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

That the Son of God alone is Very Light, the creature not at all, being participate of Light, as originate.

9 That was the true Light.

THE Divine Evangelist again profitably recapitulates what has been said, and clearly marks off That Which is in truth the Light, the Only-Begotten, from those that are not so, namely things originate: he severs clearly That Which is by nature from them which are by grace, That Which is partaken of from those which are participate of it, That Which ministereth Itself to those who lack from those who are in enjoyment of Its largess. And if the Son is Very Light, nought save He is in truth Light, nor hath of its own in potential the being called and being Light, nor yet will things originate produce this as fruit of their own nature; but just as from not being they are, so from not being Light will they mount up to being light, and by receiving the beams of the Very Light, and irradiated by the participation of the Divine Nature, will they in imitation of It alike be called and be light.

And the Word of God is Essentially Light, not being so of grace by participation, nor having this dignity as an accident in Himself, nor yet imported, as grace, but the unchangeable and immutable good of the Uncreated Nature, passing through from the Father into the Heir of His Essence. But the creature, not so will it bear about it the being light, but as not having it receives, as darkness it is illumined, it has, as an accruing grace, the dignity from the love to man of Him Who giveth it. Hence the One is Very Light, the other not at all. So great therefore being the difference between, and so great a notion severing off, the Son of God from the creature in respect to sameness of nature, how must one not and with reason deem that they are foolish, yea rather outside of all good understanding, who say that He is originate, and rank with things made the Creator of all, not seeing, as seems to me, how great impiety their daring will risk, not knowing either what they say nor whereof they affirm.

For that to those who are used to test more accurately the truth in the words before us, the Only-Begotten, that is, the True Light, will be shewn to be in no way originate or made, or in any thing at all con-natural with the creature, one may on all sides see and that very easily, and not least through the thoughts that are in order subjoined, collected for the consideration of what is before us.

Thoughts or syllogisms whereby one may learn that the Son Alone is Very Light, the creature not at all; hence neither is He connatural therewith.

If the Son being the Brightness of the glory of God the Father, is therefore Very Light, He will not be connatural with the creature, that the creature too be not conceived of as the brightness of the glory of God the Father, having in potential the being by nature this which the Son is.

Another. If the whole creation have the power of being Very Light, why is this attributed to the Son Alone? For one ought I suppose by reason of equality to give to things made also the title of being the Very Light. But no one of things originate will this befit, but it will be predicated of the Alone Essence of the Son. Of right therefore and truly will it rest on Him, on created things not at all. How then will He be connatural with the creation, and not rather belong to what is above the creation, as being above it with the Father?

Another. If that which is not in truth light be not the same as the in truth Light (for the enunciation of either has somewhat of diversity), and the Son be called Very Light, and be so of a truth: the creature will therefore not be Very Light. Hence neither are things thus severed from one another connatural.

Another. If not only the Only-Begotten be the Very Light, but the creature too possesseth the being very light, wherefore does He light every man that cometh into the world? For since the originate nature too possesseth this of its own, the being lightened by the Son were superfluous. Yet verily doth He light, all we are partakers of Him. Not therefore the same in regard to quality of essence, are the Son and the creature: as neither with the participator that whereof it is participate.

Another. If not only to the Son by Nature accrues the being Very Light, but the creature too have it, clearly of superfluity as I think will the Psalmist say to some, Look unto Him and be ye lightened. For that which is wholly of a truth light, will not become light by participation of some other, neither will it be illumined by enlightenment from other, but rather will be endowed with perfect purity from its own nature. But we see that man lacks light, being of created nature; and true is the Psalmist crying aloud as to the Word of God, For Thou wilt light my candle, the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. Not then of a truth light are we, but rather participate of the Word that lighteth, and alien by nature from the Very Light, which is the Son.

Another of the same. If the mind of man is called a candle, as it is sung in the Psalms, For Thou wilt light my candle, how shall we be of a truth light? for to the candle the light is imported and given. And if the Only-Begotten Alone lights the darkness that is in us, how is not He rather of a truth light, we not at all? But if this be true, how can He be connatural with the creature, Who is so far above it?

Another. If to be very light can accrue to the creature, even as to the Son, man will be very light, as being a portion of it. To whom then did God the Father promise by the holy Prophets saying, But unto you that fear My Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise? For whatever need of the Sun to illumine it had the of a truth light? Yet did God the Father promise to give it us as being in need, and we have received it and are lighted. Other then than we and the creature in regard to identity of essence is the Only-Begotten, being Very Light and able to lighten things that need light.

Another. If not the Son Alone is Very Light, but the creature too possess this, it will be consequently in us too. What then induced the saints to cry aloud to God, O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth? Wherein thinking to help us thereby did they oftentimes send forth, tell me, those words? For if they knew that man is in need of light and that he lacks this addition from another, how will any say with truth, that he too is Very Light? but if he needed not the lighting word, why to no purpose did they call on Him Who could in no wise aid them? But one cannot say that the mind of the saints failed of the truth, and God the Father Himself sends the Son as to those who lack light. Other therefore by Nature in respect of the creature is the Only-Begotten, as lighting things that lack Light.

Another. If we say that the creature lacks light, and that the Only-Begotten lightens it, the creature does not bring itself to the Light; hence neither is it Very Light as the Son is.

Another. If that which is by nature and truth light does not admit of darkness, and the Only-Begotten is Very Light, and the creature likewise Very Light, why does the Scripture say of the Son, The darkness comprehended it not: but of us Paul saith, In whom the god of this world hath blinded the eyes of them which believe not? and again the Saviour Himself, While ye have the light, walk in the light, lest darkness come upon you. For it is I suppose clear to all, that unless it were possible for some of us to be apprehended by the darkness, our Saviour would not have said ought of this. How then will any longer be the same in nature the Only-Begotten and the creature, the Unchangeable with the changing, He Who may not suffer ought that injures with the darkened and that can acquire lighting, as something, that is, accruing to it, and not inherent in it by nature?

Another. If the Only-Begotten be not Alone Very Light, but the creature have it too, as connatural with Him, how cry we aloud to God the Father, In Thy Light shall we see light? For if we be very light, how shall we be enlightened in another? But if we as needing light from without us say this, we clearly are not in truth light. Hence neither are we connatural with the Word Who is by Nature so far above us.

Another expository. Our Lord Jesus Christ is found to say in the Gospel, And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather titan light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light. But if the Only-Begotten is the Very Light, and the creature is capable of being likewise very light: how cometh He in order to lighten it, and it loved darkness? How at all cometh it not to the light, if itself be the very light? For things that pertain to any by nature have their possession inherent: things that are eligible of the will, have not that inherence: as for example;—not of one’s own will does one attain to being a rational man; for one has it by nature: but one will have it of one’s own will to be bad or good, and will likewise of one’s own power love righteousness or the reverse. If the creature is by nature the light (for this is the meaning of very), how cometh it not to the light? or how loveth it the darkness, as though it possessed not by nature the being very light, but made through choice rather its inclination to the better or the worse?

Either therefore let our opponents dare to say that the endowments above those of the creature are not naturally inherent in the Son, that they may be convicted of more naked blasphemy and may hear from all, The Lord shall cut off all deceitful lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things, or if they surely confess that these goods are in Him Essentially, let them not connect with Him in unity of nature, the nature that is not so, as we have just shewn.

Another. If the Word of God be not Alone the Very Light, but the creature too possess the being very light, as He does, why does He say, I am the light of the world? or how shall we endure one to despoil our nature of its most excellent pre-rogative, if it is any way possible that we too should be very light, the originate nature likewise possessing this? But if the Only-Begotten says truly, I am the Light of the world, by participation it is plain with Him, and no otherwise, will the creature be light. If so, it is not connatural with Him.

Another. If the Son be not Alone in truth Light, but this exist in things originate also:—what shall we say, when the most wise Paul writes to us, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous Light? For what kind of darkness at all is there in us, or in what darkness were we, being ourselves also the in truth light? how have we been called unto the light, who are not in darkness? But neither does the herald of truth speak untruly who was bold to say, Do ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me? and we are called into His marvellous Light, as from darkness that is, and no otherwise. But if this be true, the creature is not of a truth light, but the Son is alone truly and strictly Light, and things originate are so by participation of Him, and therefore they are not connatural wand things originate are so by Him.

Others with citation of utterances, gathering the readers by simpler thoughts to the confession that the Son of God Alone is the Very Light, the nature of things originate lighted by largess from Him, not possessing the being light essentially as He is.

The Psalmist says, The light of Thy Countenance was impressed upon us, O Lord. And what is the Countenance of God the Father Whose Light has been impressed upon us? Is it not surely the Only-Begotten Son of God, the Express Image, and Which therefore says, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father? But it was impressed on us, making us of like form with Himself and engraving the illumination which is through His own Spirit as a Divine Image upon those who believe on Him, that they too may now be called as He both gods and sons of God. But if ought of things originate were the very light, how was it impressed upon us? For the Light shineth in darkness, according to the unlying voice of the Spirit-clad. For how will light be manifest in light?

Another. The Psalmist says, Light sprang up for the righteous. If to him who hath and lacketh not, it is superfluous. But if the Light springeth up as to one who hath it not, the Only-Begotten Alone is Light, the creature participate of Light and therefore alien-in-nature.

Another. The Psalmist says, For they got not the land in possession with their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but Thy Right Hand and Thine Arm and the Light of Thy Countenance. The light of the countenance of God the Father he here calls His revelation from the Son through the Spirit, and His conducting thereof unto all things that are, which alone was what saved Israel and liberated them from the tyranny of the Egyptians. If then not the Only-Begotten Alone be the very light, but an equal dignity be inherent in the creature too, why were these of whom he speaks not saved by their own light, but are set forth as supplied by additions from an alien and needless light? But it is clear that the Only Begotten shone forth as on those lacking Light. Hence is He (and that alone) the Very Light, and the creature borrows of Him the grace. If so, how will it any longer be connatural with Him?

Another. The Psalmist says, Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the Light of Thy Countenance. Why shall not they too walk rather in their own light? why, tell me, do they gathering illumination from another, hardly attain for themselves salvation, if they too are in truth light, as is the Countenance of God the Father, that is, the Son? But it is I suppose plain to every one from this too, that the Word bestoweth illumination on the creature, as lacking it, it is saved by receiving what it has not. How then are the Only-Begotten and the things made through Him any longer the same in essence?

Another. The Psalmist says, Unto the upright He hath sent forth light in the darkness. How was the upright in darkness at all, being himself too very light, if the nature of things originate have this, just as the Only-Begotten? But if the Light is sent to the upright as not having it, we shall not need many words; for the very nature of things will proclaim aloud that not the same in essence is the needy with the Perfect, the Bestower out of abundance with the lacking.

Another. Arise, shine, O Jerusalem: for thy Light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. If the nature of things originate have light from its own resources, and this be strictly what we say that the Only-Begotten is in regard of being Very Light, how did Jerusalem lack one to light her? But since she receives illumination as a grace, Very Light Alone is the Son Who lights her and gives her what she has not. If so, how is He not wholly Other by Nature than she?

Another. Behold I have given Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles. For how should the rational creature that is on earth at all need light, if to be very light is inherent in it by nature? For God the Father gives His Own Son to it as having it not already: and it receiving Him proclaims by the very nature of the thing, both the poverty of its own nature and the Rich Dignity of Him Who lights it.

Another. O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord. Why do these not rather walk in their own light, but the Only-Begotten holds forth light to them, implanting in them the own good of His Essence? But trusting not in what is their own, do they borrow what is another’s: as not having therefore, they know how to do this.

Another. The Saviour saith, I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the Light of life. Let the creature too dare to utter such a word, if it too be by nature light. But if it shrink back from the word, it will also flee the thing itself, confessing the true Light, that is, the Son.

Another. The Lord saith, While ye have light, believe in the Light, that ye may be the children of light. Would they who were by nature light, by not believing, lose the light? if it be indeed any way possible for the originate essence to be the very light. And how could this be? For not as to things that of essence accrue to any does the loss of them at all happen through negligence, but as to things whereof the will works the possession, and that can accrue and depart without the damage of the subject. As for example, a man is rational by nature, a ship-builder by will, or infirm in body by accident. He cannot at all become irrational; he may lose his ship-building experience, if for example he be negligent, and he may drive away what befalls him of sickness, hastening to improvement through medicine. Therefore things that accrue to any essentially have their position radical. If then the nature of things originate can at all be the very light, how do they who will not believe lose the light, or how will they who believe become children of light? For if they too are by nature the light, they are called children of themselves. And what is the reward to them that believe? for they who do not receive the faith are rather their own children. From such considerations inferring the truth, we shall say that the Only Begotten is Alone the Very Light, the creature lacking light and hence other in nature.

Another. Jesus then said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you: walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you. To this too you may apply well the argument used above. For that which is by nature light, will never be apprehended by darkness.

Another. John saith, He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother is in darkness even until now. Of choice then is the light in us, and of will rather than of essence accrues it to things originate, if he that hateth his brother is in darkness. But the Only-Begotten is Light by Nature, for He hath not the dignity as the fruit of choice. Hence neither is He connatural to things originate Who is so far above them.

Another akin to this. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light. Love imparteth to things originate what they have not, Light that is, but the Only-Begotten is Light: Other therefore is He than they in whom through love He is.

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