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Home > Fathers of the Church > Tractates on the Gospel of John (Augustine) > Tractate 105

Tractate 105 (John 17:1-5)

1. That the Son was glorified by the Father in His form of a servant, which the Father raised from the dead and set at His own right hand, is indicated by the event itself, and is nowhere doubted by the Christian. But as He not only said, Father, glorify Your Son, but likewise added, that Your Son may glorify You, it is worthy of inquiry how it was that the Son glorified the Father, seeing that the eternal glory of the Father neither suffered diminution in any human form, nor could be increased in respect of its own divine perfection. In itself, indeed, the glory of the Father could neither be diminished nor enlarged; but without any doubt it was less among men when God was known only in Judea: and as yet children praised not the name of the Lord from the rising of the sun to its going down. But inasmuch as this was effected by the gospel of Christ, to wit, that the Father became known through the Son to the Gentiles, assuredly the Son also glorified the Father. Had the Son, however, only died, and not risen again, He would without doubt have neither been glorified by the Father, nor have glorified the Father; but now having been glorified through His resurrection by the Father, He glorifies the Father by the preaching of His resurrection. For this is disclosed by the very order of the words: Glorify, He says, Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You; saying, as it were, Raise me up again, that by me You may become known to all the world.

2. And then expanding still further how it was that the Father should be glorified by the Son, He says: As You have given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to all that You have given Him. By all flesh, He meant every man, signifying the whole by a part; as, on the other hand, the whole man is signified by the superior part, when the apostle says, Let every soul be subject to the higher powers. Romans 13:1 For what else did He mean by every soul, save every man? And this, therefore, that power over all flesh was given to Christ by the Father, is to be understood in respect of His humanity; for in respect of His Godhead all things were made by Himself, and in Him were created all things in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible. Colossians 1:16 As, then, He says, You have given Him power over all flesh, so may Your Son glorify You, in other words, make You known to all flesh whom You have given Him. For You have so given, that He should give eternal life to all that You have given Him.

3. And this, He adds, is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent. The proper order of the words is, That they may know You and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent, as the only true God. Consequently, therefore, the Holy Spirit is also understood, because He is the Spirit of the Father and Son, as the substantial and consubstantial love of both. For the Father and Son are not two Gods, nor are the Father and Son and Holy Spirit three Gods; but the Trinity itself is the one only true God. And yet the Father is not the same as the Son, nor the Son the same as the Father, nor the Holy Spirit the same as the Father and the Son; for the Father and Son and Holy Spirit are three [persons], yet the Trinity itself is one God. If, then, the Son glorifies You in the same manner as You have given Him power over all flesh, and hast so given, that He should give eternal life to all that You have given Him, and this is life eternal, that they may know You; in this way, therefore, the Son glorifies You, that He makes You known to all whom You have given Him. Accordingly, if the knowledge of God is eternal life, we are making the greater advances to life, in proportion as we are enlarging our growth in such a knowledge. And we shall not die in the life eternal; for then, when there shall be no death, the knowledge of God shall be perfected. Then will be effected the full effulgence of God, because then the completed glory, as expressed in Greek by δόξα . For from it we have the word δόξασον, that is used here, and which some Latins have interpreted by clarifica (make effulgent), and some by glorifica (glorify). But by the ancients, glory, from which men are styled glorious, is thus defined: Glory is the widely-spread fame of any one accompanied with praise. But if a man is praised when the fame regarding him is believed, how will God be praised when He Himself shall be seen? Hence it is said in Scripture, Blessed are they that dwell in Your house; they will be praising You for ever and ever. There will God's praise continue without end, where there shall be the full knowledge of God; and because the full knowledge, therefore also the complete effulgence or glorification.

4. But God is first of all glorified here, while He is being made known to men by word of mouth, and preached through the faith of believers. Wherefore, He says, I have glorified You on the earth: I have finished the work which You gave me to do. He does not say, You ordered; but, You gave: where the evident grace of it is commended to notice. For what has the human nature even in the Only-begotten, that it has not received? Did it not receive this, that it should do no evil, but all good things, when it was assumed into the unity of His person by the Word, by whom all things were made? But how has He finished the work which was committed unto Him to do, when there still remains the trial of the passion wherein He especially furnished His martyrs with the example they were to follow, whereof, says the apostle Peter, Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow His steps: 1 Peter 2:21 but just that He says He has finished, what He knew with perfect certainty that He would finish? Just as long before, in prophecy, He used words in the past tense, when what He said was to take place very many years afterwards: They pierced, He says, my hands and my feet, they counted all my bones; He says not, They will pierce, and, They will count. And in this very Gospel He says, All things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you; to whom He afterward declares, I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. For He, who has predestinated all that is to be by sure and unchangeable causes, has done whatever He is to do: as it was also declared of Him by the prophet, Who has made the things that are to be.

5. In a way similar, also, to this, He proceeds to say: And now, O Father, glorify me with Your own self with the glory which I had with You before the world was. For He had said above, Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You: in which arrangement of the words He had shown that the Father was first to be glorified by the Son, in order that the Son might glorify the Father. But now He said, I have glorified You on the earth: I have finished the work which You gave me to do; and now glorify Thou me; as if He Himself had been the first to glorify the Father, by whom He then demands to be glorified. We are therefore to understand that He used both words above in accordance with that which was future, and in the order in which they were future, Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You: but that He now used the word in the past tense of that which was still future, when He said, I have glorified You on the earth: I have finished the work which You gave me to do. And then, when He said, And now, O Father, glorify Thou me with Your own self, as if He were afterwards to be glorified by the Father, whom He Himself had first glorified; what did He intimate but that, when He said above, I have glorified You on the earth, He had so spoken as if He had done what He was still to do; but that here He demanded of the Father to do that whereby the Son should yet do so; in other words, that the Father should glorify the Son, by means of which glorification of the Son, the Son also was yet to glorify the Father? In fine, if, in connection with that which was still future, we put the verb also in the future tense, where He has used the past in place of the future tense, there will remain no obscurity in the sentence: as if He had said, I will glorify You on the earth: I will finish the work which You have given me to do; and now, O Father, glorify Thou me with Your own self. In this way it is as plain as when He says, Glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You: and this is indeed the whole sentence, save that here we are told also the manner of that same glorification, which there was left unnoticed; as if the former were explained by the latter to those whose hearts it was able to stir, how it was that the Father should glorify the Son, and most of all how the Son also should glorify the Father. For in saying that the Father was glorified by Himself on the earth, but He Himself by the Father with the Father's very self, He showed them assuredly the manner of both glorifications. For He Himself glorified the Father on earth by preaching Him to the nations; but the Father glorified Him with His own self in setting Him at His own right hand. But on that very account, when He says afterward in reference to the glorifying of the Father, I have glorified You, He preferred putting the verb in the past tense, in order to show that it was already done in the act of predestination, and what was with perfect certainty yet to take place was to be accounted as already done; namely, that the Son, having been glorified by the Father with the Father, would also glorify the Father on the earth.

6. But this predestination He still more clearly disclosed in respect of His own glorification, wherewith He was glorified by the Father, when He added, With the glory which I had, before the world was, with You. The proper order of the words is, which I had with You before the world was. To this apply His words, And now glorify Thou me; that is to say, as then, so also now: as then, by predestination; so also now, by consummation: do Thou in the world what had already been done with You before the world: do in its own time what You have determined before all times. This, some have imagined, should be so understood as if the human nature, which was assumed by the Word, were converted into the Word, and the man were changed into God; yea, were we reflecting with some care on the opinions they have advanced, as if the humanity were lost in the Godhead. For no one would go the length of saying that out of such a transmutation of the humanity the Word of God is either doubled or increased, so that either what was one should now be two, or what was less should now be greater. Accordingly, if with His human nature changed and converted into the Word, the Word of God will still be as great as He was, and what He was, where is the humanity, if it is not lost?

7. But to this opinion, which I certainly do not see to be conformable to the truth, there is nothing to urge us, if, when the Son says, And now, O Father, glorify Thou me with Your own self, with the glory which I had with You before the world was, we understand the predestination of the glory of His human nature, as thereafter, from being mortal, to become immortal with the Father: and that this had already been done by predestination before the world was, as also in its own time it was done in the world. For if the apostle has said of us, According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4 why should it be thought incongruous with the truth, if the Father glorified our Head at the same time as He chose us in Him to be His members? For we were chosen in the same way as He was glorified; inasmuch as before the world was, neither we nor the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5 were yet in existence. But He who, in as far as He is His Word, of His own self made even those things which are yet to come, and calls those things which are not as though they were, Romans 4:17 certainly, in respect of His manhood as Mediator between God and men, was Himself glorified on our behalf by God the Father before the foundation of the world, if it be so that we also were then chosen in Him. For what says the apostle? And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren: and whom He did predestinate, them He also called. Romans 8:28-30

8. But perhaps we shall have some fear in saying that He was predestinated, because the apostle seems to have said so only in reference to our being made conformable to His image. As if, indeed, any one, faithfully considering the rule of faith, were to deny that the Son of God was predestinated, who yet cannot deny that He was man. For it is rightly said that He was not predestinated in respect of His being the Word of God, God with God. For how could He be predestinated, seeing He already was what He was, without beginning and without ending, everlasting? But that, which as yet was not, had to be predestinated, in order that it might come to pass in its time, even as it was predestinated so to come before all times. Accordingly, whoever denies predestination of the Son of God, denies that He was also Himself the Son of man. But, on account of those who are disputatious, let us also on this subject listen to the apostle in the exordium of his epistles. For both in the first of his epistles, which is that to the Romans, and in the beginning of the epistle itself, we read: Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was made for Him of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was predestinated the Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. In respect, then, of this predestination also, He was gloried before the world was, in order that His glory might be, by the resurrection from the dead, with the Father, at whose right hand He sits. Accordingly, when He saw that the time of this, His predestinated glorification, was now come, in order that what had already been done in predestination might also be done now in actual accomplishment, He said in His prayer, And now, O Father, glorify Thou me with Your own self with the glory which I had with You before the world was: as if He had said, The glory which I had with You, that is, that glory which I had with You in Your predestination, it is time that I should have with You also in sitting at Your right hand. But as the discussion of this question has already kept us long, what follows must be taken into consideration in another discourse.

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Source. Translated by John Gibb. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1701105.htm>.

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