporeal thing.” Cf. Athan. (de Synodis, § 12): ἀνυπόστατον.66:1276
προφορικόν. See Cat. iv. 8, note 9.66:1277
ἐνυπόστατον. ibid. So the Spirit is described in Cat. xvii. 5 “not uttered or breathed by the mouth and lips of the Father and the Son, nor dispersed into the air, but personally subsisting (ἐνυπόστατον).”66:1278
John i. 1.67:1280
John viii. 38.67:1281
Matt. 11:27, John 5:22.67:1282
Job xii. 8.67:1283
In saying that the earth, the sun, and the heavens know not their Maker, Cyril is simply using figurative language like that of the passage of Job just quoted. There is no reason to suppose that he accepted Origens theory (de Principiis, II. cap. 7), that the heavenly bodies are living and rational beings, capable of sin.67:1284
Isa. li. 6: the heavens shall vanish away like smoke.67:1285
Ps. cxlviii. 4.67:1286
John i. 3.67:1287
1 Cor. 2:10, 11.67:1288
I have followed the reading of Codd. Coisl. Roe, Casaub. Mon. A., which is approved though not adopted by the Benedictine Editor. The common text is manifestly interpolated: “And the Holy Spirit of God testifies in the Scriptures, that He who was begotten without beginning is God. For what man knoweth, &c.” This insertion of 1 Cor. ii. 11 interrupts the argument, and is a useless repetition of the allusion to the same passage in § 12.67:1289
John v. 26.67:1290
See iv. 8, note 8, on the Sabellian doctrine, and Athanas. (de Synodis, § 16, note 10 in this series).67:1293
The doctrine of Sabellius might be expressed in two forms, either the Father became the Son, or the Son became the Father. Both forms are here denied. The Jerusalem Editor thinks there is an allusion to the Arian argument mentioned by Athanasius (c. Arian. Or. I. cap. vi. 22): “If the Son is the Fathers offspring and Image, and is like in all things to the Father, then it necessarily holds that as He is begotten so He begets, and He too becomes father of a son.” But the close connexion of the two clauses is in favour of the reference to the Sabellian υἱοπατορία.68:1294
ἀγέννητοι. The context shews that this, not ἀγένητοι, is here the right form. Athanasius seems to have used ἀγέννητος in both senses “Un-begotten,” as here, and “unoriginate.” Thus (c. Arian. Or. i. cap. ix. § 30) he says of the Arians: “Their further question whether the Unoriginate be one or two, shews how false are their views.” Compare Bp. Lightfoots Excursus on Ignatius, Ephes. § 7, and Mr. Robertsons notes on Athanasius in this Series.68:1295
See above, § 8, note 3.68:1296
Athan. (c. Arian. I. ix. 31) “speaking against the Lord, He is of nothing, and He was not before His generation.”68:1297
1 Cor. xi. 3.68:1298
Matt. i. 23.68:1299
Baruch iii. 35-37. The last verse was understood by Cyril, as by many of the Greek and Latin Fathers, to be a prophecy of the Incarnation: but in reality it refers to “knowledge” (ἐπιστήμη, v. 36), and should be translated “she was seen upon earth.” See notes on the passage in the Speakers Commentary.68:1300
Heb. i. 8.68:1301
Heb. 1.9. See x. 14, note 9.68:1302
Isa. 45:14, 15: “They shall make supplication unto thee, saying, surely God is in thee.” The words are addressed to Jerusalem as the city of God. Cyril applies them to the Son, misled by the Septuagint.68:1303
John xiv. 11.68:1304
Athanasius (c. Arian. Or. iv. § 9), arguing for the ὁμοούσιον says: “These are two, because there is Father and Son, that is the Word; and one, because one God. For if this is not so, He would have said, I am the Father, or, I and the Father am.”68:1305
See iv. 8, notes 7 and 8.68:1306
Ps. 33:9, Ps. 48:5. S. Cyril explains the creative “Fiat” in Gen. i. as addressed by the Father to the Son.68:1307
We learn from Socrates (Eccl. Hist. I. 24), that after the Nicene Council “those who objected to the word ὁμοούσιος conceived that those who approved it favoured the opinion of Sabellius.” Marcellus of Ancyra, who was deposed on a charge of Sabellianism, and who did not in fact make clear the distinct personality of the Son, had been warmly supported by the friends of Athanasius. Cyril apparently fears to incur their censure, if he too strongly condemned the Sabellian view.68:1308
Cyril here rejects both the opposite errors, Arianism, “There was a time when the Son was not,” and Sabellianism, “a Son who is the Father.”69:1309
John xiv. 9.69:1310
See above, § 4, note 9.69:1311
ἀπαράλλακτοι. The word was used by the Orthodox Bishops at Nicæa, who said that “the Word must be described as the True power and Image of the Father, in all things like the Father and Himself incapable of change.” See the notes of Dr. Newman and Mr. Robertson on Athanasius (de Decretis, § 20).69:1312
John xiv. 9.69:1313
See iv. 8, note 8.69:1314
John xx. 17.69:1315
Compare Cat. vii. 7. The Jerusalem Editor observes that the expression “My God” is understood by the Fathers generally as spoken by Christ in reference to His human nature, but Cyril applies this, as well as the other expression “My Father,” to the Divine nature. So Hilary (de Trinit. iv. 53): “idcirco Deus ejus est, quia ex eo natus in Deum est.” Compare Epiphanius (Hær. lxix. 55).69:1316
Micah v. 2; on the various readings ὀλγιοστὸς εἶ, μὴ ὀλ, εἶ οὐκ ὀλ. εἶ, found in the mss. of Cyril, see the Commentaries on the quotation of the passage in Matt. ii. 6.69:1318
Codd. Roe, Casaub. have a different reading—“Think not then of His having now been born in Bethlehem, and (nor) suppose Him as the Son of Man to be altogether recent, but worship, &c.” This is rightly regarded by the Benedictine and other Editors as an interpolation intended to avoid the apparent tendency of Cyrils language in the received text to separate the Virgins Son from the Eternal Word. Had Cyril so written after the Nestorian controversy arose, he would have appeared to favour the Nestorian formula that “Mary did not give birth to the Deity.” Compare Swainson (Nicene Creed, Ch. ix. § 7.) What Cyril really means is that we are not to think of Christ simply as man, but to worship Him as God.69:1319
Compare § 4, note 3.69:1320
John viii. 56.69:1321
John xvii. 24.70:1324
Col. i. 16.70:1325
Compare Cat. vi. 13, and xv. 3: “Here let converts from the Manichees gain instruction, and no longer make those lights their gods; nor impiously think that this sun which shall be darkened is Christ.”70:1326
The creation of the world was ascribed to Angels by the Gnostics generally, e.g. by Simon Magus (Irenæus, adv. Hæres. I. xxiii. § 2), Menander (ibid. § 5), Saturninus (ibid. xxiv. 1), Basilides (ibid. § 3), Carpocrates (ibid. xxv. 1).70:1327
John i. 3.70:1328
On the doctrine of Creation by the Son as held by Cyril, see the reference to the Introduction in the Index, Creation.70:1329
John v. 19.70:1330
Gen. i. 26.70:1333
Ps. cxlviii. 5.70:1334
Job ix. 8.70:1335
John 1:10, 11.71:1338
Col. 1:16, 17.71:1339
Heb. i. 2.
Next: On the words Incarnate, and Made Man.
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