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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 12

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 12.—In What Manner the Son is Said Not to Know the Day and the Hour Which the Father Knows. Some Things Said of Christ According to the Form of God, Other Things According to the Form of a Servant. In What Way It is of Christ to Give the Kingdom, in What Not of Christ. Christ Will Both Judge and Not Judge.

Again, “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven; neither the Son, but the Father.” 136 For He is ignorant of this, as making others ignorant; that is, in that He did not so know as at that time to show His disciples: 137 as it was said to Abraham, “Now I know that thou fearest God,” 138 that is, now I have caused thee to know it; because he himself, being tried in that temptation, became known to himself. For He was certainly going to tell this same thing to His disciples at the fitting time; speaking of which yet future as if past, He says, “Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you;” 139 which He had not yet done, but spoke as though He had already done it, because He certainly would do it. For He says to the disciples themselves, “I have yet many things to say unto you; but ye cannot bear them now.” 140 Among which is to be understood also, “Of the day and hour.” For the apostle also says, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified;” 141 because he was speaking to those who were not able to receive higher things concerning the Godhead of Christ. To whom also a little while after he says, “I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.” 142 He was “ignorant,” therefore, among them of that which they were not able to know from him. And that only he said that he knew, which it was fitting that they should know from him. In short, he knew among the perfect what he knew not among babes; for he there says: “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect.” 143 For a man is said p. 31 not to know what he hides, after that kind of speech, after which a ditch is called blind which is hidden. For the Scriptures do not use any other kind of speech than may be found in use among men, because they speak to men.

24. According to the form of God, it is said “Before all the hills He begat me,” 144 that is, before all the loftinesses of things created and, “Before the dawn I begat Thee,” 145 that is, before all times and temporal things: but according to the form of a servant, it is said, “The Lord created me in the beginning of His ways.” 146 Because, according to the form of God, He said, “I am the truth;” and according to the form of a servant, “I am the way.” 147 For, because He Himself, being the first-begotten of the dead, 148 made a passage to the kingdom of God to life eternal for His Church, to which He is so the Head as to make the body also immortal, therefore He was “created in the beginning of the ways” of God in His work. For, according to the form of God, He is the beginning, 149 that also speaketh unto us, in which “beginning” God created the heaven and the earth; 150 but according to the form of a servant, “He is a bridegroom coming out of His chamber.” 151 According to the form of God, “He is the first-born of every creature, and He is before all things and by him all things consist;” according to the form of a servant, “He is the head of the body, the Church.” 152 According to the form of God, “He is the Lord of glory.” 153 From which it is evident that He Himself glorifies His saints: for, “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” 154 Of Him accordingly it is said, that He justifieth the ungodly; 155 of Him it is said, that He is just and a justifier. 156 If, therefore, He has also glorified those whom He has justified, He who justifies, Himself also glorifies; who is, as I have said, the Lord of glory. Yet, according to the form of a servant, He replied to His disciples, when inquiring about their own glorification: “To sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, but [it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared by my Father.” 157

25. But that which is prepared by His Father is prepared also by the Son Himself, because He and the Father are one. 158 For we have already shown, by many modes of speech in the divine Scriptures, that, in this Trinity, what is said of each is also said of all, on account of the indivisible working of the one and same substance. As He also says of the Holy Spirit, “If I depart, I will send Him unto you.” 159 He did not say, We will send; but in such way as if the Son only should send Him, and not the Father; while yet He says in another place, “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you; but the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things.” 160 Here again it is so said as if the Son also would not send Him, but the Father only. As therefore in these texts, so also where He says, “But for them for whom it is prepared by my Father,” He meant it to be understood that He Himself, with the Father, prepares seats of glory for those for whom He will. But some one may say: There, when He spoke of the Holy Spirit, He so says that He Himself will send Him, as not to deny that the Father will send Him; and in the other place, He so says that the Father will send Him, as not to deny that He will do so Himself; but here He expressly says, “It is not mine to give,” and so goes on to say that these things are prepared by the Father. But this is the very thing which we have already laid down to be said according to the form of a servant: viz., that we are so to understand “It is not mine to give,” as if it were said, This is not in the power of man to give; that so He may be understood to give it through that wherein He is God equal to the Father. “It is not mine,” He says, “to give;” that is, I do not give these things by human power, but “to those for whom it is prepared by my Father;” but then take care you understand also, that if “all things which the Father hath are mine,” 161 then this certainly is mine also, and I with the Father have prepared these things.

26. For I ask again, in what manner this is said, “If any man hear not my words, I will not judge him?” 162 For perhaps He has said here, “I will not judge him,” in the same sense as there, “It is not mine to give.” But what follows here? “I came not,” He says, “to judge the world, but to save the world;” and then He adds, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him.” Now here we should understand the Father, unless He had added, “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” Well, then, will neither the Son judge, because He says, “I will not judge him,” nor the Father, but the word which the Son hath spoken? Nay, p. 32 but hear what yet follows: “For I,” He says, “have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak; and I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” If therefore the Son judges not, but “the word which the Son hath spoken;” and the word which the Son hath spoken therefore judges, because the Son “hath not spoken of Himself, but the Father who sent Him gave Him a commandment what He should say, and what He should speak:” then the Father assuredly judges, whose word it is which the Son hath spoken; and the same Son Himself is the very Word of the Father. For the commandment of the Father is not one thing, and the word of the Father another; for He hath called it both a word and a commandment. Let us see, therefore, whether perchance, when He says, “I have not spoken of myself,” He meant to be understood thus,—I am not born of myself. For if He speaks the word of the Father, then He speaks Himself, 163 because He is Himself the Word of the Father. For ordinarily He says, “The Father gave to me;” by which He means it to be understood that the Father begat Him: not that He gave anything to Him, already existing and not possessing it; but that the very meaning of, To have given that He might have, is, To have begotten that He might be. For it is not, as with the creature so with the Son of God before the incarnation and before He took upon Him our flesh, the Only-begotten by whom all things were made; that He is one thing, and has another: but He is in such way as to be what He has. And this is said more plainly, if any one is fit to receive it, in that place where He says: “For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.” 164 For He did not give to Him, already existing and not having life, that He should have life in Himself; inasmuch as, in that He is, He is life. Therefore “He gave to the Son to have life in Himself” means, He begat the Son to be unchangeable life, which is life eternal. Since, therefore, the Word of God is the Son of God, and the Son of God is “the true God and eternal life,” 165 as John says in his Epistle; so here, what else are we to acknowledge when the Lord says, “The word which I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day,” 166 and calls that very word the word of the Father and the commandment of the Father, and that very commandment everlasting life?” “And I know,” He says, “that His commandment is life everlasting.”

27. I ask, therefore, how we are to understand, “I will not judge him; but the Word which I have spoken shall judge him:” which appears from what follows to be so said, as if He would say, I will not judge; but the Word of the Father will judge. But the Word of the Father is the Son of God Himself. Is it to be so understood: I will not judge, but I will judge? How can this be true, unless in this way: viz., I will not judge by human power, because I am the Son of man; but I will judge by the power of the Word, because I am the Son of God? Or if it still seems contradictory and inconsistent to say, I will not judge, but I will judge; what shall we say of that place where He says, “My doctrine is not mine?” How “mine,” when “not mine?” For He did not say, This doctrine is not mine, but “My doctrine is not mine:” that which He called His own, the same He called not His own. How can this be true, unless He has called it His own in one relation; not His own, in another? According to the form of God, His own; according to the form of a servant, not His own. For when He says, “It is not mine, but His that sent me,” 167 He makes us recur to the Word itself. For the doctrine of the Father is the Word of the Father, which is the Only Son. And what, too, does that mean, “He that believeth on me, believeth not on me?” 168 How believe on Him, yet not believe on Him? How can so opposite and inconsistent a thing be understood—“Whoso believeth on me,” He says, “believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me;”—unless you so understand it, Whoso believeth on me believeth not on that which he sees, lest our hope should be in the creature; but on Him who took the creature, whereby He might appear to human eyes, and so might cleanse our hearts by faith, to contemplate Himself as equal to the Father? So that in turning the attention of believers to the Father, and saying, “Believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me,” He certainly did not mean Himself to be separated from the Father, that is, from Him that sent Him; but that men might so believe on Himself, as they believe on the Father, to whom He is equal. And this He says in express terms in another place, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me:” 169 that is, in the same way as you believe in God, so also believe in me; because I and the Father are One God. As therefore, here, He has as it were withdrawn p. 33 the faith of men from Himself, and transferred it to the Father, by saying, “Believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me,” from whom nevertheless He certainly did not separate Himself; so also, when He says, “It is not mine to give, but [it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared by my Father,” it is I think plain in what relation both are to be taken. For that other also is of the same kind, “I will not judge;” whereas He Himself shall judge the quick and dead. 170 But because He will not do so by human power, therefore, reverting to the Godhead, He raises the hearts of men upwards; which to lift up, He Himself came down.



Mark 13.32Mark xiii. 32


[The more common explanation of this text in modern exegesis makes the ignorance to be literal, and referable solely to the human nature of our Lord, not to his person as a whole. Augustin’s explanation, which Bengel, on Mark 13.32Mark xiii. 32, is inclined to favor, escapes the difficulty that arises from a seeming division of the one theanthopic person into two portions, one of which knows, and the other does not. Yet this same difficulty besets the fact of a growth in knowledge, which is plainly taught in Luke 1.80Luke i. 80. In this case, the increase in wisdom must relate to the humanity alone.—W.G.T.S.]


Gen. 22.12Gen. xxii. 12


John 15.5John xv. 15


John 16.12John xvi. 12


1 Cor. 2.21 Cor. ii. 2


1 Cor. 3.11 Cor. iii. 1


1 Cor. 2.61 Cor. ii. 6


Prov. 8.25Prov. viii. 25


Ps. 110.3Ps. cx. 3. Vulgate.


Prov. 8.22Prov. viii. 22


John 14.6John xiv. 6


Rev. 1.5Apoc. i. 5


John 8.25John viii. 25


Gen. 1.1Gen. i. 1


Ps. 19.5Ps. xix. 5


Col. 1:15, 17, 18Col. 1:15, 17, 18


1 Cor. 2.81 Cor. ii. 8


Rom. 8.30Rom. viii. 30


Rom. 4.5Rom. iv. 5


Rom. 3.26Rom. iii. 26


Matt. 20.23


John 10.30John x. 30


John 16.7John xvi. 7


John 14:25, 26John 14:25, 26


John 16.15John xvi. 15


John 12.47-50John xii. 47-50


Seipsum loquitur


John 5.26John v. 26


1 John 5.201 John v. 20


John 12.48John xii. 48


John 7.16John vii. 16


John 12.44John xii. 44


John 14.1John xiv. 1


2 Tim. 4.12 Tim. iv. 1

Next: Chapter 13