aA
aA
aA
NPNF2-04. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters
« Prev Texts Explained; And First, Phil. II. 9, 10.… Next »

Chapter XI.—Texts Explained; And First, Phil. II. 9, 10 Various texts which are alleged against the Catholic doctrine: e.g. Phil. ii. 9, 10. Whether the words ‘Wherefore God hath highly exalted’ prove moral probation and advancement. Argued against, first, from the force of the word ‘Son;’ which is inconsistent with such an interpretation. Next, the passage examined. Ecclesiastical sense of ‘highly exalted,’ and ‘gave,’ and ‘wherefore;’ viz. as being spoken with reference to our Lord’s manhood. Secondary sense; viz. as implying the Word’s ‘exaltation’ through the resurrection in the same sense in which Scripture speaks of His descent in the Incarnation; how the phrase does not derogate from the nature of the Word.

37. But since they allege the divine oracles and force on them a misinterpretation, according to their private sense20232023    Vid. de Syn. 4, note 6. and cf. Tertull. de Præscr. 19. Rufinus H. E. ii. 9. Vincent. Comm. 2. Hippolytus has a passage very much to the same purpose, contr. Noet. 9 fin., it becomes necessary to meet them just so far as to vindicate these passages, and to shew that they bear an orthodox sense, and that our opponents are in error. They say then, that the Apostle writes, ‘Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name; that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth20242024    Phil. ii. 9, 10.;’ and David, ‘Wherefore God even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows20252025    Ps. xlv. 7..’ Then they urge, as something acute: ‘If He was exalted and received grace, on a ‘wherefore,’ and on a ‘wherefore’ He was anointed, He received a reward of His purpose; but having acted from purpose, He is altogether of an alterable nature.’ This is what Eusebius20262026    Of Nicomedia. vid. Theod. H. E. i. 5. and Arius have dared to say, nay to write; while their partizans do not shrink from conversing about it in full market-place, not seeing how mad an argument they use. For if He received what He had as a reward of His purpose, and would not have had it, unless He had needed it, and had His work to shew for it, then having gained it from virtue and promotion, with reason had He ‘therefore’ been called Son and God, without being very Son. For what is from another by nature, is a real offspring, as Isaac was to Abraham, and Joseph to Jacob, and the radiance to the sun; but the so called sons from virtue and grace, have but in place of nature a grace by acquisition, and are something else besides20272027    §39 end. the gift itself; as the men who have received the Spirit by participation, concerning whom Scripture saith, ‘I begat and exalted children, and they rebelled against Me20282028    Is. i. 2. LXX..’ And of course, since they were not sons by nature, therefore, when they altered, the Spirit was taken away and they were disinherited; and again on their repentance that God who thus at the beginning gave them grace, will receive them, and give light, and call them sons again.

38. But if they say this of the Saviour also, it follows that He is neither very God nor very Son, nor like the Father, nor in any wise has God for a Father of His being according to essence, but of the mere grace given to Him, and for a Creator of His being according to essence, after the similitude of all others. And being such, as they maintain, it will be manifest further that He had not the name ‘Son’ from the first, if so be it was the prize of works done and of that very same advance which He made when He became man, and took the form of the servant; but then, when, after becoming ‘obedient unto death,’ He was, as the text says, ‘highly exalted,’ and received that ‘Name’ as a grace, ‘that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow20292029    Phil. ii. 8..’ What then was before this, if then He was exalted, and then began to be worshipped, and then was called Son, when He became man? For He seems Himself not to have promoted the flesh at all, but rather to have been Himself promoted through it, if, according to their perverseness, He was then exalted and called Son, when He became man. What then was before this? One must urge the question on them again, to make it understood what their irreligious doctrine results in20302030    The Arians perhaps more than other heretics were remarkable for bringing objections against the received view, rather than forming a consistent theory of their own. Indeed the very vigour and success of their assault upon the truth lay in its being a mere assault, not a positive and substantive teaching. They therefore, even more than others, might fairly be urged on to the consequences of their positions. Now the text in question, as it must be interpreted if it is to serve as an objection, was an objection also to the received doctrine of the Arians. They considered that our Lord was above and before all creatures from the first, and their Creator; how then could He be exalted above all? They surely, as much as Catholics, were obliged to explain it of our Lord’s manhood. They could not then use it as a weapon against the Church, until they took the ground of Paul of Samosata.. For if the Lord be God, Son, Word, yet was not all these before He became man, either He was something else beside these, and afterwards became partaker of them for His virtue’s sake, as we have said; or they must adopt the alternative (may it return upon their heads!) that He was not before that time, but is wholly man by nature and nothing more. But this is no sentiment of the Church. but of the Samosatene and of the present Jews. Why then, if they think as Jews, are they not circumcised with them too, instead of pretending Christianity, while they are its foes? For if He was not, or was indeed, but afterwards was promoted, how were all things made by Him, or how in Him, were He not perfect, did the Father delight20312031    Prov. viii. 30.? And He, on the other hand, if now promoted, how did He before rejoice in the presence of the Father? And, if He received His worship after dying, how is Abraham seen to worship Him in the tent20322032    De Syn. 27 (15)., and Moses in the bush? and, as Daniel saw, myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands were ministering unto Him? And if, as they say, He had His promotion now, how did the Son Himself make mention of that His glory before and above the world, when He said, ‘Glorify Thou Me, O Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was20332033    John xvii. 5..’ If, as they say, He was then exalted, how did He before that ‘bow the heavens and come down;’ and again, ‘The Highest gave His thunder20342034    Ps. xviii. 9, 13.?’ Therefore, if, even before the world was made, the Son had that glory, and was Lord of glory and the Highest, and descended from heaven, and is ever to be worshipped, it follows that He had not promotion from His descent, but rather Himself promoted the things which needed promotion; and if He descended to effect their promotion, therefore He did not receive in reward the name of the Son and God, but rather He Himself has made us sons of the Father, and deified men by becoming Himself man.

39. Therefore He was not man, and then became God, but He was God, and then became man, and that to deify us20352035    [De Incar. 54, and note.]. Since, if when He became man, only then He was called Son and God, but before He became man, God called the ancient people sons, and made Moses a god of Pharaoh (and Scripture says of many, ‘God standeth in the congregation of Gods20362036    Ps. lxxxii. 1; Heb. LXX.’), it is plain that He is called Son and God later than they. How then are all things through Him, and He before all? or how is He ‘first-born of the whole creation20372037    Col. i. 15. vid. infr. ii. §62.,’ if He has others before Him who are called sons and gods? And how is it that those first partakers20382038    In this passage Athan. considers that the participation of the Word is deification, as communion with the Son is adoption: also that the old Saints, inasmuch as they are called ‘gods’ and ‘sons,’ did partake of the Divine Word and Son, or in other words were gifted with the Spirit. He asserts the same doctrine very strongly in Orat. iv. §22. On the other hand, infr. 47, he says expressly that Christ received the Spirit in Baptism ‘that He might give it to man.’ There is no real contradiction in such statements; what was given in one way under the Law, was given in another and fuller under the Gospel. do not partake of the Word? This opinion is not true; it is a device of our present Judaizers. For how in that case can any at all know God as their Father? for adoption there could not be apart from the real Son, who says, ‘No one knoweth the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him20392039    Matt. xi. 27..’ And how can there be deifying apart from the Word and before Him? yet, saith He to their brethren the Jews, ‘If He called them gods, unto whom the Word of God came20402040    John x. 35..’ And if all that are called sons and gods, whether in earth or in heaven, were adopted and deified through the Word, and the Son Himself is the Word, it is plain that through Him are they all, and He Himself before all, or rather He Himself only is very Son20412041    p. 157, note 6., and He alone is very God from the very God, not receiving these prerogatives as a reward for His virtue, nor being another beside them, but being all these by nature and according to essence. For He is Offspring of the Father’s essence, so that one cannot doubt that after the resemblance of the unalterable Father, the Word also is unalterable.

40. Hitherto we have met their irrational conceits with the true conceptions20422042    ταῖς ἐννοίαις χρώμενοι, πρός τὰς ἐπινοίας ἀπηντήσαμεν. cf. οὐχὶ ἐπίνοια, παράνοια δὲ μᾶλλον, &c. Basil. contr. Eunom. i. 6. init. implied in the Word ‘Son,’ as the Lord Himself has given us. But it will be well next to cite the divine oracles, that the unalterableness of the Son and His unchangeable nature, which is the Father’s, as well as their perverseness, may be still more fully proved. The Apostle then, writing to the Philippians, says, ‘Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not a prize to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also highly exalted Him, and gave Him a Name which is above every name; that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father20432043    Phil. ii. 5–11..’ Can anything be plainer and more express than this? He was not from a lower state promoted: but rather, existing as God, He took the form of a servant, and in taking it, was not promoted but humbled Himself. Where then is there here any reward of virtue, or what advancement and promotion in humiliation? For if, being God, He became man, and descending from on high He is still said to be exalted, where is He exalted, being God? this withal being plain, that, since God is highest of all, His Word must necessarily be highest also. Where then could He be exalted higher, who is in the Father and like the Father in all things20442044    ὅμοιος κατὰ πάντα, de Syn. 21, note 10.? Therefore He is beyond the need of any addition; nor is such as the Arians think Him. For though the Word has descended in order to be exalted, and so it is written, yet what need was there that He should humble Himself, as if to seek that which He had already? And what grace did He receive who is the Giver of grace20452045    p. 162, note 3.? or how did He receive that Name for worship, who is always worshipped by His Name? Nay, certainly before He became man, the sacred writers invoke Him, ‘Save me, O God, for Thy Name’s sake20462046    Ps. liv. 1.;’and again, ‘Some put their trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the Name of the Lord our God20472047    Ib. xx. 7..’ And while He was worshipped by the Patriarchs, concerning the Angels it is written, ‘Let all the Angels of God worship Him20482048    Heb. i. 6..’

41. And if, as David says in the 71st Psalm, ‘His Name remaineth before the sun, and before the moon, from one generation to another20492049    Ps. lxxii. 17, 5, LXX.,’ how did He receive what He had always, even before He now received it? or how is He exalted, being before His exaltation the Most High? or how did He receive the right of being worshipped, who before He now received it, was ever worshipped? It is not a dark saying but a divine mystery20502050    Scripture is full of mysteries, but they are mysteries of fact, not of words. Its dark sayings or ænigmata are such, because in the nature of things they cannot be expressed clearly. Hence contrariwise, Orat. ii. §77 fin. he calls Prov. viii. 22. an enigma, with an allusion to Prov. i. 6. Sept. In like manner S. Ambrose says, Mare est scriptura divina, habens in se sensus profundos, et altitudinem propheticorum ænigmatum, &c. Ep. ii. 3. What is commonly called ‘explaining away’ Scripture, is this transference of the obscurity from the subject to the words used.. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;’ but for our sakes afterwards the ‘Word was made flesh20512051    John i. 1, 14..’ And the term in question, ‘highly exalted,’ does not signify that the essence of the Word was exalted, for He was ever and is ‘equal to God20522052    Phil. ii. 6.,’ but the exaltation is of the manhood. Accordingly this is not said before the Word became flesh; that it might be plain that ‘humbled’ and ‘exalted’ are spoken of His human nature; for where there is humble estate, there too may be exaltation; and if because of His taking flesh ‘humbled’ is written, it is clear that ‘highly exalted’ is also said because of it. For of this was man’s nature in want, because of the humble estate of the flesh and of death. Since then the Word, being the Image of the Father and immortal, took the form of the servant, and as man underwent for us death in His flesh, that thereby He might offer Himself for us through death to the Father; therefore also, as man, He is said because of us and for us to be highly exalted, that as by His death we all died in Christ, so again in the Christ Himself we might be highly exalted, being raised from the dead, and ascending into heaven, ‘whither the forerunner Jesus is for us entered, not into the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us20532053    Heb. vi. 20; ix. 24..’ But if now for us the Christ is entered into heaven itself, though He was even before and always Lord and Framer of the heavens, for us therefore is that present exaltation written. And as He Himself, who sanctifies all, says also that He sanctifies Himself to the Father for our sakes, not that the Word may become holy, but that He Himself may in Himself sanctify all of us, in like manner we must take the present phrase, ‘He highly exalted Him,’ not that He Himself should be exalted, for He is the highest, but that He may become righteousness for us20542054    When Scripture says that our Lord was exalted, it means in that sense in which He could be exalted; just as, in saying that a man walks or eats, we speak of him not as a spirit, but as in that system of things to which the ideas of walking and eating belong. Exaltation is not a word which can belong to God; it is unmeaning, and therefore is not applied to Him in the text in question. Thus, e.g. S. Ambrose: ‘Ubi humiliatus, ibi obediens. Ex eo enim nascitur obedientia, ex quo humilitas et in eo desinit,’ &c. Ap. Dav. alt. n. 39., and we may be exalted in Him, and that we may enter the gates of heaven, which He has also opened for us, the forerunners saying, ‘Lift up your gates, O ye rulers, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in20552055    Ps. xxiv. 7..’ For here also not on Him were shut the gates, as being Lord and Maker of all, but because of us is this too written, to whom the door of paradise was shut. And therefore in a human relation, because of the flesh which He bore, it is said of Him, ‘Lift up your gates,’ and ‘shall come in,’ as if a man were entering; but in a divine relation on the other hand it is said of Him, since ‘the Word was God,’ that He is the ‘Lord’ and the ‘King of Glory.’ Such our exaltation the Spirit foreannounced in the eighty-ninth Psalm, saying, ‘And in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted, for Thou art the glory of their strength20562056    Ps. lxxxix. 17, 18, LXX..’ And if the Son be Righteousness, then He is not exalted as being Himself in need, but it is we who are exalted in that Righteousness, which is He20572057    1 Cor. i. 30..

42. And so too the words ‘gave Him’ are not written because of the Word Himself; for even before He became man He was worshipped, as we have said, by the Angels and the whole creation in virtue of being proper to the Father; but because of us and for us this too is written of Him. For as Christ died and was exalted as man, so, as man, is He said to take what, as God, He ever had, that even such a grant of grace might reach to us. For the Word was not impaired in receiving a body, that He should seek to receive a grace, but rather He deified that which He put on, and more than that, ‘gave’ it graciously to the race of man. For as He was ever worshipped as being the Word and existing in the form of God, so being what He ever was, though become man and called Jesus, He none the less has the whole creation under foot, and bending their knees to Him in this Name, and confessing that the Word’s becoming flesh, and undergoing death in flesh, has not happened against the glory of His Godhead, but ‘to the glory of God the Father.’ For it is the Father’s glory that man, made and then lost, should be found again; and, when dead, that he should be made alive, and should become God’s temple. For whereas the powers in heaven, both Angels and Archangels, were ever worshipping the Lord, as they are now worshipping Him in the Name of Jesus, this is our grace and high exaltation, that even when He became man, the Son of God is worshipped, and the heavenly powers will not be astonished at seeing all of us, who are of one body with Him20582058    Infr. §43., introduced into their realms. And this had not been, unless He who existed in the form of God had taken on Him a servant’s form, and had humbled Himself, yielding His body to come unto death.

43. Behold then what men considered the foolishness of God because of the Cross, has become of all things most honoured. For our resurrection is stored up in it; and no longer Israel alone, but henceforth all the nations, as the Prophet hath foretold, leave their idols and acknowledge the true God, the Father of the Christ. And the illusion of demons is come to nought, and He only who is really God is worshipped in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ20592059    [De Incar. §§46, 51, &c.]. For the fact that the Lord, even when come in human body and called Jesus, was worshipped and believed to be God’s Son, and that through Him the Father was known, shows, as has been said, that not the Word, considered as the Word, received this so great grace, but we. For because of our relationship to His Body we too have become God’s temple, and in consequence are made God’s sons, so that even in us the Lord is now worshipped, and beholders report, as the Apostle says, that God is in them of a truth20602060    ὄντως ἐν ὑμῖν ὁ θεός. 1 Cor. xiv. 25. Athan. interprets ἐν in not among; as also in 1 John iii. 24, just afterwards. Vid. ἐν ἐμοί. Gal. i. 24. ἐντὸς ὑμῶν, Luke xvii. 21, ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, John i. 14, on which text Hooker says, ‘It pleased not the Word or Wisdom of God to take to itself some one person among men, for then should that one have been advanced which was assumed and no more, but Wisdom, to the end she might save many, built her house of that Nature which is common unto all; she made not this or that man her habitation, but dwelt in us.’ Eccl. Pol. v. 52. §3. S. Basil in his proof of the divinity of the Holy Spirit has a somewhat similar passage to the text, de Sp. S. c. 24.. As also John says in the Gospel, ‘As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become children of God20612061    John i. 12.;’ and in his Epistle he writes, ‘By this we know that He abideth in us by His Spirit which He hath given us20622062    1 John iii. 24..’ And this too is an evidence of His goodness towards us that, while we were exalted because that the Highest Lord is in us, and on our account grace was given to Him, because that the Lord who supplies the grace has become a man like us, He on the other hand, the Saviour, humbled Himself in taking ‘our body of humiliation20632063    Phil. iii. 21.,’ and took a servant’s form, putting on that flesh which was enslaved to sin20642064    It was usual to say against the Apollinarians, that, unless our Lord took on Him our nature, as it is, He had not purified and changed it, as it is, but another nature; ‘The Lord came not to save Adam as free from sin, that He should become like unto him; but as, in the net of sin and now fallen, that God’s mercy might raise him up with Christ.’ Leont. contr. Nestor. &c. ii. p. 996. Accordingly, Athan. says elsewhere, ‘Had not sinlessness appeared [cf. Rom. viii. 3, πέμψας] “in the nature which had sinned,” how was sin condemned in the flesh?’ in Apoll. ii. 6. ‘It was necessary for our salvation,’ says S. Cyril, ‘that the Word of God should become man, that human flesh “subject to corruption” and “sick with the lust of pleasures,” He might make His own; and, “whereas He is life and lifegiving,” He might “destroy the corruption,” &c.…For by this means, might sin in our flesh become dead.’ Ep. ad Success. i. p. 138. And S. Leo, ‘Non alterius naturæ erat ejus caro quam nostra, nec alio illi quam cæteris hominibus anima est inspirata principio, quæ excelleret, non diversitate generis, sed sublimitate virtutis.’ Ep. 35 fin. vid. also Ep. 28. 3. Ep. 31. 2. Ep. 165. 9. Serm. 22. 2. and 25. 5. It may be asked whether this doctrine does not interfere with that of the immaculate conception [i.e. that Christ was conceived sinless]; but that miracle was wrought in order that our Lord might not be born in original sin, and does not affect, or rather includes, His taking flesh of the substance of the Virgin, i.e. of a fallen nature. If indeed sin were ‘of the substance’ of our fallen nature, as some heretics have said, then He could not have taken our nature without partaking our sinfulness; but if sin be, as it is, a fault of the will, then the Divine Power of the Word could sanctify the human will, and keep it from swerving in the direction of evil. Hence ‘We say not that Christ by the felicity of a flesh separated from sense could not feel the desire of sin, but that by perfection of virtue, and by a flesh not begotten through concupiscence of the flesh, He had not the desire of sin;’ Aug. Op. Imperf. iv. 48. On the other hand, S. Athanasius expressly calls it Manichean doctrine to consider τὴν φύσιν of the flesh ἁμαρτίαν, καὶ οὐ τὴν πρᾶξιν. contr. Apoll. i. 12 fin. or φυσικὴν εἶναι τὴν ἁμαρτίαν. ibid. i. 14 fin. His argument in the next ch. is on the ground that all natures are from God, but God made man upright nor is the author of evil (vid. also Vit. Anton. 20); ‘not as if,’ he says, ‘the devil wrought in man a nature (God forbid!) for of a nature the evil cannot be maker (δημιουργὸς) as is the impiety of the Manichees, but he wrought a bias of nature by transgression, and ‘so death reigned over all men.’ Wherefore, saith he, ‘the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil;’ what works? that nature, which God made sinless, and the devil biassed to the transgression of God’s command and the finding out of sin which is death, did God the Word raise again, so as to be secure from the devil’s bias and the finding out of sin. And therefore the Lord said, “The prince of this world cometh and findeth nothing in Me.”’ vid. also §19. Ibid. ii. 6. he speaks of the devil having ‘introduced the law of sin.’ vid. also §9.. And He indeed has gained nothing from us for His own promotion: for the Word of God is without want and full; but rather we were promoted from Him; for He is the ‘Light, which lighteneth every man, coming into the world20652065    John i. 9..’ And in vain do the Arians lay stress upon the conjunction ‘wherefore,’ because Paul has said, ‘Wherefore, hath God highly exalted Him.’ For in saying this he did not imply any prize of virtue, nor promotion from advance20662066    προκοπῆς ‘internal advance,’ Luke ii. 52., but the cause why the exaltation was bestowed upon us. And what is this but that He who existed in form of God, the Son of a noble20672067    εὐγενοῦς Father, humbled Himself and became a servant instead of us and in our behalf? For if the Lord had not become man, we had not been redeemed from sins, not raised from the dead, but remaining dead under the earth; not exalted into heaven, but lying in Hades. Because of us then and in our behalf are the words, ‘highly exalted’ and ‘given.’

44. This then I consider the sense of this passage, and that, a very ecclesiastical sense20682068    ἐκκλησιαστικὸς, vid. Serap. iv. 15. contr. Gent. 6. 7. 33.. However, there is another way in which one might remark upon it, giving the same sense in a parallel way; viz. that, though it does not speak of the exaltation of the Word Himself, so far as He is Word20692069    Orat. ii. §8. (for He is, as was just now said, most high and like His Father), yet by reason of His becoming man it indicates His resurrection from the dead. For after saying, ‘He hath humbled Himself even unto death,’ He immediately added, ‘Wherefore He hath highly exalted Him;’ wishing to shew, that, although as man He is said to have died, yet, as being Life, He was exalted on the resurrection; for ‘He who descended, is the same also who rose again20702070    Eph. iv. 10, but ἀναστάς for ἀναβὰς..’ He descended in body, and He rose again because He was God Himself in the body. And this again is the reason why according to this meaning he brought in the conjunction ‘Wherefore;’ not as a reward of virtue nor of advancement, but to signify the cause why the resurrection took place; and why, while all other men from Adam down to this time have died and remained dead, He only rose in integrity from the dead. The cause is this, which He Himself has already taught us, that, being God, He has become man. For all other men, being merely born of Adam, died, and death reigned over them; but He, the Second Man, is from heaven, for ‘the Word was made flesh20712071    John i. 14.,’ and this Man is said to be from heaven and heavenly20722072    In Apoll. i. 2., because the Word descended from heaven; wherefore He was not held under death. For though He humbled Himself, yielding His own Body to come unto death, in that it was capable of death20732073    It was a point in controversy with the extreme Monophysites, that is, the Eutychians, whether our Lord’s body was naturally subject to death, the Catholics maintaining the affirmative, as Athanasius here. Eutyches asserted that our Lord had not a human nature, by which he meant among other things that His manhood was not subject to the laws of a body, but so far as He submitted to them, He did so by an act of will in each particular case; and this, lest it should seem that He was moved by the πάθη against His will ἀκουσίως; and consequently that His manhood was not subject to death. But the Catholics maintained that He had voluntarily placed Himself under those laws, and died naturally, vid. Athan. contr. Apol. i. 17, and that after the resurrection His body became incorruptible, not according to nature, but by grace. vid. Leont. de Sect. x. p. 530. Anast. Hodeg. c. 23. To express their doctrine of the ὑπερφυές of our Lord’s manhood the Eutychians made use of the Catholic expression ‘ut voluit.’ vid. Athan. l.c. Eutyches ap. Leon. Ep. 21. ‘quomodo voluit et scit,’ twice. vid. also Eranist. i. p. 11. ii. p. 105. Leont. contr. Nest. i. p. 967. Pseudo-Athan. Serm. adv. Div. Hær. §8. (t. 2. p. 570.), yet He was highly exalted from earth, because He was God’s Son in a body. Accordingly what is here said, ‘Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him,’ answers to Peter’s words in the Acts, ‘Whom God raised up, having loosed the bonds of death, because it was not possible that He should be holden of it20742074    Acts ii. 24..’ For as Paul has written, ‘Since being in form of God He became man, and humbled Himself unto death, therefore God also hath highly exalted Him,’ so also Peter says, ‘Since, being God, He became man, and signs and wonders proved Him to beholders to be God, therefore it was not possible that He should be holden of death.’ To man it was not possible to succeed in this; for death belongs to man; wherefore, the Word, being God, became flesh, that, being put to death in the flesh, He might quicken all men by His own power.

45. But since He Himself is said to be ‘exalted,’ and God ‘gave’ Him, and the heretics think this a defect20752075    ἐλάττωμα, ad Adelph. 4. or affection in the essence20762076    At first sight it would seem as if S. Athanasius here used οὐσία essence for subsistence, or person; but this is not true except with an explanation. Its direct meaning is here, as usual, essence, though indirectly it comes to imply subsistence. He is speaking of that Divine Essence which, though also the Almighty Father’s, is as simply and entirely the Word’s as if it were only His. Nay, even when the Essence of the Father is spoken of in a sort of contrast to that of the Son, as in the phrase οὐσία ἐξ οὐσίας, harsh as such expressions are, it is not accurate to say that οὐσία is used for subsistence or person, or that two οὐσίαι are spoken of (vid. de Syn. 52, note 8), except, that is, by Arians, as Eusebius, supr. Ep. Eus. §6 [or by Origen, Prolegg. ii. §3 (2) a.] Just below we find φύσις τοῦ λόγου, §51 init. of the Word, it becomes necessary to explain how these words are used. He is said to be exalted from the lower parts of the earth, because death is ascribed even to Him. Both events are reckoned His, since it was His Body20772077    This was the question which came into discussion in the Nestorian controversy, when, as it was then expressed, all that took place in respect to the Eternal Word as man, belonged to His Person, and therefore might be predicated of Him; so that it was heretical not to confess the Word’s body (or the body of God in the Person of the Word), the Word’s death (as Athan, in the text), the Word’s exaltation, and the Word’s, or God’s, Mother, who was in consequence called θεοτόκος, which was the expression on which the controversy mainly turned. Cf. Orat. iii. 31, a passage as precise as if it had been written after the Nestorian and Eutychian controversies, though without the technical words then adopted., and none other’s, that was exalted from the dead and taken up into heaven. And again, the Body being His, and the Word not being external to it, it is natural that when the Body was exalted, He, as man, should, because of the body, be spoken of as exalted. If then He did not become man, let this not be said of Him: but if the Word became flesh, of necessity the resurrection and exaltation, as in the case of a man, must be ascribed to Him, that the death which is ascribed to Him may be a redemption of the sin of men and an abolition of death, and that the resurrection and exaltation may for His sake remain secure for us. In both respects he hath said of Him, ‘God hath highly exalted Him,’ and ‘God hath given to Him;’ that herein moreover he may show that it is not the Father that hath become flesh, but it is His Word, who has become man, and receives after the manner of men from the Father, and is exalted by Him, as has been said. And it is plain, nor would any one dispute it, that what the Father gives, He gives through. the Son. And it is marvellous and overwhelming verily; for the grace which the Son gives from the Father, that the Son Himself is said to receive; and the exaltation, which the Son bestows from the Father, with that the Son is Himself exalted. For He who is the Son of God, became Himself the Son of Man; and, as Word, He gives from the Father, for all things which the Father does and gives, He does and supplies through Him; and as the Son of Man, He Himself is said after the manner of men to receive what proceeds from Him, because His Body is none other than His, and is a natural recipient of grace, as has been said. For He received it as far as His man’s nature20782078    τὸν ἄνθρωπον. was exalted; which exaltation was its being deified. But such an exaltation the Word Himself always had according to the Father’s Godhead and perfection, which was His20792079    τὴν πατρικὴν ἑαυτοῦ θεότητα, cf. de Syn. 45, note 1..


« Prev Texts Explained; And First, Phil. II. 9, 10.… Next »

Advertisements


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |