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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

30.  How John Was a Witness of Christ, and Specially of “The Light.”

It may be asked why we should have gone through all this when the verse before us is, “He came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light.”  But it was necessary to give John’s testimonies to the light, and to show the order in which they took place, and also, in order to show how effective John’s testimony proved, to set forth the help it afforded afterwards to those to whom he bore it.  But before all these testimonies there was an earlier one when the Baptist leaped in the womb of Elisabeth at the greeting of Mary.  That was a testimony to Christ and attested His divine conception and birth.  And what more need I say?  John is everywhere a witness and forerunner of Christ.  He anticipates His birth and dies a little before the death of the Son of God, and thus witnesses not only for those at the time of the birth, but to those who were expecting the freedom which was to come for man through the death of Christ.  Thus, in all his life, he is a little before Christ, and everywhere makes ready for the Lord a people prepared for Him.  And John’s testimony precedes also the second and diviner coming of Christ, for we read, 4774 “If ye will receive it, this is Elijah which is to come.  He that hath ears to hear let him hear.”  Now, there was a beginning, in which the Word was,—and we saw from Proverbs that that beginning was wisdom,—and the Word was in existence, and in the Word life was made, and the life was the light of men; and all this being so, I ask why the man who came, sent from God, whose name was John, why he came for witness to bear witness especially of the light?  Why did he not come to bear witness of the life, or of the Word, or about the p. 345 beginning, or about any other of the many aspects in which Christ appears?  Consider here the texts, “The people which sat in darkness saw a great light,” and “The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness overtook it not,” and consider how those who are in darkness, that is, men, have need of light.  For if the light of men shines in darkness, and there is no active power in darkness to attain to it, then we must partake of other aspects of Christ; at present we have no real share of Him at all.  For what share have we of life, we who are still in the body of death, and whose life is hid with Christ in God? 4775   “For when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory.”  It was not possible, therefore, that he who came should bear witness about a life which is still hid with Christ in God.  Nor did he come for witness to bear witness of the Word, for we know the Word who was in the beginning with God and who is God the Word; for the Word was made flesh on the earth.  And though the witness had been, at least apparently, about the Word, it would in fact have been about the Word made flesh and not about the word of God.  He did not come, therefore, to bear witness of the Word.  And how could there be any witness-bearing about wisdom, to those who, even if they appear to know something, cannot understand pure truth, but behold it through a glass and in an enigma?  It is likely, however, that before the second and diviner advent of Christ, John or Elias will come to bear witness about life a little before Christ our life is made manifest, and that then they will bear witness about the Word, and offer also their testimony about wisdom.  Some inquiry is necessary whether a testimony such as that of John is to precede each of the aspects of Christ.  So much for the words, “He came for witness, to bear witness of the light.”  What we are to understand by the further words, “That all might believe through Him,” may be considered later.




Matt. 11:14, 15.


Col. 3:3, 4.

Next: Book IV

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