Chrysostom Colossians 500
500 but now hath it been manifested to His saints, to whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ.” Col 1,26-28
501 Having said what we have come to, and showed the lovingkindness of God and the honor, by the greatness of the things given, he introduces yet another consideration that heightens them, namely, that neither before us did any one know Him. As he doth also in the Epistle to the Ephesians, saying, neither Angels, nor principalities, nor any other created power, but only the Son of God knew. (Ep 3,5 Ep 3,9-10). And he said, not simply hid, but “quite hid,” and that even if it hath but now come to pass, yet it is of old, and from the beginning God willed these things, and they were so planned out; but why, he saith not yet. “From the ages,” from the beginning, as one might say. And with reason he calleth that a mystery, which none knew, save God. And where hid? In Christ; as he saith in the Epistle to the Ephesians (Ep 3,9), or as when the Prophet saith, “From everlasting even to everlasting Thou art.” (Ps 90,2) But now hath been manifested, he saith, “to His saints.” So that it is altogether of the dispensation of God. “But now hath been manifested,” he saith. He saith not, “is come to pass,” but, “hath been manifested to His saints.” So that it is even now still hid, since it hath been manifested to His saints alone).
Let not others therefore deceive you, for they know not. Why to them alone? “To whom He was pleased,” he saith. See how everywhere He stops the mouth of their questions. “To whom God was pleased to make known,” he saith. Yet His will is not without reason. By way of making them accountable for grace, rather than allowing them to have high thoughts, as though it were of their own achieving, he said, “To whom he was pleased to make known.” “What is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.” He hath spoken loftily, and accumulated emphasis, seeking, out of his great earnestness, for amplification upon amplification. For this also is an amplification, the saying indefinitely, “The riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.” For it is most of all apparent among the Gentiles, as he also says elsewhere, “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.” (Rm 15,9). For the great glory of this mystery is apparent among others also, but much more among these. For, on a sudden, to have brought men more senseless than stones to the dignity of Angels, simply through bare words, and faith alone, without any laboriousness, is indeed glory and riches of mystery: just as if one were to take a dog, quite consumed with hunger and the mange, foul, and loathsome to see, and not so much as able to move, but lying cast out, and make him all at once into a man, and to display him upon the royal throne. They were wont to worship stones and the earth; but they learned that themselves are better both than the heaven and the sun, and that the whole world serveth them; they were captives and prisoners of the devil: on a sudden they are placed above his head, and lay commands on him and scourge him: from being captives and slaves to demons, they are become the body of The Master of the Angels and the Archangels; from not knowing even what God is, they are become all at once sharers even in God’s throne. Wouldest thou see the countless steps they overleaped? First, they had to learn that stones are not gods; secondly, that they not only are not gods, but inferior even to men; thirdly, to brutes even; fourthly, to plants even; fifthly, they brought together the extremes: that not only stones but not earth even, nor animals, nor plants, nor man, nor heaven; or, to begin again, that not stones, not animals, not plants, not elements, pot things above, not things below, not man, not demons, not Angels, not Archangels, not any of those Powers above, ought to be worshiped by the nature of man. Being drawn up, as it were, from some deep, they had to learn that the Lord of all, He is God, that Him alone is it right to worship; that the virtuous life is a good thing; that this present death is not death, nor this life, life; that the body is raised, that it becomes incorruptible, that it will ascend into heaven, that it obtains even immortality, that it standeth with Angels, that it is removed thither. But Him who was there below, having cleared at a bound all these steps, He has placed on high upon the throne, having made Him that was lower than the stones, higher in dominion than the Angels, and the Archangels, and the thrones, and the dominions. Truly “What is the riches of the glory of this mystery?” Just as if one should show a fool to be all at once made a philosopher; yea rather, whatsoever one should say, it would be as nothing: for even the words of Paul are undefined. “What is the riches,” he saith, “of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you?” Again, they had to learn that He who is above, and who ruleth Angels and dominions, and all the other Powers, came down below, and was made Man, and suffered countless things, and rose again, and was received up.
502 All these things were of the mystery; and he sets them down together with lofty praise, saying, “Which is Christ in you?” But if He be in you, why seek ye Angels? “Of this mystery.” For there are other mysteries besides. But this is really a mystery, which no one knew, which is marvelous, which is beside the common expectation, which was hid. “Which is Christ in you,” he saith, “the hope of glory, whom we proclaim,” bringing Him from above. “Whom we,” not Angels: “teaching” and “admonishing”: not imperiously nor using constraint, for this too is of God’s lovingkindness to men, not to bring them to Him after the manner of a tyrant. Seeing it was a great thing he had said, “teaching,” he added, “admonishing,” which is rather like a father than an instructor. “Whom,” saith he, “we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom.” So that all wisdom is needed. That is, saying all things in wisdom. For the ability to learn such things exists not in every one. “That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” What sayest thou, “every man”? Yea; this is what we are earnestly desirous of doing, he saith. For what, if this do not come to pass? the blessed Paul endeavored. “Perfect.” This then is perfection, the other is imperfect: so that if one have not even the whole of wisdom, he is imperfect. “Perfect in Christ Jesus,” not in the Law, nor in Angels, for that is not perfection. fection “In Christ,” that is, in the knowledge of Christ. For he that knows what Christ has done, will have higher thoughts than to be satisfied with Angels.
“In Christ Jesus”; Col 1,29. “Whereunto I labor also, striving.” And he said not, “I am desirous” merely, nor in any indifferent way, but “I labor, striving,” with great earnestness, with much watching. If I, for your good, thus watch, much more ought ye. Then again, showing that it is of God, he saith, “according to His working which worketh in me mightily.” He shows that this is the work of God. He,now, that makes me strong for this, evidently wills it. Wherefore also when beginning he saith, “Through the will of God.” (
Col 2,1. “For I would have you know how greatly I strive for you, and for them at Laodicea.”
Then lest this should seem owing to their peculiar weakness, he joined others also with them, and as yet condemned them not. But why does he say, “And as many as have not seen my face in the flesh”? He shows here after a divine manner, that they saw him constantly in the Spirit. And he bears witness to their great love.
Col 2,2-3. “That their hearts may be comforted, they being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God the Father, and of Christ: in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden.”
Now henceforward he is hastening and in pangs to enter upon the doctrine, neither accusing them, nor clearing them of accusation. “I strive,” he saith. To what end? That they may be knit together. What he means is something like this; that they may stand firm in the faith. He doth not however so express himself; but extenuates the matter of accusation. That is, that they may be united with love, not with necessity nor with force. For as I have said, he always avoids offending, by leaving it to themselves; and therefore “striving,” because I wish it to be with love, and willingly. For I do not wish it to be with the lips merely, nor merely that they shall be brought together, but “that their hearts may be comforted.”
“Being knit together in love unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding.” That is, that they may doubt about nothing, that they may be fully assured in all things. But I meant full assurance which is by faith, for there is a full assurance which cometh by arguments, but that is worthy of no consideration. I know, he saith, that ye believe, but I would have you fully assured: not “unto riches” only, but “unto all riches”; that your full assurance may be intense, as well as in all things. And observe the wisdom of this blessed one. He said not, “Ye do ill that ye are not fully assured,” nor accused them; but, ye know not how desirous I am that ye may be fully assured, and not merely so, but with understanding. For seeing he spoke of faith; suppose not, he saith, that I meant barely and unprofitably, but with understanding and love. “That they may know the mystery of God the Father and of Christ.” So that this is the mystery of God, the being brought unto Him by the Son. “And of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” But if they are in Him, then wisely also no doubt He came at this time. Wherefore then do some foolish persons object to Him, “See how He discourseth with the simpler sort.” “In whom are all the treasures.” He himself knows all things. “Hid,” for think not in truth that ye already have all; they are hidden also even from Angels, not, from you only; so that you ought to ask all things from Him. He himself giveth wisdom and knowledge. Now by saying, “treasures,” he shows their largeness, by “All,” that He is ignorant of nothing, by “hid,” that He alone knoweth.
Col 2,4. “This I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech.”
503 Seest thou that he saith, I have therefore said this, that ye may not seek it from men. “Delude you,” he saith, “with persuasiveness of speech.” For what if any doth speak, and speak persuasively?
Col 2,5. “For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit.”
The direct thing to have said here was, “even though I be absent in the flesh, yet, nevertheless, I know the deceivers”; but instead he has ended with praise, “Joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” “Your order,” he means, your good order. “And the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” This is still more in the way of encomium. And he said not “faith,” but steadfastness, as to soldiers standing in good order and firmly. Now that which is steadfast, neither deceit nor trial can shake asunder. Not only, he saith, have ye not fallen, but no one hath so much as thrown you into disorder. He hath set himself over them, that they may fear him as though present; for thus is order preserved. From solidity follows compactedness, for you will then produce solidity, when having brought many things together, you shall cement them compactedly and inseparably; thus a solidity is produced, as in the case of a wall. But this is the peculiar work of love; for those who were by themselves, when it hath closely cemented and knit them together, it renders solid. And faith, again, doeth the same thing; when it allows not reasonings to intrude themselves. For as reasonings divide, and shake loose, so faith causes solidity and compactness.
For seeing God hath bestowed upon us benefits surpassing man’s reasoning, suitably enough He hath brought in faith. It is not possible to be steadfast, when demanding reasons. For behold all our lofty doctrines, how destitute they are of reasonings, and dependent upon faith alone. God is not anywhere, and is everywhere. What hath less reason in it than this? Each by itself is full of difficulty. For, indeed, He is not in place; nor is there any place in which He is. He was not made, He made not Himself, He never began to be. What reasoning will receive this, if there be not faith? Does it not seem to be utterly ridiculous, and more endless than a riddle?
Now that He hath no beginning, and is uncreate, and uncircumscribed, and infinite, is, as we have said, a manifest difficulty; but let us consider His incorporealness, whether we can search out this by reasoning. God is incorporeal. What is incorporeal? A bare word, and no more, for the apprehension has received nothing, has impressed nothing upon itself; for if it does so impress, it comes to nature, and what constitutes body. So that the mouth speaks indeed, but the understanding knows not what it speaks, save one thing only, that it is not body, this is all it knows. And why do I speak of God? In the case of the soul, which is created, inclosed, circumscribed, what is incorporealness? say! show! Thou canst not. Is it air? But air is body, even though it be not compact, and it is plain from many proofs that it is a yielding body. Fire is body, whilst the energy of the soul is bodiless. Wherefore? Since it penetrateth everywhere. If it is not itself body, then that which is incorporeal exists in place, therefore it is circumscribed; and that which is circumscribed has figure; and figures are linear, and lines belong to bodies. Again, that which is without figure, what conception does it admit? It has no figure, no form, no outline. Seest thou how the understanding becomes dizzy?
Again, That Nature [viz. God’s] is not susceptible of evil. But He is also good of His own will; it is therefore susceptible. But one may not so say, far be it! Again, was He brought into being, willing it, or not willing it? But neither may one say this. Again, circumscribes He the world, or no? If He circumscribes it not, He is Himself circumscribed, but if He circumscribes it, He is infinite in His nature. Again, circumscribes He Himself? If He circumscribes Himself, then He is not without beginning to Himself, but to us; therefore He is not in His nature withOut beginning. Everywhere one must grant contradictories.
Seest thou how great the darkness is; and how everywhere there is need of faith. This it is, that is solid. But, if you will, let us come to things which are less than these. That substance hath an operation. And what in His case is operation? Is it a certain motion? Then He is not immutable: for that which is moved, is not immutable: for, from being motionless it becomes in motion. But nevertheless He is in motion, and never stands still. But what kind of motion, tell me; for amongst us there are seven kinds; down, up, in, out, right, left, circular, or, if not this, increase, decrease, generation, destruction, alteration. But is His motion none of these, but such as the mind is moved with? No, nor this either. Far be it! for in many things the mind is even absurdly moved. Is to will, to operate, or not? If to will is to operate, and He wills all men to be good, and to be saved (1Tm 2,4), how comes it not to pass? But to will is one thing, to operate, another. To will then is not sufficient for operation. How then saith the Scripture, “He hath done whatsoever He willed”? (Ps 115,3). And again, the leper saith unto Christ, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.” (Mt 8,2). For if this follows in company with the will, what is to be said? Will ye that I mention yet another thing? How were the things that are, made out of things that are not? How will they be resolved into nothing? What is above the heaven? And again, what above that? and what above that? and beyond that? and so on to infinity. What is below the earth? Sea, and beyond this, what? and beyond that again? Nay; to the right, and to the left, is there not the same difficulty?
504 But these indeed are things unseen. Will ye that I lead the discourse to those which are seen; those which have already happened? Tell me, how did the beast contain Jonah in its belly, without his perishing? Is it not void of reason, and its motions without control? How spared it the righteous man? How was it that the heat did not suffocate him? How was it that it putrefied him not? For if to be in the deep only, is past contriving, to be both in the creature’s bowels, and in that heat, is very far more unaccountable. If from within we breathe the air, how did the respiration suffice for two animals? And how did it also vomit him forth unharmed? And how too did he speak? And how too was he self-possessed, and prayed? Are not these things incredible? If we test them by reasonings, they are incredible, if by faith, they are exceeding credible.
Shall I say something more than this? The wheat in the earth’s bosom decays, and rises again. Behold marvels, opposite, and each surpassing the other; marvelous is the not becoming corrupted, marvelous, after becoming so, is the rising again. Where are they that make sport of such things, and disbelieve the Resurrection and say, This bone how shall it be cemented to that? and introduce such like silly tales. Tell me, how did Elias ascend in a chariot of fire? Fire is wont to burn, not to carry aloft. How lives he so long a time? In what place is he? Why was this done? Whither was Enoch translated? Lives he on like food with us? and what is it hinders him from being here? Nay, but does he not eat? And wherefore was he translated? Behold how God schooleth us by little and little. He translated Enoch; no very great thing that. This instructed us for the taking up of Elias. He shut in Noe into the ark (Gn 7,7); nor is this either any very great thing. This instructed us for the shutting up of the prophet within the whale. Thus even the things of old stood in need of forerunners and types. For as in a ladder the first step sends on to the second, and from the first it is not possible to step to the fourth, and this sends one on to that, that that may be the way to the next; and as it is not possible either to get to the second before the first; so also is it here.
And observe the signs of signs, and thou wilt discern this in the ladder which Jacob saw. “Above,” it is said, “the Lord stood fast, and underneath Angels were ascending and descending.” (Gn 28,13) It was prophesied that the Father hath a Son; it was necessary this should be believed. Whence wouldest thou that I show thee the signs of this? From above, downward? From beneath, upward? Because He begetteth without passion, for this reason did she that was barren first bear. Let us rather go higher. It was necessary to be believed, that He begat of Himself. What then? The thing happens obscurely indeed, as in type and shadow, but still it doth happen, and as it goes on it becomes somehow clearer. A woman is formed out of man alone, and he remains whole and entire. Again, it was necessary there should be some sure sign of the Conception of a Virgin. So the barren beareth, not once only, but a second time and a third, and many times. Of His birth then of a Virgin, the barren is a type, and she sends the mind forward to faith. Again, this was a type of God being able to beget alone. For if man is the chief agent, and birth takes place without him, in a more excellent way, much rather, is One begotten of the Chiefest Agent. There is still another generation, which is a type of the Truth. I mean, ours by the Spirit. Of this again the barren a type, the fact that it is not of blood (Jn 1,13); this pertains to the generation above. The one—as also the types—shows that the generation is to be without passion; the other, that it could proceed from one above.
Christ is above, ruling over all things: it was necessary this should be believed. The same takes place in the earth with respect to man. “Let Us make man after Our image and likeness” (Gn 1,26), for dominion of all the brutes. Thus He instructed us, not by words, but by actions. Paradise showed the separateness of his nature, and that man was the best thing of all. Christ was to rise again; see now how many sure signs there were; Enoch, Elias, Jonas, the fiery furnace, the case of Noah, baptism, the seeds, the plants, our own generation, that of all animals. For since on this everything was at stake, it, more than any other, had abundance of types.
That the Universe is not without a Providence we may conjecture from things amongst ourselves, for nothing will continue to exist, if not provided for; but even herds, and all other things stand in need of governance. And that the Universe was not made by chance, Hell is a proof, and so was the deluge in Noah’s day, the fire, the overwhelming of the Egyptians in the sea, the things which happened in the wilderness.
It was necessary too that many things should prepare the way for Baptism; yea, thousands of things; those, for instance, in the Old Testament, those in the Pool, the cleansing of him that was not sound in health, the deluge itself, and all the things that have been done in water, the baptism of John.
It was necessary to be believed that God giveth up His Son; a man did this by anticipation, Abraham the Patriarch. Types then of all these things, if we are so inclined, we shall find by searching in the Scriptures. But let us not be weary, but attune ourselves by these things. Let us hold the faith steadfastly, and show forth strictness of life: that having through all things returned thanks to God, we may be counted worthy of the good things promised to them that love Him, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, &c.
600 so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in your faith, even as ye were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Col 2,6-7
601 Again, he takes hold on them beforehand with their own testimony, saying, “As therefore ye received.” We introduce no strange addition, he saith, neither do ye. “Walk ye in Him,” for He is the Way that leadeth to the Father: not in the Angels; this way leadeth not thither. “Rooted,” that is, fixed; not one while going this way, another that, but “rooted”: now that which is rooted, never can remove. Observe how appropriate are the expressions he employs. “And built up,” that is, in thought attaining unto Him. “And stablished” in Him, that is, holding Him, built as on a foundation. He shows that they had fallen down, for the word “built” has this force. For the faith is in truth a building; and needs both a strong foundation, and secure construction. For both if any one build not upon a secure foundation it will shake; and even though he do, if it be not firm, it will not stand. “As ye were taught.” Again, the word “As.” “Abounding,” he saith, “in thanksgiving”; for this is the part of well-disposed persons, I say not simply to give thanks, but with great abundance, more than ye learned, if possible, with much ambition.
Col 2,8. “Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you.”
Seest thou how he shows him to be a thief, and an alien, and one that enters in softly? For he has already represented him to be entering in. “Beware.” And he well said “maketh spoil.” As one digging away a mound from underneath, may give no perceptible sign, yet it gradually settles, so do you also beware; for this is his main point, not even to let himself be perceived. As if some one were robbing every day, and he (the owner of the house) were told, “Beware lest there be some one”; and he shows the way—through this way—as if we were to say, through this chamber; so, “through philosophy,” says he.
Then because the term “philosophy” has an appearance of dignity, he added, “and vain deceit.” For there is also a good deceit; such as many have been deceived by, which one ought not even to call a deceit at all. Whereof Jeremiah speaks; “O Lord, Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived” (Jr 20,7); for such as this one ought not to call a deceit at all; for Jacob also deceived his father, but that was not a deceit, but an economy. “Through his philosophy,” he saith, “and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Now he sets about to reprove their observance of particular days, meaning by elements of the world the sun and moon; as he also said in the Epistle to the Galatians, “How turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly elements?” (Ga 4,9). And he said not observances of days, but in general of the present world, to show its worthlessness: for if the present world be nothing, much more then its elements. Having first shown how great benefits and kindnesses they had received, he afterwards brings on his accusation, thereby to show its greater seriousness, and to convict his hearers. Thus too the Prophets do. They always first point out the benefits, and then they magnify their accusation; as Esaias saith, “I have begotten children, and exalted them, but they have rejected me” (Is 1,2), Sept).; and again, “O my people, what have I done unto thee, or wherein have I grieved thee, or wherein have I wearied thee”? (Mi 6,3) and David; as when he says, “I heard thee in the secret place of the tempest” (Ps 81,7), Sept).; and again, “Open thy mouth, and I will fill it.” (Ps 81,10). And everywhere you will find it the same.
That indeed were most one’s duty, not to be persuaded by them, even did they say aught to the purpose; as it is, however, obligations apart even, it would be our duty to shun those things. “And not after Christ,” he saith. For were it in such sort a matter done by halves, that ye were able to serve both the one and the other, not even so ought ye to do it; as it is, however, he suffers you not to be “after Christ.” Those things withdraw you from Him. Having first shaken to pieces the Grecian observances, he next overthrows the Jewish ones also. For both Greeks and Jews practiced many observances, but the former from philosophy, the latter from the Law. First then, he makes at those against whom lay the heavier accusation. How, “not after Christ”?
Col 2,9-10. “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily: and in Him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power.”
602 Observe how in his accusing of the one he thrusts through the other, by first giving the solution, and then the objection. For such a solution is not suspected, and the hearer accepts it the rather, that the speaker is not making it his aim. For in that case indeed he would make a point of not coming off worsted, but in this, not so. “For in Him dwelleth,” that is, for God dwelleth in Him. But that thou mayest not think Him enclosed, as in a body, he saith, “All the fullness of the Godhead bodily: and ye are made full in Him.” Others say that he intends the Church filled by His Godhead, as he elsewhere saith, “of Him that filleth all in all” (Ep 1,23), and that the term “bodily” is here, as the body in the head. How is it then that he did not add, “which is the Church”? Some again say it is with reference to The Father, that he says that the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him, but wrongly. First, because “to dwell,” cannot strictly be said of God: next, because the “fullness” is not that which receives, for “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (Ps 24,1); and again the Apostle, “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Rm 11,25). By “fullness” is meant “the whole.” Then the word “bodily,” what did it intend? “As in a head.” But why does he say the same thing over again? “And ye are made full in Him.” What then does it mean? That ye have nothing less than He. As it dwelt in Him, so also in you. For Paul is ever straining to bring us near to Christ; as when he says, “Hath raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him” (Ep 2,6): and, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (2Tm 2,12): and, “How shall He not also with Him freely give us all things” (Rm 8,32): and calling us “fellow-heirs.” Then as for His dignity. And He “is the head of all principality and power.” (Ep 3,6). He that is above all, The Cause, is He not Consubstantial? Then he has added the benefit in a marvelous way; and far more marvelous than in the Epistle to the Romans. For there indeed he saith, “circumcision of the heart in the spirit, not in the letter” (Rm 2,29), but here, in Christ.
Col 2,11. “In whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ.”
See how near he is come to the thing. He saith, “In the putting” quite away, not putting off merely. “The body of sins.” He means, “the old life.” He is continually adverting to this in different ways, as he said above, “Who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and reconciled us who were alienated,” that we should be “holy and without blemish.” (Col 1,13 Col 1,21). No longer, he saith, is the circumcision with the knife, but in Christ Himself; for no hand imparts this circumcision, as is the case there, but the Spirit. It circumciseth not a part, but the whole man. It is the body both in the one and the other case, but in the one it is carnally, in the other it is spiritually circumcised; but not as the Jews, for ye have not put off flesh, but sins. When and where? In Baptism. And what he calls circumcision, he again calls burial. Observe how he again passes on to the subject of righteous doings; “of the sins,” he saith, “of the flesh,” the things they had done in the flesh. He speaks of a greater thing than circumcision, for they did not merely cast away that of which they were circumcised, but they destroyed it, they annihilated it.
Col 2,12. “Buried with him,” he saith, “in Baptism, wherein ye were also raised with Him, through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
But it is not burial only: for behold what he says, “Wherein ye were also raised with Him, through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” He hath well said, “of faith,” for it is all of faith. Ye believed that God is able to raise, and so ye were raised. Then note also His worthiness of belief, “Who raised Him,” he saith, “from the dead.”
(He now shows the Resurrection. “And you who sometime were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did He quicken together with Him.” For ye lay under judgment of death. But even though ye died, it was a profitable death. Observe how again he shows what they deserved in the words he subjoins:
Col 2,13-15. “Having forgiven us all our trespasses; having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the Cross; having put off from himself the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
“Having forgiven us,” he saith, “all our trespasses,” those which produced that deadness. What then? Did He allow them to remain? No, He even wiped them out; He did not scratch them out merely; so that they could not be seen. “In doctrines” [ordinances], he saith. What doctrines? The Faith. It is enough to believe. He hath not set works against works, but works against faith. And what next? Blotting out is an advance upon remission; again he saith, “And hath taken it out of the way.” Nor yet even so did He preserve it, but rent it even in sunder, “by nailing it to His Cross.” “Having put off from himself the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Nowhere has he spoken in so lofty a strain.
603 Seest thou how great His earnestness that the bond should be done away? To wit, we all were under sin and punishment. He Himself, through suffering punishment, did away with both the sin and the punishment, and He was punished on the Cross. To the Cross then He affixed it; as having power, He tore it asunder. What bond? He means either that which they said to Moses, namely, “All that God hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Ex 24,3), or, if not that, this, that we owe to God obedience; or if not this, he means that the devil held possession of it, the bond which God made for Adam, saying, “In the day thou eatest of the tree, thou shalt die.” (Gn 2,17). This bond then the devil held in his possession. And Christ did not give it to us, but Himself tore it in two, the action of one who remits joyfully.
“Having put off from himself the principalities and the powers.” He means the diabolical powers; because human nature had arrayed itself in these, or because they had, as it were, a hold, when He became Man He put away from Himself that hold. What is the meaning of “He made a show of them”? And well said he so; never yet was the devil in so shameful a plight. For whilst expecting to have Him, he lost even those he had; and when That Body was nailed to the Cross, the dead arose. There death received his wound, having met his death-stroke from a dead body. And as an athlete, when he thinks he has hit his adversary, himself is caught in a fatal grasp; so truly doth Christ also show, that to die with confidence is the devil’s shame.
For he would have done everything to persuade men that He did not die, had he had the power. For seeing that of His Resurrection indeed all succeeding time was proof demonstrative; whilst of His death, no other time save that whereat it happened could ever furnish proof; therefore it was, that He died publicly in the sight of all men, but He arose not publicly, knowing that the aftertime would bear witness to the truth. For, that whilst the world was looking on, the serpent should be slain on high upon the Cross, herein is the marvel. For what did not the devil do, that He might die in secret? Hear Pilate saying, “Take ye Him away, and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him” (Jn 19,6), and withstanding them in a thousand ways. And again the Jews said unto Him, “If Thou art the Son of God, come down from the Cross.” (Mt 27,40). Then further, when He had received a mortal wound, and He came not down, for this reason He was also committed to burial; for it was in His power to have risen immediately: but He did not, that the fact might be believed. And yet in cases of private death indeed, it is possible to impute them to a swoon, but here, it is not possible to do this either. For even the soldiers brake not His legs, like those of the others, that it might be made manifest that He was dead. And those who buried The Body are known; and therefore too the Jews themselves seal the stone along with the soldiers. For, what was most of all attended to, was this very thing, that it should not be in obscurity. And the witnesses to it are from enemies, from the Jews. Hear them saying to Pilate, “That deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre” (Mt 26,63-64) be guarded by the soldiers. This was accordingly done, themselves also sealing it. Hear them further saying even afterwards to the Apostles, “Ye intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us.” (Ac 5,28). He suffered not the very fashion of His Cross to be put to shame. For since the Angels have suffered nothing like it, He therefore doth everything for this, showing that His death achieved a mighty work. There was, as it were, a single combat. Death wounded Christ: but Christ, being wounded, did afterwards kill death. He that seemed to be immortal, was destroyed by a mortal body; and this the whole world saw. And what is truly wonderful is, that He committed not this thing to another. But there was made again a second bond of another kind than the former.
604 Beware then lest we be condemned by this, after saying, I renounce Satan, and array myself with Thee, O Christ. Rather however this should not be called “a bond,” but a covenant. For that is “a bond,” whereby one is held accountable for debts: but this is a covenant. It hath no penalty, nor saith it, If this be done or if this be not done: what Moses said when he sprinkled the blood of the covenant, by this God also promised everlasting life. All this is a covenant. There, it was slave with master, here it is friend with friend: there, it is said, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt die” (Gn 2,17); an immediate threatening; but here is nothing of the kind. God arrives, and here is nakedness, and there was nakedness; there, however, one that had sinned was made naked, because he sinned, but here, one is made naked, that he may be set free. Then, man put off the glory which he had; now, he puts off the old man; and before going up (to the contest), puts him off as easily, as it were his garments. He is anointed, as wrestlers about to enter the lists. For he is born at once; and as that first man was, not by little and little, but immediately. (He is anointed,) not as the priests of old time, on the head alone, but rather in more abundant measure. For he indeed was anointed on the head, the right ear, the hand (Lv 8,23-24); to excite him to obedience, and to good works; but this one, all over. For he cometh not to be instructed merely; but to wrestle, and to be exercised; he is advanced to another creation. For when one confesses (his belief) in the life everlasting, he has confessed a second creation. He took dust from the earth, and formed man (Gn 2,7): but now, dust no longer, but the Holy Spirit; with This he is formed, with this harmonized, even as Himself was in the womb of the Virgin. He said not in Paradise, but “in Heaven.” For deem not that, because the subject is earth, it is done on earth; he is removed thither, to Heaven, there these things are transacted, in the midst of Angels: God taketh up thy soul above, above He harmonizeth it anew, He placeth thee near to the Kingly Throne. He is formed in the water, he receiveth spirit instead of a soul. And after he is formed, He bringeth to him, not beasts, but demons, and their prince, and saith, “Tread upon serpents and scorpions.” (Lc 10,19). He saith not, “Let Us make man in our image, and after our likeness” (Gn 1,26), but what? “He giveth them to become the sons of God; but of God,” he saith, “they were born.” (Jn 1,12-13). Then that thou give no ear to the serpent, straightway he teaches thee to say, “I renounce thee,” that is, “whatsoever thou sayest, I will not hear thee.” Then, that he destroy thee not by means of others, it is said, “and thy pomp, and thy service, and thy angels.” He hath set him no more to keep Paradise, but to have his citizenship in heaven. For straightway when he cometh up he pronounceth these words, “Our Father, Which art in Heaven, …Thy will be done, as in Heaven, so on earth.” The plain falleth not on thy sight, thou seest not tree, nor fountain, but straightway thou takest into thee the Lord Himself, thou art mingled with His Body, thou art intermixed with that Body that lieth above, whither the devil cannot approach. No woman is there, for him to approach, and deceive as the weaker; for it is said, “There is neither female, nor male.” (Ga 3,28). If thou go not down to him, he will not have power to come up where thou art; for thou art in Heaven, and Heaven is unapproachable by the devil. It hath no tree with knowledge of good and evil, but the Tree of Life only. No more shall woman be formed from thy side, but we all are one from the side of Christ. For if they who have been anointed of men take no harm by serpents, neither wilt thou take any harm at all, so long as thou art anointed; that thou mayst be able to grasp the Serpent and choke him, “to tread upon serpents and scorpions.” (Lc 10,19). But as the gifts are great, so is the punishment great also. It is not possible for him that hath fallen from Paradise, to dwell “in front of Paradise” (Gn 3,24), nor to reascend thither from whence we have fallen. But what after this? Hell, and the worm undying. But far be it that any of us should become amenable to this punishment! but living virtuously, let us earnestly strive to do throughout His will. Let us become well-pleasing to God, that we may be able both to escape the punishment, and to obtain the good things eternal, of which may we all be counted worthy, through the grace and love toward man, &c.
Chrysostom Colossians 500