Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, LFC 43, 48 (1874/1885). Book 7. Vol. 2 pp. 92-137.
[Translated by T. Randell]
[OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS
Archbishop of Alexandria
THE FRAGMENTS WHICH ARE EXTANT OF
ch. x. 18. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.
In this place He teaches that He is not only a Good Shepherd enduring peril for the sake of His flock, but also in His Nature God. Therefore He would not have suffered death, had He not been willing, through His possessing the very God-befitting power of undertaking this work, so very advantageous to us. And the structure of the discourse taught the Jews this also, that they were never going to prevail against Him unless He was willing. And not only as regards laying down life did He say: I have power; but this expression: I have power, He used with regard to both His Death and His Resurrection, in order that the action of might and energy might not appear to be that of another, as though it were a concession granted to Him as to a minister and servant in office; but in order that He might display as a fruit of His own Nature the power to exercise authority over the very bonds of death, and easily to modify the natures of things in whatever way He wished, which is really a characteristic of Him Who is by Nature God. This then He wishes to show by saying: I have power to lay down |93 My life, and I have power to take it again: because, neither commanded as a servant or a minister, nor even as it were from necessity, nor being violently compelled by any, but willingly, He came to do this.
This commandment received I from My Father.
For lest any one should say that against the will of the Son the Father is not able to take away His life, and hence introduce discord and variance into the One Godhead of the Father and the Son; by these words which He says: I received commandment, He shows that the Father also agrees and consents to this, and professes that They come forward to it as with one accord, although He is the Will of the Father. And this will be found consistent also with His Incarnation. By saying that He received in the way of a commandment that which seemed right in the eyes of His Father, He being by Nature God does not make Himself inferior to the Father, but observes what befits His participation of man's nature. Again, He puts us in mind that He is Himself the Prophet concerning Whom the Father said: He shall speak according as I shall command Him; speaking of the common Will of both Father and Son as received like a commandment. This He spake to the Jews lest they should think that He said things contrary to the ordinances of the Father. And if the Father named His own Consubstantial Son a Prophet, be not troubled; for when He became Man, then also the name of Prophet was suitable to Him, then also we may say that commandments were given to Him by the Father agreeably to His human nature. But one who receives commandments is not for that reason inferior or unlike in essence or nature to one who gives commandments, inasmuch as men give commandments to men, and angels to angels, and we do not for that reason say that those who are commanded are of different nature or inferior. Therefore the Son is not inferior to the Father, although He became Man, in order that He might become a Pattern of all virtue for us. By this means He also |94 teaches us that we ought to obey our parents in all things, although we are equal to them as regards our nature. And in some places when it is said by the Father: "I will command," the meaning is: "I will deal fitly with," as when He said: And I will command the whole world for their evil deeds, and the ungodly for their sins. Moreover there are times when the Son speaks with helpful condescension, so that we may as far as is possible get an understanding of the ineffable oracles: yet His having said: I received a commandment, does not make One Who is in His Nature God cease to be God. Either therefore say He is God and ascribe to Him all that properly befits the Godhead, or say plainly He is a creature. For the fact of having received a commandment does not strip any one of the qualities which naturally belong to him. But since the Son speaks whatever the Father commands Him, and He says: I and the Father are One, thou art obliged to say, either that the Father commanded the Son to tell the truth, or to tell a lie. For what the Son hath received commandment to speak, He speaketh; for He saith: The Father which sent Me, He hath given Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And although He also said: My Father is greater than I, that is nothing to the contrary. For in so far as He is in His Nature God, He is equal to the Father; but in so far as He became Man and humbled Himself, He in accordance with this speaks words which befit His Humanity. Nevertheless, as the name of commandment is something external to the essence of a person, it could not be made an objection to His Essence. For it is not in the Father's giving Him commandment that the Son has His Being, nor could this ever be made the limit of His Essence. The Son, therefore, as being the Counsel and Wisdom of the Father, knows what is fittingly determined by Him; and if He receives it as a commandment, do not marvel. For by human modes of expression He signifies things beyond expression, and things unspeakable by our voices are brought down to the mode of expression usual amongst |95 us, so that we may be enabled to understand them. Accordingly let us blame, not the inconsistency of the matter, but the weakness of the words, which cannot reach to the full expression and accurate interpretation of the matters, as they ought.
19, 20, 21 There arose a division again among the Jews because of those words. And many of them said, He hath a devil and is mad: why hear ye Him? Others said, These are not the sayings of one possessed with a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?
The words of the Saviour go down into the hearts of His hearers, and those whom they find gentle and yielding they immediately mould and transform to a good condition, but those whom they find hard they recoil from or in some manner turn away from. So that he who has his mind somewhat prepared for fair reason will gladly receive the saving words, but he who is not so will not. Something of this sort was what happened to the people of the Jews to experience. For when they had heard the Saviour's words, they are divided into two parties, and those who are more amenable to reason now incline towards the first principle of salvation, but the hard of heart become worse than they were at first. And the inspired Evangelist seems to be struck with astonishment as to how it happened that the people of the Jews were divided on account of these words. For I think it is very evident that from surprise at the hardness of those who did not believe he says: There arose a division because of these words; by means of which, he seems to imply, the Jews ought to have been fully persuaded that Jesus was the Christ. So wonderful were the words of the Saviour. But when even these words were spoken, by which it was fair to expect that even the very hard to catch would be ensnared into conviction, there arose a division among them. He marvels much therefore that they had given themselves over in an unholy manner to a shameless disregard of evidence. For I suppose it was just to accuse them in |96 proportion as it was reasonable to marvel at the words of Our Saviour. He certainly spake God-befitting words and such as went beyond man; and the magnificence and God-befitting boldness of His superhuman words drive the multitude to intemperate folly. And since it was usual for those who were in truth possessed with devils to speak evil very readily, being of course easily provoked to rage and outside the pale of all intelligence, and since they thought that the Lord was a mere man, not understanding that He was in His Nature God; for these reasons they said He had a devil, as one who blasphemed so intemperately. Because they heard Him say such things as it befitted only God to say. Looking upon Him as one like ourselves, and not yet knowing Who He was by Nature, they considered Him to speak evil when He spake in any way that befitted God. Therefore, agreeably to His Incarnation and condescendingly, because of the infirmity of His hearers, He also often employs our manner of speech. The people of the Jews therefore are divided: and some, understanding nothing whatever of the mysteries concerning Him, are insolent in an unholy manner; but others, who are more reasonable in their habit of mind, do not condemn Him rashly, but ruminate on His words, and carefully test them, and begin to perceive the sweetness in them. And in this way they arrive at a most praiseworthy discernment, and do not attribute to the babblings of a demoniac words so sober and full of the highest wisdom. For it is the custom of those [demons] when they are driving men mad, to speak beside the mark. The Pharisees therefore were more like demoniacs, who called by this name One Who was free of all disease; and did not notice that they were proclaiming the disease which was in themselves, and were doing no other than explaining in their folly the very evil that possessed themselves. And for my part I think that they speak with the highest degree of evil craftiness, when they say the Lord is demoniac. For since He charged them with being wretched and hireling shepherds, who abandoned their sheep to the |97 wolf, and cared altogether so little for their flock; being in no small alarm lest perhaps the people, understanding what was said, should now refuse any longer to be shepherded by them, and follow the instruction given by Christ; on this account, trying to cheat the understanding of the common people, they say: He hath a devil; why hear ye Him? But these words too, the words of those men who spake with evil craft, had the opposite result to that which they intended. And the others, judging from the quality of the words, discern that the words of the Lord are without blame, not such as would be those of one possessed with a devil: moreover, the miracles, says one, offer an irresistible testimony. For although you find fault with His words as not blamelessly spoken, yet it is impossible that any one can at the same time be possessed with a devil and do such works as only God is able to do. Therefore, fair judges recognised Him from His works and also from admiration of the words which He spake.
22, 23 And it was the feast of the dedication at Jerusalem, and it was winter; and Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon's porch.
But the Lord was not present at the feasts as one Who would share the feasting, for how could He? He Who said: I hate, I reject your feast days: but in order that He might speak His most profitable words in the presence of many people, showing Himself openly to the Jews, and to mingle Himself with them without being sought. And we must suppose that the feast of the dedication here signifies, either the chief feast [called by this name], in memory of that when Solomon performed the dedication; or [the other], when Zorobabel at a later time, together with Jeshua, rebuilt the temple, after the return from Babylon. And as it was winter and rainy weather at this time, probably all the people flocked to the porch. Therefore Christ also went there, in order that He might make Himself known to all who were willing to see Him, |98 and distribute blessings to them. For those who saw Him were provoked to ask somewhat of Him, because at holidays more than at other times men are naturally given to stir up anxiously such arguments.
24 The Jews therefore came round about Him, and said unto Him, How long dost Thou hold us in suspense? If Thou art the Christ, tell us plainly.
The envy which embitters them takes away all keenness to perceive what might lead to faith, but the greatness of the works He performed forces them to admiration. Nevertheless they find fault with His words, and say that the obscurity of His teaching stood in the way of their being able to understand what they ought to learn. They accordingly request Him to speak more clearly, although they had often heard Him and had received a long instruction on this point. For though He did not say distinctly: "I am the Christ," yet He brought forward in His public teaching many statements of the honourable names which naturally belonged to Him, at one time saying: I am the Light of the world; and again at other times: I am the Resurrection and the Life; I am the Way; I am the Door; I am the Good Shepherd. Surely by these names which He gives Himself, He signifies that He is the Christ. For the Scripture is wont by such honourable names to decorate the Christ, although the Jews required Him to call Himself plainly by that title. Yet it would perhaps have been in vain and not very easy of acceptance to say in simple words: "I am the Christ," unless actions followed for proof, by which it might have been reasonably believed that He was the Christ. And it is beyond comparison better that He should be recognised as the Christ, not from the words which He said, but from the attributes which naturally belong to Him, and from which the Divine Scriptures concerning Him foretell and declare that He would be manifestly known. Which things the Jews in their littleness of soul not understanding, they say: How |99 long dost Thou hold us in suspense? For it is usual for those who are contemptuous to speak thus.
25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believe not: the works that I do in My Fathers name, these bear witness of Me.
Even Christ therefore considered it superfluous to say the same things over again to those who had often heard them and had not been persuaded by them. For every one's nature ought to be estimated from the quality of his works, and we ought by no means to look [solely] at his words. And He says of Himself that He accomplishes His works in His Father's Name, not enjoying the use of power from above in the manner of an ordinary saint, nor accusing Himself of want of power, being God of God, Consubstantial with the Father, the Power of the Father; but as ascribing to the Divine Glory the Power of His performances, He says that He does His works in His Father's Name. Yet He also gives the honour to the Father, lest He might give the Jews a pretext for attacking Him. Moreover He also thought it fitting not to overpass the limit of the form of a servant, although He was God and Lord. And by saying that in His Father's Name He did His works, He teaches that the Jews blasphemed when they said that He cast out devils by Beelzebub. And since the Father does the marvellous deeds, not because He is a Father, but because He is in His Nature God; so the Son also, not because He is a Son, but as God of God, is able Himself to do the works of the Father: wherefore suitably to His Nature He said He did His works in His Father's Name.
26, 27, 28 But ye believe Me not, because ye are not of My sheep. But as I said unto you, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
A willing readiness to obey characterises the sheep of Christ, as disobedience marks those that are not His. For thus we understand the word "hear," as equivalent to |100 "obey," namely, the words that are spoken: and they who thus hear God are known by Him, and "known" signifies "brought into friendly relationship:" for no one is altogether unknown by God. When therefore He saith: I know Mine, He saith this: "I will receive them and bring them into friendly relationship both mystically and firmly. And any one might say that, inasmuch as He has become Man, He brought all men into friendly relationship by being of the same race; so that we are all united to Christ in a mystical relationship, inasmuch as He has become Man: but they are alienated from Him, who do not preserve the correspondent image of His holiness. For in this way also the Jews, who are united in a family relationship with Abraham the faithful, because they were unbelieving, were deprived of that kinship with him on account of the dissimilarity of character. And He saith: And My sheep follow Me; for they who are obedient and follow, by a certain God-given grace, in the footsteps of Christ, no longer serving the shadows of the Law, but the commandments of Christ, and giving heed to His words, through grace shall rise to His honourable Name, and be called sons of God. For when Christ ascends into the heavens, they also shall follow Him. And He says that He gives to those that follow Him as a recompense and reward, eternal life and exemption from death, or corruption, and from the torments that will be brought upon the transgressors by the Judge. And by the fact of His giving life, He shews that He is in His Nature Life, and that He furnishes this from Himself and not as receiving it from another. And we understand by eternal life, not [only] the length of days which all, both good and bad, are going to enjoy after the resurrection, but also the spending it in bliss.
It is possible also to understand by "life" the mystical blessing by which Christ implants in us His own life through the participation of His own Flesh by the faithful, according to that which is written: He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood hath eternal life. |101
29, 30 And no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Which hath given them unto Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are One.
The faithful also have the succour of Christ, the devil not being able to snatch them; and they who have an endless enjoyment of good things, remain in it, no one henceforth snatching them away from the bliss that is given to them into punishment or torments. For it is not possible that they who are in Christ's hand should be snatched away to be punished, because of Christ's great might; for "the hand," in the Divine Scripture, signifies "the power:" it cannot be doubted therefore that the hand of Christ is unconquerable and mighty to all things. But when He saw the Jews mocking at Him as being a mere man, not understanding that He Who to sight and touch was Man was in His Nature God, to persuade them that He is the power of the Father, He saith: No one shall snatch them from My Father's hand, that is, from Mine. For He says that Himself is the all-powerful Right Hand of the Father, forasmuch as by Him the Father effecteth all things, even as by our hand the things are effected which we do. For in many places of the Scripture, Christ is named the Hand and Right Hand of the Father, which signifies the Power; and the all-producing energy and might of God is named simply His hand. For in some way the language used concerning God is always superior to bodily representation. And the Father is said to give to the Son, not as to one who had not alway creation under His hand, but as to Him Who is in His Nature Life; bringing us who are in need of life to the Son, that we may be made alive through Him Who is in His Nature Life, and has it of His own. But also, inasmuch as He has become Man, it is suitable for Him to ask and to receive from the Father things which He already had as being in His Nature God.
For Christ, having admitted what pertained to His humanity, recurs to His God-befitting dignity, taking |102 pleasure in the advantages of His Nature for the profit of the faithful and for the sake of sound faith, which is, never at all to suspect that the Son is inferior to the Father. For thus He is shewn to be the undamaged Image of the Father, preserving in Himself whole and sound the Very Impress of the Father. And we say the Son and the Father are One, not blending their Individualities by the use of that number, as do some who say that the Father and the Son are the same [Person], but believing the Father by Himself and the Son by Himself to personally subsist; and collecting the two into One Sameness of Essence, also knowing them to possess one might, so that it is seen without variation now in One and now in the Other.
I and the Father are One. By the word "One" He signifies the Sameness of their Essence: and by the word "are" He severs into two that which is understood, and again binds them up into One Godhead.
But this also we must understand, in opposition to the Arians, that in His saying: I and the Father are One, there is signified, not the proof of sameness of will, but the Oneness of their Essence. For indeed the Jews understood that in saying this, He said that Himself was God and equal to the Father; and Christ did not deny that He had said this as they understood it.
31 The Jews therefore took up stones again to stone Him.
For not refraining themselves from Him, when He said that Himself was One with the Father, they rush to kill Him; although each of the works wrought by Him proclaimed that He was in His Nature God. And not only now, but on other occasions also when they took up stones to kill Him, they stood motionless through the power of Christ; so that it became evident from this also, that He would not suffer except He was willing. Moreover in His gentleness Christ checked their unreasonable impulse, saying not: "For which of the words that I said, are ye angry?" but: "For which of the works that I did?" For |103 if I had not done, He says, many God-befitting works which shew that I am in My Nature God, ye might be reasonably angry with Me now, hearing Me say that I and the Father are One. But I should not have said this, had I not shewn it by all things that I did. And He speaks of the works as from the Father, not from Himself, shewing this modesty for our profit, so that we may not boast when we receive anything from God. And He says the works were shown from the Father, not to indicate that the power exhibited in them was other than His own, but to teach that they were the works of the whole Godhead. And we understand One Godhead in Father and Son and Holy Spirit. For whatsoever the Father does, this is accomplished by the Son in the Spirit; and again, what the Son does, this the Father is said to do in the Spirit. Wherefore also Christ saith: I do nothing of Myself, but the Father abiding in Me, He doeth the works.
33 For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy.
Having a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, they became angry when they heard Christ saying: I and the Father are One. For what was the impediment to His being One with the Father, if they believed that He was God by Nature? Wherefore also they attempt to stone Him, and in self-defence giving the reason why they did so, they say: "We stone Thee, not on account of the good works which Thou didst, but because Thou blasphemest." They were the blasphemers, on the contrary, because they wished to stone One Who was truly God, not knowing that Jesus was destined to come, not in the undisguised Godhead, but Incarnate of the Seed of David; [and thus] they speak of His true confession as blasphemy.
I said, Ye are gods, &c.
Since therefore the Father called certain men gods, and of necessity the honourable name was something external, super-added to them, for He Who is God by Nature is One only; lest Jesus also should be deemed to be one |104 of that class----clothed in the glory of the Godhead, not as essentially His own, but rather as something external, super-added to Himself, in the same way as was the case with those others----He as a matter of necessity clearly distinguishes Himself from them. For He shews that He differed so far from their poverty, that when He was in them, [then only, and] on that very account they were called gods: because He is the Word of God the Father. And if the Word, being in them, was in any cases sufficient to make those who were really [only] men shine with the honour of the Godhead; how could He be anything else than God by Nature, Who bestowed freely even upon those others His splendour in this way?
Now convicting the Jews, that not because He said: I and the Father are One, they were stoning Him, but without reason; He says: "If, because I said I was God, 1 seem to blaspheme; why, when the Father said by the Law to certain men: Ye are gods, did ye not judge that to be blasphemy?" And this He says, not as instigating them to say anything against the Father, but to convict them of being ignorant of the Law and the inspired Scriptures. And seeing that the difference between those who were called gods and Him Who is in His Nature God is great, through the words which He uses, He teaches us the distinction; for if the men unto whom the Word of God came were called gods, and were illumined with the honour of the Godhead, by admitting and receiving the Word of God into their soul, how could He through Whom they became gods, be other than in His Nature God? For the Word was God, according to the language of John, Who also bestowed this illumination on the others. For if the Word of God through the Holy Spirit leads up to superhuman grace, and adorns with a Divine honour those in whom He may be, Why, saith He, say ye that I blaspheme when I call Myself Son of God and God? Although by the works I have done from Him I am borne witness to as in My Nature God. For having sanctified Me He sent Me into the world to be the Saviour of the |105 world; and it is the attribute only of One in His Nature God, to be able to save men from the devil and from sin and from corruption.
But perhaps when the Divine Scripture saith that the Son was sent from the Father, the heretic straightway deems the expression a support to his own error, and will say in all probability: "Ye who refuse to speak of the Son as inferior to the Father, do ye not see that He was sent from Him, as from a superior and a greater one?" What then shall we say? Surely, that the mention of His being sent is particularly suitable to the measure of His self-humiliation; for thou nearest that Paul, uniting Both, then says that the Son was sent from the Father, when He was also made of a woman and under the Law as a Man amongst us, although being "Lawgiver and Lord. And if the Son be understood as made in the form of a servant, then said to be sent from the Father, He suffers no damage whatever, with regard to His being also Consubstantial with Him and Coequal in glory and in no respect at all falling short. For the expressions used among ourselves, if they are applied to God, do not admit of being accurately tested; and I say that we ought not to understand them just exactly as they are usually understood among ourselves, but as far as may be suitable to the Divine and Supreme Nature itself. For what [else could happen], unless the tongue of man possessed words competent to suffice for setting forth the Divine glory? Accordingly it is absurd that the preeminence of the glory which is highest of all should suffer injury through the weakness of the human tongue and its poverty of expression. Remember that which Solomon says: The glory of the Lord maketh language obscure. For when we waste our labour in trying to express accurately the glory of the Lord, we are like to those who wish to measure the heavens by a span. Therefore when anything is said concerning God in words generally applied to men, it must be understood in a manner befitting God. Else what wilt thou do when thou hearest David singing in his psalm: |106 O Thou that sittest upon the Cherubim, shew Thyself; stir up Thy strength and come to save us? For how does the Incorporeal sit? And where does He call upon the God of the universe to come to for us, the God Who saith by the Prophets: Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord? Where therefore should He come to for us, when He filleth all things? Again, it is written that some were building a tower to reach unto heaven, and the Lord came down to see the city and the tower; and the Lord said, Gome and let Us go down and there confound their tongues. Where did the Lord go down? Or in what manner doth the Holy Trinity urge Itself on to the descent? And how, tell me, did the Saviour Himself also promise to send to us the Paraclete from heaven? For where or whence is That Which filleth all things sent? For the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world, as it is written.
Therefore the expressions ordinarily used of ourselves signify things above us, if they are spoken concerning God. Dost thou wish to understand any of those things so difficult of comprehension? Then thy mind proves too weak to grasp them, and dost thou perceive that it is so? Be not provoked to anger, O man, but confess the weakness of thy nature, and remember him that said: Seek not out the things that are above thy strength. When thou di-rectest thy bodily eye to the orb of the sun, immediately thou turnest it away again, overcome by the sudden influx of the light. Know therefore that the Divine Nature also dwells in unapproachable light; unapproachable, that is, by the understandings of those who over-busily look into it. Therefore also when things concerning God are expressed in language ordinarily used of men, we ought not to think of anything base, but to remember that the wealth of the Divine Glory is being mirrored in the poverty of human expression. For what if the Son is sent from the Father? Shall He then on this account be inferior? But when from the solar body its light is sent forth, is that of a different nature from it and inferior to it? Is it not foolish merely to suppose such a thing for |107 a moment? Therefore the Son, being the Light of the Father, is sent to us, as we may say, from a Sun that darteth forth Its Beam; which indeed David also entreats may take place, saying: O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth. And if it is a glory to the Father to have the Light, how dost thou call that in which He is glorified inferior to Him? And the Son Himself also says concerning Himself: Whom the Father sanctified and sent. Now the word "sanctified" is used in the Scripture in many senses. For it is said that anything dedicated to God is sanctified. For instance He said unto Moses: Sanctify unto Me all the firstborn. And again, that is sanctified which is prepared by God for the execution of any of His designs, for He speaks thus concerning Cyrus and the Medes, when He determined that they should make war against the city of the Babylonians; The mighty ones are come to fulfil Mine anger, being both joyous and proud; they have been sanctified, and I lead them. And again, that is sanctified which is made to participate of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the Son saith that Himself is sanctified by the Father, as having been prepared by Him for the restitution of the life of the world, and for the destruction of those who oppose Him; or still further, in so far as He was sent to be slain for the salvation of the world; for indeed those things are called holy which are set apart as an offering to God. And we say that He was sanctified, even as men like ourselves are, when He became flesh: for His Flesh was sanctified, although it was not in its nature holy, by being received into union with the Word; and because this is come to pass, He is sanctified by the Father; for the Godhead of Father and Son and Holy Spirit is One.
37, 38 If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not. But if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe My works: that ye may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him.
What He says is this. Though it is easy for any one to call God Father, yet to demonstrate the fact by works |108 is hard and impossible to a creature. By works however of a God-befitting character, He says, I am seen to be equal to God the Father: and there is no defence for your unbelief since you have learnt that I am equal to the Father by the evidence of the God-befitting works which I do, although as regards the flesh I seemed to be one among you like an ordinary man. Hence it is possible to perceive that I am in the Father and the Father in Me. For the sameness of their Essence makes the Father to be and to be seen in the Son, and the Son in the Father. For truly even among ourselves the essence of our father is recognised in him that is begotten of him, and in the parent again that of the child. For the delineation of their nature is one in them all, and they all are by nature one. But when we distinguish ourselves by our bodies, the many are no longer one; a distinction which cannot be mentioned concerning One Who is God by Nature, for whatever is Divine is incorporeal, although we conceive of the Holy Trinity as in distinct Subsistences. For the Father is the Father and not the Son; the Son again is the Son and not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is peculiarly the Spirit: although They are not at variance, through Their fellowship and unity One with Another.
The Holy Trinity is known in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. But the designation of each one of These Who have been enumerated denotes not a part of the Trinity, but the Whole of It; since in truth God is undivided and simple, although distributed in These Subsistences.
Therefore, as there is but One Godhead in Father and Son and Holy Spirit, we say that the Father is seen in the Son, and the Son in the Father. And it is necessary to know this other point also, that it is not the wishing the same things as the Father, nor the possessing one will with Him, that makes the Son say: I am in the Father, and the Father in Me, and: I and the Father are One; but because, being the genuine Offspring of the Essence of the Father, He shews forth the Father in Himself, and |109 Himself also is shewn forth in the Father. For He says that He wills and speaks and effects the same things as the Father, and easily performs what He wishes, even as the Father doth, in order that He may be acknowledged in all respects Consubstantial with Him, and a true Fruit of His Essence; and not merely as having a relative unity with Him, only in similarity of will and the laws of love; which unity we say belongs also to His creatures.
40, 41, 42 And He went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John was baptizing; and there He abode. And many came unto Him; and they said, John indeed did no sign: but all things whatsoever John spake of this Man were true. And many believed on Him there.
Leaving Jerusalem, the Saviour seeks a refuge in a place possessing springs of water, that He might signify obscurely as in a type how He would leave Judasa and go over to the Church of the Gentiles which possesses the fountains of Baptism: there also many approach unto Him. crossing through the Jordan; for this is signified by Christ taking up His abode beyond Jordan. They therefore having crossed the Jordan by Holy Baptism, are brought unto God: for truly He went across from the synagogue of the Jews unto the Gentiles: and then many came unto Him and believed the words spoken by the saints concerning Him. And they believe on Him there, where the springs of water are, where we are taught the mystery of Christ. For Christ was not in the streams before the Jordan, but somewhere beyond; and He came and abode, continuing constantly in the Church of the Gentiles. And we honour John, not as having performed any God-befitting work, but as having borne true witness concerning Christ. For Christ was more wonderful, not only than John, but than every saint; for whereas they were Prophets, He was the wonder-working God. And we must notice that the words of John and of the other Prophets are a way [to lead us] to believe Christ. |110
Chap. xi. 1, 2. Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister Martha. And it was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
With a purpose does the Evangelist make mention of the names of the women, showing that they were distinguished for their piety. Wherefore also the Lord loved them. And of the many things which probably had been done for the Lord by Mary, he mentions the ointment, not at haphazard, but to shew that Mary had such thirst after Christ that she wiped His feet with her own hair, seeking to fasten to herself more really the spiritual blessing which comes from His holy Flesh; for indeed she appears often with much warmth of attachment to have sat close to Christ without being distracted by interruption, and to have been drawn into friendly relationship with Him.
3 His sisters therefore sent unto Him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick.
The women send to the Lord, ever wishing to have Him near them, but on this occasion sending under a fair pretext on account of him who was sick. For they believed that if Christ would only appear the sufferer would be set free from his disease. And they gently remind Him of the love which He had for the sick man, drawing Him thither especially by this means; for they knew that He took thought for this man. And He was able, even though absent, to heal him, as being God and tending all things; nevertheless, they thought that if He were present, He would put forth His hand and awaken him. Not even they possessed as yet the perfection of faith, wherefore also they are troubled, as it seems probable, with the thought that Lazarus would not have been ill at all, had not Christ neglected him: for, say they, since such as are beloved by God possess all good things, why is he whom Thou lovest, sick? Or perhaps they even say: Great is the audacity of the sickness, because it dared to attack such as are beloved by God. And it may be too that they |111 seem to say something of this sort. Since Thou lovest and healest even Thine enemies, much rather oughtest Thou to confer such benefits on them that love Thee. For Thou art able to do all things by merely Thy Will. Therefore their language is full of faith and proves their close relationship to Christ.
4 But when Jesus heard it, He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby.
The Lord now says this, not that the men may go away and report it to the sisters of Lazarus, but as God foretelling what should come to pass, because He saw that the conclusion of the affair would be for the glory of God; not that the sickness came upon the man for this reason, that He should be glorified; for it would be silly to say this; but since it had come, He also saw that it would result in a wonderful end. And He says that Himself is in His Nature God, for that which is done, is done for His glory. For after saying that the sickness was for the glory of God, He added: That the Son of God may be glorified thereby, speaking concerning Himself.
And if He Himself said that the sickness of Lazarus was not unto death, and yet his death took place, there is nothing to marvel at. For looking on to the final result of the affair, and seeing that He was going to raise him up after a little time, we do not consider anything that took place in the interval, but only how the end would result. For the Lord determined to set forth the weakness of death, and to shew forth all that happened as for the glory of God, that is, of Himself.
6 When therefore He heard that he was sick, He abode at that time two days in the place where He was.
And He deferred His arrival in order that He might not heal him while sick, but raise him when dead; which is a work of greater power, so that He would be more greatly glorified. |112
7, 8 And after this He saith to His disciples, Let us go into Judaea again, His disciples say unto Him. Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone Thee; and goest Thou thither again?
Now when the Lord said: Let us go into Judaea again, He seems almost to declare "Even though the people there are unworthy of kindness, yet now that an opportunity presents itself of conveying them some advantage, let us go back to them;" but the disciples in their love for Him think it right to try to hinder Him, and moreover as men they suppose that He would be unwilling to put Himself in peril by going amongst the Jews. Wherefore also they remind Him of the madness of the Jews against Him, all but saying: "Why again dost Thou seek to be amidst the unbelieving and ungrateful people who are not softened either by Thy words or even by Thy works? who even yet are of murderous intent against Thee, and who are boiling with passionate rage?" Either then they say this, or their language signifies that He is leading them into evident danger. Nevertheless, they are obedient to their Teacher, as to One Who knows what is best.
9, 10 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If therefore a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he may see the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because the light is not in him.
Perhaps He compares to the ever-moving course of the day, the easily-swayed and novelty-loving mind of men, which is not established in one opinion, but vacillates from one way of thinking to another, just as the day changes from one hour to another. And thus also thou wilt understand the words: Are there not twelve hours in the day? That is, "I," says He, "am the Day and the Light. Therefore, just as it is not possible for the light of the day to fail, without having completed its appointed time; so it is not among possibilities that the illumination which proceeds from Me should be shrouded from the Jews, without having fully reached its fitting measure of |113 philanthropy." And He speaks of the time of His presence as "day," and of that before it as "night;" as also when the Lord says: We must work the works of Him that sent us, while it is day. This therefore is what He here says: "It is not now a time for Me to separate Myself from the Jews, even though they be unholy, but I must do all things that pertain to their healing. For they must not now be punished, by having the Divine grace (like the light of the sun) withdrawn from them. But just as the light of the day does not fail until the twelve hours have been completed, so the illumination that proceeds from Me is not shrouded before the proper time; but until I am crucified I remain among the Jews, sending forth unto them like light the understanding of the knowledge of God. For since the Jews are in the darkness of unbelief, and so stumble at Me as at a stone, I must go back to them and enlighten them, that they may desist from their madness in fighting against God."
11 These things spake He: and after this He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep: but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
"A worthy cause draws Me towards Jerusalem;" for so much is signified by the words: Our friend is fallen asleep; "and if we should let it pass neglected, we should incur the reputation of being devoid of compassion. Wherefore we must avoid the disgrace of such conduct, and run to the help of our friend, despising the plots of the Jews." And shewing His own God-befitting power, He calls the departure of the human soul from the body by the name of sleep, and very rightly: for He does not think it proper to call it death, Who created man for immortality, according as it is written, and made the generations of the world to be healthful. Moreover, the language is also true, because the temporary death of our body is in the sight of God really a sleep and nothing different, brought to an end by a mere and single sign from that which is by nature Life, namely, Christ. And |114 notice that He did not say: "Lazarus is dead and I go to raise him to life," but says: "He is fallen asleep," avoiding boastfulness, for our instruction and profit; for [without some such good reason] He would not have uttered a sentence so obscure in its hidden meaning that not even the disciples themselves understood what was said. For He did not say: "I go to quicken him into life" or "to raise him up from the dead," but "that I may awake him out of sleep;" which was at the time insufficient to suggest His real meaning.
12, 13 His disciples therefore said, Lord, if he is fallen asleep, he will recover. Now Jesus had spoken of his death; but they thought that He spake of taking rest in sleep.
They, not understanding the force of the words, thought that Jesus spake of taking rest in sleep, which when sick men can do, they generally experience refreshment; wherefore the disciples say: "It is not worth while to go and disturb Lazarus from his sleep, for it does not benefit a sick man to awake him out of sleep." And this they said, wishing to hinder Him from the journey by remarking that it was not meet to go into the midst of those murderers for the sake of doing something which would produce no good result.
14, 15 Then Jesus said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
The disciples therefore not understanding that He had called death by the name of sleep, He made His meaning clearer, saying: He is dead. And He says that He is glad, not out of a love of glory, because He was going to do the marvellous deed, but because this was going to become for the disciples a ground of faith. And the words: I was not there, signify as follows: "If I had been there, he would not have died, because I should have had pity on him when he was suffering only a little; but now in My absence his death has taken place, so that, by raising him |115 life, I shall bestow upon you much advantage through your faith in Me." And Christ says this, not as being able to do God-befitting deeds only when He was present; but because if He had been present, He could not have neglected His friend until the occurrence of death. And He says: Let us go unto him, as unto a living person; for the dead, inasmuch as they are destined to live, are alive unto Him as God.
16 Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with Him.
The language of Thomas has indeed zeal, but it also has timidity; it was the outcome of devout feeling, but it was mixed with littleness of faith. For he does not endure being left behind, and even tries to persuade the others to adopt the same resolution: nevertheless he thinks that they are destined to suffer [death] at the hands of the Jews, even against the will of Christ, by reason of the murderous passion of the Jews; not looking at the power of the Deliverer, as he ought rather to have done. And Christ made them timid, by enduring with patience beyond measure the sufferings He experienced at the hands of the Jews. Thomas therefore says that they ought not to separate themselves from their Teacher, although undoubted danger lay before them; so, perhaps with a gentle smile, He said: Let us go, that is, Let us die. Or he speaks thus: Of a certainty if we go we shall die: nevertheless let us not refuse to suffer, for we ought not to be cowardly to such a degree; because if He raises the dead, fear is superfluous, for we have One Who is able to raise us again after we have fallen.
17, 18, 19 So when Jesus came to Bethany, He found that he had been in the tomb four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, fifteen furlongs off; and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother.
He mentions also the length of days that had intervened after the death of Lazarus for this reason, that the miracle |116 may be the more marvelled at, and lest any one should chance to say that He had come after one day, and that Lazarus was not dead, but He had raised him up from sickness. And he says that many Jews were in Bethany, although the place was not a populous one, being come out of Jerusalem; for the distance of road between the two places was not so great as to hinder their sincere friends from being with Martha and Mary. And since the miracle was talked about by all in Jerusalem and the country round about, he gives the reason, that as there were many people there, the story was naturally spread abroad in all directions; some telling what had been done from admiration, and others through envy, to attach a false accusation to the miracle through their lying account of it.
20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him; but Mary still sat in the house.
Perhaps Martha was the more eager to do such things as might be necessary; wherefore also she first went and met Him: but Mary was the more intelligent. Wherefore, as possessing a more sensitive soul, she remained at home, receiving the attentions of her consoling friends; but Martha, as a simpler person, started off, intoxicated indeed with her grief, but nevertheless acting with more vigour.
21, 22, 23, 24 Martha therefore said unto Jesus, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. And even now I know that, whatsoever Thou shalt ask of God, God will give Thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha answered Him, 1 know that he shall rise again at the last day.
What Martha says, amounts to this. "Not for this reason," she says, "did my brother die, because the nature of man is subject to death; but because Thou wast not present, Who art able by Thy word to conquer death." But in her grief, wandering beyond propriety, she considered that the Lord was no longer able to do anything, as the time for help had gone by; and she thought that |117 He had come, not for the raising again of Lazarus, bat that He might console them. For softly and gently she reproaches Him for His tardiness in not immediately coming when it would have been possible for Him to help them, when they sent saying: Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is side. And the words: Whatsoever Thou shalt ask of God He will give Thee, are the words of one who is almost afraid to ask plainly what she wishes; nevertheless she stumbles concerning the truth in that she speaks not as to God, but as to one of the saints; His being seen in the flesh causing her to think that whatsoever He should ask as a saint, He would receive from God; not indeed knowing that, being in His Nature God and the Power of the Father, He possesses irresistible might over all things. For if she had known that He was God, she would not have said: If Thou hadst been here; for God is everywhere. Through His aversity to arrogance, however, the Lord did not say: "I will raise up thy brother," but: "He shall rise again;" all but softly rebuking her and saying: "He indeed rises again as thou wishest, but not as thou thinkest. For if thou supposest that it will be accomplished by prayer and supplication, take upon thyself the part of prayer, but do not bid Me do it, Who am a Wonder-worker, able by My own Might to raise the dead." The woman having heard this and being ashamed now to say: "Raise him to life," yet in some degree instigating Him to do the work at once, seems somewhat to be saddened at the postponement of the time, saying: "I know that he shall rise again at the last day, but I long to see before that time the resurrection of my brother." Again when the Lord said: Thy brother shall rise again, the woman all but signifies her agreement with this doctrine, saying: "I know that; for I believe that the dead will be raised, according as Thou didst teach: For the hour cometh, and they shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done ill, unto the resurrection of judgment. And likewise Isaiah also in the Spirit said: The dead shall be raised and they that are in the tombs shall |118 be awakened. For I do not disbelieve in the doctrine of the resurrection, as the Sadducees do."
25, 26, 27 Jesus said unto her, I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth on Me though he die, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth on Me, shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto Him. Yea, Lord: I have believed that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, even He that cometh into the world.
Assuredly a fruit and reward of faith in Christ is eternal life, and in no other way does this come to the soul of man. For although we are all raised to life through Christ, yet this [eternal life given to the faithful] is the true life, namely, to live unendingly in bliss; for to be restored to life only for punishment differs nothing from death. If therefore any one notices that even the saints, who have received promises of life, die; this is nothing, for it is only what naturally comes to pass. And until the proper time has been reserved the display of the grace [of resurrection], which is powerful, not partially, but effectually, in the case of all men, even of those saints who have died in time past and are tasting death for a short time, until the general resurrection. For then, together, all will enjoy the good things. And in saying: Though he die, yet shall he live, the Saviour did not take away the death in this present world: but admits that it has such might against the faithful that it naturally happens to them, and no more; because He has reserved the grace of resurrection until the proper time. He certainly says: "He that helieveth on Me shall not be without a participation in the death of the flesh in the ordinary course of human nature, but nevertheless he will suffer nothing worthy of fear in this, as God is able easily to make alive whomsoever He will." For he that believeth on Him, hath in the world to come an endless life in bliss and perfect immortality. Wherefore let not any of the unbelieving mock: for Christ did not say: "From this present moment he shall in no wise see death," but when He said |119 absolutely: "He shall never see death in any wise," He spake concerning the world to come, reserving the end of the promise until then. And saying unto Martha: Believest thou? He demands the confession of faith as the parent and patron of the [eternal] life; and she readily assented and accurately confesses: not simply believing that He is a Christ and a Son of God; for a prophet also can be a christ, by reason of being anointed, and the same person can be understood to be a son [of God]: but using the definite article and saying: "The Christ, the Son of God," she confessed the Only and Preeminent and True Son. Therefore her faith was on the Son, not on a creature.
Believest thou in this?
Having previously explained the force of the mystery in Himself, and shown plainly that He is by Nature Life and Very God, He demands assent to the faith, furnishing in this matter a model to the Churches. For we ought not quite vainly to cast our words into the air when we confess the venerable mystery, but to fix the roots of the faith in heart and mind and then to let it bear fruit in our confession; and we ought to believe without any hesitation or double-mindedness. For the double-minded man is insolent and halting as regards the faith; wherefore also he is unstable in all his ways. Nevertheless, it is necessary to know that we make the confession of our faith unto God, although we are questioned by men, I mean those whose lot it is to minister in sacred things, when we say the "I believe" at the reception of Holy Baptism. Certainly therefore to speak falsely and to slip aside towards unbelief is a most aweful thing; lest we may have as both Judge and Witness of our folly the Lord of all Himself, saying: Even I am a Witness, saith the Lord. And we must observe that, as Lazarus was lying dead, on his behalf in a certain way the assent to the faith is demanded of the woman, that the type in this also may have force among the Churches; for when a newborn babe is brought, either to receive the chrism of the catechumenate, or that of the complete- [Christian] -condition at Holy Baptism |120 the person who brings it repeats aloud the "Amen" on its behalf. And on behalf of those who are assailed by extreme sickness, and on that account are going to be baptized, certain persons make the renunciation [of Satan] and the declaration of attachment [to Christ], by an act of charity lending as it were their voices to those who are disabled by sickness: a thing which we see to have been done in the case of Lazarus and his sister. And Martha wisely and prudently first sows the confession of faith, that afterwards she may reap the fruit of it.
28, 29 And when she had said this, she went away, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is here, and calleth thee. And she, when she heard it, arose, and went unto Him.
She went away to call her sister, that she also might share the happiness which arose from the expected event, and receive at once in common with herself the dead one raised again beyond all hope. For she had heard the words: Thy brother shall rise again. And she told the good news of the coming of the Saviour to her sister secretly, because there were sitting by her some of those Jews who felt ill-will towards Christ for His wondrous works.
And we shall not find in the Gospels that Christ said: "Call thy sister to Me;" but Martha taking the undeniable emergency of the affair and the right due to her sister of being invited to come, as equivalent to an uttered command, she speaks as she does. And Mary readily ran towards Him, and was willing to go to meet Him. For how could she help doing this, when she was in such great grief at His absence, and had such a warm feeling of piety and great love towards Him?
30, 31 Now Jesus was not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and were comforting her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying that she was going unto the tomb to weep there.
The Jews therefore who were present, thinking she had run to the tomb to tear herself [in her grief], follow her; |121 doing this by the will of God, in order that they might go in a body to see the marvellous deed, even without wishing to do so. For had this not taken place by the providence of God, the Evangelist would not have mentioned it; neither would he have written down the concurrent causes of each matter, had he not been everywhere very zealous for the truth. Therefore he stated the cause wherefore many ran to the tomb, and were found there, and became beholders of the marvellous deed, and reported it to others.
32 Mary therefore, when she came where Jesus was, and saw Him, fell down at His feet, saying, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
Certainly Mary says that death had happened to her brother prematurely through the absence of the Lord, and says that He had come to the house, when the time for healing had passed by: and it is possible also from this to conjecture that she said this as to God Himself; although she did not speak accurately, from thinking that He was not present even though absent in the body. But being more accurate and intelligent than Martha, she did not say: Whatsoever Thou shalt ask of God God will give Thee. Wherefore to her the Lord says nothing, whereas to Martha He spake at some length. And Mary intoxicated with her grief, He does not reprove for saying: " If Thou hadst been here" to Him Who fills all creation; doing this also for our example, that we should not reprove those who are in an agony of mourning: and He condescends still further, revealing His human nature, and weeps and is troubled, when He sees her weeping and the Jews who came with her also weeping.
33, 34 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him?
Now since Christ was not only God by Nature, but; also Man, He suffers in common with the rest that which is human; and when grief begins somehow to be stirred |122 within Him, and His Holy Flesh now inclines to tears, He does not allow It to indulge in them without restraint, as is the custom with us. But He groans in the spirit, that is, in the power of the Holy Spirit He reproves in some way His Own Flesh: and That, not being able to endure the action of the Godhead united with It, trembles and presents the appearance of trouble. For this I think to be the signification of "He was troubled;" for how otherwise could He endure trouble? Shall that Nature which is ever undisturbed and calm be troubled in any way? The flesh therefore is reproved by the Spirit, being taught to feel things beyond its own nature. For indeed on this account the Almighty Word of Glod was made in Flesh, or rather was made Flesh, that He might strengthen the weaknesses of the flesh by the energies of His own Spirit, and withdraw our nature from too earthly feelings, and transform it as it were to such feelings only as are pleasing to God. Surely it is an infirmity of human nature to be abjectly overcome by griefs, but this as well as the rest is brought into subjection, in Christ first, that it may be also in us.
Or thus we must understand the words: He groaned in the spirit and was troubled, viz:----as equivalent to: "Being moved to compassion by reason of many weeping, He in a manner gave commandment to His own Spirit to overthrow death before the time, and to raise up Lazarus." And it is not as being ignorant that He asks: Where have ye laid him? For He Who had known of Lazarus' death when He was in another part of the country, how could He be ignorant about the tomb? But He speaks thus as being averse to arrogance: therefore He did not say: "Let us go to the tomb, for I will awaken him," although asking the question particularly in the way He did has this significance. Moreover also by saying this, He prepared many to go before Him that they might shew Him that which He sought. With a set purpose therefore He said this also, drawing by His words many to the place, and appears not to know, not at all shrinking from the poverty of |123 man's condition, although in His Nature God and knowing all things, not only those which have been, but also those which shall be, before their existence.
And the asking a question therefore does not imply any ignorance in Him Who for our sakes was made like unto us, but rather He is shown from this to be equal to the Father; for He too asks a question: Adam, where art thou? Christ also feigns ignorance and inquires: Where have ye laid him? so that through the inquiry a multitude might be gathered together to the manifestation, and that by His enemies, rather than by others, testimony should be given to the miracle of restoring to life one who was already corrupt.
36, 37 The Jews therefore said, Behold how He loved him! But some of them said, Could not this Man, which opened the eyes of him that was blind, have caused that this man also should not die?
Certainly the Evangelist, seeing the tearless Nature weeping, is astonished, although the suffering was peculiar to the flesh, and not suitable to the Godhead. And the Lord weeps, seeing the man made in His own image marred by corruption, that He may put an end to our tears. For for this cause He also died, even that we may be delivered from death. And He weeps a little, and straightway checks His tears; lest He might seem to be at all cruel and inhuman, and at the same time instructing us not to give way overmuch in grief for the dead. For it is one thing to be influenced by sympathy, and another to be effeminate and unmanly. For this cause therefore He permitted His own flesh to weep a little, although it was in its nature tearless and incapable of any grief, so far as regards its own nature. And even they who hate the Lord, admire His tears. For they who follow philosophy to an extreme and have a brilliant reputation therein, shed tears with the greatest reluctance, as overcoming by manly vigour every misfortune. And the Jews thought that He wept on account of the death of Lazarus, but He |124 wept out of compassion for all humanity, not bewailing Lazarus only, but understanding that which happens to all, that the whole of humanity is made subject to death, having justly fallen under so great a penalty. And others, being wounded by envy, said nothing good; for in truth they did not find fault with the Lord for suffering Lazarus to die; for this would have been the language of men who believed that He was able to stay death: but they almost speak thus: "Where is Thy might, O Wonder-worker? For behold, even when Thou wert unwilling, He who was beloved by Thee has died. For that Thou didst love him is evident from Thy weeping. If therefore that which was done to the blind man was the work of Thy might, Thou wouldst be able also to stay death, which is a similar deed beyond the nature of man." As malignantly rejoicing therefore, because they saw His glory in a manner diminished, they say this.
38, 39 Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself cometh to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. And Jesus saith, Take ye away the stone.
Here we understand the groaning as if it were the will struggling with a sort of movement according to its power, both because He rather sternly reproved His grief, and the tears which were about to be shed from His grief. For, as God, He in the way of a master reproves His Manhood, bidding it be manly in sorrowful circumstances; or by His God-befitting movement He distinctly lays it down that we must hence forward overthrow the powerful influence of death. And this He makes manifest by His very own Flesh, and signified by the movement of His Body that which was concealed within. And this is shown here by the expression: "He groaned," which means, that through the outward action of His Body He indicated His hidden commotion.
And He did not roll away the stone Himself for these two reasons: first, to teach that it was superfluous to work wonders when there was no necessity for them; and |125 secondly, [to teach] that He Himself awakes the dead, but His angels will be at hand to minister in the event, whom indeed the Lord elsewhere in a parable calls reapers.
Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto Him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
It is usual to refuse to believe in the possibility of great deeds, and to be somewhat reluctant to admire is a feeling which naturally is consequent upon things beyond our experience. It seems to me that even the good Martha suffered this; for the excessive greatness of the event took from her the sure confidence of faith, and the strangeness of the hope bewilders her proper reason. And it is nothing astonishing if she who had confessed her faith is again overtaken by littleness of faith through the excessive greatness of the marvellous deed. And either solely out of honour to Christ she said: By this time he stinketh; that He might not be disgusted by the bad smell of the corpse: or she says this as if from shame. For the relatives of the dead hasten, before the body becomes ill-smelling, to bury it down in the earth, out of consideration for the living, and deeming it a dishonour to the dead that it should become an object of loathing to any.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
A most excellent thing is faith, when it is produced from an ardent mind; and it has such great power that not only is the believer healed, but in fact others also have been healed besides them that believed; as the paralytic let down [through the tiles] at Capernaum, by the faith of those who carried him; and as Lazarus, by that of his sister, to whom the Lord said: If thou believest, thou shall see the glory of God; all but saying: "Since Lazarus, being dead, is not able to believe, do thou fill up that which is lacking of the faith of him that is dead." And the form of faith is twofold: first, dogmatic, |126 consisting of an assent of the soul to something, as: He that believeth on the Son is not judged; and secondly, a gift by the participation of grace from Christ: For to one, He says, is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, and to another faith, which is not merely dogmatic, but also capable of effecting things beyond human power, so as even to remove mountains. The faith of Martha however, by the feebleness of her reason, fell away into unbelief. But the Lord does not permit it to remain so: He effects a speedy remedy for the suffering. For He says she must believe, that she may behold what was beyond hope. For double-mindedness is a great infirmity and deprives us of the gracious gifts of God. Wherefore, by rebuking her, [Christ] warned the whole human race not to be detected in the evil ways of double-mindedness. And shunning vainglory, the Christ did not say: Thou shalt see My glory, but: the glory of God. And the glory of God was the raising the dead. Surely therefore He Himself Who said: I am the Resurrection, is by Nature the God Whose glory He says not long afterwards the woman should see, since Thou wilt suppose that the Truth----and the Christ is the Truth----does not lie. And it was promised to her that her dead brother should rise again. And Mary, being more intelligent, utters no word of doubt; but Martha was affected by the disease of double-mindedness.
42 And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always: but because of the multitude which standeth by I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me.
Of course it is agreeably to His self-humiliation as a Man that the Christ thus speaks in a lowly manner, not according to the excellency of the Godhead: and He offers His thanks to the Father not on account of Lazarus only, but for the life of all men. For being good, He is of one mind with the Father in bringing back to life the nature of man which had fallen into liability to corruption through its disobedience; and there is no distinction |127 between His goodness and that of the Father. And just as we ourselves even are persuaded by our own reasonings to leave undone what we had intended to do, so also the Lord, being the Word and Counsel of the Father, has made the Father friendly to us. And of course we do not say that what is Divine indulges in anger, but that [God], being just and good, knows when it is the proper time to rebuke, and when it is the proper time to relax. However, the Lord gives thanks, and this He does as a Pattern for us, honouring the Father. But when an equal gives thanks to an equal, he by no means does this as a mark of inferiority of essence. And on this account [Jesus] notifies that because of the multitude He spake thus, all but saying: "I have simulated the outward appearance of prayer, and I gave thanks, in conformity with My assumed condition." For I knew that Thou hearest Me always. For the one Nature of the Godhead is not disobedient to itself, since the Mind of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit, is One. Knowing therefore, He says, that Our purpose is one and Our will one, because of the multitude I spake thus. And the Christ thus speaks because of the Jews, giving thanks to the Father as if effecting by Him His God-befitting deeds, that they might no more say it was by Beelzebub He did signs. And He also explains His conduct with regard to the outward appearance of prayer, that we may not be caused to stumble, saying: because of the multitude I did this. Moreover, He says: Thou didst send Me, because of the suspicions of the Jews: for I came not of Myself, as do the false prophets; but with Thy approbation and good will I emptied Myself, taking the form of a servant, that I might restore the life to all. The manner of the prayer therefore was in agreement with His assumed condition and suitable to His outward appearance in the flesh, not to the excellency and incomparable splendour of the Godhead. For to ask and to receive would be actions altogether befitting a servant rather than a lord, and are usual with such as are under dominion. Nevertheless, |128 Christ does even these things without blame; for having accepted for Himself the condition of a Man, how could He any longer decline the characteristics of humanity?
(From the Syriac.)
IN THE SEVENTH BOOK OF THE COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, CYRIL [WRITES] AS FOLLOWS.
For the Son is in every respect perfect in Himself, and in no way does He lack any single excellence. For He is begotten of the Essence of God the Father, and is full of power and of God-befitting glory. Everything is under His feet and there is nothing which His power cannot effect. For, according to the voice of the saint, He can do everything. Yet, although it is true that everything is in His possession, He asks, it is said, from the Father, and receives the heathen and the uttermost parts of the earth as a glorious inheritance. But it is necessary that we should ask how He receives or when: for this is in truth fitting and necessary, I mean, that we should in such matters ask about the times, and investigate the occasions, and make a diligent inquiry as to their significations. When, therefore, He became Man; when He emptied Himself, as it is written; when He humbled Himself to the form of those to whom it is befitting that they should ask; then it was that He both did and spake those things that are befitting to men, and we are told that they were made perfect concerning Him from the Father. For where did He exhibit the outward appearance of humility, or how did that self-emptying show itself victoriously, except that contrary to His Majesty He endured something willingly, when for our sake He emptied Himself? For in the same way that He was weary from the fatigue of the journey, although He is the Lord of Powers; and as He was in need of food, although He is the Bread which came down from heaven, and giveth life to the world; and as He endured death in the flesh, although it is He in Whom we move and have our being; so it is said that He asked, although He is the Lord of all. That when the Only-Begotten became Man, He was not then at first called to His kingdom, we might |129 easily show. But to dispute much about this would be not far removed from folly. Therefore we maintain that what thou hast spoken of was done rather for the same reason. Thinkest thou that the Lord prayed for Lazarus, and thus obtained for him life? But thou wilt not continue to think this at all, when thou art reminded of the words that remain. For He not only said: Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me; but He added further: Because of the multitude which standeth around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me. And thou seest here the occasion of the prayer clearly. For because the Jews were wicked and bold, so that they made an accusation when the Lord was working miracles, and said that by Beelzebub He performed those God-befitting deeds; therefore He justly refuted the thought that was in them, and shewed that He performed everything together with the Father as God, and did not (like those men the false prophets) come of His own will. Moreover, as regards His choosing to speak words which seemed not right for God, He said: Because of the multitude which standeth around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me. Had it not therefore been meet to correct the notion of those standing around, in order that it might be understood that the miracle, which He received for Lazarus' sake, was from above, and from the Father, He would not have said at all these words: Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me. For He was both the Will and the Word, and the Counsel of the Father as regards all excellencies. What counsel did He ask, or what will, or what word, of Him Who begat Him, that He might receive some works,----when He had the Father in Him by Nature, and He was in the Father, because He was of His Essence? How as one far removed did He ask of the Father, or how was He not able to expel from a corpse sad death, Who even at the beginning formed man out of inanimate matter, and exhibited him animated and rational? We will accept therefore the explanation which does not err in the faith, not of those men who speak foolishly, but of the Scripture |130 spoken by the Spirit, in which there is nothing crooked or perverse.
43, 44 And when He had thus spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin.
O the marvel! the ill-smelling corpse, even after the fourth day from death, He brought forth out of the tomb; and him that was fettered fast and bound hand and foot, He commanded to walk! And immediately, the dead man started up, and the corpse began to run, being delivered from its corruption and losing its bad smell, and escaping through the gates of death, and without any hindrance to running being caused by the bonds. And although deprived of sight by the covering which was over his face, the dead man runs without any hindrance towards Him Who had called him, and recognises the masterful voice. For Christ's language was God-befitting and His command was kingly, having power to loose from death, and to bring back from corruption, and to exhibit energy beyond expression. The use of a piercing cry, however, was altogether strange and unwonted in the Saviour Christ. For instance, God the Father somewhere says concerning Him: He shall not strive nor cry aloud, and so on. For the works of the true Godhead are without noise or tumult of any kind; and this was the case with Christ, for He is in His Nature God of God and Very God. So then what do we say when we see that He cried aloud in an unusual manner? For surely no one will degrade himself to such a depth of folly as to say that Christ ever went beyond what was fitting or indeed ever erred from absolute perfection. How then is it to be explained? Certainly the cry has a reason and a purport, which we feel it necessary to state. It was for the good of the hearers. Christ wrought the miracle upon Lazarus as a sort of type of the general resurrection of the dead, and that which was fulfilled in the case of an individual He set forth as a |131 beautiful image of what will be universal and common to the whole race. For it is part of our belief that the Lord will come, and we hold that there will be a cry made by the sound of a trumpet, according to the language of Paul, proclaiming the resurrection to those that lie in the earth, although it is manifest that the deed will be effected by the unspeakable power of the Almighty God.
For on this account also the Law given by Moses, when laying down directions concerning the feast of Tabernacles, says: Celebrate it as a memorial of trumpets. For when human bodies are about to be set up again, as tabernacles, and every man's soul is about to take to itself its own bodily habitation in a way as yet unknown, the masterful command will be previously proclaimed, and the signal of the resurrection will sound forth, even the trump of God, as it is said. As a type therefore of this, in the case of Lazarus Christ uttered a great and audible cry, not much heeding His usual habit, that He might exhibit the type of what is to be expected hereafter.
Jesus saith unto them, Loose him and let him go.
For their good therefore He bade them with their own hands to loose him, that they might have no opportunity of misrepresenting what had been done, but might be witnesses of the miracle. And this too is representative of the general resurrection, when, being loosed from sin and the corruption of death, every one will be set free. For, falling into sin, we have wrapped the shame of it like a veil about the face of our soul, and are fast bound by the cords of death. When therefore the Christ shall at the time of the resurrection bring us out from our tombs in the earth, then in very truth does He loosen us from our former evils, and as it were remove the veil of shame, and command that we be let go freely from that time forward; not under the dominion of sin, not subject to corruption, or indeed any of the other troubles that are wont to cause suffering; so that there will be fulfilled in us that which |132 was said by one of the holy prophets: Ye shall both go forth and leap as calves let loose from bonds.
And consider I pray you the miracle as regards its inner meaning. For if our mind be dead like Lazarus, it behoves our material flesh and our nobler soul, like Martha and Mary [respectively,] to approach the Christ with a confession of faith, and to entreat His help. Then He will stand by us, and command the hardness that lies upon our 1 memory to be taken away, and cry with the loud voice of the Evangelic trumpet: "Come forth from the distractions of the world," and loose the cords of our sins; so that we may be able in full vigour to devote ourselves to virtue.
45, 46 Many therefore of the Jews, which came to Mary and beheld that which Jesus did, believed on Him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them that which Jesus had done.
Overcome by the miracle many believe; but others, wounded with envy, deem the marvellous deed a fit opportunity for carrying into effect the intentions of the envious, and reported to the leaders what had taken place; that when those men also were grieved at the works which the Christ had wrought, they might have some consolation of their own grief in the knowledge that others shared their feelings and were partakers of the same foolish grief; and that, as they were unable themselves to injure Him Who had done no wrong, they might rouse to anger against Him those who possessed more power.
47, 48 The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, What do we? for this Man doeth many signs. If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.
Of course the Pharisees also cease to wonder and are turned to grief, and when they see Him stronger than |133 death, they take counsel to kill Him. Not considering His unspeakable authority, but thinking of Him as a mere man, they said: What do we? for this Man doeth many signs. Although they ought rather to have believed from this that He was indeed the Christ, of Whom the inspired Scripture had previously proclaimed in many places that He would be a Worker of many signs. But they actually allege it as a reason, by which they endeavoured to persuade the more thoughtless to kill Him; and they say: If we leave Him thus alone, that is, if we allow Him to live and to work wonders, we shall suffer terrible things. For if many believe in this breaker of the Law, all that we have will bye and bye go from us; and presently, when at length the Jews have grown weak, the Romans will attack us, and will not permit us to freely practise the customs of our fathers, or to rule our own people, or to give judgment; themselves rather giving judgment, and we doing so no longer.
49, 50, 51, 52 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor do ye take account that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. Now this he said not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; and not for the nation only, but that He might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad.
Behold, the very thing of which we were speaking, the very thing which the Jews were secretly exercising themselves to bring into effect, this their high priest openly counsels them to do, even to kill the Christ; saying that it would be for the nation, although the nation was unjust. And he makes a true statement, his words being verified not by the perversity of the people, but by the power and wisdom of God. For they, to their own destruction put the Christ to death, but He, being put to death in the flesh, became for us a source of all good things. And what he calls the destruction of the nation, namely, the being under the hand of the Romans and losing the shadow of |134 the law: the very thing which they were seeking to turn away, they actually suffered. Prompted therefore by an unlawful principle, Caiaphas said what he did; nevertheless his language was made to indicate something true, as being spoken by one in the official position of a prophet. For he proclaims beforehand of what good things the death of the Christ would become the source, saying that which he did not understand, and glorifying God (as Balaam did) under constraint, since he was holding the prerogative of the priestly order: the prophecy being as it were given, not to him personally, but to the outward representative of the priesthood. Unless indeed, as may have been the case, the words spoken by Caiaphas were accomplished and came to pass afterwards, without his having received any prophetic gift whatever. For it is probable that what some people say, will really happen, although they may say it without certainly knowing that it will come to pass. Caiaphas then said that the death of Christ would be for the Jews only, but the Evangelist says that it would be for all mankind. For we are all called the offspring and children of God inasmuch as He is the Father of all, having by way of creation begotten as it were and brought into existence the things that were not. And also, because we had from the first the honour of being made in His image, and were allotted the supremacy over earthly things, and were accounted worthy of the Divine covenant, and enjoyed the life and bliss of Paradise. But Satan, being unwilling that we should remain in that condition, scattered us, and in divers manners led man astray from his nearness to God. And the Christ collected us all together again and brought us through faith into one fold, the Church; and united us under one yoke, all being made one, Jews, Greeks, Barbarians, Scythians; and we are fashioned again into one new man, and worship one God.
53 So from that hour forth they took counsel together that they might put Him to death.
For they had the desire to defile themselves with Christ's |135 Blood, and from the moment at which the assembly took place, it received as it were a fresh start, the common consent of all to it being publicly acknowledged. For the Evangelist did not say simply: "From that hour they took counsel to commit the murder," but: "They took counsel together;" that is to say, the very thing which seemed desirable to each one individually was pleasing to them all collectively.
54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed thence into a city called Ephraim near to the wilderness; and there He tarried with His disciples.
Here also therefore as God, to the condemnation of the Jews, He knows their secret design, although no one reported it to Him; and withdraws, not because He was afraid, but lest His presence might seem to irritate those who were already eager for His death. And He also teaches us to retire from the passions of those who are angry, and not to thrust ourselves into dangers, not even when they may be for the sake of truth: when we are actually overtaken by dangers, to stand firm; but when we see them coming, to get out of their way; because of the uncertainty of the issue.
55 Now the passover of the Jews was at hand: and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the passover to purify themselves.
Passing over everything else, the Evangelist goes on to the time of the passion. And he calls it the passover of the Jews typically; for [he refers to] the true Passover, not of the Jews, but of Christians, who eat the Flesh of Christ the true Lamb. And, according to the ancient custom, those who had sinned whether wilfully or through inadvertence purified themselves before the feast; and the typical passover was not shared in by any gentile, or un-circumcised person, or stranger, or hired servant, or unclean person; all which types are spiritually fulfilled in the case of Christians. |136
56, 57 They sought therefore for Jesus, and spake one with another, as they stood in the temple, What think ye? That He will not come to the feast? Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given commandment, that, if any man knew where He was, he should shew it, that they might take Him.
The form of expression however leaves it doubtful whether the words: Think ye that He will not come to the feast?, are the utterance of those who hated or of those who loved Him. For it was not unlikely that those who believed on Him might speak to the unbelievers thus: "Since ye took counsel to put Jesus to death, and think that He is ignorant of what you have secretly planned, this will be a clear sign to you that He is God. For of course He will not come now to join us in celebrating the feast, because as God He knows your plans." Or the expression may be thus paraphrased as the utterance of those who hated Jesus: "As it is ever a custom with Jesus to set aside the law, are ye who believe on Him willing to acknowledge that this is His character, seeing that He is not now come to the feast, disregarding the law of the feast by not joining us in the celebration of it?" And they say this, not because it was necessary for all to go together to Jerusalem at the passover, as at the feast of Tabernacles, but rather implying that His not coming up to Jerusalem was an indication of cowardice, as though He was unable to protect Himself at such a time, and on that account failed to come. Or again, those appointed to take Him may have said these words to one another, being in despair, because they did not yet see Him come, and were eager quickly to execute that to which they had been appointed.
Chap. xii. 1, 2. Jesus therefore six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, the dead man whom He had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there: and Martha served; but Lazarus was one of them that sat at meat with Him.
Disdaining the plot of the Jews, the Lord gives Himself up, willing to suffer when the time for suffering was come, |137 going to Bethany; not actually into Jerusalem, lest, suddenly appearing to the Jews, He might kindle them to anger; but by the rumour of His being so near gradually softening the rage of their wrath. And He eats with Lazarus, thereby reminding those who saw them of His God-befitting power. And by telling us this, the Evangelist shows that Christ did not despise the law; whence also six days before the passover, when it was necessary that the lamb should be purchased and kept until the fourteenth day, He ate with Lazarus and his friends: perhaps because it was a custom, not of law but from long usage, for the Jews to have some little merry-making on the day before the lamb was taken, in order that after the lamb was obtained they might devote themselves, from that time until the feast, to fasting or spareness of food, and to purifications. The Lord therefore is seen to have honoured even in this the customs of the feast. And in amazement the Evangelist says that he who had been four days dead was eating with the Christ, to remind us of His God-befitting power. And he adds that Martha, out of her love towards Christ, served, and ministered at the labours of the table.
[Page running titles]
The Father and the Son have one Will. 93
94 How Christ "receives a commandment."
A division among the Pharisees. 95
96 Christ is blamed for speaking like God.
Uncertainty as to "Dedication" commemorated. 97
98 How Jesus proclaimed Himself Christ.
He appeals to the testimony of His works. 99
100 The blessedness of Christ's obedient sheep.
Scriptural language often metaphorical.101
102 Distinction of Persons, yet Oneness of Deity.
The Pharisees accuse Christ of blasphemy.103
104Argument based on Ps. lxxxii. 6.
Limited capacity of human language. 105
106Divine things transcend human words.
Various meanings of the word 'sanctify.' 107
108 "One God in Trinity."
Baptism of Gentiles typified. 109
110 Love and faith of the sisters.
Christ foreknew the result. 111
112The disciples expostulate, yet obey.
Christ's presence gives light. 113
114 The disciples misunderstand Christ's words.
The language of Thomas explained. 115
116 The meeting of Martha and Jesus.
Explanation of Martha's words. 117
118 How man may die, and yet live.
Faith must be confessed. 119
120Martha was sponsor for Lazarus.
Christ's consideration for mourners. 121
122 Christ, as man, groaned and was troubled.
"Jesus wept," but not overmuch. 123
124 Malignity of the Pharisees.
Intercessory power of faith. 125
126Christ strengthens Martha's faith.
Christ suits His behaviour to the occasion. 127
128 Prayer is suitable to humanity.
Jesus prayed for the sake of others. 129
130 Wonderful effect of Christ's command.
The general resurrection typified. 131
132 Inner meaning of the miracle.
The prophecy of Caiaphas. 133
134 How we are all children of God.
We need not always rush into danger. 135
136Various opinions of the multitude.
Christ observed the customs of the feast. 137
[Most of the footnotes, moved to the end and renumbered. The margin contains mainly biblical references and fragments of Greek. These have been omitted]
1. a μνήμη. There is a play on the word, which is very similar to μνημεῖον, tomb, and is in fact sometimes used in the same sense.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2005. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using unicode.
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