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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

10.  Of the Voice John the Baptist is.

“He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness:  Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet.”  As He who is peculiarly the Son of God, being no other than the Logos, yet makes use of Logos (reason)—for He was the Logos in the beginning, and was with God, the Logos of God—so John, the servant of that Logos, being, if we take the Scripture to mean what it says, no other than a voice, yet uses his voice to point to the Logos.  He, then, understanding in this way the prophecy about himself spoken by Isaiah the prophet, says he is a voice, not crying in the wilderness, but “of one crying in the wilderness,” of Him, namely, who stood and cried, 4864 “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.”  He it was, too, who said, 4865 “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.  Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and all the crooked shall be made straight.”  For as we read in Exodus that God said to Moses, 4866 “Behold I have given thee for a God to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet;” so we are to understand—the cases are at least analogous if not altogether similar—it is with the Word in the beginning, who is God, and with John.  For John’s voice points to that word and demonstrates it.  It is therefore a very appropriate punishment that falls on Zacharias on his saying to the angel, 4867 “Whereby shall I know this?  For I am an old man and my wife well stricken in years.”  For his want of faith with regard to the birth of the voice, he is himself deprived of his voice, as the angel Gabriel says to him, “Behold, thou shalt be silent and not able to speak until the day that these things shall come to pass, because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.”  And afterwards when he had “asked for a writing tablet and written, His name is John; and they all marvelled,” he recovered his voice; for “his mouth was opened immediately and his tongue, and he spake, blessing God.”  We discussed above how it is to be understood that the Logos is the Son of God, and went over the ideas connected with that; and a similar sequence of ideas is to be observed at this point.  John came for a witness; he was a man sent from God to bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe; he was that voice, then, we are to understand, which alone was fitted worthily to announce the Logos.  We shall understand this aright if we call to mind what was adduced in our exposition of the texts:  “That all might believe through Him,” and “This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send My messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.” 4868   There is fitness, too, in his being said to be the voice, not of one saying in the wilderness, but of one crying in the wilderness.  He who cries, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord,” also says it; but he might say it without crying it.  But he cries and shouts it, that even those may hear who are at a distance from the speaker, and that even the deaf may understand the greatness of the tidings, since it is announced in a great voice; and he thus brings help, both to those who have departed from God and to those who have lost the acuteness of their hearing.  This, too, was the reason why “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.”  Hence, too, 4869 “John beareth witness of Him, and cried, saying,” “Hence also God commands Isaiah to cry, with the voice of one saying, Cry.  And I said, What shall I cry?”  The physical voice we use in prayer need not be great nor startling; even should we not lift up any great cry or shout, God will yet hear us.  He says to Moses, 4870 “Why criest thou unto Me?” when Moses had not cried audibly at all.  It is not recorded in Exodus that he did so; but Moses had cried mightily to God in prayer with that voice which is heard by God alone.  Hence David also says, 4871 “With my voice I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me.”  And one who cries in the desert has need of a voice, that the soul which is deprived of God and deserted of truth—and what more dreadful desert is there than a soul deserted of God and of all virtue, since it still goes crookedly and needs instruction—may be exhorted to make straight the way of the Lord.  And that way is made straight by the man who, far from copying the serpent’s crooked journey; while he who is of the contrary disposition perverts his way.  Hence the rebuke directed to a man of this kind and to all who resemble him, “Why pervert ye the right ways of the Lord?” 4872



John vii. 37.


Luke iii. 4.


Exod. 7.1.


Luke i. 18.


Matt. xi. 10.


John i. 15.


Exod. xiv. 15.


Ps. lxxvii. 7.


Acts xiii. 10.

Next: Chapter XI