THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST – A Layman’s Handbook

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THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST – A Layman’s Handbook

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Bishop Dmitri

Published by DIOCESAN PUBLICATIONS 1180 N.W. 99th Miami, FL 33150


DOCTRINE OF CHRIST was originally published as a series of copyrighted articles in "The Dawn", official publication of the Diocese of the South, the Orthodox Church in America, whose sole property the material in this book remains.]



Foreword Introduction Chapter I Chapter II

Chapter III Chapter IV







Chapter VIII

What Is Orthodoxy? The Symbol of the Faith Christ in the Holy Scriptures The Son of God The Divine Attributes Christ in the Gospels Christ in the Epistles and in the

Apostolic Fathers Jesus Christ: Son of God, Son of Man The Guardians of the Faith The Divine and the Human in the Birth of Christ Mary, Ever-virgin God and Man at Once One Person, Two Natures Assuming Human Nature The Fathers and the Two Natures The Uniting of the Two Natures A Permanent Union What This Union Means to Us The Deification of the Human Nature of Christ We Worship Christ as One Person The Two Wills and the Two Energies The Object of His Ministry The Work of Christ The Prophetic Ministry of Christ A Biblical Truth Christ's Teachings about Salvation The Prophets of God The Law: Old and New Christ's Work Reveals the New Law

12 12 15 16

18 22 27

30 35 41

43 43 43 47 49 50 52 56 59 63

63 66 66 71

74 76 78

Chapter IX

The Priestly Ministry of Christ Christ Our Sacrifice The Bread of Life The Blood of Christ The Priesthood in Hebrews The Fathers on the Priesthood

83 83 86 87


of Christ 90 Christ Was Appointed Priest 91 The Consequences of Redemption 94 Can One Die for Many? 96 98 Are All Then Saved? 102 The Royal Ministry of Christ 102 The Servant Who Reigns The Miracles of Christ: The Priestly Ministry Continues105 107 Overruling Death and Hell 108 The Descent to Hell 111 Christ's Mission in Hell 113 The Resurrection 117 The Ascension 121 The Dwelling Place of God The Royal Ministry of Christ in 121 His Church The Final Judgment and the Why





Second Coming



127 .




FOREWORD: The material contained in this volume appeared as a series of articles in The Dawn, the monthly newspaper of the Diocese of the South. It is now being in published in book-form response to numerous suggestions that this reprinting be done as well as to there having been a large number of orders for back issues of the paper. The articles are republished here practically in their original form, with a minimum of editing. The repetitions and brief summaries at the beginning of sections, often needed in serial publicstions for the sake of continuity, have not been omitted. Perhaps a more thorough editing would have produced a more coherent text, but we have decided not to alter the material, and for this we beg the indulgence of the reader. The purpose of the artices was simply to present


to the average reader and church member a fairly detailed summary of the Church's teaching about Jesus Christ. We felt that such a summary was needed, since so many of the popular books on the doctrine of the Orthodox Church devote relatively few pages to the Christology, that part of theology which deals with the Person and Work of the Saviour. The hope of the author and the present publishers is that this little volume may fill the need for those who wisi to know more about the One who has accomplished tle work of reconciling God and man in Himself. It is not sufficient for the average member of the Church merely to comply with a set of requirements and obligations. God wills that "all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." (I Tm. 2:4) Jesus Christ is "the way, the truth, and the life." (Jn. 14:6) To know Him, to follow Him, and to give oneself wholly to Him, one must know who He is and what He has done for th: human race. The material presented here can make no claim to originality. It has simply been taken from the Scriptures, the dogmatic writings of the Holy Fathers, and from some theological textbooks. The only thing which belongs to the author is the vay in which he has chosen -1-

-2to string together and to interrelate the inspired teachings of the Church. If this volume shwmld succeed in helping some to confirm their faith, t¢ clarify some points of doctrine, and to convince some of the truth, the publishers will be thankful to the Lad, in whose name it is offered and to whose glory it isdedicated.





order to answer this question, another must first of all be asked. It is the same question which Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself asked His disciples. It is the most important question that has ever been asked. "What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He?" (Mt.22:42) "Who do men say that I the Son of man am?" (Mt. 16:13) This is the question which must be answered in order to know what Orthodoxy is. St. Peter answered this question rightly when he replied, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” (Mt. 16:16), for then Jesus declared that this truth had been revealed to Peter, not by men, but by the heavenly Father. Christ's whole life and the body of His teachings answered this question for all people and for all times. Who Christ is, and what His mission is, was the truth that He conveyed to His Apostles. The Apostles in turn Without adding or preserved this teaching intact. subtracting, without emphasizing one part of it over another, they passed it on to the next generation in the Church. Even unto the present time, the Church has preserved this truth down through the centuries. The reason the Church has labored from the beginning to combat errors and to give the doctrine of Christ to every generation in all its purity is because Orthodoxy is, more than anything else, the right doctrine about Christ. All of this effort has been made because Christ's teachings about Himself are necessary for the salvation of man and his world. It was the concern of the Apostles and of the Fathers of the Councils that Christ's teaching about Himself be kept untarnished. Thus, the Scriptures were written, the Creed was composed, and definitions were given in order that this might be so. The Church when referring to the Scriptures, or to the councils and their creeds and definitions, declares: "This is the Orthodox Faith." In



A summary of what the Scriptures and, consequently, the councils teach about Christ is sung at the Divine Liturgy. Called the Hymn of Orthodoxy, its every word is of vital importance and of the essence of Orthodoxy:

Only begotten Son and Word of God, who


immortal, and didst deign for our salvation to be incarnate of the holy Theotokos and Evervirgin Mary, and without change didst become man. Thou wast crucified, O Christ our God, trampling down Death by death, being One of the Holy Trinity, glorified together with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Save us! As history and experience have shown, anything less than the whole truth about Christ ends up in utter confusion and the multiplication of the denominations. Just a few years ago there were over three hundred varieties of Christianity in America alone. Most of them have been established or founded on some novel idea about the Lord Himself. Who knows how many more have come into existence since that number was given? Following the teachings of the Apostles and of the Fathers, there are many other things that need to be said and studied. All of the things that are so characteristic of our Church, the rites, the icons, the veneration of the Mother of God and of the Saints, have as their most important function the support of the this very doctrine of Christ. Hence, those who would deny any one of these teachings and practices, in effect, deny one part or another of the doctrine of Christ. In the chapters that follow we shall try, with the Lord's help, to explore this doctrine that is central in the Orthodox Church of Christ, as well as to explain the relationship the "supporting" teachings and practices have to that doctrine.


THE SYMBOL OF OUR FAITH The Creed, which we recite at every Liturgy, was composed by the First and Second Ecumenical Councils in order to present in a verv concise way the most impor-

tant points of Christian teaching. Its articles are all statements of faith which must be accepted by Orthodox Christians without reservation. The longest and most detailed part of the Creed is the second part, which summarizes the Church's teachings concerning Jesus Christ. It was, indeed, because almost every element of those teachings was questioned or distorted bv someone that the Councils were convoked. The second part of the Creed is as follows: And [I believe]l in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; of His kingdom there shall be no end. Every statement is of the essence of Christian Orthodoxy and is clearly taught by the Bible, as the following examination will show.




In answer to Jesus' question, "Whom do ye say that am?" Peter said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of This identification is accepted by the Living God." Our Lord and He declares that this truth was revealed to Peter by the heavenly Father. (Mt. 16:16,17)



Only begotten—

St. John testifies in his account of the Gospel that the Son was the only begotten of the Father. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." (Jn. 1:18)

Son The God— Begotten of the Father before all ages— That the Son was begotten timelessly, before all creation, is reflected in the words of Psalm 2:7, "Thou art my Son; this day have 1 begotten thee." These words were understood by the Apostles to refer precisely to Jesus. "So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest; but He that said unto Him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee." (Hb. 5:5; cf., Acts 13:33 and Hb. 1:5) Then again, in His prayer before His crucifixion, Jesus asked the Father to glorify Him "with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." (Jn. 17:5) §

Light of Light— "God is light." (I Jn. 1:5) Speaking of John the Baptist, John the Evangelist also says, "He [John] came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light ... he was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That [the Son of God] was the true Light, which lighteth every man..." (Jn. 1:7-9) In other words, what is said of the Father in this regard is also said of the Son. §

-7True God of True God— The Son of God is God is the same sense as is God the Father. "We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." (I Jn. 5:20) As we see in this passage, the purpose of the coming of the Son of God was to make God known to man. This He could do because He was God Himself. As in the case of the word "light," above, a term, "true," is applied interchangeably to both the Father and the Son. §

Begotten, not made— One of the major, early heresies (distortions) of the doctrine of Christ was taught by Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria in Egypt. He taught, as so many twentieth-century Arians (ie. the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, and many Protestants), that the Son of God was created. This phrase was inserted into the Creed specifically to combat the error of Arius. § Of one essence with the Father— This is the definitive statement of the divinity of Christ, and therefore the correction of the error mentioned immediately above. Christ Himself said, "I and my Father are one." (Jn. 10:30) Then too, St. Paul calls Him "the express image of His person [ie. the being, the essence, the hypostasis of the Father]." (Hb. 1:3) § By whom all things were made— The Son is the expression of the Father; the Father works with the Son as His agent. Hence, the Son was the agent of the creation. "All things were made by Him [the Son], and without Him was not anything made that was made." (Jn. 1:3) "By whom [ie. by the Son] also He [God] made the worlds." §

(Hb. 1:2)


§ Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven— In the Gospel according to John, we find the following. "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." (3:13) The Son came "down" from heaven in this sense: although as God He is always present everywhere, He was present on earth invisibly. When He became man, without ceasing to be God, He was visible and lived among men on earth. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." (Jn. 1:14) It was out of His love for man (Jn. 3:16) that He took human nature upon Himself, so that He might make God knownto man (Jn. 1:18), and thus save man from sin (Mt. 1:21) and from the darkness and futility of a godless existence(Lk. 1:79; I Pt. 2:9).

And was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man— St. John testifies to the fact that the Son, or Word, of God became man, and that He continued to be all that He was before. "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (Jn. 1:14) Mary, a holy virgin of the lineage of Abraham and David, was the human instrument by which God chose to be born and enter into the world of man. His birth was a supernatural one, His mother being a virgin, and His conception being caused by the Holy Spirit. The Evangelist Luke relates that when the Virgin had asked the Angel who announced the birth to her, "How shall this be, seeing, I know not a man?" the Angel replied to her, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Lk. 1:34,35) §


And [He] was crucified for us under Pontius and suffered and was buried— The use of the name of Pontius Pilate in the Creed establishes the exact historical time of the crucifixion. Events in Roman times were usually described as having happened during the reign of this or that emperor or governor. St. Paul refers to this event in a letter to Timothy. (I Tm. 6:13) "He was crucified for us. It was again His love that made Him take on the whole miserable human condition and its direct consequence, death. Although He Himself did not sin (I Pt. 2:22), and was therefore not subject to death, He chose to undergo it in order to liberate us from it. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." (I Jn. 1:7) "In [Christ,] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Eph. §


He suffered as a human being suffers. (I Pt. 2:23) One of the early heresies held that Christ only appeared to have suffered. This heresy in maintained in our own day by the "Christian Scientists." He was buried, for He was truly dead. In his first epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul, in speaking of the

fundamental message delivered unto you first how that Christ died scriptures: and that He

of Christianity, says, "For I of all that which I also received, for our sins according to the was buried..." (15:3,4)

And the third day he rose again, according


to the

Scriptures— The expression "according to the Scriptures” indicates that the events of the life of Christ were fulfillments of t he prophecies of the Old Testament. St. Pauls' statement quoted above goes on to say, "And that He rose again on the third day according to the scriptures: and that He .was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, He was seen of above "

-10five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep." (vv.4-6) The

sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, hence, have brought salvation to us men. They, also, are a pledge of our own resurrection: "Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept," (I Cor. 15:20) "that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead..." (Acts 26:23), and "...the dead in Christ shall rise first," (I Th. 4:16). §

And He ascended into heaven, and

sitteth at the

right hand of the Father— "And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." (Lk. 24:51) "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." (Mk. 16:19)

It was again for us that He ascended into heaven, for it was in His manhood (ie. the human nature which He had taken on) that He ascended. His ascension demonstrates that just as we shall rise from the dead, like Christ, we also shall go, like Him, to heaven to be with Him eternally.

And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead— Two angels appeared and spoke to the Apostles at the time of the Lord's ascension, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11) His second coming will be a glorious one, and its purpose will be to judge all men. "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works." (Mt. 16:27) "For we must all appear before §

-11the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (Il Cor. 5:10) §

Whose kingdom shall have no end—

Christ's kingdom will be eternal, as we understand from what the angel Gabriel said to the virgin Mary at the Annunciation: "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there no end." (Lk. 1:31-33) Thus the Creed, the Symbol of our Faith, is literally taken from the Bible. On this basis the doctrine of Christ can be examined in detail.


recent years there has been a great controversy about what Jesus taught about Who did He say that He was? Why did He say had come? Consequently, it is at this point will begin our examination in detail. In

deal of


that He that we

—The Son of God—

conversation with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews, the Lord spoke the following concerning man's salvation: "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man...For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life... He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (Jn. 3:13,16,18) Here, the Lord attributes to Himself presence in both heaven and earth. He speaks of His having come down from heaven; and, He calls Himself the only begotten Son of God. Finally, He declares that without faith in Him as the only begotten Son of God, salvation is impossible for men. On another occasion, Jesus told certain Jewish priests, scribes and elders a parable. (Mk. 11:27) Jesus not only declares Himself to be the Son of God, but also This describes His reason for coming into the world. is the parable of the vineyard, which a man planted, "and set an hedge about it...and let it out to husbandmen [tenants]." (12:1 ff.) He was speaking of the heavenly Father, who planted His church in the midst of the Jewish people and entrusted it to them as the chosen people among all the people In a


-13of the world. At the season of the harvest, the Master sent to the husbandmen His servants to receive "the fruit of the vineyard." (12:2) Rather than do as they should have done, rather than remember that they were only

tenants entrusted with the vineyard, they became selfish, self-centered, and forgot the one to whom they owed everything.

They beat the servants, drove them away,

and even killed some of them. (12:3-5) Then the master decided to send his own son to them. "Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him..." (12:6-8) The Lord used this parable to declare Himself to be the only-begotten Son of God, the wellbeloved, and the heir of the heavenly Father. Further, He described the reaction of His chosen people to His prophets and to His own presence among them. For the servants were the prophets whom God sent from time to time to His people to proclaim His will and to call them back to remembrance of Him. Many had been stoned, beaten, and killed; their message went unheeded. Finally, the Father sent His Son, who also was rejected and put to death. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” (Jn. 1:11) Again, when the Saviour had cured the paralytic, the Jews persecuted Him "because He had done these things on the Sabbath day." (Jn.5:16) And Jesus responded to them in these terms: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." (5:17) This response, in which Jesus attributes to Himself equality with God the Father in privilege and power, was understood precisely in this sense by the Jews. They "sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God


was His Father, making Himself equal with God." (5:18) Jesus goes on to teach them: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but that He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." (5:19) "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him." (5:21-23) "For as the Father hath life in Himself: so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself." (5:26)

Here the Saviour attributes to Himself the same

will, the same power over life, the same self-existence as the Father has. Further, He declares that He is to be worshipped just as God the Father is worshipped. In the same chapter, He goes on to cite the testimony of John the Baptist concerning Him (vv. 32-35); He refers to His own miraculous works (v. 36); and He recalls the witness of the heavenly Father: "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," (v. 37). Finally, He declares that the Old Testament scriptures refer precisely to Him: "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and it is they which testify of me." (v. 39) Another incident in which Jesus clearly identifies Himself as the Son of God and puts Himself on a level with God is recorded in the tenth chapter of the Gospel

according to John. One day in the temple some of the Jews insisted that Jesus tell them directly whether He was the Messiah or not. "How long dost thou makes us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." (v. 24) In His answer, we find these striking words: "I and my Father are one. " (v. 30) The Jews certainly understood the intention of His declaration, for "they took up stones again to stone Him ... saying, For a good work

-15we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. (vv. 30-33) The Saviour did not deny their accusation. On the contrary, He restated His claim to be the Son of God,



the Father, even more insistently.

"Say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in Him. " (vv. 36-38) Finally, when Jesus had been arrested and taken bound to the tribunal of Caiaphas, and several false witnesses had spoken against Him, the high priest stood up and asked Him publicly: "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God." (Mt. 26: 63; cf., Mk. 14:61) Jesus, without hesitating, answered him, "lI am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." (MK. 14:62) "Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard His blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.” (Mt. 26:65,66) And having led Him to Pilate, the Jews told him, "We have a law, and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God." (In. 19:7) As is obvious in these, and the foregoing paragraphs, the Jews who heard Him certainly understood that He claimed to be the Son of God. About this, there can be no doubt. —The Divine Attributes— In addition to His claim to be the Son of God, Jesus attributed to Himself certain qualities that are proper

-16to the Godhead: omnipresence—being always present everywhere, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Mt. 18:20; see also, Jn. 3:13 and Mt. 28:20); self-existence— having life in Himself, (Jn. 5:26); eternity—having always been, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (Jn. 8:58; see also, Jn. 17:5); equality with God—(Jn. 10:27-30); and, divine knowledge—(Mt. 11:27; Jn. 10:15). It must be noted that by the use of the very expression I Am (cf., Jn. 8:58 above), the Saviour identifies Himself with the God of Israel, I Am being the divine name given by God to Moses. "And Moses said unto God, Behold when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is His name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses I AM THAT 1 AM: and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." (Ex. 3:13,14) —Christ in the Gospels— One of the most serious errors widely taught and believed in our time is that Jesus Christ was only a man. It is asserted that He not only did not claim to be God, but that this idea was invented by His followers, principally the Apostle Paul. Many people imagine that His "simple" message of love and of doing good was distorted and elaborated in the generations that followed His earthly life into a complicated doctrinal system or religion that He would not even recognize. While some of those who hold this point of view concede that He was a great moral teacher and prophet, perhaps even divinely inspired, they maintain that it was the disciples who made a God of Him and who also rewrote and edited the record of His teachings in the Bible.

-17The fact is that the primary record that we have of all the things He did and taught is the New Testament, specifically the holy Gospels. In them we find the account of His moral teachings and we also find His declarations concerning Himself. Although some biblical "scholars" question the authenticity of the latter, the Orthodox Church accepts as the truth the entire record of Jesus Christ contained in the Gospels. The Gospel-writers, the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, made a permanent record not only of what He said about Himself but also showed how He was the Saviour promised by God through the prophets of the Old Testament. For example, the holy Evangelist Matthew, speaking of the miraculous conception of the Saviour, relates to Him the prophecy of Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." (1:23; Is. 7:14) St. Mark begins his Gospel account with these words: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.™ (1:1) Then, telling the story of the Saviour's baptism, he records the manifestation of the Holy Trinity: "And straightway coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove, descending upon Him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying: Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." (1:11)

St. Luke cites the prophecy of the angel to Zacharias concerning his son John, who was to be born and serve as the forerunner of the Messiah: "And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he (John) shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias." (1:16,17) St. John the Theologian begins his Gospel thus: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with

-18God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made." Here, he clearly calls the Word, "God." He presents Him as existing since the beginning or from all eternity, distinct from the Father, and as having created all

that exists. Further, he writes: "And the Word was made flesh

and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth ... for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (1:14,17) In other words, this Word is precisely the only-begotten Son of God the Father: He became flesh and is none other than Jesus Christ. A little further along, he says: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son of God the Father, He hath declared Him." (1:18) In these words, he shows that Jesus Christ is the only-begotten Son literally, as being in the very bosom of the Father, and that He has made it possible for men to know God. Finally, on concluding His Gospel, St. John notes that the purpose of writing it has been to prove the divinity of Jesus Christ. "These things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." (20:31) —Christ in the Epistles— The Epistles of John— St. John, also, at the beginning of his first epistle, calls Christ our Saviour "the word of life,” (1:1); "eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us," (1:20); and at the end of the same, says: "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is This is the true true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. §

-19God and eternal life," (5:20). Here he calls "true Son of God" and "true God" the One whom he had previously called "eternal life," thus affirming Christ's divinity. Again, in the Revelation (Apocalypse), he cites several times the words of the Saviour, who had appeared to him. "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (1:10,12,17,18; 22:12,13) He declares that Christ is "the Prince of the kings of the earth,” (1:5) and the "King of kings and the Lord of lords " (19:16).

The Epistles of Paul— In his epistles, the holy apostle Paul calls the Saviour God: "[who] was manifest in the flesh,” (I Tm. 3:16); "the Lord of glory," (I Cor. 2:8); "the great God," (Tit. 2:13); "God blessed for ever," (Rm. 9:5); God's "own Son," (Rm. 8:32); "who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God," (Ph. 2:6). §

St. Paul gives Christ the divine attributes: eternity, immutability (unchangeableness), (Hb. 1:10-12); and omnipotence (having all power), (Hb. 1:3; Ph. 3:21). He attributes to Him the whole creation: "...By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him." (Col. 1:16) "...He is before all things, and by Him all things consist." (Col. 1:17; cf., Hb. 1:3) (Hb. 7:3);

In the Epistle of Jude— The holy apostle Jude, furthermore, describes heretics as those who deny the divinity of Christ. "There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, §


turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (v. 4)

Here, "and our Lord Jesus Christ" stands as an appositive to "the only Lord God.” Hence, St. Jude uses the terms synonymously and affirms Christ's divinity. Christ in the Sub-apostolic Epistles— In the generation following that of the disciples of Christ, a number of bishops who had been taught directly by the Apostles themselves wrote letters (epistles) to the churches. Some of these epistles have come down to us, and in them we find exactly the same doctrine of Christ found in the New Testament. It is extremely important to note that there is a perfect continuity between what the Apostles taught and what their disciples taught. St. Ignatius of Antioch writes in his epistle to the Trallians: "Guard yourselves from these people [the heretics], and vou will have nothing to fear from them if vou do not fill yourselves with pride and turn away from God, Jesus Christ, and from the bishop and from the commandments.” (Ch. 7) [Note again that "Jesus Christ" stands in apposition to "God," as in the Epistle of Jude.] Furthermore, St. Ignatius writes to the Christians at Ephesus: "Every place of injustice hath been destroved, ignorance overcome, the ancient kingdom done away bv the appearance of 'God in the form of man’, for the new life which shall have no end ... You all with the cooperation of grace, have been joined together in the one same Faith and in the same Jesus Christ, issue of David according to the flesh, Son of Man and Son of God." (Chs. 19 and 20) Then again, he wrote to the Church at Rome: "Ignatius, called also the God-bearer, pardoned by the goodness of the Most High and of Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son, to the most beloved Church, enlight§


ened by the will of Him who is pleased with all that is done for love of Jesus Christ our God ... I desire you

to rejoice with an excellent and pure joy in Jesus Christ our God." (Ch. 1)

St. Polycarp of Smyrna, writing to the Philippians, greets them in these terms: "Polycarp, and with him the priests of the Church of God, which is in Philippi: may the grace and peace of Jesus Christ, God Almighty, our Lord and Saviour, be increased in you." (Ch. 1) Finally, the Apostolic Father known as the author of the Epistle to Diognetussays: "He Himself [God] has given His Son for our redemption, the Holy One for sinners, the Innocent for the guilty, the Just for the unjust, the Incorruptible for the corruptible, the Immortal for mortals. For, what could cover our sins, but His justice? Who else could justify us sinners and impious ones, but the only Son of God...?" (Ch. 9) Thus in the sub-apostolic period, the same emphasis on the divinity of Christ was held in the Church as it was during the time of the Apostles.


Just as Holy Scripture teaches the doctrine of the divine nature of Jesus Christ, it teaches equally the doctrine of His human nature. It does so in the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament, in the genealogies of the New Testament, in the narratives of His birth, in the whole Gospel story of His earthly life, in the names given to Him, in the references in the Gospels and elsewhere to His real human body with all its properties and functions, and in the fact that the Gospel attributes to Him the other part of human nature, namely the soul or spirit, with its qualities and feelings. Thus, while He was still an infant, His mother and Joseph had to flee into Egypt in order to escape the decree of Herod that all male children under the age of two be killed. (Mt. 2:13,14) As a son He was subject to Mary and Joseph. (Lk. 2:51) He grew normally "and waxed strong in spirit..." (Lk. 2:40) Then He "was baptized of John in Jordan," (Mk. 1:9), as indeed other men and women were doing. We see Him later, once having entered into His ministry, going about the cities and villages with the proclamation of salvation, being recognized everywhere as a real man. We see Him take part in celebrations, such as the feast in the house of Levi (Lk. 5:29), the wedding in Cana of Galilee (Jn. 2:1-11), at a supper in the house of Lazarus (Jn. 12:2), and in the house of Zacchaeus (Lk. 19:5-8). Again, He went to Jerusalem for the Paschal feast, celebrating Pascha with His disciples according to the law. (Mt. 26:17 ff.) Finally, the Evangelists depict in great detail Christ's sufferings, sufferings which were real and not just in appearance. He was slapped on the face (Jn. 18:22), He was spat upon (Mk. 14:65), He was whipped (Jn. 19:1) and made to carry His own cross (Jn. 19:17). -22~

-23Once crucified, Christ thirsted (Jn. 19:28), He groaned then ultimately He died (Lk. 23:46). St. John notes that blood and water issued forth from the dead Body, thereby obviating the need of breaking Christ's legs to hasten His death. (Jn. 19:33,34) Then too, the burial of the Lord is described in detail, showing its necessity and conformity to Jewish practice. (Jn. 19:38-42) His Body was anointed, wrapped in a shroud, and buried, indeed as any other human body. The Resurrection accounts themselves pay close attention to physical aspects. The stone itself had been moved (Jn. 20:1) and the grave clothes left there in the tomb (Jn. 20:6,7). Far from being a trivial rein agony and

counting of something incidental, these details precisely indicate the physical and, therefore, human aspects of the Resurrection. In other words, the Evangelists go to great lengths to demonstrate that it was not merely Christ's "spirit" which was lingering on, but that indeed it was His human body which had been resurrected. (Lk. 24:38-40) That Christ as a man was risen was also underscored by the fact that He ate with His disciples several times after He rose from the dead. (Lk. 24:30,41,42) The ascension into heaven occurs after one of these occasions wherein the resurrected Lord has eaten with His disciples. (Lk. 24:36ff.; Jn. 21) Christ continues to teach them as He did prior to His death, but now the disciples have understanding. (Lk. 24:45) Then He is taken up into heaven; He does not simply disappear or go off by Himself. His Body itself, a physical, human body is raised from the earth while the eleven remaining apostles witness its ascension. (Lk. 24:51,52a) §

The Names of Jesus—

In the Scriptures, certain names of Jesus are given to indicate His humanity, as well. For example, He

-24calls Himself "a man" as He speaks to the Jews on a given occasion. "Ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard from God..." (In. 8:40) Again, He often called Himself the "Son of man." "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." (Mt. 8:20) "And He began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things ... and be killed, and after three days rise again." (Mk. 8:31) The Apostles themselves emphasize His human nature, calling Him "the man." "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” (I Tm. 2:5) "Because [God] hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained ..." (Acts 17:31) And finally, St. Paul calls Him the "last [or second] Adam." (I Cor. 15:45,47) § References to the properties and functions of a real human body— Holy Scripture makes consistent and ample reference to Christ's body having all the functions and properties of a human body. Thus, He was circumcised, following the Law (Lk. 2:21); He had need of food and drink (Mt. 4:2; 21:18; Lk. 4:2; Jn. 19:28); He became tired (Jn. 4:6); He needed rest and sleep (Mk. 4:38); He was subject to pain and anguish (Lk. 22:41-44); and He suffered death, was buried, and rose again (Mt. 27:40-61; 28:6). Once, when Jesus was in the house of Simon the Leper, a woman came to anoint Him. Jesus said, "She is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying." 14:8) St. Peter would write later that it was Jesus who "bare our sins in His own body on the tree." (I Pt. 2:24) And St. Matthew recorded that after His death, Joseph of Arimathea "went to Pilate and begged the (MK.

-25body of Jesus." "Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered, and when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock." (27:58-60) Yet even more striking are the words of Jesus to His terrified disciples, when He appeared to them after His resurrection, His body having been already glorified: "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Lk. 24:39) And in another appearance after His resurrection, He said to Thomas: "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing." (Jn. 20:27)

Christ's soul: its qualities and feelings— As the time for His betrayal approached, the Lord said to Peter and the two sons of Zebedee in the garden of Gethsemane, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death..." (Mt. 26:38) Here, the soul, or spirit, of Christ is shown as having feelings common to all human nature. St. Matthew and St. John both describe the crucifixion thus. Christ cried out in a loud voice and "yielded up the spirit." (Mt. 27:50; Jn. 19:30) St. Luke adds the fact that Christ commended His spirit into His Father's hands. (23:46) Likewise Holy Scripture attributes human reason, wisdom, and intelligence to Christ: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature..." (Lk. 2:52) and "the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom," (Lk.2:40). Furthermore, Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gethsemane shows that He had human will: "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done." (Lk. 22:42; see also, §

Mt. 26: 39)

-26Jesus also had the qualities and feelings of the soul.

Thus, He "rejoiced in spirit." (Lk. 10:21) Hearing of the death of His friend Lazarus, He "groaned in the spirit, and was troubled." (Jn. 11:33; see also Jn. 12:27 and 13:21) He showed a special love for children, and He was displeased with those who forbade them to come to Him. (Mk. 10:13,14) He was even angry with those who misused the house of God, as we see when He drove the money-changers out. (Jn. 2:14-17; Mt. 21:12,13) Finally, He became sad and afflicted at the idea of suffering and death. (Mt. 26:37,38; Lk. 22:42-45) In Hebrews 5:7, we read: "in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared." Hence, the doctrine of Christ's human nature can be stated quite simply. Since Jesus Christ is perfect God, He is consubstantial (of the same essence) with the Father in His divine nature. He is likewise perfect man and consubtantial with us men, in His human nature, as the Son of the Most Holy Virgin. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hb. 4:15)

CHAPTER FOUR: THE GUARDIANS OF THE FAITH We have seen that according to Holy Scripture our Saviour Jesus Christ is perfect (or fully) God and perfect man. In His person are two natures, the divine and the human. We have indicated that it is the faith of the Church that this doctrine is of crucial importance for the salvation of mankind. We would go so far as to say that the whole structure of the Christian Faith depends on it and that if it is altered or distorted, the Christian message loses all its power, its impact, and its uniqueness. In other words, it loses the very

things that makes it different from all religions. From the earliest times, in the very apostolic age in fact, there have been attempts, either deliberate or because of misunderstanding, to minimize the importance of this doctrine or to change it. This has always been done either by denying the reality of one of the natures or by upsetting the balance between them.

The Holy Fathers of the Church devoted much attention to the explanation of the doctrine of Christ, since St. John the Apostle declares that "whosoever

transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." (II Jn. 9) In verse 7, he had already made specific reference to one of the heresies in this regard: "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh." Thus, those Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils are commemorated on several occasion during the year as celebrations of the Church's victory over the heresies that arose concerning the very Person of Jesus Christ. Inasmuch as the same heresies are widespread in the Christian world today, such celebrations are as


-28timely now in the late twentieth century as at any time in the past. §

Careful?— One may ask why it

Be So is so important to insist on the purity of this teaching and why the Church cannot tolerate some "little" differences of interpretation or opinion about Christ, After all, we know that the distortion of this doctrine by heretics and the unyielding defense of it by the Orthodox Fathers have been at the heart of the divisions in Christendom. The key to the Church's position concerning this matter is to be found in several verses of Second Corinthians: And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (5:18-21) The life and work of Christ was God's plan for man's reconciliation with Himself put into effect. The Fathers, explaining the necessity for the two natures in Christ, concentrated their attention on three aspects of the work of reconciliation: that of Mediator, that of Revealer, and that of Redeemer. In fact, the principal thesis of the Fathers was that the three roles or aspects of His work would not have been possible if Christ were not both perfect God and perfect Man.

Why §

Christ Our Mediator— Christ is the Mediator between God and man.


-29there is one God, and one Mediator between Gor and men, the man Christ Jesus." (I Tm. 2:5) He is the Revealer of God to men. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son ,which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." (Jn. 1:18) He is our Redeemer, "...our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all ini-

quity..." (Ti. 2:13,14)

Concerning His role as Mediator, St. John Chrysostom writes that "the mediator must have a common origin or relationship with both [God and man]. If He were related to one and not to the other, He could not be mediator. If He had not the same nature as the Father, He would not be a mediator, but a stranger. (St. Paul says that men are strangers without Christ. [cf. Eph. 2:12,19]) Since it was necessary for Him to have human nature, because He came from among men, in the same way, it was necessary for Him to have the divine nature, because He came from God. If He had been only man, He would not have been a mediator, for a mediator must be in intimate relation with God. If He had been only God, He would not have been mediator either, because those for whom He intervened would not have been able to approach Him." (Homily 7, On the First Epistle

to Timothy)

Christ Our Revealer of the Father— As the Revealer of God, St. Irenaeus writes of Christ, saying that "we were unable to know God, except through the divine Word incarnate (made man,) and no other could proclaim the Father to us except His hypostatic Word. We could not be enlightened except in seeing His light with our own eyes and in hearing His words with our own ears, so that seeking to imitate His works and to follow His instructions, we might become capable of entering into communion with Him, and of taking perfection from Him who is perfect and above all condi§

-30tions and all limits." (Against Heresies, V,1) Again, as St. Cyril of Jerusalem says, "man could learn only from his peer; the Saviour took a nature resembling man's in order to teach him more easily." (Catechesis, XII,14) §

Christ Our Redeemer—

Concerning His role as Redeemer, St. Irenaeus writes, not have been able to receive incorruptibility and immortality, if we had not been united with One who is incorruptible and immortal. But how could we be united to that Incomruptible, Immortal One, if that very Incorruptible, Immortal One had not first made Himself what we are, so that our corruptibility was absorbed by His incorruptibility and our mortality by His immortality?" (Against Heresies, 111,19) Further, this same Father says, "The Lord became the Son of Man, so that our race, having been subjected to death by a man who was conquered, we might again receive life through the Man who was the Conqueror, and just as death defeated us through one man, it is also through one Man that we have defeated death.” (Ibid. v,21) St. Athanasius, also, writes thus: "The union between God and man could not have been established, if death and corruption had not been destroyed. Thus it is not without reason that the Lord took a mortal body; it was in order to annihilate death completely in Himself and to renew men created in the image of God." (The Incarnation of the Word of God, n. 13) "We would

—The Divine and the Human in the Birth of Christ—

circumstances of the birth of Jesus Christ demonstrate the truth of the doctrine of His two natures. He came from the race of man: He was born of a mother at a particular time and place in history. On the other hand, His birth was supernatural in that He became The

-31man in the womb of a Virgin Mother by the operation of the Holy Spirit, and that she remained a virgin before, during, and after His birth. In the Old Testament, we find Isaiah's prophecy concerning the birth of the Messiah: "A virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Emmanuel." (Is. 7:14)

When the Evangelist Matthew records the birth of the Saviour, he quotes the above verse and declares that it was in fulfillment of what the Lord had promised through the prophet. Even the name, Emmanuel, which means "God with us,” shows that it was God who was born, and that the woman chosen for this high honor would necessarily be absolutely pure. The angel announced to the all-holy Virgin that she would conceive and bear the Son of the Highest. "Fear not Mary: for thou hast found favour with God... Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest." (Lk. 1:30-32)

her uncertainty by saying, I know not a man?" (v.34), the angel answered that she would keep her virginity through conceiving and bearing supernaturally without the intervention of man. "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (v. 35) Then, in order to prove to her that such a miracle was possible with God, the angel cited to her the exShe had conceived, ample of her cousin Elizabeth. in spite of her old age and sterility, in accordance with the will of God. He added, finally, the general truth that "with God nothing shall be impossible." (vv.36,37) After these words, the all-holy Virgin gave the most perfect expression of trust and conformity with the will of God. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be When the Virgin expressed "How shall this be, seeing that

-32it unto me according to thy word." (vs. 38) St. Matthew narrates the circumstances of Jesus' birth. "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Ghost." (1:18) After that he relates that Joseph did not yet understand the mystery and "was minded to put her away privily." (vs. 19) As he slept an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." (vs. 20,21) Then after having remarked that "all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet," (vs. 22), he concludes thus: "Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife. And he knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son, and he called His name Jesus." (vs.24,25) That the Church has always expressed her belief in this virgin birth of the Saviour is evident from the creeds that she has used since the earliest times. As quoted in Chapter One, the so-called Nicene Creed, for example, says that the Lord Jesus Christ "was in carnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man." The Ecumenical Councils served to formalize the doctrine of the virgin birth. The Second Council, which met at Constantinople in 381, inserted these words into its own symbol or creed: "I believe in the Son of God, who was incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary, by the operation of the Holy Spirit." And the acts of the Third Council (Ephesus, 425) contain a discourse delivered at its close with this doxology to the Mother of God: "Thou art the crown of virginity ... And who

-33is capable of glorifying worthily the all-praised Virgin?— O Wonder! She is Mother and Virgin at the same time." Then again, the Fourth Council, meeting at Chalcedon in 451, in its famous definition of the two natures in Christ, teaches that the Son of God was begotten of the Father according to His divinity, and born for us of the Virgin Mary, according to His humanity. It must be pointed out that this formalizing of the doctrine of the virgin birth in no way indicates the the Church's belief in the virgin birth is co-terminous with the age of the Councils. This is to say, the virgin birth has always been believed in by the Church, even though for several centuries she possessed no written doctrine of the same. Ample testimony from the Fathers from the earliest

centuries testify to this fundamental

Christian belief.

For example, St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, "The prince of this world was not aware of the virginity of Mary, the birth and the death of the Lord—these three great mysteries, which were accomplished in God's silence." (Epistle to the Ephesians, Ch. 19) St. Justin Martyr defended the doctrine thus: "The divine power, having descended upon the Virgin, overshadowed her and made her conceive, not by intercourse, but by power." (Apology, I, 33) As well, St. Irenaeus wrote, "He was born of the Virgin, herself of the lineage of David." (Against Heresies, III, 21, n.5) St. Gregory of Nyssa declared, "The one and the same is at the same time Mother and Virgin; nor did her virginity prevent her giving birth, nor did her giving birth do harm to her virginity." (Oration on the Day

of the Nativity of Christ) Then again, St. Ambrose wrote, "She who said, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word," was virgin both after having conceived and after having given birth, for the Prophet had said (Is. 7:14) not only that a virgin would conceive, but

-34also that a virgin would give birth." (Letter to Siricius) In fact, all the great Fathershad the same doctrine. Among them we find St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ephraim the Syrian, St. Leo the Great, St. Cyril of Alexandria, as well as others. Furthermore, the Fathers taught that the miraculous nature of the birth of Christ was not only possible because of the omnipotence of God, who overturns the order of nature when He wills to do so, but also that it was entirely consistent with the divine plan for man's reconciliation with God. They found such miracles as the bush that burned without being consumed (Ex. 3:2), and Christ's entering through closed doors after His Resurrection (Jn. 20:19), not only illustrative of God's lordship over nature, but even symbolic of Mary's keeping her virginity in the birth of the Saviour. In relation to the whole dispensation of man's salvation, St. Ireaeus wrote, "Just as Adam, the first created man, received his body from a virgin, uncultivated soil (Gn. 2:5) and was formed by the hand of God, that is, by the Divine Word, by whom 'all things were made’ (Jn. 1:3), so, with the purpose of regenerating Adam in his person, God the Word was Himself born of the Virgin Mary, and truly chose a birth such as was necessary to regenerate Adam." (Against Heresies, [I[,21, n.10)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem expresses the same idea in these terms: "It was by a virgin named Eve that death came; it was also through the Virgin that life was to manifest itself, so that, as the first had been seduced by the serpent, in the same way, the second received the message of Gabriel." (Catechetical Lectures, xii, 15)

Finally, we have this testimony from St. Gregory of Nyssa. "It was proper that He who entered into human life in order to recall all men to innocence should be born of the immaculate Virgin, in whose womb He was formed, for, ordinarily, she who is still a virgin

-35is also called innocent and pure." (Oration on the Day

of the Nativity of Christ)

—Mary, Ever-virgin—

"Remembering our all-holy, immaculate, most blessed

and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary..." Thus at the Liturgy and other services the deacon completes his litanies. The title and qualities given to the holy virgin in this "commendation" are not just poetic expressions, but they are understood and believed as the Church's teaching concerning her. Hence, we must ask, what do we mean when we ascribe to Mary the title "ever-virgin"? What is her


place in the Tradition of Christendom? The Holy Fathers considered Mary's perpetual virginity not only a fact but an essential part of the whole doctrine of the Incarnation. In other words, that she was before, during, and after the birth of Christ a virgin is a necessary part of our belief that Our Lord was fully God and fully Man. St. Ambrose, for example, in On the Institution of Virginity, (Ch. 8, n. 52), cited in support of this truth the words of the Prophet Ezekiel concerning the eastern gate of the temple, which God revealed to him in a vision. "' And it was closed, said the Prophet, and the Lord said to me:'this gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.’ " (Ez. 44:2) In a mystical sense, following the Holy Fathers, this door designated the all-chaste Virgin Mary, who remained closed, that is in an innocent and unalterable virginity, and so remained forever, not only before the birth and in the birth of the Saviour, but even afterwards,—by which He alone, ow Lord God, entered into this world and no other after Him." That the above portion of the Prophecy of Ezekiel

-36is considered to refer to the virgin Mary and her role in the Incarnation is evident from the fact that the section from which itis taken is usually read at Vespers on the eve of a festival of the Theotokos. St. Augustine, in his On Virginity, (Ch. 4), refers to the question that the Virgin herself asked the angel who amnounced. the birth of Jesus to her: ""How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Lk.1:34) It must be remembered that she asked this question at a time when she was betrothed to Joseph (Lk. 1:27). What would these words mean if before her betrothal, she had not already made a vow to keep her virginity forever, and if she had not been betrothed to Joseph precisely that he might be the guardian of her virginity? Otherwise, betrothed to Joseph, as her future husband, she would not have been able to say, 'Seeing that I know not a man."" Augustine seems to be saying that it did not even occur to the Virgin that the Angel could have been referring to a child by Joseph from a future relationship. "If it is unquestionable that she had vowed before the Lord to keep her virginity forever, it is impossible for her not to have kept that vow always, especially after having merited the grace of becoming the Mother of the Son of God." (Ibid.) St. John of Damascus (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, IV, 14) finds the idea that "once her job was done," she should have a normal conjugal relation utterly preposterous. "For could it be possible that she, who had borne God, and, from the experience of subsequent events, had come to recognize the miracle, should receive the embrace of a man. God forbid!" In fact, he goes on to demonstrate that the righteous Elder Simeon foresaw for her a continued intimate interest in the saving events of Christ's life: "This blessed woman, who was deemed worthy of gifts that are supernatural, suffered those pains, which she escaped at the birth, in the hour of the passion, enduring from


motherly sympathy the rending of the bowels, and when she beheld Him, Whom she knew to be God from the manner of his generation, killed as a malefactor, her thoughts pierced her as a sword, and this is the meaning

of this verse: 'Yea, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also,’ (Lk.2:35). But the joy of the resurrection transforms the pain, proclaiming Him, Who died in the flesh, to be God." (Ibid.) Sacred Tradition also confirms the belief that the chaste Mother of God kept her vow of virginity until the end. It is following this tradition that the Church has always proclaimed her to be a virgin in her creeds, beginning with apostolic times, and that the pastors and faithful of the Church have always acknowledged her as such. According to the testimony of St. Epiphanius, the name of virgin became the proper name of Mary. (Heresies, 78, n. 5,8,19) And the list of Fathers that testify to this tradition is long and includes such names as Hippolytus, Athanasius the Great, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Gregory of Nyssa. The canons and decrees of the Ecumenical Councils are further evidence that the belief of the Church in this regard has always been the same. For example, in the second decree of the Fifth Council (A.D. 553), we read: "If anyone does not profess two births of God the Word: the first, of the Father before all ages, beyond time and beyond the flesh; the second, in these last days, this same God the Word, having come down from heaven and having been incarnate of the all-holy, most glorious Mother of God and Ever-virgin Mary, let him be anathema." Again, in the first decree of the Sixth Council (A.D. 680-1), it is said: "We confirm unanimously the doctrine proclaimed by the two hundred God-bearing Fathers [of the Council of Ephesus], as an indestructible source of piety, in professing the one and only Christ the Son of God, who was incarnate, and in confessing her that bare Him without the intervention of man, the chaste Ever-virgin, as properly and truly Mother of God."

-38~ As was the case with certain doctrines, the belief of the Church in the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God was fully defined only after it had been questioned by heretics. For example, Eunomius, among others, dared to teach that after having given birth to the Saviour, the all-holy Virgin had other children also, of Joseph. Scarcely had that doctrine appeared when the pastors of the Church qualified it as "a sacrilege" (Ambrose, On the Institution of Virginity, Ch. 5), as "blasphemy" (Gennadius, Of the Dogmas of Theology, Ch. 69), as "heresy" (Epiphanius, Heresies, 73), and condemned it solemnly at the provincial councils (ie. at Rome,

in A.D. 320).

In order to refute it, the Fathers said, among other things: "It is impossible for the Son of God to have chosen for His mother a woman who, after having given birth toe Him supernaturally, without the intervention of man, could have consented later to lose her virginity." (Ambrose, op. cit., Ch. 6). "It is impossible for her who gave birth to God, and who recognized the miracle by the subsequent events to have ever received the embrace of a man." (St. John of Damascus, op. cit.) "That was even impossible on Joseph's part, that just man (Mt. 1:19), especially after he had been judged worthy of being the guardian of the mystery and the witness to the miraculous birth of the Saviour of the world by a chaste virgin, his betrothed." (St. John Chrysostom, Homily V, On Matthew, n. 3) "That is why, when He was dying on the cross, the Saviour entrusted her to one of His disciples, saying to him: 'Behold thy mother,’ and to her: 'Behold thy son' (Jn. 19:26,27), which things He certainly would not have done if she had had a husband and other children." (Ibid.) Certain heretics offered biblical texts as proofs of their doctrines. These texts were examined very carefully by the defenders of the Faith, as the follow-


x Amp



a ——a



-39ing passage from St. John Chrysostom will indicate. From these words of the Gospel: "Before they were come together,” and those that follow: "He knew her not until she brought forth her first-born son” (Mt. 1:18,25), it does not follow that Joseph ceased subsequently to be the guardian of Mary's virginity. The Evangelist speaks only of what was before the Saviour was born of the Virgin, and not of what was after. No more so, certainly, than it follows from these words of the Lord of hosts to the Jews: "And even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you" (Is. 46:4), that God ever ceased to be; any more than it follows from what Genesis says concerning the ark: "And he sent forth a raven, which returned not, until the waters of the earth dried up" (Gn. 8:7), that it returned later." (Ibid.) From the fact that Jesus is called the first-born son of the all-holy Virgin (Mt. 1:25; Lk. 2:7), one should not conclude that after Him she gave birth to others. The name of the first-born in Holy Scripture does not designate only the one after whom other children are born, but likewise designates him before whom no one is born. The law required the consecration to God of each first-born opening the womb of his mother, soon after his birth, while one could not know if the parents would or would not have other children. (Ex. 13; Lv. 28; Num. 8) If Holy Scripture makes mention of brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ (Mt. 12: 46-49; MK. 6:3; Jn. 2:12; 7:3; and others), it still does not follow that they were children of the all-holy Virgin. In fact, in Holy Scrip-

ture, the children of relatives are sometimes called brothers; thus, for example, Abraham and Lot are called brothers (Gn. 13:8), while actually Lot was only the son of Abraham's brother Haran. (Compare Gn. 12:4,5; 14:14-16.) Jacob and Laban are also called brothers,

-40while Jacob was the son of the sister of Laban, Rebecca, wife of Isaac. (Compare Gn. 28 and 29 with 36 37.) It is likewise in this sense that one must take denomination of brothers of the Lord, that is, in sense of near relatives and not of uterine brothers. They might have been the children that Joseph had had with his first wife. (Epiphanius, Heresies, 28 and 78; Ambrose, On the Institution of Virginity, Ch. 6; and others)

the and the the





. a Nai






CHAPTER FIVE: GOD AND MAN AT ONCE In the foregoing chapters, attention has been concentrated upon the fact that Jesus Christ, whom we

call Lord, God, and Saviour, was truly God and truly Man. The circumstances of the Lord's birth in the flesh and His mother's perpetual virginity testify to the fact that the eternal Word of God was incarnate: "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." It has been demonstrated not only that Holy Scripture indicates the Saviour's having both the divine and the human natures, but also that the Church has always recognized the importance of this doctrine, having struggled down through the centuries to guard it and transmit it in all its purity. For indeed, the principal heresies which the Church has had to combat have been those distortions of this doctrine of the two natures in Christ. Yet, it remains to explore the union of the two natures in the one Person of Christ, and then to explain the necessity of this union for man's salvation: his redemption from sin and his reconciliation with God. Examination of some of the passages from the Bible in which Christ is presented as one and the same Person: God and Man, Son of God and Son of Man, with divine and human attributes or qualities and characteristics, will be helpful in this regard. While it is a historical fact that the man Jesus was crucified: His crucifixion was demanded by the Jews, ordered by a Roman governor, and witnessed by all the people of Jerusalem, we are struck by the way in which the Apostles spoke of it. For example, St. Paul has this to say: Had the princes of this world known of the hidden wisdom of God, "they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (I Cor.2:8) St. Peter, preaching to the Jews, accuses them of having "killed the Prince of Life." (Acts 3:15) -41-









the Church at Ephesus "to take heed ... to feed the

Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blocd." (Acts 20:28) To the Romans he says, "We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son," (5:10) and to the Hebrews, "Christ...who in the days of His flesh...though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." (5: 5-8) From such passages as these, it can be seen that it was Christ the Man who suffered, shed His blocd and was crucified. Yet at the same time, the Apostles could speak of the Lord of glory as having been crucified, and of God as having shed His blood. The Apostles knew that in the one Christ, His Godhead and His manhood were united in a single Person (hypostasis). In other places in the New Testament, the eternal Word of God, who became flesh and lived and walked among men, is spoken of as the Son of Man. St. John records, for example, these words of Jesus in his Gospel account: "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man, which is in heaven." (3:13) Further, in the same Gospel, Jesus, speaking person to person with the Jews, makes this statement: "Before Abraham was, I am." This they considered so blasphemous that they took up stones to stone Him to death.

(8:58) Thus we see from these passages that the human things: suffering, shedding of blood, and being killed, and the divine things: coming down from heaven and having always been (the attribute of eternity), are attributed to one and the same Person, Jesus Christ. St. Paul provides further evidence of the oneness of Christ in the following passages. "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him." (I Cor. 8:6) "[There is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph. 4:5,6)

-43—One Person, Two Natures— In

Christ, there are not two separate Persons, but

one and the same Person with two natures. Yet two ancient heresies, Arianism and Nestorianism, which were condemned by the Church in their time, distorted this fundamental doctrine of Christ. Ironically, they are widely held by twentieth-century Christians, and are believed to be very modern ideas. Arianism, which rejected the divinity of Christ and reduced Him to a created agent of God's work, is the official doctrine of the Jehovah's Witnesses. As a matter of fact, Arius himself, the chief advocate of the doctrine and who gave it his name, is one of the "saints" or "spirits"

of the Witnesses. Nestorianism, which made of the one Christ two separate persons united only in a moral, cooperative way, is the effective teaching of most Protestants today. They regard Jesus Christ as having been deified in that He was adopted as the Son of God as His baptism. In this way they accept His divinity. Thus, their lack of precision in the doctrine of Christ has led many Protestants into a kind of inadvertent Nestorianism. —Assuming Human Nature— The eternal Word, the Son of God, literally was made flesh, became man, and did not cease to be what He was before: a divine Person, One of the Holy Trinity. In order to reconcile man to God, He assumed human nature and took it into the unity of His Person (hypo-


Those with whom Jesus Christ dealt on earth saw a man: a human living and going about as all men do, but also doing extraordinary things that no other man could do: the ‘miracles. To some chosen ones He revealed Himself in His eternal glory: the Transfiguration. The God-man, Jesus Christ, is One. The flesh or human nature was taken into His Divine Person, so that there remained in Him exactly the same, one and unchange-


able Person of the only-begotten Son of the Father. St. John the Apostle expresses this doctrine in the first chapter of his Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth ... The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (1:1,14,17) He who already had the divine nature was precisely the one who took human nature. "[Hel, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God," but "made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men," (Phil. 2:6,7) The same man, born of the Virgin, is the only-begotten Son of God, and God. The same Son of God is the one who was born of the Virgin according to the flesh, since He became man. He did not live in a man previously created, as in a prophet, but He Himself became substantially and truly man. St. Paul makes this clear, when He says: "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." (Gal. 4:4,5)

It is because of this consideration that the Church insisted in the Council that condemned Nestorius that the title of Theotokos (the onewho gave birth to God, or the Mother of God) was not only correctly given to the Virgin Mary, but also that the very title was a guarantee of the unity of Christ. Nestorius' error, whichis that of most Protestants today, consisted of rejecting this title, saying that she was the mother of the man only, and effectively dividing Christ into two person. Yet, St. Paul is explicit in saying that it was God's Son who was made of woman. (See above.) St. Gregory the Theologian condemned very sharply those who rejected the name "Theotokos". "Anyone

-45~ who does not admit that h ly Mary is the Theotokos is out of touch with the Godiead. Equally remote from God is anyone who says thamChrist passed through the Virgin as through a channe— without being formed in her in a manner at once divine=ind human—divine, because without the agency of a marhuman, because following the normal process of gesta—on." (Letter to Cledonius,


Notwithstanding, a verwlarge number of Fundamentalists assert that God u=d the Virgin as an instrument, taking nothing from fer, and then discarded

her! All of the passages quotes above show that in Jesus Christ, the humanity didnot receive an hypostasis (or person) apart from that the divinity. It did not form an independent persona iy, but was taken by the divinity into the unity of Hi=divine hypostasis, so that, even after the Incarnation, E& remains always the Son of God, the Second Hypostas= of the Holy Trinity, just as He was before the Incarnati a {

In the Epistle to the Roms, the Apostle enumerates the reasons why Israel was th :chosen people: "to whom pertaineth the adoption, and glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, arti the service of God, and the promises; whose are thefathers ..." (9:4,5) It is to this historical, human racethat Christ belongs "concerning the flesh; He desce—led from them as a man. Of this same Person the Apctle says that He "is over all, God blessed forever..." (9:5= Accordingly, it is the sare one Person who has a historical, earthly lineage ancis at the same time the eternal Son of God: "Jesus (rist our Lord, which was made of the seed of David amcording to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God.. (Rm. 1:3,4)


—The Fathers and

tI: Two Natures—

every generation sincethe time of our Lord's earthly life and the New Tes=ment period, the Church has continued to teach the same doctrine regarding In


the two natures of the one, same Lord Jesus Christ. St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote early in the second century: "There is only one Physician—of flesh yet spiritual, born yet unbegotten, God incarnate, genuine life in the midst of death, sprung forth from Mary as well as from God, first subject to suffering, then beyond it—Jesus Christ our Lord." (Eph. 7:2) We find the same teaching in St. Irenaeus, in the late second century, in Tertullain (third century), in St. Athanasius (fourth century), and so on down to the present time, An excellent summary of the doctrine is given by St. Gregory the Theologian in the letter to Cledonius (A.D. 382 or 383), referred to previously. It says in part: "In Christ we do not separate the man and the divinity; we teach the unity and identity of Person, who before was not man, but God and only-begotten Son before all ages, not having a body or anything corporeal, but who, in these last days, has taken humanity also for our salvation, subject to suffering in His flesh, impassible in His Divinity, limited in the body, without limit in the spirit, at the same time earthly and heavenly, tangible and intangible, comprehensible and incomprehen~ sible, so that, by one and the same Person, perfect man and God, all humanity, fallen because of sin, might be resurrected." The very foundation of the Christian

Faith is the mystery of the Incarnation. The heresy which divides Christ into two persons undermines the Incarnation and, consequently, the redemption of mankind. If the divinity and the humanity were not united in a single Person; if the Son of God were united only in a moral way with the man Jesus; if it were not the Son of God in His flesh, taken by Him into the unity of His Person, who suffered for us and died on the cross, but simply the man Jesus, the expressions "the Word was made flesh," "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman," and "they crucified the Lord of glory," would be empty words. The Incarnation would be unreal, and our redemption would not have been accomplished.



Christ, the doctrine of Jesus they

at all.

-47some people preich salvation through Jesus very faultiness o incompleteness of their Christ undermitres their preaching. The preach may offer ultimately no salvation -The Uniting of the Two Natures—

It yet remains for us to examine the very way or mode of the union of the two natures in one Person. This is referred to as the hypostatic union. For this inquiry, the definition of the teaching concerning the person of Christ produced by the Fourth Ecumenical Council (A.D. 45!) is of very great importance. Known as the Chalceionian Decree, the Council having met in Chalcedon, it used four expressions to describe the way in which the two natures are united. These expressions are adverss in Greek, the language of the Council and its documents, but they are usually translated into English by the phrases without confusion,

without change, without divison, and without separation. Entirely consistent with il of the testimonies from Holy Scripture examined hertofore, these terms were included in the Decree to emphasize the disastrous results of the false teachings of the Nestorians and the Monophysites. (This latter taught that there was an absorption of the humaniy by the divinity and consequently only one nature.) Without confusion— The divinity and the hum:nity in Christ were neither confused nor mixed with eszh other. Had they been, He would be neither perfect Cod nor perfect Man. Neither the divine nature nor the human nature could be attributed to Him. Rather, a new, third nature would be formed out of the fusion or mixture of the two, with new qualities and new differences. §


Without change— If in the Person of Christ either the divinity had

Nt er te -48-


changed into humanity, or the humanity had been absorbed by or transformed into the divinity, we would have to attribute to Jesus Christ only one of the two natures. One nature would have remained intact and the other would have been destroyed and robbed of its qualities. Any of these notions would undermine the doctrine of the Reconciliation. (See Chapter Four.) Even before the Fourth Council, many of the Fathers had defended the Orthodox doctrine of Christ. St. John Chrysostom (On II John, Homily 11) says: "By a union and conjunction God the Word and the flesh are a unity: there is no confusion or annihilation of substances." In one of the letters of St. Basil the Great, (cclxii), we read: "I admonish them to give up the absurd idea that God Himself changed into flesh and did not take Adam's nature from the Virgin Mary, or that He transformed Himself into material in His own divinity...If He transformed Himself, He also changed. But we cannot say or even think so, because God Himself has said, 'For I am the Lord, I change not' (Mal. 3:6). Besides, what have we gained in the Incarnation, if it is not our body united to the divinity that has conquered death?"



Without division— The two natures reside in Christ in their perfect integrity and with their differences, that is, with their particular qualities. They do not exist separately nor form two particular persons, not having a simple moral union, as Nestorius taught, but being united in the one and the same Person of the Man-God. §

Without separation— The two natures were united in the one Person of the Saviour at the moment of His conception in the womb of the Virgin. They were no longer and will never be separate: their union is perpetual. "One must not believe that He was born of the Virgin first as a simple man, and that afterwards the Word of God descended upon Him, but rather we say that §



a aN









-49the Word was united in the very womb to the human nature and that He was bornin the flesh." (St. Clement of Alexandria, Epistle I to Nestorius) "Just as a man who is torn naturally is not ready for action in an instant, but first the very germ of nature becomes flesh, and then withtime, little by little, gains strength and the organs of the senses are formed, so God the Word, descending at the very beginning and at the root of human generation, began by taking flesh without transforming Himself into flesh...because the Divinity is above all transformation." (St. Proclus, Letter to the Armenians) —A

Permaneit Union—

The hypostatic union dil not cease even during the sufferings of the Saviour on the cross, because if the Divinity, as some heretics claim, had separated Himself then from His humanity and had abandoned it, the Apostle could not have sid that they had “crucified the Lord of glory" (I Cor. 2:i), or that we who, "when we were enemies...were recorciled to God by the death of His Son,"(Rm. 5:10), or thmt the Lord purchased the Church "with His own blood." (Acts 20:28) Neither did this union ceise after the resurrection of the Lord, nor after the iscension into heaven. It will never cease. He Himsif assured Thomas that He rose from the dead in the lesh, inviting him to touch His body. Thomas' response i; the faith of the Church: "My Lord and my God." (Jn. 2016-28) It is also in the flesh thi He will come again to judge the living and the dead. (See Mt. 25.) After the ascension, as the Apostles stood looking toward heaven, "two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come i) like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." (Acts1:10,11)



There are several consequences, results, or implications of this union of the two natures in Christ that are directly related to the question (f our redemption. The first may be called the communion of attributes. The theologians use the Latin technical term ‘communicatio idiomatum' to describe this consequence. It consists of the fact that in the Peson of Christ, the two natures united without confusion, without change, without division and without separation, each of the natures transmitting its attributes to the other. In other terms, what belongs and is proper to Him as Man is attributed to Him as God. What is proper to Hm as God is ascribed to Him

as Man. This principle is illustrated by such New Testament passages as "We were remnciled to God by the death of His Son," (Rm. 5:10); "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,” (Rm. 8:32); "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins..." (I Pt. 3:18); "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second Man is the Lord from heaven,” (I Cor. 15:47); "And no man hath ascended up to heawen, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven," (Jn. 3:13). God is by mature immortal and beyond suffering. Man is of thiscreation and does not "come down" from heaven. Yet here we see the attributes of one nature attributed to the other. We hear this doctrine over and over again in the liturgy of the Church. Fo» example, in the Canon to the Cross, Tone 1, for Friday Matins, we hear: "For as thou, who by nature art impassible [not subject to suffering], hast endured to suffer, and thou hast been crucified with the thief, O Word, who hast put to death the arch-evil enemy, and hast saved those who sing

thy praises." St. John of Damascus wrote an Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, a summary of the paramount


-51doctrines of the Church, with quotations from the major Fathers who lived and wrote before his time. (St. John lived from A.D. 675 to about the middle of the next century.) The following paragraph dealing with this communion of attributes comes from his very important work. With regard to Christ's Person (hypostasis), we call Him by a name takenfrom the two natures or from only one of them. In both cases, we apply to Him the qualities of the two natures. Christ is called Son of God and God, and, at the same time, He takes the attributes or qualities of that nature which He united to His Divinity, that is, of the flesh. Thus it is said of Him: "God having suffered," or "the Lord of glory crucified," not insofar as He is God, but insofar as He is God and Man. In a parallel way, while He is called Man and Son of Man, He takes the attributes and the glory that belong to the divine nature. Thus He is called "Child before the ages,” and "man without beginning;" not because He is child and man, but because, being God, He made Himself Such is the reciprocal a child subsequently. communication of the attributes, by which each of the natures transmits its own to the other,

by reason of the identity of the Person (hypostasis) and the reciprocal penetration of the two natures. That is why we can say of Jesus Christ: "He is our God; He has been seen on earth and has conversed with men." (Barnabas 3:26-28)

The two natures reside in Christ entire and distinct, without confusion, and retain their own attributes, without change. The expressions that are used to describe the redemptive work of the Word of God are applied to the one Person of Jesus Christ: without division and without separation. Thus, as we have already seen, it is for the very reason of the union of the two natures in Christ that the Church has always insisted that the title "Theotokos" or "Mother of God" is not only appropriately applied

-52to the Virgin Mary but that the very title preserves and confirms the doctrine of the union. —The Deification of the Human Nature of Christ— On speaking of the Incarnation of the Son of God, we have said that He identified Himself completely with the human race, in everything, of course except man's sin. (Hb. 4:15) However, He did accept the consequence of sin which was death. Death had entered into the world as a result of sin, and that by one man, Adam. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned." (Rm. 5:12) So unified is the human race that not only the consequence of man's sin, but also the very inclination to sin became the heritage of all men. In the same way, the sinlessness, righteousness, and obedience of one (of the same race) brought to mankind liberation from the reign of death. Thereby was made possible man's salvation: union with God.

"For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they whichreceive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as by the offenseNaf one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; ev=n so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Rm. 5:17-19) Man was made in the image of God and given the

capacity for growing toward the realization of that image. He was in a process of deification, with the goal of full

participation in God's goodness. Yet he misused his gifts, interrupting the process. He soiled the image and corrupted his nature. He was in need of reconciliation. Thus, Christ's taking our nature and raising it to its highest possible level of perfection, deifying it, is the basis of man's deification. He is set back on the right road: his union with God, or his salvation.


St. Athanasius says that "the solidarity of mankind that, by virtue of the Word's indwelling in a single human body, the corruption which goes with death hath lost its power over all." (The Incarnation of the Word of God, § 9) St. Gregory of Nyssa states: "For through purity He brought into the closest kinship with the Father of our nature that mew man which is created after the likeness of God' (Eph. 4:24), in whom 'the whole fulness of the Godhead dwelt in bodily form' (Col. 2:9). And along with Himself He drew to the same state of grace all the nature which shares in His human body, and is akin to Him ... For what happened in the human nature of Christ is a benefit shared by all men who believe..." (Against Eunomius, 12,1) As a consequence of the union of the two natures in Christ, the human nature is deified: rendered godlike, made divine. By this it is not meant that the humanity of Christ changed into divinity, that it ceased to be limited or that it received the divine attributes in exchange for the human attributes. Rather, the human nature, assumed by the Son of God in the unity of His person, participated in the divinity, the original goal of man's creation. It was elevated in its perfections to the highest possible degree in humanity, without ceasing nevertheless to be human. St. John of Damascus summarizes this dogma in this is such

way: ...[The] flesh of our Lord was deified; became one with God and God, not by change or transformation or confusion of nature. "One of the

natures," says Gregory the Theologian, "deified,

and the other was deified, and, if I should dare to say, became one with God; He that anointed became man, and He that was anointed became God. And that, not by a change of nature, but by a providential or hypostatic union for the purpose of [man's] salvation, by which union the flesh was united inseparably with God the Word, and by a reciprocal contact of natures, in which we

-54can see some analogy in iron reddened by fire ...Since the Word, in becoming flesh, did not shed its divinity and did not rid itself of the divine perfections that are proper to it, so the flesh, having been deified, did not change its nature or its natural attributes; for even after the union, since the two natures remained unconfused, so also their attributes remained unjoined. The flesh of the Lord ‘enriched itseld with divine forces" by its intimate union with the Word, "without having lost any of its natural attributes; for the flesh accomplished the divine acts not by the power that is in it, but by the power of the Word united with it, the Word manifesting His own works through flesh. Thus iron reddened by fire burns, not because it has received from nature the power to burn, but because it borrows it from its union with fire. This is why the flesh was mortal by itself, but life-creating by its hypostatic union with the Word..." (Exact Expositon of the Orthodox Faith, III, 17)

The name "Christ" means the "anointed one." The Lord Jesus Christ was anointed for His mission to raise up fallen mankind. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the words of the Prophet Isaiah (61:1) are thus applied to Christ: "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” (Hb. 1:9) By "thy fellows" is meant the fellow human beings of the Son of Man, since He took part in the same flesh and blood of the children that God had given Him. (Hb. 2:13,14) The flesh of the Lord was exalted and became immortal and incorrupt. David "seeing this before spake

-55of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left This Jesus in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption. hath God raised up,whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted..." (Peter's Sermon, Acts 2:31-33) "Wherefore God hath also highly exalted Him, and given Him a name, which is above every name." (Ph. 2:9) It is evident that the Apostle's meaning is that Christ's humanity was exalted, since His divinity had no need of exaltation, perfection or anything else. "Even by this phrase the mystery of godliness is declared, for he who says 'exalted by the right hand of God' clearly

reveals the unspeakable


of this mystery,

that the right hand of God, that made all things that

are (which is the Lord, by whom all things were made, and without Him was nothing made that was made, [Jn. 1:3]), Itself raised to its own height the Man united with it, making Him also to be what It is by nature." (St. Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, V, 3) The eternal divine knowledge was transmitted to the man Jesus, who grew also in human knowledge, as one of our race. (Lk. 2:52) "For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth..." (Jn. 5:20) And yet the human knowledge of Jesus was not changed into omniscience or infinite wisdom. He still asked, on hearing that His friend Lazarus was dead, "Where have ye laid him?" (Jn. 11:34) He likewise declared that He did not know the time of the Second Coming: "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." (Mk. 13:22) Obviously, as the eternal Word of God and One of the Holy Trinity, He knows all things. The holiness and perfection of the divinity were communicated to the Son of Man as well. Even at His conception, the angel referred to Him as holy. (Lk. 1:35) He was sanctified, according to His own words: "Say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" (Jn. 10:36) As the eternal Son of God,

-56He had no need of sanctification, but received it in the flesh "so that through Him it might pass to all men," (St. Athanasius, Against the Arians, I, 47) The same thing may be said of the power that was given to Him. When the Jews sought to kill Him because "He made Himself equal with God," He answered them: "Verily, verily, 1 say unto you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." (dn. 5: 18,19) The Son of God is all-powerful, but the human being seen by men was the instrument of His

omnipotence. The New Testament, as we have seen from the passages quoted above, demonstrates that the One Person Jesus Christ accomplished His work of redemption as God and Man. His humanity, deified by its intimate union with His divinity, remains humanity, and it thus provides the means for our own deification. We have been made partakers of Christ's suffering (I Pt. 4:13), and therefore we will be partakers of His glory when it shall be revealed (I Pt. 4:13; 5:1) Our goal and destiny is to be partakers of the divine nature. (II Pt. 1:4) —We Worship

Christ as One Person—

The Holy Gospel according to St. John records these words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father; He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father, which hath sent Him. " (5:22,23) St. Paul says concerning Jesus: "God which hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” (Ph. 2:9,10) And in another place, he says: "And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him." (Hb. 1:6)

-57In St. John's Revelation, where he records his vision of worship in heaven, we read: "And 1 beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. . And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard 1 saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever." (5:11-13) The above passages from the New Testament show very clearly that it is proper and essential to adore or worship Jesus Christ as one and the same Person, as God-Man, for the very reason that the divinity and the humanity are united in Him inseparably. Although His humanity remains humanity, having been taken by Him into the unity of His divine Person, it is the humanity of God the Word. Not only is this doctrine clear from the words of Christ Himself, from the testimony of the Apostles, and from the vision of heavenly worship in the Revelation, but the Fathers of the Church in all generations have taught it. St. Athanasius wrote: "Although in itself a part of creation, the flesh (of Christ) became the flesh of God; and we, in adoring that flesh, do not separate it from the Word, as in adoring the Word, we do not separate Him from the flesh." (Against Arius, I, n.43) This was taught by St. John Chrysostom as follows: "t is truly great and astonishing that our flesh was taken

into heaven and there receives the adoration of the Angels, the Archangels, of the Seraphim and the Cherubim." (On the Epistle to the Hebrews, Homily V) Again, St. John of Damascus wrote: "Christ therefore,


is one, perfect God and perfect Man; and Him we worship along with the Father and the Spirit, with one obeisance, adoring even His immaculate flesh and not considering


that the flesh is unworthy of adoration: for in fact, it is worshipped in the one Person (hypostasis) of the Word, which indeed became hypostasis for it. But in this we do not do homage to that which is created. For we worship Him, not as mere flesh, but as flesh united with divinity, and because His two natures are brought under the one Person and One Hypostasis of God the Word. I fear to touch coal because of the fire bound up with the wood. I worship the two-fold nature of Christ because of the divinity that in Him is bound up with flesh." (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith,


And St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote thus: "We are accustomed to worship Emmanuel with one single worship, not separating from the Word the body which was personally (in hypostasis) united to Him." (Against Nestorius, 2,10) This dogma concerning the "one single and inseparable divine worhsip due to Jesus Christ as one and the same Person, as God-Man," and always taught by the Church, was given formal expression at the Council of Ephesus, the Third Ecumenical Council (A.D. 431). There the Holy Fathers accepted and approved the "Anathemas" of St. Cyril of Alexandria against Nestorius. To the Orthodox, and to all those who agree with all that has been said about the union of the two natures in Christ, the doctrine under discussion should be an obvious consequence of the Incarnation. Yet, the fact is that there exists now in some Christian groups, as there did in other times, a tendency to find it perfectly proper to worship the divinity of Christ and merely to have reverence for His humanity, as some different Person. St. Cyril saw the disastrous possibility of such a differentiation between the divinity and humanity of Christ. Thus he pointed to the similarity between this novel doctrine and the denial of the title Theotokos to the holy Virgin Mary. In either case, the result would be to separate Christ into two persons.

-59—The Two Wills and the Two Energies— The heresy which denied the Incarnation, or minimized it, had disturbed the peace of the Church from the earliest times and manifested itself in various forms, as we have already seen. The victory for the Biblical doctrine of the fulness of Christ's divinity and His humanity was won at the Council Chalcedon (A.D. 451), its definition of the two natures and their union standing as a basic article of faith.

Next is seen the error of denying Christ's human nature in the so-called monothelite heresy. The name was derived from the Greek words monos, one, and theliton, will. It was applied to those who said they accepted the teaching of the two natures, but then actually rejected it by saying that both the human will and the human energy (operation and acts) were absorbed by the divine will and energy. Therefore, it followed that in Christ there was but one will and one energy: the divine. Some historians have seen in this idea an attempt at appeasing the Monophysites, a kind of compromise that might restore the already damaged ecclesiastical unity of the Empire, thereby securing its political unity. It was supported by some emperors and high-ranking clergymen, who felt that the formula could be accepted by those who had accepted Chalcedon's definition and by those who had rejected it. On the other hand, the defenders of the Orthodox doctrine, principally St. Maximus the Confessor, saw in it the rejection of the Incarnation, the assumption of human nature by the Son of God. Maximus argued that without a human will and energy, authentic humanity would be inconceivable. Thus he asserted that the two natural wills of Christ are not contrary to each other, but that the human will follows the divine. This conformity is not an abolition of the human nature, but its restoration. Man was created in the first place to seek to do

God's will. The Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople III, A.D. 680-681) condemned monothelitism in these terms:




"We confess likewise in Christ, in accordance with the doctrine of the holy Fathers, two natural wills or desires and two natural energies [operations or acts], without change, without confusion; two natural wills [wills corresponding to each nature], not contrary wills, whatever impious heretics may have said: His human will obeys and submits itself without opposition or struggles to His all-powerful divine will." (Acts of the Council) Let us now examine the evidence of Holy Scripture in this regard. The Saviour said of Himself: "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me." (Jn. 6:38) In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed: "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt," (Mt. 26:39); and, "not my will, but thine, be done,” (Lk. 22:42). By distinguishing in these two cases His will from the Father's and by subjecting the first to the second, Jesus obviously indicated His human will, because His divine will was not different

from the will of the Father but identical. Before His saving sufferings, He said: "Let this cup pass from me," but, of course, He was to drink of that cup as a man, and not as God. Therefore, as man He wanted to avoid the suffering; it was the expression of a natural fear. "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done:' 'Not mine,’ that is to say, my will and thy will, inasmuch as I am of the same essence as thou." (St. John of Damascus, Exact Expositon of the Orthodox


III, 18)

St. Athanasius, interpreting the Lord's words in Matthew 26:39, wrote: "Here the Lord manifests two wills: the human will proper to the flesh, and the divine will, proper to God. The first, in accordance with the weakness of the flesh, prays to avoid suffering; but the second accepts.” (On the Incarnation of the Word of God, n. 21) The holy Apostle Paul says: "He



and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," (Ph. 2:8); and further, "Though He were a Son,

-61yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." (Hb. 5:8,9) Humbling Himself and becoming obedient must both be attributed to His human will, as St. Maximus the Confessor states in his Dialogue with Pyrrhus. That the Lord Jesus Christ manifested the will proper to His human nature throughout His earthly life is seen in the following: "They gave Him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink." (Mt. 27:34) "And from thence He arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it..." (Mk.7:24) "The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee..." (Jn. 1:43) "After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for He would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill Him." (Jn. 7:1) In Jesus' lament over Jerusalem, we find an expression of His divine will, a will for His people that He had even before His Incarnation: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, but ye would not!" (Lk. 13:34) With regard to the energies, it is clear that what belongs to Christ's divinity is His divine and all-powerful energy, with which He performed miracles. What belongs to His humanity is His human energy: eating, drinking, being thristy, walking, etc. In the healing of Jairus' daughter, "He took the damsel by the hand, and said to her...Damsel, I say unto thee, arise..." (Mt. 5:41,42) He took her by the hand and spoke to her. This is the human act or energy. He restored her to life. This is the divine act. "The miracles were performed by the Divinity, but not without the flesh, and the lesser things were performed by the flesh, but not separated from the Divinity, which did not suffer, but rendered the sufferings salutary..." (St. John of Damascus, Op. cit., 111,19)

-6 2The Chalcedonian formula concerning the way in which the two natures were united in Christ: without confusion or change, without division or separation, applies also, of course, to the two wills and the two energies. Hence, it is proper to speak of Christ's theandric energy (theos- God; andros- man). When He became incarnate, His human energy was deified and not without participation in His divine energy; His divine energy was not without participation in His human energy. Either was accomplished with the cooperation of the other. (St. John of Damascus, Ibid.)

It cannot go without stating that the monothelite heresy gives us an example of an early attempt at "ecumencial” compromise. Byzantine politicians of the Fifth and Sixth Centuries were more concerned about the unity of the Empire than about Christian truth. To them it probably made little difference whether in Christ there was one nature or two. The fact is that the Fourth Council had made its definition but it was one not accepted by the Monophysites of Asia and Africa. Certainly, the provinces where they lived now had one more reason to be at odds with Constantinople. To the powerful forces that were willing to compromise for political expedience, people like St. Maximus the Confessor, who defended Orthodoxy against compromise, were a threat. He was severely persecuted and mutilated. Yet, monothelitism could not have healed the breach. Three parties would have resulted had the politicians been able to force it on the Church for a time. It died and was absorbed by its parent heresy. Nevertheless, what did survive was a certain spirit, not unlike the "ecumenical" spirit of the Twentieth Century, in which all doctrine can be restudied, tampered with or bartered off.

CHAPTER SEVEN: THE OBJECT OF HIS MINISTRY The first six chapters of this exposition of the Doctrine of Christ have dealt with His person. We have tried to answer the question of who Christ is, accordingto the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Now it is time for us to turn our attention to the work of Christ. Other truths concerning His person will be evident in the presentation of what He did. —The Work of Christ— In the prayer that the Lord Jesus Christ prayed just before His passion, He refers to the work for which He had been sent into the world: "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." (Jn. 17:4) He had already described His purpose to His disciples thus: "I must work the works of Him that sent me..." (Jn. 9:4) And He identified His own work with that of the Father: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." Christ's work was not one particular act or deed of His life; rather, His work was His whole life and ministry. In other words, His work, His ministry, was one. It was a divine work accomplished through His humanity. The Lord's. great work was His ministry on behalf of the human race. "Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mt. 20:28) Indeed, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him that the child conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary was of the Holy Spirit. The son born of her would "save His people from their sins." (Mt.

1:20,21) St. Paul described the ministry of Christ in these terms: "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." (Il Cor. 5:19) St. John the Apostle tells us that Jesus Christ saved



having "given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true..." (I Jn. 5:20) In his Gospel account, the same Apostle records the words of Jesus to those who sought to kill Him: "But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard from God." (8:40) How this ministry of salvation, reconciliation and of testifying to the truth was accomplished must now be our focus. Everything Christ did had as its one purpose the restoration of fallen mankind and the reconciliation of us in

the world to Himself. It is traditional to speak of three aspects of His one ministry: that of prophet, of priest,

and of king. The name that is properly given to Jesus is Messiah, a Semitic word which means "anointed." The name "Christ" is derived from the Greek word meaning the same thing. In the Old Testament, this anointing was given to persons who were ordained by the Holy Spirit for God's work among men. Thus, it was given to the prophets: Elijah was commanded by God to anoint "Elisha the son of Shaphat of be prophet." (III [I] Kgs. 19:16)

Anointing was also given to the high priests. The Lord said to Moses: "Thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office." (Ex. 30:30) And, anointing was given to the kings. "And Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward." (I Kgs. [I Sam.] 16:13) The name Christ (Messiah) is attributed to our Lord Jesus as having been anointed in His humanity by God Himself "with an oil of gladness, above [His] fellows." (Hb. 1:9) As previously stated (pg. 52), "fellows" refers to all those whose humanity He shared. This is said prophetically of the promised Saviour in Psalm 44 [45]:7, and here applied to Jesus by St. Paul. Thus Jesus combined in Himself in the highest possible

-65degree these three types of anointed ones. He is the Prophet, the Priest, and the King. He saved us as prophet by proclaiming to us the truth about God and about man; as priest, in offering Himself out of His love for us as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world; and as king, in having destroyed the reign of death and established His Kingdom among us.


Jesus Christ is not only in the line of Jewish prophets and teachers of Israel; He is the last Prophet, in the sense that He both proclaimed, as did the prophets before Him, the truth and the will of God, and was also the fulfillment of all these prophecies. —A

Biblical Truth—

Moses foretold the prophetic office of the Saviour. In fact, it was he that placed Christ is the same line of prophets of Israel, of which he was the first. "The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken."” (Dt. 18:15) The Apostle Peter, in his sermon to the people in the temple, declared that it was to Jesus, whom they had denied before Pilate, that this prophecy referred. (Acts 3:22,23) Jesus declared before Pilate the purpose of His coming. "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." (Jn. 18:37) In other words, He was identifying His own mission in this way with that of the prophets. He was often called prophet and master and never rejected

this name for Himself. At the time of His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, "the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth." (Mt. 21:11) When He raised the widow's son from the dead, "there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among

us.” (Lk. 7:16) On the road to Emmaus, when Jesus met the two disciples who at first did not recognize Him, they asked Him if He was only a stranger since He did not seem to know of the things that had been happening in the city. When He said, "What things?" they said, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty


Ye in deed and word before God and all the people." (Lk. 24:19) He actually called Himself a prophet, although usually in

the third person. For example, "Nevertheless,



walk to day and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." (Lk. 13:33) There are many cases in the Gospels in which He allowed Himself to called Master. One of the most notable was the occasion on which a young man said to Him, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mk. 10:17) Notice that the Lord did not reject the name "Master," but He did ask why the young man had called Him "good," knowing that he really did not know who He was. Finally, Jesus called Himself "Master," in an unequivocal way: "Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ." (Mt. 23:10) The Holy Fathers of the Church have not only taught that Jesus Christ was the great Prophet and Teacher, but they also have shown that this prophetic ministry of His was an essential part of His whole work. In other words, before He entered into His high priestly ministry,

He set for Himself the task of rescuing mankind from idolatry and godlessness. In order to accomplish this, He revealed the truth about God and about man. The Apostles give testimony to Jesus' having revealed this truth. For example. St. John in his First Epistle writes: "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ." (5:20) The following paragraph from St. Athanasius is typical of the teaching of the Fathers concerning Jesus Christ as Prophet and Teacher. "When the madness of idolatry and irreligion filled the world and the knowledge of God was hidden, whose part was it to teach the world about the


Father? Man's would you say? but men cannot run everywhere over the world, nor would their words carry sufficient weight if they did, nor would they be, unaided, a match for the evil spirits. Moreover, since even the best of men were confused and blinded by evil, how could they convert the souls and minds of others? You cannot put straight in others what is warped in yourself. Perhaps you will say, then, that creation was enough to teach men about the Father. But if that had been so, such great evils would never have occurred. Creation was there all the time, but it did not prevent men from wallowing in error. Once more, then, it was the Word of God, Who sees all that is in man and moves all things in creation, Who alone could meet the needs of the situation. It was His part and His alone, Whose ordering of the universe reveals the Father, to renew the same teaching...and through His actions done in that body which He had taken to Himself, as it were on man's own level, He teaches those who would not learn byother means to know Himself, the Word of God, and through Him the Father." (The Incarnation of the Word of God, n. 14) Jesus' earthly ministry as prophet opens with the exhortation to repent and the proclamation that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Mt. 4:17) The essence of the preaching of His Forerunner, John the Baptist, had been the same: "Repent ye; for the kingdom of God is at hand." (Mt. 3:2) Jesus received John's baptism in order "to fulfil all righteousness." (Mt. 3:15) In other words, it was to fulfill everything that the Law required and to show that He was the one to whom John had referred as the mightier one who was to come after Him. Jesus in fact brought the Kingdom of Heaven to mankind, because He baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Mt. 3:11)

Jesus' prophetic and teaching ministry began at His baptism when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. He was then about thirty years of age (Lk. 3:23), and




Judah "preaching the gospel

of the kingdom." (Mt. 9:35) Afterwards, the disciples whom He had chosen (Lk. 6:13), prepared, invested "with power from on high" (Lk. 24:49), and sent "to

preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:1 5), carried His teachings throughout the world and taught them to all peoples (Rm. 10:18). They passed them on by word of mouth and in writing to the Church for all times.

Th. 2:15) The Kingdom of God, both as the ultimate vocation and destination of man, and as having already been initiated in this world, remained central in the teaching of Jesus from the first days until the end of His earthly life. Knowledge of God and attainment of the Kingdom are the basic themes of His ministry and everything else that He said refers to them. Since St. John teaches that "no man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him [or, made Him known]" (Jn. 1:18), it is then the revelation of God that must be pointed to as the first purpose of Christ's coming into the world and of His teaching. Even though He mentioned the names of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit together only at the end (Mt. 28:19), His teachings about God the Father, about Himself and about the Holy Spirit can lead to no other conclusion than the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the One God in Three Persons. Concerning God the Father, He taught that the Father is the most perfect and highest Spirit. "Be ye ...perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Mt. 5:48) "God is a Spirit..." (Jn. 4:24) (IT

By repeating a formula familiar to the Jews, Jesus taught that God is one: "Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord." (Mk. 12:29) That God is a Trinity of Persons, we know from Matthew 28:29, referred to above. "The Father hath life in He is self-existent: 5:26) Himself..." (Jn.

-70~ He is present everywhere, as we understand from what Jesus said about the Father's being worshipped in spirit. (Jn. 4:23) He is uniquely good: "There is none good but one,

that is, God." (Mt. 19:17)

omnipotent or all-powerful: "With God all things are possible.” (Mt. 19:26) He knows all His creatures, especially man, and takes care of them; thus, we know of the providence and omniscience of God. "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?" (Lk. 12:6) "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." (Mt. 6:32) With regard to Himself, He taught that He is the only-begotten Son of God and One with the Father, who came into the world to reconcile and reunite man with God: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (Jn.3:16) "That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us..." (Jn.17:21) He foretold His saving sufferings, His death and resurrection: "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again on the third day." (Mt. 16:21) He would undergo all of this on behalf of all men: "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." (MK. 10:45) Concerning the Holy Spirit, Jesus taught that He is the Comforter, who will teach His disciples all things, and that He would be sent by the Father in Jesus' name: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." (Jn. 14:26; cf. Lk. 12:12) He is the Spirit of Truth, who dwells in those who believe. (Jn. 14:17) He proceeds from the Father: He is


"But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me." (Jn. 15:26) It is important to note in the verse from John cited above the joint action of the three Persons of the Trinity. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father; the Holy Spirit will testify of


—Christ's Teachings About Salvation— For the attainment of the Kingdom, that is, man's salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ rather clearly taught as essential two things: faith and works. Passages of the New Testament that emphasize one or the other have often been quoted to show that it is exclusively by faith or by works that one is saved. Yet the Lord Himself never excluded either in His teaching. The essence of the "law of faith," Jesus expressed in these words: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (Jn. 3:16) The disciples also taught after Him that faith is necessary in order to have eternal life: "These things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." (Jn. 20:31) To the question directed to Paul and Silas by the keeper of the prison, "What must I do to be saved?" they answered: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16:30,31) St. Paul points out that it is by God's grace that we are saved: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph. 2:8,9) He refers to the "works of the Law," by which it was believed among the Jews that men were justified and by which they were identified with the chosen people of God in the Old Testament. These included circumcision and ritual sacrifices. He makes this reference clear

-72in several places, for example, in the third chapter

of Romans. There is no contradiction to this in what James the Apostle says in his epistle: "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?" He then goes on to show what kind of works are the natural consequence of belief in Christ's teachings: "If a brother or a sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body...Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?" (Jas. 2:14-24) The kind of works necessary for salvation, the "law of works," is expressed by the Lord in two principal commandments, that of self-denial and that of loving God and one's nieghbor. Just before He underwent the saving passion and death on the cross, Jesus said, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Mk. 8:34) This commandment has as its purpose the rooting out of us the very foundation of all sin: pride and self-love (Sir. 10:15), and consequently our purification from "all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, (II Cor. 7:1). It is to put off from us the old man according to our former life, "which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. (Eph. 4:22) It is this "old man" which can never enter into the Kingdom of heaven. (Jn. 3:5) Self-denial, according to the teaching of our Lord, must manifest itself 1) by leaving our former life of sin and by a profound turning away or repentance of all sins, (Mt. 3:2); 2) by a voluntary renunciation of all the things of this world, however dear they may be to us, as for example, our eye or our arm, if we come to see that they seduce us and lead us to sin (Mt. 5:29,30 ); 3) by abandoning even a father or mother, or a family, if we perceive that otherwise it is impossible for us to withdraw from iniquity and attain salvation (Mk.

7 3-

10:22; Lk. 14:26); and, 4) by constant efforts not to sin, not only in deed, but even in word and in thought (Mt. 5:28; 12:36). The commandment to love God and our neighbor (Mt. 22:37-39) has as its purpose the implanting in us of the beginning of a new life, holy and pleasing to God, instead of the former life of sin (Jn. 13:34), of putting in us the bond of moral perfection (Col. 3:14), and of leading us, truly pure and renewed, to be one with God (Jn. 17:21). Describing the characteristics of love for God, Jesus taught that it must 1) be sincere, whole, and perfect (Lk. 10:27,28); 2) manifest itself by submission to the divine will in the observance of His commandments (Jn. 14:15,21); 3) constantly glorify God (Mt. 5:16); and 4) be so strong in us that we might be ready, in the name of God, to lose ourselves (Mk. 8:35). Love of our neighbor is similar, for He taught that we 1) love all men, not just our friends, but even our enemies (Mt. 5:44-48); 2) not offend our neighbor in deed, or in word or in thought (Mt. 5:22; 7: 1,2,12); 3) endure magnanimously all offenses and forgive trespasses, not only seven times, but even seventy times seven times (Mt. 5:38,39; 6:14; 18:22); 4) always show mercy toward our neighbor, to help him in his needs (Mt. 5:7,42; Lk. 6:35); and 5) be ready, if it is necessary, to give our life for our friends (Jn. 15:13). On the third Sunday of the preparation for the Great Fast, Meatfare Sunday, we read from the Gospel of St. Matthew (25:31-46) of the Last Judgment. There we see how men shall be judged on that day, that it will be on the basis of how men have received and fulfilled both the law of faith and that of works. The Lord shows how intimately related are the love of God and the love of one's neighbor. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (v. 40) The consequences of not doing those works of charity that He enumerated,

feeding the hungry, taking care of the sick, clothing the naked, and visiting those in prison are just as serious.

-74~ In the Incarnation of the Word of God, His taking upon Himself human nature, He identified Himself with the whole human race, and literally when we do good or when we do evil to ore human being, all men and even the God who became one with us are affected. We see how the Lord's work of salvation has spared us the inevitable consequences of sin. His grace, His gift to us is this salvation. Yet it is also clear from what He teaches that man has the freedom of will to reject His gift to us, and thus, will deserve the results of sin and corruption. That is, Christ teaches that we will suffer eternal torments should we choose to reject His


—The Prophets of God—

the major function of prophecy is to make will of God accessible to man, it must be emphathe sized that God makes use of man for the accomplishment of that purpose. In other words, the voice of prophecy is a human voice. Of course, this human voice is speaking by the inspirétion of the Holy Spirit. This is why we find the words "who spake by the prophets" in that section of the Creed dealing with the Holy Spirit. (The Prophet Micah says, for example, "I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord." [3:8]) This is also why we have said that Jesus was "in the line of the prophets of Judah." He, the God-Man, spoke directly to man in man's language by the power of the Holy Spirit. In His works, which include His miracles, as He Himself testifies, He accomplished these things by this power, "the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him." (Mt. 3:16) While

In the synagogue at Nazareth, Christ read from the prophecy of Isaiah (61:1,2) : "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year


of the Lord." Then He directly applied this scripture to Himself: "This day is this scripture fulfilled." (Lk. 4:18,19,21)

We know that Jesus had been led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil (Mt. 4;1), that Jesus returned from that temptation "in the power of the Spirit" (Lk. 4:14), and "from that time [Hel began to preach" (Mt. 4:17). Thus, it is the God-Man in that unconfused and inseparable union of the divine and human natures, that sets out on the prophetic ministry, to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to make God's truth known to men by the power of the Holy Spirit. It must be noted that it would not be accurate to think of the human in Christ as a kind of passive companion to the divine in this work of prophecy, a work which includes the proclamation of the will of God and the performance of miracles. His prophet forerunners, inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit, had also spoken in God's name, passing judgment on Israel, and a number of them had even worked miracles. Not only was Jesusin the line of the prophets of Judah, but He was the last of the prophets and His prophetic ministry was foretold by the others. In this respect, there is a unity between the prophets of the Old Testament beginning with Moses, and Jesus. Jesus, Himself, confirmed the indestructibility of the Law. "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: | am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Mt. 5: 17,18) Hence, Christ's fundamental relation to the Law was to complete, perfect and deepen it. Jesus' modification of the Law supercedes it, as we understand from His repeated declaration: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time ... but I say unto you..." (Mt. 5: 21,22; 27,28; 33,34; 38,39; 43,44) He was the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law and the law He gave was in this sense a new law, the essence of which is

-76contained in this statement:

"A new commandment give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (Jn. 13: 34)


—The Law: Old and New—

There is, however, a basic difference between the Lord Jesus Christ and the prophets of the Old Testament: the Word of the Lord came to them; He was the Word. They taught about Him, and He was the fulfillment of what they taught. All of them spoke once in their lifetime; He as the eternal Prophet speaks eternally in His Church. Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets, and then by giving a new law, He in fact replaced the old law. Jeremiah foretold this: "Behold the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt..." (31:31,32) In the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, this passage from Jeremiah is quoted and introduced by this declaration: "But now hath He [Jesus Christ] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises..." (8:6) The author goes on to show that the old law was replaced by Christ's new law: "In that He saith, A new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." (v. 13) § Principal elements distinguishing the new law from

the old—

In order to distinguish between the new law and the old, let us first take what Jesus taught about Himself. He was the Messiah promised to Israel from antiquity. "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify

of me." (Jn. 5:39; cf. Lk. 24:27)

-77He was the only begotten Son of God who became incarnate for our salvation. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (Jn. 3:16) The response on man's part imposed by these facts just as clearly indicated by Him. One must believe in Him in order to be saved. "Ye believe in God, believe also in me." (Jn. 14:1) "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." (Jn. 6:47; cf. Jn. 6:29). One must love Him and keep His commandments. "Continue ye in my love." (Jn. 15: 9) "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (Jn. 14: 15) One must worship Him as he does the Father. "That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him." (Jn. 5: 23)


Second, Jesus replaced the ritual requirements of the old law with the Holy Mysteries. St. Paul shows that the Baptism which Jesus declared necessary for salvation (see Mk. 16: 16 and Jn. 3: 5) replaces circumcision. "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead." (Col. 2: 11,12) The Eucharist which Christ instituted takes the place of the sacrifices and oblations of the Old Testament. "This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Mt. 26:28;

cf. I Cor. 11: 25) Christ taught the indissolubility of marriage. In the Old Testament, divorce was permitted to the Jews "hecause of the hardness of their hearts." "What there-

-78fore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mt. 19: 6; cf. Mk. 10: 2-9) Christ changed the Old Testament priesthood. (see Lk. 6: 13; Eph. 4: 11) In Hebrews, we read: "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." (7: 12) As we look at each of these distinctions between the old law and the new law, in no instance can we find an abolition of the old law but its fulfillment. In this way the new law supercedes it. —The Work of Christ—

The prophetic ministry of Jesus Christ is what He Himself called His work. This work includes all those things that He taught and did before He entered into His priestly ministry, when He gave His life on the

cross for the sins of the world. However, it is impossible to establish exact boundaries between the ministries of Christ. The prophetic ministry is not without its sacrificial side, since His taking upon Himself the sins of the world begins with the Incarnation. He accepted for Himself the life of fallen man, and lived the consequences of the fall, without, of course, sinning Himself. This emptying of Himself, this "taking the form of a servant," this humiliation, is sacrificial too. The body of what Christ taught about God, about His own role as the Redeemer, about man and about man's relationship both to God and to his fellowman, is often called the new law, as noted above. From this, we must conclude that both the link between the old and new laws and their differences are equally important. Jesus' teaching was the fulfillment of all the promises to the Hebrew people as well as the perfection of God's revelation to man. According to St. Paul, the law of Moses prepared the way for man to receive the fulness of God's revelation: "The law was our school master to bring us unto Christ." (Gal. 3: 24) In Hebrews, He describes the events

-79of the history of God's people and their moral precepts as a shadow of good things to come, and the Gospel as the very image of those things. (Hb. 10: 1) Thus, the Old Testament is filled with promises, prophecies and types; in the New Testament, we find the record of the fulfillment and accomplishment of them all. In matters of doctrine, certain truths that are only hinted at or partially disclosed in the Old Testament, are revealed clearly and fully in the New. For example, the Hebrew writers made numerous references to the Word of God as well as to His Spirit. Thus, Psalm 32{33]:

contains this statement concerning the creation: "By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath [Spirit] of His mouth.” Yet, the full doctrine of the Holy Trinity is understood only after the Incarnation of the Word. The Incarnation itself as well as the Redemption and the Regeneration are foretold in the Old Testament; but their full meaning, their universal and spiritual implications, become clear in the teachings and in the works of the Saviour. Again, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and His sanctifying grace figure in a number of the prophecies; the Holy Spirit did descend upon the disciples at Pentecost, fifty days after the Resurrection, and He has been in the Church guiding her and sanctifying her members ever since. In regard to man's moral behavior, Jesus reveals God's absolute demands on him in terms of love and purity of heart. Man's legalistic understanding of God's commandments is replaced by a law of unselfish love and generosity. The Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7) contains an extensive exposition of God's moral truths and the virtues expected of man: generosity, forgiveness of offenses, love of one's enemies, self-denial, humility, filial love for God as an infinitely good Father, purity of body and soul, love of Christians for each other, etc. Christ's actions and His judgments in particular situations reveal a view of life that is not at all consistent with the moral values and standards of this world, and they frequently amazed not only the multitudes but 6


-80‘even His disciples.

St. Gregory the Theologian, in a Sermon at Pascha, ‘summarizes this new moral law in these terms: "The law forbids the commiting of sins and makes us liable for the causes almost as much as the acts. The law says: Thou shalt not commit adultery (Mt. 5: 27), but you, refrain even from the desire; let not passion be kindled in you by a curious and attentive look. It is said in the law: Thou shalt not kill (v. 21); but you, not only do not take revenge, but give yourselves to the one who strikes you. How much wiser is the second than the first!...The law says: woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field (Is. 5:8), vexing the poor and needy (Ez. 22:29); but you, be ready to give even that which you have acquired justly, and deprive yourselves in favor of the poor, so as to take upon yourselves the Cross freely and enrich yourself with the invisible." In the new law, higher and purer motivation is given to man for keeping and doing God's will. The literal understanding of the old law made the hope ofreceiving temporal rewards the incentive for observing it. (Ex. 20:21; Lev. 26:3,4; Dt. 28:1-9) For those who observe those things which the Lord Jesus Christ commanded, the reward is eternal life, but the foundation for doing God's will is man's response to His love. St. John Chrysostom says: "Here is promised, not a land flowing with milk and honey, not a great old age, nor many children, nor bread and wine, nor herds of sheep and bulls, but heaven and heavenly goods, with the Only-begotten, adoption and brotherhood part in the inheritance, in glory and in the Kingdom, and infinite other rewards." (On Matthew, Homily 16) The Lord said: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (Jn. 14:15) And the Apostle James wrote: "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him...Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them


that love Him?" (Jas. 1:12: 2:5) Another aspect of the law of Moses which has no parallel in Christ's law is its connection with the civil law. Death or some other punishment was threatened

for violation of almost every one of the Ten Commandments, so that man was moved by fear to keep them. Thus, according to St. Paul, the Jews found themselves under a "yoke of bondage" (Gal. 5:1), and were guided by a "spirit of fear" (Rm. 8:15). On the contrary, it is above all by love that the evangelical law, purely moral and religious, moves man to do good. (Jn. 3:16,17; 15:9; 13:15) "Yehave received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Rm. 8:15) "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." (Gal. 4:7) The law was given to the Jews, and it was through them that God prepared the salvation of the whole world. In Isaiah's prophecy (49:6), the Father speaks to His Son: "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.” After the birth of the Saviour, when He was presented in the temple, the righteous Simeon took Him in his arms and called Him, "a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of [God's] people Israel."

(Lk.2:32) Thus Jesus taught that His message was for all people. rand other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." (Jn. 10: 16) He specifically sent His disciples to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel..." (Mt. 28:18,19) Further, this Gospel was not for one time and one place, but for all generations, "even unto the end of the world." (Mt. 28:20) The fact is that God wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (I Tm. 2:4) The universality of the Christian faith, its being for all peoples and for all time, and to which the believer must give himself wholly, make it the catholic faith. [This latter term, catholic, was

-89apparently in use even in apostolic times. St. Ignatius calls the Church "catholic" in his Epistle to the Smyrneans. (viii)]

CHAPTER NINE: THE PRIESTLY MINISTRY OF CHRIST The prophets of the Old Testament had announced the accomplishment of God's plan for the salvation of the human race in the Messiah, the Christ. When He came, He was seen fulfilling all those prophecies and proclaiming that the deliverance that had been promised was at hand. He, the great Prophet, was the end of prophecy, because all the prophets before Him had looked forward toward Him and because any future prophet would be unable to say anything about the redemption that had not already been said. When Jesus began to preach, He first declared that "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." (Mk. 1:15; Mt. 4:17) Indeed, the process of redemption had already begun, and Jesus’ priestly ministry, though usually thought of in connection with His death on the cross, spans His entire lifetime. The very Incarnation was an act of submission and of obedience to the will of the Father. On coming into the world, Christ said, "Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body thou hast prepared me...Lo, This is I do thy will, O God." (Hb. 10:5-7) addressed to God the Father, repeating the prophetic utterance of David in Psalm 39[40]:6.

the Incarnation, Christ humiliated or abased Himself and "took upon Him the form of a servant..." (Phil. 2:7) He took upon Himself the sins of the world: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." (Gal. 3:13) In

—Christ Our Sacrifice— Prophet, Christ taught and gave the perfect example: He made God known to man and He showed man how to live in relation to God and his fellow-man. He reunited God and man in His own person, being perfect God and perfect man. As


-84Yet man's chief enemy, death, still reigned. It was in giving Himself over to death,so that, in experiencing what all men have to experience as a consequence of sin, Christ might defeat death by rising from the dead. Christ offered Himself in sacrifice. He who had no sin offered Himself out of love for man even unto death. Yet death could not hold the One who was not

deserving of it. Therefore, Christ is the Priest in the basic sense of the word. He is a representative of the people. He offers sacrifice for their sins. Yet the uniqueness of His sacrifice lies in the fact that He had no sin of His own, unlike the priests of the Old Testament. Then again, as the celebrant prays during the Cherubic Hymn at the Divine Liturgy, Christ is both the One who "offers and is offered." Although many prophecies, especially those of David in the Psalms, refer to the suffering and death of Christ as an offering for the sins of man (ie., Psalm 21[22]), it is Isaiah, in Chapter 53, who gives the clearest picture of His rejection, suffering and death. "Surely, He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed." (vv.4,5) John the Forerunner, on seeing Jesus for the first time, declared to the people: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29) The lamb, which was the innocent, pure victim sacrificed under the old law for the sins of men, is applied to Christ as the Lamb sent from God, who would be sacrificed for the sins of the whole human race. The Saviour Himself made many references to the sacrifice He was to make. In fact, according to His own statement, this was the very purpose of His coming into the world: "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom


for many." (Mt. 20:28) As the time for His giving His life approached, Christ spoke of the sacrifice as His glorification. "The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” (Jn.

12:23) He goes on to speak of His own anguish, "Now is my own soul troubled." (Ibid.) Then in answer to His own question, "What shall I say, Father save me from this hour?" He declared, "But for this cause came I unto this hour." (v.27) From the beginning, Christ foretold the way in which He was to die and showed how Moses’ action symbolized His crucifixion: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up." (Jn. 3:14) The expression "lifted up" was understood to mean specifically "lifted up upon the cross." Those who look upon the crucified Christ and believe on Him will be saved just as those who looked upon the serpent which Moses raised were spared from death.

calling Himself the only true Shepherd of the spiritual sheep, Jesus also said: "The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep... am the good Shepherd ...and I lay down my life for the sheep." (Jn. 10:11-15) Again, it is the priestly sacrifice which is being referred to. He also told the Jews how mankind was to receive the gift of eternal life: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (Jn. 6:51) The meaning of this passage becomes clear at the Last Supper. He takes bread and wine and institutes the Eucharist with terms and actions fitting for offering sacrifice. He will give His Body as a sacrifice. He will make bread that sacrificed Body, so that those who believe may consume the sacrifice. This was, of course, the normal order for the sacrifices of the Old Testament, according to God's commandment. As the end approached, Christ's prophecies had to do with His suffering and death. After Peter's confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus In

-86began "to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day." (Mt. 16:21; Mk. 10:33,34; Lk. 9:44) The Lord further shows that the prophets prophesied concerning Him. Thus, in Jerusalem "all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.” (Lk. 18:31) There He should be delivered, mocked, spitefully entreated, spat upon,

scourged, put to death, and then rise again the third day. (Lk. 18:32,33) On almost every one of these occasions, it is noted in the Gospel that the disciples did not understand what the Lord meant. Peter even objected saying that these things could never happen to his Lord, but Christ rebuked him: "Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou art an offense to me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Mt. 16:22,23) Finally, after having suffered death for the sins of the world, and after His resurrection, "He opened the understanding" of His disciples, that "they might understand the Scriptures...thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day..." (Lk. 24:45-47) Thus Christ spoke many times about the sacrifice that He was to offer on behalf of the human race. While not actually calling Himself "Priest", it is clear from what He said about giving His life that He indeed exercised a priesthood. This is shown to us in the Gospels, not only by Christ's own references to His death, but especially in the very act of His bearing out His ministry. —The Bread of Life— whole sixth chapter of the Gospel according to John proclaims the sacrifice that is to take place. After the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, the Lord calls Himself "the Bread of Life". (v.35) The words which He used are crucially important: "The bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (v.51) Then He astounded all those who. The

-87heard Him when He declared,."He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in Him." (v.56)

yet another chapter of this Gospel, there is what often called the "high priestly prayer" of Christ. (Jn. 17) It is so called because it was offered immediately before His betrayal, arrest and all the things that culminated in His death on the cross. The content of the "high priestly prayer" deals more with the consequences of the redemption, the salvation of humanity. Here this is spoken of as its sanctification and glorification. Hence, the term "redemption" means the rescue of man from the reign and power of death by Christ's victory over death. This salvation wrought by Christ's sacrifice has been called by the Fathers of the Church theosis (divinization or deification). And in this prayer this is spoken of in precisely these terms: "...[That] they also might be sanctified...the glory which thougavest me I have given them...that they also may be one in us..." (vv.19,22) The relation between the "high priestly prayer" and Christ's previous reference to Himself as the Bread of Life can be understood when it is pointed out that the "high priestly prayer" was offered at the institution of the Eucharist. Here the "hard saying" is explained. The question, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" is answered. The sanctification, the divinization or deification of man, is revealed as possible through the Eucharist, wherein the flesh and blood of Christ are given. Those who partake therein dwell in Him, and He in them, sanctifying them. In


—The Blood of Christ—

There are numerous texts from the apostolic epistles

which speak of the redemption from sins by the blood of Jesus. For example, "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood..." (Rm. 3:24,25); "[Jesus Christ,] in

-88whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Eph. 1:7); "[Jesus Christ,] who gave Himself a ransom for all..." (I Tm. 2:6); "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (Rm. 5:10). This last passage makes obvious the relationship between the two aspects of Christ's priestly work, redemption and salvation. —The Priesthood in Hebrews— All the evidence cited above is convincing enough to acknowledge Christ's priesthood. Yet the most direct and detailed presentation is furnished by the Epistle to the Hebrews. This letter's fundamental thesis is the understanding of the Old Testament with the aid of the New. Briefly, its main features in relation to the priesthood of Christ are the following.

Jesus Christ, the Great High PriestJesus Christ is called repeatedly "priest," "great priest" and "high priest." His "appointment" was given Him by the heavenly Father: "So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest but He that said to Him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. As He saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." (5:5,6) Although His priesthood was not of the order of Aaron, it is placed on a parallel with his. "Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house." (3:1,2) This great "High Priest" is passed into the heavens, but He can be "touched with the feelings of our infirmities," for, like us, He was "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (4:14,15) It was Christ, the High Priest, "who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and suppli§

-89cations with strong crying and tears to Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect...[was] called of God an High Priest.” (5:7-10)

Priest For Ever After the Order of Melchisedec— As noted above, Christ is called a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Melchisedec was not only a priest of the Most High God, but also a King of Salem, that is, of justice and of peace. By this extra§ A

ordinary association of two high functions, Melchisedec typified Christ, the extraordinary priest-king. (7:1,2) Because Holy Scripture gives neither Melchisedec's genealogy, nor his origin, nor the end of his life, nor his predecessor, nor his successor, he again presented an image of Christ, the Son of God, who remains a priest for ever. (7:3) Finally, Melchisedec received the tithes of Abraham himself and blessed them. In so doing, he blessed in the person of Abraham all of his descendants. All the children of Levi, the priests of the Old Testament, were thus blessed in Abraham by Melchisedec. Melchisedec received tithes of them all. The point to be made here is that since he that receives the blessing is inferior to the one that gives it, Melchisedec is thereby superior to the priests of the Old Testament. In this he typified the priest that is above all priests, the great High Priest, Jesus Christ, (7:1-10)

The Superiority of Christ's Priesthood— The previous point, that by being a priest after the order of Melchisedec, Christ's priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood, which was after the order of Aaron, is amply detailed in Hebrews. The priesthood possessed by Aaron was but for a time and was not sanctioned by an oath. Yet the priesthood of Jesus Christ, as changeless and eternal, was §


sanctioned by God's oath, "the Lord sware and will not

repent." (7:20,21)

Then again, the priests of the Old testament died as men, their priesthood passing from one to another. Jesus Christ remains eternally; He possesses a priesthood that is eternal. (7:23,24) The priests of the Old Testament were sinful men. They offered sacrifices both for their own sins and for those of the people. However, Jesus Christ, who had no sin, offered sacrifice for the sins of the world. (7:26,27) Ultimately,



of Christ's priesthood

is demonstrated by the fact that the priests after the order of Aaron offered sacrifice daily. These sacrifices typified the expiatory sacrifice, but did not remove sins from themselves. (10:1-11) Jesus Christ offered Himself only once, as the true expiatory victim for the sins of the world. "By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (10:12,14; see also, 7:27; and 9:12-14, 26) —The Fathers on the Priesthood of Christ— The teachings of the Fathers of the Church in every generation have been identical with the biblical concept of Christ's priesthood. Some of the testimonies from the generation which immediately followed the time of the Apostles follow. "Jesus Christ, the High Priest of our offerings, the protector and helper of our weakness..." (I Clement, 36,1)

"Priests are a good thing, but better still is the High Priest who was entrusted with the Holy of Holies, Jesus Christ..." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Philadelphians, 9,1) "May the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High Priest Himself, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, build you up in faith..." (St. Polycarp of Smyrna, Epistle to the Philippians, 12,2)


there are the following examples from the universally accepted Doctors of the Fourth Century. "The sheep, as the victim; the lamb, as being perfect; the high priest, as the offerer; Melchisedech, as without mother in that nature which is above us, and without Father in ours; and without genealogy above (for 'who,' its says, 'shall declare His generation?'—Isaiah 53:8) and, Then toc,

moreover, as King of Salem, which means peace, and King of righteousness, and receiving tithes from patriarchs, when they prevail over powers of evil." (St. Gregory the Theologian, Fourth Theological Oration, 21) "He was the victim, but at the same time, the High Priest, the Sacrificer, but also God: He offered blood to God, but He purified the world; He was lifted up on the cross, but He nailed sin to the cross." (St. Gregory the Thelogian, Mystigogical Hymn to the Son) "He is called priest, because in His body He offered Himself in sacrifice to the Father for the human race; Himself, He sacrificed victim, sacrificer and accomplishing His work for the whole world." (Epiphanius, Heresies, 69,39) "He offered Himself in sacrifice in order to abolish the sacrifices of the Old Testament, in offering a perfect and living victim, for all; Himself, at the same time, victim sacrificial altar, God, Man, King, High Priest, flock, sheep, having done all for us." (Ibid., 55,4) —Why

Christ Was Appointed Priest—

Now, what essentially was the purpose and the effect of that sacrifice of which Christ was the High Priest? Why was it needed and what did it accomplish? The Holy Scriptures give us a very precise answer to these questions. They provide us with a remarkable picture of man's state without the redemption, the condition from which the human race needed to be redeemed.


We Were Sinners, In Need of Forgiveness and Purification— We were impure in the eyes of God. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of the glory of God." (Rm. 3:23) "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." (I In. 1:7) "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Rm. 5:12) "So by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (5:19), and His obedience was "unto death, even the death of the cross." (Phil. 2:8) §

Under the CurseBecause of man's sin, God placed him under the curse, and he suffered the punishment due to sin: death. It was from that curse that man had to be rescued or redeemed, if he was to fulfill the purpose for which he was created. . "In Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (I Cor. 15:22) "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." (Gal. 3:13) "[Jesus Christ,] who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Tit.2:14) "Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (I Pet. 1:18,19) Thus, the debt that we owed because of our sins has been paid: "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross." (Col. 2:14) §

We Were

-93"Ye are bought with a price." (I Cor. 6:20; 7:23) § We Were Enemies of GodWe were alienated from God because of sin. What was necessary for man was to be restored to friendship with God, that is, to be reconciled. "For it pleased the Father that in Him [Christ] should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself: by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in His sight." (Col. 1:19-22) By man's free choice, he had preferred the world to God. "Whosoever therefore will be friend of the world is the enemy of God." (Jas. 4:4) Yet it is the death of God's Son that has reconciled us to Him. "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (Rm. 5:10)

Servants of SinThe Scriptural evidence is clear. We were servants of sin. (Rm. 6:20) We were captives of the devil. (II Tm. 2:26) We were condemned to death. (Gn. 3:19) Jesus Christ destroyed that slavery to the devil. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself took part of the same: that through death He might destroy Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." §


We Were


(Hb. 2:14,15)


§ We


Were Idolaters—

We were idolaters, making gods out of everything: man and beasts (Rm. 1:23), lusts and pleasures (I Pt. 4:3), worshipping and serving "the creature more than

-94the Creator..." (Rm. 1:25). Even covetousness or greed was idolatry. (Col. 3:5) For this idolatry, too, man was condemned to death. "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death..." (Rm. 1:32) "..[Idolatersl...shall not inherit the Kingdom of God." (I Cor. 6:9,10) It is in Christ that man has been able to return to the worship of the true God. "Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come." (I Th. 1:9,10) St. Paul, in exhorting the Corinthians to flee from idolatry, reminds them that their worship of the true God has been made possible by the death of Christ and is realized for them in the communion of His body and blood. (I Cor. 10:14-20) Since Christ has offered Himself as a sacrifice to God, those who believe in His saving death can have no further part in idolatry, nor any other thing equally detestable to God. (Eph. 5:2-5)

--The Consequences of Redemption— Man, then, has been redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ from his sinful state, from the curse and the sentence of death, from enmity with God, from slavery to sin and the devil, and from idolatry. Does this rescue from sin and death bring with it any positive consequences? For the person who has faith in Christ, it does most assuredly. Yet that faith is necessary for his participation in the effects of the redemption. New Covenant by His BloodJesus Christ has established by His blood a new covenant with God and has brought about a new union with Him. "And for this cause, He is the Mediator of the new testament [covenant], that by means of death, for the § A

-95redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive For where a the promise of eternal inheritance. of necessity be the death testament is, there must also of the testator." (Hb. 9:15,16) Further, by His death Christ has brought all men into unity in Himself, specifically the Gentile and the Jew. "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ...He is our peace...He hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us...for through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. " (Eph. 2:13-18) Children of God by Adoption— Christ made us the adopted children of God and dwellers in His house. "God sent forth His Son... to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." (Gal. 4:4,5) "Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." (Eph. 2:19) § Justification and SanctificationBy His death, Christ has given us the means of being justified, sanctified, and deified, "...being now justified by His blood..." (Rm. 5:9) He "bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness..." (I Pet. 2:24) "...Now hath He reconciled [you] in the body of His flesh to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in His sight” (Col. 1:21,22), " might be partakers of the divine nature..." (I Pet. 1:4). "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them..." (Jn. 17:22) §

Eternal Life and Glory— Christ has gained eternal life and glory for us. "And Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even as Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever the so must believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:14,15) "For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation §


perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one..." (Hb. 2:10,11)

—Can One Die For Many?— Now, how can it be that the sacrificial death of One can accomplish all these things for the rest? After all, it was man that had sinned and owed the debt, even though we admit that the eternal Son of God became man and offered Himself in sacrifice to God. To say that He suffered for us and died for us must mean that He took our place and offered a representative sacrifice for our sins. Is this kind of substitution consistent with the principles of equity and justice? In

order to answer this crucial question, consider

the explanation given by St. Paul in the fifth chapter

of Romans: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (v.12) So it was that sin was first committed by one, and the consequence of that sin was death. This death passed to all men, not as to innocent bystanders, but because they have all sinned. "...For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many." (v.15) The effects of sin were so extensive that all men were subject to death. [The word "many" in the language of the New Testament means "all."] "For if by one man's offense death reigned by one, much more they whichreceive abundance of grace and of the gift and of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." (v.17) The gift of Christ, eternal life, far outweighed the results of sin. "Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (v.18) Just as mortality was inherited by all, even though they may not have been

-97guilty, so also the gift of justification was bestowed upon all without their deserving it. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (v.19) So everyone became a sinner as a consequence of the first man's disobedience. By Christ's perfect obedience, all have the possibility of being righteous. What was inherited by all, as a consequence of the sin of Adam, was death, judgment to condemnation, and sinfulness. The expression "for all have sinned" emphasizes the fact that each man not only sins but has the responsibility or guilt for it. The underlying idea in all the passages cited is that what affects one man affects all, although each man or woman is a person and not a part of some larger super-person. St. Athanasius perceives the truth of the matter and provides the solution to the problem. "The solidarity of the human race is such that, since the Word of God dwelt in a single human body, the corruption which accompanies death lost its power over all." (The Incarnation of the Word of God, 9, n.2) In the same way that death had passed to all from the place of its original infection, the cure is affected from one starting point. There is a real unity of human nature, although there are millions of persons, each one with his integrity. The Son of God identified Himself completely with the human race in the Incarnation. In the same way, Christ, the New Adam, comprises each human individual. He is not just "another". He that "taketh away the sins of the world" took upon Himself the sins of all men and of all times. In His holy humanity He committed no sin, but He was made sin for us. (Il Cor. 5:21) "For being over all, the Word of God naturally by offering His own temple and bodily instrument for the life of all satisfied the debt


of all by His death." (St. Athanasius, Op. cit.) None of this can be understood purely in a juridical sense. From a purely human idea of justice, this way of redemption can appear to be absurd. "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God...the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men." (I Cor. 1:18,25) The divine principle at work in the whole process of the redemption is love. For "God is love." In this was manifested the love of God toward us. God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (I Jn. 4:10) "For God so loved the world," in spite of its sinfulness. "that He gave His only begotten Son." Christ took upon Himself human nature with its sins, "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16) For Christ the High Priest, by virtue of His redemptive sacrifice, remits the sins of those who go to Him with love and


—Are All Then Saved?—

The sacrifice of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ,

offered for all. Its propitiatory effects extend to all men. The will of God is certainly that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth."For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ; who gave Himself a ransom for all..." (I Tm. 2:4-6) All men were lost, and in the Saviour's own words, He came"to save that which was lost." (Mt. 18:11) He is the propitiation for and the salvation of the whole world. (I Jn. 2:2; 4:14) St. Basil the Great summarizes this point in this was

-99way: "There is one superior to our nature; not a mere man, but one who is man and God, Jesus Christ, who alone is able to make atonement for us all because God ‘appointed Him to be a propitiation through faith in His blood—Romans 3:25." (On Psalm 48:3) Again, St. Gregory of Nyssa remarks: "As a priest after the order of Melchisedec, He offered Himself to God in redemption, not only for Israel, but also for all men." (On the Lord's Prayer) Although Christ died for all, only those who believe As St. John Chrysostom in Him are saved.(n. 3:16) in died for all order to save all; this "The Lord says: death corresponded to the perdition of all, but it did not erase the sins of all, because they themselves did not wish it so." (On Hebrews, Homily 17, n.2) The sacrifice of Christ redeems us from sin in general, from original sin, from past sins and from future sins. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." (I Jn. 1:7) "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Rm. 5:19) "God...set forth [Jesus Christ] to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." (Rm. 3:25) "My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous..." (I Jn.

2:1,2) St. John Chrysostom describes the effect of the sacrifice in this way: "Grace has destroyed not only original sin, but also all other sins; moreover, not only has it destroyed sins, but it has also given us holiness; and Jesus Christ has not only restored everything that had been corrupted by Adam, but also has reestablished it more abundantly and to a better degree." (On the Epistle to the Romans, Homily 10, n.2)

Christ's sacrifice is effective for all times.


-100is why He is called "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8) and "a priest for ever" (Hb. 7:21). The redemption He has gained for us is eternal. "Christ being come a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Hb. 9:11,12) His reconciliation was universal, in that He tore down the wall of separation between heaven and earth by His cross. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile gll things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." (Col. 1:19,20) Jesus Christ, in His sacrificial death, carried out the will of His Father who had decreed to save the world by the blood of His Son-made-Man. By the Son's own will, He was obedient and underwent a lifetime of humiliation. "For the joy that was set before Him, [He] endured the cross, despising the shame..." (Hb. 12:2) Now, His state of humiliation was followed by His glorification. (Jn. 12:16) This was a glorification not of His divinity, which was always glorious, but in His human nature, which He had taken into the unity of His person. Just before His death, Christ prayed: "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee...I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." (In. 17:1,4,5) Then after His resurrection, having appeared to two of His Apostles returning to Emmaus, who were uncertain about the death of their Master, Christ said

-101to them: "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all *hat the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?" (LK.


the Jews, St. Peter said: "The of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Son Jesus; whomye delivered up." (Acts 3:13) Peter later wrote in his first epistle that the prophets foretold the sufferings of Christ and His glorification that was to follow. (1:11) St. Paul likewise testifies to the glorification and exaltation of the God-Man after His death. (Phil. 2:9; In his discourse to God of Abraham, and

Hb. 2:9)

This glorification is to be understood in the following Christ entered as God-Man into the same glory that He had as God with the Father before the world was. (Jn. 17:5) The Father raised Christ from the dead, His body being made glorious (Phil. 3:21) and set Him down at His own right hand (Eph. 1:20). The God-Man ascended into heaven and was given authority over all, even the angels. (I Pet. 3:22) In fact, as Christ Himself says: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Mt. 28:18) He receives as God-Man the adoration that always belonged to Him in His divinity. (Phil. 2:10) In the fulness of His divine glory, Christ will come again one day as King to judge the living and the dead (Mt. 16:27; 19:28; 24:30), and of His Kingdom there shall be no end (Lk. 1:33).



the Creed, we confess our belief in Christ as

King with these words: "And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end." The catechumen as well, as he approaches baptism, is questioned about his faith. He, of necessity, must acknowledge that he believes in Christ as "King and as God."

At the very Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary, that to the Son whom she was to bring forth "the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over

the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end." (Lk. 1:32,33) When Christ was born, the wise men came to Jerusalem from the east to worship Him: "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" (Mt. 2:2) When they found Him they offered Him gifts, one of which, gold, was in recognition of His kingship. (Note also God's promise to David at the time of the birth of Solomon in II Kings [II Sam.] 7:13,16 and also in Psalm 131[132]: 11-14. On the day of Pentecost, Peter relates the promise announced by Gabriel to the Lord's promise to David. See Acts 2:30.) —The Servant Who Reigns— The contradiction between the royal title and the humble lot of Him "that had no place to lay His head" is only too obvious. In fact, the Lord specifically declared His ministry to be one of service and obedience. (Mt. 20:28; Lk. 22:25-27) He repeatedly rejected the attempts to proclaim Him King in a worldly sense. He reproached His disciples when they asked for the first places in His Kingdom after Him, for they thought that He would go up to Jerusalem to take the throne. (Mt. 20:20-28; Mk. 10:35~40)


~103Then again, when Christ perceived that the multitude "would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone." (Jn. 6:15) On the other hand, on being questioned by Pilate about the accusation against Him, "Art thou a king then?" Jesus answered affirmatively, "Thou sayest that I am a king." (Jn. 18:37; Mk. 15:2; Mt. 27:11; Lk. 23:3) Yet He had already told Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight...but now my kingdom is not from hence." (Jn. 18:36) (The "mow" of the foregoing statement is very important, as we shall see later.) Pilate then, for some reason that he himself did not understand, refused to change the name-plate that he had written for the cross, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." Even when the Jews who read it objected, he replied, "What I have written I have written." (In. 19:19-22)

The only act or exterior manifestation of Christ's kingship or royal ministry during His earthly life was His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He even prepares, or better, commands His royal entry. He sends two disciples to a neighboring village to bring Him an ass's colt so that He may enter the city on it. (Mt. 21:1-6)

Here the Lord directly applies the prophecy of Zechariah concerning the entry of the King-Messiah to Himself: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." (9:9; see also, Is. 52) As in other cases, the disciples did not understand these things at the first, "but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto Him." (Jn. 12:16)

-104The people received Him as a king: "Hosanna; blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the Kingdom of our Father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest." (Mk. 11: 9,10) "Hosanna to the Son of David ..." (Mt. 21:9) "Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest." (Lk. 19: 38) (We note here a harmony with the song of the angels at the birth of Christ in the city of David.) The "blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" is the direct application to Christ of the prophecy of the messianic Psalm 117/118: 26. Jesus accepted this acclaim as king: the spreading of cloaks under His feet, the waving of palms and branches, and the cries of all, even the children. All of this was necessary, for the King had truly come into His own city. But the chief priests and the scribes were indignant and asked Him: "hearest thou what these say?" And Jesus responded by recalling Psalm 8:2 "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.” (Mt. 21: 15,16) He testified to the fact that this praise had to be: "I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." (Lk. 19: 40) But the course of Jerusalem was already set. The Lord wept over the city even at this moment of triumph, saying to it, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace." (Lk. 19: 41-44) The day after entering the city, Christ went into the Temple. There He excercised His authority and purified it by driving the money-changers out. (Mt. 21: 12,13) This royal glory was only of short duration at this The week of the Passion begins immediately. time. Just as before, when He entered into His priestly ministry, His glory revealed on Mt. Tabor was a momentary break-through. It was still necessary for Him to carry

the earthly ministry, with the obedience that




center of it, to the ultimate, to the death on the cross.

His testimony to His being both the Son of Man and the Son of God would have been incomplete if He had not allowed certain ones to see His eternal glory in the Transfiguration, and had He not manifested His royalty or kingship in the Triumphal Entry into Jeru-


—The Miracles of Christ— The only acts of our Lord during His earthly life seen specifically to accept any acclaim His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and as King were in which He is

answer to Pilate. On the other hand, it must always that Jesus Christ was the God-Man. time of His humiliation and before His glorification, He excercised that power that belonged to Him as Lord and Ruler, as King. Many of these things were in preparation for the establishment of His Kingdom in the Church. He taught the absolute, eternal truth and gave a new commandment. (Jn. 13:34) Those who heard Him in the synagogue "were astonished at His doctrine: for He taught them as one that had authority..." (Mk. 1:22) He declared that He would build His Church (Mt. 16:18), and for this society He provided its basic form of worship, the Eucharist: "this do in remembrance of me." (Lk. 22:19) Another act of Jesus which was a sign of His power was his selection of the Apostles, who were to be the hierarchy of His Church. To them He would transmit spiritual authority and power, including that of binding and loosing. He promised this to them in the name of Peter after He announced the foundation of the Church (Mt. 16:19), and fulfilled His promise after the resurrection (Jn. 20:23). In one sense, the miracles that Jesus did during the time of His humiliation belong to His prophetic ministry. The work of the prophet in the history of God's people was to proclaim the will of God, but the proof of their calling was often their miracles. His

be remembered Even during the

-106On the other hand, the miracles of Christ, even if they do belong to the prophetic period and role, can certainly not be separated from His exercise of His lordship and sovereignty, which had always belonged to Him. It is for this reason that some theologians have tended to associate the miracles more with His royal ministry. Yet it matters little whether we classify them as belonging to one or the other ministry. The point is that it was the divine power that healed, overcame the laws of nature, and even raised people from the dead. The Lord Himself pointed specifically to His miracles, His works, as proof of His power and His divinity. For example, when a man sick of the palsy was brought to Him, He seeing their faith, said to Him: "Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” And then, knowing that "certain of the scribes” were doubting and accusing Him of blasphemy, He said: "That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith He to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed..." (Mt. 9: 2-6) Even more pointedly, Jesus offers His works as proof of who He was and of who had sent Him. "If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if 1 do, though ye believe not me, believe the works." (Jn. 10: 37,38) Further He declared: "The works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me." (Jn. 5: 36) "Believe me that I am in the Father, and the father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake." (Jn. 14: 11; see also 15: 24) Both the Apostles Peter and Paul (Acts 2:22,23 and Hb. 2:3,4) offer the miracles, signs and wonders as proof that the power of God was working in Jesus Christ. Jesus demonstrated His power over all of nature when He changed water into wine (Jn. 2:1-11), when He walked on the sea (Mt. 14:26), and when, with a word, He calmed a storm. This latter miracle made His disciples ask, "What manner of man is this, for that even the winds and the sea obey Him!" (Mt. 8:23-27;LKk.


-167Christ healed every kind of sickness and disease. (Mt. 9:20-26; 14:35,36) He gave sight to the blind (Mk. 10:46-52), hearing to the deaf and speech to the mute (Mt. 9:32-35; 12:22; Lk. 11:14), and wholeness to the lepers (Mt. 8:1-4). And finally, with a few loaves of bread and fishes, He miraculously fed five thousand men, not counting women and children, on one day and more than four thousand on another. (Mt. 14:15 ff. and 15:32 ff.) —Overruling Death and Hell— That Jesus had dominion over the powers of Hell and over demons is clear from the many cases in which He commanded evil spirits to come out of men. (Mk.

1:25; 5:8; 9:25; Lk. 8:32,33) The demons themselves recognized Him, as is evident from the incident in the country of the Gergesenes. On seeing Him approach, they cried out, "What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (Mt. 8:28-34; see also Mk. 3:11; 5:7) He had communicated to His disciples the power of the destruction of the works of Satan in the human race even before His glorification and the sending of the Holy Spirit. For example, when the seventy disciples, on returning from their preaching mission, told Him with joy: "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name," He told them, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." Hereby He gave testimony of His eternal existence. (Lk. 10:17,18) This sovereign power of our Lord over the spirits of evil during His earthly life, the apostle Peter attests to in the presence of the newly converted Gentiles: "Ye know [that] which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him." (Acts 10:37,38)

-108Most remarkable, of course, is Jesus' demonstration of His power over death. He raised the son of the widow of Nain by touching his bier and saying: "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." (Lk. 7:14) He brought back to life the daughter of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, by a simple touch and this word: "Maid, arise.” (Lk. 8:54) Then, just before His own death and resurrection, He raised His friend Lazarus, who had been dead four days, saying in a loud voice: "Lazarus, come forth." (Jn. 11:43) Even this important incident, in which we see Jesus' real human compassion, for "Jesus wept,” He also addressed the Father in the presence of the people precisely in order that they might believe and He had sent Him: "I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me." (v. 42)

So, again, in the days of His humiliation, as He went about fulfilling His ministry as Prophet and as High Priest, and worked in the power of the Holy Spirit as the God-Man, Jesus’ miracles demonstrated both that He was sent from God, and that He was Lord and Sovereign: King of the universe and the Vanquisher of death.

—The Descent to Hell— The Church believes that after His crucifixion, the Lord Jesus Christ descended to hell to proclaim salvation to those who were held there and to rescue the just of the Old Testament and others who had not been able to know Him in their earthly life. While the most commonly used Creed, the Nicene, makes no reference to the descent to hell, another

ancient creed, that of the Apostles, contains this doctrinal statement: "He descended into Hell." Although this creed is not used in the Orthodox Church, its doc-

trines are certainly not questioned. There is sufficient evidence in the writings of the Apostles, that is, the New Testament, to support our

-109belief in this doctrine. To be sure, the Fathers of the Church of almost every century testify to its general The Fifth Ecumenical Council defines acceptance. the doctrine in an indirect way, in the anathema (or condemnation) it places on anyone who denies "that the Word of God, being incarnate in a flesh animated by a rational and spiritual soul, descended to hell and then ascended to heaven." (Anathema ix, against Origen) St. Peter, in his discourse to the Jews (Acts 2: 27-31) quotes the words of the Psalmist David: "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine (Psalm 15/16:10) Peter Holy One to see corruption." declares that David was foretelling the resurrection of Christ. Later, in his First Epistle, Peter expresses the idea even more clearly when he says: "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison." (3: 18,19) In other words, while He was dead in the body, Christ descended alive in the spirit to the prison of the spirits in order to proclaim to them the salvation He had preached on earth. St. Paul also refers to the same thing when he asks: "Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?" (Eph. 4: 9,10) Compare also Romans 10:6,7: "Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep [or, the abyss]? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead)." From among the writings of the Fathers of the Church, we shall cite just a few of the many references to our Lord's descent to hell. In the Second Century"The Lord descended to the depths of the earth, announ§

-110cing also His coming and the remission of sins to all those who believed on Him, that is, to all those who had awaited Him, to the same one who foretold His coming and had fulfilled His ordinances, the just, the prophets and the patriarchs.” (St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 12, no. 1) "He remained three days in the dwelling-place of the dead, and He descended to them in order to free them from there and to save them." (Ibid., V,3, no. 1,2)

In the Third Century— "The Lord descended to hell only to proclaim the (St. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, VI, Gospel." 6; cf. 11,10) §

"After having revealed the truth to men, according to the will of God, He submitted to death in order to destroy and conquer hell." (Lactantiuss, Divine Institutions, 1V, chap. 12) In the Fourth Century— "He was crucified, buried; He descended into hell His divinity and His (human) soul, and He took captivity captive." (St. Epiphanius, Haeres Herodian, xx) "David predicted clearly in Psalm 48 (/49):15, the descent into hell of the Lord Jesus, who freed with the other souls that of the Prophet that it might not remain in hell." (St. Basil the Great, Homily on Psalm 48:15) "He was buried, but He arose; He descended into hell, but He rescued the souls from there." (St. Gregory §


the Theologian, Third Theological Oration) "Imagine that God, having left heaven and His kingly throne, descended to the earth, even to hell, arming Himself for the struggle.” (St. John Chrysostom, On Matthew, Homily ii, n. 1) And to refute Apollinarius, who denied the existence of the human soul in Christ, St. Athanasius asked him:

-111"But, how could Jesus Christ descend to hell, when His body was in the tomb, and if, in His divinity, He

everywhere?" (Against Apollinarius, I, n.13,14; Athanasius took for granted that this descent to hell was generally recognized among Christians. is present I, 17) St.

The witness of the Church can be summarized by the Paschal Troparion: "In the grave with the body and in hell with the soul, as God, while in paradise with the thief and upon the throne with the Father and the Spirit, wast thou, O Christ, filling all things, thyself In this hymn, we see that in the uncircumscribed." descent into hell, the humanity and the divinity of Christ are not separated. It is the God-Man who descended to proclaim salvation to the captives and to conquer hell and its hold over man. —Christ's Mission in Hell— The foregoing has demonstrated that the Church as always believed in and accepted as dogma the descent of Christ into hell. This leads then to the question of the purpose of His stay in the place of the dead. 1. First, St. Paul answers the question when he says: "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all heavens, that He might fill all things." (Eph. 4:8-10) The Fathers of the Church explain St. Paul's answer thus: "Hell was led captive by the descent which the Lord made there; it has been annulled, mocked, killed, overturned, struck." (St. John Chrysostom, Paschal Sermon) "He did away with the sting of death, He destroyec the somber doors of hell most vile, He gave freedom to the souls." (St. Gregory the Theologian, Hymn to


-112"He came for the salvation of the souls that were in hell waiting for His coming from all eternity; and having descended, He took down the brazen gates, broke the iron bolts, and led to freedom those who had previously been enchained in hell." (Eusebius, Evangelical Demonstration, bk. x, On the Words of Psalm XVI) 2. As we have already seen, the Lord's mission was to free those who believed in Him before His coming into the world, those who had foreseen and prophesied con~ cerning Him, and those who had lived according to God's


"He was really placed in a stone sepulchre, as a man; but because of Him the stone was rent from fright; He descended into the subterranean places in order to set the just free. Because, would you imagine that those living on earth at the time of Christ, most of whom were unrighteous, would be able to enjoy His grace, while those who came after Adam would not receive their freedom? Isaiah had-prophesied so many things about Him. Would yoda think that the King, on descending, would not give freedom to His herald? There too were David, Samuel and all the Prophets, including John ..." (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, IV, n. 11; XIV, n. 19) 3. In the descent into hell, Christ, truly dead in His body, but alive in His human soul, which was still in inseparable union with His Divine Nature, completed His saving work. He not only had proclaimed salvation to the living, but He did not forget the righteous dead. He came and finished His universal proclamation. The God-Man followed the destiny of all men after Adam, and went to the resting place of all His precursors, the prophets. In this His prophetic ministry continues. He brought to them the consequences of His saving sacrifice; in this, His priestly ministry is seen. Then, in the splendor of His glory, He conquered hell and the dominion of death; in this, He is king. Thus, did Christ free those who awaited Him and

-113took away the sting of death and its finality for all mankind. Hereby, He gave man the possibility of living

with Him forever in His Kingdom.

—The Resurrection— Although our Lord Jesus Christ had previously revealed

His power over death by restoring to life several people who had died, His victory over death was accomplished

by His resurrection from the dead on the third day. The Word of God explains this victory as a victory for all men. "Now is Christ risen from the dead, and

become the firstfruits of them that slept.

For since

by man 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 every man in his order:

Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's His coming." (I Cor. 15:20-23) Those who believe in Christ and live the life that is in Him, the core of which is participation in His holy mysteries, become partakers of Him and will live with Him forever. "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end." (Hb. 3:14) "Labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you..." (In. 6:27) The Lord Himself taught: "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." (Jn. 11:25) " am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread which I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (Jn. 6:51) "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." (Jn. 6:56) The Church has always understood these sayings of the Lord to refer specifically to the way in which He provided for man to eat His flesh and to drink His blood: the Eucharist.


-114Baptism is the other way in which we are directly made partakers of Christ, of His victory over death in the Resurrection. St. Paul teaches: "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27) "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father. even so we also should walk in newness of life...Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him; knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him." (Rm. 6:3,4,8,9) Because of our union with Christ, we are already raised with Him, being dead to the old life. "If then ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are glad, and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col. 3:1-3) The Resurrection as Christ's victory over death is consistently taught by the Fathers of the Church. For example, St. Athanasius writes: "The Lord had as the particular purpose of His dispensation the manifestation of the resurrection of His body. He wished thus to demonstrate to all the marvel of His victory over death, and to convince them that by Him corruption is destroyed and incorruption given to men." (The Incarnation of the Word of God, n. 22) As well, St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: "He is risen, that dead man, who is free among the dead (Psalm 87/88:5), He is the very Liberator of the dead. He whom they crown atrociously, in His great long-suffering, with a crown of thorns, arose crowned with the diadem of victory over death." (Catechetical Lectures, XIV, n.1) The resurrection of Christ is not to be understood figuratively, but quite literally. It was predicted by David the Prophet: "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see

-115corruption." (Psalm 15/16:10) This prophecy was applied by Peter, in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, to Christ's resurrection. (Acts 2:29-31) The Lord Himself declared that the stay of Jonah in the belly of a great fish was a symbol of His burial and resurrection. (Mt. 12:39-40; 16:4) Then He simply declared many times to His disciples that He would be killed and that He would be raised from the dead on the third day. (Mt. 16:21; 17:95 20:17-19; 26:32; Jn. 2:19; 10:17,18) The Apostles, who were eye-witnesses, testify to the reality of the Resurrection. According to their own testimony, Christ appeared to them for forty days afterward. He spoke with them and explained the Scriptures to them. He revealed the mysteries of the Kingdom of God to them. He ate and drank with them and permitted them to touch Him. (Mt. 28; Mk. 16; Lk. 24; Jn. 20,21) Then again, the writings of the Fathers of the Church in every generation are full of detailed teachings concerning the literal, physical resurrection of Christ. Among them, the following may be consulted: St. Clement of Rome, To the Corinthians, 1, n.24; St. Ignatius, To the Smyrneans, n.1,2,3; St. Polycarp, To the Philippians, ix; St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1,10: St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, IV, n. 12; and especially St. John Chrysostom, in his 90th homily, On Matthew. The reality of the resurrection has been denied by many from the earliest days. Since it was the proof of the truth of all that Christ taught about Himself, the Jews who rejected His messiahship would certainly refuse to recognize it. They explained the empty tomb as a trick on the part of the Christians, claiming that Jesus' body had been stolen from the grave. (See Chrysostom's Homily 90, On Matthew; cf. Mt. 28:11-15)

Later in the Church's history, there were others who taught that the Saviour did not have a real body at all, but that He only appeared to have one, like a

-116phantom. These Docetists would explain His appearance to the disciples after the resurrection as that of a ghost. In our own times, the denial of the Resurrection is very widespread among "Christian" modernists. These usually disavow altogether the divinity of Christ, at least in the sense that it has always been accepted by the historic Church. Many of them claim, for example, that the idea of the physical resurrection was a distortion of the enthusiasm of the disciples. (They refer to that group of Christians as the "Easter community.") They simply "realized" that their Master had "transcended” death in His life and works, and in this sense only had "triumphed" over it. The recent English heretic, John A.T. Robinson, in his famous book Honest to God, sums up the contemporary secularist attitude toward the Lord's rising from the dead. He teaches that the physical resurrection was part of the mythologizing tendency of the early Christians. He would have contemporary Christians recover the enthusiasm of that first apostolic generation but not "the myth into which they had translated it." For him and others of his school, Pentecost was a sort of "group realization" of the transcendence of their Master's teachings, when all of a sudden it hit them. Yet it is quite simple to refute Robinson, and those like him, from the clear evidence in Scripture that the apostles were anything but enthusiastic following the Resurrection. They had returned to their nets, even after several resurrection appearances. (Jn. 21:4ff.) Nor can Pentecost be explained away as a group realization. Indeed the miraculous speaking with tongues was marvelled at by those who were not of the apostolic "group". (Acts 2:1-13) Had the Resurrection merely been the product of such a mythologizing tendency of early Christians, reason would lead one to believe that they would not have chosen to document such obvious counter-indications of their "myth".

-117—The Ascension—

Scripture contains abundant evidence of the final event in the earthly life of the Saviour, the Ascension. It was foretold in the Old Testament: "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men..." (Psalm 67/68:18). St. Paul specifically refers this prophecy to Christ's ascension, and explains the second part of the verse as an allusion to His descent into "the lower parts of the earth," to free those held in captivity. (Eph. 4:8-10) The Lord Himself told His disciples before the Passion that He would return to the Father, and that this return would prepare the way for their ascension. "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (Jn. 14:2,3) And further, He says: "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more..." (v. 19) "Now I go my way to Him that sent me..." (16:5) "I leave the world, and go to the Father." (16:28) Finally, in the high priestly prayer, He says to the Father: "I come to thee." (17:11,13) In two of the Gospels, Mark and Luke, and in the Books of Acts, there are narrations of the event itself. "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." (Mk. 16:19) "And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." (Lk.24:51) "And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight." (Acts1:9) In Matthew, while the ascension itself is not mentioned, it is clearly implied, both by the atmosphere of a last conversation and the promise to be with the disciples until the end of the world. (28:20) In John, while the Lord had made the same promise not to leave the disciples "comfortless" (lit. "orphans") (14:18), He only makes a reference to His coming again. Yet this indicates His leaving the world. (21:22) Holy

-118In Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost, we find this: "Being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand..." (Acts 2:33,34) Neither is there any lack of reference to the event and its significance in the Epistles. For example, in Ephesians, Paul, speaking of the power of God, says: "...the working of His mighty power, which wrought in Christ, when he raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places."


In Hebrews, the Apostle makes a point of the fact that it is as High Priest and Intercessor for us that Christ has entered into heaven. "After He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, [He] sat down on the right hand of God." (10:12) "[He is entered] into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us."

(9:24) The Fathers of the Church make many references to the Ascension, and testify to the Church's belief in every century in the literal departure in glory from the world, as recorded in Mark and Luke. For example, St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: '" But when Jesus had finished His course of patient endurance, and had redeemed mankind from their sins, He ascended again into the heavens, a cloud receiving Him up: and as He went up Angels were beside Him, and Apostles were beholding ... He has ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives on the East. For having gone down hence into Hades, and come up again to us, He ascended again from us into heaven, His Father addressing Him, and saying, Sit thou on My right hand, until I make thine enemies Thy footstool, Psalm 109 (/110): 1." (Catechetical Lectures, IV, 13,14) St. Gregory the Theologian makes a point of the fact that Christ was true man in His Ascension. (Oration xli, On Pentecost)

-119It would be worthwhile to quote from other Fathers. They, too, relate the event itself and its significance quite consistently. Yet, the liturgical texts and the scriptural lessons prescribed for the Feast

reveal per-

haps with greater clarity the place the Ascension has in the Church's understanding of the work of Christ. In the second Old Testament reading at Vespers, we find: "Behold the Lord hath made it to be heard in the ends of the earth, tell the daughter of Zion: Behold thy Saviour cometh: behold His reward is with Him, and His work before Him ... Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bosra ... I, that speak justice, and am a defender to save. Why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread in the winepress? ... in His love, and in His mercy He redeemed them [of the house of Israell; and He carried them, and lifted them up ..." (Is. 62:10-12; 63:1-3,7-9 [LXX])

Here we see prophesied the Saviour's return to the Father after having accomplished His work of redemption, the crucifixion with the shedding of His blood, and His preparing in the Ascension the entry of all into the Kingdom of heaven. Christ, the Son, who is eternally with the Father, enters into heaven taking His glorified human nature with Him. "The angels wonder as they see a man more exalted than they. The Father receiveth into His bosom Him who is eternally with Him..." ( First Sticheron on Lord, I have called, at Vespers) "From the Fatherly bosom thou wast inseparable, O sweet Jesus, and on earth thou didst behave like a man. Thou hast ascended in glory from the Mount of Olives; and by thy pity thou didst raise our fallen nature and seat it with the Father ... " (Glory... Now...on Lord, I have called, at Vespers) The Saviour ascended in glory from the Mount of Olives to fill all things with His glory and to send the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. "Thou didst ascend in glory from the Mount of Olives, O Christ God, at thy

-120disciples' side, and didst sit down at the right hand of the Father, O thou who dost fill all with thy Divinity, sending to them thy Holy Spirit, the Illuminator, Strengthener, and Sanctifier of our souls." ( Third Sticheron of the Aposticha, Vespers The human nature that the Lord took to heaven was glorified or deified, pointing to the deification of those who will be saved in Christ. "The eternal Word before all the ages, who took a human nature and deified it in a mystical way, today doth rise ascending..." (Second Kathisma, Matins) In the Ascension, our Lord Jesus Christ reconciled what had been separated by man's sin, our human bodies with the celestial. "...Having united things on earth with those in heaven, thou didst ascend..." (Kontakion of the Feast) "O Christ, thou didst take upon thy shoulders the nature that had gone astray and didst present it to God the Father..." (Troparion in the Seventh Ode, Matins) "Our nature, fallen of old, has been elevated above the angels, and it is seated upon the divine Throne, in a way that passeth all understanding. (Troparion in the Eighth Ode, Matins) The Ascension completes the work of the Son inaugurated by His incarnation: having taken upon Himself our fallen human nature, "[He] took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men...He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name." (Phil. 2:7-9) Thus, it is our nature that is taken with Christ in the Ascension. This is the glorification of Christ, who was humiliated at the time of the Passion, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (vss. And consequently, this is the glorification of 10,11) our own nature, which He came to lift up and save from corruption and death.


THE DWELLING PLACE OF GOD The resurrection of Christ was His triumphant entry into His glory, and in His Ascension, He was received up into glory. (I Tm. 3:16) He became thus the Lord of the living and the dead: "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living." (Rm. 14:9) As John records in the Revelation, "He laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: At His I am He that liveth, and was dead." (1:17b-18) "All had said: He power is departure from the earth, 28:18) (Mt. in earth." given unto me in heaven and The resurrection of Christ constitutes the proof of the acceptance of His sacrifice on the cross by the heavenly Father, and the guarantee of the completion of our redemption, because death was definitely defeated and the corruption that the human race suffered as a result of the fall of Adam was done away. Inthe resurrection we see the glory of the coming Kingdom of Christ. In it, the common resurrection of us all is made certain. "[He] was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." (Rm. 4:25) When the Head of the Body, that is, the Church, rose from the dead, He raised the whole Body, which is formed by all those who believe in Him. "Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ ... and hath raised us up together..." (Eph. 2:5,6a) "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." (I Cor. 12:27) —The Royal Ministry of Christ in His Church— In the Ascension, Christ made His mystical Body, the Church, ascend with Him and sit with Him in heaven. As we see from the last clause of verse six from Ephesians



cited above: "...[God has] made us sit together in heavenly

places in Christ Jesus." (2:6b) The heavenly glory of Christ is spoken of in Scripture as His sitting on the right hand of God. This expression "the right hand" is not a place, for there is no spatial limit to the divine. It refers to the glory that belongs to God and the exercise of His power. Again we are reminded of the Lord's words just before His ascension: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Christ, the God-Man, is vested with kingly power, and although not present in the sense that He was before His passion, death, and resurrection, He continues to be present, in accordance with His promise, and active in the world. He rules His Church as its Head (Col 1:18), and as eternal Priest, makes intercession for the faithful before the Father (Hb. 7:25).

It is in the Church that the King exercises His dominion. The Church, therefore, is the Kingdom of God on earth, for it consists of those who have been brought to the Son by the Father (Jn. 6:44), who have passed from "darkness and [have been] translated into the king~ dom of His dear Son." (Col. 1:13) St. Paul exhorts the Church at Thessalonica to walk "worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory." (I Thess. 2:12) Thus, Christ reigns in the world, but not yet over it. As He said: "My kingdom is not of this world ... but now is my kingdom not from hence." (Jn. 18:36) The "now" of the last part of this verse indicates that finally His kingdom will replace all other kingdoms and all other reigns. He will come in His glory and in His kingdom to take possession of the whole world. He "shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom." (II Tm. 4:1) This kingdom will have no end. (Lk. 1:33; II Pt. 1:11) For, He has promised to establish this everlasting kingdom and makes those who love Him heirs to it. (Jas. 2:5)

-123Christ reigns as King and Head of His Church, gathering His sheep that are scattered throughout the world. He awakens them by the grace of the Holy Spirit, uniting them to Himself and to each other. He gives them life and nourishes them. Christ has sent the Holy Spirit to teach His flock all things (Jn. 14:26) and to guide them into all truth (In. 16:13) The Lord feeds and nourishes them not only with His word but with His own body and blood. The eucharistic meal is the most obvious way in which He fulfills His promise to be with them always, even until the end of the world. (Mt. 28:20) Communion with the body and blood of Christ is precisely the way in which the faithful live and are united to Christ. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." (Jn. 6:53-56) The life of the Church flows from its Head, fills the whole Body, and is instilled in each one of its members. From Christ, the Head, "the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." (Eph. 4:16) Thus, St. Paul confirms the unity of all the members in Christ, the dependence of all on Him and their interdependence on each other. The Lord purchased or won the Church with His own blood (Acts 20:28); He loves it "...and gave Himself for it ... that He might present it to Himself a glorious church." His activity in the Church is to perfect it in each one of its members, that it may have neither "spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:25-27)

-124Likewise, the Lord protects His Church, so that His promise may be fulfilled: "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Mt. 16:18) The fulfillment of this promise can be literally verified by the history of the Church. It has been attacked by countless enemies, from within and from without, in every generation from the day of its founding until now. Yet it has remained intact. Its message, its mission, its teachings and its life are the same as

ever. Its glorious march through history constitutes the proof of its divine institution and its divine life, and, finally, of its protection by the one who is its Lord, God, and King.

—The Final Judgment and the Second Coming— "And when [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11) Thus, at His Ascension, Christ's return to the earth, His second coming, is already announced. The Lord Himself declared several times that He would come again: "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels..." (Mt. 16:27a) "When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory." (Mt. 25:31; cf. 26:64) The second coming will be unlike the first coming into the world, in that it will be a glorious coming of a king, but it is important that the Lord still refers to Himself in that day as the Son of Man. The purpose of His coming then as King will be to judge both the living and the dead. "And He shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead." (The Creed) "And then He shall reward every man

-125according tc His works." (Mt. 16:27b) "And before Him shall be gathered all nations ... then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom...and unto them on the left, hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire...and these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." (Mt. 25:32-46) St. Paul also says: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (II Cor. 5:10) After that judgment, when the condition of all those who have lived on earth will be definitively fixed, the work of the Redemption, which the Lord undertook and carried out through His triple ministry, as Prophet, Priest and King, will be finished. When the Lord shall come "on clouds of heaven, and all His holy angels with Him," it will not be to add anything -to the work of the Redemption. The point is the He that had gone away into a far country, the King, as in the parable, after having entrusted the administration of His goods to His servants, comes back and requires of them an accounting of their work. After that last kingly act of judgment, "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 all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For [God] hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith all things are put under His feet, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him. And 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." (I Cor. 15: 24-28)

Thus the royal or kingly ministry of Christ continues His glorification and after the Ascension. It is


-126being accomplished in history after the completion of the priestly ministry. "After He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, [He] sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting [waiting] till His enemies be made His footstool." (Hb. 10:12,13) There is still a certain course of history to be accomplished before all things are put under Him. "But now we see not yet all things put under Him. But we see Jesus...for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour." (Hb. 2:8c-9a) In the passage from First Corinthians cited on the previous page, there is no question of a "subordination" of the Son to the Father. The Son will have finished the work which the Father gave Him to do. This "delivering up" of His Kingdom is the logical, fitting final act on the part of the One who had been sent by the °


These words of St. Paul provide a summary of what is taking place historically and of what will take place in the end (eschatologically). First, the Kingdom of Christ is present in the Church in history. It is at war with the world, and its head, the God-Man Christ, will finally defeat all rule, authority and power. In short, He will defeat every enemy. The last of these enemies is death. And Christ must reign until He destroys death. Then will He present His Kingdom, which will consist of all those of His servants who will have been judged worthy. Then the Kingdom of Christ will be identical with the Kingdom of Heaven (or of God), when the barrier between God and the fallen, antagonistic world will have been broken

down by Christ. Then "God will be all and in all."

EPILOGUE: This has been a modest summary of the most precious knowledge that is given to men: the doctrine of Christ. Although this exposition can in no way be compared to the inspired classic of St. Athanasius, from whom we have borrowed extensively, we shall be bold enough to use the last two sections of The Incarnation of the Word of God as an epilogue. Yet more than an epilogue, may this quotation serve as an exhortation to all who would know the doctrine of Christ wherein we have


§ 56. Search then, the Scriptures, if you can, and so fill up this sketch. Learn to look for the Second Coming and the Judgment.

Let this, then, Christ-loving man, be our offering to you, just for a rudimentary sketch and outline, in a short compass, of the faith of Christ and of His Divine appearing to usward. But you, taking occasion by this, if you light upon the text of the Scriptures, by genuinely applying your mind to them, will learn from them more completely and clearly the exact detail of what

we have said. 2. For they were spoken and written by God, through men who spoke of God. But we impart of what we have learned from inspired teachers who have been conversant with them, who have also become martyrs for the deity of Christ, to your zeal for learning, in turn. 3. And you will also learn about His second and glorious and truly divine appearing to us, when no longer in lowliness, but in His own glory, —no longer in humble guise, but in His own magnificence,—He is to come, no more to suffer, but thenceforth to render to all the fruit of His own Cross, that is, the resurrection and incorruption; and no longer to be judged, but to judge all, by


-128what each has done in the body, whether good or evil; where there is laid up for the good the kingdom of heaven, but for them that have done evil everlasting fire and outer darkness. 4. For thus the Lord Himself also says: " Henceforth ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven in the glory of the Father." (Mt. 26:64) 5. And for this very reason there is also a word of the Saviour to prepare us for that day, in these words: "Be ye ready and watch, for He cometh at an hour ye know not." (Mt. 24:42; Mk. 13:35) For, according to the blessed Paul: "We must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive according as he hath done in the body, whether it be good or bad." (II Cor. 5:10; Rm. 14:10)

Above all, so live that you may have the right to eat of this tree of knowledge and life, and so come to eternal joys. ..

§ 57.

But for the searching of the Scriptures and true knowledge of them, an honourable life is needed, and a pure soul, and that which is according to Christ: so that the intellect guiding its path by it, may be able to attain what it desires, and to comprehend it, in so far as it is accessible to human nature to learn concerning the Word of God. 2. For without a pure mind and a modelling of the life after the saints, a man could not possibly comprehend the words of the saints. 3. For just as, if a man wished to see the light of the sun, he would at any rate wipe and brighten his eye, purifying himself in some sort like what he desires, so that the eye, thus becoming light, may see the light of the sun; or as, if a man would see a city or country, he at any rate come to the place to see it;—thus he that would comprehend the mind of those who speak of

-129God must needs begin by washing and cleansing his soul, by his manner of living, and approach the saints themselves by imitating their works; so that, associated with them in the conduct of a common life, he may understand also what has been revealed to them by God, and thenceforth, as closely knit to them, may escape the peril of the sinners and their fire at the day of judgment, and receive what is laid up for the saints in the kingdom of heaven, which "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man," (I Cor. 2:9) whatsoever things are prepared for them that live a virtuous life, and love the God and Father, in Christ Jesus our Lord: through Whom and with Whom be to

the Father Himself, with the Son Himself, in the Holy Spirit, honour and might and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

INicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol. IV, St. Athanasius, "Select Works

and Letters," pp. 66-67



Layman’s Handbook

About the Author Archbishop Dmitri (November 2, 1923 August 28, 2011) was a hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America. He served as archbishop of the church's Diocese of the South from 1978 to 2009 and was the ruling bishop of the Mexican Exarchate from 1972 to 2008. The territory of the diocese covered fourteen states in the United States





Georgia, Mississippi, New

Kentucky, Louisiana, Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South

Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. In Orthodox Christian circles he is sometimes called the Apostle to the South.