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 17:20-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 7, 2013

20, 21    Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.

Christ is, as it were, the Firstfruits of those who are built up into newness of life, and Himself the first heavenly Man. For, as Paul says: The second Adam, is the Lord from heaven. Therefore also John wrote: And no man hath ascended into heaven, but He That descended out of heaven, even the Son of man. And in close connexion with Him, the Firstfruits, yea, and far nearer unto Him than others, were those who were chosen to be disciples, and who held the rank of His followers; who also with their own eyes beheld His glory, ever attending upon Him, and in converse with Him, and gathering in, as it were, the firstfruits of His succour into their hearts. They were then, and are after Him, Who is far above all others, the Head of the body, the Church, the precious and more estimable members thereof. Furthermore, He prays that on them the blessing and sanctification of the Spirit may be sent down from His Father, but through Him wholly; for it could not be otherwise, since He is the living, and true, and active, and |545 all-performing wisdom and power of Him That begat Him. But that none of those, who are not well-practised attentively to hearken to the inspired writings, might thoughtlessly imagine that upon the disciples only He prayed that the Spirit of God might come down, and that He did not pray for us, who clearly follow after them, and live in an early age of Christianity, the Mediator between God and man, the Advocate and High Priest of our souls, is induced, with a view to check beforehand the foolish imaginations of such men, to add this passage to what He had said, namely: Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on Me through their word. For it would have been in a manner absurd, that the sentence of condemnation should fall upon all men through one man, who was the first, I mean Adam; and that those who had not sinned at that time, that is, at which the founder of our race transgressed the commandment given unto him, should wear the dishonourable image of the earthy; and yet that when Christ came among us, Who was the Man from heaven, those who were called through Him to righteousness, the righteousness of course that is through faith, should not all be moulded into His Image. And, just as we say that the unlovely image of the earthy is seen in types, and in a form bearing the defilement of sin, and the weakness of death and corruption, and the impurity of fleshly lusts and worldly thoughts; so also, on the other hand, we think that the Image of the heavenly, that is, Christ, shines forth in purity and sincerity, and perfect incorruption, and life, and sanctification. It was, perhaps, impossible for us who had once fallen away through the original transgression to be restored to our pristine glory, except we obtained an ineffable communion and unity with God; for the nature of men upon the earth was ordered at the beginning. And no man can attain to union with God, save by communion with the Holy Spirit, Who implants in us the sanctification of His own Person, and moulds |546 anew into His own life the nature which was subject to corruption, and so brings back to God and to His Likeness that which was bereft of the glory that this confers. And the Son is the express Image of the Father, and His Spirit is the natural Likeness of the Son. For this cause, moulding anew, as it were, into Himself the souls of men, He stamps them with the Likeness of God, and seals them with the Image of the Most High.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, prays not for the twelve Apostles alone, but rather for all who were destined in every age to yield to and obey the words that exhort those who hear to receive that sanctification that is through faith, and to that purification which is accomplished in them through partaking of the Spirit. And He thought it not right to leave us in doubt about the objects of His prayer, that we might learn hereby what manner of men we ought to show ourselves, and what path of righteousness we ought to tread, to accomplish those things which are well-pleasing to Him. What, then, is the manner of His prayer? That, He says, they may be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us. He asks, then, for a bond of love, and concord, and peace, to bring into spiritual unity those who believe; so that their unitedness, through perfect sympathy and inseparable harmony of soul, might resemble the features of the natural and essential unity that exists between the Father and the Son. But the bond of the love that is in us, and the power of concord, will not of itself altogether avail to keep them in the same unchangeable state of union as exists between the Father and the Son, Who preserve the manner of Their union in identity of Substance. For the one is, in fact, natural and actual, and is seen in the very definition of the existence of God; while the other only assumes the appearance of the unity which is actual. For how can the imitation be wholly like |547 the reality? For the semblance of truth is not the same in conception with truth itself, but presents a similar appearance, and will not differ from it so long as there does not occur an occasion of distinction.

Whenever, then, a heretic, imagining that he can upset the doctrine of the natural identity and consequent unity of the Son with God the Father, and then, to demonstrate and establish his crazy theory, brings forward our own case, and says, “Just as we are not all one by reason of actual physical identity, nor yet by the fusion of our souls together, but in temper and disposition to love God, and in a united and sympathetic purpose to accomplish His Will, so also the Son is One with the Father,” we shall then reject him wholly, as guilty of great ignorance and folly. And for what reason? Because things superhuman do not entirely follow the analogy of ourselves; nor can that which has no body be subject to the laws to which bodies are subject; nor do things Divine resemble things human. For if there were nothing at all to separate or create a distinction between us and God, we might then apply the analogy of our own case to the things which concern God; but if we find the interval betwixt us to be something we cannot fathom, why do men set up the attributes of our own nature as a rule and standard for God, conceiving of that Nature Which is not bound by any law in the light of our own weaknesses, and so suffer themselves to be guilty of doing a thing which is most irrational and absurd? In so doing, they are constructing the reality from the shadow, and the truth from that which is conformed to its image; giving the second place of honour to that which has of right the first, and inferring their conception of that which is first from that which is second to it.

But that we may not seem to dwell too long on the discussion of this subject, and so to be straying away from the text, we must once more repeat the assertion, that when Christ brings forward the essential unity |548 which the Father has with Himself, and Himself also with the Father, as an Image and Type of the inseparable fellowship, and concord, and unity that exists in kindred souls, He desires us in some sort to be blended with one another in the power that is of the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity; so that the whole body of the Church may be in fact one, ascending in Christ through the fusion and concurrence of two peoples into one perfect whole. For as Paul says: For He is our peace, Who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in His Flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that He might create in Himself of the twain one New Man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one Body unto God through the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby. And this was, in fact, accomplished; those who believed on Christ being of one soul one with another, and receiving, as it were, one heart, through their complete resemblance in piety towards God, and their obedience in believing, and aspirations after virtue. And I think that what I have said is not wide of the mark, but is rather requisite and necessary. But, as the meaning of the passage compels us, leaving this subject, to enter upon a more profound inquiry, and our Saviour’s words especially incite us thereto: Even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us, we must attentively consider what explanation we must here give. For in what has gone before we rightly maintained that the union of believers, in concord of heart and soul, ought to resemble the manner of the Divine unity, and the essential identity of the Holy Trinity, and Their intimate connexion with Each Other; but in this place we are now desirous of pointing out a sort of natural unity by which we are joined into each other, and all of us to God, not altogether falling short of a kind of physical unity, I mean with each other, even though we are distinguished by having different bodies, each one of us, as it were, retiring to his own personal environment and |549 individuality. For Peter cannot be Paul, or be spoken of as such; or again, Paul as Peter, even though both be in fact one, after the manner of their union through Christ. Taking for granted, then, the physical unity that exists between the Father and the Son, and also of course the Holy Spirit (for we believe and glorify One Godhead in the Holy Trinity), let us further inquire in what manner we are proved to be one with each other and with God, both in a corporeal and a spiritual sense. The Only-begotten, then, proceeding from the very Substance of God the Father, and having entirely in His own Nature Him That begat Him, became Flesh according to the Scripture, blending Himself, as it were, with our nature by an unspeakable combination and union with this body that is earthy; and thus He That is God by Nature became, and is in truth, a Man from heaven; not inspired merely, as some of those who do not rightly understand the depth of the mystery imagine, but being at the same time God and Man, in order that, uniting as it were in Himself things widely opposed by nature, and averse to fusion with each other, He might enable man to share and partake of the Nature of God. For even unto us has reached the fellowship and abiding Presence of the Spirit, which originated through Christ and in Christ first, when He is in fact become even as we are, that is, a Man, receiving unction and sanctification, though He is by Nature God, insomuch as He proceeded from the Father Himself, sanctifying with His own Spirit the temple of His Body as well as all the creation that to Him owes its being, and to which sanctification is suitable. The mystery, then, that is in Christ is become, as it were, a beginning and a way whereby we may partake of the Holy Spirit and union with God; for in Him are we all sanctified, after the manner I have just indicated.

In order, then, that we ourselves also may join together, and be blended into unity with God and with each other, although, through the actual difference which exists in |550 each one of us, we have a distinct individuality of soul and body, the Only-begotten has contrived a means which His own due Wisdom and the Counsel of the Father have sought out. For by one Body, that is, His own, blessing through the mystery of the Eucharist those who believe on Him, He makes us of the same Body with Himself and with each other. For who could sunder or divide from their natural union with one another those who are knit together through His holy Body, Which is one in union with Christ? For if we all partake of the one Bread, we are all made one Body; for Christ cannot suffer severance. Therefore also the Church is become Christ’s Body, and we are also individually His members, according to the wisdom of Paul. For we, being all of us united to Christ through His holy Body, inasmuch as we have received Him Who is one and indivisible in our own bodies, owe the service of our members to Him rather than to ourselves. And that, while Christ is accounted the Head, the Church is called the rest of the Body, as joined together of Christian members, Paul will prove to us by the words: That we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but, speaking truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him, Which is the Head, even Christ; from Whom all the Body, fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several member, maketh the increase of the Body unto the building up of itself in love. And that those who partake of His holy Flesh do gain therefrom this actual physical unity, I mean with Christ, Paul once more bears witness, when he says, with reference to the mystery of godliness: Which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto His holy Apostles and Prophets in the Spirit; to wit, that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ. And if we |551 are all of us of the same Body with one another in Christ, and not only with one another, but also of course with Him Who is in us through His Flesh, are we not then all of us clearly one both with one another and with Christ? For Christ is the bond of union, being at once God and Man. With reference, then, to the unity that is by the Spirit, following in the same track of inquiry, we say once more, that we all, receiving one and the same Spirit, I mean the Holy Spirit, are in some sort blended together with one another and with God. For if, we being many, Christ, Who is the Spirit of the Father and His own Spirit, dwells in each one of us severally, still is the Spirit one and indivisible, binding together the dissevered spirits of the individualities of one and all of us, as we have a separate being, in His own natural singleness into unity, causing us all to be shown forth in Him, through Himself, and as one. For as the power of His holy Flesh maketh those in whom It exists to be of the same Body, so likewise also the indivisible Spirit of God That abideth in all, being one, bindeth all together into spiritual unity. Therefore also the inspired Paul thus addressed us: Forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one Body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is over all, and through all, and in all. For while the Spirit, Which is One, abideth in us, the One God and Father of all will be in us, binding together into unity with each other and with Himself whatsoever partaketh of the Spirit. And that we are made one with the Holy Spirit through partaking of It, will be made manifest hereby. For if, giving up the natural life, we have surrendered ourselves wholly to the laws of the Spirit, is it not henceforth beyond question, that by denying, as it were, our own lives, and taking upon ourselves the transcendent Likeness of the Holy Spirit, Who is joined unto us, we are well-nigh |552 transformed into another nature, so to say, and are become no longer mere men, but also sons of God, and heavenly men, through having been proved partakers of the Divine Nature? We are all, therefore, one in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; one, I mean, both in identity of mental condition (for I think we ought not to forget what we said at first), and also in conformity to the life of righteousness, and in the fellowship of the holy Body of Christ, and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, Which is One, as we just now said. |553

22, 23 And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as We are One: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and lovedst them, even as Thou lovedst Me.

We say, and therein we are justified, that the Only-begotten hath an essential and natural unity with His Father, insomuch as He was both in the true sense begotten, and from Him proceeds, and is in Him: and though He seem in His own Person to have a separate and distinct Being, yet that He is accounted, by reason of His innate identity of Substance, as One with the Father. But since, in His Incarnation, on our behalf, in order to save our souls, He abdicated, as it were, that place which was His at the beginning, I mean His equality with God the Father, and appears to have been in some sort so far removed therefrom as to have stepped outside His invisible glory, for this is what is meant by the expression, He made Himself of no reputation, He that of old and from the very beginning was enthroned with the Father, receives this as a gift when in the Flesh; His earthy and mortal frame and human form, which was actually part of His Nature, of necessity requiring as a gift that which was His by Nature; for He was and is in the form of the Father, and in equality with Him. Though, therefore, the flesh from a woman’s womb, that temple wherewith the Virgin endowed Him, was not in |554 any wise consubstantial with God the Father, nor of like Nature with Him; yet, when once received into the Body of the Word, henceforth it was accounted as One with Him. For Christ is One, and the Son is One, even when He became Man. In this aspect of His Person He is conceived of as taken into union with the Father, being admitted thereto even in the Flesh, which originally enjoys not union with God. And, to speak more concisely and clearly, the Only-begotten says, that that which was given unto Him was given to His Flesh; given too, of course, wholly by the Father, through Himself, in the Spirit. For in no other way than this can union with God be effected, even in the case of Christ Himself, so far as He manifested Himself as, and indeed became, Man. The flesh, that is, was sanctified by union with the Spirit, the twain coming together in an ineffable way; and so unconfusedly attains to God the Word, and through Him to the Father, in habit of mind, that is, and not in any physical sense. This favour and glory then, He says, given unto Me, O Father, by Thee, that is, the glory of being One with Thee, I have given unto them, that they may be one, even as We are One.

For we are made one with each other after the manner already indicated, and we are also made one with God. And in what sense we are made one with Him, the Lord very clearly explained, and to make the benefit of His teaching plain, added the words: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfected into one. For the Son dwells in us in a corporeal sense as Man, commingled and united with us by the mystery of the Eucharist; and also in a spiritual sense as God, by the effectual working and grace of His own Spirit, building up our spirit into newness of life, and making us partakers of His Divine Nature. Christ, then, is seen to be the bond of union between us and God the Father; as Man making us, as it were, His branches, and as God by Nature inherent in His own Father. For no otherwise could that nature which is subject to corruption be |555 uplifted into incorruption, but by the coming down to it of That Nature Which is high above all corruption and variableness, lightening the burthen of ever sinking humanity, so that it can attain its own good; and by drawing it into fellowship and intercourse with Itself, well-nigh extricating it from the limitations which suit the creature, and fashioning into conformity with Itself that which is of itself contrary to It. We have, therefore, been made perfect in unity with God the Father, through the mediation of Christ. For by receiving in ourselves, both in a corporeal and spiritual sense, as I said just now, Him that is the Son by Nature, and Who has essential union with the Father, we have been glorified and become partakers in the Nature of the Most High.

When Christ desires us to be admitted to union with God the Father, He at the same time calls down upon our nature this blessing from the Father, and also declares that the power which the grace confers will be a convincing refutation of those who think that He is not from God. For what ground will there be any longer for this false accusation, if of Himself He exalts to union with the Father those who have been brought near to Him through faith and sincere love? When, then, O Father, they gain union with Thee, through Me, then the world will know that Thou didst send Me; that is, that I came to succour the earth by Thy lovingkindness, and to work out the salvation of those who err therein. Besides, none the less, He says, will they know, who have partaken of a grace so acceptable, that Thou lovedst them, even as Thou lovedst Me. For surely He that received into union with Himself Him that is Man, even as we are, that is, Christ, and deemed Him worthy of so great love (we are arguing here concerning Christ as Man), and gave to us the chance of gaining this blessing, surely He would speak of His love as dealt out to us in equal measure. And let not any attentive hearer be perplexed hereby. For it is clear beyond dispute, that the servant can never vie with his |556 master, and that the Father will not give as full a measure of His love to His creatures, as to His own Son. But we must consider that we are here looking upon Him That is beloved from everlasting, as commencing to be loved when He became Man. What, therefore, He then, as it were, took and received, we shall find that He took not for Himself, but for us. For just as, when He lived again after subduing the power of death, He accomplished not His Resurrection for Himself, for He is the Word and God, but gave us this blessing through Himself, and in Himself (for man’s nature was in Christ in its entirety, fast bound by the chains of death); in like manner we must suppose that He received the Father’s love, not for Himself, because He was continually beloved of Him from the beginning, but rather He accepts it at His Hands upon His Incarnation, that He may call down upon us the Father’s love. Just as, then, we shall be, nay, we are even now, as in Christ first the Firstfruits of our race, made conformable to His Resurrection and His glory, even so are we, as it were, like Him; beloved, but yielding the supremacy in all things to the Only-begotten, and justly marvelling at the incomparable mercy of God, shown towards us; Who showers, as it were, upon us the things that are His, and shares with His creatures what appertains to Himself alone.


24 Father, those whom Thou hast given Me, I will that where I am, they also may be with Me; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world.


After having prayed for His disciples, or rather all those who come to Him through faith, and having required of the Father that they may have union with Him, and love, and sanctification, He proceeds at once to add these words; showing that to live with Him and to be deemed worthy to see His glory, belongeth only to those who have been already united to the Father |557 through Him, and have obtained His love, which He must be conceived to enjoy from the Father. For we are loved as sons, according as we are like Him Who is actually by Nature His Son. For though it be not dealt out to us in equal measure, yet as it is a complete semblance of the love the Father hath for the Son, and is coincident therewith, it images forth the glory of the Son. I will, therefore, He says, O Father, that those who are Mine, through their coming to Me through faith, and the light that proceedeth from Thee, may be with Me and see My glory. And what language can reveal the greatness of the blessing which is implied in being with Christ Himself? For we shall enjoy ineffable fruition of soul, and eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor mind conceived, what God hath prepared for those that love Him. For what thing that maketh for the fulness of joy can be lacking to those who have allotted to them the portion of being with Christ Himself, the Lord of all? Yea, the wise and holy Paul seems to have thought it a thing surpassing conception, for he says, to depart and be with Christ is far better. And surely he that preferred this great and acceptable reward to this world’s life, will bear us true testimony that great is the blessing of converse with Him which He confers on His own; He that giveth all things to all men plenteously. And the word spoken through him to us will also help to support our contention. For having in himself Christ speaking, and revealing the powers of the age to come, he spoke also after this manner: For the dead shall rise, he says, and also we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Further, our Lord Himself plainly promised us this blessing, saying: I go and will prepare a place for you. I will come again, and will receive you with Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also with Me.

For either, without thinking deeply on the subject, |558 we shall readily conclude that our abiding home in heaven is meant, or, following another line of thought, we shall suppose that the same place will be allotted to us as to Christ; that is, similar and analogous honours, according to our likeness to Himself. For we shall be conformed to His glory, and shall reign with Him, according to Holy Writ; and He promises that, like as He is wont, we shall also be enthroned in the kingdom of the heavens.

Leaving, then, for the present, as beyond dispute, any further proof that we shall be with Christ and share His glory, and be partakers in His kingdom, we proceed to the other point, I mean the words, that they may behold My glory. Not, therefore, to the profane and sinners, nor to those who dishonour the law of God, will it be given to gaze on the vision of Christ’s glory; but only to the holy and righteous. This also we may know by the prophet’s words: Let the impious man be taken away, that he see not the glory of the Lord; and in the Gospel message of our Saviour Christ: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. And who can the pure in heart be but they who, by union with God, through the Son, in the Spirit, have rid themselves of fleshly lusts, and put far away from them the pleasure of the world, and have, as it were, denied their own lives, and resigned them wholly to the Will of the Spirit, and who are in all purity and sincerity fellow-citizens with Christ; such as was Paul, who out of his own exceeding purity feared not to say: I have been crucified with Christ, yet I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me? I hear also the voice of another of the Saints in his song: Make me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Give me again the comfort of Thy salvation, and establish me with Thy free Spirit. He calleth the Spirit the comfort of salvation, as giving men joy unceasing and perpetual, and affording them guidance through all the |559 changes and chances of the world; for the Spirit belongeth to the only true Saviour, that is, Christ. He giveth Him many names, and adds a pure heart to his prayer, and straightway invokes the Spirit; since they who are not yet united unto God, and made partakers of Christ’s blessing through the Spirit, have not a perfect heart, but rather one that is froward and distraught.

To sum it up, therefore, in brief: Christ desired that to His followers might be granted in special the blessing of being with Him, and beholding His glory; for He says that He was loved even before the foundation of the world, hereby clearly showing how ancient was the great mystery of the redemption He wrought for us, and that the way of our salvation, effected through the mediation of Christ, was foreknown by God the Father. This knowledge was not, indeed, vouchsafed to men upon earth at the beginning, but the Law intervened, which was our schoolmaster to teach us the Divine life, creating in us a dim knowledge through types, God the Father keeping for the fitting time the blessing through the Saviour. And this knowledge seems to us of much avail to show how groundless was the scorn and impious murmuring of the children of Israel, who chose continually to advocate the Law, even when at the advent of the truth, they ought henceforth to have made of no account the types; and it seems very useful also to controvert the others who think that the counsel of the Father, Which contrived the great mystery of our redemption, was an afterthought. Therefore also Paul said concerning Christ (destroying the contention of those who hold this view), that He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the last times.

We must observe, also, that He says that the Father had given unto Him the disciples themselves, as well as Divine glory and universal dominion; not in His character as by Nature God, the Lord of all, Who |560 therefore has kingly dignity inherent in Himself, but rather in so far as He manifested Himself as man, who has all things as gifts from God, and not as his birthright. For the created world receives everything from God; and nothing at all that is in it is its own, though it appear to possess things that are good.

25 O righteous Father, the world knew Thee not, but I knew Thee; and these knew that Thou didst send Me.

He here calls the Father righteous, where He might have used another title. For He is holy, pure, undefiled, Maker and Creator of the world, and whatever else befits the Ruler of the Universe. It is very desirable, then, to inquire why Christ entitled Him righteous, when He might have given Him another name. It will, then, be productive to us of much profit, if we do not allow any passages of Holy Writ to escape us. When, then, Christ desired us to be sanctified by the favour of His Father, fulfilling Himself the character of Advocate and Mediator, He made His intercession for us in the words: Holy Father, keep them in Thy Truth; meaning by Truth nothing but His own Spirit, by Whom He secureth our souls, sealing them in His Likeness, and edifying them, as it were, by His ineffable power, so that courage is undaunted; and exhorting us to manifest unrestrained zeal in abundant good works, and to let nothing stand in our way, or avail to call us back, that so we may hasten eagerly on our course to do God’s pleasure, and may set at naught the manifold inventions of the devil and the pleasures of the world. For they who have once been sealed by the Holy Spirit, and who receive into their minds the earnest of His grace, have their hearts fortified, as they are girded with power from on high. Christ, therefore, besought the Father that He would sanctify us, in order that we might enjoy blessings so acceptable. Here, too, I think, He seems to have some such idea in His mind. For besides what He said about our need of sanctification from the Father, |561 He also added these words concerning us: And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as We are One; for Thou lovedst them, even as Thou lovedst Me; and again: Father, those whom Thou hast given Me, I will that where I am, they also may be with Me.

After thus speaking, He straightway calls the Father righteous, and with reason; for by His approval and consent the Son became Man, that He might endow the nature of man, which was created for good works, with sanctification through the Spirit, and union with God, and with an abiding place in the mansions above, there to live and reign with Him. For God did not create man at the beginning to work wickedness; but his nature was perverted into vice by the impious wiles of the devil, and was led astray from its guidance of old by the hand of God, and, as it were, upheaved from its foundation. Truly, it well beseemed the righteous Father to lift up again that human nature which had been cast down through the devil’s malice, and to establish in its former position that which had been unduly debased, and to rid it of the foulness of sin, and, as it were, transform it into its original image as it had been at first created, and also to subject the adversary that assaulted man and impiously dared to compass his ruin, that is, Satan, to the vengeance that was meet; though methinks any kind of chastisement were slight for him who exhibited such madness against God. Therefore He saith: O righteous Father—-for Thou art righteous and good, and true is Thy judgment; for Thou hast sent down Me, Who am Thine own true Son, to the world to succour and renew it. But, alas for the blindness of the world! He says: For though Thou wert such as I have said, the world knew Thee not. For surely they should straightway have seen the loving-kindness of Thy judgment and Thy merciful Will, and should have hastened to welcome their Saviour, and have brought Him willing service.

Christ, then, held this discourse with the Father, |562 offering up, as it were, thanks on our behalf and for our sake, inasmuch as He, in His righteousness, had vouchsafed salvation to those who had suffered through the devil’s malice, and had doomed the devil to perdition. And the world, He says, that is, they who oppose the Divine message of the Gospel through their worldly-mindedness, have not learnt that the Father is righteous, for the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, as Paul says, that the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ should not dawn upon them. But He bore witness to His own disciples that they knew and understood Him, and hereby He endows them once more with a great and enviable dignity. For He shows them to be far above all the humiliation and contumely of the world, through their knowledge of the Father, and clearly also through their confession that Christ was the Son. When, therefore, at the same time as the charge was brought against the world that it knew not the Father, that is, the true and living God, He bore witness to the disciples that they knew Him, is it not henceforth quite beyond dispute, that they were not of the world now that they had become Christ’s, Who is above the world, according to the saying of Paul: Through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world; who saith again concerning us: And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof? When we say that the disciples were out of the world, we do not mean that they were absent so far as their bodies and position in space were concerned, for they appear as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of Life. We rather mean that, while they still walked upon earth, they were citizens of heaven; and that, bidding farewell to the lusts of the flesh, and lifting their minds high above all worldly desire, they had attained to an exceeding height of virtue, according to the saying in the Psalms: The mighty men of God have been exalted high above the earth. For they who have reached true manliness through God have put aside the grovelling thoughts of earth, and |563 turned their minds heavenward; for this, I think, is the meaning of the word exalted. The world then, He says, O Father, knew not Thee in Thy righteousness. But I know Thee, for I am Thy Counsel and Wisdom. I regarded not the glory and Divine dignity that is Mine by Nature, but humbled Myself, and descended to human poverty, that I might save with Thine approval the race that had fallen away from kinship with Us. Though the world knew not this, yet were the disciples enriched with this knowledge, and verily comprehended that Thou hast sent Me; that is, that I have come to bring Thy purpose to a glorious issue, by rescuing the world which was in peril.

26 And I made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known; that the love wherewith Thou lovedst Me may be in them, and I in them.

He says that knowledge of God the Father was at once in Him and in the disciples who attended Him. And, lest any man should be beguiled into gross extravagances of opinion, and think that His disciples had this knowledge in an equal degree with Himself, Christ at once distinguishes between them and Himself, and makes the difference very clear, showing that He revealed God unto them, while they, through Him, received knowledge. For our Lord Jesus Christ, as He is the Word, and Counsel, and Wisdom of the Father, intuitively knows what is in Him, and concerns Himself about His Father’s most secret thoughts; just as, indeed, the mind of a man knows what is in him, and as nothing that is in our hearts is hidden from our human understanding. The inspired disciples, on the other hand, do not enjoy, as the fruit of their own understanding, the ability to form any conception about God; but, through the light of the Spirit, lay hold of the true meaning of the mysteries of the Son, and so are enabled to know the Father. Very appropriately, then, and to our profit, Christ added the words: And I made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known. |564

Observe, too, how Both Persons, I mean the Father and the Son, effectually work together to make the Godhead comprehensible to men. For the Father makes us wise by revealing to us His own Son, and none the less also the Son makes us wise by revealing to us the Father. To the blessed Peter, moreover, He spake these words, about the parts of Caesarea called Philippi: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father Which is in heaven. For the disciple confessed and maintained his belief that He was Christ, the Son of the living God. And now He says, concerning Himself: I made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known. For the Only-begotten ceaseth not to reveal unto us the meaning of the mystery concerning Himself, as He revealed it to His first followers at the beginning; and this He doeth continually, implanting in each of us the light of the Spirit, and guiding those that love Him to knowledge of those things which pass their understanding and conception. What His purpose is, and what kind of benefit He will confer on us by His declaration that He had already revealed the Father unto the disciples, and would also make Him known to their successors, He pointed out to us, when He said, that the love wherewith Thou lovedst Me may be in them, and I in them. For they who have been able, by purity of thought, to know God the Father, and have been throughly instructed in the knowledge of the mystery that is in Christ, will wholly gain and indisputably enjoy the perfect love of the Father, like unto the Son. For the Father loves His Son with a perfect love; and Christ also Himself abideth in Him, through the Holy Spirit, uniting, through Himself, into spiritual fellowship with God the Father him that knows Him, and is in travail, as it were, with the unperverted word of Divine Truth. He makes known to us the Name of the Father by declaring to us Himself, Who is His Son. For hand in hand with the knowledge of Him That was begotten will be closely |565 linked the knowledge of Him That begat Him, just as the converse is also true. And if the saying is true, and to be accepted without question, that the conception of the Son is necessarily implied in that of the Father, and so also the conception of the Father in that of the Son, and the knowledge of One is contained in the knowledge of the Other; how can the Son any more be a creature, as some impious men say? For if a man speak of the Son, he thereby instils the idea of a Father in his hearers; while if he were to call Him a creature, he leads them on to the conception of a maker. But as the Son calls God Father, not Maker or Creator, He is clearly conscious that He is Himself in fact a Son. Therefore the Son is deemed, and is, a Son, and not a creature, as they say, which would imply that He That made Him was His Creator, and not His Father. And the force of the argument will be no whit damaged by the fact, that the title of child or son is accounted human. For the attributes which peculiarly and especially belong to Him, as being by Nature the Son of God His Father, these were brought down even to us; Holy Writ often so applying them on occasion, and at times investing those who are sons by adoption with the attributes of a son by nature. And it is no marvel, if we also have obtained the title of son, and that God has thus chosen to honour us in His loving-kindness, as He has even called those gods who are avowedly sprung from the earth. (source)

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