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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise Against Two Letters of the...: Chapter 16

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 16 [VI.]—Misrepresentation Concerning Sin in Christ.

They have not a righteous advocate, who are (even if that were the only difference) distinguished absolutely and widely from the righteous. Be it far from us to say, as they themselves slanderously affirm, that this just Advocate “spoke falsely by the necessity of the flesh;” but we say that He, in the likeness of sinful flesh, in respect of sin, condemned sin. And they, perchance not understanding this, and being blinded by the desire of misrepresentation, and ignorant of the number of ways in which the name of sin is accustomed to be used in the Holy Scriptures, declare that we affirm sin of Christ. Therefore we assert that Christ both had no sin,—neither in soul nor in the body; and that, by taking upon Him flesh in the likeness of sinful flesh, in respect of sin He condemned sin. And this assertion, somewhat obscurely made by the apostle, is explained in two ways,—either that the likenesses of things are accustomed to be called by the names of those things to which they are like, so that the p. 410 apostle may be understood to have intended to call this likeness of sinful flesh by the name of “sin;” or else that the sacrifices for sins were under the law called “sins,” all which things were figures of the flesh of Christ, which is the true and only sacrifice for sins,—not only for those which are all washed away in baptism, but also for those which afterwards creep in from the weakness of this life, on account of which the universal Church daily cries in prayer to God, “Forgive us our debts,” and they are forgiven us by means of that singular sacrifice for sins which the apostle, speaking according to the law, did not hesitate to call “sin.” Whence, moreover, is that much plainer passage of his, which is not uncertain by any twofold ambiguity, “We beseech you in Christ’s stead to be reconciled to God. He made Him to be sin for us, who had not known sin; that we might be the righteousness of God in Him.”  2739 For the passage which I have above mentioned, “In respect of sin, He condemned sin,” because it was not said, “In respect of his sin,” may be understood by any one, as if He said that He condemned sin in respect of the sin of the Jews; because in respect of their sin who crucified Him, it happened that He shed His blood for the remission of sins. But this passage, where God is said to have made Christ Himself “sin,” who had not known sin, does not seem to me to be more fittingly understood than that Christ was made a sacrifice for sins, and on this account was called “sin.”



2 Cor. 5:20, 21.

Next: Chapter 17