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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Spirit and the Letter.: Chapter 31

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 31 [XVIII.]—The Old Law Ministers Death; The New, Righteousness.

Now, since, as he says in another passage, “the law was added because of transgression,” 840 meaning the law which is written externally to man, he therefore designates it both as “the ministration of death,” 841 and “the ministration of condemnation;” 842 but the other, that is, the law of the New Testament, he calls “the ministration of the Spirit” 843 and “the ministration of righteousness,” 844 because through the Spirit we work righteousness, and are delivered from the condemnation due to transgression. The one, therefore, vanishes away, the other abides; for the terrifying schoolmaster will be dispensed with, when love has succeeded to fear. Now “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 845 But that this ministration is vouchsafed to us, not on account of our deserving, but from His mercy, the apostle thus declares: “Seeing then that we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, let us faint not; but let us renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor adulterating the word of God with deceit.” 846 By this “craftiness” and “deceitfulness” he would have us understand the hypocrisy with which the arrogant would fain be supposed to be righteous. Whence in the psalm, which the apostle cites in testimony of this grace of God, it is said, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin, and in whose mouth is no guile.” 847 This is the confession of lowly saints, who do not boast to be what they are not. Then, in a passage which follows not long after, the apostle writes thus: “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 848 This is the knowledge of His glory, whereby we know that He is the light which illumines our darkness. And I beg you to observe how he inculcates this very point: “We have,” says he, “this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” 849 When further on he commends in glowing terms this same grace, in the Lord Jesus Christ, until he comes to that vestment of the righteousness of faith, “clothed with which we cannot be found naked,” and whilst longing for which “we groan, being burdened” with mortality, “earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from Heaven,” “that mortality might be swallowed up of life;” 850 —observe what he says: “Now He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit;” 851 and after a little he thus briefly draws the conclusion of the matter: “That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 852 This is not the righteousness whereby God is Himself righteous, but that whereby we are made righteous by Him.



Gal. iii. 19.


2 Cor. iii. 7.


2 Cor. iii. 9.


2 Cor. iii. 8.


2 Cor. iii. 9.


2 Cor. iii. 17.


2 Cor. 4:1, 2.


Ps. xxxii. 2.


2 Cor. 4:5, 6.


2 Cor. iv. 7.


See 2 Cor. v. 1-4.


2 Cor. v. 5.


2 Cor. v. 21.

Next: Chapter 32