In illud: Tunc et ipse filius

by St Gregory of Nyssa

All the utterances of the Lord are holy and pure as the prophet says [cf. Ps 33.4-5]. When the mind (nous) has been purified as silver in fire and cleansed of every heretical notion, it has the capacity of noble utterances and a splendor which is in accord with truth. Before this, however, I think it is necessary to attest to the brilliance and purity of Saint Paul’s teachings; for in paradise he was initiated into the knowledge of unintelligible things. Having Christ speaking within himself, Paul uttered such things which, indeed, anyone would utter who was taught by such a teacher, guide and master as the Word. Since evil frauds lay hands on the divine silver to make it base by mixing it with heretical and adulterated conceptions which obscure the Word’s brightness and the apostle’s mystical perceptions, they either do not understand these perceptions or else they resolve wickedly to choose selectively among them in order to defend their own wicked behavior, having appropriated them for their own wicked purposes. Such persons claim, in order to diminish the glory of the Only-Begotten [Son] of God, that the apostle’s words agree with them when he says, “Then the Son will be subjected (hupotagestetai) to him who has subjected all things to himself” [1 Cor 15.28]. Thus, they would say such a style of speaking reveals a certain servile subjection of the Son to the Father]. For this reason it seemed necessary to diligently examine what is being said here, that we may show that the apostolic silver is truly pure, separated and unmixed from every kind of sordid and heretical concept. We, for our part, know that such a saying or word [that is, hupotasso] has many meanings in Holy Scripture and is not always suited to the same purposes: now it signifies one thing, and at another time something else … for instance slaves are to be subjected to their masters.

Man’s irrational nature is to be subjected to God, of which the prophet says, “He put all things under his feet” [Ps 8.8]. As for those taken captive in battle, it says, “He subjected peoples under us and nations under our feet” [Ps 46.4]. Yet, again, mentioning those who have been saved through knowledge, the prophet says in the person of God, “He subjected other peoples under me” [Ps 59.10]. Thus, it is fitting for us to see how what was examined in this psalm verse can be applied to Psalm 61: “Will not my soul be subjected to God?” [Ps 61.2]. That which is brought to our attention by our enemies from all these examples is taken from the Epistle to the Corinthians, namely, “then the Son himself will be subjected to the One who subjects all things to himself.” Because this text can be understood in many ways, it would be helpful if each use of the word [subjection] is examined so that we may know the proper meaning the apostle had in mind by the term ‘subjection.’

We say that those vanquished in battle unwillingly and forcefully submit themselves to their victors — this is a sign of subjection. If any opportunity arises which may offer hope of overcoming their masters, the captives who consider it bad and disgraceful to be in such a state once again rise up in rebellion. Irrational (alogos) beasts are subject to men endowed with reason (logikos); such is the order of things. How necessary it is for that which is inferior to be subjected to that which enjoys a superior lot by nature! Those under the yoke of servitude as some consequence of the law — even if they are equal in nature (to their masters), but are unable to resist the law — hear the state of subjection, having inevitably been brought to this state out of necessity.

On the other hand, the mark of submission to God is, as we have learned by the prophecy, “To God be subjected, my soul, for from him is my salvation” [Ps 61.2]. Therefore, when the apostle’s text is brought forward by our adversaries, that is, the Son must be subjected to the Father, it follows that once its meaning has been clarified, we must ask those who are accustomed to attribute Paul’s text to the Only-Begotten [Son] of God what they mean by subjection. But it is clear that the Son’s subjection should not be understood according to any mode of human speech. For neither does an enemy vanquished in battle rise up a second time against his victors out of hope and eagerness [for overcoming them]. Neither through a lack of the good does an irrational beast have a natural, necessary subjection, as in the case of sheep and cattle which are subjected to man. Similarly, neither does a bought or home-born slave ever expect to become free of slavery’s yoke by law either through kindness or clemency. With regard to salvation’s goal it is said that the Only-Begotten [Son] of God is subjected to the Father in the same way salvation from God is procured for mankind. As for mutable [human] nature’s participation (metousia) in the good, it is necessary for such a nature to be subjected to God by means of which we have fellowship (koinonia) in this good. Subjection has no place in God’s immutable and unchanging power; in it is contemplated every good name, intelligence, incorruptibility and blessedness. This power always remains as it is; neither does it have the capacity to become better nor worse. Also, neither does God’s power receive increase in the good, nor a downward inclination to a worse condition. Rather, God’s power makes salvation spring up for others while having no other function than bestowing salvation.

What then can reasonably be said as to the meaning of subjection? Everything which has been examined is found quite remote from a proper understanding and discussion about the Only-Begotten [Son] of God. If it is necessary to attribute the kind of subjection spoken of in Luke’s Gospel to Christ — “The Lord was obedient [subjected] to his parents until he reached twelve years of age” [2.51]. Neither is the meaning of this text proper for the God who existed before all ages, nor true when applied to his real Father. Christ was tempted in our human nature [literally, ‘there,’ ekei] in everything according to our likeness except sin [Heb 4.15] and advanced through the stages proper to our human existence. Just as a little child, Christ received a newborn infant’s nourishment, that is, butter and milk. Thus, while advancing into adolescence, Christ did not avoid anything related or pertaining to that particular stage of life, but was an example (tupos) of good conduct (eutaxia) for that particular age.

Since the understanding of some persons is imperfect regarding these matters, the function of Christ’s youth is to lead to a better state by what is more perfect. Because of this, the twelve-year-old child [Jesus] was subject to his mother; Christ showed us that which is perfected through advancement, although he was perfect beforehand. Rightly did he take subjection as a means to the good. He who is perfect in every good and was neither capable of assuming any kind of diminution — because his nature is self- sufficient and cannot be lessened-is subjected for a reason which thoughtless persons cannot express. Christ associ­ated himself (sunanastrepho) with our human nature and experienced the stage of child­hood through which he effected the obedience [subjection] proper to this time of youth. It is clear that Christ progressed from that state to a perfect age when he no longer relied upon a mother’s authority. His mother urged him to manifest his power in Canna of Galilee when there was a lack of wine at the wedding feast, and wine was needed for the celebration. He did not refuse those in need, but rejected his mother’s request as no longer being appropri­ate for his present age (kairos) of life. He said, “What do you have to do with me, woman?” [Jn 2.4]. “Do you wish to have power over me now at this stage of my life? Has not my hour come which shows that I have a mind and free will of my own?” If, then, the just measure of our parents’ subjection in this life according to the flesh is shaken off — for it has a place in our present existence — no one is able to command Christ whose lordship is forever. For the divine and blessed life is his own which always abides in him, never admitting of transformation due to change.

Since the Word, the Only-Begotten [Son] of God from the beginning, is alien from every aberration and change, how can what now is not a reality exist afterwards? For the apostle does not say that the Son is always subjected, but that he will be subjected at the final consummation of all things. If subjection is said to be good and worthy of God, how can this good be apart from God? The good is equally in both persons — in the Son who is subjected and in the Father who receives his Son’s subjection. Such a good is lacking to both Father and Son at the present. What the Father does not have before all ages, neither does the Son have — at the fulfillment of time this good will be present in to Father]. On the other hand, there will be a certain addition and increase in God’s own glory, which at present he does not have. How does this relate to what is unchangeable? That which will exist afterwards, but not now, refers to our mutable human nature. If subjection is good, the good now consists of believing in God; if such a good is unworthy of God, neither can it exist now nor in the future. However, the apostle claims that the Son is to be subjected; He is not so at the present.

Does the term ‘subjection’ have another significance which is far removed from any kind of heretical perversity? What then is it? Perhaps by connecting what has also been written in this part [of First Corinthians] to the text at large, we may obtain an idea of Paul’s mean­ing. When Paul wrote against the Corinthians who had received their faith in the Lord, they held the teaching of the Resurrection as a myth, saying, “How can the dead rise? And what kind of body will they have?” [1 Cor 15.35]. By what diverse and varied ways do bodies return to existence after death and disintegration, after being destroyed either by carnivorous animals, reptiles or animals which swim, fly or are four-footed beasts? Paul therefore sets before the Corinthians many arguments, entreating them not to compare God’s power to their own human capacity, nor to estimate anything as being impossible regarding man as well as God. However, one may consider God’s greatness from examples well-known to us. Thus, God placed in man the marvelous example of seeds in their bodies which are always renewed by his power [1 Cor 15.37]. God’s wisdom is not exhausted. It is found in myriad bodily forms of all descriptions — those which are rational, irrational, air-borne and on the earth, as well as those which we see in the heavens, such as the sun and other stars. Each one having been begotten by the divine power is a certain proof that God will resurrect our bodies.

All things are brought to manifestation not from any underlying matter (hule) but from the divine will acting as matter and substance for such created things; it is easier to mold that which already exists into its proper shape (schema) than to bring into being that which had no substance and essence right from the beginning. Therefore, in the text [cf. 1 Cor 15] Paul showed that the first man was dissolved into the earth through sin and was therefore regarded as being of the earth. It followed that all who took their origin from this first man became earthly and mortal. Another consequence necessarily resulted by which man is renewed once again from mortality into immortality. Similarly, the good begotten in human nature was bestowed upon every person as one entity, just as evil was poured into a multi­tude of persons by one man through succeeding generations. These words then can be used for confirming Paul’s teaching. “The first man,” he says, “was from the earth; the second man is from heaven. As it was with the man of dust, so it is with those of the dust; as it is with the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven” [l Cor 15.47-48]. There­fore, these and similar reflections confirm the fact of the Resurrection.

By many other arguments, Paul entangled heretics with syllogisms. He showed that the person not believing in the resurrection of the dead does not admit of Christ’s Resurrec­tion. Through the web of mutual connections there comes the inevitable conclusion — “If there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ risen. If Christ has not risen, our faith in him is vain” [1 Cor 15.16]. If the proposition is true, namely that Christ is risen from the dead, then it is necessarily true that this connection spoken of is true, that there is a resurrection of the dead. For by a particular demonstration the universal is presented at the same time. On the contrary, if anyone says the universal is false, that is, the resur­rection of the dead, neither is the truth found in an individual example, that is, Christ’s Resurrec­tion from the dead. Paul therefore compels the Corinthians by syllogisms to accept his teaching on the Resurrection. From it he claims that if the Resurrection does not exist, its universal confirmation is concluded. For with a specific proof the general principle is also revealed. And, on the contrary, if anyone were to say that the general principle is false (that there is a resurrection of the dead), then neither would the specific be found true (that Christ was raised from the dead). Paul adds to this fact that as all have died in Adam, all will be restored to life in Christ. Clearly does Paul here reveal the mystery of the Resurrection. Anyone who looks at what results from the Resurrection readily sees its consequence, that is, the goal for which all men hope and for which they direct their prayers.

Here then is the object of our treatise. I will first set forth, however, my own understand­ing of the text, and will then add the Apostle Paul’s words as applied to my understanding. What therefore does Paul teach us? It consists in saying that evil will come to nought and will be completely destroyed. The divine, pure goodness will contain in itself every nature endowed with reason; nothing made by God is excluded from his kingdom once everything mixed with some elements of base material has been consumed by refinement in fire. Such things had their origin in God; what was made in the beginning did not receive evil. Paul says this is so. He said that the pure and undefiled divinity of the Only-Begotten [Son] assumed man’s mortal and perishable nature. However, from the entirety of human nature to which the divinity is mixed, the man constituted according to Christ is a kind of first fruits of the common dough (oion aparche tis tou koinou phuramatos). It is through this [divinized] man that all mankind is joined to the divinity.

Since every evil was obliterated in Christ — for he did not make sin — the prophet says, “No deceit was found in his mouth” [Is 53.9]. Evil was destroyed along with sin, as well as the death which resulted; for death is simply the result of sin. Christ assumed from death both the beginning of evil’s destruction and the dissolution of death; then, as it were, a certain order was consequently added. Decrease of the good always results by straying from its principle, while the good is found closer to us insofar as it lies in each one’s dignity and power; thus, a result follows from the action preceding it. Therefore, after the man in Christ, who became the first fruits of our human nature, received in himself the divinity, He became the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep and the first born from the dead once the pangs of death have been loosened. So then, after this person has completely separated himself from sin and has utterly denied in himself the power of death and destroyed its lordship and authority and might … if anyone like Paul may be found who became a mighty imitator of Christ in his rejection of evil … such a person will fall in behind the first fruits at Christ’s coming (parousia).

And, on the other hand — I say this as an example — there is Timothy, who as much as he could, was also imitating his teacher; but there are other persons not quite like him who, one after another, suffer little by little a loss of goodness and are found to follow behind certain people who are always ready to anticipate and lead until the followers, by continual imita­tions, resemble (reach) their leaders in whom there is little good because evil abounds. In the same way, there is a conformity that comes from those who are less flawed and, as a consequence, turn from those who excel in evil by following their own inclina­tions and who are driven back from better things until at the last gasp of evil, growth in goodness achieves the destruction of evil. Similarly, by a growing resemblance to less evil persons, those who excelled in doing evil enter the way of persons being led into what is better until through progress in the good they put an end to their evil ways by the destruc­tion of wickedness. The goal of our hope is that nothing contrary to the good is left, but the divine life permeates everything. It completely destroys death, having earlier removed sin which, as it is said, held dominion over all mankind. Therefore, every wicked authority and domination has been destroyed in us. No longer do any of our passions rule our [human] nature, since it is necessary that none of them dominate — all are subjected to the one who rules over all. Subjection to God is complete alienation from evil. When we are removed from evil in imitation of the first fruits [Christ], our entire nature is mixed with this self­same fruits. One body has been formed with the good as predominant; our body’s entire nature is united to the divine, pure nature. This is what we mean by the Son’s subjection — when, in his body, Christ rightly has the subjection — when, in his body, Christ rightly has the subjection brought to him, and he effects in us the grace of subjection.

Such is the understanding of these teachings which we have accepted from the great Saint Paul. It is time now to quote the apostle himself on these matters. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be des­troyed is death. ‘For God has put all things in subjection under his feet’ [a reference to Ps 8.6]. But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection under him,’ it is plain that he is accepted who put all things under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who puts all things under him, that God may be everything to everyone” [1 Cor 15.22-28].

In the last of his words [above], Paul plainly speaks of the nonexistence (anuparktos) of evil by stating that God is in all things and present to each one of them. It is clear that God will truly be in all things when no evil will be found. It is not proper for God to be present in evil; thus, he will not be in everything as long as some evil remains. If it compels us to truly believe that God is in everything, then evil cannot be seen as existing along with faith; for God cannot be present in evil. However, for God to be present in all things, Paul shows that he, the hope of our life, is simple and uniform. No longer can our new existence be now compared o the many and varied examples of this present life. Paul shows, by the words quoted above, that God becomes all things for us. He appears as the necessities of our present life, or as examples for partaking in the divinity. Thus, for God to be our food, it is proper to understand him as being eaten; the same applies to drink, clothing, shelter, air, location, wealth, enjoyment, beauty, health, strength, prudence, glory, blessedness and anything else judged good which our human nature needs. Words such as these signify what is proper to God.

We therefore learn by the examples mentioned above that the person in God has every­thing which God himself has. To have God means nothing else than to be united with him. Unity then means to be one body with him as Paul states, for all who are joined to the one body of Christ by participation are one body with him. When the good pervades every­thing, then the entirety of Christ’s body will be subjected to God’s vivifying power. Thus, the subjection of this body will be said to be the subjection of Church. Regarding this point, Paul says to the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’ s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church of which 1 became a minister according to his dispensation” [Col 1.24]. To the Church at Corinth Paul says, “You are the body of Christ and his members” [1 Cor 12.27]. To the Ephesians Paul more clearly puts this teaching when saying, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and builds itself up in love” [Eph 4.15-16].

Christ eternally builds himself up by those who join themselves to him in faith. A person ceases to build himself up when the growth and completion of his body attains its proper measure. No longer does he lack anything added to his body by building, since he is wholly constructed upon the foundation of prophets and apostles. When faith is added, the apostle says, “Let us attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” [Eph 2.13]. If the head, in turn, builds up the body, it joins, connects and brings together everything else for which it was born according to the measure of its function, such as the hand, foot, eye, ear or any other part completing the body in proportion to each person’s faith. By so carrying out these functions, the body builds itself up as Paul says above. It is clear that when this is accomplished, Christ receives in himself all who are joined to him through the fellowship of his body. Christ makes everyone as limbs of his own body — even if there are many such limbs, the body is one. Therefore, by uniting us to himself, Christ is our unity; and having become one body with us through all things, he looks after us all. Subjection to God is our chief good when all creation resounds as one voice, when everything in heaven, on earth and under the earth bends the knee to him, and when every tongue will confess that has become one body and is joined in Christ through obedience to one another, he will bring into subjection his own body to the Father.

Let not what is said here sound strange to anyone, for we ascribe to the soul a certain means of expression taken from the body. That which is read as pertaining to the fruitfulness of the land may also be applied to one’s own soul: “Eat, drink, and be merry” [Lk 11.19]. This sentence may be referred to the fullness of the soul. Thus, the subjection of the Church’s body is brought to him who dwells in the soul. Since everything is explained through subjection as the book of Psalms suggests. As a result, we learn that faith means not being apart from those who are saved. This we learn from the Apostle Paul.

Paul signifies, by the Son’s subjection, the destruction of death. Therefore, these two elements concur, that is, when death will be no more, and everything will be completely changed into life. The Lord is life. According to the apostle, Christ will have access to the Father with his entire body when he will hand over the kingdom to our God and Father. Christ’s body, as it is often said, consists of human nature in its entirety to which he has been united. Because of this, Christ is named Lord by Paul, as mediator between God and man [1 Tim 2.5]. He who is in the Father and has lived with men accomplishes interces­sion. Christ unites all mankind to himself, and to the Father through himself, as the Lord says in the Gospel, “As you, Father, are in me, and I am in you, that they may be one in us” [Jn 17.21]. This clearly shows that having united himself to us, he who is in the Father effects our union (sunapheia) with this very same Father.

The words contained in the Gospel then add, “The glory which you have given to me I have given to them” [vs. 22]. I think that Christ’s own glory is meant to be the Holy Spirit which he has given to his disciples by breathing upon them, for what is scattered cannot other­wise be united unless joined together by the Holy Spirit’s unity. ” Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” [Rom 8.9]. The Spirit is glory, as Christ says of the Father: “Glorify me with the glory which I had with you before the world was made” [Jn 17.5]. The Word is God who has the Father’s glory and became flesh during these last days. It is necessary for the flesh to become what the Word is (that is, to become divine) by uniting itself to him; this is effected when the flesh receives that which the Word had before the world was made. This is none other than the Holy Spirit, that same Holy Spirit existing before the ages together with the Father and the Son. Hence, the text says, “The glory which you have given me, I have given to them” in order that “the unity given through the Holy Spirit to me might be given to you through me.”

Let us look at the words following those quoted above from the Gospel: “That they may be one as we are one. You in me and I in them, because I and you are one, in order that they may be perfectly one” [Jn 17 .21-23]. 1 think that there is no need for exegesis of these words which agree with what we have already explained above, for the text itself clearly sets forth the teaching on unity. “In order that they may be one as we are one.” For it cannot be otherwise — “that all may be one as we are one”– unless the disciples, being separated from everything dividing them from each other, are united together “as we are one,” that “they might be one, as we are one.” How can it be that “I am in them?” For “I alone cannot be in them unless you also are in them, since both I and you are one. Thus, they might be perfectly one, having been perfected in us, for we are one.”

Such grace is more clearly shown by the following words: “I have loved them as you have loved me” [Jn 17.23]. If the Father loves the Son, all of us have become Christ’s body through faith in him. Thus, the Father who loves his own Son loves the Son’s body just as the Son himself. We are the Son’s body. Therefore, the sense of Paul’s words becomes clear — the Son’s subjection to his Father signifies that he knows our entire human nature and has become its salvation. The text Paul is referring to might become clearer to us from his other insights. I especially recall one of his many reverent testimonies without quoting it at length. Paul says of himself that “with Christ I am crucified. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” [Gal 2.20]. If Paul no longer lives, but Christ lives in him, every­thing which Paul does and says is referred to Christ living in him. Paul’s words are spoken by Christ when he says, “Do you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me?” [2 Cor 13.3]. Paul claims that the good works of the Gospel are not his; rather, he attributes them to the grace of Christ dwelling within him. If Christ living in Paul works and speaks those things as a result of this indwelling, Paul has relinquished everything which formerly dominated him when he was a blasphemer, persecutor and behaved arrogantly. Paul looked to the true good alone, and by it made himself submissive and obedient.

Once Paul has been subjected to God, he is brought to the One who lives, speaks and effects good things. The supreme good is subjection to God. This fact which occurred in one person [Paul] will be harmoniously applied to every human being “when,” as the Lord says, “the Gospel will be preached throughout the world” [Mk 16.15]. All who have rejected the old man with its deeds and desires have received the Lord who, of course, effects the good done by them. The highest of all good things is salvation effected in us through estrangement from evil. However, we are separated from evil for no other reason than for being united to God through subjection. Subjection to God then refers to Christ dwelling in us. What is beautiful is his; what is good is from him, which God expresses through the prophets. Because subjection is both beautiful and good — for Christ himself demonstrat­ed this to us — the good is entirely from him who is good by nature, as the prophet says. No one who looks at the term ‘subjection’ as generally used spurns it. The great Paul’s wisdom knew how to use the outward appearance of words. He knew how to adapt such appearances by joining them together in his own mind to see if the common usage of words may be employed for other meanings. One such occurrence of this reads as follows: “He emptied himself” [Phil 2.3]; and “No one will make void my boasting” [l Cor 9.15]; and “faith is made void” [Rom 4.14]; and “In order that the cross of Christ may not be without effect.” What use are these expressions to their author? Who can judge him saying, “I am desirous of you” [1 Th 2.8]? Such words as these show a loving attitude.

From where does Paul’s lack of arrogance, which is love, come? It is revealed through his statement that love does not boast [1 Cor 13.4]. Strife is full of disputes and is vengeful as the term eritheia signifies [selfish or factious ambition]. It is clear that erithos [a worker in wool] is derived from the term eritheia, and we are accustomed to signifying diligent work with regards to wool (eria) by the term eritheia. Paul, however, finds pleasure in such cold etymologies, and by them he desires to show the sense intended by these words. Many other examples may be examined closely in which the apostle’s words are found. They do not serve the common use of speech, but Paul freely brings his own peculiar understand­ing to them while avoiding the common usage. Hence, another meaning of subjection is understood by Paul as opposite to the common one.

The exposition of the term ‘subjection’ as used here does not mean the forceful, necessary subjection of enemies as is commonly meant; while on the other hand, salvation is clearly interpreted by subjection. However, clear proof of the former meaning is definitely made when Paul makes a twofold distinction of the term ‘enemy.’ He says that enemies are to be subjected; indeed, they are to be destroyed. Therefore, the enemy to be blotted out from human nature is death, whose principle is sin along with its domination and power. In another sense, the enemies of God which are to be subjected to him attach themselves to sin after deserting God’s kingdom. Paul mentions this in his Epistle to the Romans: “For if we have been enemies, we have been reconciled to God” [Rom 5.10]. Here Paul calls subjection reconciliation, one term indicating salvation by another word. For as salvation is brought near to us by subjection, Paul says in another place, “Being reconciled, we shall be saved in this life” [Rom 5.10]. Therefore, Paul says that such enemies are to be subject­ed to God and the Father; death no longer is to have authority. This is shown by Paul saying, “Death will be destroyed,” a clear statement that the power of evil will be utterly removed: persons are called enemies of God by disobedience, while ‘se who have become the Lord’s friends are persuaded by Paul saying, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: ‘Be reconciled to God’” [2 Cor 6.20].

According to the promise made in the Gospel, we are no longer slaves of the Lord; but once reconciled, we are numbered among his friends. However, ” it is necessary for him lo reign, until he places his enemies under his feel.” We reverently take this, I believe, as Christ valiantly holding sway in his power. Then the strong man’s ability in battle will cease when all opposition to the good will be destroyed. Once the entire kingdom is gathered to himself, Christ hands it over to God and the Father who unites everything to himself. For the kingdom will be handed over to the Father, that is, all persons will yield to God [Christ], through whom we have access to the Father.

When all enemies have become God’s footstool, they will receive a trace of divinity in themselves. Once death has been destroyed — for if there are no persons who will die, not even death would exist — then we will be subjected to him; but this is not understood by some sort of servile humility. Our subjection, however, consists of a kingdom, incorrupt­ibility and blessedness living in us; this is Paul’s meaning of being subjected to God. Christ perfects his good in us by himself, and effects in us what is pleasing to him. According to our limited understanding of Paul’s great wisdom which we received, we have only under­stood part of it. The apostle’s purpose was not to expose heretical teachings, which is what you would gather from the text being treated. If what was said by our inquiry has been sufficient for you, it must be attributed to God’s grace. Should our inquiry appear insufficient, we will eagerly offer its completion, if indeed you make it known to us by writing and if through our prayers what is hidden has been manifested by the Holy Spirit.

(trans. Casimir McCambley)

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1 Response to In illud: Tunc et ipse filius

  1. Grant says:

    Beautiful and profound.

    Like

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