And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In the preceding section, my revered brother Ambrosius, brother formed according to the Gospel, we have discussed, as far as is at present in our power, what the Gospel is, and what is the beginning in which the Word was, and what the Word is which was in the beginning. We now come to consider the next point in the work before us, How the Word was with God. To this end it will be of service to remember that what is called the Word came to certain persons; as
The Word of the Lord Hosea 1:1 which came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, and
The Word Isaiah 2:1 which came to Isaiah, the son of Amos, concerning Judah and concerning Jerusalem, and
The Word which came to Jeremiah Jeremiah 14:1 concerning the drought. We must enquire how this Word came to Hosea, and how it came also to Isaiah the son of Amos, and again to Jeremiah concerning the drought; the comparison may enable us to find out how the Word was with God. The generality will simply look at what the prophets said, as if that were the Word of the Lord or the Word, that came to them. May it not be, however, that as we say that this person comes to that, so the Son, the Word, of whom we are now theologizing, came to Hosea, sent to him by the Father; historically, that is to say, to the son of Beeri, the prophet Hosea, but mystically to him who is saved, for Hosea means, etymologically, Saved; and to the son of Beeri, which etymologically means wells, since every one who is saved becomes a son of that spring which gushes forth out of the depths, the wisdom of God. And it is nowise marvellous that the saint should be a son of wells. From his brave deeds he is often called a son, whether, from his works shining before men, of light, or from his possessing the peace of God which passes all understanding, of peace, or, once more, from the help which wisdom brings him, a child of wisdom; for wisdom, Matthew 11:19 it says, is justified of her children. Thus he who by the divine spirit searches all things, and even the deep things of God, so that he can exclaim, Romans 11:33
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! he can be a son of wells, to whom the Word of the Lord comes. Similarly the Word comes also to Isaiah, teaching the things which are coming upon Judæa and Jerusalem in the last days; and so also it comes to Jeremiah lifted up by a divine elation. For Iao means etymologically lifting up, elation. Now the Word comes to men who formerly could not receive the advent of the Son of God who is the Word; but to God it does not come, as if it had not been with Him before. The Word was always with the Father; and so it is said,
And the Word was with God. He did not come to God, and this same word
was is used of the Word because He was in the beginning at the same time when He was with God, neither being separated from the beginning nor being bereft of His Father. And again, neither did He come to be in the beginning after He had not been in it, nor did He come to be with God after not having been with Him. For before all time and the remotest age the Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God. Thus to find out what is meant by the phrase,
The Word was with God, we have adduced the words used about the prophets, how He came to Hosea, to Isaiah, to Jeremiah, and we have noticed the difference, by no means accidental, between
was. We have to add that in His coming to the prophets He illuminates the prophets with the light of knowledge, causing them to see things which had been before them, but which they had not understood till then. With God, however, He is God, just because He is with Him. And perhaps it was because he saw some such order in the Logos, that John did not place the clause
The Word was God before the clause
The Word was with God. The series in which he places his different sentences does not prevent the force of each axiom from being separately and fully seen. One axiom is,
In the beginning was the Word, a second,
The Word was with God, and then comes,
And the Word was God. The arrangement of the sentences might be thought to indicate an order; we have first
In the beginning was the Word, then,
And the Word was with God, and thirdly,
And the Word was God, so that it might be seen that the Word being with God makes Him God.
We next notice John's use of the article in these sentences. He does not write without care in this respect, nor is he unfamiliar with the niceties of the Greek tongue. In some cases he uses the article, and in some he omits it. He adds the article to the Logos, but to the name of God he adds it sometimes only. He uses the article, when the name of God refers to the uncreated cause of all things, and omits it when the Logos is named God. Does the same difference which we observe between God with the article and God without it prevail also between the Logos with it and without it? We must enquire into this. As the God who is over all is God with the article not without it, so
the Logos is the source of that reason (Logos) which dwells in every reasonable creature; the reason which is in each creature is not, like the former called par excellence The Logos. Now there are many who are sincerely concerned about religion, and who fall here into great perplexity. They are afraid that they may be proclaiming two Gods, and their fear drives them into doctrines which are false and wicked. Either they deny that the Son has a distinct nature of His own besides that of the Father, and make Him whom they call the Son to be God all but the name, or they deny the divinity of the Son, giving Him a separate existence of His own, and making His sphere of essence fall outside that of the Father, so that they are separable from each other. To such persons we have to say that God on the one hand is Very God (Autotheos, God of Himself); and so the Saviour says in His prayer to the Father, John 17:3 first-born of all creation, who is the first to be with God, and to attract to Himself divinity, is a being of more exalted rank than the other gods beside Him, of whom God is the God, as it is written,
The God of gods, the Lord, has spoken and called the earth. It was by the offices of the first-born that they became gods, for He drew from God in generous measure that they should be made gods, and He communicated it to them according to His own bounty. The true God, then, is
The God, and those who are formed after Him are gods, images, as it were, of Him the prototype. But the archetypal image, again, of all these images is the Word of God, who was in the beginning, and who by being with God is at all times God, not possessing that of Himself, but by His being with the Father, and not continuing to be God, if we should think of this, except by remaining always in uninterrupted contemplation of the depths of the Father.
Now it is possible that some may dislike what we have said representing the Father as the one true God, but admitting other beings besides the true God, who have become gods by having a share of God. They may fear that the glory of Him who surpasses all creation may be lowered to the level of those other beings called gods. We drew this distinction between Him and them that we showed God the Word to be to all the other gods the minister of their divinity. To this we must add, in order to obviate objections, that the reason which is in every reasonable creature occupied the same relation to the reason who was in the beginning with God, and is God the Word, as God the Word occupies to God. As the Father who is Very God and the True God is to His image and to the images of His image— men are said to be according to the image, not to be images of God— so He, the Word, is to the reason (word) in every man. Each fills the place of a fountain— the Father is the fountain of divinity, the Son of reason. As, then, there are many gods, but to us there is but one God the Father, and many Lords, but to us there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, so there are many Λόγοι, but we, for our part, pray that that one Λόγος may be with us who was in the beginning and was with God, God the Logos. For whoever does not receive this Logos who was in the beginning with God, or attach himself to Him as He appeared in flesh, or take part in some of those who had part in this Logos, or whoever having had part in Him falls away from Him again, he will have his portion in what is called most opposite to reason. What we have drawn out from the truths with which we started will now be clear enough. First, we spoke about God and the Word of God, and of Gods, either, that is, beings who partake in deity or beings who are called Gods and are not. And again of the Logos of God and of the Logos of God made flesh, and of logoi, or beings which partake in some way of the Logos, of second logoi or of third, thought to be logoi, in addition to that Logos that was before them all, but not really so. Irrational Reasons these may be styled; beings are spoken of who are said to be Gods but are not, and one might place beside these Gods who are no Gods, Reasons which are no Reasons. Now the God of the universe is the God of the elect, and in a much greater degree of the Saviours of the elect; then He is the God of these beings who are truly Gods, and then He is the God, in a word, of the living and not of the dead. But God the Logos is the God, perhaps, of those who attribute everything to Him and who consider Him to be their Father. Now the sun and the moon and the stars were connected, according to the accounts of men of old times, with beings who were not worthy to have the God of gods counted their God. To this opinion they were led by a passage in Deuteronomy which is somewhat on this wise:
Lest when you lift up your eyes to heaven, and see the sun and the moon and the whole host of heaven, you wander away and worship them and serve them which the Lord your God has appointed to all the peoples. But to you the Lord your God has not so given them. But how did God appoint the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven to all the nations, if He did not give them in the same way to Israel also, to the end that those who could not rise to the realm of intellect, might be inclined by gods of sense to consider about the Godhead, and might of their own free will connect themselves with these and so be kept from falling away to idols and demons? Is it not the case that some have for their God the God of the universe, while a second class, after these, attach themselves to the Son of God, His Christ, and a third class worship the sun and the moon and all the host of heaven, wandering, it is true, from God, but with a far different and a better wandering than that of those who invoke as gods the works of men's hands, silver and gold—works of human skill. Last of all are those who devote themselves to the beings which are called gods but are no gods. In the same way, now, some have faith in that Reason which was in the beginning and was with God and was God; so did Hosea and Isaiah and Jeremiah and others who declared that the Word of the Lord, or the Logos, had come to them. A second class are those who know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, considering that the Word made flesh is the whole Word, and knowing only Christ after the flesh. Such is the great multitude of those who are counted believers. A third class give themselves to logoi (discourses) having some part in the Logos which they consider superior to all other reason: these are they who follow the honourable and distinguished philosophical schools among the Greeks. A fourth class besides these are they who put their trust in corrupt and godless discourses, doing away with Providence, which is so manifest and almost visible, and who recognize another end for man to follow than the good. It may appear to some that we have wandered from our theme, but to my thinking the view we have reached of four things connected with the name of God and four things connected with the Logos comes in very well at this point. There was God with the article and God without the article, then there were gods in two orders, at the summit of the higher order of whom is God the Word, transcended Himself by the God of the universe. And, again, there was the Logos with the article and the Logos without the article, corresponding to God absolutely and a god; and the Logoi in two ranks. And some men are connected with the Father, being part of Him, and next to these, those whom our argument now brings into clearer light, those who have come to the Saviour and take their stand entirely in Him. And third are those of whom we spoke before, who reckon the sun and the moon and the stars to be gods, and take their stand by them. And in the fourth and last place those who submit to soulless and dead idols. To all this we find analogies in what concerns the Logos. Some are adorned with the Word Himself; some with what is next to Him and appears to be the very original Logos Himself, those, namely, who know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and who behold the Word as flesh. And the third class, as we described them a little before. Why should I speak of those who are thought to be in the Logos, but have fallen away, not only from the good itself, but from the very traces of it and from those who have a part in it?
He was in the beginning with God. By his three foregoing propositions the Evangelist has made us acquainted with three orders, and he now sums up the three in one, saying, Logos was: He was in the beginning; then we learned with whom He was, with God; and then who He was, that He was God. He now points out by this word
He, the Word who is God, and gathers up into a fourth proposition the three which went before,
In the beginning was the Word,
The Word was with God, and
The Word was God. Now he says, He, this (Word) was in the beginning with God. The term beginning may be taken of the beginning of the world, so that we may learn from what is said that the Word was older than the things which were made from the beginning. For if
in the beginning God created heaven and earth, but
He was in the beginning, then the Logos is manifestly older than those things which were made at the beginning, older not only than the firmament and the dry land, but than the heavens and earth. Now some one might ask, and not unreasonably, why it is not said,
In the beginning was the Word of God, and the Word of God was with God, and the Word of God was God. But he who asked such a question could be shown to be taking for granted that there are a plurality of logoi, differing perhaps from each other in kind, one being the word of God, another perhaps the word of angels, a third of men, and so on with the other logoi. Now, if this were so with the Logos, the case would be the same with wisdom and with righteousness. But it would be absurd that there should be a number of things equally to be called
The Word; and the same would apply to wisdom and to righteousness. We shall be driven to confess that we ought not to look for a plurality of logoi, or of wisdom, or of righteousness, if we look at the case of truth. Any one will confess that there is only one truth; it could never be said in this case that there is one truth of God, and another of the angels, and another of man—it lies in the nature of things that the truth about anything is one. Now, if truth be one, it is clear that the preparation of it and its demonstration, which is wisdom, must in reason be conceived as one, since what is regarded as wisdom cannot justly claim that title where truth, which is one, is absent from its grasp. But if truth is one and wisdom one, then Reason (Logos) also, which announces truth and makes truth simple and manifest to those who are fitted to receive it, will be one. This we say, by no means denying that truth and wisdom and reason are of God, but we wish to indicate the purpose of the omission in this passage of the words
of God, and of the form of the statement,
of God, where he says: Revelation 19:11-16
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and He that sat thereon called Faithful and True; and in righteousness does He judge and make war. And His eyes are as a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written which no one knows but He Himself. And He is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood, and His name is called Word of God. And His armies in heaven followed Him on white horses, clothed in pure fine linen. And out of His mouth proceeds a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations, and He shall rule them with a rod of iron, and He treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His garment and on His thigh a name written: King of kings, and Lord of lords. In this passage Logos is necessarily spoken of absolutely without the article, and also with the addition Logos of God; had the first not been the case (i.e., had the article been given) we might have been led to take up the meaning wrongly, and so to depart from the truth about the Logos. For if it had been called simply Logos, and had not been said to be the Logos of God, then we would not be clearly informed that the Logos is the Logos of God. And, again, had it been called Logos of God but not said to be Logos absolutely, then we might imagine many logoi, according to the constitution of each of the rational beings which exist; then we might assume a number of logoi properly so called. Again, in his description in the Apocalypse of the Logos of God, the Apostle and Evangelist (and the Apocalypse entitles him to be styled a prophet, too) says he saw the Word of God in the opened heaven, and that He was riding on a white horse. Now we must consider what he means to convey when he speaks of heaven being opened and of the white horse, and of the Word of God riding on the white horse, and also what is meant by saying that the Word of God is Faithful and True, and that in righteousness He judges and makes war. All this will greatly advance our study on the subject of the Word of God. Now I conceive heaven to have been shut against the ungodly, and those who bear the image of the earthly, and to have been opened to the righteous and those adorned with the image of the heavenly. For to the former, being below and still dwelling in the flesh, the better things are closed, since they cannot understand them and have neither power nor will to see their beauty, looking down as they do and not striving to look up. But to the excellent, or those who have their commonwealth in heaven, Philippians 3:20 he opens, with the key of David, the things in heavenly places and discloses them to their view, and makes all clear to them by riding on his horse. These words also have their meaning; the horse is white because it is the nature of higher knowledge (γνῶσις) to be clear and white and full of light. And on the white horse sits He who is called Faithful, seated more firmly, and so to speak more royally, on words which cannot be set aside, words which run sharply and more swiftly than any horse, and overhear in their rushing course every so-called word that simulates the Word, and every so-called truth that simulates the Truth. He who sits on the white horse is called Faithful, not because of the faith He cherishes, but of that which He inspires, because He is worthy of faith. Now the Lord Jehovah, according to Moses, Deuteronomy 32:4 is Faithful and True. He is true also in respect of His relation to shadow, type, and image; for such is the Word who is in the opened heaven, for He is not on earth as He is in heaven; on earth He is made flesh and speaks through shadow, type, and image. The multitude, therefore, of those who are reputed to believe are disciples of the shadow of the Word, not of the true Word of God which is in the opened heaven. Hence Jeremiah says, Lamentations 4:20
The Spirit of our face is Christ the Lord, of whom we said, In His shadow shall we live among the nations. Thus the Word of God who is called Faithful is also called True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war; since He has received from God the faculty of judging in very righteousness and very judgment, and of apportioning its due to every existing creature. For none of those who have some portion of righteousness and of the faculty of judgment can receive on his soul such copies and impressions of righteousness and judgment as to come short in no point of absolute righteousness and absolute justice, just as no painter of a picture can communicate to the representation all the qualities of the original. This, I conceive, is the reason why David says,
Before You shall no living being be justified. He does not say, no man, or no angel, but no living being, since even if any being partakes of life and has altogether put off mortality, not even then can it be justified in comparison of You, who art, as it were, Life itself. Nor is it possible that one who partakes of life and is therefore called living, should become life itself, or that one who partakes of righteousness and, therefore, is called righteous should become equal to righteousness itself. Now it is the function of the Word of God, not only to judge in righteousness, but also to make war in righteousness, that by making war on His enemies by reason and righteousness, so that what is irrational and wicked is destroyed, He may dwell in the soul of him who, for his salvation, so to speak, has become captive to Christ, and may justify that soul and cast out from her all adversaries. We shall, however, obtain a better view of this war which the Word carries on if we remember that He is an ambassador for the truth, while there is another who pretends to be the Word and is not, and one who calls herself the truth and is not, but a lie. Then the Word, arming Himself against the lie, slays it with the breath of His mouth and brings it to naught by the manifestation of His coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 And consider whether these words of the Apostle to the Thessalonians may be understood in an intellectual sense. For what is that which is destroyed by the breath of the mouth of Christ, Christ being the Word and Truth and Wisdom, but the lie? And what is that which is brought to naught by the manifestation of Christ's coming, Christ being conceived as wisdom and reason, what but that which announces itself as wisdom, when in reality it is one of those things with which God deals as the Apostle describes, 1 Corinthians 3:19
He takes the wise, those who are not wise with the true wisdom, in their own craftiness? To what he says of the rider on the white horse, John adds the wonderful statement:
His eyes are like a flame of fire. For as the flame of fire is bright and illuminating, but at the same time fiery and destructive of material things, so, if I may so say, are the eyes of the Logos with which He sees, and every one who has part in Him; they have not only the inherent quality of laying hold of the things of the mind, but also that of consuming and putting away those conceptions which are more material and gross, since whatever is in any way false flees from the directness and lightness of truth. It is in a very natural order that after speaking of Him who judges in righteousness and makes war in accordance with His righteous judgments, and then after His warring of His giving light, the writer goes on to say,
On His head are many diadems. For had the lie been one, and of one form only, against which the True and Faithful Word contended, and for conquering which, He was crowned, then one crown alone would naturally have been given Him for the victory. As it is, however, as the lies are many which profess the truth and for warring against which the Word is crowned, the diadems are many which surround the head of the conqueror of them all. As He has overcome every revolting power many diadems mark His victory. Then after the diadems He is said to have a name written which no one knows but He Himself. For there are some things which are known to the Word alone; for the beings which come into existence after Him have a poorer nature than His, and none of them is able to behold all that He apprehends. And perhaps it is the case that only those who have part in that Word know the things which are kept from the knowledge of those who do not partake of Him. Now, in John's vision, the Word of God as He rides on the white horse is not naked: He is clothed with a garment sprinkled with blood, for the Word who was made flesh and therefore died is surrounded with marks of the fact that His blood was poured out upon the earth, when the soldier pierced His side. For of that passion, even should it be our lot some day to come to that highest and supreme contemplation of the Logos, we shall not lose all memory, nor shall we forget the truth that our admission was brought about by His sojourning in our body. This Word of God is followed by the heavenly armies one and all; they follow the Word as their leader, and imitate Him in all things, and chiefly in having mounted, they also, white horses. To him that understands, this secret is open. And as sorrow and grief and wailing fled away at the end of things, so also, I suppose, did obscurity and doubt, all the mysteries of God's wisdom being precisely and clearly opened. Look also at the white horses of the followers of the Word and at the white and pure linen with which they were clothed. As linen comes out of the earth, may not those linen garments stand for the dialects on the earth in which those voices are clothed which make clear announcements of things? We have dealt at some length with the statements found in the Apocalypse about the Word of God; it is important for us to know clearly about Him.
To those who fail to distinguish with care the different propositions of the context the Evangelist may appear to be repeating himself.
He was in the beginning with God may seem to add nothing to
And the Word was with God. We must observe more carefully. In the statement
The Word was with God we are not told anything of the when or the where; that is added in the fourth axiom. There are four axioms, or, as some call them, propositions, the fourth being
He was in the beginning with God. Now
The Word was with God is not the same thing as
He was, etc.; for here we are told, not only that He was with God, but when and where He was so:
He was in the beginning with God. The
He, too, used as it is for a demonstration, will be considered to refer to the Word, or by a less careful enquirer, to God. What was noted before is now summed up in this designation
He, the notion of the Logos and that of God; and as the argument proceeds the different notions are collected in one; for the notion God is not included in the notion Logos, nor the notion Logos in that of God. And perhaps the proposition before us is a summing up in one of the three which have preceded. Taking the statement that the Word was in the beginning, we have not yet learned that He was with God, and taking the statement that the Word was with God it is not yet clear to us that He was with God in the beginning; and taking the statement that the Word was God, it has neither been shown that He was in the beginning, nor that He was with God.
Now when the Evangelist says,
He was in the beginning with God, if we apply the pronoun
He to the Word and to God (as He is God) and consider that
in the beginning is conjoined with it, and
with God added to it, then there is nothing left of the three propositions that is not summed up and brought together in this one. And as
in the beginning has been said twice, we may consider if there are not two lessons we may learn. First, that the Word was in the beginning, as if He was by Himself and not with any one, and secondly, that He was in the beginning with God. And I consider that there is nothing untrue in saying of Him both that He was in the beginning, and in the beginning with God, for neither was He with God alone, since He was also in the beginning, nor was He in the beginning alone and not with God, since
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through Him. The
through whom is never found in the first place but always in the second, as in the Epistle to the Romans, Romans 1:1-5
Paul a servant of Christ Jesus, a called Apostle, separated to the Gospel of God which He promised before by His prophets in Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, determined the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we received grace and apostleship, for obedience of the faith among all the nations, for His name's sake. For God promised aforehand by the prophets His own Gospel, the prophets being His ministers, and having their word to speak about Him
through whom. And again God gave grace and apostleship to Paul and to the others for the obedience of the faith among all the nations, and this He gave them through Jesus Christ the Saviour, for the
through whom belonged to Him. And the Apostle Paul says in the Epistle to the Hebrews:
At the end of the days He spoke to us in His Son, whom He made the heir of all things, 'through whom' also He made the ages, showing us that God made the ages through His Son, the
through whom belonging, when the ages were being made, to the Only-begotten. Thus, if all things were made, as in this passage also, through the Logos, then they were not made by the Logos, but by a stronger and greater than He. And who else could this be but the Father? Now if, as we have seen, all things were made through Him, we have to enquire if the Holy Spirit also was made through Him. It appears to me that those who hold the Holy Spirit to be created, and who also admit that
all things were made through Him, must necessarily assume that the Holy Spirit was made through the Logos, the Logos accordingly being older than He. And he who shrinks from allowing the Holy Spirit to have been made through Christ must, if he admits the truth of the statements of this Gospel, assume the Spirit to be uncreated. There is a third resource besides these two (that of allowing the Spirit to have been made by the Word, and that of regarding it as uncreated), namely, to assert that the Holy Spirit has no essence of His own beyond the Father and the Son. But on further thought one may perhaps see reason to consider that the Son is second beside the Father, He being the same as the Father, while manifestly a distinction is drawn between the Spirit and the Son in the passage, Matthew 12:32
Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever shall blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, he shall not have forgiveness, either in this world or in the world to come. We consider, therefore, that there are three hypostases, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; and at the same time we believe nothing to be uncreated but the Father. We therefore, as the more pious and the truer course, admit that all things were made by the Logos, and that the Holy Spirit is the most excellent and the first in order of all that was made by the Father through Christ. And this, perhaps, is the reason why the Spirit is not said to be God's own Son. The Only-begotten only is by nature and from the beginning a Son, and the Holy Spirit seems to have need of the Son, to minister to Him His essence, so as to enable Him not only to exist, but to be wise and reasonable and just, and all that we must think of Him as being. All this He has by participation of the character of Christ, of which we have spoken above. And I consider that the Holy Spirit supplies to those who, through Him and through participation in Him, are called saints, the material of the gifts, which come from God; so that the said material of the gifts is made powerful by God, is ministered by Christ, and owes its actual existence in men to the Holy Spirit. I am led to this view of the charisms by the words of Paul which he writes somewhere, 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
There are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit, and diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but it is the same God that works all in all. The statement that all things were made by Him, and its seeming corollary, that the Spirit must have been called into being by the Word, may certainly raise some difficulty. There are some passages in which the Spirit is placed above Christ; in Isaiah, for example, Christ declares that He is sent, not by the Father only, but also by the Holy Spirit.
Now the Lord has sent Me, He says, Isaiah 48:16
and His Spirit, and in the Gospel He declares that there is forgiveness for the sin committed against Himself, but that for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit there is no forgiveness, either in this age or in the age to come. What is the reason of this? Is it because the Holy Spirit is of more value than Christ that the sin against Him cannot be forgiven? May it not rather be that all rational beings have part in Christ, and that forgiveness is extended to them when they repent of their sins, while only those have part in the Holy Spirit who have been found worthy of it, and that there cannot well be any forgiveness for those who fall away to evil in spite of such great and powerful cooperation, and who defeat the counsels of the Spirit who is in them. When we find the Lord saying, as He does in Isaiah, that He is sent by the Father and by His Spirit, we have to point out here also that the Spirit is not originally superior to the Saviour, but that the Saviour takes a lower place than He in order to carry out the plan which has been made that the Son of God should become man. Should any one stumble at our saying that the Saviour in becoming man was made lower than the Holy Spirit, we ask him to consider the words used in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where Jesus is shown by Paul to have been made less than the angels on account of the suffering of death.
We behold Him, he says,
who has been made a little lower than the angels, Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour. And this, too, has doubtless to be added, that the creation, in order to be delivered from the bondage of corruption, and not least of all the human race, required the introduction into human nature of a happy and divine power, which should set right what was wrong upon the earth, and that this action fell to the share, as it were, of the Holy Spirit; but the Spirit, unable to support such a task, puts forward the Saviour as the only one able to endure such a conflict. The Father therefore, the principal, sends the Son, but the Holy Spirit also sends Him and directs Him to go before, promising to descend, when the time comes, to the Son of God, and to work with Him for the salvation of men. This He did, when, in a bodily shape like a dove, He flew to Him after the baptism. He remained on Him, and did not pass Him by, as He might have done with men not able continuously to bear His glory. Thus John, when explaining how he knew who Christ was, spoke not only of the descent of the Spirit on Jesus, but also of its remaining upon him. For it is written that John said: John 1:32
He who sent me to baptize said, On whomsoever you shall see the Spirit descending and abiding upon Him, the same is He that baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire. It is not said only,
On whomsoever you shall see the Spirit descending, for the Spirit no doubt descended on others too, but
descending and abiding on Him. Our examination of this point has been somewhat extended, since we were anxious to make it clear that if all things were made by Him, then the Spirit also was made through the Word, and is seen to be one of the
all things which are inferior to their Maker. This view is too firmly settled to be disturbed by a few words which may be adduced to the opposite effect. If any one should lend credence to the Gospel according to the Hebrews, where the Saviour Himself says,
My mother, the Holy Spirit took me just now by one of my hairs and carried me off to the great mount Tabor, he will have to face the difficulty of explaining how the Holy Spirit can be the mother of Christ when it was itself brought into existence through the Word. But neither the passage nor this difficulty is hard to explain. For if he who does the will of the Father in heaven Matthew 12:50 is Christ's brother and sister and mother, and if the name of brother of Christ may be applied, not only to the race of men, but to beings of diviner rank than they, then there is nothing absurd in the Holy Spirit's being His mother, every one being His mother who does the will of the Father in heaven.
On the words,
All things were made by Him, there is still one point to be examined. The
word is, as a notion, from
life, and yet we read,
What was made in the Word was life, and the life was the light of men. Now as all things were made through Him, was the life made through Him, which is the light of men, and the other notions under which the Saviour is presented to us? Or must we take the
all things were made by Him subject to the exception of the things which are in Himself? The latter course appears to be the preferable one. For supposing we should concede that the life which is the light of men was made through Him, since it said that the life
was made the light of men, what are we to say about wisdom, which is conceived as being prior to the Word? That, therefore, which is about the Word (His relations or conditions) was not made by the Word, and the result is that, with the exception of the notions under which Christ is presented, all things were made through the Word of God, the Father making them in wisdom.
In wisdom have You made them all, it says, not through, but in wisdom.
Let us see, however, why the words are added,
And without Him was not anything (Gr. even one thing) made. Some might think it superfluous to add to the words
All things were made through Him, the phrase
Without Him was not anything made. For if everything whatsoever was made through the Logos, then nothing was made without Him. Yet it does not follow from the proposition that without the Logos nothing was made, that all things were made through the Logos. It is possible that though nothing was made without the Logos, all things were made, not through the Logos only, but some things by Him. We must, therefore, make ourselves sure in what sense the
all things is to be understood, and in what sense the
nothing. For, without a clear preliminary definition of these terms, it might be maintained that, if all things were made through the Logos, and evil is a part of all things, then the whole matter of sin, and everything that is wicked, that these also were made through the Logos. But this we must regard as false. There is nothing absurd in thinking that creatures were made through the Logos, and also that men's brave deeds have been done through Him, and all the useful acts of those who are now in bliss; but with the sins and misfortunes of men it is otherwise. Now some have held that since evil is not based in the constitution of things— for it did not exist at the beginning and at the end it will have ceased— that, therefore, the evils of which we spoke are the Nothing; and as some of the Greeks say that genera and forms, such as the (general) animal and the man, belong to the category of Nothings, so it has been supposed that all that is not of God is Nothing, and has not even obtained through the Word the subsistence it appears to have. We ask whether it is possible to show from Scripture in any convincing way that this is so. As for the meanings of the word
Not-being, they would appear to be synonymous, for Nothing can be spoken of as Not-being, and the Not-being can be described as Nothing. The Apostle, however, appears to count the things which are not, not among those which have no existence whatever, but rather among things which are evil. To him the Not-being is evil;
God, he says, Romans 4:17
called the things that are not as things that are. And Mardochæus, too, in the Esther of the Septuagint, calls the enemies of Israel
those that are not, saying, Esther 4:22
Deliver not Your sceptre, O Lord, to those that are not. We may also notice how evil men, on account of their wickedness, are said not to be, from the name ascribed to God in Exodus: Exodus 3:14-15
For the Lord said to Moses, I am, that is My name. The good God says this with respect of us also who pray that we may be part of His congregation. The Saviour praises him, saying, Mark 10:18 evil or wickedness, and over against Him who is that which is not, whence it follows that evil and wickedness are that which is not. This, perhaps, is what has led some to affirm that the devil is not created by God. In respect that he is the devil he is not the work of God, but he who is the devil is a created being, and as there is no other creator but our God, he is a work of God. It is as if we should say that a murderer is not a work of God, while we may say that in respect he is a man, God made him. His being as a man he received from God; we do not assert that he received from God his being as a murderer. All, then, who have part in Him who is, and the saints have part in Him, may properly be called Beings; but those who have given up their part in the Being, by depriving themselves of Being, have become Not-beings. But we said when entering on this discussion, that Not-being and Nothing are synonymous, and hence those who are not beings are Nothing, and all evil is nothing, since it is Not-being, and thus since they are called Not-being came into existence without the Logos, not being numbered among the all things which were made through Him. Thus we have shown, so far as our powers admit, what are the
all things which were made through the Logos, and what came into existence without Him, since at no time is it Being, and it is, therefore, called
It was, I consider, a violent and unwarranted procedure which was adopted by Heracleon, the friend, as it is said, of Valentinus, in discussing this sentence:
All things were made through Him. He excepted the whole world and all that it contains, excluding, as far as his hypothesis goes, from the
all things what is best in the world and its contents. For he says that the æon (age), and the things in it, were not made by the Logos; he considers them to have come into existence before the Logos. He deals with the statement,
Without Him was nothing made, with some degree of audacity, nor is he afraid of the warning: Proverbs 30:6
Add not to His words, lest He find you out and you prove a liar, for to the
Nothing he adds:
Of what is in the world and the creation. And as his statements on the passage are obviously very much forced and in the face of the evidence, for what he considers divine is excluded from the all, and what he regards as purely evil is, that and nothing else, the all things, we need not waste our time in rebutting what is, on the face of it, absurd, when, without any warrant from Scripture, he adds to the words,
Without Him was nothing made, the further words,
Of what is in the earth and the creation. In this proposal, which has no inner probability to recommend it, he is asking us, in fact, to trust him as we do the prophets, or the Apostles, who had authority and were not responsible to men for the writings belonging to man's salvation, which they handed to those about them and to those who should come after. He had, also, a private interpretation of his own of the words:
All things were made through Him, when he said that it was the Logos who caused the demiurge to make the world, not, however, the Logos from whom or by whom, but Him through whom, taking the written words in a different sense from that of common parlance. For, if the truth of the matter was as he considers, then the writer ought to have said that all things were made through the demiurge by the Word, and not through the Word by the demiurge. We accept the
through whom, as it is usually understood, and have brought evidence in support of our interpretation, while he not only puts forward a new rendering of his own, unsupported by the divine Scripture, but appears even to scorn the truth and shamelessly and openly oppose it. For he says:
It was not the Logos who made all things, as under another who was the operating agent, taking the
through whom in this sense,
but another made them, the Logos Himself being the operating agent. This is not a suitable occasion for the proof that it was not the demiurge who became the servant of the Logos and made the world; but that the Logos became the servant of the demiurge and formed the world. For, according to the prophet David,
God spoke and they came into being, He commanded and they were created. For the unbegotten God commanded the first-born of all creation, Colossians 1:15-16 and they were created, not only the world and what is therein, but also all other things, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, for all things were made through Him and unto Him, and He is before all things.
One point more on the words:
Without Him was not anything made. The question about evil must receive adequate discussion; what was said of it has not, it is true, a very likely appearance, and yet it appears to me that it ought not to be simply overlooked. The question is whether evil, also, was made through the Logos, taking the Logos, now be it well noted, in the sense of that reason which is in every one, as thus brought into being by the reason which was from the beginning. The Apostle says: Romans 7:8-9
Without the law sin was dead, and adds,
But when the commandment came sin revived, and so teaches generally about sin that it has no power before the law and the commandment (but the Logos is, in a sense, law and commandment), and there would be no sin were there no law, for, Romans 5:13
sin is not imputed where there is no law. And, again, there would be no sin but for the Logos, for
if I had not come and spoken unto them, Christ says, John 15:22
they had not had sin. For every excuse is taken away from one who wants to make excuse for his sin, if, though the Word is in him and shows him what he ought to do, he does not obey it. It seems, then, that all things, the worse things not excepted, were made by the Logos, and without Him, taking the nothing here in its simpler sense, was nothing made. Nor must we blame the Logos if all things were made by Him, and without Him nothing was made, any more than we blame the master who has showed the pupil his duty, when the instruction has been such as to leave the pupil, should he sin, no excuse or room to say that he erred through ignorance. This appears the more plainly when we consider that master and pupil are inseparable. For as master and pupil are correlatives, and belong together, so the Logos is present in the nature of reasonable beings as such, always suggesting what they ought to do, even should we pay no heed to his commands, but devote ourselves to pleasure and allow his best counsels to pass by us unregarded. As the eye is a servant given us for the best purposes, and yet we use it to see things on which it is wrong for us to look, and as we make a wrong use of our hearing when we spend our time in listening to singing competitions and to other forbidden sounds, so we outrage the Logos who is in us, and use Him otherwise than as we ought, when we make Him assist in our transgressions. For He is present with those who sin, for their condemnation, and He condemns the man who does not prefer Him to everything else. Hence we find it written: John 12:48
The word which I have spoken unto you, the same shall judge you. That is as if He should say:
I, the Word, who am always lifting up my voice in you, I, myself, will judge you, and no refuge or excuse will then be left you. This interpretation, however, may appear somewhat strained, as we have taken the Word in one sense to be the Word in the beginning, who was with God, God the Word, and have now taken it in another sense, speaking of it, not only in reference to the principal works of creation, as in the words,
All things were made through Him, but as related to all the acts of reasonable beings, this last being the Logos (reason), without whose presence none of our sins are committed. The question arises whether the Logos in us is to be pronounced the same being as that which was in the beginning and was with God, God the Word. The Apostle, certainly, does not appear to make the Logos in us a different being from the Logos who was in the beginning with God.
Say not in your heart, he says, Romans 10:6-8
That Which Was Made Was Life in Him, and the Life Was the Light of Men.This Involves the Paradox that What Does Not Derive Life from the Logos Does Not Live at All.
The Greeks have certain apothegms, called paradoxes, in which the wisdom of their sages is presented at its highest, and some proof, or what appears to be proof, is given. Thus it is said that the wise man alone, and that every wise man, is a priest, because the wise man alone and every wise man possesses knowledge as to the service of God. Again, that the wise man alone and that every wise man is free and has received from the divine law authority to do what he himself is minded to do, and this authority they call lawful power of decision. Why should we say more about these so-called paradoxes? Much discussion is devoted to them, and they call for a comparison of the sense of Scripture with the doctrine thus conveyed. so that we may be in a position to determine where religious doctrine agrees with them and where it differs from them. This has been suggested to us by our study of the words,
That which was made was life in Him; for it appears possible to follow the words of Scripture here and to make out a number of things which partake of the character of the paradoxes and are even more paradoxical than these sentences of the Greeks. If we consider the Logos in the beginning, who was with God, God the Word, we shall perhaps be able to declare that only he who partakes of this being, considered in this character, is to be pronounced reasonable (Logos, he, namely, who said,
I am the life, then we shall say that no one is alive who is outside the faith of Christ, that all are dead who are not living to God, that their life is life to sin, and therefore, if I may so express myself, a life of death. Consider however, whether the divine Scriptures do not in many places teach this; as where the Saviour says, Mark 12:26
Or have ye not read that which was spoken at the bush, I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He is not God of the dead but of the living. And
Before You shall no living being be justified. But why need we speak about God Himself or the Saviour? For it is disputed to which of them the voice belongs which says in the prophets, Numbers 14:28
As I live, says the Lord.
First let us look at the words,
He is not the God of the dead but of the living. That is equivalent to saying that He is not the God of sinners but of saints. For it was a great gift to the Patriarchs that God in place of His own name should add their name to His own designation as God, as Paul says, Hebrews 11:16
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God. He is the God, therefore, of the fathers and of all the saints; it might be hard to find a passage to the effect that God is the God of any of the wicked. If, then, He is the God of the saints, and is said to be the God of the living, then the saints are the living and the living are saints; neither is there any saint outside the living, nor when any one is called living is the further implication absent that in addition to his having life he is a holy one. Near akin to this is the lesson to be drawn from the saying,
I shall be well pleasing to the Lord in the land of the living. The good pleasure of the Lord, he appears to say, is in the ranks of the saints, or in the place of the saints, and it is there that he hopes to be. No one pleases God well who has not entered the rank of the saints, or the place of the saints; and to that place every one must come who has assumed beforehand, as it were in this life, the shadow and image of true God-pleasing. The passage which declares that before God no living being shall be justified shows that in comparison with God and the righteousness that is in Him none, even of the most finished saints, will be justified. We might take a parable from another quarter and say that no candle can give light before the sun, not that the candle will not give light, only it will not when the sun outshines it. In the same way every
living will be justified, only not before God, when it is compared with those who are below and who are in the power of darkness. To them the light of the saints will shine. Here, perhaps, we have the key to the meaning of that verse: Matthew 5:16
Let your light shine before men. He does not say, Let your light shine before God; had he said so he would have given a commandment impossible of fulfilment, as if he had bidden those lights which have souls to let their light shine before the sun. It is not only, therefore, the ordinary mass of the living who will not be justified before God, but even those among the living who are distinguished above the rest, or, to put it more truly, the whole righteousness of the living will not be justified before God, as compared with the righteousness of God, as if I were to call together all the lights which shine on the earth by night, and to say that they could not give light in comparison with the rays of the sun. We rise from these considerations to a higher level when we take the words before our minds,
I live, says the Lord. Life, in the full sense of the word, especially after what we have been saying on the subject, belongs perhaps to God and none but Him. Is this the reason why the Apostle, after speaking of the supreme excellency of the life of God and being led to the highest expression about it, says about God (showing in this a true understanding of that saying,
I live, says the Lord);
who only has immortality. 1 Timothy 4:16 No living being besides God has life free from change and variation. Why should we be in further doubt? Even Christ did not share the Father's immortality; for He
tasted death for every man.
We have thus enquired as to the life of God, and the life which is Christ, and the living who are in a place by themselves, and have seen how the living are not justified before God, and we have noticed the cognate statement,
Who alone has immortality. We may now take up the assumption which may appear to be involved in this, namely, that whatever being is gifted with reason does not possess blessedness as a part of its essence, or as an inseparable part of its nature. For if blessedness and the highest life were an inseparable characteristic of reasonable being, how could it be truly said of God that He only has immortality? We should therefore remark, that the Saviour is some things, not to Himself but to others, and some things both to Himself and others, and we must enquire if there are some things which He is to Himself and to no other. Clearly it is to others that He is a Shepherd, not a shepherd like those among men who make gain out of their occupation; unless the benefit conferred on the sheep might be regarded, on account of His love to men, as a benefit to Himself also. Similarly it is to others that He is the Way and the Door, and, as all will admit, the Rod. To Himself and to others He is Wisdom and perhaps also Reason (Logos). It may be asked whether, as He has in Himself a system of speculations, inasmuch as He is wisdom, there are some of those speculations which cannot be received by any nature that is begotten, but His own, and which He knows for Himself only. Nor should the reverence we owe to the Holy Spirit keep us from seeking to answer this question. For the Holy Spirit Himself receives instruction, as is clear from what is said about the Paraclete and the Holy Spirit, John 16:14-15
He shall take of mine and shall declare it to you. Does He, then, from these instructions, take in everything that the Son, gazing at the Father from the first, Himself knows? That would require further consideration. And if the Saviour is some things to others, and some things it may be to Himself, and to no other, or to one only, or to few, then we ask, in so far as He is the life which came in the Logos, whether he is life to Himself and to others, or to others, and if to others, to what others. And are life and the light of men the same thing, for the text says,
That which was made was life in Him and the life was the light of men. But the light of men is the light only of some, not of all, rational creatures; the word
men which is added shows this. But He is the light of men, and so He is the life of those whose light he is also. And inasmuch as He is life He may be called the Saviour, not for Himself but to be life to others, whose light also He is. And this life comes to the Logos and is inseparable from Him, once it has come to Him. But the Logos, who cleanses the soul, must have been in the soul first; it is after Him and the cleansing that proceeds from Him, when all that is dead or weak in her has been taken away, that pure life comes to every one who has made himself a fit dwelling for the Logos, considered as God.
Here, we must carefully observe, we have two things which are one, and we have to define the difference between them. First, what is before us in The Word in the beginning, then what is implied in The Life in the Word. The Word was not made in the beginning; there was no time when the beginning was devoid of the Word, and hence it is said,
In the beginning was the Word. Of life, on the other hand, we read, not that it was as the Word, but that it was made; if at least it be the case that the life is the light of men. For when man was not yet, there was no light of men; for the light of men is conceived only in relation to men. And let no one annoy us with the objection that we have put this under the category of time, though it be the order of the things themselves, that make them first and second and so on, and even though there should have been no time when the things placed by the Logos third and fourth were not in existence. As, then, all things were made by Him, not all things were by Him, and as without Him was nothing made, not, without Him nothing was, so what was made in Him, not what was in Him, was life. And, again, not what was made in the beginning was the Word, but what was in the beginning was the Word. Some of the copies, it is true, have a reading which is not devoid of probability,
What was made is life in Him. But if life is the same thing as the light of men, then no one who is in darkness is living, and none of the living is in darkness; but every one who is alive is also in light, and every one who is in light is living, so that not he only who is living, but every one who is living, is a son of light; and he who is a son of light is he whose work shines before men.
We have been discussing certain things which are opposite, and what has been said of them may serve to suggest what has been omitted. We are speaking of life and the light of men, and the opposite to life is death; the opposite to the light of men, the darkness of men. It is therefore plain that he who is in the darkness of men is in death, and that he who works the works of death is nowhere but in darkness. But he who is mindful of God, if we consider what it is to be mindful of Him, is not in death, according to the saying,
In death there is no one who remembers You. Are the darkness of men, and death, such as they are by nature? On this point we have another passage, Ephesians 5:8
We were once darkness, but now light in the Lord, even if we be now in the fullest sense saints and spiritual persons. Thus he who was once darkness has become, like Paul, capable of being light in the Lord. Some consider that some natures are spiritual from the first, such as those of Paul and the holy Apostles; but I scarcely see how to reconcile with such a view, what the above text tells us, that the spiritual person was once darkness and afterwards became light. For if the spiritual was once darkness what can the earthy have been? But if it is true that darkness became light, as in the text, how is it unreasonable to suppose that all darkness is capable of becoming light? Had not Paul said,
We were once in darkness, but now are we light in the Lord, and thus implied of those whom they consider to be naturally lost, that they were darkness, or are darkness still, the hypothesis about the different natures might have been admissible. But Paul distinctly says that he had once been darkness but was now light in the Lord, which implies the possibility that darkness should turn into light. But he who perceives the possibility of a change on each side for the better or for the worse, will not find it hard to gain an insight into every darkness of men, or into that death which consists in the darkness of men.
Heracleon adopts a somewhat violent course when he arrives at this passage,
What was made in Him was life. Instead of the
In Him of the text he understands
to those men who are spiritual, as if he considered the Logos and the spiritual to be identical, though this he does not plainly say; and then he proceeds to give, as it were, an account of the origin of the matter and says,
He (the Logos) provided them with their first form at their birth, carrying further and making manifest what had been sown by another, into form and into illumination and into an outline of its own. He did not observe how Paul speaks of the spiritual, 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 and how he refrains from saying that they are men.
A natural man receives not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; but the spiritual judges all things. We maintain that it was not without a meaning that he did not add the word men to the word spiritual. Spiritual is something better than man, for man receives his form either in soul, or in body, or in both together, not in what is more divine than these, namely, in spirit; and it is after he has come to have a prevailing share of this that he is called
spiritual. Moreover, in bringing forward such a hypothesis as this, he furnishes not even the pretence of a proof, and shows himself unable to reach even a moderate degree of plausibility for his argument on the subject. So much, then, for him.
Let us suggest another question, namely, whether the life was the light of men only, and not of every being as well that is in blessedness. For if the life were the same thing as the light of men, and if the light of Christ were for men alone, then the life also would be only for men. But such a view is both foolish and impious, since the other Scriptures testify against this interpretation and declare that, when we are somewhat more advanced, we shall be equal to the angels. Matthew 22:30 The question is to be solved on the principle that when a predicate is applied to certain persons, it is not to be at once taken to apply to them alone. Thus, when the light of men is spoken of, it is not the light of men only; had that been the meaning, a word would have been added to express it; the life, it would have read, was the light of men only. For it is possible for the light of men to be the light of others besides men, just as it is possible that certain animals and certain plants may form the food of men, and that the same animals and plants should be the food of other creatures too. That is an example from common life; it is fitting that another analogy should be adduced from the inspired books. Now the question here before us, is why the light of men should not be the light of other creatures also, and we have seen that to speak of the light of men by no means excludes the possibility that the light may be that of other beings besides man, whether inferior to him or like him. Now a name is given to God; He is said to be the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob. He, then, who infers from the saying,
The life was the light of men, that the light is for no other than for men, ought also to conclude that the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob is the God of no one else but these three patriarchs. But He is also the God of Elijah, 2 Kings 2:14 and, as Judith says, Judith 9:2 of her father Simeon, and the God of the Hebrews. By analogy of reasoning, then, if nothing prevents Him from being the God of others, nothing prevents the light of men from being the light of others besides men.
Another, again, appeals to the text,
Let us make man according to our image and likeness, Genesis 1:26 and maintains that whatever is made according to God's image and likeness is man. To support this, numberless instances are adduced to show that in Scripture
man and angel and man. This is true of the three who were entertained by Abraham, and of the two who came to Sodom; in the whole course of Scripture, persons are styled sometimes men, sometimes angels. Those who hold this view will say that since persons are styled angels who are manifestly men, as when Zechariah says,
The messenger of the Lord, I am with you, says the Lord Almighty, and as it is written of John the Baptist,
Behold I send My messenger before your face, the angels (messengers) of God are so called on account of their office, and are not here called men on account of their nature. It confirms this view that the names applied to the higher powers are not those of species of living beings, but those of the orders, assigned by God to this and to that reasonable being.
Throne is not a species of living being, nor
power; these are names of the businesses to which those clothed with the names have been appointed; the subjects themselves are nothing but men, but the subject has come to be a throne, or a dominion, or a principality, or a power. In Joshua, the son of Nun, we read that in Jericho there appeared to Joshua a man who said,
I am captain of the Lord's host, now am I come. The outcome of this is that the light of men must be held to be the same as the light of every being endowed with reason; for every reasonable being is man, since it is according to the image and likeness of God. It is spoken of in three different ways,
the light of men, and simply
the light, and
the true light. It is the light of men either, as we showed before, because there is nothing to prevent us from regarding it as the light of other beings besides men, or because all beings endowed with reason are called men because they are made in the image of God.
The Saviour is here called simply light. But in the Catholic Epistle of this same John we read that God is light. This, it has been maintained, furnishes a proof that the Son is not in substance different from the Father. Another student, however, looking into the matter more closely and with a sounder judgment, will say that the light which shines in darkness and is not overtaken by it, is not the same as the light in which there is no darkness at all. The light which shines in darkness comes upon this darkness, as it were, and is pursued by it, and, in spite of attempts made upon it, is not overtaken. But the light in which there is no darkness at all neither shines on darkness, nor is at first pursued by it, so as to prove victor and to have it recorded that it was not overtaken by its pursuer. The third designation was
the true light. But in proportion as God, since He is the Father of truth, is more and greater than truth, and since He is the Father of wisdom is greater and more excellent than wisdom, in the same proportion He is more than the true light. We may learn, perhaps, in a more suggestive manner, how the Father and the Son are two lights, from David, who says in the thirty-fifth Psalm,
In Your light we shall see light. This same light of men which shines in darkness, the true light, is called, further on in the Gospel, the light of the world; Jesus says,
I am the light of the world. Nor must we omit to notice that whereas the passage might very well have run,
That which was made was in Him the light of men, and the light of men was life, he chose the opposite order. He puts life before the light of men, even if life and the light of men are the same thing; in thinking of those who have part in life, though that life is also the light of men, we are to come first to the fact that they are living the divine life spoken of before; then we come to their enlightenment. For life must come first if the living person is to be enlightened; it would not be a good arrangement to speak of the illumination of one not yet conceived as living, and to make life come after the illumination. For though
the light of men are the same thing, the notions are taken separately. This light of men is also called, by Isaiah,
the light of the Gentiles, where he says, Isaiah 42:6
Behold I have set You for a covenant of the generation, for a light of the Gentiles; and David, placing his confidence in this light, says in the twenty-sixth Psalm,
The Lord is my illumination and my Saviour; whom shall I fear?
As for those who make up a mythology about the æons and arrange them in syzygies (yokes or pairs), and who consider the Logos and Life to have been emitted by Intellect and Truth, it may not be beside the point to state the following difficulties. How can life, in their system, the yokefellow of the Word, derive his origin from his yokefellow? For
what was made in Him, he says, evidently referring to the Word, mentioned immediately before,
was life. Will they tell us how life, the yokefellow, as they say, of the Word, came into being in the Word, and how life rather than the Word is the light of men. It would be quite natural if men of reasonable minds, who are perplexed with such questions and find the point we have raised hard to dispose of, should turn round upon us and invite us to discuss the reason why it is not the Word that is said to be the light of men, but life which originated in the Word. To such an enquiry we shall reply that the life here spoken of is not that which is common to rational beings and to beings without reason, but that life which is added to us upon the completion of reason in us, our share in that life, being derived from the first reason (Logos). It is when we turn away from the life which is life in appearance only, not in truth, and when we yearn to be filled with the true life, that we are made partakers of it, and when it has arisen in us it becomes the foundation of the light of the higher knowledge (gnosis). With some it may be that this life is only potentially and not actually light, with those who do not strive to search out the things of the higher knowledge, while with others it is actually light. With these it clearly is so who act on Paul's injunction,
Seek earnestly the best gifts; and among the greatest gifts is that which all are enjoined to seek, namely, the word of wisdom, and it is followed by the word of knowledge. This wisdom and this knowledge lie side by side; into the difference between them this is not a fitting occasion to enquire.
And the light shines in darkness and the darkness has not overtaken it. We are still enquiring about the light of men, since it is what was spoken of in the preceding verse, and also, I consider, about darkness, which is named as its adversary, the darkness also being, if the definition of it is correct, that of men. The light of men is a generic notion covering two special things; and with the darkness of men it is the same. He who has gained the light of men and shares its beams will do the work of light and know in the higher sense, being illuminated by the light of the higher knowledge. And we must recognize the analogous case of those on the other side, and of their evil actions, and of that which is thought to be but is not really knowledge, since those who exercise it have the reason (Logos) not of light but of darkness. And because the sacred word knows the things which produce light, Isaiah says:
Because Your commandments are a light upon the earth, and David says in the Psalm,
The precept of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes. But since in addition to the commandments and the precepts there is a light of higher knowledge, we read in one of the twelve (prophets), Hosea 10:12
Sow to yourselves for righteousness, reap to yourselves for the fruit of life, make light for yourselves the light of knowledge. There is a further light of knowledge in addition to the commandments, and so we read,
Make light for yourselves, not simply light, but what light?— the light of knowledge. For if any light that a man kindles for himself were a light of knowledge, then the added words,
Make light for yourselves, the light of knowledge, would have no meaning. And again that darkness is brought upon men by their evil deeds, we learn from John himself, when he says in his epistle,
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth, and again,
He that says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now, and again,
He that hates his brother is in darkness, and walks in darkness, and knows not whither he goes, because darkness has blinded his eyes. Walking in darkness signifies evil conduct, and to hate one's brother, is not that to fall away from that which is properly called knowledge? But he also who is ignorant of divine things walks in darkness, just because of that ignorance; as David says,
They knew not, they understood not, they walk in darkness. Consider, however, this passage, 1 John 1:5
God is light and in Him is no darkness, and see if the reason for this saying is not that darkness is not one, being either two, because there are two kinds of it, or many, because it is taken distributively, individually with reference to the many evil actions and the many false doctrines; so that there are many darknesses, not one of which is in God. The saying of the Saviour could not be spoken of the Holy One,
You are the light of the world; for the Holy One is light of the world (absolute, not particular), and there is not in Him any darkness.
Now some one will ask how this statement that there is no darkness in Him can be regarded as a thing peculiar to Him, when we consider that the Saviour also was quite without sin. Could it not be said of Him also that
He is light, and that there is no darkness in Him? The difference between the two cases has been partly set forth above. We will now, however, go a step further than we did before, and add, that if God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin for us, 2 Corinthians 5:21 then it could not be said of Him that there was no darkness in Him. For if Jesus was in the likeness Romans 8:3 of the flesh of sin and for sin, and condemned sin by taking upon Him the likeness of the flesh of sin, then it cannot be said of Him, absolutely and directly, that there was no darkness in Him. We may add that
He Matthew 8:17 took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses, both infirmities of the soul and sicknesses of the hidden man of our heart. On account of these infirmities and sicknesses which He bore away from us, He declares His soul to be sorrowful and sore troubled, Matthew 26:38 and He is said in Zechariah to have put on filthy garments, Zechariah 3:4 which, when He was about to take them off, are said to be sins.
Behold, it is said, I have taken away your sins. Because He had taken on Himself the sins of the people of those who believed in Him, he uses many such expressions as these:
Far from my salvation are the words of my transgressions, and piety towards the Christ of God; for as the Father alone has immortality and our Lord took upon Himself, for His love to men, the death He died for us, so to the Father alone the words apply,
In Him is no darkness, since Christ took upon Himself, for His goodwill towards men, our darknesses. This He did, that by His power He might destroy our death and remove the darkness which is in our soul, so that the saying in Isaiah might be fulfilled,
The people that sat in darkness saw a great light. This light, which came into being in the Logos, and is also life, shines in the darkness of our souls, and it has come where the rulers of this darkness carry on their struggle with the race of men and strive to subdue to darkness those who do not stand firm with all their power; that they might be enlightened the light has come so far, and that they might be called sons of light. And shining in darkness this light is pursued by the darkness, but not overtaken.
Should any one consider that we are adding something that is not written, namely, the pursuit of the light by the darkness, let him reflect that unless the darkness had pursued the light the words,
The darkness did not overtake it, would have no meaning. John writes for those who have wit to see what is omitted and to supply it as the context requires, and so he wrote,
The darkness did not overtake it. If it did not overtake it, it must first have pursued it, and that the darkness did pursue the light is clear from what the Saviour suffered, and those also who received His teachings, His own children, when darkness was doing what it could against the sons of light and was minded to drive light away from men. But since, if God be for us, Romans 8:31 no one, however that way minded, can be against us, the more they humbled themselves the more they grew, and they prevailed exceedingly. In two ways the darkness did not overtake the light. Either it was left far behind and was itself so slow, while the light was in its course so sharp and swift, that it was not even able to keep following it, or if the light sought to lay a snare for the darkness, and waited for it in pursuance of the plan it had formed, then darkness, coming near the light, was brought to an end. In either case the darkness did not overtake the light.
In connection with this subject it is necessary for us to point out that darkness is not to be understood, every time it is mentioned, in a bad sense; Scripture speaks of it sometimes in a good sense. The heterodox have failed to observe this distinction, and have accordingly adopted most shameful doctrines about the Maker of the world, and have indeed revolted from Him, and addicted themselves to fictions and myths. We must, therefore, show how and when the name of darkness is taken in a good sense. Darkness and clouds and tempest are said in Exodus to be round about God, and in the seventeenth Psalm,
He made darkness His secret place, His tent round about Him, dark water in clouds of the air. Indeed, if one considers the multitude of speculation and knowledge about God, beyond the power of human nature to take in, beyond the power, perhaps, of all originated beings except Christ and the Holy Spirit, then one may know how God is surrounded with darkness, because the discourse is hid in ignorance which would be required to tell in what darkness He has made His hiding-place when He arranged that the things concerning Him should be unknown and beyond the grasp of knowledge. Should any one be staggered by these expositions, he may be reconciled to them both by the
dark sayings and by the
treasures of darkness, hidden, invisible, which are given to Christ by God. In nowise different, I consider, are the treasures of darkness which are hid in Christ, from what is spoken of in the text,
God made darkness His secret place, and (the saint)
shall understand parable and dark saying. Proverbs 1:6 And consider if we have here the reason of the Saviour's saying to His disciples,
What you have heard in darkness, speak ye in the light. The mysteries committed to them in secret and where few could hear, hard to be known and obscure, He bids them, when enlightened and therefore said to be in the light, to make known to every one who is made light. I might add a still stranger feature of this darkness which is praised, namely, that it hastens to the light and overtakes it, and so at last, after having been unknown as darkness, undergoes for him who does not see its power such a change that he comes to know it and to declare that what was formerly known to him as darkness has now become light.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. John 1:6 He who is sent is sent from somewhere to somewhere; and the careful student will, therefore, enquire from what quarter John was sent, and whither. The
whither is quite plain on the face of the story; he was sent to Israel, and to those who were willing to hear him when he was staying in the wilderness of Judæa and baptizing by the banks of the Jordan. According to the deeper sense, however, he was sent into the world, the world being understood as this earthly place where men are; and the careful student will have this in view in enquiring from where John was sent. Examining the words more closely, he will perhaps declare that as it is written of Adam, Genesis 3:23
And the Lord sent him forth out of the Paradise of pleasure to till the earth, out of which he was taken, so also John was sent, either from heaven or from Paradise, or from some other quarter to this place on the earth. He was sent that he might bear witness of the light. There is, however, an objection to this interpretation, which is not to be lightly dismissed. It is written in Isaiah:
Whom shall I send, and who will go to the people? The prophet answers:
Here am I—send me. He, then, who objects to that rendering of our passage which appears to be the deeper may say that Isaiah was sent not to this world from another place, but after having seen
the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up, was sent to the people, to say,
Hearing, you shall hear and shall not understand, and so on; and that in the same manner John, the beginning of his mission not being narrated, is sent after the analogy of the mission of Isaiah, to baptize, Luke 1:17 and to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for Him, and to bear witness of the light. So much we have said of the first sense; and now we adduce certain solutions which help to confirm the deeper meaning about John. In the same passage it is added, Holy Spirit as a dove descending on the Saviour.
He that sent me, he says, John 1:33
to baptize with water, He said unto me, Upon whomsoever you shall see the Holy Spirit descending and abiding upon Him, the same is He that baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire. When did He send him and give him this injunction? The answer to this question will probably be that when He sent him to begin to baptize, then He who was dealing with him uttered this word. But a more convincing argument for the view that John was sent from another region when he entered into the body, the one object of his entry into this life being that he should bear witness of the truth, may be drawn from the narrative of his birth. Gabriel, when announcing to Zacharias the birth of John, and to Mary the advent of our Saviour among men, says: That John is to be
filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb. And we have also the saying,
For behold, when the voice of your salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. He who sedulously guards himself in his dealings with Scripture against forced, or casual, or capricious procedure, must necessarily assume that John's soul was older than his body, and subsisted by itself before it was sent on the ministry of the witness of the light. Nor must we overlook the text,
This is Elijah which is to come. Matthew 11:14 For if that general doctrine of the soul is to be received, namely, that it is not sown at the same time with the body, but is before it, and is then, for various causes, clothed with flesh and blood; then the words
sent from God will not appear to be applicable to John alone. The most evil of all, the man of sin, the son of perdition, is said by Paul to be sent by God: 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
God sends them a working of error that they should believe a lie; that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But our present question may, perhaps, be solved in this way, that as every man is a man of God, simply because God created him, but not every man is called a man of God, but only he who has devoted himself to God, such as Elijah and those who are called men of God in the Scriptures, thus every man might be said in ordinary language to be sent from God, but in the absolute sense no one is to be spoken of in this way who has not entered this life for a divine ministry and in the service of the salvation of mankind. We do not find it said of any one but the saints that he is sent by God. It is said of Isaiah as we showed before; it is also said of Jeremiah,
To whomsoever I shall send you you shall go; Jeremiah 1:7 and it is said of Ezekiel, Ezekiel 2:3
I send you to nations that are rebellious and have not believed in Me. The examples, however, do not expressly speak of a mission from the region outside life into life, and as it is a mission into life that we are enquiring about, they may seem to have little bearing on our subject. But there is nothing absurd in our transferring the argument derived from them to our question. They tell us that it is only the saints, and we were speaking of them, whom God is said to send, and in this sense they may be applied to the case of those who are sent into this life.
As we are now engaged with what is said of John, and are asking about his mission, I may take the opportunity to state the view which I entertain about him. We have read this prophecy about him,
Behold, I send My messenger (angel) before Your face, who shall prepare Your way before You; and at this we ask if it can be one of the holy angels who is sent down on this ministry as forerunner of our Saviour. No wonder if, when the first-born of all creation was assuming a human body, some of them should have been filled with love to man and become admirers and followers of Christ, and thought it good to minister to his kindness towards man by having a body like that of men. And who would not be moved at the thought of his leaping for joy when yet in the belly, surpassing as he did the common nature of man? Should the piece entitled
The prayer of Joseph, one of the apocryphal works current among the Hebrews, be thought worthy of credence, this dogma will be found in it clearly expressed. Those at the beginning, it is represented, having some marked distinction beyond men, and being much greater than other souls, because they were angels, they have come down to human nature. Thus Jacob says:
I, Jacob, who speak to you, and Israel, I am an angel of God, a ruling spirit, and Abraham and Isaac were created before every work of God; and I am Jacob, called Jacob by men, but my name is Israel, called Israel by God, a man seeing God, because I am the first-born of every creature which God caused to live. And he adds:
When I was coming from Mesopotamia of Syria, Uriel, the angel of God, came forth, and said, I have come down to the earth and made my dwelling among men, and I am called Jacob by name. He was angry with me and fought with me and wrestled against me, saying that his name and the name of Him who is before every angel should be before my name. And I told him his name and how great he was among the sons of God; Are you not Uriel my eighth, and I am Israel and archangel of the power of the Lord and a chief captain among the sons of God? Am not I Israel, the first minister in the sight of God, and I invoked my God by the inextinguishable name? It is likely that this was really said by Jacob, and was therefore written down, and that there is also a deeper meaning in what we are told,
He supplanted his brother in the womb. Consider whether the celebrated question about Jacob and Esau has a solution. We read, Romans 9:11-14 The children being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of him that calls, it was said,
The elder shall serve the younger. Even as it is written: evil, in order that God's purpose according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calls, if at such a period this was said, how if we do not go back to the works done before this life, can it be said that there is no unrighteousness with God when the elder serves the younger and is hated (by God) before he has done anything worthy of slavery or of hatred? We have made something of a digression in introducing this story about Jacob and appealing to a writing which we cannot well treat with contempt; but it certainly adds weight to our argument about John, to the effect that as Isaiah's voice declares Isaiah 40:3 he is an angel who assumed a body for the sake of bearing witness to the light. So much about John considered as a man.
Now we know voice and speech to be different things. The voice can be produced without any meaning and with no speech in it, and similarly speech can be reported to the mind without voice, as when we make mental excursions, within ourselves. And thus the Saviour is, in one view of Him, speech, and John differs from Him; for as the Saviour is speech, John is voice. John himself invites me to take this view of him, for to those who asked who he was, he answered,
I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord! Make His paths straight! This explains, perhaps, how it was that Zacharias lost his voice at the birth of the voice which points out the Word of God, and only recovered it when the voice, forerunner of the Word, was born. A voice must be perceived with the ears if the mind is afterwards to receive the speech which the voice indicates. Hence, John is, in point of his birth, a little older than Christ, for our voice comes to us before our speech. But John also points to Christ; for speech is brought forward by the voice. And Christ is baptized by John, though John declares himself to have need to be baptized by Christ; for with men speech is purified by voice, though the natural way is that speech should purify the voice which indicates it. In a word, when John points out Christ, it is man pointing out God, the Saviour incorporeal, the voice pointing out the Word.
The force that is in names may be applied in many matters, and it may be worth our while to ask at this point what is the significance of the names John and Zacharias. The relatives wish, as the giving of a name is a thing not to be lightly disposed of, to call the child Zacharias, and are surprised that Elisabeth should want him to be called John. Zacharias then writes,
His name is John, and is at once freed from his troublesome silence. On examining the names, then, we find
Joannes to be
Joa without the
nes. The New Testament gives Hebrew names a Greek form and treats them as Greek words; Jacob is changed into Jacobus, Symeon into Simon, and Joannes is the same as Joa. Zacharias is said to be memory, and Elisabeth
strength of my God. John then came into the world from grace of God (=Joa=Joannes), and his parents were Memory (about God) and the Oath of our God, about the fathers. Thus was he born to make ready for the Lord a people fit for Him, at the end of the Covenant now grown old, which is the end of the Sabbatic period. Hence it is not possible that the rest after the Sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh of our God; on the contrary, it is our Saviour who, after the pattern of His own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of His death, and hence also of His resurrection.
John 1:7 Some of the dissenters from the Church's doctrine, men who profess to believe in Christ, have desired another being, as indeed their system requires, besides the Creator, and hence cannot allow His coming to the world to have been foretold by the prophets. They therefore endeavour to get rid of the testimonies of the prophets about Christ, and say that the Son of God has no need of witnesses, but that He brings with Him His own evidence, partly in the sound words full of power which He proclaimed and partly in the wonderful works He did, which were sufficient at once to convince any one whatever. Then they say: If Moses is believed on account of his word and his works, and has no need of any witnesses to announce him beforehand, and if the prophets were received, every one of them, by these people, as messengers from God, how should not one who is much greater than Moses and the prophets accomplish His mission and benefit the human race, without prophets to bear witness about Him? They regard it as superfluous that He should have been foretold by the prophets, since the prophets were concerned, as these opponents would say, that those who believed in Christ should not receive Him as a new God, and therefore did what they could to bring them to that same God whom Moses and the prophets taught before Jesus. To this we must say that as there are many causes which may lead men to believe, since men who are not moved by one argument may be by another, so God is able to provide for men a number of occasions, any of which may cause their minds to open to the truth that God, who is over all, has taken on Himself human nature. It is manifest to all, how some are brought by the prophetic writings to the admiration of Christ. They are astounded at the voices of so many prophets before Him, which establish the place of His birth, the country of His upbringing, the power of His teaching, His working of wonderful works, and His human passion brought to a close by His resurrection. We must notice, too, that Christ's stupendous acts of power were able to bring to the faith those of Christ's own time, but that they lost their demonstrative force with the lapse of years and began to be regarded as mythical. Greater evidential value than that of the miracles then performed attaches to the comparison which we now make between these miracles and the prophecy of them; this makes it impossible for the student to cast any doubt on the former. The prophetic testimonies do not declare merely the advent of the Messiah; it is by no means the case that they teach this and nothing else. They teach a great deal of theology. The relation of the Father to the Son and of the Son to the Father may be learned not less from what the prophets announce about Christ, than from the Apostles narrating the splendours of the Son of God. A parallel case, which we may venture to adduce, is that of the martyrs, who were honoured by the witness they bore Him, and by no means conferred any favour on Him by their witnessing for the Son of God. And how is it if, as many of Christ's true disciples were honoured by having thus to witness for Him, so the prophets received from God as their special gift that of understanding about Christ and announcing Him before, and that they taught not only those living after Christ's advent how they should regard the Son of God, but those also who lived in the generations before Him? As he who in these times does not know the Son has not the Father either, 1 John 2:23 so also we are to understand it was in these earlier times. Hence John 8:56 He, therefore, who declares that they are not to testify about Christ is seeking to deprive the chorus of the prophets of the greatest gift they have; for what office of equal importance would be left to prophecy, inspired as it is by the Holy Spirit, if all connection with the economy of our Lord and Master were taken away from it? For as these have their faith well ordered who approach the God of the universe through Mediator and High-Priest and Paraclete, and as his religion is a halting one who does not go in through the door to the Father, so also in the case of men of old time. Their religion was sanctified and made acceptable to God by their knowledge and faith and expectation of Christ. For we have observed that God declares Himself to be a witness and exhorts them all to declare the same about Christ, and to be imitators of Him, bearing witness of Him to all who require it. For he says, Isaiah 43:10 witness to the truth, whether he support it by words or deeds, or in whatever way, may properly be called a witness (martyr); but it has come to be the custom of the brotherhood, since they are struck with admiration of those who have contended to the death for truth and valour, to keep the name of martyr more properly for those who have borne witness to the mystery of godliness by shedding their blood for it. The Saviour gives the name of martyr to every one who bears witness to the truth He declares; thus at the Ascension He says to His disciples: Acts 1:8
You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judæa and in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. The leper who was cleansed Matthew 8:4 had still to bring the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony to those who did not believe in the Christ. In the same way the martyrs bear witness for a testimony to the unbelieving, and so do all the saints whose deeds shine before men. They spend their life rejoicing in the cross of Christ and bearing witness to the true light.
Come and See.Significance of the Tenth Hour.
Accordingly John came to bear witness of the light, and in his witness-bearing he cried, saying,
He that comes after me exists before me; for He was before me; for of His fullness we have all received and grace for grace, for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only-begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. This whole speech is from the mouth of the Baptist bearing witness to the Christ. Some take it otherwise, and consider that the words from
for of His fullness to
He has declared Him are from the writer, John the Apostle. The true state of the case is that John's first testimony begins, as we said before,
He that comes after me, and ends,
He has declared Him, and his second testimony is that spoken to the priests and levites sent from Jerusalem, whom the Jews had sent. To them he confesses and does not deny the truth, namely, that he is not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet, but
the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as says Isaiah the prophet. After this there is another testimony of the same Baptist to Christ, still teaching His superior nature, which goes forth into the whole world and enters into reasonable souls. He says,
There stands One among you whom you know not, even He that comes after me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose. Consider if, since the heart is in the middle of the whole body, and the ruling principle in the heart, the saying,
There stands One among you whom you know not, can be understood of the reason which is in every man. John's fourth testimony of Christ after these points to His human sufferings. He says,
Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said, After me comes a man who exists before me, for He was before me. And I knew Him not, but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And the fifth testimony is recorded in the words,
I beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and it abode upon Him, and I knew Him not, but He that sent me to baptize with water, He said unto me, Upon whomsoever you shall see the Spirit descending and abiding upon Him, the same is He that baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God. In the sixth place John witnesses of Christ to the two disciples:
He looked on Jesus as He walked and says, Behold the Lamb of God. After this testimony the two disciples who heard it followed Jesus; and Jesus turned and beheld them following, and says unto them,
What do you seek? Perhaps it is not without significance that after six testimonies John ceases from his witness-bearing and Jesus brings forward in the seventh place His
What do you seek? Very becoming in those who have been helped by John's testimony is the speech in which they address Christ as their Master, and declare their wish to see the dwelling of the Son of God; for they say to Him,
Rabbi, which answers to
Master, in our language,
where dwellest Thou? And since every one that seeks finds, when John's disciples seek Jesus' dwelling, Jesus shows it to them, saying,
Come and see. By the word
Come He exhorts them perhaps to the practical part of life, while the
see is to suggest to them that that speculation which comes in the train of right conduct will be vouchsafed to those who desire it; in Jesus' dwelling they will have it. After they had asked where Jesus dwells, and had followed the Master and had seen, they desired to stay with Him and to spend that day with the Son of God. Now the number ten is a sacred one, not a few mysteries being indicated by it; and so we are to understand that the mention of the tenth hour as that at which these disciples turned in with Jesus, is not without significance. Of these disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, is one; and he having profited by this day with Jesus and having found his own brother Simon (perhaps he had not found him before), told him that he had found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, Christ. It is written that
he that seeks finds. Now he had sought where Jesus dwelt, and had followed Him and looked upon His dwelling; he stays with the Lord
at the tenth hour, and finds the Son of God, the Word, and Wisdom, and is ruled by Him as King. That is why he says,
We have found the Messiah, and this a thing which every one can say who has found this Word of God and is ruled as by a king, by His Divinity. As a fruit he at once brings his brother to Christ, and Christ deigned to look upon Simon, that is to say, by looking at him to visit and enlighten his ruling principle; and Simon by Jesus' looking at him was enabled to grow strong, so as to earn a new name from that work of firmness and strength, and to be called Peter.
It may be asked why we should have gone through all this when the verse before us is, proved, to set forth the help it afforded afterwards to those to whom he bore it. But before all these testimonies there was an earlier one when the Baptist leaped in the womb of Elisabeth at the greeting of Mary. That was a testimony to Christ and attested His divine conception and birth. And what more need I say? John is everywhere a witness and forerunner of Christ. He anticipates His birth and dies a little before the death of the Son of God, and thus witnesses not only for those at the time of the birth, but to those who were expecting the freedom which was to come for man through the death of Christ. Thus, in all his life, he is a little before Christ, and everywhere makes ready for the Lord a people prepared for Him. And John's testimony precedes also the second and diviner coming of Christ, for we read, Matthew 11:14-15
If you will receive it, this is Elijah which is to come. He that has ears to hear let him hear. Now, there was a beginning, in which the Word was—and we saw from Proverbs that that beginning was wisdom—and the Word was in existence, and in the Word life was made, and the life was the light of men; and all this being so, I ask why the man who came, sent from God, whose name was John, why he came for witness to bear witness especially of the light? Why did he not come to bear witness of the life, or of the Word, or about the beginning, or about any other of the many aspects in which Christ appears? Consider here the texts,
The people which sat in darkness saw a great light, and
The light shines in darkness, and the darkness overtook it not, and consider how those who are in darkness, that is, men, have need of light. For if the light of men shines in darkness, and there is no active power in darkness to attain to it, then we must partake of other aspects of Christ; at present we have no real share of Him at all. For what share have we of life, we who are still in the body of death, and whose life is hid with Christ in God? Colossians 3:3-4
For when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. It was not possible, therefore, that he who came should bear witness about a life which is still hid with Christ in God. Nor did he come for witness to bear witness of the Word, for we know the Word who was in the beginning with God and who is God the Word; for the Word was made flesh on the earth. And though the witness had been, at least apparently, about the Word, it would in fact have been about the Word made flesh and not about the word of God. He did not come, therefore, to bear witness of the Word. And how could there be any witness-bearing about wisdom, to those who, even if they appear to know something, cannot understand pure truth, but behold it through a glass and in an enigma? It is likely, however, that before the second and diviner advent of Christ, John or Elias will come to bear witness about life a little before Christ our life is made manifest, and that then they will bear witness about the Word, and offer also their testimony about wisdom. Some inquiry is necessary whether a testimony such as that of John is to precede each of the aspects of Christ. So much for the words,
That all might believe through Him, may be considered later.
Source. Translated by Allan Menzies. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 9. Edited by Allan Menzies. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1896.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/101502.htm>.
Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is feedback732 at newadvent.org. (To help fight spam, this address might change occasionally.) Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.