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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise Against Two Letters of the...: Chapter 23

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 23.—There is No True Righteousness Without the Faith of the Grace of Christ.

Wherefore he who lives according to the righteousness which is in the law, without the faith of the grace of Christ, as the apostle declares that he lived blameless, must be accounted to have no true righteousness; not because the law is not true and holy, but because to wish to obey the letter which commands, without the Spirit of God which quickens, as if of the strength of free will, is not true righteousness. But the righteousness according to which the p. 414 righteous man lives by faith, since man has it from God by the Spirit of grace, is true righteousness. And although this is not undeservedly said to be perfect in some righteous men, according to the capacity of this life, yet it is but little to that great righteousness which the equality of the angels receives. And he who had not yet possessed this, on the one hand, in respect of that which was already in him, said that he was perfect; and in respect of that which was still wanting to him, said that he was imperfect. But manifestly that lower degree of righteousness makes merit, that higher kind becomes reward. Whence he who does not strive after the former does not attain unto the latter. Wherefore, after the resurrection of man, to deny that there will be a fulness of righteousness, and to think that the righteousness in the body of that life will be such as it can be in the body of this death, is singular folly. But it is most true that men do not there begin to fulfil those commands of God which here they have been unwilling to obey. For there will be the fulness of the most perfect righteousness, yet not of men striving after what is commanded, and making gradual endeavours after that fulness; but in the twinkling of an eye, even as shall be that resurrection of the dead itself, because that greatness of perfect righteousness will be given as a reward to those who here have obeyed the commandments, and will not itself be commanded to them as a thing to be accomplished. But I should in such wise say they have done the commandments, that we might remember that to these very commandments belongs the prayer in which the holy children of promise daily say with truth, “Thy will be done,” 2769 and “Forgive us our debts.” 2770



Matt. vi. 10.


Matt. vi. 12.

Next: Chapter 24

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