St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 12:8-10
Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016
This post contains a sermon on Luke 12:8-10.
12:8-10. And I say unto you, that whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God. But he that shall deny Me before men, shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him.
HERE too, you who love to hear, replenish yourselves with the words of holiness: receive within you the knowledge of the sacred doctrines, that advancing prosperously in the faith, you may obtain the crown of love and steadfastness in Christ. For He bestows it, not upon those whose heart is faint and easily shaken, but rather on those who can with fitness say; “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” For those who live holily, live unto Christ; and those, who for piety towards Him, endure dangers, gain the life incorruptible, being crowned by His decree before the judgment seat of God. And this He teaches us, saying; “Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God,”
It is then a thing above all others worthy of our attention to see who it is that confesses Christ, and in what way one may rightly and blamelessly confess Him. Most wise Paul, therefore writes to us, “Say not in yours heart, Who shall ascend unto heaven? that is to bring Christ down: or who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring Christ up from the dead. But what says the Scripture? The Word is nigh you, in your mouth and in your heart; that is, the Word of faith which we preach: because if you shall say with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and shall believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall live. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth |404 confession is made unto salvation.” In which words the mystery of Christ is most excellently explained. For first of all it is our duty to confess that the Son, Who sprang from God the Father, and Who is the Only-begotten of His substance, even God the Word, is Lord of all: not as one on whom lordship has been bestowed from without, and by imputation, but as being by nature and in truth Lord, as the Father also is. And next we must believe, that ” God raised Him from the dead,” that is, when having become man, He had suffered in the flesh for our sakes: for so He arose from the dead. The Son therefore is, as I said, Lord; yet must He not be reckoned with those other lords, to whom the name of lordship is given and imputed: for He alone, as I said, is Lord by nature, being God the Word, Who transcends every created thing. And this the wise Paul teaches us saying; “That though there be in heaven or in earth certain Gods many, and Lordships many: yet to us there is one God the Father, from Whom is everything and we from Him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom is everything and we by Him.” But even though there be but one God, Whose name is the Father; and one Lord, Who is the Son; yet neither is the Father put aside from being Lord, by reason of His being God by nature: nor docs the Son cease from being God, because He is Lord by nature. For perfect freedom is the attribute of the divine and supreme substance only, and to be entirely separate from the yoke of servitude: or rather, to have the creation put in subjection under Its feet. And therefore, though the Only-begotten Word of God became like unto us, and, as for as regarded the measure of the human nature, was placed under the yoke of slavery:—-for He purposely paid the Jewish tax-gatherers the two drachms according to the law of Moses; —-yet He did not conceal the splendour of the glory that dwelt in Him. For He asked the blessed Peter; “The kings of the earth, of whom do they receive tribute and poll-tax; of their own children, or of strangers? And when he had said, Of strangers: Then, said He, are the children free.” The Son therefore is in His own nature Lord as being free: as the wise Paul has again taught us, thus writing: “But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same likeness, from glory to glory, as by |405 the Lord, the Spirit.” “Now the Spirit is the Lord: but where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Observe therefore how he affirms that the Spirit is Lord: not as possessed of sonship; for He is the Spirit, and not the Son; but as being co-essential with the Son, Who is Lord and free, and proved by this natural equality with Him to possess that freedom which befits God.
Whosoever therefore confesses Christ before men, as God and Lord, shall be acknowledged by Him before the angels of God. But where and how? Evidently at that time, when He shall descend from heaven in the glory of His Father with the holy angels at the end of this world: then shall He crown His true confessor, who possessed an unwavering and genuine faith, and so made profession. There also shall the company of the holy martyrs shine, who endured the conflict even unto life and blood, and honoured Christ by their patient endurance: for they denied not the Saviour, nor was His glory unknown to them, but they kept their fealty to Him. Such shall be praised by the holy angels; and shall themselves glorify Christ the Saviour of all, for bestowing upon the saints those honours which especially are their due. And so the Psalmist also declares, “And the heavens shall declare His righteousness; because God is judge.” And such then shall be the lot of those who confess Him.
But the rest, those who denied and despised him, shall be denied: when the Judge shall say to them that, as it were, which was spoken by the holy prophets to certain of old; “As you have done, it shall be done unto you; and your requital shall be requited upon yours own head;” and shall deny them in these words: “Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity, I know you not.” And who then are they that shall be denied? First of all, those who when persecution was pressing upon them, and tribulation had overtaken them, deserted the faith. The hope of such shall depart utterly from its very root: for such no human words can suffice; for wrath and judgment and the unappeasable fire shall receive them.
And in like manner both the followers and teachers of heresy deny him. For they venture to say that the Only-begotten Word of God is not by nature and in truth God; and they |406 traduce His ineffable generation, by saying that He is not of the substance of the Father: yes rather, they count among things created Him Who is the Creator of all, and wickedly class with those who are under the yoke Him Who is Lord of all; although Paul affirms, that we must say that “Jesus is Lord.”
The disciples also of the vain babbling of Nestorius deny Him by acknowledging two sons, one false, and one true; the true one, the Word of God the Father: the false one, to whom the honour and name of a son belongs by imputation only, who in their phrase is the son only, and sprung from the seed of the blessed David, according to the flesh. Most heavy is the judgment of these also; for they have denied “the Lord Who bought them.” They have not understood the mystery of His dispensation in the flesh: for “there is one Lord, one faith,” as it is written. For we do not believe in a man and a God, but in one Lord, the Word Who is from God the Father, Who became man, and took upon Him our flesh. And thus then these also are numbered among those Who deny Him.
And that blasphemy is a most wicked crime for men to commit, He has further taught us by saying, “that whosoever shall speak a word against the son of man”, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven.” And in what way is this too to be understood? Now if the Saviour means this, that if any scornful word be used by any one of us towards some more man, he will obtain forgiveness if he repent, the matter is free from all difficulty. For as God is by nature good, He will free from blame all those who repent. But if the declaration |407 has reference to Christ himself, the Saviour of all, how can he he innocent, or secure from condemnation, who has spoken against Him? What then we say is this; that whenever any one, who has not yet learnt the meaning of His mystery, nor understood that being by nature God, He humbled Himself to our estate, and became man, speaks anything against Him, blasphemous to a certain extent, but yet not so wicked as to pass forgiveness, such things God will pardon in those who have sinned from ignorance. And to explain my meaning by an example; Christ somewhere said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” Because therefore some did not know His glory, but thought that he was a mere man, they said, “Is not this the carpenter’s son, Whose father and mother we know? How does He now say that I came down from heaven?” And again, He was once standing teaching in a synagogue, and was wondered at by them all. But some, it tells us, said, “How knows this man learning, having never been taught?” For of course they knew not that “in Him are all the treasures of wisdom, and the hidden things of knowledge.” Such things might well be forgiven, as being spoken inconsiderately from ignorance.
But for those who have blasphemed the Godhead itself, condemnation is inevitable, and the punishment eternal both in this world and in that which is to come.
For by the Spirit He here means not only the Holy Spirit, but also the whole nature of the Godhead, as understood (to consist) in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the Saviour Himself also somewhere said, “God is a Spirit.” Blasphemy therefore against the Spirit, is against the whole supreme substance: for as I said, the nature of the Deity, as offered to our understanding in the holy and adorable Trinity, is one.
Let us therefore, as the writer of the book of Proverbs says, “put a door and a bar to the tongue,” and draw near to the God over all, thus saying, “Set a watch, O Lord, upon my mouth; and a door of safety about my lips; incline not my heart to wicked words;” for those are wicked words which are against God. And if thus we rightly fear Him, Christ |408 will bless us: by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen. (source)