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Home > Fathers of the Church > Tractates on the Gospel of John (Augustine) > Tractate 21

Tractate 21 (John 5:20-23)

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1. Yesterday, so far as the Lord vouchsafed to bestow, we discussed with what ability we could, and discerned according to our capacity, how the works of the Father and of the Son are inseparable; and how the Father does not some, the Son others, but that the Father does all things through the Son, as through His Word, of which it is written, All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made. Let us today look at the words that follow. And of the same Lord let us pray for mercy, and hope that, if He deem it meet, we may understand what is true; but if we should not be able to do this, that we may not go into what is false. For it is better not to know than to go astray; but to know is better than not to know. Therefore, before all things, we ought to strive to know. Should we be able, to God be thanks; but should we not be able meanwhile to arrive at the truth, let us not go to falsehood. For we are bound to consider well what we are, and what we are treating of. We are men bearing flesh, walking in this life; and though now begotten again of the seed of the Word of God, yet in Christ renewed in such manner that we are not yet wholly rid of Adam. For truly our mortal and corruptible part that weighs down the soul Wisdom 9:15 shows itself to be, and manifestly is, of Adam; but what in us is spiritual, and raises up the soul, is of God's gift and of His mercy, who has sent His only Son to partake our death with us, and to lead us to His own immortality. The Son we have for our Master, that we may not sin; and for our defender, if we have sinned and have confessed, and been converted; an intercessor for us, if we have desired any good of God; and the bestower of it with the Father, because Father and Son is one God. But He was speaking these things as man to men: God concealed, the man manifest, that He might make them gods that are manifest men; and the Son of God made Son of man, that He might make the sons of men sons of God. By what skill of His wisdom He does this, we perceive in His own words. For as a little one He speaks to little ones, but Himself little in such wise that He is also great, and we little, but in Him great. He speaks, in deed as one cherishing and nourishing children at the breast that grow by loving.

2. He had said, The Son cannot of Himself do anything, but what He sees the Father doing. We, however, understood it not that the Father does something separately, which when the Son sees, Himself also does something of the same kind, after seeing His Father's work; but when He said, The Son cannot of Himself do anything, but what He sees the Father doing, we understood it that the Son is wholly of the Father — that His whole substance and His whole power are of the Father that begot Him. But just now, when He had said that He does in like manner these things which the Father does, that we may not understand it to mean that the Father does some, the Son others, but that the Son with like power does the very same which the Father does, while the Father does through the Son, He went on, and said what we have heard read today: For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that Himself does. Again mortal thought is disturbed. The Father shows to the Son what things Himself does; therefore, says some one, the Father does separately, that the Son may be able to see what He does. Again, there occur to human thought, as it were, two artificers — as, for instance, a carpenter teaching his son his own art, and showing him whatever he does, that the son also may be able to do it. Shows Him, says He, all things that Himself does. Is it therefore so, that while He does, the Son does not, that He may be able to see the Father do? Yet, certainly, all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made. Hence we see how the Father shows the Son what He does, since the Father does nothing but what He does through the Son. What has the Father made? He made the world. Hath He shown the world, when made, to the Son in such wise, that the Son also should make something like it? Then let us see the world which the Son made. Nevertheless, both all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made, and also the world was made by Him. If the world was made by Him, and all things were made by Him, and the Father does nothing save by the Son, where does the Father show to the Son what He does, if it be not in the Son Himself, through whom He does? In what place can the work of the Father be shown to the Son, as though He were doing and sitting outside, and the Son attentively watching the Father's hand how it makes? Where is that inseparable Trinity? Where the Word, of which it is said that the same is the power and the wisdom of God? 1 Corinthians 1:24 Where that which the Scripture says of the same wisdom: For it is the brightness of the eternal light? Wisdom 7:26 Where what was said of it again: It powerfully reaches from the end even to the end, and orders all things sweetly? Wisdom 8:1 Whatever the Father does, He does through the Son: through His wisdom and his power He does; not from without does He show to the Son what He may see, but in the Son Himself He shows Him what He does.

3. What sees the Father, or rather, what does the Son see in the Father, that Himself also may do? Perhaps I may be able to speak it, but show me the man who can comprehend it; or perhaps I may be able to think and not speak it; or perhaps I may not be able even to think it. For that divinity excels us, as God excels men, as the immortal excels a mortal, as the eternal excels the temporal. May He inspire and endow us, and out of that fountain of life deign to bedew and to drop somewhat on our thirst, that we may not be parched in this wilderness! Let us say to Him, Lord, to whom we have learned to say Father. We make bold to say this, because Himself willed it; if only we so live that He may not say to us, If I am a Father, where is mine honor? If I am Lord, where is my fear? Let us then say to Him, Our Father. To whom do we say, Our Father? To the Father of Christ. He, then, who says Our Father to the Father of Christ, says to Christ, what else but Our Brother? Not, however, as He is the Father of Christ is He in like manner our Father; for Christ never so conjoined us as to make no distinction between Him and us. For He is the Son equal to the Father, the eternal Son with the Father, and co-eternal with the Father; but we became sons through the Son, adopted through the Only-begotten. Hence was it never heard from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ, when speaking to His disciples, that He said of the supreme God His Father, Our Father; but He said either My Father or Your Father. But He said not Our Father; so much so, that in a certain place He used these two expressions: I go to my God, says He, and to your God. Why did He not say, Our God? Further, He said, My Father, and your Father; He said not, Our Father. He so joins as to distinguish, distinguishes so as not to disjoin. He wills us to be one in Him, but the Father and Himself one.

4. How much soever then we may understand, and how much soever we may see, we shall not see as the Son sees, even when we shall be made equal with the angels. For we are something even when we do not see; but what are we when we do not see, other than persons not seeing? And that we may see, we turn to Him whom we may see, and there is formed in us a seeing which was not before, although we were in being. For a man is when not seeing; and the same, when he does see, is called a man seeing. For him, then, to see is not the same thing as to be a man; for if it were, he would not be man when not seeing. But since he is man when not seeing, and seeks to see what he sees not, he is one who seeks, and who turns to see; and when he has well turned and has seen, he becomes a man seeing, who was before a man not seeing. Consequently, to see is to him a thing that comes and goes; it comes to him when he turns to, and leaves him when he turns away. Is it thus with the Son? Far be it from us to think so. It was never so that He was Son, not seeing, and afterwards was made to see; but to see the Father is to Him the same thing as to be Son. For we, by turning away to sin, lose enlightenment; and by turning to God we receive enlightenment. For the light by which we are enlightened is one thing; we who are enlightened, another thing. But the light itself, by which we are enlightened, neither turns away from itself, nor loses its lucidity, because as light it exists. The Father, then, shows a thing which He does to the Son, in such wise that the Son sees all things in the Father, and is all things in the Father. For by seeing He was begotten; and by being begotten He sees. Not, however, that at any time He was not begotten, and afterwards was begotten; nor that at any time He saw not, and afterwards saw. But in what consists His seeing, in the same consists His being, in the same His being begotten, in the same His continuing, in the same His unchanging, in the same His abiding without beginning and without end. Let us not therefore take it in a carnal sense that the Father sits and does a work, and shows it to the Son; and the Son sees the work that the Father does, and does another work in another place, or out of other materials. For all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made. The Son is the Word of the Father. The Father said nothing which He did not say in the Son. For by speaking in the Son what He was about to do through the Son, He begot the Son through whom He made all things.

5. And greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel. Here again we are embarrassed. And who is there that may worthily investigate this so great a secret? But now, in that He has deigned to speak to us, Himself opens it. For He would not speak what He would not have us understand; and as He has deigned to speak, without doubt He has excited attention: for does He forsake any whom He has roused to give attentive hearing? We have said that it is not in a temporal sense that the Son knows — that the knowledge of the Son is not one thing, and the Son Himself another; nor one thing His seeing, Himself another; but that the seeing itself is the Son, and the knowledge as well as the wisdom of the Father is the Son; and that that wisdom and seeing is eternal and co-eternal with Him from whom it is; that it is not something that varies by time, nor something produced that was not in being, nor something that vanishes away which did exist. What is it, then, that time does in this case, that He should say, Greater works than these He will show Him? He will show, that is, He is about to show. Hath shown is a different thing from will show: has shown, we say of an act past; will show, of an act future. What shall we do here, then, brethren? Behold, He whom we had declared to be co-eternal with the Father, in whom nothing is varied by time, in whom is no moving through spaces either of moments or of places, of whom we had declared that He abides ever with the Father seeing, seeing the Father, and by seeing existing; He, I say, here again mentioning times to us, says, He will show Him greater works than these. Is He then about to show something to the Son, which the Son does not as yet know? What, then, do we make of it? How do we understand this? Behold, our Lord Jesus Christ was above, is beneath. When was He above? When He said, Whatever things the Father does, these same also the Son does in like manner. Whence know we that He is now beneath? Hence: Greater works than these He will show Him. O Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour, Word of God, by which all things were made, what is the Father about to show You, that as yet You know not? What of the Father is hid from You? What in the Father is hid from You, from whom the Father is not hid? What greater works is He about to show You? Or greater than what works are they which He is to show You? For when He said, Greater than these, we ought first to understand the works than which are they greater.

6. Let us again call to mind whence this discourse started. It was when that man who was thirty-eight years in infirmity was healed, and Jesus commanded him, now made whole, to take up his bed and to go to his house. For this cause, indeed, the Jews with whom He was speaking were enraged. He spoke in words, as to the meaning He was silent; hinted in some measure at the meaning to those who understood, and hid the matter from them that were angry. For this cause, I say, the Jews, being enraged because the Lord did this on the Sabbath, gave occasion to this discourse. Therefore let us not hear these things in such wise as if we had forgotten what was said above, but let us look back to that impotent man languishing for thirty-eight years suddenly made whole, while the Jews marvelled and were angry. They sought darkness from the Sabbath more than light from the miracle. Speaking then to these, while they are indignant, He says, Greater works than these will He show Him. Greater than these: than which? What you have seen, that a man, whose infirmity had lasted thirty-eight years, was made whole; greater than these the Father is about to show to the Son. What are greater works? He goes on, saying, For as the Father raises the dead, and quickens them, so also the Son quickens whom He will. Clearly these are greater. Very much greater is it that a dead man should rise, than that a sick man should recover: these are greater. But when is the Father about to show these to the Son? Does the Son not know them? And He who was speaking, did He not know how to raise the dead? Had He yet to learn how to raise the dead to life — He, I say, by whom all things were made? He who caused that we should live, when we were not in being, had He yet to learn how we might be raised to life again? What, then, do His words mean?

7. But now He condescends to us, and He who a little before was speaking as God, now begins to speak as man. Notwithstanding, the same is man who is God, for God was made man; but was made what He was not, without losing what He was. The man therefore was added to the God, that He might be man who was God, but not that He should now henceforth be man and not be God. Let us then hear Him also as our brother whom we did hear as our Maker. Our Maker, because the Word in the beginning; our Brother, because born of the Virgin Mary: Maker, before Abraham, before Adam, before earth, before heaven, before all things corporeal and spiritual; but Brother, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, of the Israelitish virgin. If therefore we know Him who speaks to us as both God and man, let us understand the words of God and of man; for sometimes He speaks to us such things as are applicable to the majesty, sometimes such as are applicable to the humility. For the selfsame is high who was made low, that He might make us high who are low. What, then, says He? The Father will show to me greater than these, that you may marvel. To us, therefore, He is about to show, not to Him. And since it is to us that the Father is to show, for that reason He said, that you may marvel. He has, in fact, explained what He meant in saying, The Father will show to me. Why did He not say, The Father will show to you; but, He will show to the Son? Because also we are members of the Son; and like as what we the members learn, He Himself in a manner learns in His members. How does He learn in us? As He suffers in us. Whence may we prove that He suffers in us? From that voice out of heaven, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Acts 9:4 Is it not Himself that will sit as Judge in the end of the world, and, setting the just on the right, and the wicked on the left, will say, Come, you blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom; for I was hungry, and you gave me to eat? And when they shall answer, Lord, when saw we You hungry? He will say to them, Since ye gave to one of the least of mine, you gave to me. Matthew 25:31-40 Let us at this time question Him, and let us say to Him, Lord, when will You be a learner, seeing Thou teachest all things? Immediately, indeed, He makes answer to us in our faith, When one of the least of mine does learn, I learn.

8. Let us rejoice, then, and give thanks that we are made not only Christians, but Christ. Do ye understand, brethren, and apprehend the grace of God upon us? Marvel, be glad, we are made Christ. For if He is the head, we are the members: the whole man is He and we. This is what the Apostle Paul says: That we be no longer babes, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. But above he had said, Until we all come together into the unity of faith, and to the knowledge of the Son of God, to the perfect man, to the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:14 The fullness of Christ, then, is head and members. Head and members, what is that? Christ and the Church. We should indeed be arrogating this to ourselves proudly, if He did not Himself deign to promise it, who says by the same apostle, But you are the body of Christ, and members. 1 Corinthians 12:27

9. Whenever, then, the Father shows to Christ's members, He shows to Christ. A certain great but yet real miracle happens. There is a showing to Christ of what Christ knew, and it is shown to Christ through Christ. A marvelous and great thing it is, but the Scripture so says. Shall we contradict the divine declarations? Shall we not rather understand them, and of His own gift render thanks to Him who freely bestowed it on us? What is this that I said, is shown to Christ through Christ? Is shown to the members through the head. Lo, look at this in yourself. Suppose that with your eyes shut you would take up something, your hand knows not whither to go; and yet your hand is at any rate your member, for it is not separated from your body. Open your eyes, now the hand sees whither it may go; while the head showed, the member followed. If, then, there could be found in yourself something such, that your body showed to your body, and that through your body something was shown to your body, then do not marvel that it is said there is shown to Christ through Christ. For the head shows that the members may see, and the head teaches that the members may learn; nevertheless one man, head and members. He willed not to separate Himself, but deigned to attach Himself to us. Far was He from us, yea, very far. What so far apart as the creature and the Creator? What so far apart as God and man? What so far as justice and iniquity? What so far as eternity and mortality? Behold, so far from us was the Word in the beginning, God with God, by whom all things were made. How, then, was He made near, that He might be what we are, and we in Him? The Word was made flesh, and dwelt in (among) us. John 1:14

10. This, then, He is about to show us; this He showed to His disciples, who saw Him in the flesh. What is this? As the Father raises the dead, and quickens them, so also the Son quickens whom He will. Is it that the Father some, the Son others? Surely all things were made by Him. What do we say, my brethren? Christ raised Lazarus; what dead man did the Father raise, that Christ might see how to raise Lazarus? When Christ raised Lazarus, did not the Father raise him? Or was it the doing of the Son alone, without the Father? Read ye the passage itself, and see that He invokes the Father that Lazarus may rise again. John 11:41-44 As a man, He calls on the Father; as God, He does with the Father. Therefore also Lazarus, who rose again, was raised both by the Father and by the Son, in the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit; and that wonderful work the Trinity performed. Let us not, therefore, understand this, As the Father raises the dead, and quickens them, so also the Son quickens whom He will, in such wise as to suppose that some are raised and quickened by the Father, others by the Son; but that the Son raises and quickens the very same whom the Father raises and quickens; because all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made. And to show that He has, though given by the Father, equal power, therefore He says, So also the Son quickens whom He will, that He might therein show His will; and lest any should say, The Father raises the dead by the Son, but the Father as being powerful, and as having power, the Son as by another's power, as a servant does something, as an angel, He indicated His power when He says, So also the Son quickens whom He will. It is not so that the Father wills other than the Son; but as the Father and the Son have one substance, so also one will.

11. And who are these dead whom the Father and the Son quicken? Are they the same of whom we have spoken — Lazarus, or that widow's son, Luke 7:14 or the ruler of the synagogue's daughter? Luke 8:54 For we know that these were raised by Christ the Lord. It is some other thing that He means to signify to us — namely, the resurrection of the dead, which we all look for; not that resurrection which certain have had, that the rest might believe. For Lazarus rose to die again; we shall rise again to live forever. Is it the Father that effects such a resurrection, or the Son? Nay verily, the Father in the Son. Consequently the Son, and the Father in the Son. Whence do we prove that He speaks of this resurrection? When He had said, As the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them, so also the Son quickens whom He will. Lest we should understand here that resurrection which He performs for a miracle, not for eternal life, He proceeded, saying, For the Father judges not any man, but all judgment has He given to the Son. What is this? He was speaking of the resurrection of the dead, that as the Father raises the dead, and quickens them, so also the Son quickens whom He will; and immediately thereupon added as a reason, concerning the judgment, saying, for the Father judges not any man, but all judgment has He given to the Son. Why said He this, but to indicate that He had spoken of that resurrection of the dead which will take place in the judgment?

12. For, says He, the Father judges no man, but all judgment has He given to the Son. A little before we were thinking that the Father does something which the Son does not, when He said, The Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that Himself does; as though the Father were doing, and the Son were seeing. In this way there was creeping in upon our mind a carnal conception, as if the Father did what the Son did not; but that the Son was looking on while the Father showed what He was doing. Then, as the Father was doing what the Son did not, just now we see the Son doing what the Father does not. How He turns us about, and keeps our mind busy! He leads us hither and there, will not allow us to remain in one place of the flesh, that by changing He may exercise us, by exercising He may cleanse us, by cleansing He may render us capable of receiving, and may fill us when made capable. What have these words to do with us? What was He speaking? What is He speaking? A little before, He said that the Father shows to the Son whatever He does. I did see, as it were, the Father doing, the Son waiting to see; presently again, I see the Son doing, the Father idle: For the Father judges not any man, but all judgment has He given to the Son. When, therefore, the Son is about to judge, will the Father be idle, and not judge? What is this? What am I to understand? What dost Thou say, O Lord? You are God the Word, I am a man. Do You say that the Father judges not any man, but has given all judgment to the Son? I read in another place that You say, I judge not any man; there is one who seeks and judges. John 8:15 Of whom sayest Thou, There is one who seeks and judges, unless it be of the Father? He makes inquisition for your wrongs, and judges for them. How is it to be understood here that the Father judges not any man, but all judgment has He given to the Son? Let us ask Peter; let us hear him speaking in his epistle: Christ suffered for us, says he, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered wrong, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously. 1 Peter 2:21-23 How is it true that the Father judges not any man, but has given all judgment to the Son? We are here in perplexity, and being perplexed let us exert ourselves, that by exertion we may be purified. Let us endeavor as best we may, by His own gift, to penetrate the deep secrets of these words. It may be that we are acting rashly, in that we wish to discuss and to scrutinize the words of God. Yet why were they spoken, but to be known? Why did they sound forth, but to be heard? Why were they heard, but to be understood? Let Him greatly strengthen us, then, and bestow somewhat on us so far as He may deem worthy; and if we do not yet penetrate to the fountain, let us drink of the brook. Behold, John himself has flowed forth to us like a brook, conveyed to us the word from on high. He brought it low, and in a manner levelled it, that we may not dread the lofty One, but may draw near to Him that is low.

13. By all means there is a sense, a true and strong sense, if somehow we can grasp it, in which the Father judges not any man, but has given all judgment to the Son. For this is said because none will appear to men in the judgment but the Son. The Father will be hidden, the Son will be manifest. In what will the Son be manifest? In the form in which He ascended. For in the form of God He was hidden with the Father; in the form of a servant, manifest to men. Not therefore the Father judges any man, but all judgment has He given to the Son: only the manifest judgment, in which manifest judgment the Son will judge, since the same will appear to them that are to be judged. The Scripture shows us more clearly that it is the Son that will appear. On the fortieth day after His resurrection He ascended into heaven, while His disciples were looking on; and they hear the angelic voice: Men of Galilee, says it, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same that is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him going into heaven. Acts 1:3-11 In what manner did they see Him go? In the flesh, which they touched, which they handled, the wounds even of which they proved by touching; in that body in which He went in and out with them for forty days, manifesting Himself to them in truth, not in falsity; not a phantom, or shadow, or ghost, but, as Himself said, not deceiving them, Handle and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see me have. Luke 24:39 That body is now indeed worthy of a heavenly habitation, not being subject to death, nor mutable by the lapse of ages. It is not as it had grown to that age from infancy, so from the age of manhood declines to old age: He remains as He ascended, to come to those to whom He willed His word to be preached before He comes. Thus will He come in human form, and this form the wicked will see; both they on the right shall see it, and they that are separated to the left shall see it: as it is written, They shall look on Him whom they pierced. Zechariah 12:13 If they shall look on Him whom they pierced, they shall look on that same body which they struck through with the spear; for a spear does not pierce the Word. This body, therefore, will the wicked be able to look on which they were able to wound. God hidden in the body they will not see: after the judgment He will be seen by those who will be on the right hand. This, then, is what He means when He says, The Father judges not any man, but all judgment has He given to the Son,— that the Son will come to judgment manifest, apparent to men in human body; saying to those on the right, Come, you blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom; and to those on the left, Go into everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:34, 41

14. Behold, that form of man will be seen by the godly and by the wicked, by the just and the unjust, by the believers and unbelievers, by those that rejoice and by those that mourn, by them that trusted and by them that are confounded: lo, seen it will be. When that form shall have appeared in the judgment, and the judgment shall have been finished, where it is said that the Father judges not any, but has given all judgment to the Son, for this reason, that the Son will appear in the judgment in that form which He took from us. What shall be after this? When shall be seen the form of God, which all the faithful are thirsting to see? When shall be seen that Word which was in the beginning, God with God, by which all things were made? When shall be seen that form of God, of which the apostle says, Being in the form of God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God? Philippians 2:6 For great is that form, in which, moreover, the quality of the Father and Son is recognized; ineffable, incomprehensible, most of all to little ones. When shall this form be seen? Behold, on the right are the just, on the left are the unjust; all alike see the man, they see the Son of man, they see Him who was pierced, Him who was crucified they see: they see Him that was made low, Him who was born of the Virgin, the Lamb of the tribe of Judah they see. But when will they see the Word, God with God? He will be the very same even then, but the form of a servant will appear. The form of a servant will be shown to servants: the form of God will be reserved for sons. Wherefore let the servants be made sons: let them who are on the right hand go into the eternal inheritance promised of old, which the martyrs, though not seeing, believed, for the promise of which they poured out their blood without hesitation; let them go there and see there. When shall they go there? Let the Lord Himself say: So those shall go into everlasting burning, but the righteous into life eternal. Matthew 25:46

15. Behold, He has named eternal life. Has He told us that we shall there see and know the Father and Son? What if we shall live for ever, yet not see that Father and Son? Hear, in another place, where He has named eternal life, and expressed what eternal life is: Be not afraid; I do not deceive you; not without cause have I promised to them that love me, saying, 'He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me; and he that loves me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will show myself to him.' John 14:21 Let us answer the Lord, and say, What great thing is this, O Lord our God? What great thing is it? Will You show Yourself to us? What, then, did You not show Yourself to the Jews also? Did not they see You who crucified You? But You will show Yourself in the judgment, when we shall stand at Your right hand; will not also they who will stand on Your left see You? What is it that You will show Yourself to us? Do we, indeed, not see You now when You are speaking? He makes answer: I will show myself in the form of God; just now you see the form of a servant. I will not deceive you, O faithful man; believe that you shall see. You love, and yet you do not see: shall not love itself lead you to see? Love, persevere in loving; I will not disappoint your love, says He, I who have purified your heart. For why have I purified your heart, but to the end that God may be seen by you? For blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 But this, says the servant, as if disputing with the Lord, You did not express, when Thou said, 'The righteous shall go into life eternal;' You did not say, They shall go to see me in the form of God, and to see the Father, with whom I am equal. Observe what He said elsewhere: This is life eternal, that they may know You the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3

16. And immediately, then, after the judgment mentioned, all which the Father, not judging any man, has given to the Son, what shall be? What follows? That all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. The Jews honor the Father, despise the Son. For the Son was seen as a servant, the Father was honored as God. But the Son will appear equal with the Father, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. This we have, therefore, now in faith. Let not the Jew say, I honor the Father; what have I to do with the Son? Let him be answered, He that honors not the Son, honors not the Father. Thou liest every way; you blaspheme the Son, and dost wrong to the Father. For the Father sent the Son, and you despise Him whom the Father sent. How can you honor the sender, who blaspheme the sent?

17. Behold, says some one, the Son has been sent; and the Father is greater, because He sent. Withdraw from the flesh; the old man suggests oldness in time. Let the ancient, the perpetual, the eternal, to you the new, call off your understanding from time to this. Is the Son less because He is said to have been sent? I hear of a sending, not a separation. But yet, says he, among men we see that he who sends is greater than he who is sent. Be it so; but human affairs deceive a man; divine things purge him. Do not regard things human, in which the sender appears greater, the sent less; notwithstanding, things human themselves bear testimony against you. Just as, for example, if a man wishes to ask a woman to wife, and, not being able to do this in person, sends a friend to ask for him. And there are many cases in which the greater is chosen to be sent by the less. Why, then, would you now raise a captious objection, because the one has sent, the other is sent? The sun sends out a ray, but does not separate it; the moon sends out her sheen, but does not separate it; a lamp sheds light, but does not separate it: I see there a sending forth, not a separation. For if you seek examples from human things, O heretical vanity, although, as I have said, even human things in some instances refute you, and convict of error; yet consider how different it is in the case of things human, from which you wish to deduce examples for things divine. A man that sends remains himself behind, while only the man that is sent goes forward. Does the man who sends go with him whom he sends? Yet the Father, who sent the Son, has not departed from the Son. Hear the Lord Himself saying, Behold, the hour is coming, when every one shall depart to his own, and you will leave me alone; but I am not alone, because the Father is with me. John 16:32 How has He, with whom He came, sent Him? How has He, from whom He has not departed, sent Him? In another place He said, The Father abiding in me does the works. John 14:10 Behold, the Father is in Him, works in Him. The Father sending has not departed from the Son sent, because the sent and the sender are one.

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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. <>.

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