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Commentary On The Gospel According To Saint John Volumes 1&2

That the fact that something is said to have been given to the Son from the Father does not rob Him of God-befitting dignity; but He plainly appears to be Consubstantial, and of the Father, even if He is said to receive aught

6 I manifested Thy Name unto the men whom Thou hast given Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou hast given them to Me; and they have kept Thy word. 7 Now they know that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are from Thee: 8 for the words which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them; and they received them and knew of a truth that I came forth from Thee, and they believed that Thou didst send Me.

I have previously stated with reference to the passages I have just examined, not without care, if I may say so, that Christ made His prayer to the Father in the heavens both as Man and also as God. For He carefully moderates His language so as to avoid either extreme, neither keeping it altogether within the limits of humanity, nor yet allowing it to be wholly affected by His Divine glory; and none the less here also may we see the same characteristic observed. For, as being by Nature God, and the express Image of His unspeakable Nature, He says to His Father: I manifested Thy Name unto the men, using the word “Name” instead of “glory;” for this is the usual practice in speech amongst us. Moreover, the wise Solomon wrote: A good name is more to be desired than great riches; that is, “a good reputation and honour” is better than the splendour and eminence which wealth confers. And God Himself says, by the mouth of Isaiah, to those who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, Let not the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep My commandments, and choose the things that please Me, Even unto them will I give in Mine house and within My walls a place and a name better than of sons and daughters: I will give them an everlasting name. And no man ought to imagine, I think, if he be wise, that the honour with which God will requite them will be paid out in bare names and titles to those who, with noble and virtuous aspirations, have wrestled with worldly pleasure, and have mortified their members which are upon the earth, and regarded only those things which are not displeasing to the Divine law; rather He uses the word name instead of glory, for they who reign with Christ will be enviable and worthy all admiration.

The Saviour therefore plainly declares that He has manifested the Name of God the Father; that is, He has established His glory throughout the whole world. And how? Clearly by the manifestation of Himself, through His exceeding great works. For the Father is glorified in the Son, as in an Image and Type of His own form, for in the lineaments of that which is modelled, the beauty of the model is always clearly seen. The Only-begotten, then, has manifested Himself, being in His Essence Wisdom and Life, Architect and Creator of the universe, superior to death and corruption, holy, blameless, compassionate, sacred, pure. Hereby all men know that He That begat Him is even as He is; for He cannot be different in Nature from His Offspring. He showed Himself, therefore, as in an Image and Type of His own form, in the glory of the Son. Such was indeed the language concerning Him among the men of old time, but now has He manifested Himself to our very sight, and that which we see with our eyes is more convincing than any words.

I think, indeed, that what we have here stated is not irrelevant. We must now, however, tread another path, that is, enter on another line of speculation. For the Son manifested the Father’s Name clearly by bringing us to the knowledge and perfect apprehension, not of the fact that He is God alone (for this message was conveyed to us before His coming by the inspired Scripture), but that, besides being God in truth, He is also Father in no spurious sense; having in Himself, and proceeding from Himself, His own Offspring, Coequal and Coeternal with His own Nature. For He did not beget in time the Creator of the ages. And God’s Name of “Father” is in some sort greater than the Name God itself; for the one is symbolical only of His Majesty, while the other is explanatory of the essential attribute of His Person. For, when a man speaks of God, he indicates the Sovereign of the universe; but, when he utters the Name of Father, he touches on the definition of His individuality, for he manifests the fact that He begat. And Christ Himself gives to God the Name of Father, as in some sense a more appropriate and truer appellation; saying on one occasion, not “I and God” but I and the Father are One; and on another occasion, with reference to Himself, For Him the Father, even God, hath sealed. And also when He bade His disciples baptise all nations, He did not bid them do this in the Name of God, but He expressly enjoined them to do this into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And the inspired Moses, when he was explaining the origin of the world, did not attribute its creation to a single person, for he wrote, And God said, Let us make man in our Image, after our Likeness: and by the words Let us make, and in our Likeness, the Holy Trinity is signified; for the Father created and called into being the universe, through the Son, in the Spirit. But the men of old found such expressions hard to understand, and the language obscure; for the Father was not individually named, nor was the Person of the Son expressly introduced. Our Lord Jesus Christ, however, without any concealment, and with perfect freedom of speech, called God His Father; and by naming Himself Son, and showing that He was Himself in very truth the Offspring of the Sovereign Nature of the universe, He manifested the Father’s Name, and brought us to perfect knowledge of Him. For the perfect knowledge of God and the Creator of the universe standeth not in believing merely that He is God, but in believing also that He is the Father; and the Father also of a Son, not unaccompanied of course by the Holy Spirit. For the bare belief, that God is God, suits us no better than those under the Law; for it does not exceed the limit of the knowledge the Jews attained. And just as the Law, when it brought in this axiom of instruction, which was insufficient to sustain a life of piety in God’s service, perfected nothing, so also the knowledge which it instilled about God was imperfect; only able to restrain men from love of false gods, and persuade them to worship the One true God: For thou shalt have, it says, no other gods beside Me. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve. But our Lord Jesus Christ sets better things before those who are under the Law of Moses; and, giving them instruction clearer than the commandment of the Law, vouchsafed them better and clearer knowledge than that of old. For He has made it plain to us, not merely that the Originator and Sovereign of the world is God, but also that He is a Father; and facts prove this; for He has set Himself before us as His Likeness, saying, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. I and the Father are One.

And this, as we suppose, as being God and of God by Nature, He saith openly, in His Divine character, to His Father; but He adds at once, speaking more as Man: Whom Thou hast given Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou hast given them to Me. We must think that our Lord says this, not as though some separate and particular portion had been allotted and belonged to the dominion of the Father, in which the Son Himself had no part, for He is King before the ages began, as the Psalmist says, and eternally shares the Father’s rule. Moreover, the wise Evangelist John, teaching us that all things belong to Him and are put under His sway, wrote: He came unto His own, and they that were His own received Him not; calling those His own who knew Him not, and were rejecting the yoke of His kingdom. He spake this on this occasion, from the wish to make clear to His hearers, that there were some in this world, who did not even so much as receive into their minds the One true God, but served the creature, and devils, and the inventions of devils. Still, though they knew not the Creator of the world, and were astray from the truth, they were God’s; insomuch as He is Lord of all, as their Creator. For all things belong to God, and there is nothing that exists over which the One God is not ruler, though the creature may not know his Maker. For no man can maintain that the fact, that some have gone astray from Him, can avail to deprive the Creator of the world of His universal dominion; but he must rather admit that all things are subjected to His rule, through His having made them and brought them into being. Since, then, this is the truth, even they who were fast bound by the snares of the devil, and entangled in the vanities of the world, belonged in fact to the living God. And how were they given to the Son? For God the Father consented that Emmanuel should reign over them; not as though He then first began His reign—for He was ever Lord and King as being God by Nature—but because, having become Man and ventured His life for the salvation of the world, He purchased all men for Himself, and through Himself brought them to God the Father. He then, That of old reigneth from the beginning with His Father, was appointed King as a Man, to Whom like all else the sceptre comes by gift, according to the limitations of human nature. For not in the same sense as that in which man is a rational being, capable of thought and knowledge (these things being included in his natural advantages), is he also a king; for while the former attributes are comprehended in the definition of his essence, the latter is extraneous and additional, and not among those which attach inseparably to his nature; for kingly power is given and taken away from a man, without affecting in any degree at all the definition of his essence. The dignity of kingship, therefore, is thrust upon a man by God as a gift, and from without: For by Me, He says, kings rule, and princes reign over the earth. He then, That ruleth over all with the Father, insomuch as He was, and is, and will be, by Nature God, receives power over the world, according to the form and limits proper to a man.

And therefore He saith: All things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are from Thee. For in a special and peculiar sense all things are God’s, and are given to us His creatures. Universal possession and power are most appropriate to God, but to us it is most fitting to receive. He bore witness, however, before His devout believers, to what was fitting to the servant, and prompted to obedience. For, He saith, the words which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them, and they received them and knew of a truth that I came forth from Thee, and they believed that Thou didst send Me. He expressly here calls His own words the sayings of God the Father, because of Their identity of Substance, and because He is God the Word declaratory of His Father’s Will; just as the word, which proceeds out of our own mouths, and by its utterance assailing the hearing of one who stands by, interprets the hidden mysteries of the heart. Therefore also the saying of the Prophet declared concerning Him: His Name is called Messenger of Great Counsel. For the truly great, wonderful, and mysterious counsel of the Father is conveyed to us by the Word That is in Him, and of Him, through the words He uttered as a Man, when He came among us, and also by the knowledge and light of the Spirit after His ascent into heaven; for He revealeth to His Saints His mysteries, as Paul bears witness, saying: If ye seek a proof of Christ That speaketh in Me.

He testified then to those who love Him, that they received and kept the words given Him by the Father, and were besides satisfied that He came, and was sent, from God; while those who were diseased with the contrary opinion were otherwise minded. For they who neither received His words nor kept their minds open to conviction, were not disposed to believe that He came from God, and was sent by Him. Moreover, the Jews said on one occasion: If this Man were from God, He would not have broken the Sabbath; and on another, We are disciples of Moses: we know that God hath spoken unto Moses, but as for this Man we know not whence He is. You see how they denied His mission; so that they even cried in their shamelessness, they knew not whence He was. And that they did not admit His unspeakably high birth from everlasting. I mean His proceeding from God the Father, diseased as they were by the great perversity of their thoughts, and ready to stone Him with stones merely because of His Incarnation, you may easily satisfy yourself, if you will listen to the words of the Evangelist: For this cause therefore the Jews sought to kill Him, because He not only brake the Sabbath, but also called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. And what the impious Jews said unto Him is also recorded: For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy; because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God. You will understand then very clearly, that those who truly keep His words have believed and confessed that He manifested Himself from the Father (for this is, I think, what I came forth means), and that He was sent to us to tell us the commandment of the Lord, as is said in the Psalms; while they who laughed to scorn the Word, Who was thus Divine and from the Father, rejected the faith, and plainly denied that He was God and from the Father, and that He came to us for our salvation, and dwelt among us, yet without sin. Justly, then, does He commend to God the Father, those who are good men, and are His own, and have submitted their souls to the hearing of His words, and will ever hold them in remembrance; that what He said may be made clear, beginning from the time of His sojourn amongst us. And what are His words? Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father Which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father Which is in heaven This also God the Father Himself long ago declared that He would do, speaking by the mouth of Isaiah: Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, and the servant whom I have chosen. Our Saviour then speaks, at the same time, in His character as God, and in His character as Man. For He was at once God and Man, speaking in either character without reproach, suiting each occasion with appropriate words as it required.

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