Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

§4. Then returning to the words of Peter, “God made Him Lord and Christ,” he skilfully explains it by many arguments, and herein shows Eunomius as an advocate of the orthodox doctrine, and concludes the book by showing that the Divine and Human names are applied, by reason of the commixture, to either Nature.

But we must return once more to our vehement writer of speeches, and take up again that severe invective of his against ourselves. He makes it a complaint against us that we deny that the Essence of the Son has been made, as contradicting the words of Peter, “He made Him Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified 791 ”; and he is very forcible in his indignation and abuse upon this matter, and moreover maintains certain points by which he thinks that he refutes our doctrine. Let us see, then, the force of his attempts. “Who, pray, ye most reckless of men,” he says, “when he has the form of a servant, takes the form of a servant?” “No reasonable man,” shall be our reply to him, “would use language of this kind, save such as may be entirely alien from the hope of Christians. But to this class you belong, who charge us with recklessness because we do not admit the Creator to be created. For if the Holy Spirit does not lie, when He says by the prophet, ‘All things serve Thee 792 ,’ and the whole creation is in servitude, and the Son is, as you say 793 , created, He is clearly a fellow-servant with all things, being degraded by His partaking of creation to partake also of servitude. And Him Who is in servitude you will surely invest with the servant’s form: for you will not, of course, be ashamed of the aspect of servitude when you acknowledge that He is a servant by nature. Who now is it, I pray, my most keen rhetorician, who transfers the Son from the servile form to another form of a servant? he who claims for Him uncreated being, and thereby proves that He is no servant, or you, rather, who continually cry that the Son is the servant of the Father, and was actually under His dominion before He took the servant’s form? I ask for no other judges; I leave the vote on these questions in your own hands. For I suppose that no one is so shameless in his dealings with the truth as to oppose acknowledged facts out of sheer impudence. What we have said is clear to any one, that by the peculiar attributes of servitude is marked that which is by nature servile, and to be created is an attribute proper to servitude. Thus one who asserts that He, being a servant, took upon Him our form, is surely the man who transfers the Only-begotten from servitude to servitude.”

He tries, however, to fight against our words, and says, a little further on (for I will pass over at present his intermediate remarks, as they have been more or less fully discussed in my previous arguments), when he charges us with being “bold in saying or thinking things uncontrivable,” and calls us “most miserable 794 ,”—he adds, I say, this:—“For if it is not of the Word Who was in the beginning and was God that the blessed Peter speaks, but of Him Who was ‘seen,’ and Who ‘emptied Himself,’ as Basil says, and if the man Who was ‘seen’ ‘emptied Himself’ to take ‘the form of a servant,’ and He Who ‘emptied Himself’ to take the form of a servant,’ ‘emptied Himself’ to come into being as man, then the man who was ‘seen’ ‘emptied himself,’ to come into being as man.” It may be that the judgment of my readers has immediately detected from the above citation the knavery, and, at the same time, the folly of the argument he maintains: yet a brief refutation of what he says shall be subjoined on our side, not so p. CLXXXVIII much to overthrow his blundering sophism, which indeed is overthrown by itself for those who have ears to hear, as to avoid the appearance of passing his allegation by without discussion, under the pretence of contempt for the worthlessness of his argument. Let us accordingly look at the point in this way. What are the Apostle’s words? “Be it known,” he says, “that God made Him Lord and Christ 795 .” Then, as though some one had asked him on whom such a grace was bestowed, he points as it were with his finger to the subject, saying, “this Jesus, Whom ye crucified.” What does Basil say upon this? That the demonstrative word declares that that person was made Christ, Who had been crucified by the hearers;—for he says, “ye crucified,” and it was likely that those who had demanded the murder that was done upon Him were hearers of the speech; for the time from the crucifixion to the discourse of Peter was not long. What, then, does Eunomius advance in answer to this? “If it is not of the Word Who was in the beginning and was God that the blessed Peter speaks, but of Him Who was ‘seen,’ and Who ‘emptied Himself,’ as Basil says, and if the man who was ‘seen’ ‘emptied himself’ to take ‘the form of a servant’”—Hold! who says this, that the man who was seen emptied himself again to take the form of a servant? or who maintains that the suffering of the Cross took place before the manifestation in the flesh? The Cross did not precede the body, nor the body “the form of the servant.” But God is manifested in the flesh, while the flesh that displayed God in itself, after having by itself fulfilled the great mystery of the Death, is transformed by commixture to that which is exalted and Divine, becoming Christ and Lord, being transferred and changed to that which He was, Who manifested Himself in that flesh. But if we should say this, our champion of the truth maintains once more that we say that He Who was shown upon the Cross “emptied Himself” to become another man, putting his sophism together as follows in its wording:—“If,” quoth he, “the man who was ‘seen’ ‘emptied himself’ to take the ‘form of a servant,’ and He Who ‘emptied Himself’ to take the ‘form of a servant,’ ‘emptied Himself’ to come into being as man, then the man who was ‘seen’ ‘emptied himself’ to come into being as man.”

How well he remembers the task before him! how much to the point is the conclusion of his argument! Basil declares that the Apostle said that the man who was “seen” was made Christ and Lord, and this clear and quick-witted over-turner of his statements says, “If Peter does not say that the essence of Him Who was in the beginning was made, the man who was ‘seen’ ‘emptied himself’ to take the ‘form of a servant,’ and He Who ‘emptied Himself’ to take the ’form of a servant, emptied Himself to become man.” We are conquered, Eunomius, by this invincible wisdom! The fact that the Apostle’s discourse refers to Him Who was “crucified through weakness 796 ” is forsooth powerfully disproved when we learn that if we believe this to be so, the man who was “seen” again becomes another, “emptying Himself” for another coming into being of man. Will you never cease jesting against what should be secure from such attempts? will you not blush at destroying by such ridiculous sophisms the awe that hedges the Divine mysteries? will you not turn now, if never before, to know that the Only-begotten God, Who is in the bosom of the Father, being Word, and King, and Lord, and all that is exalted in word and thought, needs not to become anything that is good, seeing that He is Himself the fulness of all good things? What then is that, by changing into which He becomes what He was not before? Well, as He Who knew not sin becomes sin 797 , that He may take away the sin of the world, so on the other hand the flesh which received the Lord becomes Christ and Lord, being transformed by the commixture into that which it was not by nature: whereby we learn that neither would God have been manifested in the flesh, had not the Word been made flesh, nor would the human flesh that compassed Him about have been transformed to what is Divine, had not that which was apparent to the senses become Christ and Lord. But they treat the simplicity of what we preach with contempt, who use their syllogisms to trample on the being of God, and desire to show that He Who by creation brought into being all things that are, is Himself a part of creation, and wrest, to assist them in such an effort to establish their blasphemy, the words of Peter, who said to the Jews, “Be it known to all the house of Israel that God made Him Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified 798 .” This is the proof they present for the statement that the essence of the Only-begotten God is created! What? tell me, were the Jews, to whom the words were spoken, in existence before the ages? was the Cross before the world? was Pilate before all creation? was Jesus in existence first, and after that the Word? was the flesh more ancient than the Godhead? did Gabriel bring glad tidings to Mary before the world was? did not the Man that was in Christ take beginning by way of birth in the days of Cæsar Augustus, while the Word that was God in the beginning is our King, as the prophet testifies, before all ages 799 ? See you not what confusion you bring p. CLXXXIX upon the matter, turning, as the phrase goes, things upside down? It was the fiftieth day after the Passion, when Peter preached his sermon to the Jews and said, “Him Whom ye crucified, God made Christ and Lord.” Do you not mark the order of his saying? which stands first, which second in his words? He did not say, “Him Whom God made Lord, ye crucified,” but, “Whom ye crucified, Him God made Christ and Lord”: so that it is clear from this that Peter is speaking, not of what was before the ages, but of what was after the dispensation.

How comes it, then, that you fail to see that the whole conception of your argument on the subject is being overthrown, and go on making yourself ridiculous with your childish web of sophistry, saying that, if we believe that He who was apparent to the senses has been made by God to be Christ and Lord, it necessarily follows that the Lord once more “emptied Himself” anew to become Man, and underwent a second birth? What advantage does your doctrine get from this? How does what you say show the King of creation to be created? For my own part I assert on the other side that our view is supported by those who contend against us, and that the rhetorician, in his exceeding attention to the matter, has failed to see that in pushing, as he supposed, the argument to an absurdity, he is fighting on the side of those whom he attacks, with the very weapons he uses for their overthrow. For if we are to believe that the change of condition in the case of Jesus was from a lofty state to a lowly one, and if the Divine and uncreated Nature alone transcends the creation, he will, perhaps, when he thoroughly surveys his own argument, come over to the ranks of truth, and agree that the Uncreated came to be in the created, in His love for man. But if he imagines that he demonstrates the created character of the Lord by showing that He, being God, took part in human nature, he will find many such passages to establish the same opinion which carry out their support of his argument in a similar way. For since He was the Word and was God, and “afterwards,” as the prophet says, “was seen upon earth and conversed with men 800 ,” He will hereby be proved to be one of the creatures! And if this is held to be beside the question, similar passages too are not quite akin to the subject. For in sense it is just the same to say that the Word that was in the beginning was manifested to men through the flesh, and to say that being in the form of God He put on the form of a servant: and if one of these statements gives no help for the establishment of his blasphemy, he must needs give up the remaining one also. He is kind enough, however, to advise us to abandon our error, and to point out the truth which He himself maintains. He tells us that the Apostle Peter declares Him to have been made Who was in the beginning the Word and God. Well, if he were making up dreams for our amusement, and giving us information about the prophetic interpretation of the visions of sleep, there might be no risk in allowing him to set forth the riddles of his imagination at his pleasure. But when he tells us that he is explaining the Divine utterances, it is no longer safe for us to leave him to interpret the words as he likes. What does the Scripture say? “God made Lord and Christ this Jesus whom ye crucified 801 .” When everything, then, is found to concur—the demonstrative word denoting Him Who is spoken of by the Name of His Humanity, the charge against those who were stained with blood-guiltiness, the suffering of the Cross—our thought necessarily turns to that which was apparent to the senses. But he asserts that while Peter uses these words it is the pretemporal existence that is indicated by the word “made” 802 . Well, we may safely allow nurses and old wives to jest with children, and to lay down the meaning of dreams as they choose: but when inspired Scripture is set before us for exposition, the great Apostle forbids us to have recourse to old wives’ tattle 803 . When I hear “the Cross” spoken of, I understand the Cross, and when I hear mention of a human name, I understand the nature which that name connotes. So when I hear from Peter that “this” one was made Lord and Christ, I do not doubt that he speaks of Him Who had been before the eyes of men, since the saints agree with one another in this matter as well as in others. For, as he says that He Who was crucified has been made Lord, so Paul also says that He was “highly exalted 804 ,” after the Passion and the Resurrection, not being exalted in so far forth as He is God. For what height is there more sublime than the Divine height, that he should say God was exalted thereunto? But he means that the lowliness of the Humanity was exalted, the word, I suppose, indicating the assimilation and union of the Man Who was assumed to the exalted state of the Divine Nature. And even if one were to allow him licence to misinterpret the Divine utterance, not even so will his argument conclude in accordance with the aim of his heresy. For be it granted that Peter does say of Him Who was in the beginning, “God made Him Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified,” we shall find that even so his blasphemy does not gain any strength against the truth. “God made Him,” he says, “Lord p. CXC and Christ.” To which of the words are we to refer the word made? with which of those that are employed in this sentence are we to connect the word? There are three before us:—“this,” and “Lord,” and “Christ.” With which of these three will he construct the word “made”? No one is so bold against the truth as to deny that “made” has reference to “Christ” and “Lord”; for Peter says that He, being already whatever He was, was “made Christ and Lord” by the Father.

These words are not mine: they are those of him who fights against the Word. For he says, in the very passage that is before us for examination, exactly thus:—“The blessed Peter speaks of Him Who was in the beginning and was God, and expounds to us that it was He Who became Lord and Christ.” Eunomius, then, says that He Who was whatsoever He was became Lord and Christ, as the history of David tells us that he, being the son of Jesse, and a keeper of the flocks, was anointed to be king: not that the anointing then made him to be a man, but that he, being what he was by his own nature, was transformed from an ordinary man to a king. What follows? Is it thereby the more established that the essence of the Son was made, if, as Eunomius says, God made Him, when He was in the beginning and was God, both Lord and Christ? For Lordship is not a name of His being but of His being in authority, and the appellation of Christ indicates His kingdom, while the idea of His kingdom is one, and that of His Nature another. Suppose that Scripture does say that these things took place with regard to the Son of God. Let us then consider which is the more pious and the more rational view. Which can we allowably say is made partaker of superiority by way of advancement—God or man? Who has so childish a mind as to suppose that the Divinity passes on to perfection by way of addition? But as to the Human Nature, such a supposition is not unreasonable, seeing that the words of the Gospel clearly ascribe to our Lord increase in respect of His Humanity: for it says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and favour 805 .” Which, then, is the more reasonable suggestion to derive from the Apostle’s words?—that He Who was God in the beginning became Lord by way of advancement, or that the lowliness of the Human Nature was raised to the height of majesty as a result of its communion with the Divine? For the prophet David also, speaking in the person of the Lord, says, “I am established as king by Him 806 ,” with a meaning very close to “I was made Christ:” and again, in the person of the Father to the Lord, he says, “Be Thou Lord in the midst of Thine enemies 807 ,” with the same meaning as Peter, “Be Thou made Lord of Thine enemies.” As, then, the establishment of His kingdom does not signify the formation of His essence, but the advance to His dignity, and He Who bids Him “be Lord” does not command that which is non-existent to come into being at that particular time, but gives to Him Who is the rule over those who are disobedient,—so also the blessed Peter, when he says that one has been made Christ (that is, king of all) adds the word “Him” to distinguish the idea both from the essence and from the attributes contemplated in connection with it. For He made Him what has been declared when He already was that which He is. Now if it were allowable to assert of the transcendent Nature that it became anything by way of advancement, as a king from being an ordinary man, or lofty from being lowly, or Lord from being servant, it might be proper to apply Peter’s words to the Only-begotten. But since the Divine Nature, whatever it is believed to be, always remains the same, being above all augmentation and incapable of diminution, we are absolutely compelled to refer his saying to the Humanity. For God the Word is now, and always remains, that which He was in the beginning, always King, always Lord, always God and Most High, not having become any of these things by way of advancement, but being in virtue of His Nature all that He is declared to be, while on the other hand He Who was, by being assumed, elevated from Man to the Divinity, being one thing and becoming another, is strictly and truly said to have become Christ and Lord. For He made Him to be Lord from being a servant, to be King from being a subject, to be Christ from being in subordination. He highly exalted that which was lowly, and gave to Him that had the Human Name that Name which is above every name 808 . And thus came to pass that unspeakable mixture and conjunction of human littleness commingled with Divine greatness, whereby even those names which are great and Divine are properly applied to the Humanity, while on the other hand the Godhead is spoken of by human names 809 . For it is the same Person who both has the Name which is above every name, and is worshipped by all creation in the human Name of Jesus. For he says, “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father 810 .” But enough of these matters.



Acts ii. 36.


Ps. cxix. 91.


Reading καθ᾽ ὑμᾶς with the earlier editions. Oehler alleges no authority for his reading καθ᾽ ἡμᾶς, which is probably a mere misprint.


Oehler’s punctuation here seems to require correction.


Acts ii. 36.


2 Cor. xiii. 4.


Cf. 2 Cor. v. 21


Acts ii. 36.


Ps. lxxiv. 12 (LXX.).


Bar. iii. 37.


Acts ii. 36.


Altering Oehler’s punctuation, which here seems certainly faulty: some slighter alterations have also been made in what precedes, and in what follows.


Cf. 1 Tim. iv. 7. The quotation is not verbal.


Cf. Phil. ii. 9


S. Luke ii. 52


Ps. ii. 6 (LXX).


Ps. cx. 2.


Cf. Phil. ii. 9


This passage may be taken as counterbalancing that in which S. Gregory seems to limit the communicatio idiomatum (see above, page 184, n. 6): but he here probably means no more than that names or titles which properly belong to the Human Nature of our Lord are applied to His Divine Personality.


Cf. Phil. ii. 10

Next: Book VII