Fathers of the Church
Catechetical Lecture X
by Cyril of Jerusalem in 350 | translated by Mr. Church, Revised By Edward Hamilton Gifford
ON THE CLAUSE, AND IN ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, WITH A READING FROM THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS.
For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth; yet to us there is One God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and One Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him.
I. THEY who have been taught to believe Me, Thou art My Son. Heed not therefore 'IN ONE GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY," ought what the Jews say, but what the Prophets say. also to believe in His Only-begotten Son. For he that denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. I am the Door, saith Jesus; no one cometh unto the Father but through Me. For if thou deny the Door, the knowledge concerning the Father is shut off from thee. No man knoweth the father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son shall reveal Him. For if thou deny Him who reveals, thou remainest in ignorance. There is a sentence in the Gospels, saying, He that believeth not on the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him For the Father hath indignation when the Only-begotten Son is set at nought. For it is grievous to a king that merely his soldier should be dishonoured; and when one of his nobler officers or friends is dishonoured, then his anger is greatly increased: but if any should do despite to the king's only-begotten son himself, who shall appease the father's indignation on behalf of his only-begotten son?
2. If, therefore, any one wishes to shew piety towards God, let him worship the Son, since otherwise the Father accepts not his service. The Father spoke with a loud voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. The Father was well pleased; unless thou also be well pleased in Him, thou hast not life. Be not thou carried away with the Jews when they craftily say, There is one God alone; but with the knowledge that God is One, know that there is also an Only-begotten Son of God. I am not the first to say this, but the Psalmist in the person of the Son saith, The Lord said unto Dost thou wonder that they who stoned and slew the Prophets, set at naught the Prophets' words?
3. Believe thou IN ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD. For we say "One Lord Jesus Christ," that His Son-ship may be "Only- begotten:" we say "One," that thou mayest not suppose another: we say "One," that thou mayest not profanely diffuse the many names of His action among many sons. For He is called a Door; but take not the name literally for a thing of wood, but a spiritual, a living Door, discriminating those who enter in. He is called a Way, not one trodden by feet, but leading to the Father in heaven; He is called a Sheep, not an irrational one, but the one which through its precious blood cleanses the world from its sins, which is led before the shearers, and knows when to be silent. This Sheep again is called a Shepherd, who says, I am the Good Shepherd: a Sheep because of His manhood, a Shepherd because of the loving-kindness of His Godhead. And wouldst thou know that there are rational sheep? the Saviour says to the Apostles, Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Again, He is called a Lion, not as a devourer of men, but indicating as it were by the title His kingly, and stedfast, and confident nature: a Lion He is also called in opposition to the lion our adversary, who roars and devours those who have been deceived. For the Saviour came, not as having changed the gentleness of His own nature, but as the strong Lion of the tribe of Judah, saving them that believe, but treading down the adversary. He is called a Stone, not a lifeless stone, cut out by men's hands, but a chief corner-stone, on whom whosoever believeth shall not be put to shame.
4. He is called CHRIST, not as having been anointed by men's hands, but eternally anointed by the Father to His High-Priesthood: on behalf of men. He is collect Dead, not as having abode among the dead, as all in Hades, but as being alone free among the dead. He is called Son of Man, not as having had His generation from earth, as each of us, but as coming upon the clouds TO JUDGE BOTH QUICK AND DEAD. He is called LORD, not improperly as those who are so called among men, but as having a natural and eternal Lordship. He is called JESUS by a fitting name, as having the appellation from His salutary healing. He is called Son, not as advanced by adoption, but as naturally begotten. And many are the titles of our Saviour; lest, therefore, His manifold appellations should make thee think of many sons, and because of the errors of the heretics, who say that Christ is one, and Jesus another, and the Door another, and so on, the Faith secures thee beforehand, saying well, IN ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST: for though the titles are many, yet their subject is one.
5. But the Saviour comes in various forms to each man for his profit. For to those who have need of gladness He becomes a Vine; and to those who want to enter in He stands as a Door; and to those who need to offer up their prayers He stands a mediating High Priest. Again, to those who have sins He becomes a Sheep, that He may be sacrificed for them. He is made all things to all men, remaining in His own nature what He is. For so remaining, and holding the dignity of His Sonship in reality unchangeable, He adapts Himself to our infirmities, just as some excellent physician or compassionate teacher; though He is Very Lord, and received not the Lordship by advancement, but has the dignity of His Lordship from nature, and is not called Lord improperly, as we are, but is so in verity, since by the Father's bidding He is Lord of His own works. For our lordship is over men of equal rights and like passions, nay often over our elders, and often a young master rules over aged servants. But in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ the Lordship is not so: but He is first Maker, then Lord: first He made all things by the Father's will, then, He is Lord of the things which were made by Him.
6. Christ the Lord is He who was barn in the city of David. And wouldest thou know that Christ is Lord with the Father even before His Incarnation, that thou mayest not only accept the statement by faith, but mayest also receive proof from the Old Testament? Go to the first book, Genesis: God saith, Let us make man, not 'in My image,' but, in Our image. And after Adam was made, the sacred writer says, And God created man; in the image of God created He him. For he did not limit the dignity of the Godhead to the Father alone, but included the Son also: that it might be shewn that man is not only the work of God, but also of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is Himself also Very God. This Lord, who works together with the Father, wrought with Him also in the case of Sodom, according to the Scripture: And the Lord rained upon Sadam and Gomorrah fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven. This Lord is He who afterwards was seen of Moses, as much as he was able to see. For the Lord is loving unto man, ever condescending to our infirmities.
7. Moreover, that you may be sure that this is He who was seen of Moses, hear Paul's testimony, when he says, For they all drank of a spiritual rock that followed them; and the rock was Christ. And again: By faith Moses forsook Egypt, and shortly after he says, accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. This Moses says to Him, Shew me Thyself. Thou seest that the Prophets also in those times saw the Christ, that is, as far as each was able. Shew me Thyself, that I may see Thee with understanding. But He saith, There shall no man see My face, and live. For this reason then, because no man could see the face of the Godhead and live, He took on Him the face of human nature, that we might see this and live. And yet when He wished to shew even that with a little majesty, when His face did shine as the sun, the disciples fell down affrighted. If then His bodily countenance, shining not in the full power of Him that wrought, but according to the capacity of the Disciples, affrighted them, so that even thus they could not bear it, how could any man gaze upon the majesty of the Godhead? 'A great thing,' saith the Lord, 'thou desirest, O Moses: and I approve thine insatiable desire, and I will do this things for thee, but according as thou art able. Behold, I will put thee in the clift of the rock: for as being little, thou shall lodge in a little space.'
8. Now here I wish you to make safe what I am going to say, because of the Jews. For our object is to prove that the Lord Jesus Christ was with the Father. The LORD then says to Moses, I will pass by before thee with My glory, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee. Being Himself the LORD, what LORD doth He proclaim? Thou seest how He was covertly teaching the godly doctrine of the Father and the Son. And again, in what follows it is written word for word: And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, both keeping righteousness and shewing mercy unto thousands, taking away iniquities, and transgressions, and sins. Then in what follows, Moses bowed his head and worshipped before the Lord who proclaimed the Father, and said: Go Thou then, O Lord, in the midst of us.
9. This is the first proof: receive now a second plain one. The LORD said unto my Lord, sit Thou on My right hand. The LORD says this to the Lord, not to a servant, but to the Lord of all, and His own Son, to whom He put all things in subjection. But when He saith that all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him, and what follows; that God may be all in all. The Only- begotten Son is Lord of all, but the obedient Son of the Father, for He grasped not the Lordship, but received it by nature of the Father's own will. For neither did the Son grasp it, nor the Father grudge to impart it. He it is who saith, AlI things are delivered unto Me of My Father; "delivered unto Me, not as though I had them not before; and I keep them well, not robbing Him who hath given them."
10. The Son of God then is Lord: He is Lord, who was born in Bethlehem of Judaea, according to the Angel who said to the shepherds, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that unto you is barn this day in the city of David Christ the Lord: of whom an Apostle says elsewhere, The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching the gospel of peace by Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all. But when he says, of all, do thou except nothing from His Lordship: for whether Angels, or Archangels, or principalities, or powers, or any created thing named by the Apostles, all are under the Lordship of the Son. Of Angels He is Lord, as thou hast it in the Gospels, Then the Devil departed from Him, and the Angels came and ministered unto Him; for the Scripture saith not, they succoured Him, but they ministered unto Him, that is, like servants. When He was about to be born of a Virgin, Gabriel was then His servant, having received His service as a peculiar dignity. When He was about to go into Egypt, that He might overthrow the gods of Egypt made with hands, again an Angel appeareth to Joseph in a dream. After He had been crucified, and had risen again, an Angel brought the good tidings, and as a trustworthy servant said to the women, Go, tell His disciples that He is risen, and goeth before you into Galilee; lo, I have told you: almost as if he had said, "I have not neglected my command, I protest that I have told you; that if ye disregard it, the blame may not be on me, but on those who disregard it." This then is the One Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the lesson just now read speaks: For though there be many that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, and so on, yet to us there is One God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and One Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him.
11. And He is called by two names, Jesus Christ; Jesus, because He saves,—Christ, because He is a Priest. And knowing this the inspired Prophet Moses conferred these two titles on two men distinguished above all: his own successor in the government, Auses, he renamed Jesus; and his own brother Aaron he surnamed Christ, that by two well-approved men he might represent at once both the High Priesthood, and the Kingship of the One Jesus Christ who was to come. For Christ is a High Priest like Aaron; since He glorified not Himself to be made a High Priest, but He that spake unto Him, Than art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. And Jesus the son of Nave was in many things a type of Him. For when he began to rule over the people, he began from Jordan, whence Christ also, after He was baptized, began to preach the gospel. And the son of Nave appoints twelve to divide the inheritance'; and twelve Apostles Jesus sends forth, as heralds of the truth, into all the world. The typical Jesus saved Rahab the harlot when she believed: and the true Jesus
says, Behold, the publicans and the harlots go before you into the kingdom of God. With only a shout the walls of Jericho fell down in the time of the type: and because Jesus said, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, the Temple of the Jews opposite to us is fallen, the cause of its fall not being the denunciation but the sin of the transgressors.
12. There is One Lord Jesus Christ, a wondrous name, indirectly announced beforehand by the Prophets. For Esaias the Prophet says, Behold, thy Saviour cometh, having His own reward. Now Jesus in Hebrew is by interpretation Saviour. For the Prophetic gift, foreseeing the murderous spirit of the Jews against their Lord, veiled His name, lest from knowing it plainly beforehand they might plot against Him readily. But He was openly called Jesus not by men, but by an Angel, who came not by his own authority, but was sent by the power of God, and said to Joseph, 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. And immediately he renders the reason of this name, saying, for He shall save His people from their sins. Consider how He who was not yet born could have a people, unless He was in being before He was born. This also the Prophet says in His person, From the bowels of my mother hath He made mention of My name; because the Angel foretold that He should be called Jesus. And again concerning Herod's plot again he says, And under the shadow of His hand hath He hid Me.
13. Jesus then means according to the Hebrew "Saviour," but in the Greek tongue "The Healer;" since He is physician of souls and bodies, curer of spirits, curing the blind in body, and leading minds into light, healing the visibly lame, and guiding sinners' steps to repentance, saying to the palsied, Sin no more, and, Take up thy bed and walk. For since the body was palsied for the sin of the soul, He ministered first to the soul that He might extend the healing to the body. If, therefore, any one is suffering in soul from sins, there is the Physician for him: and if any one here is of little faith, let him say to Him, Help Thou mine unbelief. If any is encompassed also with bodily ailments, let him not be faithless, but let him draw nigh; for to such diseases also Jesus ministers, and let him learn that Jesus is the Christ.
14. For that He is Jesus the Jews allow, but not further that He is Christ. Therefore saith the Apostle, Who is the liar, but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? But Christ is a High Priest, whose priesthood passes not to another, neither having begun His Priesthood in time, nor having any successor in His High-Priesthood: as thou heardest on the Lord's day, when we were discoursing in the congregation on the phrase, After the Order of Melchizedek. He received not the High-Priesthood from bodily succession, nor was He anointed with oil prepared by man, but before all ages by the Father; and He so far excels the others as with an oath He is made Priest: For they are priests without an oath, but He with an oath by Him that said, The Lord sware, and will not repent. The mere purpose of the Father was sufficient for surety: but the mode of assurance is twofold, namely that with the purpose there follows the oath also, that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong encouragement for our faith, who receive Christ Jesus as the Son of God.
15. This Christ, when He was come, the Jews denied, but the devils confessed. But His forefather David was not ignorant of Him, when he said, I have ordained a lamp for mine Anointed: which lamp some have interpreted to be the brightness of Prophecy, others the flesh which He took upon Him from the Virgin, according to the Apostle's word, But we have this treasure in earthen vessels. The Prophet was not ignorant of Him, when He said, and announceth unto men His Christ. Moses also knew Him, Isaiah knew Him, and Jeremiah; not one of the Prophets was ignorant of Him. Even devils recognised Him, for He rebuked them, and the Scripture says, because they knew that He was Christ. The Chief-priests knew Him not, and the devils confessed Him: the Chief Priests knew Him not, and a woman of Samaria proclaimed Him, saying, Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?
16. This is Jesus Christ who came a High-Priest of the good things to come; who for the bountifulness of His Godhead imparted His own title to us all. For kings among men have their royal style which others may not share: but Jesus Christ being the Son of God gave us the dignity of being called Christians. But some one will say, The name of "Christians" is new, and was not in use aforetime: and new-fashioned phrases are often objected to on the score of strangeness. The prophet made this point safe beforehand, saying, But upon My servants shall a new name be called, which shall be blessed upon the earth. Let us question the Jews: Are ye servants of the Lord, or not? Shew then your new name. For ye were called Jews and Israelites in the time of Moses, and the other prophets, and after the return from Babylon, and up to the present time: where then is your new name? But we, since we are servants of the Lord, have that new name: new indeed, but the new name, which shall be blessed upon the earth. This name caught the world in its grasp: for Jews are only in a certain region, but Christians reach to the ends of the world: for it is the name of the Only- begotten Son of God that is proclaimed.
17. But wouldest thou know that the Apostles knew and preached the name of Christ, or rather had Christ Himself within them? Paul says to his hearers, Or seek ye a proof of Christ that speaketh in me? Paul proclaims Christ, saying, For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. Who then is this? The former persecutor. O mighty wonder! The former persecutor him self preaches Christ. But wherefore? Was he bribed? Nay there was none to use this mode of persuasion. But was it that he saw Him present on earth, and was abashed? He had already been taken up into heaven. He went forth to persecute, and after three days the persecutor is a preacher in Damascus. By what power? Others call friends as witnesses for friends but I have presented to you as a witness the former enemy: and dost thou still doubt? The testimony of Peter and John, though weighty, was yet of a kind open to suspicion: for they were His friends. But of one who was formerly his enemy, and afterwards dies for His sake, who can any longer doubt the truth?
18. At this point of my discourse I am truly filled with wonder at the wise dispensation of the Holy Spirit; how He confined the Epistles of the rest to a small number, but to Paul the former persecutor gave the privilege of writing fourteen. For it was not because Peter or John was less that He restrained the gift; God forbid! But in order that the doctrine might be beyond question, He granted to the former enemy and persecutor the privilege of writing more, in order that we all might thus be made believers. For all were amazed at Paul, and said, Is not this he that was formerly a persecutor? Did he not come hither, that he might lead us away bound to Jerusalem? Be not amazed, said Paul, I know that it is hard for me to kick against the pricks: I know that I am not worthy to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God; but I did it in ignorance: for I thought that the preaching of Christ was destruction of the Law, and knew not that He came Himself to fulfil the Law and not to destroy it. But the grace of God was exceeding abundant in me.
19. Many, my beloved, are the true testimonies concerning Christ. The Father bears witness from heaven of His Son: the Holy Ghost bears witness, descending bodily in likeness of a dove: the Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing good tidings to Mary: the Virgin Mother of God bears witness: the blessed place of the manger bears witness. Egypt bears witness, which received the Lord while yet young in the body: Symeon bears witness, who received Him in his arms, and said, Now, Lord, latest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people. Anna also, the prophetess, a most devout widow, of austere life, bears witness of Him. John the Baptist bears witness, the greatest among the Prophets, and leader of the New Covenant, who in a manner united both Covenants in Himself, the Old and the New. Jordan is His witness among rivers; the sea of Tiberias among seas: blind and lame bear witness, and dead men raised to life, and devils saying, What have we to do with Thee, Jesus? we know Thee, who Thou art, the Holy One of God. Winds bear witness, silenced at His bidding: five loaves multiplied into five thousand bear Him witness. The holy wood of the Cross bears witness, seen among us to this day, and from this place now almost filling the whole world, by means of those who in faith take portions from it. The palm-tree on the ravine bears witness, having supplied the palm-branches to the children who then hailed Him. Gethsemane bears witness, still to the thoughtful almost shewing Judas. Golgotha, the holy hill standing above us here, bears witness to our sight: the Holy Sepulchre bears witness, and the stone which lies there to this day. The sun now shining is His witness, which then at the time of His saving Passion was eclipsed: the darkness is His witness, which was then from the sixth hour to the ninth: the light bears witness, which shone forth from the ninth hour until evening. The Mount of Olives bears witness, that holy mount from which He ascended to the Father: the rain-bearing clouds are His witnesses, having received their Lord: yea, and the gates of heaven bear witness [having received their Lord], concerning which the Psalmist said, Lift up your doors, O ye Princes, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors; and the King Glory shall come in. His former enemies bear witness, of whom the blessed Paul is one, having been a little while His enemy, but for a long time His servant: the Twelve Apostles are His witnesses, having preached the truth not only in words, but also by their own torments and deaths: the shadow of Peter bears witness, having healed the sick in the name of Christ. The handkerchiefs and aprons bear witness, as in like manner by Christ's power they wrought cures of old through Paul Persians and Goths, and all the Gentile converts bear witness, by dying for His sake, whom they never saw with eyes of flesh: the devils, who to this day are driven out by the faithful, bear witness to Him.
20. So many and diverse, yea and more than these, are His witnesses: is then the Christ thus witnessed any longer disbelieved? Nay rather if there is any one who formerly believed not, let him now believe: and if any was before a believer, let him receive a greater increase of faith, by believing in our Lord Jesus Christ, and let him understand whose name he hears. Thou art called a Christian: be tender of the name; let not our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, be blasphemed through thee: but rather let your good works shine fare men that they who see them may in Christ Jesus our Lord glorify the Father which is in heaven: To whom be the glory, both now and for ever and ever. Amen.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF II/VII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.