Ambrose selected works 6410

Chapter X.

06410 The objection that Christ, on the showing of St. John, lives because of the Father, and therefore is not to be regarded as equal with the Father, is met by the reply that for the Life of the Son, in respect of His Godhead, there has never been a time when it began; and that it is dependent upon none, whilst the passage in question must be understood as referring to the His human life, as is shown by His speaking there of His body and blood. Two expositions of the passage are given, the one of which is shown to refer to Christ’s Manhood, whilst the second teaches His equality with the Father, as also His likeness with men. Rebuke is administered to the Arians for the insult which they are seeking to inflict upon the Son, and the sense in which the Son can be said to live “because of” the Father is explained, as also the union of life with our the divine Life. A further objection, based upon the Son’s prayer that He may be glorified by the Father, is briefly refuted.

118). There are not a few who raise this further objection, that it is written: “As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth Me, liveth also by Me.”109 “How,” ask they, “is the Son equal with the Father, when He has said that He lives by the Father?”

119. Let those who oppose us on this ground tell us first what the Life of the Son is. Is it a life bestowed by the Father upon one lacking life? But how could the Son ever fail to possess life, He Himself being the Life, as He says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”110 Truly, His life is eternal, even as His power is eternal. Was there a time, then, when (so to speak) Life possessed not itself?

120. Bethink you what is read this day concerning the Lord Jesus, that “He died for our sakes, to the end that whether we wake or whether we sleep, we may live with Him.”111 He Whose Death is Life, is not His Godhead Life, seeing that the Godhead is Life eternal?

121. But is His Life truly in the Father’s power? Why, He showed that even His bodily life was not in the power of any other, as we have it on record: “I lay down My life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and again I have power to take it. This commandment have I received of My Father.”112

122. Is His divine Life then to be regarded as depending upon the power of another, when His bodily life was subject to no other power but His own? For it would have been the power of another, but for the Unity of power. But just as He gives us to understand that His laying down His life was done of His own power, and of His free Will, so also He teaches us, in laying it down in obedience to His Father’s command, the unity of His own with the Father’s Will.

123. If, then, there has neither been slime when the Life of the Son took a commencement, nor any power to which it has been subjected, let us consider what His meaning was when He said: “Even as the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father”? Let us expound His meaning as best we can; nay, rather let Him expound it Himself.

124. Take notice, then, what He said in an earlier part of His discourse. “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” He first teaches thee how thou oughtest to listen. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you.”113 He first premised that He was speaking as Son of Man; dost thou then think that what He hath said, as Son of Man, concerning His Flesh and His Blood, is to be applied to His Godhead?

125. Then He added: “For My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink [indeed].”114 Thou hearest Him speak of His Flesh and of His Blood, thou perceivest the sacred pledges, [conveying to us the merits and power] of the Lord’s death,115 and thou dishonourest His Godhead. Hear His own words: “A spirit hath not flesh and bones.”116 Now we, as often as we receive the Sacramental Elements, which by the mysterous efficacy of holy prayer are transformed into the Flesh and the Blood, “do show the Lord’s Death.”117

126. Then, alter calling on us to take notice that He speaks as Son of Man, and frequent repeated mention of His Flesh and His Blood, He adds: “Even as the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, he also liveth by Me.” How then do they suppose that we are to understand these words?—for the comparison can be shown as a double one. The first comparison being after the following manner: “Even as the living Father hath sent Me, I live by the Father;” the second: “Even as the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so also he that eateth Me, he too liveth by Me.”

127. If our adversaries choose the former, the meaning is this, that, “as I am sent by the Father and am come down from the Father, so (in accordance therewith) I live by the Father.” But in what character was He sent, and came down, save as Son of Man, even as He Himself said before: “No man hath ascended into heaven, save He that hath come down from heaven as Son of Man.”118 Then, just as He was sent and came down as Son of Man, so as Son of Man He lives by the Father. Furthermore, he that eateth Him, as eating the Son of Man, doth himself also live by the Son of Man. Thus, He has compared the effect of His Incarnation to His coming).

128. But if they choose the second method, do we not infer both the equality of the Son with the Father, and His likeness to men, together, though in clear mutual distinction? For what is the meaning of the words, “Even as He Himself liveth by the Father, so we also live by Him,” but that the Son so quickeneth a man, as the Father hath in the Son quickened human nature?119 “For as the Father raiseth the dead and quickeneth them, so also the Son quickeneth whom He will,”120 as the Lord Himself hath already said.

129. Thus the equality of the Son to the Father is established simply upon unity in the action of quickening, since the Son so quickeneth as the Father doth. Acknowledge therefore the eternity of His Life and Sovereignty. Again, our likeness with the Son is discovered, and a certain unity with Him in the flesh,121 because that, like as the Son of God was quickened in the flesh122 by the Father, so also is man quickened; for thus it is written, that as God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, so we also, as men, are quickened by the Son of God.123

130. According to this interpretation, then, immortality is not only applied to our condition by grace of bounty, but is also proclaimed as the property of Godhead—the latter, because it is the Godhead which quickeneth; the former, because manhood is quickened in Christ.

131. But if any would apply the force of either comparison to Christ’s Godhead, then the Son of God is put on one footing with men, so that the Son of God lives by the Father just as we live by the Son of God. But the Son of God bestows eternal life by free gift, we cannot so do. If then He be placed on a level with us, He too does not bestow this gift. Let Arius’ disciples then have the due reward of their faith—which is, not to obtain eternal life of the Son.

132. I would now go further. If our opponents are pleased to apply the teaching of this passage to the principle of the eternity of the Divine Substance, let them hear a third exposition: Does not our Lord plainly appear to say that as the Father is a living Father, so too the Son also lives?-and who can but observe that here we must understand a reference to unity of Life, forasmuch as the same Life is the Life of the Father and the Life of the Son? “For as the Father hath Life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son also to have Life in Himself.”124 He hath given—by reason of unity with Him. He hath given, not to take away, but that He may be glorified in the Son. He hath given, not that He, the Father, might keep guard over it, but that the Son might have it in possession.

133. But the Arians think that they must oppose hereto the fact that He had said, “I live by the Father.” Of a certainty (suppose that they conceive the words as referring to His Godhead) the Son lives by the Father, because He is the Son begotten of the Father,—by the Father, because He is of one Substance with the Father,—by the Father, because He is the Word given forth from the heart of the Father,125 because He came forth from the Father, because He is begotten of the “bowels of the Father,”126 because the Father is the Fountain and Root of the Son’s being.

134. But peradventure they may urge: “If you hold that the Son, in saying, ’And I live by the Father,’ spoke of the unity of life subsisting between the Father and the Son, does it not follow that He discovered the unity of life between the Son and mankind in saying that ’he that eateth Me, the same liveth by Me’?”

135. Even so. Just as I confess the unity of celestial Life subsisting in Father and Son by reason of the unity of the substance of the Godhead, so too, save as concerns the prerogatives of the Divine Nature or those which are the effect of the Incarnation of our Lord, I affirm of the Son a participation of spiritual life with us by virtue of the unity of His Manhood with ours, for “as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.”127 Further, even as in Him we sit at the right hand of the Father, not in the sense that we share His throne, but that we rest in the Body of Christ—even as, I say, we have part in Christ’s session by reason of corporal unity, so too we live in Christ by reason of unity of our bodies with His Body.

136. Not only, then, have I no fears of the text, “I live by the Father,” but I should have none, even though Christ had said, “I live by help of the Father.”128

137. Now another objection commonly urged by them starts from the text: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, to the end that His Son may be glorified by Him.”129 But not only is the Son glorified through the Father and by the Father, as it is written: “Glorify Me, Father;”130 and again: “Now hath the Son of Man been glorified, and God hath been glorified in Him, and God glorifieth Him,”131 but the Father also is glorified through the Son and by the Son, for Truth hath said: “I have glorified Thee upon earth.”132

138. Even as the Son, therefore, is glorified through the Father, so too He lives by the Father. There are some who have been led by consideration of these words to the supposition that [the Greek] “doxa” means “opinion, belief,” rather than “glory,” and therefore have interpreted as follows: “I have given thee a doxa upon earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do, and now, O Father, give me a doxa;” that is to say: “I have taught men so to believe concerning Thee, as to know that Thou art the true God; do Thou also establish in them, concerning Me, the belief that I am Thy Son, and very God.”

Chapter XI.

06411 The particular distinction which the Arians endeavoured to prove upon the Apostle’s teaching that all things are “of” the Father and “through” the Son, is overthrown, it being shown that in me passage cited the same Omnipotence is ascribed both to Father and to Son, as is proved from various texts, especially from the words of St. Paul himself, in which heretics foolishly find a reference to the Father only, though indeed there is no diminution or inferiority of the Son’s sovereignty proved, even by such a reference. Finally, the three phrases, “of Whom,” “through Whom,” “in Whom,” are shown to suppose or imply no difference (of power), and each and all to hold true of the Three Persons.

139. Now we come to that laughable method, attempted by some, of showing a difference of Power to subsist between Father and Son, on the strength of apostolic testimony, it being written “But for us there is One God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we in Him, and One Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and we through Him.”133 It is urged that no small difference in degree of Divine Majesty is signified in the affirmation that all things are “of” the Father, and “through” the Son. Whereas nothing is clearer than that here a plain reason is given of the Omnipotence of the Son, inasmuch as whilst all things are “of” the Father, none the less are they all “through” the Son.134

140. The Father is not “amongst” all things, for to Him it is confessed that “all things serve Thee.”135 Nor is the Son reckoned “amongst”all things, for “all things were made by Him,”136 and “all things exist together137 in Him, and He is above all the heavens.”138 The Son, therefore, exists not “amongst” but above all things, being, indeed, after the flesh, of the people,139 of the Jews, but yet at the same time God over all, blessed for ever,140 having a Name which is above every name,141 it being said of Him, “Thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet.”142 But in making all things subject to Him, He left nothing that is not subject, even as the Apostle hath said.143 But suppose that the Apostle’s words were intended with reference to the Incarnate Lord; how then can we doubt the incomparable majesty of His Divine Generation?

141. Certain it is, then, that between Father and Son there can be no difference of Power. Nay, so far is such difference from being present, that the same Apostle has said that all things are “of” Him, by Whom are all things, as followeth: “For of Him and through Him and in Him are all things.”144

142. Now if, as they suppose, it is the Father alone Who is spoken of, it cannot be that He is at once Omnipotent because all things are of Him, and not Omnipotent because all things are through Him.145 On their own showing, then, they will declare the Father lacking in Power, and not Omnipotent, or at the least they will be confessing with their own mouth, all against their will though it be, the Omnipotence of the Son as well as of the Father.

143. Howbeit, let them decide whether they will understand this affirmation as made concerning the Father. If they do so decide then all things are “through” Him also. If they decide that it is the Son Who is spoken of, then all things are “of” Him as well as “of” the Father. But if all things are “through” the Father also, then surely there is no argument for diminishing from the honour due to the Son; and if all things are “of” the Son, the Son must be honoured in like manner as the Father is.

144. In case our opponents should suspect that we are taking advantage of some intrusion of a single spurious verse into the text, let us review the whole passage. “O depth of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge!” exclaims the Apostle, “how un-searchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath been first to give unto Him, and shall be recompensed? For of Him and through Him and in Him are all things. To Him be glory for ever!”146

145. Who, then, think they, is here spoken of—the Father or the Son? If it be the Father—then we answer that the Father is not the Wisdom of God, for the Son is. But what is there that is impossible to Wisdom, of Whom it is written: “Seeing that she is almighty and abiding, she maketh all things new in herself”?147 We read of Wisdom, then, not as approaching, but as abiding.148 Thus have you the authority of Solomon to teach you of the Omnipotence and Eternity of Wisdom, and of her Goodness as well, for it is written: “But malice overcometh not Wisdom.”149

146. But to purpose. “How unsearchable,” saith the Apostle, “are His judgments!” Now if “the Father hath given all judgment to the Son,”150 it seems that the Father151 points to the Son as Judge.

147. But now, to show us that He is speaking of the Son, not of the Father, St. Paul proceeds: “Who was first in giving to Him?” For “the Father hath given to the Son,” but it was as acknowledging the rights of Him Whom He has begotten, not by way of largess. Therefore, it being undeniable that the Son has received at the hands of the Father, as it is written, “All things have been given unto Me of My Father,”152 yet, in saying, “Who was first in giving to Him?” the Apostle has not denied that the Son has received gifts of the Father, by virtue of His Nature, but he has indeed shown that, of Father and Son, Neither can be said to be before the Other, forasmuch as, albeit the Father has given gifts unto the Son, yet He has not so bestowed them as upon one that began to be after Him; because the uncreate and incomprehensible Trinity, Which is of One Eternity and Glory, admits neither difference of time nor degree of precedence.

148. If, however, we hold ourselves more bound to observe those Greek manuscripts which show “ti" prosedwcen autw” it is clear that He to Whom nothing can be added is not unequal to Him Who is perfect and complete. Therefore, if this passage from the Apostle, in its entirety, is better understood with reference to the Son, we see that we must also believe concerning the Son, that all things are of Him, even as it is written: “For of Him and through Him and in Him are all things.”

149. Be it so, nevertheless, that they suppose the passage to be intended of the Father, then let us call to mind that even as we read of all things being of Him, so too we read of all things being through Him, that is to say, the authority of the Father and of the Son is extended over the whole created universe. And, though we have already proved the Omnipotence of the Son by the Omnipotence of the Father,153 still—forasmuch as they are ever bent upon disparagement—let them consider that they disparage the Father as well as the Son. For if the Son be limited in might, because all things are through Him, do we say further, that the Father likewise is limited, because all things are through Him also?

150. But to bring them to understand that these phrases involve no difference, I will once again show that it is the same person, “of” whom anything is, and “through” whom anything is, and that we read of things being related in both these ways to the Father. For we find: “Faithful is God, through Whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son.”154 Let our adversaries weigh the meaning of the Apostle’s words. We are called “through” the Father—they raise no controversy: we are created “through” the Son—and this they have set down as a mark of inferiority.155 The Father has called us into fellowship with His Son, and this truth we, as in duty bound, devoutly receive. The Son has created all things, and Arius’ followers imagine that here they have not the decree of a free Will, but a forced service, slavishly performed!

151. Again, to obtain fuller understanding that, forasmuch as we are called through the Father into fellowship with His Son, there is no difference of Power in the Father and the Son, [note that] the fellowship itself has its beginning of the Son, as it is written: “For from His fulness have we all received,” though, if we follow the Greek text of the Gospel, we ought to render “of His fulness.”156

152. See, then, how there is fellowship both through the Father and of the Son, and yet not a different fellowship, but one and the same. “And that our fellowship be with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”157

153. Observe, further, that Scripture speaks of our having one fellowship not only “of” the Father and the Son, but also “of” the Holy Spirit. “The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” saith the Apostle, “and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”158

154. Now, I ask, wherein does He, through Whom are all things, appear less than He, of Whom are all things? Is it because He is declared to be the Worker? But the Father also works, for He is true who said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”159 Therefore, even as the Father worketh, so worketh the Son also; and so He Who worketh is not limitary in power nor abject, for the Father also worketh; which being so, that which is common to the Son with the Father, or even which the Son has by the Father, ought not to be the less esteemed, lest heretics further dishonour the Father in the Person of the Son.

155. Not to be passed over for silencing the disputings of Arian misbelief are those words of the same Saint John, which he set down in another Scripture: “If ye know that He is just, know that he which doeth righteousness is born of Him.”160 But who is righteous, save the Lord, Who loveth righteousness?161 Or whom—as the foregoing texts warn us—have we to assure us of everlasting life, if we have not the Son? If, therefore, the Son of God hath promised us everlasting life, and He is righteous, surely we are born “of” Him. Else, if our adversaries deny that we are born of the Son by grace, they likewise deny His righteousness.

156. Thou must therefore believe that all things are of the Son of God [even as of God the Father, for even as God is the Father of all, so likewise is the Son the Author and Creator of all. We see, then, the vanity of this their questioning, forasmuch as it holds good of the Son [as of the Father], that “of Him and through Him and in Him are all things.”

157. We have shown how all things are “of” Him, and likewise how all things are also “through” Him. Who then doubts that all things are “in” Him, when another Scripture saith: “For in Him are all things founded, that are in the heavens, and in Him they were created, and He is before all things, and all things consist in Him”? (
Col 1,16). Of Him, then, thou hast grace; Himself thou hast for thy Creator; in Him thou findest the foundation of all things.

Chapter XII.

06412 The comparison, found in the Gospel of St. John, of the Son to a Vine and the Father to a husbandman, must be understood with reference to the Incarnation. To understand it with reference to the Divine Generation is to doubly insult the Son, making Him inferior to St. Paul, and bringing Him down to the level of the rest of mankind, as well as in like manner the Father also, by making Him not merely to be on one footing with the same Apostle, but even of no account at all. The Son, indeed, in so far as being God, is also the husbandman, and, as regards His Manhood, a grape-cluster. True statement of the Father’s pre-eminence.

158). There is yet another Scripture, which our opponents commonly object against us, in order to prove their division of the Godhead of the Father from the Godhead of the Son, namely, our Lord’s words in the Gospel: “I am the true Vine and My Father is the Husbandman.” The vine and the husbandman, say they, are of different natures, and the vine is in the power of the husbandman.

159. Thus, then, ye would have us believe that the Son, as touching His Godhead, is like to a vine, so that without a vine-dresser He is nothing, and may be neglected or even rooted up. Thus ye juggle up a lie from the letter of the Scripture which sayeth that our Lord called Himself the Vine, intending thereby the mystery of His Incarnation.162 Howbeit, if ye are bent on it that we dispute upon the letter, I too confess, yea, I proclaim, that the Son called Himself the Vine. For woe be to me, if I deny the pledge163 of the salvation of His people!

160. How then do you purpose to understand the truth that the Son of God called Himself the Vine? If you interpret the saying with respect to the Substance of His Godhead, and if you suppose such a diversity of Godhead between the Father and the Son as there is of nature between a husbandman and a vine, you do double insult both to Father and to Son—to the Son, because if, as you affirm, He is, as touching His Godhead, beneath a husbandman, then must He on the same showing be esteemed lower than the Apostle Paul, forasmuch as Paul indeed called himself a husbandman, as we find it written: “I have planted, Apollos hath watered: but God hath given the increase.”164 Will you have Paul, then, to be better than the Son of God?

161. Thus far the one insult. As for the other, it lies herein, that if the Son is the Vine in respect of His eternally-begotten Person, then, He having said: “I am the Vine, ye are the branches,”165 that divinely-begotten One appears to be of one substance with us. But “who is like unto Thee among the gods, O Lord?”166 as it is written; and again, in the Psalms: “For who is there among the clouds that shall be equal to the Lord? Or who among the sons of God shall be like unto God.”167

162. Moreover, ye disparage not only the Son, but the Father also. For if the term “husbandman” is to comprehend in its designation all the prerogative of the Father’s Sovereignty, then, seeing that Paul too is a husbandman, you set the Apostle, to whom you deny that the Son is equal, on an even footing with the Father.

163. Again, it being written, “But neither he which planteth is anything, nor he that watereth; but God, Who giveth the increase,”168 you will rest the fulness of the Father’s Majesty in a name which, as you see, stands for weakness. For if he that planteth is nothing, and he that watereth is nothing, but it is God, Who giveth the increase [Who is all], observe what your blasphemy intends—even to expose the Father to contempt under the title of a husbandman, and to demand another God to provide the increase of the Father’s labour. Wickedly, therefore, do they think to extol the Dignity of God the Father by this use of the term “husbandman,” in which God the Father is brought down to the level of man, as being designated by a common title.

164. Yet what wonder if, as ye heretics would have it, the Father is to be exalted above a Son Whose Godhead differs not a whir from the common condition of mankind? If ye suppose the Son to have been entitled the Vine with respect to His Godhead, then do ye esteem Him not only as liable to corruption and subject to changes of wind and weather, but even as partaking of manhood only, forasmuch as the Vine and its branches are of one nature, so that the Son of God appears, not to have taken upon Him our flesh, through the mystery of Incarnation, but to have altogether sprung into being from the flesh.

165. But I will indeed openly confess that His flesh, though born in a new and mysterious birth, was yet of the same nature with ours, and that this is the pledge of our salvation, not the source of the Divine Generation. He indeed is the Vine, for He bears my sufferings, whensoever manhood, hitherto frail, leans on Him and so matures with plenteous fruit of renewed devotion.

166. Yet if the husbandman’s power allure thee, tell me, prithee, who it was that spake in the prophet, saying: “0 Lord, make it known to me, that I may know; then saw I their thoughts. I was led as a harmless lamb to the slaughter and knew it not: they took counsel together against me, saying, Come, let us throw wood into his bread.”169 For if the Son here speaks of the mystery of His coming Incarnation—for it were blasphemy to suppose that the words are spoken concerning the Father—then surely it is the Son Who speaks in an earlier passage: “I have planted thee as a fruitful vine—how art Thou become bitter, and a wild vine?”170

167. And thus thou seest that the Son also is the husbandman,—the Son, of one Name with the Father, one work, one dignity and Substance. If, then, the Son is both Vine and Husbandman, plainly we infer the meaning of the Vine with regard to the mystery of the Incarnation.

168. But not only has our Lord called Himself a Vine—He has also given Himself, by the voice of the prophet, the title of a Grape-cluster—even when Moses, at the command of the Lord, sent spies to the Valley of the Cluster.171 What is that valley but the humility of the Incarnation and the fruitfulness of the Passion? I indeed think that He is called the Cluster, because that from the Vine brought out of Egypt, that is, the people of the Jews, there grew a fruit for the world’s good. No man, truly, can understand the Cluster as a token of the Divine Generation—or if there be any who so understand it, they leave no conclusion open but that we should believe that Cluster to have sprung from the Vine: And thus in their folly they attribute to the Father that which they refuse to believe of the Son.

169. But if there be now left no room for doubt that the Son of God is called the Vine with respect and intention to His Incarnation,172 you see what hidden truth it was to which our Lord had regard in saying, “The Father is greater than I.”173 For after this premised, He proceeded immediately: “I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman,” that you might know that the Father is greater in so far as He dresses and tends our Lord’s flesh, as the husbandman dresses and tends his vines. Further, our Lord’s flesh is that which could increase in stature with age,174 and be wounded through suffering, to the end that the whole human race might rest guarded from the pestilent heat of the pleasures of this world, under the shadow of the Cross whereon Its limbs are spread.

1 (
Col 2,3).
2 St. Ambrose perhaps meant that John Baptist had, for a space, lost the prophetic Light, when he doubted, and sent disciples to enquire of Jesus. The darkness of the dungeon had drawn a cloud over the prisoner’s soul, and for a time he was in the state described by Isaiah 9,1, walking in darkness and the shadow of death, the state of the people of Israel (represented by the synagogue) at the time of our Lord’s Advent. See S. .
3 S. Mt 11,3.
4 S. Jn 3,13.
5 (Ps 24,7, Ambrose follows the LXX.
6 (Ps 24,8,
7 (Is 53,2).
8 S. Mt 22,11.
9 Bk. II. iv.
10 (He 4,14,
11 (Ps 19,1,
12 (Ap 3,20,
13 Song of Solomon 5,2.
14 (Ps 118,19,
15 (Col 4,3).
16 S. Jn 16,7.
17 S. Jn 20,17.
18 S. Mt 16,18.
19 S. Mc 3,17.
20 (Ps 9,14,
21 S. Jn 15,22-23.
22 Orig. “derogare.Derogare was a Roman law-term, meaning to repeal a law in part, to restrict or modify it—hence it came to be used generally of diminishing or taking away from anything already established.
23 (1Co 11,3).
24 “After” somewhat as in “Neither reward us after our iniquities”—i.e. (1) according to, and so (2) “by virtue of.” Here the second stage of the metaphorical usage seems to be arrived at.
25 Referring to Christ’s sinlessness.
26 (Ep 5,23,
27 (Ep 5,25,
28 (Ep 5,25,
29 The citation is from 1Co 3,8. Paul and Apollos are omoousioi, “of one substance, nature, essence,” in so far as the definition of man can be applied to each. But the presence of Paul does not carry with it the presence of Apollos, and the existence of Paul is not bound up, save accidentally, with that of Apollos. Paul could not say, “He that hath seen me hath seen Apollos.” No human being can say that of another, even though the other be a twin and closely resembling him in appearance. The root of the difference is in the difference between the Creator and the creature, the Eternal, knowing neither beginning of life nor end of days, existing from everlasting to everlasting, and that which lives under conditions and limits of time and space.
30 S. Jn 17,21).
31 S. Jn 5,19.
32 S. Jn 5,19.
33 i.e. that the Father is not a Spirit (S. Jn 4,24) but exists in bodily shape.
34 S. Jn 14,6.
35 (1Co 1,24,
36 (1Co 1,24,
37 S. Jn 5,19.
38 Namely, the error of postulating two mutually exclusive infinites.
39 S. Jn 2,4. For the walking on the sea, vide S. Mc 6,48.
40 As a matter of fact, gnats and insects generally are far from being the least wonderful of God’s works. In them as much as, if not more than, in anything we may recognize His eternal power and wisdom and Godhead. Cf. .
41 S. Jn 1,3 Ps 33,6.
42 (Jr 10,11,
43 Cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nic. I. viii. 15.
44 Cf. Aristotle, Eth. Nic. I. viii. 15.
45 (1P 2,7, from Is 28,16,
46 (1Co 10,4).
47 S. Mc 2,11.
48 (Ps 145,8,
49 S. Mt 11,5.
50 S. Mc 6,56.
51 (Is 53,5,
52 S. Lc 5,20.
53 (Is 53,5,
54 S. Lc 22,32.
55 S. Mt 16,18.
56 i.e. we are not to suppose that in S. Jn 5,19 Jesus refers to any sort of physical impossibility, to any external restraint or limitation.
57 S. Jn 13,13.
58 S. Jn 15,14-15.
59 (2Co 12,11,
60 (1Tm 1,4 1Tm 6,20-21).
61 Our Lord did not simply assert that He and His Father are One, without revealing to those, at least, who had faith to perceive it, what is one great bond of that Unity, showing men, so far as man can comprehend the matter, what that Unity consists in, viz., absolute and perfect harmony of will.
62 Lat. “consiliarius.” Cf. Pr 8,29-30.
63 (Gn 1,3-4.
64 Or “what sort of thing He made it to be.” How could the Son ask such a question, being Himself the true Light? S. Jn 1,9.
65 S. Jn 14,10).
66 (Ps 104,24,
67 (,
68 S. Jn 11,40.
69 Lat. “ex personoe hominis incarnati susceptione.” St. Ambrose does not mean that there were two Persons in Christ—the Divine Logos or Word and the man Jesus. “Persona” is here used in its dramatic rather than its strict theological sense.
70 (He 4,12).
71 S. Jn 16,15.
72 Cf. Rm 1,20.
73 i.e. The Father begets quâ Father, not quâa Almighty (o Pantokratwr)).
74 (Ps 110,3,
75 See §82.
76 Or “authority.”
77 S. Jn 1,10ff
78 (Si 24,5,
79 (Ps 110,3,
80 The word “womb” is used metaphorically in the original, from which St. Ambrose (though inaccurately) quotes. See Ps 110,in the R.V.
81 Or “to show the distinctive character of true” or “perfect generation”—as an absolute act, unconditioned of time or space.
82 Ath. Creed 4.
83 S. Jn 16,15).
84 sc. internally.
85 i.e. without plurality of substance or essential nature. There is one Godhead of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost—not three Godheads.
86 (1Co 8,6,
87 (1Co 12,11,
88 Cf. Ga 3,23 ff.
89 (Ps 51,4,
90 Or “engage in discussions of this kind.” Lat.—serunt hujusmodi quoestiones.
91 Cf. He 1,3, where Christ is called the Radianec of the Father’s Glory (ataugasmtah" doxh")).
92 St. Ambrose exhibits the argument as a reductio ad absurdum.
93 (Col 1,16,
94 (He 1,1,
95 (Col 1,19 Col 2,9 Col 3,4 S. Jn 1,4 Jn 5,26 Jn 11,25 Jn 14,6 Ap 1,18,
96 (Ps 115,3, which, however, in the English, runs: “He hath done whatsoever pleased Him.”—Prayer-book).
97 (Ap 1,8 Ap 1,17 Ap 2,8 Ap 3,14 Ap 22,13 Is 41,4 Is 44,6 Is 48,12,
98 “And,” we may add; “already was.”—St. Ambrose refers to St. Jn 8,25, but the reference is only justifiable by means of a defective rendering of the Greek; unless we suppose our Saviour to be alluding to what the prophets had said of Himself as well as to His own statements. Cf. Bk. III. 7,49.
99 On the analogy of which, indeed, Arianism endeavoured to conceive of the Nature and Activities of God.
100 Or “a shining body”—lumen, not lux, as in other places of this passage. St. Ambrose probably was unaware that “radiance” or “effulgence” from an incandescent or otherwise shining body is clue to the presence of the atmosphere, so that his analogy requires modification when bodies shining in vacuo come into the account. But with regard to these it may be urged that the shining of the body may be taken as the sole object of consideration, whilst it is fully admitted that the brightness and the body, though separated for purposes of mental treatment and thought, are not so in fact and actual reality. In the Book of Wisdom, 7,26, the Divine Wisdom is called “the brightness of everlasting Light” (ataugasma fwto" aidiou)—These texts would naturally suggest the ‘Light of Light0’ (fw" ek fwto",) of the Nicene Creed. The analogy of light and radiance is employed by many of the Fathers in maintaining the doctrine of the Church, see Alford’s note on He 1,3.
101 (He 1,3).
102 Or “before all worlds.” Cf. He 1,2, in the Greek, Latin, and English.
103 (Gn 25,23,
104 (Jr 1,5,
105 Or “by the Spirit,” i.e. by the help, power of the Spirit, working indeed with his spirit.
106 S. Lc 1,44.
107 S. Lc 1,41.
108 i.e. that “such as the Father is, such is the Son.”
109 S. Jn 6,58.
110 (Is 14,6,
111 (1Th 5,10,
112 S. Jn 10,17ff.
113 S. Jn 6,54.
114 S. Jn 6,56.
115 S. Jn 6,52.
116 S. Lc 24,39.
117 (1Co 11,26, Ambrose’s term for “are transformed” is “transfigurantur.
118 S. Jn 3,13).
119 Or “flesh.
120 S. Jn 5,21.
121 Or “is discovered to be a certain unity, etc.”
122 i.e. in respect of His Body of flesh and blood.
123 Rom 4,24.
124 S. Jn 5,26.
125 (Ps 45,1,
126 (Ps 110,3,
127 (1Co 15,40, this place H. observes: “As the Son, by reason of nature numerically identical with the Father’s, lives together with Him the same Divine Life, so we by virtue of manhood specifically the same as Christ’s have power to live the life which the Man Christ lives; which life indeed resides in its greatest fulness in Him as its Head and Fountain, and from His Person overflows into us, His members—yet not without certain difference, for the comparison is incomplete, by reason, namely, of the reservation of prerogatives attaching to the Divine Nature or to the Lord’s Incarnation. The Godhead is numerically One, the Life of the Father and the Life of the Son is numerically one, but Christ’s Life and ours are not so. Moreover, this (Divine) Life subsistent in the Son is united to His Manhood in and by the unity of His Person, but is not communicated to us in so close an alliance, overflowing rather into us only by certain participation. …But perhaps the sainted Doctor’s meaning here is that we live and abide in Christ by corporal unity, because, Christ having Manhood specifically the same as ours, whatsoever is fittingly predicted of manhood as existing in Christ is applicable to all His fellow-men. The first construction, howevers explains St. Ambrose’s analogy more fully.”
128 St. Ambrose quotes the words from St. Jn 6,58, thus: “propter Patrem.” This seeming expression of dependence, he says, does not in the dleast disturb his belief in the co-eternity and co equality of the Son with the Father; which belief would indeded remain unshaken even though Christ’s words had been still more expressive, to all appearance, of dependence and inferiority.
129 S. Jn 11,4.
130 S. Jn 17,5.
131 S. Jn 13,31-32.
132 S. Jn 17,4.
133 (1Co 8,6,
134 Cf. Bk. I. 3,26.
135 (Ps 119,91,
136 S. Jn 1,3.
137 Or “consist;” Lat.—constant; Greek—ta panta en autw sunesthken.
138 (Col 1,17,
139 Lat.—familia. Cf. the expression “house of Israel.”—Ps 115,9.
140 (Rm 9,5 Rm 1,3,
141 (Ph 2,9,
142 (Ps 8,6,
143 (He 2,8,
144 (Rm 11,36,
145 “You think, perhaps,” St. Ambrose might have said to his Arian opponents, “that this text speaks of God the Father only, as it begins with ‘of Him.0’ Very good. But whilst, in dealing with 1Co 8,6, you acknowledge that the Father is Omnipotent because ‘all things are of Him,0’ you deny that the Son is Omnipotent, on the strength of the statement that all things are ‘through0’ Hint Now here (Rm xi. 36) we find that all things are said to be ‘through0’ as well as ‘of0’ One and the same Person—the Father. On your own showing, then, you must conclude that the Father is both Omnipotent (all things being ‘of0’ Him) and not Omnipotent (all things being only ‘through0’ Him) at the same time and in the same respect. Which is absurd and impossible. Clearly, then, the inference you want to draw from the difference of the expressions ‘of Him0’ and ‘by Him0’ will not stand, if you make Rm 11,36 a declaration regarding the Father only. But if you make it a declaration concerning the Son, or even including the Son in its reference, you upset your own position.”
146 (Rm 11,33–36. St. Ambrose’s quotation of the passage in extenso shows us how texts ought to be used in argument—namely, not rent from their context, not as unrelated apophthegms.
147 (Sg 7,27,
148 “Approaching”—Lat). accedentem. An “accidentem” potius sit legendum?—ut Sapientia non sit accidens, sed proprium, Substantioe Divinoe.
149 (Sg 7,30,
150 S. Jn 5,22.
151 Potest hic manus incuriose transcribentis deprehendi, cum “Pauli” pro “Patris” nomen potius legendum esse videatur. Nec tamen prohibemur quin sic verba intelligamus, ut Pater Ipse in hoc Epistoloe Romanoe loco, per calamum A postoli sit locutus.
152 S. Mt 11,27.
153 See §140, and comparison of Ps 119,91, with St. Jn 1,3 Col 1,17, and Ps 8,8, with He 2,8).
154 Or “into fellowship with His Son.” “Fellowship” in the orig. is communio (koinwnia). 1Co 1,9.
155 Or “as an inferior work.”
156 S. Jn 1,16.
157 (1Jn 1,3,
158 (2Co 13,13, in the Latin of St. Ambrose is (in this citation and that of 1Jn 1,3, in §152) communicatio; Greek koinwnia.
159 S. Jn 5,17.
160 (1Jn 2,29,
161 (Ps 11,8).
162 Or “intending an emblem” or “token (orig). sacramentum) of His Incarnation.”
163 Orig). sacramentum.
164 (1Co 3,6,
165 S. Jn 15,5.
166 (Ex 15,11,
167 (Ps 89,6.
168 sc. is all. See Alford in loc. 1Co 3,7.
169 (Jr 11,18,
170 (Jr 2,21).
171 (Nb 13,24,
172 i.e. the Incarnate Son of God, not the Pre-existent Logos, is the Vine.
173 S. Jn 14,28.
174 S. Lc 2,ad fin.

Ambrose selected works 6410