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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VIII:
De Spiritu Sancto.: Statement of the reason why in the writings of Paul the angels are associated with the Father and the Son.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XIII.

Statement of the reason why in the writings of Paul the angels are associated with the Father and the Son.

29.  It is, however, objected that other beings which are enumerated with the Father and the Son are certainly not always glorified together with them.  The apostle, for instance, in his charge to Timothy, associates the angels with them in the words, “I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels.” 960   We are not for alienating the angels from the rest of creation, and yet, it is argued, we do not allow of their being reckoned with the Father and the Son.  To this I reply, although the argument, so obviously absurd is it, does not really deserve a reply, that possibly before a mild and gentle judge, and especially before One who by His leniency to those arraigned before Him demonstrates the unimpeachable equity of His decisions, one might be willing to offer as witness even a fellow-slave; but for a slave to be made free and called a son p. 19 of God and quickened from death can only be brought about by Him who has acquired natural kinship with us, and has been changed from the rank of a slave.  For how can we be made kin with God by one who is an alien?  How can we be freed by one who is himself under the yoke of slavery?  It follows that the mention of the Spirit and that of angels are not made under like conditions.  The Spirit is called on as Lord of life, and the angels as allies of their fellow-slaves and faithful witnesses of the truth.  It is customary for the saints to deliver the commandments of God in the presence of witnesses, as also the apostle himself says to Timothy, “The things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men;” 961 and now he calls the angels to witness, for he knows that angels shall be present with the Lord when He shall come in the glory of His Father to judge the world in righteousness.  For He says, “Whoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God, but he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God;” 962 and Paul in another place says, “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his angels.” 963   Thus he already testifies before the angels, preparing good proofs for himself at the great tribunal.

30.  And not only Paul, but generally all those to whom is committed any ministry of the word, never cease from testifying, but call heaven and earth to witness on the ground that now every deed that is done is done within them, and that in the examination of all the actions of life they will be present with the judged.  So it is said, “He shall call to the heavens above and to earth, that he may judge his people.” 964   And so Moses when about to deliver his oracles to the people says, “I call heaven and earth to witness this day;” 965 and again in his song he says, “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak, and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth;” 966 and Isaiah, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;” 967 and Jeremiah describes astonishment in heaven at the tidings of the unholy deeds of the people:  “The heaven was astonished at this, and was horribly afraid, because my people committed two evils.” 968   And so the apostle, knowing the angels to be set over men as tutors and guardians, calls them to witness.  Moreover, Joshua, the son of Nun, even set up a stone as witness of his words (already a heap somewhere had been called a witness by Jacob), 969 for he says, “Behold this stone shall be a witness unto you this day to the end of days, when ye lie to the Lord our God,” 970 perhaps believing that by God’s power even the stones would speak to the conviction of the transgressors; or, if not, that at least each man’s conscience would be wounded by the force of the reminder.  In this manner they who have been entrusted with the stewardship of souls provide witnesses, whatever they may be, so as to produce them at some future day.  But the Spirit is ranked together with God, not on account of the emergency of the moment, but on account of the natural fellowship; is not dragged in by us, but invited by the Lord.


Footnotes

18:960

1 Tim. v. 21.

19:961

2 Tim. ii. 2.

19:962

Luke 12:8, 9.

19:963

2 Thess. i. 7.

19:964

Ps. l. 4.

19:965

Deut. iv. 26.

19:966

Deut. xxxii. 1.

19:967

Isa. i. 2.

19:968

Jer. 2:12, 13, lxx.

19:969

Gen. xxxi. 47.

19:970

Josh. xxiv. 27, lxx.


Next: Objection that some were baptized unto Moses and believed in him, and an answer to it; with remarks upon types.

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