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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Concerning ignorance and servitude.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXI.—Concerning ignorance and servitude.

He assumed, it is to be noted 2206 , the ignorant and servile nature 2207 . For it is man’s nature to be the servant of God, his Creator, and he does not possess knowledge of the future. If, then, as Gregory the Theologian holds, you are to separate the realm of sight from the realm of thought, the flesh is to be spoken of as both servile and ignorant, but on account of the identity of subsistence and the inseparable union the soul of the Lord was enriched with the knowledge of the future as also with the other miraculous powers. For just as the flesh of men is not in its own nature life-giving, while the flesh of our Lord which was united in subsistence with God the Word Himself, although it was not exempt from the mortality of its nature, yet became life-giving through its union in subsistence with the Word, and we may not say that it was not and is not for ever life-giving: in like manner His human nature does not in essence possess the knowledge of the future, but the soul of the Lord through its union with God the Word Himself and its identity in subsistence was enriched, as I said, with the knowledge of the future as well as with the other miraculous powers.

Observe further 2208 that we may not speak of Him as servant. For the words servitude and mastership are not marks of nature but indicate relationship, to something, such as that of fatherhood and sonship. For these do not signify essence but relation.

It is just as we said, then, in connection with ignorance, that if you separate with subtle thoughts, that is, with fine imaginings, the created from the uncreated, the flesh is a servant, unless it has been united with God the Word 2209 . But how can it be a servant when it is once united in subsistence? For since Christ is one, He cannot be His own servant and Lord. For these are not simple predications but relative. Whose servant, then could He be? His Father’s? The Son, then, would not have all the Father’s attributes, if He is the Father’s servant and yet in no respect His own. Besides, how could the apostle say concerning us who were adopted by Him, So that you are no longer a servant but a son 2210 , if indeed He is Himself a servant? The word servant, then, is used merely as a title, though not in the strict meaning: but for our sakes He assumed the form of a servant and is called a servant among us. For although He is without passion, yet for our sake He was the servant of passion and became the minister of our salvation. Those, then, who say that He is a servant divide the one Christ into two, just as Nestorius did. But we declare Him to be Master and Lord of all creation, the one Christ, at once God and man, and all-knowing. For in Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the hidden treasures 2211 .



Greg. Naz., Orat. 36.


Photius, Cod. 230; Eulog., bk. x., Ep. 35; Sophron., Ep. ad Serg.; Leont., De Sect., Act. 10.


Cf. Sophron., Ep. ad. Serg., who refers to the Duliani (᾽Δουλιανοί); the opinions of Felix and Elipandas, condemned at the Synod of Frankfort; and Thomas Aquinas, III., Quæst. 20, Art. 1.


Greg. Naz., Orat. 24.


Gal. iv. 7.


Col. ii. 3.

Next: Concerning His growth.

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