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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Epistle to Gregory and Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John.: Chapter XXXVII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

37.  Christ as a Servant, as the Lamb of God, and as the Man Whom John Did Not Know.

Again, let any one consider how Jesus was to His disciples, not as He who sits at meat, but as He who serves, and how though the Son of God He took on Him the form of a servant for the sake of the freedom of those who were enslaved in sin, and he will be at no loss to account for the Father’s saying to Him: 4624   “Thou art My servant,” and a little further on:  “It is a great thing that thou shouldst be called My servant.”  For we do not hesitate to say that the goodness of Christ appears in a greater and more divine light, and more according to the image of the Father, because 4625 “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” than if He had judged it a thing to be grasped to be equal with God, and had shrunk from becoming a servant for the salvation of the world.  Hence He says, 4626 desiring to teach us that in accepting this state of servitude He had received a great gift from His Father:  “And My God shall be My strength.  And He said to Me, It is a great thing for Thee to be called My servant.”  For if He had not become a servant, He would not have raised up the tribes of Jacob, nor have turned the heart of the diaspora of Israel, and neither would He have become a light of the Gentiles to be for salvation to the ends of the earth.  And it is no great thing for Him to become a servant, even if it is called a great thing by His Father, for this is in comparison with His being called with an innocent sheep and with a lamb.  For the Lamb of God became like an innocent sheep being led to the slaughter, that He may take away the sin of the world.  He who supplies reason (λογος) to all is made like a lamb which is dumb before her shearer, that we might be purified by His death, which is given as a sort of medicine against the opposing power, and also against the sin of those who open their minds to the truth.  For the death of Christ reduced to impotence those powers which war against the human race, and it set free p. 317 from sin by a power beyond our words the life of each believer.  Since, then, He takes away sin until every enemy shall be destroyed and death last of all, in order that the whole world may be free from sin, therefore John points to Him and says: 4627   “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.”  It is not said that He will take it away in the future, nor that He is at present taking it, nor that He has taken it, but is not taking it away now.  His taking away sin is still going on, He is taking it away from every individual in the world, till sin be taken away from the whole world, and the Saviour deliver the kingdom prepared and completed to the Father, a kingdom in which no sin is left at all, and which, therefore, is ready to accept the Father as its king, and which on the other hand is waiting to receive all God has to bestow, fully, and in every part, at that time when the saying 4628 is fulfilled, “That God may be all in all.”  Further, we hear of a man who is said to be coming after John, who was made before him and was before him.  This is to teach us that the man also of the Son of God, the man who was mixed with His divinity, was older than His birth from Mary.  John says he does not know this man, but must he not have known Him when he leapt for joy when yet a babe unborn in Elisabeth’s womb, as soon as the voice of Mary’s salutation sounded in the ears of the wife of Zacharias?  Consider, therefore, if the words “I know Him not” may have reference to the period before the bodily existence.  Though he did not know Him before He assumed His body, yet he knew Him when yet in his mother’s womb, and perhaps he is here learning something new about Him beyond what was known to him before, namely, that on whomsoever the Holy Spirit shall descend and abide on him, that is he who is to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  He knew him from his mother’s womb, but not all about Him.  He did not know perhaps that this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire, when he saw the Spirit descending and abiding on Him.  Yet that He was indeed a man, and the first man, John did not know.



Isa. 49:3, 6.


Phil. 2:6, 8.


Isa. 49:5, 6.


John i. 29.


1 Cor. v. 28.

Next: Chapter XXXVIII