The full electronic versions of most of the texts can be found at
Early Church Fathers (CCEL).
11: Constantinople I & Later Latin Fathers
- Ambrose, Augustine -
reading: Readings: Studer. Trinity
& Incarnation. Chp. 13 & 14; Kelly. Early Xian Doctrines.
1. Note the doctrinal developments as expressed in the Creed from
Nicea to Constantinople I.
2. Are the authors beginning to employ some of the "new"
terminology/concepts being used in christology in the East?
3. What two main elements comprise human nature? Which heresies
(described in these texts) deny or downplay one the elements of
4. In Augustine, how is Christ's preexistence related to created
How does he explain the sending of the Son?
5. Why is Mary's virginity constantly stressed in these texts?
6. How to they account for the possibility of suffering in the Son
7. Do these authors have a doctrine of theopoiesis?
the colour-coded Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed handed out in class.
of Milan (+397)
On the Death
of his Brother
[Jesus Christ] wept for what affected us, not himself; for the Godhead
sheds no tears; but he wept in that nature in which he was sad;
he wept in that in which he was crucified, in that in which he died,
in that in which he was buried. He wept in that which the prophet
this day brought to our minds: "Mother Sion shall say, a human
was made in her, and the Most High himself established her"
(Ps 87.5). He wept in that nature in which he called Sion Mother,
born in Judaea, conceived by the Virgin. But according to his divine
nature he could not have a mother, for he is the creator of his
mother. So far as he was made, it was not by divine but by human
generation, because he was made human, God was born.
But you read in another place: "Unto us a child is born, unto
us a Son is given" (Is 9.6). In the word child is an indication
of age, in that of Son is the "fulness of the divinity"
(Col 2.9). Made of his mother, born of the Father yet the same person
was both born and given. You must not think of two but of one. For
one is the Son of God, born of the Father and sprung from the Virgin,
differing in order, but in name agreeing in one, ... for "a
human being was made in her and the Most High established her."
Human indeed in the body, the most high in power. And though he
be God and human in diversity of nature, yet is he at the same time
one in each nature. One property, then, is peculiar to God's own
nature, another he has in common with us, but in both is he one,
and in both is he perfect [=communion of properties].
Therefore it is no subject of wonder that God made him to be both
Lord and Christ (Acts 2.36). God made him Jesus, him, that is, who
received the name in his bodily nature. God made him of whom also
the patriarch David writes: "Mother Sion shall say, a human,
yes, a human is made in her." But being made human, he is unlike
the Father, not in Godhead but in his body; not separated from the
Father, but differing in office, abiding united in power, but separated
in the mystery of the passion.
Why should more be said? By the death of one the world was redeemed.
For Christ, had he willed, need not have died, but he neither thought
that death should be shunned as though there were any cowardice
in it, nor could he have saved us better than by dying. And so his
death is the life of all. We are signed with the sign of his death,
we show forth his death when we pray; when we offer the sacrifice
we declare his death, for his death is victory, his death is our
mystery, his death is the yearly recurring solemnity of the world.
What now should we say concerning his death, since we prove by this
divine example that death alone found immortality, and that death
itself redeemed itself. Death, then, is not to be mourned over,
for it is the cause of salvation for all; death is not to be shunned,
for the Son of God did not think it unworthy of him, and did not
shun it. The order of nature is not to be loosed, for what is common
to all cannot admit of exception in individuals.
On the Sacrament
of the Incarnation
He was, therefore, immortal in death and incapable of suffering
even as he suffered; for the affliction of death did not grasp him
since he was God, and at the same time the lower world saw him since
he was a human being. In the end he "gave up his spirit"
(Mt 27.50), but he gave it up like one who is in charge of laying
down and assuming a body, and so he did not lose the spirit. [He
was crucified and underwent the pains of the passion]; he became
the sin of all and washed away the sins of humanity. Finally he
died ... so that his death might become the life of those who have
When he took on the flesh of the human being, it follows that he
took on the perfection and plenitude of becoming flesh; for there
is nothing imperfect in Christ. ... He assumed a soul, but he assumed
and took on a perfect, human, rational soul. I say took on a soul
for the Word of God did not become alive in its flesh by replacing
its soul. The Word, rather, assumed both our flesh and our soul
by assuming human nature perfectly. ... What good is it, however,
if he did not redeem me totally? But the one who says, "Are
you angry with me, who healed a man totally on the Sabbath?"
(Jn 7.23) did redeem me completely.
God the Word was not in its flesh to replace the soul that is rational
and capable of comprehending God. The Word of God took on both a
soul that is rational and capable of understanding, human, and of
the same substance [~homoousios?] as our souls, and flesh
that is like ours and of the same substance as ours, and thus became
a perfect human being, but without any stain of sin. ... His flesh
and soul, therefore, are of the same substance as our soul and flesh.
It was a bodily weakness, then, that is to say, a weakness of ours,
that he hungered; when he wept, and was sorrowful even unto death,
it was of our nature (cf. MT 4.2; Jn 11.35; MT 26.38). Why ascribe
the properties and incidents of our nature to the divinity? That
he was even, as we are told, "made," is a property of
a body (see Jn 1.14). Thus, indeed, we read: "Sion our mother
shall say: 'He is a human being,' and in her he was made a human,
and the Most High himself laid her foundations" (Ps 87.5).
"He was made a human being," mark you, not "God was
But what is he who is at once the Most High and human, what but
"the Mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus
who gave himself as a ransom for us"? (1 Tim 2.5-6) This place
indeed refers properly to his incarnation, for our redemption was
made by his blood, our pardon comes through his power, our life
is secured through his grace. He gives as the Most High; he prays
as a human. The one is the office of the Creator, the other of a
Redeemer. Be the gifts as distinct as they may, yet the giver is
one, for it was fitting that our maker should be our redeemer (see
At the same time, becoming does not always imply creation for we
read: "Lord, You have become our refuge," (Ps 90.1) and
"You have become my salvation" (Ps 118.14). Plainly, here
is no statement of the fact or purpose of a creation, but God is
said to have become my "refuge" and has turned to my "salvation,"
even as the Apostle has said: "Who became for us Wisdom from
God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,"
(1 Cor 1.30) that is, that Christ was "made" for us, not
created of the Father. Again, the writer has explained in the sequel
in what sense he says that Christ was made Wisdom for us: "But
we preach the Wisdom of God in doctrine of mystery, which Wisdom
is hidden, foreordained by God before the existence of the world
for our glory, and which none of the princes of this world knew,
for had they known they would never have crucified the Lord of glory"
(1 Cor 2.7-8). When the mystery of the passion is set forth, surely
there is no speaking of an eternal process of generation.
The Lord's cross, then, is my wisdom; the Lord's death my redemption;
for we are redeemed with his precious blood, as the Apostle Peter
said (1 Pet 1.19). With his blood, then, as man, the Lord redeemed
us, who also, as God, has forgiven sins (see Mk 2.8-12).
Hereby we are brought to understand that the prophecy of the incarnation,
"The Lord created me the beginning of his ways for his works,"
(Prov 8.22) means that the Lord Jesus was created of the Virgin
for the redeeming of the Father's works. Truly, we cannot doubt
that this is spoken of the mystery of the incarnation, for as much
as the Lord took upon him our flesh, in order to save the works
of his hands from the slavery of corruption, so that he might, by
the sufferings of his own body, overthrow him who had the power
of death (Heb 2.14). For Christ's flesh is for the sake of things
created, but his Godhead existed before them, seeing that he is
before all things, while all things exist together in him (Col 1.17).
His divinity, then, is not by reason of creation, but creation exists
because of the divinity; even as the apostle showed, saying that
all things exist because of the Son of God, for we read as follows:
"But it was fitting that he, through whom and because of whom
are all things, after bringing many sons to glory, should, as captain
of their salvation, be made perfect through suffering" (Heb
2.10). Has he not plainly declared that the Son of God, who, by
reason of his divinity, was the Creator of all, did in after time,
for the salvation of his people, submit to the taking on of the
flesh and the suffering of death?
Now for the sake of what works the Lord was "created"
of a virgin, he himself, whilst healing the blind man, has shown,
saying: "In him must I work the works of the one who sent me"
(Jn 9.4). Furthermore, he said in the same Scripture, that we might
believe him to speak of the incarnation: "As long as I am in
this world, I am the Light of this world," (Jn 9.5) for, so
far as he is man, he is in this world for a season, but as God he
exists at all times. In another place, too, he says: "Lo, I
am with you even unto the end of the world" (MT 28.20).
Nor is there any room for questioning with respect to "the
beginning," seeing that when, during his earthly life, he was
asked, "who are you?" He answered: "The beginning,
even as I tell you" (Jn 8.25). This refers not only to the
essential nature of the eternal divinity, but also to the visible
proofs of virtues, for hereby has he proved himself the eternal
God, in that he is the beginning of all things, and the author of
each several virtue, in that he is the head of the Church, as it
is written: "Because he is the head of the Body, of the Church,
who is the beginning, first-begotten from the dead" (Eph 4.15).
It is clear, then, that the words "beginning of his ways,"
which, as it seems, we must refer to the mystery of the putting
on of his body, are a prophecy of the incarnation. For Christ's
purpose in the incarnation was to pave for us the road to heaven.
Mark how he says: "I go up to my Father and your Father, to
my God and your God" (Jn 20.17). Then, to give you to know
that the Almighty Father appointed his [sic.] ways to the Son, after
the incarnation, you have in Zechariah the words of the angel speaking
to Joshua clothed in filthy garments: "Thus said the Lord Almighty:
'If you will walk in my ways and observe my precepts'" (Zech
3.7). What is the meaning of that filthy garb save the putting on
of the flesh?
The Arians, inasmuch as they assert the Son to be "of another
substance," plainly acknowledge substance in God. The only
reason why they avoid the use of this term is that they will not,
as Eusebius of Nicomedia has made it evident, confess Christ to
be the true Son of God.
How can the Arians deny the substance of God? How can they suppose
that the word "substance," which is found in many places
of Scripture, ought to be debarred from use, when they themselves
do, yet, by saying that the Son is of another substance, admit substance
It is not the term itself, then, but its force and consequences,
that they shun, because they will not confess the Son of God to
be true [God]. For though the process of the divine generation cannot
be comprehended in human language, still the fathers judged that
their faith might be appropriately distinguished by the use of such
a term, as against that of "heterousios," following
the authority of the prophet, who said: "who has stood in the
truth (substantial) of the Lord, and seen his Word?" (Jer 23.18)
Arians, therefore, admit the term "substance" when it
is used so as to square with their blasphemy. In contrary fashion,
when it is adopted in accordance with the pious devotion of the
faithful, they reject and dispute against it.
What other reason can there be for their unwillingness to have the
Son spoken of as "homoousios," of the same substance,
with the Father, but that they are unwilling to confess him the
true Son of God? This is betrayed in the letter of Eusebius of Nicomedia.
"If," writes he, "we say that the Son is true God
and uncreated, then we are on the way to confessing him to be of
one substance (homoousios) with the Father." When this
letter had been read before the Council assembled at Nicea, the
Fathers put this word in their exposition of the faith. Because
they saw that it daunted their adversaries; in order that they might
take the sword, which their opponents had drawn, to smite off the
head of those opponents' own blasphemous heresy.
Vain, however, is their plea, that they avoid the use of the term,
because of the Sabellians [modalists], whereby they betray their
own ignorance, for a being is of the same substance (homoousion)
with another, not with itself. Rightly, then, do we call the Son
"homoousios" (of the same substance), with the
Father, for as much as that term expresses both the distinction
of persons and the unity of nature.
Can they deny that the term "ousia" is met with
in Scripture, when the Lord has spoken of bread, that is, "epiousioi
[subsistence]" (MT 6.11)? What does "ousia"
mean, whence comes the name, but from "ousiaei,"
that which endures for ever? For he who is, and is for ever, is
God; and therefore the divine substance, abiding everlastingly,
is called ousia. Bread is epiousioi, because, taking
the substance of abiding power from the substance of the Word, it
supplies this to heart and soul, for it is written: "And bread
strengthens man's heart" (Ps 104.15).
But in the faith of the Church one and the same is both Son of God
the Father and Son of David. For the mystery of the incarnation
of God is the salvation of the whole of creation, according to that
which is written: "That without God he should taste death for
every human;" (Heb 2.9) that is, that every creature might
be redeemed without any suffering at the price of the blood of the
Lord's divinity. As it stands elsewhere: "Every creature shall
be delivered from the bondage of corruption" (Rom 8.21).
It is one thing to be named Son according to the divine substance,
it is another thing to be so called according to the adoption of
human flesh. For, according to the divine generation, the Son is
equal to God the Father; and, according to the adoption of a body,
he is a servant to God the Father. "For," it says, "he
took upon him the form of a servant" (Phil 2.7). The Son is,
however, one and the same. On the other hand, according to his glory,
he is Lord to the holy patriarch David, but his Son in the line
of actual descent, ... acquiring for himself the rights that go
with the adoption into our race.
... To whom is this said, if not to Christ, who being in the form
of God, emptied himself and took upon him the form of a servant
[kenosis]. But what can be in the form of God, except that
which exists in the fulness of divinity?
Learn, then, what this means: "He took upon him the form of
a servant." It means that he took upon him all the perfections
of humanity in their completeness, and obedience in its completeness.
... "Servant" means the human being in whom he was sanctified;
it means the human in whom he was anointed; it means the human in
whom he was made under the law, made of the Virgin; and, to put
it briefly, it means the human in whose person he has a mother ...
On the Holy
But what wonder, since both the Father and the Son are said to be
Spirit. Of which we shall speak more fully when we begin to speak
of the unity of the name. Yet since the most suitable place occurs
here, that we may not seem to have passed on without a conclusion,
let them read that both the Father is called Spirit, as the Lord
said in the Gospel, "for God is Spirit;" (Jn 4.24) and
Christ is called Spirit, for Jeremiah said: "The Spirit before
our face, Christ the Lord" (Lam 4.20).
So, then, both the Father is Spirit and Christ is Spirit, for that
which is not a created body is spirit, but the Holy Spirit is not
commingled with the Father and the Son, but is distinct from the
Father and from the Son. For the Holy Spirit did not die, who could
not die because he had not taken flesh upon him, and the eternal
divinity (ROM 1.20) was incapable of dying, but Christ died according
to the flesh.
For of a truth he died in that which he took of the Virgin, not
in that which he had of the Father, for Christ died in that nature
in which he was crucified. But the Holy Spirit could not be crucified,
who had not flesh and bones, but the Son of God was crucified, who
took flesh and bones, that on that cross the temptations of our
flesh might die. For he took on him that which he was not that he
might hide that which he was; he hid that which he was that he might
be tempted in it, and that which he was not might be redeemed, in
order that he might call us by means of that which he was not to
that which he was.
... Therefore do you also crucify sin, that you may die to sin;
he who dies to sin lives to God. Do you live to him who spared not
his own Son, that in his body he might crucify our passions. For
Christ died for us, that we might live in his revived body. Therefore
not our life but our guilt died in him, "who," it is said,
"bore our sins in his own body on the tree; that being set
free from our sins we might live in righteousness, by the wound
of whose blows we are healed" (1 Pet 2.24).
1, Chapter 3
Interpreting which truth, the apostle says: "For God, sending
his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned
sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled
in us" (ROM 8.3-4). He does not say "in the likeness of
flesh," for Christ took on himself the reality not the likeness
of flesh; nor does he say in the likeness of sin, for he did not
sin, but was made sin for us (see 2 Cor 5.21). Yet he came "in
the likeness of sinful flesh" that is, he took on him the likeness
of sinful flesh, the likeness, because it is written: "He is
a human being, and who shall know him?"(Jer 17.9 [LXX]). He
was man in the flesh, according to his human nature, that he might
be recognized, but in power was above man, that he might not be
recognized, so he has our flesh, but has not the failings of this
For he was not begotten, as is every man, by intercourse between
male and female, but born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin;
he received a stainless body, which not only no sins polluted, but
which neither the generation nor the conception had been stained
by any admixture of defilement. For we men are all born under sin,
and our very origin is in evil, as we read in the words of David:
"For lo, I was conceived in wickedness, and in sin did my mother
beget me" (Ps 51.5). Therefore the flesh of Paul was a body
of death, as he himself says: "Who shall deliver me from the
body of this death?" (ROM 7.24) But the flesh of Christ condemned
sin, which he felt not at his birth, and crucified by his death,
so that in our flesh there might be justification through grace,
in which before there had been pollution by guilt.
of Hippo (+430)
(Second Book, On Predestination of Saints)
is no more eminent instance, I say, of predestination than the Mediator
[Jesus] himself. If any believer wishes thoroughly to understand
this doctrine, let him consider him, and in him he will find himself
also. The believer, I say; who in him believes and confesses the
true human nature that is our own, however singularly elevated by
assumption by God the Word into the only Son of God, so that he
who assumed, and what he assumed, should be one person in Trinity.
For it was not a Quaternity that resulted from the assumption of
humanity, but it remained a Trinity, inasmuch as that assumption
ineffably made the truth of one person in God and human. Because
we say that Christ was not only God, as the Manichean heretics contend;
nor only human, as the Photinian heretics assert; nor in such wise
man as to have less of anything which of a certainty pertains to
human nature - whether a soul, or in the soul itself a rational
mind, or flesh not taken of the woman, but made from the Word converted
and changed into flesh - all which three false and empty notions
have made the three various and diverse parties of the Apollinarian
heretics. But we say that Christ was true God, born of God the Father
without any beginning of time; and that he was also true or real
human, born of human mother in the certain fulness of time; and
that his humanity, whereby he is less than the Father, does not
diminish anything from his divinity, whereby he is equal to the
Father. For both of them are One Christ - who, moreover, most truly
said in respect of the God, "I and the Father are one"
(Jn 10.30) and most truly said in respect of the man, "My Father
is greater than I" (Jn 14.28).
therefore, who made of the seed of David this righteous man, who
never should be unrighteous, without any merit of his preceding
will, is the same who also makes righteous men of unrighteous, without
any merit of their will preceding; that he might be the head, and
they his members. He, therefore, who made that man with no precedent
merits of his, neither to deduce from his origin nor to commit by
his will any sin which should be remitted to him, the same makes
believers on him with no preceding merits of theirs, to whom he
forgives all sin. He who made him such that he never had or should
have an evil will, the same makes in his members a good will out
of an evil one. Therefore he predestinated both him and us, because
both in him that he might be our head, and in us that we should
be his body, he foreknew that our merits would not precede, but
that his doings should.
City of God
21, Chapter 15
Nevertheless, in the "heavy yoke that is laid upon the sons
of Adam, from the day that they go out of their mother's womb to
the day that they return to the mother of all things," (Sir
40.1) there is found an admirable though painful reminder teaching
us to be sober-minded, and convincing us that this life has become
penal in consequence of that outrageous wickedness which was perpetrated
in Paradise, and that all to which the New Testament invites belongs
to that future inheritance which awaits us in the world to come,
and is offered for our acceptance, as the earnest that we may, in
its own due time, obtain that of which it is the pledge.
Now, therefore, let us walk in hope, and let us by the spirit mortify
the deeds of the flesh, and so make progress from day to day. For
"the Lord knows them that are his" (2 Tim 2.19) and "as
many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God"
(ROM 8.14) but by grace, not by nature. For there is but one Son
of God by nature, who in his compassion became Son of Man for our
sakes, that we, by nature sons and daughters of human beings, might
by grace become through him sons and daughters of God. For he, abiding
unchangeable, took upon him our nature, that thereby he might take
us to himself; and, holding fast his own divinity, he became partaker
of our infirmity, that we, being changed into some better thing,
might, by participating in his righteousness and immortality, lose
our own properties of sin and mortality, and preserve whatever good
quality he had implanted in our nature perfected now by sharing
in the goodness of his nature. For as by the sin of one human we
have fallen into a misery so deplorable, so by the righteousness
of one human, who also is God, shall we come to a blessedness inconceivably
Nor ought any one to trust that he has passed from the one human
being to the other until he shall have reached that place where
there is no temptation, and have entered into the peace which he
seeks in the many and various conflicts of this war, in which "the
flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh"
(Gal 5.17). Now,
such a war as this would have had no existence if human nature had,
in the exercise of free will, continued steadfast in the uprightness
in which it was created. But now in its misery it makes war upon
itself, because in its blessedness it would not continue at peace
with God; and this, though it be a miserable calamity, is better
than the earlier stages of this life, which do not recognize that
a war is to be maintained. For better is it to contend with vices
than without conflict to be subdued by them. Better, I say, is war
with the hope of peace everlasting than captivity without any thought
of deliverance. We long, indeed, for the cessation of this war,
and, kindled by the flame of divine love, we burn for entrance on
that well-ordered peace in which whatever is inferior is for ever
subordinated to what is above it. But if (which God forbid) there
had been no hope of so blessed a consummation, we should still have
preferred to endure the hardness of this conflict, rather than,
by our non-resistance, to yield ourselves to the dominion of vice.
On the Trinity
1, Chapter 6 - That the Son is God, and of the Same Substance of
God the Father. All things come from the Trinity. The Divinity of
the Holy Spirit.
They who have said that our Lord Jesus Christ is not God, or not
very God, or not with the Father the One and only God, or not truly
immortal because changeable, are proved wrong by the most plain
and unanimous voice of divine testimonies; as, for instance, "In
the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word
was God" [John's prologue]. For it is plain that we are to
take the Word of God to be the only Son of God, of whom it is afterwards
said, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,"
on account of that birth of his incarnation, which was wrought in
time of the Virgin. But herein is declared, not only that he is
God, but also that he is of the same substance with the Father;
because, after saying, "And the Word was God," it is said
also, "The same was in the beginning with God: all things were
made by Him, and without Him was not anything made." Not simply
"all things;" but only all things that were made, that
is; the whole creature. From which it appears clearly, that he himself
was not made, by whom all things were made. And if he was not made,
then he is not a creature; but if he is not a creature, then he
is of the same substance with the Father. For all substance that
is not God is creature; and all that is not creature is God. And
if the Son is not of the same substance with the Father, then he
is a substance that was made: and if he is a substance that was
made, then all things were not made by him; but "all things
were made by Him," therefore he is of one and the same substance
with the Father. And so he is not only God, but also very God. And
the same John most expressly affirms this in his epistle: "For
we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding,
that we may know the true God, and that we may be in His true Son
Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life."
2, Chapter 5
Perhaps some one may wish to drive us to say, that the Son is sent
also by himself, because the conception and childbirth of Mary is
the working of the Trinity, by whose act of creating all things
are created. And how, he will go on to say, has the Father sent
Him, if he sent himself? To whom I answer first, by asking him to
tell me, if he can, in what manner the Father has sanctified him,
if he had sanctified himself? For the same Lord says both; "Say
that of Him," he says, "whom the Father has sanctified
and sent into the world, you blaspheme, because I said, I am the
Son of God;" while in another place He says, "And for
their sake I sanctify myself." I ask, also, in what manner
the Father delivered Him, if He delivered Himself? For the Apostle
Paul says both: "Who," he says, "spared not his own
Son, but delivered him up for us all;" while elsewhere he says
of the Saviour Himself, "Who loved me, and delivered himself
for me." He will reply, I suppose, if he has a right sense
in these things, because the will of the Father and the Son is one,
and their working indivisible. In like manner, then, let him understand
the incarnation and nativity of the Virgin, wherein the Son is understood
as sent, to have been wrought by one and the same operation of the
Father and of the Son indivisibly; the Holy Spirit certainly not
being thence excluded, of whom it is expressly said, "She was
found with child by the Holy Ghost." For perhaps our meaning
will be more plainly unfolded, if we ask in what manner God sent
the Son. God commanded that he should come, and he, complying with
the commandment, came. Did God then request, or did God only suggest?
But whichever of these it was, certainly it was done by a word,
and the Word of God is the Son of God. Wherefore, since the Father
sent him by a word, his being sent was the work of both the Father
and the Word; therefore the same Son was sent by the Father and
the Son, because the Son himself is the Word of the Father. For
who would embrace so impious an opinion as to think the Father to
have uttered a word in time, in order that the eternal Son might
thereby be sent and might appear in the flesh in the fullness of
But assuredly it was in that Word of God itself which was in the
beginning with God and was God, namely, in the wisdom itself of
God, apart from time, at what time that wisdom must needs appear
in the flesh. Therefore, since without any commencement of time,
the Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God, it was in the Word itself without any time, at what
time the Word was to be made flesh and dwell among us. And when
this fullness of time had come, "God sent His Son, made of
a woman," that is, made in time, that the Incarnate Word might
appear to humanity; while it was in that Word himself, apart from
time, at what time this was to be done; for the order of times is
in the eternal wisdom of God without time. Since, then, that the
Son should appear in the flesh was wrought by both the Father and
the Son, it is aptly said that he who appeared in that flesh was
sent, and that he who did not appear in it, sent him; because those
things which are transacted outwardly before the bodily eyes have
their existence from the inward structure (apparatus) of the spiritual
nature, and on that account are filly said to be sent. Further,
that form of human which he took is the person of the Son, not also
of the Father; on which account the invisible Father, together with
the Son, who with the Father is invisible, is said to have sent
the same Son by making him visible. But if he became visible in
such way as to cease to be invisible with the Father, that is, if
the substance of the invisible Word were turned by a change and
transition into a visible creature, then the Son would be so understood
to be sent by the Father, that he would be found to be only sent;
not also, with the Father, sending. But since he so took the form
of a servant, as that the unchangeable form of God remained, it
is clear that that which became apparent in the Son was done by
the Father and the Son not being apparent; that is, that by the
invisible Father, with the invisible Son, the same Son Himself was
sent so as to be visible. Why, therefore, does he say, "Neither
came I of myself?" This, we may now say, is said according
to the form of a servant, in the same way as it is said, "I
judge no man."
But what is meant by "justified in his blood?" (ROM 5.9)
What power is there in this blood, I beseech you, that they who
believe should be justified in it? And what is meant by "being
reconciled by the death of God's Son?" (ROM 5.10) Was it indeed
so, that when God the Father was angry with us, he saw the death
of the Son for us, and was kindly disposed towards us? Was then
the Son already so far kindly disposed towards us, that God even
deigned to die for us; while the Father was still so far angry,
that except the Son die for us, God would not be appeased? And what,
then, is that which the same teacher of the Gentiles himself says
in another place: "What shall we then say to these things?
If God be for us, who can be against us, the God that spared not
his [sic.] own Son, but delivered him up for us all ... (ROM 8.31ff.).
Pray, unless the Father had been already appeased, would he have
delivered up his own Son, not sparing him for us? Does not this
opinion seem to be as it were contrary to that? In the one, the
Son dies for us, and the Father is reconciled to us by his death;
in the other, as though the Father first loved us, God on our account
does not spare the Son, but for us delivers him up to death. But
I see that the Father loved us also before, not only before the
Son died for us, but before God created the world; the apostle himself
being witness, who says, "According as God has chosen us before
the foundation of the world" (Eph 1.4). Nor was the Son delivered
up for us as it were unwillingly, the Father not sparing him; for
it is said also concerning God, "who loved me, and delivered
up himself for me" (Gal 2.20). Therefore together both the
Father and the Son, and the Spirit of both, work all things equally
and harmoniously; yet we are justified in the blood of Christ, and
we are reconciled to God by the death of God's Son.
There are many other things also in the incarnation of Christ, displeasing
as it is to the proud, that are to be observed and thought of advantageously.
And one of them is, that it has been demonstrated to humans what
place they have in the things which God has created; since human
nature could so be joined to God, that one person could be made
of two substances, and thereby indeed of three: God, soul, and flesh,
so that those proud malignant spirits, who interpose themselves
as mediators to deceive, although as if to help, do not therefore
dare to place themselves above humans because they have not flesh;
and chiefly because the Son of God deigned to die also in the same
flesh, lest they, because they seem to be immortal, should therefore
succeed in getting themselves worshipped as gods. Further, that
the grace of God might be commended to us in the human Christ without
any precedent merits; because not even he himself obtained by any
precedent merits that he should be joined in such great unity with
the true God, and should become the Son of God, one Person with
God; but from the time when he began to be human, from that time
he is also God; whence it is said, "The Word was made flesh"
(Jn 1.14). Then, again, there is this, that the pride of human,
which is the chief hindrance against his cleaving to God, can be
confuted and healed through such great humility of God. Persons
learn also how far they have gone away from God; and what it is
worth to them as a pain to cure them, when they return through such
a Mediator, who both as God assists humans by divinity, and as human
agrees with humans by his weakness. For what greater example of
obedience could be given to us, who had perished through disobedience,
than God the Son obedient to God the Father, even to the death of
the cross? (Phil 2.8) Where could the reward of obedience itself
be better shown, than in the flesh of so great a Mediator, which
rose again to eternal life? It belonged also to the justice and
goodness of the Creator, that the devil should be conquered by the
same rational creature which he rejoiced to have conquered, and
by one that came from that same race which, by the corruption of
its origin through one, he held altogether.
For assuredly God could have taken upon the divinity to be human,
that in that humanity God might be the Mediator between God and
humans, from some other source, and not from the race of that Adam
who bound the human race by his sin; as God did not create him whom
God first created, of the race of someone else. Therefore God was
able, either so, or in any other mode that God would, to create
yet one other, by whom the conqueror of the first might be conquered.
But God judged it better both to take upon man through whom to conquer
the enemy of the human race, from the race itself that had been
conquered; and yet to do this of a virgin, whose conception, not
flesh but spirit, not lust but faith, preceded.
did that concupiscence of the flesh intervene, by which the rest
of human beings, who derive original sin, are propagated and conceived;
but holy virginity became pregnant, not by conjugal intercourse,
but by faith - lust being utterly absent - so that that which was
born from the root of the first human might derive only the origin
of race, not also of guilt. For there was born, not a nature corrupted
by the contagion of transgression, but the one only remedy of all
such corruptions. There was born, I say, a human having nothing
at all, and to have nothing at all, of sin; through whom they were
to be born again so as to be freed from sin, who could not be born
without sin. ... It was necessary, therefore, that this carnal concupiscence
should be entirely absent, when the offspring of the Virgin was
conceived; in whom the author of death was to find nothing worthy
of death, and yet was to slay him in order that he might be conquered
by the death of the author of life: the conqueror of the first Adam,
who held fast the human race, conquered by the second Adam, and
saving the Christian race, freed the human race from guilt, through
him who was not in guilt, although he was of the race; that that
deceiver might be conquered by that race which he had conquered
by guilt. And this was so done, in order that humans may not be
lifted up, but "that he that glorieth should glory in the Lord"
(2 Cor 10.17). For he who was conquered was only human; and he was
therefore conquered, because he lusted proudly to be a god. But
he who conquered was both human and God; and therefore he so conquered,
being born of a virgin, because God in humility did not, as God
governs other saints, so govern that human, but bore him [as a Son].
These so great gifts of God, and whatever else there are, which
it is too long for us now upon this subject both to inquire and
to discuss, could not exist unless the Word had been made flesh.