The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 5:17-30

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 17, 2012

16, 17 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus and sought to slay Him, because He was doing these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them,

The narrative does not herein contain the simple relation of the madness of the Jews: for the Evangelist does not shew only that they persecute Him, but why they blush |242 not to do this, saying most emphatically, Because He was doing these things on the sabbath day. For they persecute Him foolishly and blasphemously, as though the law forbad to do good on the sabbath day, as though it were not lawful to pity and compassionate the sick, as though it behoved to put off the law of love, the praise of brotherly kindness, the grace of gentleness: and what of good things may one not shew that the Jews did in manifold ways spurn, not knowing the aim of the Lawgiver respecting the Sabbath, and making the observance of it most empty? For as Christ Himself somewhere said, each one of them taketh his ox, or his sheep, and leadeth them away to watering, and that a man on the sabbath day receiveth circumcision, that the law of Moses be not broken: and then they are angry, because He made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day, by reason of the exceeding stubbornness alike and undisciplinedness of their habits, not even to brutes preferring him that is made in the Divine Image, but thinking that one ought to pity a sheep on the sabbath day, and unblamed to free it from famine and thirst, yet that they are open to the charge of transgressing the law to the last degree, who are gentle and good to their neighbour on the sabbath?

But that we may see that they were beyond measure senseless, and therefore with justice deserve to hear, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures; come let us taking somewhat from the Divine Scriptures too shew clearly, that Jesus was long ago foredepicted as in a type taking no account of the sabbath. The all-wise Moses then, having at a great age (as it is written) departed from things of men and been removed to the mansions above, by the judgment and decree of God That ruleth all, Joshua the son of Nun obtained and inherited the command over Israel. When he therefore, having set in array heavy armed soldiers ten thousand strong round about Jericho, was devising to take at length and overthrow it, he arranged with the Levites to take the ark round about for six whole days, but on the seventh day, that is, the Sabbath, |243 he commanded the innumerable multitude of the host to shout along with the trumpets, and thus the wall was thrown down, and they rushing in, took the city, not observing the unseasonable rest of the Sabbath, nor refusing their victory thereon, by reason of the law restraining them, nor yet did they then withstand the generalship of Joshua, but wholly free from reproach did they keep the command of the man. And herein is the type: but when the Truth came, that is Christ, Who destroyed and overcame the corruption set up against man’s nature by the devil, and is seen doing this on the Sabbath, as in preface and commencement of action, in the case of the paralytic, they foolishly take it ill, and condemn the obedience of their fathers, not suffering nature to conquer on the sabbath day the despite done it by sickness, to such extent as to be zealous in persecuting Jesus Who was working good on the sabbath day.

My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

Christ is speaking, as it were, on the sabbath day (for this the word Hitherto must necessarily signify, that the force of the idea may receive its own fitting meaning) but the Jews, who were untutored, and knew not Who the Only-Begotten is by Nature, but attributed to God the Father alone the appointing of the Law through Moses, and asserted that we ought to obey Him Alone; these He attempts to clearly convince, that He works all things together with the Father, and that, having the Nature of Him Who begat Him in Himself, by reason of His not being Other than He, as far as pertains to Sameness of Essence, He will never think ought else than as seemeth good to Him Who begat Him. But as being of the Same Essence He will also will the same things, yea rather being Himself the Living Will and Power of the Father, He worketh all things in all with the Father.

In order then that He might repel the vain murmuring of the Jews and might shame them who were persecuting Him on those grounds whereon they thought good |244 to be angry, as though the honour due to the sabbath were despised. He says, My Father worketh hitherto and I work. For He all but wisheth to signify some such thing as this, If thou believest, O man, that God, having created and compacted all things by His Command and Will ordereth the creation on the sabbath day also, so that the sun riseth, rain-giving fountains are let loose, and fruits spring from the earth, not refusing their increase by reason of the sabbath, the fire works its own work, ministering to the necessities of man unforbidden: confess and know of a surety that the Father worketh God-befitting operations on the sabbath also. Why then (saith He) dost thou uninstructedly accuse Him through Whom He works all things? for God the Father will work in no other way, save through His Power and Wisdom, the Son. Therefore says He, And I work. He shames then with arguments ad absurdum the unbridled mind of His persecutors, shewing that they do not so much oppose Himself, as speak against the Father, to Whom Alone they were zealous to ascribe the honour of the Law, not yet knowing the Son Who is of Him and through Him by Nature. For this reason does He call God specially His own Father, leading them most skilfully to this most excellent and precious lesson.

18 For this therefore did the Jews seek the more to kill Him, because He was not only breaking the sabbath, but saying also that God was His Father, making Himself Equal with God.

The mind of the Jews is wound up unto cruelty, and whereby they ought to have been healed, they are the more sick, that they may justly hear, How say ye, WE are wise? For when they ought to have been softened in disposition, transformed by suitable reasoning unto piety, they even devise slaughter against Him Who proves by His Deeds, that He hath in no whit transgressed the Divine Law by healing a man on the sabbath. They weave in with their wrath on account of the sabbath, the truth as a charge of blasphemy, snaring themselves in the meshes of |245 their own transgressions unto wrath indissoluble. For they seemed to be pious in their distress that He being a Man, should say that God was His Father. For they knew not yet that He Who was for our sakes made in the form of a servant, is God the Word, the Life gushing forth from God the Father, that is, the Only-Begotten, to Whom Alone God is rightly and truly inscribed and is Father, but to us by no means so: for we are adopted, mounting up to excellency above nature through the will of Him That honoured us, and gaining the title of gods and sons because of Christ That dwelleth in us through the Holy Ghost. Looking therefore to the Flesh alone, and not acknowledging God Who dwelleth in the Flesh, they endure not His springing up to measure beyond the nature of Man, through His saying that God was His Father (for in saying, My Father, He would with reason introduce this idea) but they deem that He Whose Father God properly is, must be by Nature Equal with Him, in this alone conceiving rightly: for so it is, and no otherwise. Since then the word introduces with it this meaning, they perverting the upright word of truth are more angry. |246

19 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Verily verily I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise.

What we have spoken of above, this again He interprets in another way, from all quarters snaring the hearers unto finding of the truth. For the word which was not received at first, by reason of the weakness of them that could not understand, He re-forms in another way, and going through the same thoughts introduceth it manifoldly. For this too is the work of the virtue that befits a teacher, namely not to make his word rapid and speeding beyond the knowledge of the pupils, but carefully wrought and diversely fashioned and that by frequent change of expression strips off the difficulties in the things under consideration. Mingling then human with Divine, and forming one discourse of both, He as it were gently sinks the honour befitting the Only-Begotten, and raises the nature of man; as being at once Lord and reckoned among servants, He says, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise. For in that He is able to do without distinction the works of God the Father and to work alike with Him That begat Him, He testifieth the identity of His Essence. For things which have the same nature with one another, will work alike: but those whose mode of being is diverse, their mode of working too will |247 be in all respects not the same. Therefore as Very God of Very God the Father, He says that He can do these things equally with Him; but that He may appear not only Equal in Power to the Father, but likeminded in all things, and having in all things the Will One with Him, He saith that He can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do.

Just as though He should say distinctly to those who aro trying to persecute Him for healing a man on the Sabbath day, Ye deem the honour of the Sabbath broken, but I would not have done this, had I not seen My Father do the like; for He worketh for the good order of the world on the Sabbath too, even though through Me. It is then impossible (saith He) that I, the Son of Him by Nature, should not wholly in all things work and will the works of the Father, not as though I received from without by being taught the exemplar of action, or were called by a deliberate motion to will the same with the Father, but by the laws of Uncreated Nature I mount up to Equal Counsel and Action with God the Father. For the being able to do nothing of Himself, is excellently well defined herein. And thus I deem that piously minded we ought to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, as it is written.

But perchance the opposer of the truth will disbelieve, and will make what is said the food so to say of his own ill counsel saying: “If the Son were Equal to the Father, attributing to Him no Preeminence as of necessity, by reason of the inferiority of His Own Nature, what induced Him so unconcealedly to say, that He could do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do? For clearly (saith he) does He herein confess that He can do nothing at all of Himself, as knowing Him that is the Better and superior to Himself. But do thou again refute our argument.”

What then is to be said to these things by us? Bold unto blasphemy is the enemy of Christ and drunken with folly he perceives it not. For one must, most excellent sir, |248 test accurately the force of what has been said, and not dash offhand to reasonings springing from unlearning. For to what kind of equality with the Father dost thou deem it right to bring down the Son, by reason of His saying that He can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do? Is it as not having Equality in Power that He says these things, although from the very passage under consideration one may see that the Son is Equal in Power with the Father, rather than inferior in God-befitting Might? For plainly He does not say, The Son can do nothing of Himself, except He receive Power of the Father (for this would be the part of one really weak) but, but what He seeth the Father do. But that by the sense of seeing, we are not usually called to be powerfnl, but to look at something, I suppose no one will dispute. The Son then in saying that He looketh on the works of His Father doth not shew Himself impotent, but rather a zealous Imitator, or Beholder: and how, shall be more accurately spoken of in what follows. But that through His exact and likest working, I mean in all things, He is shewn to have Equality in Power, Himself will clearly teach below, adding as of His Father, for what things soever He doeth, these (saith He) doeth also the Son likewise. How then is He inferior, Who is Eminent in equal workings with God the Father? for will the offspring of fire work ought different from fire, any change being seen in its work? how could it be so? How then will the Son work in like manner with the Father, if by reason of having inferiority He come short of equal Might with Him?

And these things were taken from the words at present under comment. But let us consider, going through other considerations also, whether the Nature of the Son admits any law of inferiority to that of the Father. Let the consideration of Power also be before us. Do they confess that the Son is God of God by Nature and verilyand of the actual Essence of the Father; or do they say indeed that He is God, but blasphemously add, that He is |249 outside of the Essence of the Father? If then they say that He is not of the Essence of the Father, He will neither be God by Nature, nor Very Son. For that which is not of God by nature, neither ought it at all to be conceived of as by nature God, nor yet Son if it be not begotten of the Essence of the Father, but they are bringing in privily to us some bastard and new god. If they do not say this, blushing at the absurdity that is in their own doctrines, but will grant that the Only-Begotten is truly of the Father, and is God by Nature and Verily: how will He be inferior to the Father, or how powerless to ought, and this not accuse the Essence of Him Who begat Him? For if it be possible that He Who is by Nature God should at all be impotent, what is to hinder the Father from being in the same case, if the Divine and Ineffable Nature once has the power of being so, and is already so manifested in the Son, according to their account? Hence then neither will the Divinity be Impassible, nor will It remain in sameness and Bliss wholly Unchangeable. But who (tell me) will endure them that hold such opinions? Who when the Scripture crieth aloud that the Son is the Lord of Hosts, will not shudder to say, that He must needs be strengthened, and is imperfect in that which of right is His alone with the Father and Holy Ghost?

But our opponent will say again, “We say, that the Father surpasses the Son in this. For the One is the First Beginner of works, as having Perfection both in Power and in the knowledge of all things: but the Son becomes first a spectator then a worker by receiving into Himself the imitation of the Father’s working, in order that through the similarity of works, He too might be thought to be God. For this He teacheth us, saying that He can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do.”

What art thou saying, thou all-daring? doth the Son receive into Himself the types of the Father’s Working, that thereby He may be thought to be God? By learning then will He be God, not by Nature. As in us is (it may |250 be) knowledge and art, so is in Him the Dignity, and He is rather an Artificer of the works of Deity than Very God: yet is He (I suppose) altogether other than the art that is in Him, though it be God-befitting. Him then that has passed forth of the boundaries of the Godhead, and has his glory in the art alone, how do angels in Heaven worship Him, we too worship without blame, albeit the Holy Scripture admonisheth us that we ought not to serve any apart from Him Who is truly God? for it says, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve. Yet the holy multitude of Angels in particular erred not from what is befitting, but they worship the Son and serve Him with us, acknowledging Him to be God by Nature, and not by learning, as those babbling say: for they perceive not (it seems) into how great absurdities they will thence fall. For in the first place the Son will admit change and variation as from the less to the greater, albeit Himself saith through the Prophet, Behold, behold I am, and change not. The Psalmist too will surely lie in the spirit, crying out to the Son, But Thou art the Same. For He awaiteth, as those say, the Father’s working at something, as a Guide and Teacher, that He may see and imitate. Then how will not such an one appear to mount up from ignorance of certain things unto knowledge thereof, and to turn from worse to better, if we reckon that knowledge of any thing-good is better than not knowing it?

Next, what additional absurdity is herein beheld? Let them tell us who introduce God as an Instructer rather than a Father, Doth the Son await the sight of His Father’s works in ignorance of them, or having most perfect knowledge of them? If then they say that He awaits though He knows them, they clearly shew that He is doing something very superfluous, and the Father practising a most idle thing: for the One, as though ignorant looks at what He knows perfectly, the Other attempts to teach One Who knows: and to whom is it not evident, that such things incur the charge of the extremest absurdity? But perchance they will not say this; but will go over to the |251 opposite alternative. For they will affirm that He awaiteth of necessity the Father working in order to learn by seeing. How then doth He know all things before they were? or how will He be true saying of Himself, Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Shall ought be hidden from Me? But how is it not absurd andunlearned to believe that the Spirit searcheth and knoweth the deep things of God, and to suppose that the Giver of the Spirit is in ignorance of the works of the Father and of His own Spirit, so as to come short in knowledge? For will not the Son at length lose His being Wisdom, if He be wholly ignorant and receive by learning? for He will be a recipient of wisdom, rather than Wisdom Itself by Nature. For wisdom is that which maketh wise, not that which is formed to become wise, just as light too is that which enlighteneth, not that which is formed to receive light. Therefore is He again other than the wisdom which is in Him, and in the first place He is not Simple, but compounded of two: next besides this, He will also lose the being God, I mean God by Nature and Essentially. For the Divine Nature endureth not the being taught by any at all, nor the duplication of composition, seeing It hath as Its Proper Good the being both Simple and All-Perfection. And if the Son be not God by Nature, how doth He both work and do things befitting God Alone? will they say that it suffices for Him unto God-befitting Power, only to see the Father working, and by the mere sight does He attain to being by Nature God, and to being able to do such things as He That sheweth Him doth? There is therefore nothing to hinder, but that many others too should be manifested to us as gods, if the Father be willing to shew them too the mode of His works, and the excellence of the Father’s Essence will consist in learning something over and above. For He that was taught (as those say) is found to have mounted up to the dignity of the God-head by Nature, saying, I and My Father are One, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.

Let them weigh then how great a crowd of blasphemies |252 is heaped up by them, from their choosing so to think, and let them think truly of the Son as it is written. For neither by contemplation of what is performed by the Father, nor yet by having Him as antecedent to Himself in actions, is the Son a Doer or Wonder-worker, and by reason hereof God: but because a certain law of Nature carries Him to the Exact Likeness of Him who begat Him, even though it shine forth and is manifested through the unceasing likeness of Their Works. But setting before us again, if you please, the verse, and testing it with more diligent scrutiny, let us consider accurately, what is the force of the words and let us now see how we must think with piety. Therefore,

Verily verily I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise.

Thou seest how through the exact likeness too in the works, He sheweth Himself like in all things to the Father, that thereby He may be shewn to be Heir of His Essence also. For in that He must of necessity and incontrovertibly be conceived of as being God by Nature, Who hath Equal working with God the Father, the Saviour says thus. But let no one be offended, when He says economical, that He can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do. For in that He was now arrayed in the form of the servant and made Man by being united to flesh, He did not make His discourse free, nor altogether let loose unto God-befitting boldness, but used rather at times by an economy such discourse as befits alike God and Man. For He was really both in the same.

And this is one true word, but I think one ought again to explain what is before us in another way too, and to apply more keenly to the accurate meaning of the passage. The Son (it says) can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do. The word cannot, or impossibility, is predicated of certain things, or is applied to certain of things that are. For this being predicated we |253 say is not indicative at all of necessity, nor of weakness; but often denotes the stability of natures and the immoveable condition of essences, in respect of what each thing mentioned either is or has been, and of what it can effect by nature and without change. But let our argument, if you please go through demonstration also. When for instance a man says that he cannot carry a piece of wood, immeasurable c perhaps and heavy, he predicates his innate weakness: but when another says, I being by nature a reasonable man, and born of a father by nature reasonable, cannot do anything my own and of myself, which I do not see belonging to the nature of my parent; the words “I cannot” express the stability of essence, and its inability to change into any thing but what it is. For (says he) I cannot of myself be not a reasonable creature, strengthened by increases accruing to me by nature: for I do not see the power of doing this in the nature of my father. In this way then you may hear Christ saying, The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do. For do not (saith He) blame the works of the Son: for He beholding, as in His Proper Thoughts or Natural Motions, the Essence of Him That begat Him; what things He seeth That Nature befittingly work, these He doeth and none other, not being able to suffer ought contrary to His Nature, by reason of His being of It. Thus, the Nature of the Father hath the Will to compassionate: the Son seeing this inherent therein, is Compassionate as being of Him by Nature, not being able to be Other than what It is. For He hath of the Father, as Essence, so the good things too of the Essence, simply that is and uncompound as God, therefore He wisely subjoins to the former words, For what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise: in these words collecting, so to say, the whole meaning of His being able to do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do. But by considering the cause why the Son says these things, you will apply your mind more accurately to the things spoken by us. |254

When then He on the sabbath day was compassionating the paralytic, the Jews began trying to persecute Him: but Christ shames them, shewing that Grod the Father hath mercy on the sabbath day. For He did not think He ought to hinder what things were tending to our salvation. And indeed He said at the beginning, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. But when they of their great ill-counsel shewed that they were vexed at these things, He subjoins again The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise. For since (saith He) the Father refuseth not to have mercy on the sabbath day, I, seeing that He is altogether full of compassion, am therefore Myself too wholly compassionate, not able to cut out anew in Myself the Essence of My Father, through not appearing and being such as He is by Nature. For I wholly work what is His, as being of Him.

But the saying that the Father is antecedent in the work9, is not free from the deepest unlearning. For how should He ever of Himself and alone begin, Who has the Son as the operative Power for all things, Eternally with Him, the Exponent of His Will as to ought and of His motion to operation in respect of ought. But if they uninstructedly assert that He awaits the SeparateOperation of the Father for each several work, in order to imitate equally, let them shew us that the Father wrought anything separately and of Himself, or what paralytic He having first healed, hath given the deed as a pattern to His Son.

20 For the Father loveth the Son

Those who were heedlessly blaspheming against Him by reason of the sabbath, Christ convicts of being foolishly exasperated to empty anger, making most clear proof of the matter by saying that He is loved by His Father. For if the Father wholly loveth the Son, it is plain that He loves Him not as grieving Him, but rather as gladdening Him in what He does and works. Vainly then do they |255 persecute Him Who refuseth not to shew mercy on the sabbath, and hereby again are they found opposing the decrees of God the Father. For they think they ought to hate Him Whom He loves, but it is altogether (I suppose) manifest, that He would never have loved Him if He had gone contrary to the Will of His Father, and been accustomed to do of Himself and Alone whatsoever Himself willed. But since He justly loves, He approves, it is plain, and agrees to the breaking of the sabbath, and shews that it has nothing in respect of which God the Lord of the Law might reasonably be angry.

and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth;

Needs does He subjoin this too to the preceding; and wherefore, I will say. Fathers who are among us, sometimes overcome by natural affection, bear with their sons grieving them, and seeing them attempt things against their judgment, they often suffer it. For vehement is the yearning love implanted in them in respect of their children persuading them to overcome all littleness of soultowards them. But not thus (saith He) does God the Father love the Son, for He cannot do anything which He too does not work by Nature, but as having One Essence with Him, He is called by certain Physical laws, so to say, to identical Will and Power. The Son then (saith He) worketh nothing contrary to what is pleasing or fitting to the Father, nor does He vaunt Himself in the love of the Father, as though a lover of novelty in His works and unbridled, but whatsoever things He sees Him doing, as in conception, all these He performeth restrained by Identity of Essence from falling aside in ought that is befitting God. For He hath no part with change in ought, or variableness: for He remaineth the Same unceasingly, as the Psalmist says. The Father again sheweth the Son what He Himself doeth, not as though setting before Him things depicted on a tablet, or teaching Him as though ignorant (for He knoweth all things as God): but depicting Himself wholly in the Nature of His Offspring, |256 and shewing in Him His Own Natural Properties in order that from what Properties Himself is and is manifested, He may know of what kind and Who He is by nature That begat Him. Therefore Christ says, that no man knoweth Who the Son is but the Father, and Who the Father is, but the Son. For the accurate knowledge of each is in Both, not by learning, but by Nature. And God the Father seeth the Son in Himself, the Son again seeth the Father in Himself. Therefore He saith, I am in the Father and, the Father in Me. But “to see” and “to be seen” must here be conceived of after a Divine sort.

And greater works than these will He shew Him, that YE may marvel.

Above the blessed Evangelist says, The Jews were seeking to kill Jesus, because He was not only breaking the sabbath, but saying also that God was His Father, making Himself Equal with God. He therefore put down the accusation respecting the sabbath, by shewing that the Father Himself worked on the sabbath day, and expending many words thereupon: and endeavours to teach them that He is in Equality with the Father, even when made Man for our sakes (for this was what the argument yet lacked), and therefore does He say And greater works than these will He shew Him that YE may marvel. And what again does He will to shew us hereby?

The paralytic (it says) has been healed, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. And marvellous indeed the Power of Him That healed him, God-befitting exceedingly the Authority. This so great Wonderworker, no one (I suppose) in his senses would blame for saying that He is God, and since He is Son, Equal in all things to Him That begat Him. But since ye (He says) imagining things most wicked and foolish, are offended because of this mortal Body, ye must needs learn that My Authority and Power stop not here: for ye shall be, even though ye will it not, spectators of greater wonders, to wit of the resurrection of the dead, and yet more shall ye be |257 astonished, seeing Power and Glory befitting God, in Me Whom now ye charge with blasphemy and are not ashamed to persecute, for merely saying, I am the Son of God.

But how God the Father shews His Works to the Son, we have already said at much length.

21 For as the Father raiseth the dead and quickeneth them, so the Son too quickeneth whom He will.

See again in these words clear proof of His Equality. For He That worketh equally in respect of the reviving of the dead, how can He have inferiority in ought? or how shall He be of another nature and alien to the Father Who is radiant with the Same Properties? For the Power of quickening, which is in the Father alike and the Son, is a Property of the Divine Essence. But the Father doth not again separately and of Himself quicken some, the Son some separately and apart: for the Son having in Himself by Nature the Father, the Father doth all things and worketh all things through the Son. But since the Father hath the Power of quickening in His Own Nature, as also Himself too, He attributes the Power of quickening the dead as though accruing to each separately. |258

22 For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.

He introduceth another God-befitting and marvellous thing, in many ways persuading them that He is God by Nature and Verily. For to what other would it befit to judge the world, save Him Alone Who is God over all. Whom too the Divine Scriptures call to this, saying in one place, Arise, O God, judge the earth, in another again, For God is the Judge, He putteth down one and setteth up another. But He says that judgment has been given Him by the Father, not as being without authority hereto, but economically as Man, teaching that all things are more suitably referred to the Divine Nature, whereto Himself too being not external, in that He is Word and God, hath inherently authority over all; but in that He is made Man, to whom it is said, What hast thou that thou didst not receive, He fittingly acknowledges that He received it.

To these things again one of our opponents will say, “Lo, the Son evidently declares that He hath received judgement of the Father; but He receives (it is plain) aa not having. How then will not He That gives with Authority be greater and of Superior Nature to Him Who must needs receive?”

What then do we say to these things? Our prearranged argument has been, I think, not unskilfully managed, introducing a consideration specially befitting the time, to wit of the Incarnation, and most accordant with the economy of the Flesh, when He was called a servant, when |259 He humbled Himself, made in our likeness. But since it seemeth good to thee haughtily to despise the simpler doctrines, and to make more critical examination of them, come then, opposing thy objections, let us first say, Not altogether, nor of necessity, sir, doth he that is said to give anything, impart it to the recipient as though he had it not, nor yet is the giver always greater than the receiver. For what wilt thou do, when thou seest the holy Psalmist saying in the Spirit, Give glory to God? Shall we consider that God is in need of glory, or that we who are commanded to offer Him this, are on this account greater than the Creator? But not even thou wilt dare to say this, who shunnest not the fear of blasphemies. For full of glory is the Godhead, even though It receive it not from us. For He who receives as honour, what He hath of Own, will never bo thought inferior to those who offer Him glory as a gift. One may often see that he who has received anything is not inferior to the giver, and that the Father is not therefore of Superior Nature to His offspring, because He hath committed to Him all judgment.

Next we must consider this too. To judge or to give judgment, are rather operations and acts conceived as properties of essences than themselves truly essences. For we in giving judgment do something, being in ourselveswhat we are. But if we grant that judging or giving judgment is of the nature of an essence, how must we not needs grant, even against our wills, that some cannot exist at all, except as judges, and that their being wholly ceases together with the termination of the judgment? But so to think, is most absurd. Judgment then is an operation, and nothing else. What then hath the Father committed to the Son? No accession from His Own Nature, in committing all judgment to Him, but rather an operation in respect of them that are judged. How then will He herein be greater, or of Superior Nature, by having added anything which was not in the Son Who saith, All things that the Father hath are Mine?

How then He must be conceived of as giving, hear now. |260

As God the Father, having the Power to create, createth all things through the Son, as through His own Power and Might: so having the Power too to judge, He will work this too through the Son, as His Own Righteousness. As though it were said that fire too yielded up burning to the operation that is of itself by nature, the fact taking this direction: so piously interpreting, Hath committed, shall we escape the snare of the devil. But if they persist in shamelessly asserting that glory is added to Him of the Father, through His being manifested Judge of the earth, let them teach us, how He is any longer to be considered Lord of glory, Who in the last times was crowned with the honours hereunto pertaining. |261

23 That all should honour the Son even as they honour the Father: he that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father Which sent Him.

A cause and reason of the things already enumerated, is now evident, viz., that the Son ought to be honoured in Equality and likeness with the Father. For recapitulating a little, and carried back to a recollection of the preceding, you will view accurately the force of the passage. He said then that God was His Father, making Himself Equal with God; then again He began shewing that He was of Equal strength and skill, saying, For what things soever He doeth, these doeth also the Son likewise. That He is both Life and Life-giving by Nature, as is He too Who begat Him, He shewed plainly, adding, For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, so the Son too quick-eneth whom He will. But that He will be also Judge of all, the Father in all things co-approving and consenting, He declared, saying, For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. What then is the cause of these things? what induced the Only-Begotten to say all this? That all men (He saith) should honour the Son even as they honour the Father. For if He hath all things whatever the Father hath, as far as appertains to God-befitting Dignity, how is it not fitting that He to Whom nothing is lacking to Identity of essence should be crowned with equal honours with Him? What then do they say to this too who pervert all equity, as saith the Prophet Isaiah? |262

“If (he says) by reason of its being said, That all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father, ye suppose that one ought to magnify the Son with equal honours with the Father, ye know not that ye are stepping far away from the truth. For the word As does not altogether introduce equality of acts, in respect of those things it is affixed to, but often marks out a kind of likeness, just as (he says) the Saviour counsels, saying, Be ye therefore merciful as your Father also which is in Heaven is merciful. Shall we then be as merciful as the Father, on account of the as? And again Christ says to His Father of His disciples: Thou hast loved them, AS Thou hast loved Me. But we will not grant that the disciples are loved just as the Son, on account of the as. Why then dost thou multiply words, and distort what is said into blasphemy, though it introduces no obligation on the hearers to honour the Son in equal measure with the Father?”

What then is our answer to these things? With bitter words do the fighters against God bay at us, but without are dogs, as Paul saith, without are evil workers, without the right faith are the concision. For we are sons of the truth and children of the light. Therefore we will glorify the Only-Begotten together with God the Father, not with any difference, but in equality of honour and glory, as God of God, and Light of Light, and Life of Life. And overmuch enquiry into what is to be received as faith, is not without hazard: nevertheless we must test the force of the As, lest our opponents be overwise in their own conceits. When therefore As is applied to things unlike in their nature, it does not wholly introduce absolute equality, but rather likeness and resemblance, as ye yourselves acknowledged above; but when it is applied to things in all respects like to one another, it shews equality in all things and similitude and whatever else is found to have the same force with these. Just as if I say, Bright is the sun in Heaven, bright too is silver which is of the earth, yet is the nature of the things mentioned diverse. Let |263 any of the rich, of the earth, be supposed to say to his household servants, Let the silver shine as the sun. In this case we very justly say that earthly matter attains not to equal brightness with the sun, but to a certain likeness and resemblance, although the word As be used of it. But let Peter and John (suppose) of the holy disciples be brought forward, who both in respect of nature and of piety towards God, fail not of an accurate likeness one to another, let the As be applied, some one saying of them, as here, Let John be honoured by all, even as Peter, will the As here be powerless, so that equal honour ought not to be paid to both? But I do not suppose that any one will say such a thing: for he will see that there is nothing to prevent it.

According to this analogy of idea, when the As is applied to the Father and the Son, why should we shrink from crowning Both with equal honours? For He having considered before, as God, things to come, and having carefully viewed the envious opposition of thine unlearning hath brought in the As, not bare and bereft of the aid befitting it, but having strengthened it beforehand with convenient proofs, and shewn afore that He is God by Nature (for He made God His Father): having again fore-shewn that He is both God the Creator and of a truth Life, and having before introduced Himself, altogether glorying (so to say) in the Attributes of God the Father,—-He afterwards seasonably subjoins That all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father too. Then what objection still appears, what is there to hinder, that He, in Whom are Essentially the Properties and excellencies of the Father, should attain to an equal degree of honour? for we shall be found honouring the very Nature of God the Father, full well beaming forth in the Son. Wherefore He proceeds, He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which sent Him. For the charge of dishonouring the Son, and the force of blasphemy against Him, will mount up unto none other more truly than the Father Himself, Who put forth the Son as it were from the |264 Fount of His Own Nature, even though He be seen throughout the whole Holy Scriptures as everlastingly with Him.

“Yea (saith the opponent) let the charge from dishonouring the Son go to whatsoever you please, or rather let it reach even unto God the Father Himself. For He will be angry, and that with reason, yet not wholly so, as though His Very Nature were insulted in the Son, according to our just now carefully finished argument, but since He is His Image and Impress, formed most excellently after His Divine and Ineffable Essence, He is with reason angry, and will wholly transfer the wrong to Himself. For it were indeed most absurd, that he who insulted the Divine Impresses, should not surely pay the penalty of his sin against the Archetype. Just as he who has in-suited the images of earthly kings, is punished as having indeed transgressed against the ruler himself. And in like manner shall we find it decreed by God in respect of ourselves also: for Whoso (saith He) sheddeth man’s blood, for his blood shall he be poured forth: because in the Image of God He made man. Seest thou then hereby very clearly (saith he) that if the Image be wronged, and not altogether the Divine Nature, God the Father deems it right to be angry? In this way then let that which is said by Christ be conceived of and adapted, He that honoureth not the Son, neither doth he honour the Father.”

Shall then the Only Begotten be classed with us as external to the Essence of the Father? how then will He yet be God by Nature, if He altogether slip out of the bounds of the Godhead, situate in some nature of his own and of other sort than that wherein the Father is? and we do wrong, it seems, in bringing into one count of Godhead, the order of the Holy Trinity. We ought, we ought at length to worship the Father as God, to impart some glory of Their Own to the Son and the Spirit, severing them as it were into different natures, and defining severally to Each the mode of His Existence. Yet do the Divine Scriptures |265 declare unto us One God, classing with the Father the Son and the Spirit, so that through Their Essential and exact sameness the Holy Trinity is brought unto one count of Godhead. The Only-Begotten is not then alien from the Nature of Him who begat Him, but neither will He be a whit conceived of as Son in truth, if He beamed not forth from the Essence of the Father (for this and no other is the definition and mode of true son ship in all) but if there be no Son, God’s being Father will be wholly taken away too. How then will Paul be true in saying of Him, Of Whom every family in Heaven and earth is named? For if He have not begotten of Himself in God-befitting manner the Son, how shall the beginning of Fatherhood be in Him, going through in imitation to those who are in Heaven and earth? But God is in truth Father: the Only-Begotten therefore is by Nature Son, and is of a surety within the bounds of the Divinity. For God will be begotten of God even as man (for example) of man, and the Nature of God the Father, Which transcends all things, will not err by bearing fruit not befitting It.

But since some blasphemously and foolishly say, that it is not the Nature of God the Father That is insulted in the Son, when He does not receive due honour from any, but that He is angry reasonably and rightly, at His Own Image being dishonoured in Him; we must ask them in what sense they would have the Son be and be called the Image of the Father. Yea rather let us forestalling their account, determine beforehand the Nature of the Image, according to legitimate reasoning: for so will the result of our enquiries be clear and more distinct. Therefore one and the first mode of image is that of sameness of nature in properties exactly alike, as Abel of Adam, or Isaac of Abraham: the second again is that consisting in likeness of impress, and accurate impression of form, as the King’s delineation in wood, or made in any other way, most excellently and skilfully, as respects him. Another image again is taken in respect of habits and manners, and conversation and inclination to either good or bad, as for instance |266 it may be said that the well-doer is like Paul, him that is not so like Cain (for the being equally good or bad, works likeness with either, and with reason confers it) Another form of image is, that of dignity and honour and glory and excellence, as when one for instance succeeds another in a command, and does all things with the authority which belongs to and becomes him. An image in another sense, is in respect of any either quality or quantity of a thing, and its outline and proportion: for we must speak briefly.

Let then the most critical investigators of the Divine Image teach us, whether they think one ought to attribute to the Only-Begotten the Essential and Natural Likeness, and thus say that the Only-Begotten Word proceeding from the Father is an Image of Him in the same sense as Abel is of Adam, who retained in himself the whole nature of his parent, and bore the count of human nature all-complete? or will they be vexed at this, compelled to confess the Son truly God of God by Nature, and turning aside according to their custom to fight against the truth, advance to the second kind of image, which is conceived to exist in mere form, impress and outline? But I suppose they will shrink from saying this. For no one, even if he be a very prater, will suppose that the Godhead can be estimated in respect of size, or circumscribed by outline, or meted by impress, or that the Unembodied will wholly undergo what belongs to bodies. Do they say then that He is conformed to Him in respect of manners and habits and will, and are they not ashamed to dress Him in this image? for how is He yet to be conceived of as God by Nature, Who has Likeness to Him in will only, but has another Being separately of Himself? For they will surely acknowledge that He subsists. Then what is there in Him more than in the creature? For shall we not believe that the angels themselves hasten to perform the |267 Divine Will, who are by nature other than God? But what, when this is conceived of as belonging to us too? for does not the Only-Begotten teach us foolishly to jump at things above our nature, and to aim at impossibilities, saying, Be ye merciful, as your Father also which is in Heaven is merciful? For this were undoubtedly to say that we ought to gain the likeness of the Father by identity of will. And Paul too was an imitator of Christ, of the (as they babbling say) Image of the Father in will only. But they will shift their ground (I suppose) from these miserable conceptions, and as though thinking something greater and better, will surely say this, “The Only-Begotten is the Image of God the Father, in respect of identity of will, in respect of God-befitting Dignity and Glory and Power, in respect of Operation in creation and working miracles, in respect of reigning and ruling over all, in respect of judging and being worshipped by angels and men and in short by all creation. By all these He shewing us the Father in Himself, says that He is not of His Person, but is the Impress of His Person.” Therefore as we said just now, the Son is none of these by nature, but is altogether separate from all of them according at least to your most foolish reasoning, and is neither Very God, nor Son, nor King, nor Lord, nor Creator, nor Mighty, nor in respect of His own “Will is He by Nature Good: but in boasts solely and only of what is God-befitting is He seen. And as is the application of tints to paintings on tablets, beautifying them by the variety to the eye, but having nothing true: so as to the Son too, the beauty of the Excellencies of God the Father decks Him around with bare names only, but is as it were applied from without like certain tints: yea rather the Divine Nature is outlined in Him, and appears in bare type.

Next, how will ye not be shewn to be fighting outright with all the holy Scriptures, that ye may with justice hear, Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, YE are always resisting the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do YE too, for when do they not call the Son Very God, or |268 when do they bear Him forth from the Essence of His Father? which of them has dared to say that He is by Nature neither Creator nor King nor Almighty nor to be worshipped? For the Divine Psalmist says as to the Only-Begotten Himself, Thy Throne, O God, is for ever and ever: Thomas again the most wise disciple in like wise calls Him God alike and Lord. He is called Almighty and Creator by every voice of saint, and as having not according to you the Dignity from without, but as being by Nature what He is said to be, and therefore is He worshipped both by the holy Angels and by us, albeit the Divine Scripture says that we ought to worship none other, save the Lord God Alone.

If then they hold that the God-befitting Dignity in Him is acquired and given, and think that they ought to worship such an one, let them know that they are worshipping the creature rather than the Creator, and making out to themselves a new and fresh God, rather than acknowledging Him Who is really so by Nature. But if while they say that the Son is external to the Essence of God the Father, they yet acknowledge Him to be Son and Very God and King and Lord and Creator, and to have Essentially in Himself the Properties and Excellencies of the Father, let them see whither there is risk that the end of those who thus think will be. For nothing at all will be found of sure faith in the Divine Nature, since the nature of things originate also is now capable of being whatever It is conceived to be. For it has been proved according to the most feeble reasoning of our opponents, that the Only-Begotten not being of the Divine Nature, hath yet truly in Himself Its Excellencies. Who will not shudder at the mere hearing the blasphemy of the doctrines? For all things are now overturned, when the Nature That is above all things descendeth so as to be classed with things originate, and the creation itself contrary to reason springs up to the measure above it, and not designed for it.

Therefore let us swimming away from the absurdity of such doctrines, as from a ship sinking in the sea, hasten to |269 the Truth, as to a secure and unruffled haven, and let us ackowledge the Son to be the Image of God the Father, not plaistered over so to say with perishable honours, nor adorned merely with God-befitting titles, but Essentially Exact according to the likeness of His Father, and unalterably being by Nature That which He That begat Him is conceived to be, to wit Very God of God in truth, Almighty, Creator, Glorified, Good, to be worshipped, and whatever may be added to the things enumerated as befitting God. For then shewing Him to be Like in all things to God the Father, we shall also shew Him true, in saying that if any will not honour the Son, neither doth he honour the Father Which hath sent Him: for as to this our enquiry and the test of the things just now investigated had its origin.

24 Verily verily I say unto you, he that heareth My Word and believeth on Him That sent Me, hath everlasting Life, and cometh not into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.

Having now proved sufficiently by the foregoing, that the miserable Jews sin not against the Son only, by daring to find fault with the things which He says or does among them in His teaching, but do also ignorantly transgress against the Father Himself, and having as far as pertains to the force of what has been said, wrapped about their over-confidence with fear, and persuaded them to live more religiously in hope of things to come, He at length snares them to obedience. And not unskilfully again did He frame His speech to this end. For since He knew that the Jews were still diseased, and yet offended concerning Him, He again brings back their faith to the Person of God the Father, not as excluding Himself, but as honoured in the Father too by reason of Identity of Essence. For He affirms that they who believe shall not only be partakers of eternal life, but also shall escape the peril of the condemnation, being justified, that is: holding forth fear mixed with hope. For thus could He make His discourse more efficacious and more demonstrative to the hearers. |270

25 Verily verily I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.

Having said that believers shall pass from death to life, He introduces Himself as Performer of the promise, and Accomplisher of the whole thing, partly hinting to the Jews, that marvellous in truth is the Power shewn in the case of the paralytic, but that the Son will be revealed as a Worker of things yet more glorious, driving away from the bodies of men not only sickness and the infirmities of diseases, but also overthrowing death and the heavily-pressing corruption (for this was what was said a little before, The Father loveth the Son and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth and greater works than these will He shew Him, that YE may marvel; for the greater wonder is shewn in the raising of the dead), partly also preparing the way for that which would probably in no slight degree affright the hearers. For He plainly declares that He will raise the dead, and will bring the creature to judgment, that through the expectation of one day being brought before Him and giving account of everything, they might be found more backward in their daring to persecute Him, and might receive more zealously the word of teaching and guidance.

To these things then the aim of the chapter looks and tends: but we must now explain the words. The common account then is (as it seems) that the time will come, when the dead shall hear the Voice of Him That raiseth them: and they suppose that it is now too no less present, either as when Lazarus for instance is to hear the Voice of the Saviour, or as saying that the dead are those not yet called through faith unto eternal life, who will surely attain unto it, by having received the doctrine of the Saviour. And this method of considering it does indeed preserve a plausible appearance, but accuracy not at all. Wherefore ruminating again the force of the words, we will affix a more suitable sense, and thus open the reading: |271

Verily verily I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the Voice of the Son of God; the hour again that is, when they that hear shall live. By the words then in the beginning, He means the time of the resurrection, wherein He teaches through the word of the Judge that they that sleep shall rise again to answer for their life in the world, that as I said before, devising the fear thence arising as a bridle, He might persuade them to live full excellently and wisely: by the closing words He shews that the due time of believing is now come, but also says that everlasting life will be the reward of obedience: all but declaring, Ye shall all come to judgement, sirs, that is at the time of the Resurrection, but if it seem bitter to you to be punished, and to undergo endless penalties at the hand of the offended Judge, suffer not the time of obedience to pass by, but laying hold of it while yet present, haste ye to attain to everlasting life.

26, 27 For as the Father hath life in Himself, so gave He to the Son too to have life in Himself, and gave Him authority to execute judgment also because He is the Son of Man.

Observe again the economy in these words, that thou mayest marvel at the form of expression and not, by falling into offence thereat from ignorance, bring upon thyself perdition. For the Only-Begotten, being Man in respect of the nature of His Body, and seen as one of us while yet upon the earth with flesh, manifoldly instructing the Jews in matters pertaining to salvation, clothed Himself with the glory of two God-befitting things. For He clearly affirmed, that He would both raise the dead, and set them at His Judgement-seat to be judged. But it was extremely likely that the hearers would be vexed at this, accusing Him with reason, because He said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Having mingled therefore with God-befitting Authority and Splendour language befitting the human nature, He beguiles the weight of their wrath, saying more modestly and lowlily |272 than was necessary, For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son too to have life in Himself. Marvel not (saith He) if I, Who am now as you, and am seen as a Man, promise to raise the dead, and threaten to bring them to judgement: the Father hath given Me Power to quicken, He hath given Me to judge with authority. But when He had hereby healed the readily-slipping ear of the Jews, He bestows zealous care for the profit too of what follows, and immediately explaining why He says that He hath received it, He alleges that human nature hath nothing of itself, saying, Because He is the Son of Man.

For that the Only Begotten is also Life by Nature, and not a partaker of life from another, and so quickeneth as doth the Father, I think it superfluous to say now, since no small discourse was expended hereupon in the beginning of the book, upon the words, In Him was Life.

28, 29 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His Voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of doom.

He signifies by these words the time of the resurrection of all, when, as the Divine Paul wrote to us, The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a summons, with the voice of the Archangel, with the trump of God, to judge the world in righteousness, and render to every man according to his works. He leads therefore by repetition of the same things the most unlearned understanding of the Jews,to be able clearly to understand, that He will be a Worker of greater deeds than those in which the paralytic was concerned, and that He will be revealed as a Judge of the world: and by profitably contrasting the healing of one sick person with the resurrection of the dead, He shews that greater and more noteworthy is the operation that undoes death and destroys the corruption of all, and reasonably and of necessity says, in respect of the lesser |273 miracle, Marvel not at this. And let us not at all suppose that by these words He means to find fault with the glory of His own works, or to enjoin the hearers that they ought not to hold worthy of wonder, those things whereat one may reasonably wonder, but He wishes those who were astonished at that to know and believe that the subject of wonder as yet was small. For He raiseth by a word and God-befitting Operation not only the sick from little diseases, but those also who have been already submerged by death and overcome by invincible corruption. And hence introducing the greater, He says, The hour is coming in which all that are in their graves shall hear His Voice. For He who by a Word brought into being things that were not, how should He not be able to win back into being that which was already created? For thus each will be the effect of the same Operation, and the glorious production of one Authority. And profitably does He subjoin that they shall come forth of their graves, they that were holden of base deeds and that lived in wickedness to undergo endless punishment, the illustrious in virtue to receive the reward of their religiousness, eternal life: at once (as we said above) introducing Himself as the Dispenser of what belongs to each, in these words of His; and persuading them, either from fear of suffering dreadful punishments, to forego evil and to hasten to elect to live more soberly, or pricked with desire after some sort for eternal life, make more zealous and eager haste after good. |274

30 I can of Mine Own Self do nothing: as I hear, I judge, and My Judgment is just, because 1 seek not Mine Own Will, but the Will of the Father Which sent Me.

Give more exact heed again to the things said, and receive the force of its thought with intelligence. For the Jews not knowing the deep Mystery of the economy of flesh, nor yet acknowledging the Word of God indwelling in the Temple of the Virgin, were often excited by zeal, mistaken and not according to knowledge, as Paul saith, to savageness of manners and fierce anger: and indeed were attempting to stone Him, for that He, being a Man, was making Himself God, and again because He said that God was His Father, making Himself Equal with God. But since they were thus hard of understanding and utterly unable to endure God-befitting words, but both thought and spake meanly of Him, the Saviour by an economy acts the child with them, and made His explanation a mixed one, neither wholly foregoing words befitting God, nor altogether rejecting human language: but having said something worthy of His Divine Authority, He forthwith represses the untutored mind of the hearers, by bringing in something human also; and again having said something human by reason of the economy, He suffers not what belongs to Him to be seen in mean estate only, shewing often by His Superhuman Might and Words that He is by Nature God. Some such contrivance will you find now too in the passage at present before us. For what did He say before? For as the Father raiseth up the dead |275 and quickeneth them, so the Son too quickeneth whom He will, next again, For the hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear His Voice; and besides, that they shall also come forth to be judged and to receive their reward according to their works. But He That saith He can quicken whom He will, and in like manner as the Father: how shall He not be conceived of as clothed with Might befitting God? He Who openly says that He will be Judge of all, how shall He not with justice terrify those who deem that He is yet bare Man? For it was like that they being Hebrews and instructed in the Sacred Writings, should not be entirely ignorant that God should be Judge of the world, since they too sang often, Arise, O God, judge the earth, and again, For God is the Judge.

Since then He knew that the ignorant people of the Jews were vexed at these things, He rids them of their accustomed anger by saying in more human language, I can of Mine Own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge. As far then as one can say, taking the words superficially, He derides the understanding of the Jews. For the form of expression gives the idea of a sort of weakness, and of authority not altogether free; but it is not so in truth, since the Son being Equal in all things to the Father, hath by Nature the same Operation and Authority in respect to all things. But He saith that He can do nothing of Himself, but as He heareth, so He judgeth: in another way again shewing Himself Equal in Mind and Power to God the Father.

For neither will the Father be conceived of as doing anything without the Son, Alone and by Himself, seeing He hath Him as His Might and Power (therefore all things were made by Him, and without Him was not made any one thing) nor will the Son again do ought of Himself, the Father not co-with Him. Therefore He saith also, Of Myself I do nothing; but the Father That dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works. And we shall not suppose that the Son is strengthened by the Father, as though weak, and again that authority over all things is given Him: for then |276 would He be no longer God by Nature, as having the glory of the Godhead bestowed; but neither would the Father Himself still exist in unimpaired excellency of good things, if He had the Word, the Impress of His Nature, such as to require Power and Authority from another. For a giver of the things spoken of will be sought for analogously for the Image and Archetype, and thus in short our argument will go forth into boundless controversy, and will run out into the deep sea of blasphemy. But since the Son being of the Essence of the Father takes to Himself by Nature all the Properties of Him who begat Him, and Essentially attains to one Godhead with Him, by reason of Identity of Nature, He is in the Father, and hath again the Father in Himself: wherefore He frequently, Unblamed and Truly, attributes to the Father the Power of His Own Works, not excluding Himself from the power of doing them but attributing all things to the Operation of the One Godhead: for One is the Godhead in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

And that the Son is not inferior to the Father either in Power or Operation unto ought, but is Like in all things and of Equal Might, has been demonstrated by us elsewhere, on the words, The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these doeth the Son too likewise. But since I think it just and becoming, to display the most devoted zeal in Divine doctrines; come let us after the custom of sailors on the sea wind back anew (as a cable) the whole argument of the chapter. For in this way one may see, that the Son does not accuse His Own Nature by saying that He can do nothing of Himself, but rather exposes the folly of the Jews, and plainly shews that they trample on the law of Moses. For in that to the words, I can do nothing of Myself, is immediately subjoined, As I hear, I judge, it frees the Son from all reproach of not being able to act of His Own Power: rather it shews clearly that He is in all things Filial and Consentient with Him Who begat Him. For if as though impotent He were borrowing His |277 Power of the Father, as not having sufficient of Himself: how ought He not rather to say, I can of Mine Own Self do nothing, I receive the power of my Father? But now as He does not say this, but rather adds to the being able to do nothing of Himself, that He so judges as He hears, it is evident that not in respect of weakness of operation as to ought, does He put that He cannot, but by reason of impossibility of transgressing in anything the Will of the Father. For since One Godhead is conceived of in the Father and the Son, the Will too (I suppose) will be surely the Same; and neither in the Father, nor yet in the Son or the Holy Ghost will the Divine Nature be conceived of as at variance with Itself; but whatsoever seemeth good to the Father (for example), this is the Will of the Whole Godhead.

Needs therefore does the Son introduce Himself as co-approving and consenting to the Father in whatever seemeth good to Him, explaining that He cannot do anything which is not altogether according to the Mind of the Father, for this is the meaning of Of Myself . Just as if He should say that He cannot commit sin, He would not rightly seem to any to incur the charge of weakness, but rather to set forth a wondrous and God-befitting Property of His Own Nature (for He gives to understand that He is Immoveable and Unchangeable): so when He acknowledges that He can do nothing of Himself, we shall rather be awestruck as seeing Unchangeableness the fruit of the Unchangeable Nature, than unseasonably account the not being able to be a mark of weakness.

Let these things be said by us conformably to our own ability, and let the lover of learning search out for better: but we will not shrink from interpreting the saying in another way too, lowering our manner of speech a little from the bounds of the Godhead and the Excellence of the Only-Begotten: and since the Son truly was and was called Man, translating the force of the passage to the economy with Flesh, and shewing that what follows is akin and connected with what preceded. Therefore He clearly testified |278 that all that are in the graves shall hear His Voice, and that they shall come forth to be judged. When He has once begun on the subject of His judging the world, He not only promises to be a righteous Judge at that time, in which He says the Resurrection of the dead will take place, but also declares that even now He judges rightly and justly of matters in this life. What was the question and of what the discourse, hear. For our sakes was He born of a woman: for as Paul saith, He taketh not hold of angels, but of the seed of Abraham, wherefore it behoved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren. But since He was made Man and in servant’s form, He the Law-giver as God and Lord is made under the Law also. He speaks then sometimes as under the Law, sometimes again as above the Law, and hath undisputed authority for both. But He is discoursing now with the Jews as Law-keeper and Man, as not able to transgress the commands ordered from above, nor venturing to do ought of His Own Mind, which does not agree with the Divine Law. Wherefore He says, I can of Mine own self do nothing; as I hear, I judge. By testifying to Himself that He can do nothing of Himself, which is not wholly in accordance with the Law, and that He judges and gives sentence in matters, according as He hears, to wit by declaration of the Law, He exposes the unbelief of the Jews, and lays bare their headstrong habit. For this too the words I can of Mine own self do nothing, well hint at, as contrasting with, YE recklessly transgress the commandments given you, ye were bold to do all things of yourselves, fearlessly, and in every matter are ye zealous to give judgments not consonant to the Divine decrees. For ye teach for doctrines the commandments of men, and make your own will a law.

What then is the aim of this way of speaking, or how He introduces Himself as judging justly, and they not, shall be told next. He had healed the paralytic on the Sabbath day, He compassionated a man who had spent long time in sickness, shewing forth right and good judgment upon him. For it was right to pity the sick man |279 even on the sabbath day, and by no means to shut up His compassion from reverence for the sabbath day, practising a most vain piety. As the Father too works even on the sabbath day in regard of His economy towards His creatures, and that surely through the Son, so doth Himself also. For neither did He think that a man who needed compassion on the sabbath day ought to be deprived of it, by reason of the Sabbath, since He knew that the Son of Man was Lord of the sabbath. For not man was made for the sabbath, but the sabbath for man. Therefore righteous herein and good is the judgment of the Saviour, not restraining by reason of the sabbath His Loving-Kindness to the prostrate, but that which as God He knows how to perform (for the Divine Nature is the Fountain of Goodness), this He did even on the sabbath day: but the judgment of the Jews upon Him in that they were vexed on account of the sabbath, and therefore desired to kill Him Who had done them no wrong, how is not this exceedingly dissonant to the Divine Laws (for it is written, The innocent and righteous slay thou not) and the invention rather of their cruelty, and not of the holy Scriptures?

Understand then that Jesus says with a kind of emphasis to those who were angry at His deeds of good and found fault with His holy judgments, following only their own imaginations, and so to speak defining as law that which seemed to them to be right even though it be contrary to the Law:—- I can of Mine Own Self do nothing, i. e., I do all things according to the Law set forth by Moses, I endure not to do anything of Myself, as I hear, I judge. For what willeth the Law? Ye shall not respect persons in judgment, for the judgment is God’s. why then (saith He) are ye angry at Me because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day, and condemn not Moses who decreed that children should be circumcised even on the sabbath. Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the Law of Moses should |280 not be broken, thus without due cause are ye vexed at seeing a man every whit healed on the sabbath day? I therefore judged justly, but ye by no means so, for ye do all things of yourselves. But I can of Mine Own Self do nothing; as I hear, I judge, and My Judgment is just, because I seek not Mine Own Will, as ye do, but the Will of the Father Which sent Me.

What manner of sending this is, and the mode of the being sent, we having before spoken of at length, will refrain from speaking any more thereof. But we must observe for profit’s sake that He says that the Law is the Will of God the Father. (source)

2 Responses to “St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John 5:17-30”

  1. […] St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel Reading (5:17-30). […]

  2. […] St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Today’s Gospel Reading (5:17-30). […]

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