22. How the Word Stands in the Midst of Men Without Being Known of Them.
As for the saying, “There standeth one among you whom you know not,” we are led by it to consider the Son of God, the Word, by whom all things were made, since He exists in substance throughout the underlying nature of things, being the same as wisdom. For He permeated, from the beginning, all creation, so that what is made at any time should be made through Him, and that it might be always true of anything soever, that “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made;” and this saying also, “By wisdom didst thou make them all.” Now, if He permeates all creation, then He is also in those questioners who ask, “Why baptizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” In the midst of them stands the Word, who is the same and steadfast, being everywhere established by the Father. Or the words, “There standeth among you,” may be understood to say, In the midst of you men, because you are reasonable beings, stands He who is proved by Scripture to be the sovereign principle in the midst of every body, and so to be present in your heart. Those, therefore, who have the Word in the midst of them, but who do not consider His nature, nor from what spring and principle He came, nor how He gave them the nature they have, 4914 these, while having Him in the midst of them, know Him not. But John knew Him: for the words, “Whom you know not,” used in reproach to the Pharisees, show that he well knew the Word whom they did not know. And the Baptist, therefore, knowing Him, saw Him coming after himself, who was now in the midst of them, that is to say, dwelling after him and the teaching he gave in his baptism, in those who, according to reason (or the Word), submitted to that purifying rite. The word “after,” however, has not the same meaning here as it has when Jesus commands us to come “after” Him; for in this case we are bidden to go after Him, so that, treading in His steps, we may come to the Father; but in the other case, the meaning is that after the teachings of John (since “He came in order that all men through Him might believe”), the Word dwells with those who have prepared themselves, purified as they are by the lesser words for the perfect Word. Firstly, then, stands the Father, being without any turning or change; and then stands also His Word, always carrying on His work of salvation, and even when He is in the midst of men, not comprehended, and not even seen. He stands, also, teaching, and inviting all to drink from His abundant spring, for 4915 “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.”
John vii. 37.