Golden Chain 11436
CHRYS. The report of Christ's resurrection being published every where by the Apostles, and while the anxiety of the disciples was easily awakened to see Christ, He that was so much desired comes, and is revealed to them that were seeking and expecting Him. Nor in a doubtful manner, but with the clearest evidence, He presents Himself, as it is said, And as they thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them.
AUG. This manifestation of our Lord after His resurrection, John also relates. But when John says that the Apostle Thomas was not with the rest, while according to Luke, the two disciples on their return to Jerusalem found the eleven gathered together, we must understand undoubtedly that Thomas departed from them, before our Lord appeared to them as they spoke these things. For Luke gives occasion in his narrative, that it may be understood that Thomas first went out from them when the rest were saying these things, and that our Lord entered afterwards. Unless some one should say that the eleven were not those who were then called Apostles, but that these were eleven disciples out of the large number of disciples. But since Luke has added, And those that were with them, he has surely made it sufficiently evident that those called the eleven were the same as those who were called Apostles, with whom the rest were.
But let us see what mystery it was for the sake of which, according to Matthew and Mark, our Lord when He rose again gave the following command, I will go before ore you into Galilee, there shall you see me. Which although it was accomplished, yet it was not till after many other things had happened, whereas it was so commanded, that it might be expected that it would have taken place alone, or at least before other things.
AMBROSE; Therefore I think it most natural that our Lord indeed instructed His disciples, that they should see Him in Galilee, but that He first presents Himself as they remained still in the assembly through fear.
GREEK EX. Nor was it a violation of His promise, but rather a mercifully hastened fulfillment on account of the cowardice of the disciples.
AMBROSE; But afterwards when their hearts were strengthened, the eleven set out for Galilee. Or there is no difficulty in supposing that they should be reported to have been fewer in the assembly, and a larger number on the mountain.
EUSEB. For the two Evangelists, that is, Luke and John, write that He appeared to the eleven alone in Jerusalem, but those two disciples told not only the eleven, but all the disciples and brethren, that both the angel and the Savior had commanded them to hasten to Galilee; of whom also Paul made mention, saying, Afterwards he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at once. But the truer explanation is, that at first indeed while they remained in secret at Jerusalem, He appeared once or twice for their comfort, but that in Galilee not in the assembly, or once or twice, but with great power, He made a manifestation of Himself, strewing Himself living to them after His Passion with many signs, as Luke testifies in the Acts.
AUG. But that which was said by the Angel, that is the Lord, must be taken prophetically, for by the word Galilee according to its meaning of transmigration, it is to be understood that they were about to pass over from the people of Israel to the Gentiles, to whom the Apostles preaching would not entrust the Gospel, unless the Lord Himself should prepare His way in the hearts of men. And this is what is meant by, He shall go before you into Galilee, there shall you see him. But according to the interpretation of Galilee, by which it means "manifestation," we must understand that He will be revealed no more in the form of a servant, but in that form in which He is equal to the Father, which He has promised to His elect. That manifestation will be as it were the true Galilee, when we shall see Him as He is. This will also be that far more blessed transmigration from the world to eternity, from whence though coming to us He did not depart, and to which going before us He has not deserted us.
THEOPHYL. The Lord then standing in the midst of the disciples, first with His accustomed salutation of "peace," allays their restlessness, showing that He is the same Master who delighted in the word wherewith He also fortified them, when He sent them to preach. Hence it follows, And he said to them, Peace be to you; I am he, fear not.
GREG. NAZ. Let us then reverence the gift of peace, which Christ when He departed hence left to us. Peace both in name and reality is sweet, which also we have heard to be of God, as it is said, The peace of God; and that God is of it, as He is our peace. Peace is a blessing commended by all, but observed by few. What then is the cause? Perhaps the desire of dominion or riches, or the envy or hatred of our neighbor, or some one of those vices into which we see men fall who know not God. For peace is peculiarly of God, who binds all things together in one, to whom nothing so much belongs as the unity of nature, and a peaceful condition. It is borrowed indeed by angels and divine powers, which are peacefully disposed towards God and one another. It is diffused through the whole creation, whose glory is tranquillity. But in us it abides in our souls indeed by the following and imparting of the virtues, in our bodies by the harmony of our members and organs, of which the one is called beauty, the other health.
BEDE; The disciples had known Christ to be really man, having been so long a time with Him; but after that He was dead, they do not believe that the real flesh could rise again from the grave on the third day. They think then that they see the spirit which He gave up at His passion. Therefore it follows, But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. This mistake of the Apostles was the heresy of the Manicheans.
AMBROSE; But persuaded by the example of their virtues, we can not believe that Peter and John could have doubted. Why then does Luke relate them to have been affrighted. First of all because the declaration of the greater part includes the opinion of the few. Secondly, because although Peter believed in the resurrection, yet he might be amazed when the doors being closed Jesus suddenly presents Himself with his body.
THEOPHYL. Because by the word of peace the agitation in the minds of the Apostles was not allayed, He shows by another token that He is the Son of God, in that He knew the secrets of their hearts; for it follows, And he said to them, Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
BEDE; What thoughts indeed but such as were false and dangerous. For Christ had lost the fruit of His passion, had He not been the Truth of the resurrection; just as if a good husbandmen should say, What I have planted there, I shall find, that is, the faith which descends into the heart, because it is from above. But those thoughts did not descend from above, but ascended from below into the heart like worthless plants.
CYRIL; Here then was a most evident sign that He whom they now see was none other but the same whom they had seen dead on the cross, and lain in the sepulcher, who knew every thing that was in man.
AMBROSE; Let us then consider how it happens that the Apostles according to John believed and rejoiced, according to Luke are reproved as unbelieving. John indeed seems to me, as being an Apostle, to have treated of greater and higher things; Luke of those which relate and are close akin to human. The one follows an historic course, the other is content with an abridgment, because it could not be doubted of him, who gives his testimony concerning those things at which he was himself present. And therefore we deem both true. For although at first Luke says that they did not believe, yet he explains that they afterwards did believe.
CYRIL; Now our Lord testifying that death was overcome, and human nature had now in Christ put on incorruption, first shows them His hands and His feet, and the print of the nails; as it follows, Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
THEOPHYL. But He adds also another proof, namely, the handling of His hands and feet, when He says, Handle me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see me have. As if to say, You think me a spirit, that is to say, a ghost, as many of the dead are wont to be seen about their graves. But know you that a spirit has neither flesh nor bones, but I have flesh and bones.
AMBROSE; Our Lord said this in order to afford us an image of our resurrection. For that which is handled is the body. But in our bodies we shall rise again. But the former is more subtle, the latter more carnal, as being still mixed up with the qualities of earthly corruption. Not then by His incorporeal nature, but by the quality of His bodily resurrection, Christ passed through the shut doors.
GREG. For in that glory of the resurrection our body will not be incapable of handling, and more subtle than the winds and the air, (as Eutychius said,) but while it is subtle indeed through the effect of spiritual power, it will be also capable of handling through the power of nature. It follows, And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet, on which indeed were clearly marked the prints of the nails. But according to John, He also showed them His side which had been pierced with the spear, that by manifesting the scar of His wounds He might heal the wound of their doubtfulness. But from this place the Gentiles are fond of raising up a calumny, as if He was not able to cure the wound inflicted on Him. To whom we must answer, that it is not probable that He who is proved to have done the greater should be unable to do the less. But for the sake of His sure purpose, He who destroyed death would not blot out the signs of death. First indeed, that He might thereby build up His disciples in the faith of His resurrection. Secondly, that supplicating the Father for us, He might always show forth what kind of death He endured for many. Thirdly, that He might point out to those redeemed by His death, by setting before them the signs of that death, how mercifully they have been succored. Lastly, that He might declare in the judgment how justly the wicked are condemned.
11441 Lc 24,41-44
CYRIL; The Lord had shown His disciples His hands and His feet, that He might certify to them that the same body which had suffered rose again. But to confirm them still more, He asked for something to eat.
GREG. NYSS. By the command of the law indeed the Passover was eaten with bitter herbs, because the bitterness of bondage still remained, but after the resurrection the food is sweetened with a honeycomb; as it follows, And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and a honeycomb.
BEDE; To convey therefore the truth of His resurrection, He condescends not only to be touched by His disciples, but to eat with them, that they might not suspect that His appearance was not actual, but only imaginary. Hence it follows, And when he had eaten before them, he took the remnant, and gave to them. He ate indeed by His power, not from necessity. The thirsty earth absorbs water in one way, the burning sun in another way, the one from want, the other from power.
GREEK EX. But some one will say, If we allow that our Lord ate after His resurrection, let us also grant that all men will after the resurrection take the nourishment of food. But these things which for a certain purpose are done by our Savior, are not the rule and measure of nature, since in other things He has purposed differently. For He will raise our bodies, not defective but perfect and incorrupt, who yet left on His own body the prints which the nails had made, and the wound in His side, in order to show that the nature of His body remained the same after the resurrection, and that He was not changed into another substance.
BEDE; He ate therefore after the resurrection, not as needing food, nor as signifying that the resurrection which we are expecting will need food; but that He might thereby build up the nature of a rising body. But mystically, the broiled fish of which Christ ate signifies the sufferings of Christ. For He having condescended to lie in the waters of the human race, was willing to be taken by the hook of our death, and was as it were burnt up by anguish at the time of His Passion. But the honeycomb was present to us at the resurrection. By the honeycomb He wished to represent to us the two natures of His person. For the honeycomb is of wax, but the honey in the wax is the Divine nature in the human.
THEOPHYL. The things eaten seem also to contain another mystery. For in that He ate part of a broiled fish, He signifies that having burnt by the fire of His own divinity our nature swimming in the sea of this life, and dried up the moisture which it had contracted from the waves, He made it divine food; and that which was before abominable He prepared to be a sweet offering to God, which the honeycomb signifies. Or by the broiled fish He signifies the active life, drying up the moisture with the coals of labor, but by the honeycomb, the contemplative life on account of the sweetness of the oracles of God.
BEDE; But after that He was seen, touched, and had eaten, lest He should seem to have mocked the human senses in any one respect, He had recourse to the Scriptures. And he said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you, when I was yet with you, that is, when I was as yet in the mortal flesh, in which you also are. He indeed was then raised again in the same flesh, but was not in the same mortality with them. And He adds, That all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.
AUG. Let those then who dream that Christ could have done such things by magical arts, and by the same art have consecrated His name to the nations to be converted to Him, consider whether He could by magical arts fill the Prophets with the Divine Spirit before He was born. For neither supposing that He caused Himself to be worshipped when dead, was He a magician before He was born, to whom one nation was as assigned to prophesy His coming.
11445 Lc 24,45-49
BEDE; After having presented Himself to be seen with the eye, and handled with hands, and having brought to their minds the Scriptures of the law, He next opened their understanding that they should understand what was read.
THEOPHYL. Otherwise, how would their agitated and perplexed minds have learnt the mystery of Christ. But He taught them by His words; for it follows, And said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, that is, by the wood of the Cross.
BEDE; But Christ would have lost the fruit of His Passion had He not been the Truth of the resurrection, therefore it is said, And to rise form the dead.
He then after having commended to them the truth of the body, commends the unity of the Church, adding, And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.
EUSEB. For it was said, Ask of me, and I will give you the heathen for your inheritance. But it was necessary that those who were converted from the Gentiles should be purged from a certain stain and defilement through His virtue, being as it were corrupted by the evil of the worship of devils, and as lately converted from an abominable and unchaste life. And therefore He says that it behoves that first repentance should be preached, but next, remission of sins, to all nations. For to those who first showed. repentance for their sins, by His saving grace He granted pardon of their transgression, for whom also He endured death.
THEOPHYL. But herein that He says, Repentance and remission of sins, He also makes mention of baptism, in which by the putting off of our past sins there follows pardon of iniquity. But how must we understand baptism to be performed in the name of Christ alone, whereas in another place He commands it to be in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. First indeed we say that it is not meant that baptism is administered in Christ's name alone, but that a person is baptized with the baptism of Christ, that is, spiritually, not Judaically, nor with the baptism, wherewith John baptized to repentance only but to the participation of the blessed Spirit; as Christ also when baptized in Jordan manifested the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. Moreover you must understand baptism in Christ's name to be in His death. For as He after death rose again on the third day, so we also are three times dipped in the water, and fitly brought out again, receiving thereby an earnest of the immortality of the Spirit. This name of Christ also contains in itself both the Father as the Anointer and the Spirit as the Anointing, and the Son as the Anointed, that is, in His human nature. But it was fitting that the race of man should no longer be divided into Jews and Gentiles, and therefore that He might unite all in one, He commanded that their preaching should begin at Jerusalem but be finished with the Gentiles. Hence it follows, Beginning at Jerusalem.
BEDE; Not only because to them were entrusted the oracles of God, and theirs is the adoption and the glory, but also that the Gentiles entangled in various errors might by this sign of Divine mercy be chiefly invited to come to hope, seeing that to them even who crucified the Son of God pardon is granted.
CHRYS. Further, lest any should say that abandoning their acquaintances they went to show themselves, (or as it were to vaunt themselves with a kind of pomp,) to strangers therefore first among the very murderers themselves are the signs of the resurrection displayed, in that very city wherein the frantic outrage burst forth. For where the crucifiers themselves are seen to believe, there the resurrection is most of all demonstrated.
EUSEB. But if those things which Christ foretold are already receiving their accomplishment, and His word is perceived by a seeing faith to be living and effectual throughout the whole world; it is time for men not to be unbelieving towards Him who uttered that word. For it is necessary that He should live a divine life, whose living works are shown to be agreeable to His words; and these indeed have been fulfilled by the ministry of the Apostles. Hence He adds, But you are witnesses of these things, &c. that is, of My death and resurrection.
THEOPHYL. Afterwards, lest they should be troubled at the thought, How shall we private individuals give our testimony to the Jews and Gentiles who have killed Thee? He subjoins, And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you, &c. which indeed He had promised by the mouth of the prophet Joel, I will pour my Spirit upon all flesh.
CHRYS. But as a general does not permit his soldiers who are about to meet a large number, to go out until they are armed, so also the Lord does not permit His disciples to go forth to the conflict before tile descent of the Spirit. And hence He adds, But tarry you in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued with power from on high.
THEOPHYL. That is, not with human but heavenly power. He said not, until you receive, but be endued with, showing the entire protection of the spiritual armor.
BEDE; But concerning the power, that is, the Holy Spirit, the Angel also says to Mary, And the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. And the e Lord Himself says elsewhere, For I know that virtue is gone out of me.
CHRYS. But why did not the Spirit come while Christ was present, or immediately on His departure? Because it was fitting that they should become desirous of grace, and then at length receive it. For we are then most awakened towards God, when difficulties press upon us. It was necessary in the mean time that our nature should appear in Heaven, and the covenants be completed, and that then the Spirit should come, and pure joys be experienced. Mark also what a necessity He imposed upon them of being at Jerusalem, in that He promised that the Spirit should there be given them. For lest they should again flee away after His resurrection by this expectation, as it were a chain, He kept them all there together. But He says, until you be endued from on high. He did not express the time when, in order that they may be constantly watchful. But why then marvel that He does not reveal to us our last day, when He would not even make known this day which was close at hand.
GREG. They then are to be warned, whom age or imperfection hinders from the office of preaching, and yet rashness impels, lest while they hastily arrogate to themselves so responsible an office, they should cut themselves off from the way of future amendment. For the Truth Itself which could suddenly strengthen those whom it wished, in order to give an example to those that follow, that imperfect men should not presume to preach, after having fully instructed the disciples concerning the virtue of preaching, commanded them to abide in the city, until they were endued with power from on high. For we abide in a city, when we keep ourselves close within the gates of our minds, lest by speaking we wander beyond them; that when we are perfectly endued with divine power, we may then as it were go out beyond ourselves to instruct others.
AMBROSE; But let us consider how according to John they received the Holy Spirit, while here they are ordered to stay in the city until they should be endued with power from on high. Either He breathed the Holy Spirit into the eleven as being more perfect, and promised to give it to the rest afterwards; or to the same persons He breathed in the one place He promised in the other. Nor does there seem to be any contradiction, since there are diversities of graces. Therefore one operation He breathed into them there, another He promised here. For there the grace of remitting sins was given, which seems to be more confined, and therefore is breathed into them by Christ, that you may believe the Holy Spirit to be of Christ, to be from God. For God alone forgives sins. But Luke describes the pouring, forth of the grace of speaking with tongues.
CHRYS. Or He said, Receive you the Holy Spirit, that He might make them fit to receive it, or indicated as present that which was to come.
AUG. Or the Lord after His resurrection gave the Holy Spirit twice, once on earth, because of the love of our neighbor, and again from heaven, because of the love of God.
11450 Lc 24,50-53
BEDE; Having omitted all those things which may have taken place during forty-three days between our Lord and His disciples, St. Luke silently joins to the first day of the resurrection, the last day when He ascended into heaven, saying, And he led them out as far as to Bethany. First, indeed, because of the name of the place, which signifies "the house of obedience." For He who descended because of the disobedience of the wicked, ascended because of the obedience of the converted. Next, because of the situation of the same village, which is said to be placed on the side of the mount of Olives; because He has placed the foundations, as it were, of the house of the obedient Church, of faith, hope, and love, in the side of that highest mountain, namely, Christ. But He blessed them to whom He had delivered the precepts of His teaching; hence it follows, And he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
THEOPHYL. Perhaps pouring into them a power of preservation, until the coming of the Spirit; and perhaps instructing them, that as often as we go away, we should commend to God by our blessing those who are placed under us.
ORIGEN; But that He blessed them with uplifted hands, signifies that it becomes him who blesses any one to be furnished with various works and labors in behalf of others. For in this way are the hands raised up on high.
CHRYS. But observe, that the Lord submits to our sight the promised rewards. He had promised the resurrection of the body; He rose from the dead, and conferred with His disciples for forty days. It is also promised that we shall be caught up in the clouds through the air; this also He made manifest by His works. For it follows, And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted, &c.
THEOPHYL. And Elias indeed was seen, as it were, to be taken up into heaven, but the Savior, the forerunner of all, Himself ascended into heaven to appear in the Divine sight in His sacred body; and already is our nature honored in Christ by a certain Angelic power.
CHRYS. But you will say, How does this concern me? Because you also shall be taken up in like manner into the clouds. For your body is of like nature to His body, therefore shall your body be so light, that it can pass through the air. For as is the head, so also is the body; as the beginning, so also the end. See then how you are honored by this beginning. Man was the lowest part of the rational creation, but the feet have been made the head, being lifted up aloft into the royal throne in their head.
BEDE; When the Lord ascended into heaven, the disciples adoring Him where His feet lately stood, immediately return to Jerusalem, where they were commanded to wait for the promise of the Father, for it follows, And they worshipped him, and returned, &c. Great indeed was their joy, for they rejoice that their God and Lord after the triumph of His resurrection had also passed into the heavens.
GREEK EX. And they were watching, praying, and fasting, because indeed they were not living in their own homes, but were abiding in the temple, expecting the grace from on high; among other things also learning from the very place piety and honesty. Hence it is said, And were continually in the temple.
THEOPHYL. The Spirit had not yet come, and yet their conversation is spiritual. Before they were shut up; now they stand in the midst of the chief priests; distracted by no worldly object, but despising all things, they praise God continually; as it follows, Praising and blessing God.
BEDE; And observe that among the four beasts in heaven, Luke is said to be represented by the calf, for by the sacrifice of a calf, they were ordered to be initiated who were chosen to the priesthood; and Luke has undertaken to explain more fully than the rest the priesthood of Christ; and his Gospel, which he commenced with the ministry of the temple in the priesthood of Zacharias, he has finished with the devotion in the temple. And he has placed the Apostles there, about to be the ministers of a new priesthood, not in the blood of sacrifices, but in the praises of God and in blessing, that in the place of prayer and amidst the praises of their devotion, they might wait with prepared hearts for the promise of the Spirit.
THEOPHYL. Whom imitating, may we ever dwell in a holy life, praising and blessing God; to Whom be glory and blessing and power, for ever and ever. Amen.
I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne; and the house was full of his majesty, and his train filled the temple. (Is 6,1)
Gloss: Isaiah, enlightened by the sublimity of the divine vision, said: "I saw the Lord sitting" etc.
Who is that Lord who is seen, we learn fully in the Evangelist John, who said, Thus said Isaiah, when he saw the glory of God, and spoke of him; no doubt he meant Christ.
Gloss: Thus from those words the matter of this Gospel according to John is designated.
Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History: Because Matthew and Luke described the birth of the Savior according to the flesh, John was silent about that, and begins with theology and from his divinity. That aspect no doubt was reserved for this outstanding man by the Holy Spirit.
Alcuin: Since the Gospel isthe summit of all Scriptur, John excels among the writers of the gospels in treating the depths of the divine mysteries. He preached the word of God without any writing from the time of the Lord's Ascension for 65 years, until the endo of the reign of Domitian. But, after Domitian was killed, with the permission of Nerva, he returned from exile to Ephesus, the bishops of Asia compelled him to write against the heretics about the divinity of Christ which is coeternal with the Father, against the heretics who denied that Christ existed before Mary. Therefore, among the four animals, he is deservedly represented by the flying eagle, which flies higher than all birds, and looks at the sun's rays with unshaken vision.
Augustine, on John: John transcends all corners of the earth, all fields of air, all hights of the stars, all choirs and legions of angels. For if he did not transcend all those things which are created, he wold not reach Him through whom all things were made.
Augustine, on the Consistency of the Gospels: If you carefully observe, you can see that the other three Evangelists concentrated on those temporal deeds and sayings of the Lord which are most important for living the present life well; thus they were concerned with the active life. But John narrated many fewer events of the Lord, but put his energy into writing about his words, especially those that teach about the unity of the Trinity and the happiness of eternal life. Thus the three animals symbolizing the other three Evangelists, i.e., the lion, man, and bull, walk on the earth, because these three Evangelists are most concerned with what Christ did in the flesh, and about the commands which he gave mortal men for right living in this life. John, however, flies like an eagle above the clouds of human weakness, and looks at the light of unchangeable truth with the sharpest and firmest eyes of the heart. For he focused mostly on the divinity of the Lord, in which he is equal to the Father, and in his Gospel he preached that as fully as he thought necessary for people to understand.
Gloss: The Evangelist John can say with Isaiah: "I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne," because by his insight he saw Christ reigning in the majesty of divinity, which is by nature most high and elevated above all else. The Evangelist John also could say: "And the house was full of his majesty", because he tells of Him through whom all things were made, and he says that all men coming into this world are enlightened by his light. He could also say: "His train filled the temple," because he says "The Word became flesh, and we saw his glory as of the onlybegotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, from whose fullness we all received." Thus the preceding words contain the matter of this Gospel. In it John himself points out the Lord sitting on a high throne, when he shows the divintiy of Ghrist. He shows that the earth was filled with his majesty, when he shows that all things were made through his power, and are filled with their own perfections. And he teaches that his train, that is the mysteries of his humanity, fill the temple, that is the Church, when he assures the faithful grace and glory in the sacraments of the humanity of Christ.
Chrysostom, on John: If an uneducated barbarian speaks things that no one on earth ever knew, and he alone knows it, that would be a big miracle. But now we have a greater argument than that what is said here is inspired by God, and that is because all hear, and all believe, over all time. Who then would not admire one who has such power.
Origen: John menas "grace of God", or one who has or has been given grace. Which theologian has ever been given the ability to penetrate the hidden mysteries of the Supreme Good, and teach them to human minds?
12101 Jn 1,1
CHRYS. While all the other Evangelists begin with the Incarnation, John, passing over the Conception, Nativity, education, and growth, speaks immediately of the Eternal Generation, saying, In the beginning was the Word.
AUG. The Greek word "logos" signifies both Word and Reason. But in this passage it is better to interpret it Word; as referring not only to the Father, but to the creation of things by the operative power of the Word; whereas Reason, though it produce nothing, is still rightly called Reason.
AUG. Words by their daily use, sound, and passage out of us, have become common things. But there is a word which remains inward, in the very man himself; distinct from the sound which proceeds out of the mouth. There is a word, which is truly and spiritually that, which you understand by the sound, not being the actual sound. Now whoever can conceive the notion of word, as existing not only before its sound, but even before the idea of its sound is formed, may see enigmatically, and as it were in a glass, some similitude of that Word of Which it is said, In the beginning was the Word. For when we give expression to something which we know, the word used is necessarily derived from the knowledge thus retained in the memory, and must be of the same quality with that knowledge. For a word is a thought formed from a thing which we know; which word is spoken in the heart, being neither Greek nor Latin, nor of any language, though, when we want to communicate it to others, some sign is assumed by which to express it. . . Wherefore the word which sounds externally, is a sign of the word which lies hid within, to which the name of word more truly appertains. For that which is uttered by the mouth of our flesh, is the voice of the word; and is in fact called word, with reference to that from which it is taken, when it is developed externally.
BASIL; This Word is not a human word. For how was there a human word in the beginning, when man received his being last of all? There was not then any word of man in the beginning, nor yet of Angels; for every creature is within the limits of time, having its beginning of existence from the Creator. But what says the Gospel? It calls the Only-Begotten Himself the Word.
CHRYS. But why omitting the Father, does he proceed at once to speak of the Son? Because the Father was known to all; though not as the Father, yet as God; whereas the Only-Begotten was not known. As was meet then, he endeavors first of all to inculcate the knowledge of the Son on those who knew Him not; though neither in discoursing on Him, is he altogether silent on the Father. And inasmuch as he was about to teach that the Word was the Only-Begotten Son of God, that no one might think this a possible generation, he makes mention of the Word in the first place, in order to destroy the dangerous suspicion, and show that the Son was from God impassibly. And a second reason is, that He was to declare to us the things of the Father. But he does not speak of the Word simply, but with the addition of the article, in order to distinguish It from other words. For Scripture calls God's laws and commandments words; but this Word is a certain Substance, or Person, an Essence, coming forth impassibly from the Father Himself.
BASIL; Wherefore then Word? Because born impassibly, the Image of Him that begat, manifesting all the Father in Himself; abstracting from Him nothing, but existing perfect in Himself.
AUG. As our knowledge differs from God's, so does our word, which arises from our knowledge, differ from that Word of God, which is born of the Father's essence; we might say, from the Father's knowledge, the Father's wisdom, or, more correctly, the Father Who is Knowledge, the Father Who is Wisdom. The Word of God then, the Only-Begotten Son of the Father, is in all things like and equal to the Father; being altogether what the Father is, yet not the Father; because the one is the Son, the other the Father. And thereby He knows all things which the Father knows; yet His knowledge is from the Father, even as is His being: for knowing and being are the same with Him; and so as the Father's being is not from the Son, so neither is His knowing. Wherefore the Father begat the Word equal to Himself in all things as uttering forth Himself. For had there been more or less in His Word than in Himself, He would not have uttered Himself fully and perfectly. With respect however to our own inner word, which we find, in whatever sense, to be like the Word, let us not object to see how very unlike it is also. A word is a formation of our mind going to take place, but not yet made, and something in our mind which we toss to and fro in a slippery circuitous way, as one thing and another is discovered, or occurs to our thoughts. When this, which we toss to and fro, has reached the subject of our knowledge, and been formed therefrom, when it has assumed the most exact likeness to it, and the conception has quite answered to the thing; then we have a true word. Who may not see how great the difference is here from that Word of God, which exists in the Form of God in such wise, that It could not have been first going to be formed, and afterwards formed, nor can ever have been unformed, being a Form absolute, and absolutely equal to Him from Whom It is. Wherefore; in speaking of the Word of God here nothing is said about thought in God; lest we should think there was any thing revolving in God, which might first receive form in order to be a Word, and afterwards lose it, and be canted round and round again in an unformed state.
AUG. Now the Word of God is a Form, not a formation, but the Form of all forms, a Form unchangeable, removed form accident, from failure, from time, from space, surpassing all things, and existing in all things as a kind of foundation underneath, and summit above them.
BASIL; Yet has our outward word some similarity to the Divine Word. For our word declares the whole conception of the mind; since what we conceive in the mind we bring out in word. Indeed our heart is as it were the source, and the uttered word the stream which flows therefrom.
CHRYS. Observe the spiritual wisdom of the Evangelist. He knew that men honored most what was as most ancient, and that honoring what is before every thing else, they conceived of it as God. On this account he mentions first the beginning, saving, In the beginning was the Word.
ORIGEN; There are many significations of this word beginning. For there is a beginning of a journey, and beginning of a length, according to Proverbs, The beginning of the right path is to do justice. There is a beginning too of a creation, according to Job, He is the beginning of the ways of God. Nor would it be incorrect to say, that God is the Beginning of all things. The preexistent material again, where supposed to be original, out of which any thing is produced, is considered as the beginning. There is a beginning also in respect of form: as where Christ is the beginning of those who are made according to the image of God. And there is a beginning of doctrine, according to Hebrews; When for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God. For there are two kinds of beginning of doctrine: one in itself, the other relative to us; as if we should say that Christ, in that He is the Wisdom and Word of God, was in Himself the beginning of wisdom, but to us, in that He was the Word incarnate. There being so many significations then of the word, we may take it as the Beginning through Whom, i.e. the Maker; for Christ is Creator as The Beginning, in that He is Wisdom; so that the Word is in the beginning, i.e. in Wisdom; the Savior being all these excellences at once. As life then is in the Word, so the Word is in the Beginning, that is to say, in Wisdom. Consider then if it be possible according to this signification to understand the Beginning, as meaning that all things are made according to Wisdom, and the patterns contained therein; or, inasmuch as the Beginning of the Son is the Father, the Beginning of all creatures and existences, to understand by the text, In the beginning was the Word, that the Son, the Word, was in the Beginning, that is, in the Father.
AUG. Or, In the beginning, as if it were said, before all things.
BASIL; The Holy Ghost foresaw that men would arise, who should envy the glory of the Only-Begotten, subverting their hearers by sophistry; as if because He were begotten, He was not; and before He was begotten, he was not. That none might presume then to babble such things, the Holy Ghost says, In the beginning was the Word.
HILARY; Years, centuries, ages, are passed over, place what beginning you will in your imagining, you grasp it not in time, for He, from Whom it is derived, still was.
CHRYS. As then when our ship is near shore, cities and port pass in survey before us, which on the open sea vanish, and leave nothing whereon to fix; the eye; so the Evangelist here, taking us with him in his flight above the created world, leaves the eye to gaze in vacancy on an illimitable expanse. For the words, was in the beginning, are significative of eternal and infinite essence.
AUG. They say, however, if He is the Son, He was born. We allow it. They rejoin: if the Son was born to the Father, the Father was, before the Son was born to Him. This the Faith rejects. Then they say, explain to us how the Son could; be born from the Father, and yet be coeval with Him from whom He is born: for sons are born after their fathers, to succeed them on their death. They adduce analogies from nature; and we must endeavor likewise to do the same for our doctrine. But how can we find in nature a coeternal, when we cannot find an eternal? However, if a thing generating and a thing generated can be found any where coeval, it will be a help to forming a notion of coeternals. Now Wisdom herself is called in the Scriptures, the brightness of Everlasting Light, the image of the Father. Hence then let us take our comparison, an from coevals form a notion of coeternals. Now no one doubts that brightness proceeds from fire: fire then we may consider the father of the brightness. Presently, when I light a candle, at the same instant with the fire, brightness arises. Give me the fire without the brightness, and I will with you believe that the Father was without the Son. An image is produced by a mirror. The image exists as soon as the beholder appears; yet the beholder existed before he came to the mirror. Let us suppose then a twig, or a blade of grass which has grown up by the water side. Is it not born with its image? If there had always been the twig, there would always have been the image proceeding from the twig. And whatever is from another thing, is born. So then that which generates may be coexistent from eternity with that which is generated from it. But some one will say perhaps, Well, I understand now the eternal Father, the coeternal Son: yet the Son is like the emitted brightness, which is less brilliant than the fire, or tile reflected image, which is less real than the twig. Not so: there is complete equality between Father and Son. I do not believe, he says; for you have found nothing whereto to liken it. However, perhaps we can find something in nature by which we may understand that the Son is both coeternal with the Father, and in no respect inferior also: though we cannot find any one material of comparison that will be sufficient singly, and must therefore join together two, one of which has been employed by our adversaries, the other by ourselves. For they have drawn their comparison from things which are preceded in time by the things which they spring from, man, for example, from man. Nevertheless, man is of the same substance with man. We have then in that nativity an equality of nature; an equality of time is wanting. But in the comparison which we have drawn from the brightness of fire, and the reflection of a twig, an equality of nature you cost not find, of time you lost. In the Godhead then there is found as a whole, what here exists in single and separate parts; and that which is in the creation, existing in a manner suitable able to the Creator.
EX GESTIS CONCILII EPHESINI; Wherefore in one place divine Scripture calls Him the Son, in another the Word, in another the Brightness of the Father; names severally meant to guard against blasphemy. For, forasmuch as your son is of the same nature with yourself, the Scripture wishing to show that the Substance of the Father and the Son is one, sets forth the Son of the Father, born of the Father, the Only-Begotten. Next, since the terms birth and son, convey the idea of passibleness, therefore it calls the Son the Word, declaring by that name the impassability of His Nativity. But inasmuch as a father with us is necessarily older shall his son, lest thou should think that this applied to the Divine nature as well, it calls the Only-Begotten the Brightness of the Father; for brightness, though arising from the sun, is not posterior to it. Understand then that Brightness, as revealing the co-eternity of the Son with the Father; Word as proving the impassability of His birth, and Son as conveying His consubstantiality.
CHRYS. But they say that In the beginning does not absolutely express in eternity: for that the same is said of the heaven and the earth: In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. But are not made and was, altogether different For in like manner as the word is, when spoken of man, signifies the present only, but when applied to God, that which always and eternally is; so too was, predicated of our nature, signifies the past, but predicated of God, eternity.
ORIGEN; The verb to be, has a double signification, sometimes expressing the motions which take place in time, as other verbs do; sometimes the substance of that one thing of which it is predicated, without reference to time. Hence it is also called a substantive verb.
HILARY; Consider then the world, understand what is written of it. In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. Whatever therefore is created is made in the beginning, and you would contain in time, what, as being to be made, is contained in the beginning. But, lo, for me, an illiterate unlearned fisherman is independent of time, unconfined by ages, advances beyond all beginnings. For the Word was, what it is, and is not bounded by any time, nor commenced therein, seeing It was not made in the beginning, but was.
ALCUIN. To refute those who inferred from Christ's Birth in time, that He had not been from everlasting, the Evangelist begins with the eternity of the Word, saying, In the beginning was the Word.
1b. And the Word was with God.
CHRYS. Because it is an especial attribute of God, to be eternal and without a beginning, he laid this down first: then, lest any one on hearing in the beginning was the Word, should suppose the Word Unbegotten, he instantly guarded against this; saying, And the Word was with God.
HILARY; From the beginning He is With God: and though independent of time, is not independent of an Author.
BASIL; Again he repeats this, was, because of men blasphemously saying, that there was a time when He was not. Where then was the Word? Illimitable things are not contained in space. Where was He then? With God. For neither is the Father bounded by place, nor the Son by aught circumscribing.
ORIGEN; It is worth while noting, that, whereas the Word is said to come [be made] to some, as to Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, with God it is not made, as though it were not with Him before. But, the Word having been always with Him, it is said, and the Word was with God: for from the beginning it was not separate from the Father.
CHRYS. He has not said, was in God, but was with God: exhibiting to us that eternity which He had in accordance with His Person.
THEOPHYL. Sabellius is overthrown by this text. For he asserts that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one Person, Who sometimes appeared as the Father, sometimes as the Son, sometimes as the Holy Ghost. But he is manifestly confounded by this text, and the Word was with God; for here the Evangelist declares that the Son is one Person, God the Father another.
1c. And the Word was God.
HILARY; You will say, that a word is the sound of the voice, the enunciation of a thing, the expression of a thought: this Word was in the beginning with God, because the utterance of thought is eternal, when He who thinks is eternal. But how was that in the beginning, which exists no time either before, or after, I doubt even whether in time at all? For speech is neither in existence before one speaks, nor after; in the very act of speaking it vanishes; for by the time a speech is ended, that from which it began does not exist. But even if the first sentence, in the beginning was the Word, was through your inattention lost upon you, why dispute you about the next; and the Word was with God? Did you hear it said, "In God," so that you should understand this Word to be only the expression of hidden thoughts? Or did John say with by mistake, and was not aware of the distinction between being in, and being with, when he said, that what was in the beginning, was not in God, but with God? Hear then the nature and name of the Word; and the Word was God. No more then of the sound of the voice, of the expression of the thought. The Word here is a Substance, not a sound; a Nature, not an expression; God, not a nonentity.
HILARY; But the title is absolute, and free from the offense of an extraneous subject. To Moses it is said, I have given you for a god to Pharaoh: but is not the reason for the name added, when it is said, to Pharaoh? Moses is given for a god to Pharaoh, when he is feared, when he is entreated, when he punishes, when he heals. And it is one thing to be given for a God, another thing to be God. I remember too another application of the name in the Psalms, I have said, you are gods. But there too it is implied that the title was but bestowed; and the introduction of, I said, makes it rather the phrase of the Speaker, than the name of the thing. But when I hear the Word was God, I not only hear the Word said to be, but perceive It proved to be, God.
BASIL; Thus cutting off the cavils of blasphemers, and those who ask what the Word is, he replies, and the Word was God.
THEOPHYL. Or combine it thus: From the Word being with God, it follows plainly that there are two Persons. But these two are of one Nature; and therefore it proceeds, In the Word was God: to show that Father and Son are of One Nature, being of One Godhead.
ORIGEN; We must add too, that the Word illuminates the Prophets with Divine wisdom, in that He comes to them; but that with God He ever is, because He is God. For which reason he placed and the Word was with God, before and the Word was God.
CHRYS. Not asserting, as Plato does, one to be intelligence, the other soul; for the Divine Nature is very different from this. . . But you say, the Father is called God with the addition of the article, the Son without it. What say you then, when the Apostle writes, The great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; and again, Who is over all, God; and Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father; without the article? Besides, too, it were superfluous here, to affix what had been affixed just before. So that it does not follow, though the article is not affixed to the Son, that He is therefore an inferior God.
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