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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 18

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 18.—Of the Perfect Man, that Is, Christ; And of His Body, that Is, The Church, Which is His Fullness.

To understand what the apostle means when he says that we shall all come to a perfect man, we must consider the connection of the whole passage, which runs thus:  “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.  And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  till we all come to the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ:  that we henceforth be no more children, tossed and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ:  from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love.” 1640   Behold what the perfect man is—the head and the body, which is made up of all the members, which in their own time shall be perfected.  But new additions are daily being made to this body while the Church is being built up, to which it is said, “Ye are the body of Christ and His members;” 1641 and again, “For His body’s sake,” he says, “which is the Church;” 1642 and again, “We being many are one head, one body.” 1643   It is of the edification of this body that it is here, too, said, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edification of the body of Christ;” and then that passage of which we are now speaking is p. 497 added, “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ,” and so on.  And he shows of what body we are to understand this to be the measure, when he says, “That we may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ:  from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part.”  As, therefore, there is a measure of every part, so there is a measure of the fullness of the whole body which is made up of all its parts, and it is of this measure it is said, “To the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ.”  This fullness he spoke of also in the place where he says of Christ, “And gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, 1644 which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” 1645   But even if this should be referred to the form in which each one shall rise, what should hinder us from applying to the woman what is expressly said of the man, understanding both sexes to be included under the general term “man?”  For certainly in the saying, “Blessed is he who feareth the Lord,” 1646 women also who fear the Lord are included.


Footnotes

496:1640

Eph. 4.10-16.

496:1641

1 Cor. 12.27.

496:1642

Col. 1.24.

496:1643

1 Cor. 10.17.

497:1644

Another reading is, “Head over all the Church.”

497:1645

Eph. 1:22, 23.

497:1646

Ps. 112.1.


Next: Chapter 19

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