Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter X. How the apostle maintains that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
How the apostle maintains that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
But let us see something more on the subject. Christ then, according to the Apostle, is the power of God and the wisdom of God. What have you to say to this? How can you get out of it? There is no place for you to escape and fly to. Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God. He, I say, whom the Jews attacked, the Gentiles mocked, whom you yourself together with them are persecuting,—He, I say, who is foolishness to the heathen, and a stumbling-block to the Jews, and both to you, He, I say, is the power of God and the wisdom of God. What is there that you can do? Shut your ears, forsooth, so as not to hear? This the Jews did also when the Apostle was preaching. Do what you will, Christ is in heaven, and in God, and with Him, and in Him in the heavens above in whom also He was here below: you can no longer persecute Him with the Jews. But you do the one thing that you can. You persecute Him in the faith, you persecute Him in the church, you persecute Him with the arms of a wicked belief, you persecute Him with the sword of false doctrine. Perhaps you do rather more than the Jews of old did. You now persecute Christ, after ever those who did persecute Him, have believed. But perhaps you think that the sin is less because you can no longer lay hands on Him. No less grievous, I tell you, no less grievous to Him is that persecution, in which sinful men persecute Him in the persons of His followers. But the mention of the Lords cross offends you. It always offended the Jews as well. You shudder at hearing that God suffered: the Gentiles in their error mocked at this also. I ask you then, in what point do you differ from them, since you both agree in this frowardness? But for my part I not only do not water down this preaching of the holy cross, this preaching of the Lords passion, but as far as my wishes and powers go I emphasise it. For I will declare that He who was crucified is not only the power and wisdom of God, than which there is nothing greater, but actually Lord of absolute Divinity and glory. And this the rather, because this assertion of mine is the doctrine of God, as the Apostle says: “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect: but the wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world who are brought to nought: but we speak the hidden wisdom of God in a mystery, which God ordained before the world, unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what God hath prepared for them that love Him.” 2439 You see what great matters the Apostles discourse comprises in how small a compass. He says that he speaks wisdom, but a wisdom which only those that are perfect can know, and which the prudent of this world cannot know. For he says that this is the wisdom of God, which is hidden in a Divine mystery, and predestined before all worlds for the glory of the saints: and that therefore it is only known to those who savour of God; while the princes of this world are utterly ignorant of it. But he adds the reason, to establish both points that he had mentioned, saying: “For if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory. But it is written, that eye hath not seen, nor ear hath heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what God hath prepared for them that love Him.” You see then how the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, and predestined before all worlds, was unknown to those who crucified the Lord of glory, and known by those who received it. And well does he say that the wisdom of God was hidden in a mystery, for never yet could the eye of any man see, or the ear hear, or the heart imagine this; viz., that the Lord of glory should be born of a virgin and come in the flesh, and suffer all kinds of punishment, and shameful passion. But with regard to these gifts of God, as there is no one who—since p. 569 they were hidden in a mystery—could ever of himself understand them, so blessed is he who has grasped them when they are revealed. Thus all who have failed to grasp them must be reckoned among the princes of this world, and those who have grasped them among Gods wise ones. He then does not grasp it who denies God born in the flesh; therefore you also do not grasp it, as you deny this. But do what you will, deny as impiously as you like, we the rather believe the Apostle. But why should I say the Apostle? the rather do we believe God. For through the Apostle we believe Him, whom we know to have spoken by the Apostle. The Divine word says that the Lord of glory was crucified by the princes of the world. You deny it. They also who crucified Him denied that it was God whom they were crucifying. They then who confess Him have their portion with the Apostle who confessed Him. You are sure to have your lot with His persecutors. What is there then that can be replied to this? The Apostle says that the Lord of glory was crucified. Alter this if you can. Separate now, if you please, Jesus from God. At least you cannot deny that Christ was crucified by the Jews. But it was the Lord of glory who was crucified. Therefore you must either deny that Christ was nailed to the cross, or you must admit that God was nailed to it.
1 Cor. i. 6-9.
Next: Chapter XI. He supports the same doctrine by proofs from the gospel.
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