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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter V. Certain passages from Scripture, urged against the Omnipotence of Christ, are resolved; the writer is also at especial pains to show that Christ not seldom spoke in accordance with the affections of human nature.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter V.

Certain passages from Scripture, urged against the Omnipotence of Christ, are resolved; the writer is also at especial pains to show that Christ not seldom spoke in accordance with the affections of human nature.

39. Although it is written concerning God, “Blessed and only Potentate,” 1948 yet I have no misgiving that the Son of God is thereby severed from Him, seeing that the Scripture entitled God, not the Father by Himself, the “only Potentate.” The Father Himself also declares by the prophet, concerning Christ, that “I have set help upon one that is mighty.” 1949 It is not the Father alone, then, Who is the only Potentate; God the Son also is Potentate, for in the Father’s praise the Son is praised too.

40. Aye, let some one show what there is that the Son of God cannot do. Who was His helper, when He made the heavens,—Who, when He laid the foundations of the world? 1950 Had He any need of a helper to set men free, Who needed none in constituting 1951 angels and principalities? 1952

41. “It is written,” say they: “‘My Father, if it be possible, take away this cup from Me.’ 1953 If, then, He is Almighty, how comes He to doubt of the possibility?” Which means that, because I have proved Him to be Almighty, I have proved Him unable to doubt of possibility.

42. The words, you say, are the words of Christ. True—consider, though, the occasion of His speaking them, and in what character He speaks. He hath taken upon Him the substance of man, 1954 and therewith its affections. Again, you find in the place above cited, that “He went forward a little further, and fell on His face, praying, and saying: Father, if it be possible.” 1955 Not as God, then, but as man, speaketh He, for could God be ignorant of the possibility or impossibility of aught? Or is anything impossible for God, when the Scripture saith: “For Thee nothing is impossible”? 1956

43. Of Whom, howbeit, does He doubt—of Himself, or of the Father? Of Him, surely, Who saith: “Take away from Me,”—being moved as man is moved to doubt. The prophet reckons nothing impossible with God. The prophet doubts not; think you that the Son doubts? Wilt thou put God lower than man? What—God hath doubts of His Father, and is fearful at the thought of death! Christ, then, is afraid—afraid, whilst Peter fears nothing. Peter saith: p. 229 “I will lay down my life for Thy sake.” 1957 Christ saith: “My soul is troubled.” 1958

44. Both records are true, and it is equally natural that the person who is the less should not fear, as that He Who is the greater should endure this feeling, for the one has all a man’s ignorance of the might of death, whilst the other, as being God inhabiting a body, displays the weakness of the flesh, that the wickedness of those who deny the mystery of the Incarnation might have no excuse. Thus, then, hath He spoken, yet the Manichæan believed not; 1959 Valentinus denied, and Marcion judged Him to be a ghost.

45. But indeed He so far put Himself on a level with man, such as He showed Himself to be in the reality of His bodily frame, as to say, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt,” 1960 though truly it is Christ’s especial power to will what the Father wills, even as it is His to do what the Father doeth.

46. Here, then, let there be an end of the objection which it is your custom to oppose to us, on the ground that the Lord said, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt;” and again, “For this cause I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” 1961



1 Tim. v. 15.


Ps. lxxxix. 20.


Job 38:4, Isa. 40:12.


Cf. the Collect for the Feast of St. Michael and all Angels.


Col. 1:15, 16.


Matt. 26:39, Matt. 14:35, Luke 22:41.


i.e. human nature. Cf. “Athanasian” Creed, clause 31.


Matt. 26:39, Mark 14:35.


Job xxii. 17.


S. John xiii. 37.


S. John xii. 27.


The principle common to these and other like heretics (who ignored or misconstrued many passages of Scripture which plainly declare the completeness and truth of our Lord’s humanity) was that matter is inherently and by its very nature evil. Mani, therefore, and the rest were easily led to think shame of attributing to Christ a real, tangible, visible body. For the doctrines of Mani, see note on I. 57. Valentinus was a Gnostic, who lived at Rome (whither he came from Alexandria) between 140 and 160 a.d. Marcion became known as a heresiarch in the papacy of Eleutherius (177–190 a.d.). For the doctrines of Valentinus and Marcion, see Robertson’s Church History, Bk. I. ch. iv.


S. Matt. xxvi. 39.


S. John vi. 38.

Next: Chapter VI. The passages of Scripture above cited are taken as an occasion for a digression, wherein our Lord's freedom of action is proved from the ascription to the Spirit of such freedom, and from places where it is attributed to the Son.

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