Origen on John 113
13. THE ANGELS ALSO ARE EVANGELISTS.
Now if there are those among men who are honoured with the ministry of evangelists, and if Jesus Himself brings tidings of good things, and preaches the Gospel to the poor, surely those messengers who were made spirits by God, those who are a flame of fire, ministers of the Father of all, cannot have been excluded from being evangelists also. Hence an angel standing over the shepherds made a bright light to shine round about them, and said: "Fear not; behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all tile people; for there is born to you, this day, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David." And at a time when there was no knowledge among men of the mystery of the Gospel, those who were greater than men and inhabitants of heaven, the army of God, praised God, saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men." And having said this, the angels go away from the shepherds into heaven, leaving us to gather how the joy preached to us through the birth of Jesus Christ is glory in the highest to God; they humbled themselves even to the ground, and then returned to their place of rest, to glorify God in the highest through Jesus Christ. But the angels also wonder at the peace which is to be brought about on account of Jesus on the earth, that seat of war, on which Lucifer, star of the morning, fell from heaven, to be warred against and destroyed by Jesus.
14. THE OLD TESTAMENT, TYPIFIED BY JOHN, IS THE BEGINNING OF THE GOSPEL.
In addition to what we have said, there is also this to be considered about the Gospel, that in the first instance it is that of Christ Jesus, the head of the whole body of the saved; as Mark says, "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Then also it is the Gospel of the Apostles; whence Paul says, "According to my Gospel." But the beginning of the Gospel--for in respect of its extent it has a beginning, a continuation, a middle, and an end--is nothing but the whole Old Testament. John is, in this respect, a type of the Old Testament, or, if we regard the connection of the New Testament with the Old, John represents the termination of the Old. For the same Mark says: "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way. The voice of one crying m the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." And here I must wonder how the dissentients can connect the two Testaments with two different Gods. These words, were there no others, are enough to convict them of their error. For how can John be the beginning of the Gospel if they suppose he belongs to a different God, if he belongs to the demiurge, and, as they hold, is not acquainted with the new deity? And the angels are not entrusted with but one evangelical ministry, and that a short one, not only with that addressed to the shepherds. For at the end an exalted and flying angel, having the Gospel, will preach it to every nation, for the good Father has not entirely deserted those who have fallen away from Him. John, son of Zebedee, says in his Apocalypse: "And I saw an angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the Eternal Gospel, to preach it to those who dwell upon the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people, saying, with a loud voice, Fear God and give Him glory, for the hour of His judgment hath come, and worship Him that made the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."
15. THE GOSPEL IS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, AND INDEED IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE. PRAYER FOR AID TO UNDERSTAND THE MYSTICAL SENSE OF THE WORK IN HAND.
As, then, we have shown that the beginning of the Gospel, according to one interpretation, is the whole Old Testament, and is signified by the person of John, we shall add, lest this should be called a mere unsupported assertion, what is said in the Acts about the eunuch of the queen of the Ethiopians and Philip. Philip, it is said, began at the passage of Isaiah: "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a lamb before his shearer is dumb," and so preached to him the Lord Jesus. How can he begin with the prophet and preach Jesus, if Isaiah was not a part of the beginning of the Gospel? From this we may derive a proof of the assertion made at the outset, that every divine Scripture is Gospel. If he who preaches the Gospel preaches good things, and all those who spoke before the sojourn of Jesus in the flesh preach Christ, who is as we saw good things, then the words spoken by all of them alike are in a sense a part of the Gospel. And when the Gospel is said to be declared throughout the whole world, we infer that it is actually preached in the whole world, not, that is to say, in this earthly district only, but in the whole system of heaven and earth, or from heaven and earth. And why should we discuss any further what the Gospel is? What we have said is enough. Besides the passages we have adduced,passages by no means inept or unsuited for our purpose,--much to the same effect might be collected from the Scriptures, so that it is clearly seen what is the glory of the good things in Jesus Christ shed forth by the Gospel, the Gospel ministered by men and angels, and, I believe, also by authorities and powers, and thrones and dominions, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come, and indeed even by Christ Himself. Here, then, let us bring to a close what has to be said before proceeding to read the work itself. And now let us ask God to assist us through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, so that we may be able to unfold the mystical sense which is treasured up in the words before us.
16. MEANING OF "BEGINNING." IN SPACE.
"In the beginning was the Word." It is not only the Greeks who consider the word "beginning" to have many meanings. Let any one collect the Scripture passages in which the word occurs, and with a view to an accurate interpretation of it note what it stands for in each passage, and he will find that the word has many meanings in sacred discourse also. We speak of a beginning in reference to a transition. Here it has to do with a road and with length. This appears in the saying: "The beginning of a good way is to do justice." For since the good way is long, there have first to be considered in reference to it the question connected with action, and this side is presented in the words "to do justice;" the contemplative side comes up for consideration afterwards. In the latter the end of it comes to rest at last in the so-called restoration of all things, since no enemy is left them to fight against, if that be true which is said: "For He must reign until He have placed His enemies under His feet. But the last enemy to be destroyed is death." For then but one activity will be left for those who have come to God on account of His word which is with Him, that, namely, of knowing God, so that, being found by the knowledge of the Father, they may all be His Son, as now no one but the Son knows the Father. For should any one enquire carefully at what time those are to know the Father to whom He who knows the Father reveals Him, and should he consider how a man now sees only through a glass and in a riddle, never having learned to know as he ought to know, he would be justified in saying that no one, no apostle even, and no prophet had known the Father, but when he became one with Him as a son and a father are one. And if any one says that it is a digression which has led us to this point, our consideration of that one meaning of the word beginning, we must show that the digression is necessary and useful for the end we have in view. For if we speak of a beginning in the case of a transition, and of a way and its length, and if we are told that the beginning of a good way is to do justice, then it concerns us to know in what manner every good way has for its beginning to do justice, and how after such beginning it arrives at contemplation, and in what manner it thus arrives at contemplation.
17. IN TIME. THE BEGINNING OF CREATION.
Again, there is a beginning in a matter of origin, as might appear in the saying: "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth." This meaning, however, appears more plainly in the Book of Job in the passage: "This is the beginning of God's creation, made for His angels to mock at." One would suppose that the heavens and the earth were made first, of all that was made at the creation of the world. But the second passage suggests a better view, namely, that as many beings were framed with a body, the first made of these was the creature called dragon, but called in another passage the great whale (leviathan) which the Lord tamed. We must ask about this; whether, when the saints were living a blessed life apart from matter and from any body, the dragon, falling from the pure life, became fit to be bound in matter and in a body, so that the Lord could say, speaking through storm and clouds, "This is the beginning of the creation of God, made for His angels to mock at." It is possible, however, that the dragon is not positively the beginning of the creation of the Lord, but that there were many creatures made with a body for the angels to mock at, and that the dragon was the first of these, while others could subsist in a body without such reproach. But it is not so. For the soul of the sun is placed in a body, and the whole creation, of which the Apostle says: "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now," and perhaps the following is about the same: "The creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but on account of Him who subjected it for hope;" so that bodies might be in vanity, and doing the things of the body, as he who is in the body must . . . . One who is in the body does the things of the body, though unwillingly. Wherefore the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but he who does unwillingly the things of the body does what he does for the sake of hope, as if we should say that Paul desired to remain in the flesh, not willingly, but on account of hope. For though he thought it better to be dissolved and to be with Christ, it was not unreasonable that he should wish to remain in the flesh for the sake of the benefit to others and of advancement in the things hoped for, not only by him, but also by those benefited by him. This meaning of the term" beginning," as of origin, will serve us also in the passage in which Wisdom speaks in the Proverbs. "God," we read, "created me the beginning of His ways, for His works." Here the term could be interpreted as in the first application we spoke of, that of a way: "The Lord," it says, "created me the beginning of His ways." One might assert, and with reason, that God Himself is the beginning of all things, and might go on to say, as is plain, that the Father is the beginning of the Son; and the demiurge the beginning of the works of the demiurge, and that God in a word is the beginning of all that exists. This view is supported by our: "In the beginning was the Word." In the Word one may see the Son, and because He is in the Father He may be said to be in the beginning.
18. OF SUBSTANCE.
In the third place a beginning may be that out of which a thing comes, the underlying matter from which things are formed. This, however, is the view of those who hold matter itself to be uncreated, a view which we believers cannot share, since we believe God to have made the things that are out of the things which are not, as the mother of the seven martyrs in the Maccabees teaches, and as the angel of repentance in the Shepherd inculcated.
19. OF TYPE AND COPY.
In addition to these meanings there is that in which we speak of an arche, according to form; thus if the first-born of every creature is the image of the invisible God, then the Father is his arche. In the same way Christ is the arche of those who are made according to the image of God. For if men are according to the image, but the image according to the Father; in the first case the Father is the arche of Christ, and in the other Christ is the arche of men, and men are made, not according to that of which he is the image, but according to the image. With this example our passage will agree: "In the arche was the Word."
20. OF ELEMENTS AND WHAT IS FORMED FROM THEM.
There is also an arche in a matter of learning, as when we say that the letters are the arche of grammar. The Apostle accordingly says: "When by reason of the time you ought to be teachers, you have need again that some one teach you what are the elements of the arche of the oracles of God." Now the arche spoken of in connection with learning is twofold; first in respect of its nature, secondly in its relation to us; as we might say of Christ, that by nature His arche is deity, but that in relation to us who cannot, for its very greatness, command the whole truth about Him, His arche is His manhood, as He is preached to babes, "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." In this view, then, Christ is the arche of learning in His own nature, because He is the wisdom and power of God; but for us, the Word was made flesh, that He might tabernacle among us who could only thus at first receive Him. And perhaps this is the reason why He is not only the firstborn of all creation, but is also designated the man, Adam. For Paul says He is Adam: "The last Adam was made a life-giving spirit."
21. OF DESIGN AND EXECUTION.
Again we speak of the arche of an action, in which there is a design which appears after the beginning. It may be considered whether wisdom is to be regarded as the arche of the works of God because it is in this way the principle of them.
22. THE WORD WAS IN THE BEGINNING, I.E., IN WISDOM, WHICH CONTAINED ALL THINGS.
IN IDEA, BEFORE THEY EXISTED. CHRIST'S CHARACTER AS WISDOM IS PRIOR TO HIS OTHER CHARACTERS.
So many meanings occur to us at once of the word arche. We have now to ask which of them we should adopt for our text, "In the beginning was the Word." It is plain that we may at once dismiss the meaning which connects it with transition or with a road and its length. Nor, it is pretty plain, will the meaning connected with an origin serve our purpose. One might, however, think of the sense in which it points to the author, to that which brings about the effect, if, as we read, "God commanded and they were created." For Christ is, in a manner, the demiurge, to whom the Father says, "Let there be light," and "Let there be a firmament." But Christ is demiurge as a beginning (arche), inasmuch as He is wisdom. It is in virtue of His being wisdom that He is called arche. For Wisdom says in Solomon: "God created me the beginning of His ways, for His works," so that the Word might be in an arche, namely, in wisdom. Considered in relation to the structure of contemplation and thoughts about the whole of things, it is regarded as wisdom; but in relation to that side of the objects of thought, in which reasonable beings apprehend them, it is considered as the Word. And there is no wonder, since, as we have said before, the Saviour is many good things, if He comprises in Himself thoughts of the first order, and of the second, and of the third. This is what John suggested when he said about the Word: "That which was made was life in Him." Life then came in the Word. And on the one side the Word is no other than the Christ, the Word, He who was with the Father, by whom all things were made; while, on the other side, the Life is no other than the Son of God, who says: "I am the way and the truth and the life." As, then, life came into being in the Word, so the Word in the arche. Consider, however, if we are at liberty to take this meaning of arche for our text: "In the beginning was the Word," so as to obtain the meaning that all things came into being according to wisdom and according to the models of the system which are present in his thoughts. For I consider that as a house or a ship is built and fashioned in accordance with the sketches of the builder or designer, the house or the ship having their beginning (arche) in the sketches and reckonings in his mind, so all things came into being in accordance with the designs of what was to be, clearly laid down by God in wisdom. And we should add that having created, so to speak, ensouled wisdom, He left her to hand over, from the types which were in her, to things existing and to matter, the actual emergence of them, their moulding and their forms. But I consider, if it be permitted to say this, that the beginning (arche) of real existence was the Son of God, saying: "I am the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last." We must, however, remember that He is not the arche in respect of every name which is applied to Him. For how can He be the beginning in respect of His being life, when life came in the Word, and the Word is manifestly the arche of life? It is also tolerably evident that He cannot be the arche in respect of His being the first-born from the dead. And if we go through all His titles carefully we find that He is the arche only in respect of His being wisdom. Not even as the Word is He the arche, for the Word was in the arche. And so one might venture to say that wisdom is anterior to all the thoughts that are expressed in the titles of the first-born of every creature. Now God is altogether one and simple; but our Saviour, for many reasons, since God set Him forth a propitiation and a first fruits of the whole creation, is made many things, or perhaps all these things; the whole creation, so far as capable of redemption, stands in need of Him. And, hence, He is made the light of men, because men, being darkened by wickedness, need the light that shines in darkness, and is not overtaken by the darkness; had not men been in darkness, He would not have become the light of men. The same thing may be observed in respect of His being the first-born of the dead. For supposing the woman had not been deceived, and Adam had not fallen, and man created for incorruption had obtained it, then He would not have descended into the grave, nor would He have died, there being no sin, nor would His love of men have required that He should die, and if He had not died, He could not have been the first-born of the dead. We may also ask whether He would ever have become a shepherd, had man not been thrown together with the beasts which are devoid of reason, and made like to them. For if God saves man and beasts, He saves those beasts which He does save, by giving them a shepherd, since they cannot have a king. Thus if we collect the titles of Jesus, the question arises which of them were conferred on Him later, and would never have assumed such importance if the saints had begun and had also persevered in blessedness. Perhaps Wisdom would be the only remaining one, or perhaps the Word would remain too, or perhaps the Life, or perhaps the Truth, not the others, which He took for our sake. And happy indeed are those who in their need for the Son of God have yet become such persons as not to need Him in His character as a physician healing the sick, nor in that of a shepherd, nor in that of redemption, but only in His characters as wisdom, as the word and righteousness, or if there be any other title suitable for those who are so perfect as to receive Him in His fairest characters. So much for the phrase "In the beginning."
23. THE TITLE "WORD" IS TO BE INTERPRETED BY THE SAME METHOD AS THE OTHER. TITLES OF CHRIST. THE WORD OF GOD IS NOT A MERE ATTRIBUTE OF GOD, BUT A SEPARATE PERSON. WHAT IS MEANT WHEN HE IS CALLED THE WORD.
Let us consider, however, a little more carefully what is the Word which is in the beginning. I am often led to wonder when I consider the things that are said about Christ, even by those who are in earnest in their belief in Him. Though there is a countless number of names which can be applied to our Saviour, they omit the most of them, and if they should remember them, they declare that these titles are not to be understood in their proper sense, but tropically. But when they come to the title Logos (Word), and repeat that Christ alone is the Word of God, they are not consistent, and do not, as in the case of the other titles, search out what is behind the meaning of the term "Word." I wonder at the stupidity of the general run of Christians in this matter. I do not mince matters; it is nothing but stupidity. The Son of God says in one passage, "I am the light of the world," and in another, "I am the resurrection," and again, "I am the way and the truth and the life." It is also written, "I am the door," and we have the saying, "I am the good shepherd," and when the woman of Samaria says, "We know the Messiah is coming, who is called Christ; when He comes, He will tell us all things," Jesus answers, "I that speak unto thee am He." Again, when He washed the disciples' feet, He declared Himself in these words to be their Master and Lord: "You call Me Master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am." He also distinctly announces Himself as the Son of God, when He says, "He whom the Father sanctified and sent unto the world, to Him do you say, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?" and "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son also may glorify Thee." We also find Him declaring Himself to be a king, as when He answers Pilate's question, "Art Thou the King of the Jews?" by saying, "My kingdom is not of this world; if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews, but now is My kingdom not from hence." We have also read the words, "I am the true vine and My Father is the husbandman," and again, "I am the vine, ye are the branches." Add to these testimonies also the saying, "I am the bread of life, that came down from heaven and giveth life to the world." These texts will suffice for the present, which we have picked up out of the storehouse of the Gospels, and in all of which He claims to be the Son of God. But in the Apocalypse of John, too, He says, "I am the first and the last, and the living One, and I was dead. Behold, I am alive for evermore." And again, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, and the first and the last, the beginning and the end." The careful student of the sacred books, moreover, may gather not a few similar passages from the prophets, as where He calls Himself a chosen shaft, and a servant of God, and a light of the Gentiles. Isaiah also says," "From my mother's womb hath He called me by my name, and He made my mouth as a sharp sword, and under the shadow of His hand did He hide me, and He said to me, Thou art My servant, O Israel, and in thee will I be glorified." And a little farther on: "And my God shall be my strength, and He said to me, This is a great thing for thee to be called My servant, to set up the tribes of Jacob and to turn again the diaspora of Israel. Behold I have set thee for a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation to the end of the earth." And in Jeremiah too He likens Himself to a lamb, as thus: "I was as a gentle lamb that is led to the slaughter." These and other similar sayings He applies to Himself. In addition to these one might collect in the Gospels and the Apostles and in the prophets a countless number of titles which are applied to the Son of God, as the writers of the Gospels set forth their own views of what He is, or the Apostles extol Him out of what they had learned, or the prophets proclaim in advance His coining advent and announce the things concerning Him under various names. Thus John calls Him the Lamb of God, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world," and in these words he declares Him as a man, "This is He about whom I said, that there cometh after me a man who is there before me; for He was before me." And in his Catholic Epistle John says that He is a Paraclete for our souls with the Father, as thus: "And if any one sin, we have a Paraclete with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," and he adds that He is a propitiation for our sins, and similarly Paul says He is a propitiation: "Whom God set forth as a propitiation through faith in His blood, on account of forgiveness of the forepast sins, in the forbearance of God." According to Paul, too, He is declared to be the wisdom and the power of God, as in the Epistle to the Corinthians: "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." It is added that He is also sanctification and redemption: "He was made to us of God," he says, "wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption." But he also teaches us, writing to the Hebrews, that Christ is a High-Priest: "Having, therefore, a great High-Priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession." And the prophets have other names for Him besides these. Jacob in his blessing of his sons says, "Judah, thy brethren shall extol thee; thy hands are on the necks of thine enemies. A lion's whelp is Judah, from a shoot, my son, art thou sprung up; thou hast lain down and slept as a lion; who shall awaken him?" We cannot now linger over these phrases, to show that what is said of Judah applies to Christ. What may be quoted against this view, viz., "A ruler shall not part from Judah nor a leader from his loins, until He come for whom it is reserved;" this can better be cleared up on another occa sion. But Isaiah knows Christ to be spoken of under the names of Jacob and Israel, when he says,' "Jacob is my servant, I will help Him; Israel is my elect, my soul hath accepted Him. He shall declare judgment to the Gentiles.
He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall any one hear His voice on the streets. A bruised rod shall He not break. and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He bring forth judgment from victory, and in His name shall the nations hope." That it is Christ about whom such prophecies are made, Matthew shows in his Gospel, where he quotes from memory and says: "That the saying might be fulfilled, He shall not strive nor cry," etc. David also is called Christ, as where Ezekiel in his prophecy to the shepherds adds as from the mouth of God: "I will raise up David my servant, who shall be their shepherd." For it is not the patriarch David who is to rise and be the shepherd of the saints, but Christ. Isaiah also called Christ the rod and the flower: "There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall spring out of tits root, and the spirit of God shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel slid of might, the spirit of knowledge and of godliness, and He shall be full of the spirit of the fear of the Lord." And in the Psalms our Lord is called the stone, as follows: "The stone which the builders rejected is made the head of the comer. It is from the Lord, and it is wonderful in our eyes." And the Gospel shows, as also does Luke in the Acts, that the stone is no other than Christ; the Gospel as follows: "Have ye never read, the stone which the builders rejected is made the head of the corner. Whosoever falls on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will scatter him as dust." And Luke writes in Acts: "This is the stone, which was set at naught of you the builders, which has become the head of the corner." And one of the names applied to the Saviour is that which He Himself does not utter, but which John records;--the Word who was in the beginning with God, God the Word.
And it is worth our while to fix our attention for a moment on those scholars who omit consideration of most of the great names we have mentioned and regard this as the most important one. As to the former titles, they look for any account of them that any one may offer, but in the case of this one they proceed differently and ask, What is the Son of God when called the Word? The passage they employ most is that in the Psalms, "My heart hath produced a good Word;" and they imagine the Son of God to be the utterance of the Father deposited, as it were, in syllables, and accordingly they do not allow Him, if we examine them farther, any independent hypostasis, nor are they clear about His essence. I do not mean that they confuse its qualities, but the fact of His having an essence of His own. For no one can understand how that which is said to be "Word" can be a Son. And such an animated Word, not being a separate entity from the Father, and accordingly as it, having no subsistence. is not a Son, or if he is a Son, let them say that God the Word is a separate being and has an essence of His own. We insist, therefore, that as in the case of each of the titles spoken of above we turn from the title to the concept it suggests slid apply it and demonstrate how the Son of God is suitably described by it, the same course must be followed when we find Him called the Word. What caprice it is, in all these cases, not to stand upon the term employed, but to enquire in what sense Christ is to be understood to be the door, and in what way the vine, and why He is the way; but in the one case of His being called the Word, to follow a different course. To add to the authority, therefore, of what we have to say on the question, how the Son of God is the Word, we must begin with those names of which we spoke first as being applied to Him. This, we cannot deny, will seem to some to be superfluous and a digression, but the thoughtful reader will not think it useless to ask as to the concepts for which the titles are used; to observe these matters will clear the way for what is coming. And once we have entered upon the theology concerning the Saviour, as we seek with what diligence we can and find the various things that are taught about Him, we shall necessarily understand more about Him not only in His character as the Word, but in His other characters also.
24. CHRIST AS LIGHT; HOW HE, AND HOW HIS DISCIPLES ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.
He said, then, that He was the light of the world; and we have to examine, along with this title, those which are parallel to it; and, indeed, are thought by some to be not merely parallel, but identical with it. He is the true light, and the light of the Gentiles. In the opening of the Gospel now before us He is the light of men: "That which was made," it says, "was life in Him, and the life was the light of men; and the light shines in darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it." A little further on, in the same passage, He is called the true light: "The true light, which lightens every man, was coming into the world." In Isaiah, He is the light of the Gentiles, as we said before. "Behold, I have set Thee for a light of the Gentiles, that Thou shouldest be for salvation to the end of the earth." Now the sensible light of the world is the sun, and after it comes very worthily the moon, and the same title may be applied to the stars; but those lights of the world are said in Moses to have come into existence on the fourth day, and as they shed light on the things on the earth, they are not the true light. But the Saviour shines on creatures which have intellect and sovereign reason, that their minds may behold their proper objects of vision, and so he is the light of the intellectual world, that is to say, of the reasonable souls which are in the sensible world, and if there be any beings beyond these in the world from which He declares Himself to be our Saviour. He is, indeed, the most determining and distinguished part of that world, and, as we may say, the sun who makes the great day of the Lord. In view of this day He says to those who partake of His light, "Work while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Then He says to His disciples, "Ye are the light of the world," and "Let your light shine before men." Thus we see the Church, the bride, to present an analogy to the moon and stars, and the disciples have a light, which is their own or borrowed from the true sun, so that they are able to illuminate those who have no command of any spring of light in themselves. We may say that Paul and Peter are the light of the world, and that those of their disciples who are enlightened themselves, but are not able to enlighten others, are the world of which the Apostles were the light. But the Saviour, being the light of the world, illuminates not bodies, but by His incorporeal power the incorporeal intellect, to the end that each of us, enlightened as by the sun, may be able to discern the rest of the things of the mind. And as when the sun is shining the moon and the stars lose their power of giving light, so those who are irradiated by Christ and receive His beams have no need of the ministering apostles and prophets--we must have courage to declare this truth--nor of the angels; I will add that they have no need even of the greater powers when they are disciples of that first-born light. To those who do not receive the solar beams of Christ. the ministering saints do afford an illumination much less than the former; this illumination is as much as those persons can receive, and it completely fills them. Christ, again, the light of the world, is the true light as distinguished from the light of sense; nothing that is sensible is true. Yet though the sensible is other than the true, it does not follow that the sensible is false, for the sensible may have an analogy with the intellectual, and not everything that is not true can correctly be called false. Now I ask whether the light of the world is the same thing with the light of men, and I conceive that a higher power of light is intended by the former phrase than by the latter, for the world in one sense is not only men. Paul shows that the world is something more than men when he writes to the Corinthians in his first Epistle: "We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." In one sense, too, it may be considered, the world is the creation which is being delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God, whose earnest expectation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. We also draw attention to the comparison which may be drawn between the statement, "I am the light of the world," and the words addressed to the disciples, "Ye are the light of the world." Some suppose that the genuine disciples of Jesus are greater than other creatures, some seeking the reason of this ill the natural growth of these disciples, others inferring it from their harder struggle. For those beings which are in flesh and blood have greater labours and a life more full of dangers than those which are in an ethereal body, and the lights of heaven might not, if they had put on bodies of earth, have accomplished this life of ours free from danger and from error. Those who incline to this argument may appeal to those texts of Scripture which say the most exalted things about men, and to the fact that the Gospel is addressed directly to men; not so much is said about the creation, or, as we understand it, about the world. We read, "As I and Thou are one, that they also may be one in Us," and "Where I am, there will also My servant be." These sayings, plainly, are about men; while about the creation it is said that it is delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. It might be added that not even when it is delivered will it take part in the glory of the sons of God. Nor will those who hold this view forget that the first-born of every creature, honouring man above all else, became man, and that it was not any of the constellations existing in the sky, but one of another order, appointed for this purpose and in the service of the knowledge of Jesus, that was made to be the Star of the East, whether it was like the other stars or perchance better than they, to be the sign of Him who is the most excellent of all. And if the boasting of the saints is in their tribulations, since "tribulation worketh patience, and patience probation, and probation hope, and hope maketh not ashamed," then the afflicted creation cannot have the like patience with man, nor the like probation, nor the like hope, but another degree of these, since "the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but on account of Him who subjected it. for hope." Now he who shrinks from conferring such great attributes on man will turn to another direction and say that the creature being subjected to vanity groans and suffers greater affliction than those who groan in this tabernacle, for has she not suffered for the utmost extent of time in her service of vanity--nay, many times as long as man? For why does she do this not willingly, but that it is against her nature to be subject to vanity, and not to have the best arrangement of her life, that which she shall receive when she is set free, when the world is destroyed and released even from the vanity of bodies. Here, however, we may appear to be stretching too far, and aiming at more than the question now before us requires. We may return, therefore, to the point from which we set out, and ask for what reason the Saviour is called the light of the world, the true light, and the light of men. Now we saw that He is called the true light with reference to the sensible light of the world, and that the light of the world is the same thing as the light of men, or that we may at least enquire whether they are the same. This discussion is not superfluous. Some students do not take anything at all out of the statement that the Saviour is the Word; and it is important for us to assure ourselves that we are not chargeable with caprice in fixing our attention on that notion. If it admits of being taken in a metaphorical sense we ought not to take it literally. When we apply the mystical and allegorical method to the expression "light of the world" and the many analogous terms mentioned above, we should surely do so with this expression also.
Origen on John 113