Ambrose selected works 6509
06509 The saint meets those who in Jewish wise object to the order of the words: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the oly Ghost,” with the retort that the Son also is often placed before the Father; though he first points out that an answer to this objection has been already given by him.
115). Why is it that the Arians, after the Jewish fashion, are such false and shameless interpreters of the divine words, going indeed so far as to say that there is one power of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost, since it is written: “Go ye, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”? And why do they make a distinction of divine power owing to the mere order of words?
116. Though I have already given this very witness for a unity of majesty and name in my former books, yet if they make this the ground of debate, I can maintain on the testimony of the Scriptures that the Son is mentioned first in many places, and that the Father is spoken of after Him. Is it therefore a fact that, because the name of the Son is placed first, by the mere accident of a word, as the Arians would have it, the Father comes second to the Son? God forbid, I say, God forbid. Faith knows nothing of such order as this;it knows nothing of a divided honour of the Father and the Son. I have not read of, nor heard of, nor found any varying degree in God. Never have I read of a second, never of a third God. I have read of a first God,166 I have heard of a first and only God.
117. If we pay such excessive regard to order, then the Son ought not to sit at the right hand of the Father, nor ought He to call Himself the First and the Beginning. The Evangelist was wrong in beginning with the Word and not with God, where he says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.”167 For, according to the order of human usage, he ought to name the Father first. The Apostle also was ignorant of their order, who says: “Paul the servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of Go;”168 and elsewhere: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost.”169 If we follow the order of the words, he has placed the Son first, and the Father second. But the order of the words is often changed; and therefore thou oughtest not to question about order or degree, in the case of God the Father and His Son, for there is no severance of unity in the Godhead.
06510 The Arians openly take sides with the heathen in attacking the words: “He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me,” etc. The true meaning of the passage is unfolded; and to prevent us from believing that the Lord forbade us to have faith in Him, it is shown how He spoke at one time as God, at another as Man. After bringing forward examples of various results of that faith, he shows that certain other passages also must be taken in the same way.
118). Last of all, to show that they are not Christians, they deny that we are to believe on Christ, saying that it is written: “He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me.”170 I was awaiting this confession; why did you delude me with your quibbles? I knew I had to contend with heathens. Nay, they indeed are converted, but ye are not. If they believe, that the sacrament [of Baptism] is safe; ye have received it, and destroyed it, or perchance it has never been received, but was unreal171 from the first.
119. It is written, they say: “He that believeth on Me, believeth not on Me, but on Him that sent Me.” But see what follows, and see how the Son of God wishes to be seen; for it continues: “And he that seeth Me, seeth Him that sent Me,”172 for the Father is seen in the Son. Thus, He has explained what He had spoken earlier, that he who confesses the Father believes on the Son. For he who knows not the Son, neither knows the Father. For every one that denies the Son has not the Father, but he that confesses the Son has both the Father and the Son.173
120. What, then, is the meaning of “Believeth not on Me”? That is, not on that which you can perceive in bodily form, nor merely on the man whom you see. For He has stated that we are to believe not merely on a man, but that thou mayest believe that Jesus Christ Himself is both God and Man. Wherefore, for both reasons He says: “I came not from Myself;”174 and again: “I am the beginning, of which also I speak to you.”175 As Man He came not from Himself; as Son of God He takes not His beginning from men; but “I am,” He says, “Myself ‘the beginning of which also I speak to you.’ Neither are the words which I speak human, but divine.”
121. Nor is it right to believe that He denied we were to believe on Him, since He Himself said: “That whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness;”176 and in another place again: “For this is the will of My Father that sent Me, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have eternal life;”177 and again: “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”178
122. Let no one, therefore, receive the Son without the Father, because we read of the Son. The Son hath the Father, but not in a temporal sense, nor by reason of His passion, nor owing to His conception, nor by grace. I have read of His Generation, I have not read of His Conception. And the Father says: “I have begotten;”179 He does not say: “I have created.” And the Son calls not God His Creator in the eternity of His divine Generation, but Father.
123. He represents Himself also now in the character of man, now in the majesty of God; now claiming for Himself oneness of Godhead with the Father, now taking upon Him all the frailty of human flesh; now saying that He has not His own doctrine, and now that He seeks not His own will; now pointing out that His testimony is not true, and now that it is true. For He Himself has said: “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.”180 Later on He says: “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true.”181
124. And how is Thy testimony, Lord Jesus, not true? Did not he who believed it, though he hung upon the cross, and paid the penalty for the crime he owned to, cast aside the deserts of the robber and gain the reward of the innocent?182
125. Was Paul deceived, who received his sight, because he believed;183 which sight he had lost, before he believed?
126. And did Joshua, the son of Nun, err in recognizing the leader of the heavenly host?184 But after he believed, be forthwith conquered, being found worthy to triumph in the battle of faith. Again, he did not lead forth his armed ranks into the fight, nor did he overthrow the ramparts of the enemy’s walls, with battering rams or other engines of war, but with the sound of the seven trumpets of the priests. Thus the blare of the trumpet and the badge of the priest brought a cruel war to an end.
127. A harlot saw this; and she who in the destruction of the city lost all hope of any means of safety, because her faith had conquered, bound a scarlet thread in her window, and thus uplifted a sign of her faith and the banner of the Lord’s Passion;185 so that the semblance of the mystic blood, which should redeem the world, might be in memory. So, without, the name of Joshua was a sign of victory to those who fought; within, the semblance of the Lord’s Passion was a sign of salvation to those in danger. Wherefore, because Rahab understood the heavenly mystery, the Lord says in the Psalm: “I will be mindful of Rahab and Babylon that know Me.”186
128. How, then, is Thy testimony not true, O Lord, except it be given in accordance with the frailty of man? For “every man is a liar.”187
129. Lastly, to prove that He spoke as man, He says: “The Father that sent Me, He beareth witness of Me.”188 But His testimony as God is true, as He Himself says: “My record is true: for I know whence I come, and whither I go, but ye know not whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh.”189 They judge then not after the Godhead but after the manhood, who think that Christ had not the power of bearing witness.
130. Therefore, when thou hearest: “He that believeth, believeth not on Me;” or: “The Father that sent Me, He gave Me a commandment;”190 thou hast now learnt whither thou oughtest to refer those words. Lastly, He shows what the commandment is, saying: “I lay down My life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.”191 Thou seest, then, what is said so as to show He had full power to lay down or to take up His life; as He also said: “I have power to lay it down, and I have power again to take it up. This commandment have I received of My Father.”192
131. Whether, then, a command, or, as some Latin manuscripts have it, a direction was given, it was certainly not given to Him as God, but as incarnate man, with reference to the victory He should gain in undergoing His Passion).
06511 We must refer the fact that Christ is said to speak nothing of Himself, to His human nature. After explaining how it is fight to say that He hears and sees the Father as being God, He shows conclusively, by a large number of proofs, that the Son of God is not a creature.
132). Are we indeed to bring the Son of God to such a low estate that He may not know how to act or speak, except as He hears, and are we to suppose that a fixed measure of action or of speech is assigned to Him, because it is written: “I speak not of Myself,” and, further on: “As the Father hath said unto Me, even so I speak”?193 But those words have reference to the obedience of the flesh, or else to the faith in the Unity. For many learned men allow that the Son hears, and that the Father speaks to the Son through the unity of their Nature; for that which the Son, through the unity of their will, knows that the Father wills, He seems to have heard.
133. Whereby is meant no personal duty, but an indivisible sentence of co-operation. For this does not signify any actual hearing of words, but the unity of will and of power, which exists both in the Father and in the Son. He has stated that this exists also in the Holy Spirit, in another place, saying, “For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak,”194 so that we may learn that whatsoever the Spirit says, the Son also says; and whatsoever the Son says, the Father says also; for there is one mind and one mode of working in the Trinity. For, as the Father is seen in the Son, not indeed in bodily appearance, but in the unity of the Godhead, so also the Father speaks in the Son, not with a voice of earth, not with a human sound, but in the unity of Their work. So when He had said: “The Father that dwelleth in Me, He speaketh; and the works that I do, He doeth;”195 He added: “Believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; or else believe Me for the very work’s sake.”196
134. This is what we understand according to the whole course of the holy Scriptures; but the Arians, who will not think of God the things that be right, may be put to silence by an example just suited to their deserts; that they may not believe everything in carnal fashion, since they themselves do not see the works of their father the devil with bodily eyes. So the Lord has declared of their fellows the Jews, saying: “Ye do what ye have seen your father doing;”197 though they are reproved not because they saw the work of the devil, but because they did his will, since the devil unseen works out sin in them in accordance with their own wickedness, We have written this, as the Apostle did, because of the folly of these traitors.198
135. But we have sufficiently proved by examples from Scripture that it is a property of the unity of the divine majesty that the Father should abide in the Son, and that the Son should seem to have heard from the Father those things which He speaks. How else can we understand the unity of majesty than by the knowledge that the same deference is paid to the Father and the Son? For what can be better put than the Apostle’s saying that the Lord of glory was crucified?199
136. The Son then is the God of glory and the Lord of glory, but glory is not subject to creatures; the Son therefore is not a creature.
137. The Son is the Image of the Father’s Substance;200 but every creature is unlike that divine Substance, but the Son of the Father is not unlike God; therefore the Son is not a creature.
138. The Son thought it not robbery to be equal with God;201 but no creature is equal with God, the Son, however, is equal; therefore the Son is not a creature.
139. Every creature is changeable; but the Son of God is not changeable; therefore the Son of God is not a creature.
140. Every creature meets with chance occurrences of good and evil after the powers of its nature, and also feels their passing away; but nothing can pass away from or bring addition to the Son of God in His Godhead; therefore the Son of God is not a creature.
141. Every work of His God will bring into judgment;202 but the Son of God is not brought into judgment; for He Himself judges; therefore the Son of God is not a creature.
142. Lastly, that thou mayest understand the unity, the Saviour in speaking of His sheep says: “No man is able to pluck them out of My hand. My Father Which gave them to Me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”203 143. So the Son gives life as does the Father. “For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will.”204 So the Son raises up as does the Father: so too the Son preserves as does the Father. He Who is not unequal in grace, how is He unequal in power? So also the Son does not destroy, as neither does the Father. Therefore lest any one should believe there were two Gods, or should imagine a diversity of power, He said that He was one with His Father. How can a creature say that? Therefore the Son of God is not a creature.
144. It is not the same thing to rule as to serve; but Christ is both a King and the Son of a King. The Son of God therefore is not a servant. Every creature, however, gives service. But the Son of God, Who makes servants become the sons of God, does not give service. Therefore the Son of God is not a servant.
06512 (He confirms what has been already said, by the parable of the rich man who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom; and shows that when the Son delivers up the kingdom to the Father, we must not regard the fact that the Father is said to put all things in subjection under Him, in a disparaging way. Here we are the kingdom of Christ, and in Christ’s kingdom. Hereafter we shall be in the kingdom of God, where the Trinity will reign together.
145). In divine fashion has He represented that parable of the rich man, who went to a far-off country to receive a kingdom, and to return,205 thus describing Himself in the substance of the Godhead, and of His Manhood. For He being rich in the fulness of His Godhead, Who was made poor for us though He was rich and an eternal King, and the Son of an eternal King; He, I say, went to a foreign country in taking on Him a body, for He entered upon the ways of men as though upon a strange journey, and came into this world to preparefor Himself a kingdom from amongst us.
146. Jesus therefore came to this earth to receive for Himself a kingdom from us, to whom He says: “The kingdom of God is within you.”206 This is the kingdom which Christ has received, this the kingdom which He has delivered to the Father. For how did He receive for Himself a kingdom, Who was a King eternal? “The Son of Man therefore came to receive a kingdom and to return.” The Jews were unwilling to acknowledge Him, of whom He says: “They which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them.”207
147. Let us follow the course of the Scriptures. He Who came will deliver up the kingdom to God the Father; and when He has delivered up the kingdom, then also shall He be subject to Him, Who has put all things in subjection under Him, that God may be all in all.208 If the Son of God has received the kingdom as Son of Man, surely as Son of Man also He will deliver up what He has received. If He delivers it up as Son of Man, as Son of Man He confesses His subjection indeed under the conditions of the flesh, and not in the majesty of His Godhead.
148. And dost thou make objections and contemn Him, because God has put all things in subjection under Him, when thou hearest that the Son of Man delivers up the kingdom to God, and hast read, as we said in our earlier books: “No man can come to Me, except the Father draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day”?209 If we follow it literally, see rather and notice the unity of honour each gives to other: The Father has put all things in subjection under the Son, and the Son delivers the kingdom to the Father. Say now which isthe greater, to deliver up, or to raise up to life? Do we not after human fashion speak of the service of delivering up, and the power of raising to life? But both the Son delivers up to the Father, and also the Father to the Son. The Son raises to life, and the Father also raises to life, Let them create the fiction of a blasphemous division where there is a unity of power.
149. Let the Son then deliver up His kingdom to the Father. The kingdom which He delivers up is not lost to Christ, hut grows. We are the kingdom, for it was said to us: “The kingdom of God is within you.”210 And we are the kingdom, first of Christ, then of the Father; as it is written: “No man cometh to the Father, but by Me.”211 When I am on the way, I am Christ’s; when I have passed through, I am the Father’s; but everywhere through Christ, and everywhere under Him.
150. It is a good thing to be in the kingdom of Christ, so that Christ may be with us; as He Himself says: “Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”212 But it is better to be with Christ: “For to depart and be with Christ is far better.”213 Though we are under sin in this world, Christ is with us, that “by the obedience of one man many may be made just.”214 And if I escape the sin of this world, I shall begin to be with Christ. And so He says: “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself;”215 and further on: “I will that where I am, there ye may be also with Me.”216
151. Therefore we are now under Christ’s rule, whilst we are in the body, and are not yet stripped of the form of a servant, which He put upon Him, when He “emptied Himself.” But when we shall see His glory, which He had before the world was, we shall be in the kingdom of God, in which are the patriarchs and prophets, of whom it is written: “When ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God;”217 and shall thus acquire a deeper knowledge of God.
152. But in the kingdom of the Son the Father also reigns; and in the kingdom of the Father the Son also reigns: for the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father; and in whomsoever the Son dwells, in him also the Father dwells; and in whomsoever the Father dwells, in him also the Son dwells, as it is written: “Both I and My Father will come to Him, and make Our abode with Him.”218 Thus as there is one dwelling, so also there is one kingdom. Yea, and so far is the kingdom of the Father and of the Son but one, that the Father receives what the Son delivers, and the Son does not lose what the Father receives. Thus in the one kingdom there is a unity of power. Let no one therefore sever the Godhead between the Father and the Son.
06513 With the desire to learn what subjection to Christ means after putting forward and rejecting various ideas of subjection, he runs through the Apostle’s words; and so puts an end to the blasphemous opinions of the heretics on this matter. The subjection, which is shown to be future, cannot concern the Godhead, since there has always been the greatest harmony of wills between the Father and the Son. Also to that same Son in His Godhead all things have indeed been made subject; but they are said to be not yet subject to Him in this sense, because all men do not obey His commands. But after that they have been made subject, then shall Christ also be made subject in them, and the Father’s work be perfected.
153). But if the one name and right of God belong to both the Father and the Son, since the Son of God is also true God, and a King eternal, the Son of God is not made subject in His Godhead. Let us then, Emperor Augustus, think how we ought to regard His subjection.
154. How is the Son of God made subject? As the creature to vanity? But it is blasphemous to have any such idea of the Substance of the Godhead.
155. Or as every creature is to the Son of God, for it is rightly written: “Thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet”?219 But Christ is not made subject to Himself.
156. Or as a woman to a man, as we read: “Let the wives be subject to their husbands;”220 and again: “Let the woman learn in silence in all subjection”?221 But it is impious to compare a man to the Father, or a woman to the Son of God.
157. Or as Peter said: “Submit yourselves to every human creature”?222 But Christ was certainly not so subject.
158. Or as Paul wrote: “Submitting yourselves mutually to God and the Father in the fear of Christ”?223 But Christ was not subject either in His own fear, nor in the fear of another Christ. For Christ is but one. But note the force of these words, that we are subject to the Father, whilst we also fear Christ.
159. How, then, do we understand His subjection? Shall we review the whole chapter which the Apostle wrote, so as to give no appearance of having falsely withheld anything, or of having weakened its force with intention to deceive? “If in this life only,” he says, “we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But if Christ is risen from the dead, He is the first-fruits of them that sleep.”224 Ye see how he discusses the question of Christ’s Resurrection.
160.“‘For since by one man,’” he says, “came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s, who have believed in His coming. Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God,even the Father, when He shall have put down all rule and authority and power. For He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death; for He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith, all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted Which did put all things under Him. But when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him, that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”225 Thus also the same Apostle said to the Hebrews: “But now we see not yet all things put under Him.”226 We have heard the whole of the Apostle’s discourse.
161. How, then, do we speak of His subjection? The Sabellians and Marcionites say that this subjection of Christ to God the Father will be in such wise that the Son will be re-absorbed into the Father. If, then, the subjection of the Word means that God the Word is to be absorbed into the Father; then whatsoever is made subject to the Father and the Son will be absorbed into the Father and the Son, that God may be all and in all His creatures. But it is foolish to say so. There is therefore no subjection through re-absorption. For there are other things which are made subject, those, that is to say, which are created, and there is Another, to Whom that subjection is made. Let the expounders of a cruel re-absorption keep silence.
162. Would that they too were silent, who, as they cannot prove that the Word of God and Wisdom of God can be re-absorbed, attribute the weakness of subjection to His Godhead, saying that it is written: “But when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him.”227
163. We see, then, that the Scripture states that He is not yet made subject, but that this is to come: Therefore now the Son is not made subject to God the Father. In what, then, do ye say that the Son will be made subject? If in His Godhead, He is not disobedient, for He is not at variance with the Father; nor is He made subject, for He is not a servant, but the only Son of His own proper Father. Lastly, when He created heaven, and formed the earth, He exercised both power and love. There is therefore no subjection as that of a servant in the Godhead of Christ. But if there is no subjection then the will is free.
164. But if they think of this as the subjection of the Son, namely, that the Father makes all things in union with His will, let them learn that this is really a proof of inseparable power. For the unity of Their will is one that began not in time, but ever existed. But where there is a constant unity of will, there can be no weakness of temporal subjection. For if He were made subject through His nature, He would always remain in subjection; but since He is said to be made subject in time, that subjection must be part of an assumed office and not of an everlasting weakness: especially as the eternal Power of God cannot change His state for a time, neither can the right of ruling fall to the Father in time. For if the Son ever will be changed in such wise as to be made subject in His Godhead, then also must God the Father, if ever He shall gain more power, and have the Son in subjection to Himself in His Godhead, be considered now in the meantime inferior according to your explanation.
165. But what fault has the Son been guilty of, that we should believe that He could hereafter be made subject in His Godhead? Has he as man seized for Himself the right to sit at His Father’s side, or has He claimed for Himself the prerogative of His Father’s throne, against His Father’s will? But He Himself says: “For I do always those things that please Him.”228 Therefore if the Son pleases the Father in all things, why should He be made subject, Who was not made subject before?
166. Let us see then that there be not a subjection of the Godhead, but rather of us in the fear of Christ, a truth so full of grace, and so full of mystery. Wherefore, again, let us weigh the Apostle’s words: “But when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him: that God may be all in all.” What then dost thou say? Are not all things now subject unto Him? Are not the choirs of the saints made subject? Are not the angels, who ministered to Him when on the earth.229 Are not the archangels who were sent to Mary to foretell the coming of the Lord? Are not all the heavenly hosts? Are not the cherubim and seraphim, are not thrones and dominions and powers which worship and praise Him?
167. How, then, will they be brought into subjection? In the way that the Lord Himself has said. “Take My yoke upon you.”230 It is not the fierce that bear the yoke, but the humble and the gentle. This clearly is no base subjection for men, but a glorious one: “that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things beneath; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord in the glory of God the Father.”231 But for this reason all things were not made subject before, for they had not yet received the wisdom of God, not yet did they wear the easy yoke of the Word on the neck as it were of their mind. “But as many as received Him,” as it is written, “to them gave He power to become the sons of God.”232
168. Will any one say that Christ is now made subject, because many have believed? Certainly not. For Christ’s subjection lies not in a few but in all. For just as I do not seem to be brought into subjection, if the flesh in me as yet lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh,233 although I am in part subdued; so because the whole Church is the one body of Christ, we divide Christ as long as the human race disagrees. Therefore Christ is not yet made subject, for His members are not yet brought into subjection. But when we have become, not many members, but one spirit, then He also will become subject, in order that through His subjection “God may be all and in all.”
169. But as Christ is not yet made subject, so is the work of God not yet perfected; for the Son of God said: “My meat is to do the will of My Father that sent Me, and to finish His work.”234 What manner of doubt is there that the subjection of the Son in me iS still in the future, in whom the work of the Father is unfinished, because I myself am not yet perfect? I, who make the work of God to be unfinished, do I make the Son of God to be in subjection? But that is not a matter of wrong, it is a matter of grace. For in so far as we are made subject, it is to our profit, not to that of the Godhead, that we are made subject to the law, that we are made subject to grace. For formerly, as the Apostle himself has said, the wisdom of the flesh was at enmity with God, for “it was not made subject to the law,”235 but now it is made subject through the Passion of Christ.
06514 (He continues the discussion of the difficulty he has entered upon, and teaches that Christ is not subject but only according to the flesh. Christ, however, whilst in subjection in the Flesh, still gave proofs of His Godhead. He combats the idea that Christ is made subject in This. The humanity indeed, which He adopted, has been so far made subject in us, as ours has been raised in that very humanity of His. Lastly, we are taught, when that same subjection of Christ will take place.
170). However, lest anyone should cavil, see what care Scripture takes under divineinspiration. For it shows to us in whatChrist is made subject to God, whilst it also teaches us in what He made the universesubject to Himself. And so it says: “Now we see not yet all things put under Him.”236 For we see Jesus made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.237 It shows therefore that He was made lower in taking on Him our flesh. What then hinders Him from openly showing His subjection in taking on Him our flesh, through which He subjects all things to Himself, whilst He Himself is made subject in it to God the Father?
171. Let us then think of His subjection. “Father,” He says, “if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will but Thine be done.”238 Therefore that subjection will be according to the assumption of human nature; as we read: “Being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, being made obedient unto death.”239 The subjection therefore is that of obedience; the obedience is that of death; the death is that of the assumed humanity; that subjection therefore will be the subjection of the assumed humanity. Thus in no wise is there a weakness in the Godhead, but there is such a discharge of pious duty as this.
172. See how I do not fear their intentions. They allege that He must be subject to God the Father, I say He was subject to Mary His Mother. For it is written of Joseph and Mary: “He was subject unto them.”240 But if they think so, let them say how the Deity was made subject to men.
173. Let not the fact that He is said to have been made subject work against Him, Who receives no hurt from the fact that He is called a servant, or is stated to have been crucified, or is spoken of as dead. For when He died He lived; when He was made subject He was reigning; when He was buried He revived again. He offered Himself in subjection to human power, yet at another time He declared He was the Lord of eternal glory. He was before the judge, yet claimed for Himself a throne at the right hand of God, as Judge forever. For thus it is written: “Hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”241 He was scourged by the Jews, and commanded the angels; He was born of Mary under the law;242 He was before Abraham above the law. On the cross He was revered by nature; the sun fled; the earth trembled; the angels became silent. Could the elements see the Generation of Him Whose Passion they feared to see? And will they uphold the subjection of an adorable Nature in Him, in Whom they could not endure the subjection of the body?
174. But since the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of one Nature, the Father certainly will not be in subjection to Himself. And therefore the Son will not be in subjection in that in which He is one with the Father; test it should seem that through the unity of the Godhead the Father also is in subjection to the Son. Therefore, as upon that cross it was not the fulness of the Godhead, but our weakness that was brought into subjection, so also will the Son hereafter become subject to the Father in the participation of our nature, in order that when the lusts of the flesh are brought into subjection the heart may have no care for riches, or ambition, or pleasures; but that God may be all to us, if we live after His image and likeness, as far as we can attain to it, through all.
175. The benefit has passed, then, from the individual to the community; for in His flesh He has tamed the nature of all human flesh. Thus, according to the Apostle: “As we have borne the image of the earthly, so also shall we bear the image of the heavenly.”243 This thing certainly cannot come to pass except in the inner man. Therefore, “laying aside all these,” that is those things which we read of: “anger, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication;”244 as he also says below: “Let us, having put off the old man with his deeds, put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him.”245
176. And that thou mightest know that when he says: “That God may be all in all,” he does not separate Christ from God the Father, he also says to the Colossians: “Where there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”246 So also saying to the Corinthians: “That God may be all and in all,” he comprehended in that the unity and equality of Christ with God the Father, for the Son is not separated from the Father. And in like manner as the Father worketh all and in all, so also Christ worketh all in all. If, then, Christ also worketh all in all, He is not made subject in the glory of the Godhead, but in us. But how is He made subject in us, except in the way in which He was made lower than the angels, I mean in the sacrament of His body? For all things which served their Creator from their first beginning seemed not as yet to be made subject to Him in that.
177. But if thou shouldst ask how He was made subject in us, He Himself shows us, saying: “I was in prison, and ye came unto Me; I was sick, and ye visited Me: Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these ye have done it unto Me.”247 Thou hearest of Him as sick and weak, and art not moved. Thou hearest of Him in subjection, and art moved, though He is sick and weak in Him in whom He is in subjection, in whom He was made sin and a curse for us.
178. As, then, He was made sin and a curse not on His own account but on ours, so He became subject in us not for His own sake but for ours, being not in subjection in His eternal Nature, nor accursed in His eternal Nature. “For cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”248 Cursed He was, for He bore our curses; in subjection, also, for He took upon Him our subjection, but in the assumption of the form of a servant, not in the glory of God; so that whilst he makes Himself a partaker of our weakness in the flesh, He makes us partakers of the divine Nature in His power. But neither in one nor the other have we any natural fellowship with the heavenly Generation of Christ, nor is there any subjection of the Godhead in Christ. But as the Apostle has said that on Him through that flesh which is the pledge of our salvation, we sit in heavenly places,249 though certainly not sitting ourselves, so also He is said to be subject in us through the assumption of our nature.
179. For who is so mad as to think, as we have said already,250 that a seat of honour is due to Him at the right hand of God the Father, when that is granted to Christ according to the flesh by the Father of His Generation, even a seat of a heavenly and equal power? The angels worship, and dost thou attempt to overthrow the throne of God with impious presumption?
180. It is written, thou sayest, that “when we were dead in sins, He hath quickened us in Christ, by Whose grace ye are saved, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”251 I acknowledge that it is so written; but it is not written that God suffers men to sit on His right hand, but only to sit there in the Person of Christ. For He is the foundation of all, and is the head of the Church,252 in Whom our common nature according to the flesh has merited the right to the heavenly throne. For the flesh is honoured as having a share in Christ Who is God, and the nature of the whole human race is honoured as having a share in the flesh.
181. As we then sit in Him by fellowship in our fleshly nature, so also He, Who through the assumption of our flesh was made a curse for us (seeing that a curse could not fall upon the blessed Son of God), so, I say, He through the obedience of all will become subject in us; when the Gentile has believed, and the Jew has acknowledged Him Whom he crucified; when the Manichaean has worshipped Him, Whom he has not believed to have come in the flesh; when the Arian has confessed Him to be Almighty, Whom he has denied; when, lastly, the wisdom of God, His justice, peace, love, resurrection, is in all. Through His own works and through the manifold forms of virtues Christ will be in us in subjection to the Father. And when, with vice renounced and crime at an end, one spirit in the heart of all peoples has begun to cleave to God in all things, then will God be all and in all.253
Ambrose selected works 6509