Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter XI. St. Ambrose returns to the main question, and shows that whenever Christ is said to have “been made” (or “become”), this must be understood with reference to His Incarnation, or to certain limitations. In this sense several passages of Scripture--especially of St. Paul--are expounded. The eternal Priesthood of Christ, prefigured in Melchizedek. Christ possesses not only likeness, but oneness with the Father.
St. Ambrose returns to the main question, and shows that whenever Christ is said to have “been made” (or “become”), this must be understood with reference to His Incarnation, or to certain limitations. In this sense several passages of Scripture—especially of St. Paul—are expounded. The eternal Priesthood of Christ, prefigured in Melchizedek. Christ possesses not only likeness, but oneness with the Father.
76. When, therefore, Christ is said to have been “made,” to have “become,” the phrase relates, not to the substance of the Godhead, but often to the Incarnation—sometimes indeed to a particular office; for if you understand it of His Godhead, then God was made into an object of insult and derision inasmuch as it is written: “But thou hast rejected thy Christ, 2241 and brought Him to nought; thou hast driven Him to wander;” and again: “And He was made the derision of His neighbours.” 2242 Of His neighbours, mark you—not of them of His household, not of them who clave to Him, for “he who cleaveth to the Lord is one Spirit;” 2243 he who is neighbour doth not cleave to Him. Again, “He was made a derision,” because the Lords Cross is to Jews a stumbling-block, and to Greeks is foolishness: 2244 for to them that are wise He is, by that same Cross, made higher than the heavens, higher than angels, and is made the Mediator of the better covenant, even as He was Mediator of the former.
77. Mark how I repeat the phrase; so far am I from seeking to avoid it. Yet take notice in what sense He is “made.”
78. In the first place, “having made purification, He sitteth on the right hand of Majesty on high, being made so much better than the angels.” 2245 Now where purification is, there is a victim; where there is a victim, there is also a body; where a body is, there is oblation; where there is the office of oblation, there also is sacrifice made with suffering.
79. In the next place, He is the Mediator of a better covenant. But where there is testamentary disposition, the death of the testator must first come to pass, 2246 as it is written a little further on. Howbeit, the death is not the death of His eternal Godhead, but of His weak human frame.
80. Furthermore, we are taught how He is made “higher than the heavens.” “Unspotted,” saith the Scripture, 2247 “separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; not having daily need, as the priests have need, to offer a victim first for his own sins, and then for those of the people. For this He did by sacrificing Himself once and for all.” None is said to be made higher, save he who has in some respect been lower; Christ, then, is, by His sitting at the right hand of the Father, made higher in regard of that wherein, being made lower than the angels, He offered Himself to suffer.
81. Finally, the Apostle himself saith to the Philippians, that “being made in the likeness of man, and found in outward appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, being made obedient even unto death.” 2248 Mark that, in regard whereof He is “made,” He is made, the Apostle saith, in the likeness of man, not in respect of Divine Sovereignty, and He was made obedient unto death, so that He displayed the obedience proper to man, and obtained the kingdom appertaining of right to Godhead.
82. How many passages need we cite further in evidence that His “being made” must be understood with reference to His Incarnation, or to some particular dispensation? Now whatsoever is made, the same is also created, for “He spake and they were made; He gave also the word, and they were created.” 2249 “The Lord created me.” These words are spoken with regard to His Manhood; and we have also shown, in our First Book, that the word “created” appears to have reference to the Incarnation.
83. Again, the Apostle himself, by declaring that no worship is to be rendered to a created existence, has shown that the Son has not been created, but begotten, of God. 2250 At the same time he shows in other places what there was in Christ that was created, in order to make plain in what sense he has read in Solomons book: “The Lord created Me.”
84. Let us now review a whole passage 2251 in order. “Seeing, then, that the sons have parts of flesh and blood, He too likewise was made to have part in the same, to the end that by death He might overthrow him who had the power of death.” 2252 Who, then, is He Who would have us to be partakers in His own flesh and blood? Surely the Son of God. How, save by means of the flesh, was He made partaker with us, 2253 or by p. 255 what, save by bodily death, brake He the chains of death? For Christs endurance of death was made the death of Death. 2254 This text, then, speaks of the Incarnation.
85. Let us see what follows: “For He did not indeed [straightway] put on Him the nature of angels, but that of Abrahams seed. And thus was He able to be made like to His brethren in all things throughout, that He might become a compassionate and faithful Prince, a Priest unto God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people; for in that He Himself suffered He is able also to help them that are tempted. Wherefore, brethren most holy, ye who have each his share in a heavenly calling, look upon the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus, regard His faithfulness to His Creator, even as Moses was in his house.” 2255 These, then, are the Apostles words.
86. You see what it is in respect whereof the writer calls Him created: “In so far as He took upon Him the seed of Abraham;” plainly asserting the begetting of a body. How, indeed, but in His body did He expiate the sins of the people? In what did He suffer, save in His body—even as we said above: “Christ having suffered in the flesh”? In what is He a priest, save in that which He took to Himself from the priestly nation? 2256
87. It is a priests duty to offer something, and, according to the Law, to enter into the holy places by means of blood; seeing, then, that God had rejected the blood of bulls and goats, this High Priest was indeed bound to make passage and entry into the holy of holies in heaven through His own blood, in order that He might be the everlasting propitiation for our sins. Priest and victim, then, are one; the priesthood and sacrifice are, however, exercised under the conditions of humanity, for He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. 2257
88. Let no man, therefore, when he beholds an order of human establishment, contend that in it resides the claim of Divinity; 2258 for even that Melchizedek, by whose office Abraham offered sacrifice, the Church doth certainly not hold to be an angel (as some Jewish triflers do), but a holy man and priest of God, who, prefiguring our Lord, 2259 is described as “without father or mother, without history of his descent, without beginning and without end,” 2260 in order to show beforehand the coming into this world of the eternal Son of God, Who likewise was incarnate and then brought forth without any father, begotten as God without mother, and was without history of descent, for it is written: “His generation who shall declare?” 2261
89. This Melchizedek, then, have we received as a priest of God made upon the model of Christ, but the one we regard as the type, the other as the original. Now a type is a shadow of the truth, and we have accepted the royalty of the one in the name of a single city, but that of the other as shown in the reconciliation of the whole world; for it is written: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself;” 2262 that is to say, [in Christ was] eternal Godhead: or, if the Father is in the Son, even as the Son is in the Father, then Their unity in both nature 2263 and operation is plainly not denied.
90. But how, indeed, could our adversaries justly deny this, even if they would, when the Scripture saith: “But the Father, Who abideth in Me, even He doeth the works;” and “The works that I do, He Himself worketh”? 2264 Not “He also doeth the works,” but one should regard it as similarity rather than unity of work; in saying, “The things that I do, He Himself doeth,” the Apostle has left it clear that we ought to believe that the work of the Father and the work of the Son is one.
91. On the other hand, when He would have similarity, not unity, of works, to be understood, He said: “He that believeth in Me, the works which I do, shall he do also.” 2265 Skilfully inserting here the word “also,” He hath allowed us similarity, and yet hath not ascribed natural unity. One, therefore, is the work of the Father and the work of the Son, whether the Arians please so to think or not.
Or, as E.V.—“Thine Anointed” (χριστὸς from χρίω=anoint).254:2242
Ps. 89:37, 40.254:2243
1 Cor. vi. 17.254:2244
1 Cor. i. 23.254:2245
Heb. 1:3, 4.254:2246
Heb. 7:22, Heb. 11:16.254:2247
Heb. 7:26, 27.254:2248
Phil. 2:7, 8.254:2249
Ps. cxlviii. 5.254:2250
Rom. i. 25.254:2251
Viz.: the complete section Heb. ii. 14–iii. 2.254:2252
Heb. ii. 14.254:2253
Particeps noster—our partner, companion, sharing all our labours (and taking the lions share, too). Isa. liii. 4.255:2254
1 Cor. 15:54, 55.255:2255
Heb. ii. 16–iii. 2.255:2256
“Priestly nation.”—Exod. 19:5, 1 Pet. 2:9. We must not understand especial reference to the priestly tribe of Levi only, but to the whole people of Israel. Cf. Heb. vii.255:2257
Ps. cx. 4.255:2258
Gen. xiv. 18 ff.255:2259
Orig. “typum gerens Domini”—“bearing the stamp of our Lord,” marked with His mark, as a coin is stamped with the image and superscription of the king or other authority who issues it.255:2260
Heb. vii. 1 ff.255:2261
Isa. liii. 8.255:2262
2 Cor. v. 19.255:2263
S. John xiv. 10.255:2265
S. John xiv. 12.
Next: Chapter XII. The kingdom of the Father and of the Son is one and undivided, so likewise is the Godhead of each.
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