Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

§2. He also ingeniously shows from the passage of the Gospel which speaks of “Good Master,” from the parable of the Vineyard, from Isaiah and from Paul, that there is not a dualism in the Godhead of good and evil, as Eunomius’ ally Marcion supposes, and declares that the Son does not refuse the title of “good” or “Existent,” or acknowledge His alienation from the Father, but that to Him also belongs authority over all things that come into being.

Not even Marcion himself, the patron of your opinions, supports you in this. It is true that in common with you he holds a dualism of gods, and thinks that one is different in nature from the other, but it is the more courteous view to attribute goodness to the God of the Gospel. You however actually separate the Only-begotten God from the nature of good, that you may surpass even Marcion in the depravity of your doctrines. However, they claim the Scripture on their side, and say that they are hardly treated when they are accused for using the very words of Scripture. For they say that the Lord Himself has said, “There is none good but one, that is, God 976 .” Accordingly, that misrepresentation may not prevail against the Divine words, we will briefly examine the actual passage in the Gospel. The history regards the rich man to whom the Lord spoke this word as young—the kind of person, I suppose, inclined to enjoy the pleasures of this life—and attached to his possessions; for it says that he was grieved at the advice to part with what he had, and that he did not choose to exchange his property for life eternal. This man, when he heard that a teacher of eternal life was in the neighbourhood, came to him in the expectation of living in perpetual luxury, with life indefinitely extended, flattering the Lord with the title of “good,”—flattering, I should rather say, not the Lord as we conceive Him, but as He then appeared in the form of a servant. For his character was not such as to enable him to penetrate the outward veil of flesh, and see through it into the inner shrine of Deity. The Lord, then, Who seeth the hearts, discerned the motive with which the young man approached Him as a suppliant,—that he did so, not with a soul intently fixed upon the Divine, but that it was the man whom he besought, calling Him “Good Master,” because he hoped to learn from Him some lore by which the approach of death might be hindered. Accordingly, with good reason did He Who was thus besought by him answer even as He was addressed 977 . For as the entreaty was not addressed to God the Word, so correspondingly the answer was delivered to the applicant by the Humanity of Christ, thereby impressing on the youth a double lesson. For He teaches him, by one and the same answer, both the duty of reverencing and paying homage to the Divinity, not by flattering speeches but by his life, by keeping the commandments and buying life eternal at the cost of all possessions, and also the truth that humanity, having been sunk in depravity by reason of sin, is debarred from the title of “Good”: and for this reason He says, “Why callest Thou Me good?” suggesting in His answer by the word “Me” that human nature which encompassed Him, while by attributing goodness to the Godhead He expressly declared Himself to be good, seeing that p. CCXXXII He is proclaimed to be God by the Gospel. For had the Only-begotten Son been excluded from the title of God, it would perhaps not have been absurd to think Him alien also from the appellation of “good.” But if, as is the case, prophets, evangelists, and Apostles proclaim aloud the Godhead of the Only-begotten, and if the name of goodness is attested by the Lord Himself to belong to God, how is it possible that He Who is partaker of the Godhead should not be partaker of the goodness too? For that both prophets, evangelists, disciples and apostles acknowledge the Lord as God, there is none so uninitiated in Divine mysteries as to need to be expressly told. For who knows not that in the forty-fourth 978 Psalm the prophet in his word affirms the Christ to be God, anointed by God? And again, who of all that are conversant with prophecy is unaware that Isaiah, among other passages, thus openly proclaims the Godhead of the Son, where he says: “The Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and shall be servants unto thee: they shall come after thee bound in fetters, and in thee shall they make supplication, because God is in thee, and there is no God beside thee; for thou art God 979 .” For what other God there is Who has God in Himself, and is Himself God, except the Only-begotten, let them say who hearken not to the prophecy; but of the interpretation of Emmanuel, and the confession of Thomas after his recognition of the Lord, and the sublime diction of John, as being manifest even to those who are outside the faith, I will say nothing. Nay, I do not even think it necessary to bring forward in detail the utterances of Paul, since they are, as one may say, in all men’s mouths, who gives the Lord the appellation not only of “God,” but of “great God” and “God over all,” saying to the Romans, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, Who is over all, God blessed for ever 980 ,” and writing to his disciple Titus, “According to the appearing of Jesus Christ the great God and our Saviour 981 ,” and to Timothy, proclaims in plain terms, “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit 982 .” Since then the fact has been demonstrated on every side that the Only-begotten God is God 983 , how is it that he who says that goodness belongs to God, strives to show that the Godhead of the Son is alien from this ascription, and this though the Lord has actually claimed for Himself the epithet “good” in the parable of those who were hired into the vineyard? For there, when those who had laboured before the others were dissatisfied at all receiving the same pay, and deemed the good fortune of the last to be their own loss, the just judge says to one of the murmurers 984 , “Friend, I do thee no wrong: did I not agree with thee for a penny a day? Lo, there thou hast that is thine 985 : I will bestow upon this last even as upon thee. Have I not power to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good?” Of course no one will contest the point that to distribute recompense according to desert is the special function of the judge; and all the disciples of the Gospel agree that the Only-begotten God is Judge; “for the Father,” He saith, “judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son 986 .” But they do not set themselves in opposition 987 to the Scriptures. For they say that the word “one” absolutely points to the Father. For He saith, “There is none good but one, that is God.” Will truth then lack vigour to plead her own cause? Surely there are many means easily to convict of deception this quibble also. For He Who said this concerning the Father spake also to the Father that other word, “All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them 988 .” Now if He says that all that is the Father’s is also the Son’s, and goodness is one of the attributes pertaining to the Father, either the Son has not all things if He has not this, and they will be saying that the Truth lies, or if it is impious to suspect the very Truth of being carried away into falsehood, then He Who claimed all that is the Father’s as His own, thereby asserted that He was not outside of goodness. For He Who has the Father in Himself, and contains all things that belong to the Father, manifestly has His goodness with “all things.” Therefore the Son is Good. But “there is none good,” he says, “but one, that is God.” This is what is alleged by our adversaries: nor do I myself reject the statement. I do not, however, for this cause deny the Godhead of the Son. But he who confesses that the Lord is God, by that very confession assuredly also asserts of Him goodness. For if goodness is a property of God, and if the Lord is God, then by our premises the Son is shown p. CCXXXIII to be God. “But,” says our opponent, “the word ‘one’ excludes the Son from participation in goodness.” It is easy, however, to show that not even the word “one” separates the Father from the Son. For in all other cases, it is true, the term “one” carries with it the signification of not being coupled with anything else, but in the case of the Father and the Son “one” does not imply isolation. For He says, “I and the Father are one 989 .” If, then, the good is one, and a particular kind of unity is contemplated in the Father and the Son, it follows that the Lord, in predicating goodness of “one,” claimed under the term “one” the title of “good” also for Himself, Who is one with the Father, and not severed from oneness of nature.



Cf. S. Matt. xix. 17.

CCXXXI:977 man, and not as God.


Ps. 45:7, 8. (The Psalm is the 44th in the LXX. numeration, and is so styled by S. Gregory.)


Cf. Isa. 45:14, 15 (LXX.).


Rom. ix. 5.


Cf. Tit. ii. 13. The quotation is not verbal; and here the rendering of the A.V. rather obscures the sense which it is necessary for S. Gregory’s argument to bring out.


1 Tim. iii. 16 (reading Θεός, or, if the citation is to be considered as verbal, Θεός).


Reading τοῦ Θεὸν εἶναι τὸν μονογενῆ Θεὸν for τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶναι κ.τ.λ. The reading of the texts does not give the sense required for the argument.


Compare with what follows S. Matt. 20:13, 15. S. Gregory seems to be quoting from memory; his Greek is not so close to that of S. Matthew as the translation to the A.V.


Cf. S. Matt. xxv. 25, from which this phrase is borrowed, with a slight variation.


S. John v. 22


This seems a sense etymologically possible for καθίστανται with a genitive, a use of which Liddell and Scott give no instances. The statement must of course be taken as that of the adversaries themselves.


S. John xvii. 10.


Cf. S. John x. 30

Next: He then exposes the ignorance of Eunomius, and the incoherence and absurdity of his arguments, in speaking of the Son as “the Angel of the Existent,” and as being as much below the Divine Nature as the Son is superior to the things created by Himself. And in this connection there is a noble and forcible counter-statement and an indignant refutation, showing that He Who gave the oracles to Moses is Himself the Existent, the Only-begotten Son, Who to the petition of Moses, “If Thou Thyself goest not with us, carry me not up hence,” said, “I will do this also that thou hast said”; Who is also called “Angel” both by Moses and Isaiah: wherein is cited the text, “Unto us a Child is born.”