“For when he was transfigured on the mountain, the Lord Christ showed in some small way to his disciples the glory of his invisible divine kingship”

I did not deceive you, then, Peter, when I said, “I am the light” and “the resurrection and the life.” Since I am light, Peter, I must “shine on those in darkness.” What kind of light does not put darkness to flight? “I am the resurrection,” Peter. I must raise up those who have already been overcome. For what kind of resurrection is it that does not raise those fallen asleep? “I am the life,” Peter. I must put death to death; for I suffer as a human, and I save as a lover of humanity. Now I suffer according to the divine plan, Peter; but not long from now I will come as divine Lord: not showing myself in the form of a servant, but led in triumphal procession by angels, in the glory of my Father. Now I allow myself to be rejected, through the ordinariness of what people see; but after a little while I will judge with authority, through the power of God.

And as a sign that the Lord Christ is beginning this, you have just heard him say: “The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of the Father with his angels, and he will repay each one according to his works.” Let Arius block out these present events; he had no fear of the judgment of the Lord, although it pays no respect to persons. If the Lord Christ is under the Father’s power, in that he is divine Word and Son, unlike the one who begot him and sharing nothing of his being—as Arius madly suggested—how will he “come in the glory of the Father”? Behold, only the one who shares his substance will come in the Father’s glory; for if beings differ in substance, their glory will differ, too, but if their substance is the same, their glory will also be the same.

But the members of the Arian party will say immediately—they leave nothing untried, after all; for having fallen into material thinking, they have but little sense of evil—”The Only-begotten says that he has received this glory from the Father, after begging and praying and pleading for it. For we often have heard him praying with the words, ‘Father, glorify me with the glory which I had in your presence before the world began.’ If, then, he has received glory from the Father, how is he of the same substance as the Father?” Such are the sayings of Arius!

But did the Lord Christ pray for these things, O Arius, in his role as God the Word or as a human being? If he prayed for this as God the Word, did he lose his innate glory after the creation of the world, in your opinion? For he says, “Glorify me, Father, with the glory I had in your presence, before the world existed.” From this it is obvious that here the Lord Christ was praying not in the role of God the Word, but in the role of humanity. For God the Word has innate glory: it is part of his substance, not made by hands, not received, never to be lost. He obtains nothing of secondary or subsequent character. For if he lost the glory that was innately his, as you suggest, how is the Scripture true when it says, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, good pleasure among men and women”; and again: “My glory, and the one who lifts my head”; and in another place, “The nations shall see your glory, and kings your righteousness.” From these texts it is shown clearly that the Lord Christ said this33 not in the role of his divinity but in the role of Adam. Listen intelligently! For when the Lord Christ became the second Adam, he also took up the old human being; but the old Adam had lost his glory in Paradise by the deceitful theft of the devil. For this reason, the Lord Christ prayed in the role of Adam and said, “Father, glorify me with the glory which I had in your presence, before the world came to be”—with a power of reasoning that knows the future! And therefore the Father cried out again in a shining voice, and said: “I have glorified, and I will glorify again.” I have glorified you, he says, in Paradise; but when the devil changed that glory into ingloriousness, “I will glorify again,” transforming ingloriousness on the cross! Here, then, he was praying from the persona of the incarnation, but in the words just before these from the persona of the divinity.

But when you hear this, do not imagine the Son to be two persons, but recognize one God the Word, with his own flesh. If, then, the word of his incarnation was later to come to an end, he was no longer teaching in the persona of the incarnate one but in the persona of divinity, when he said, “The Son of man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will give to each one according to his actions.” What is this “glory of the Father,” of which he speaks? The Kingdom: which is not handed on, not circumscribed, beyond time, not achieved by hands. The glory of the Father, after all, is the kingdom of the Son, a heavenly and not an earthly Kingdom! And to make the point that the Father’s glory is the Son’s Kingdom, you have just heard the Lord Christ himself saying: “Amen, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.” Do you see that there is a single glory of Father and Son? Shortly before this he said, “The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father.” Here it is, “Until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.” So the Kingdom of Christ is his Father’s glory, and the Father’s glory the Kingdom of the Son. Who, then, will divide what is indivisible? Who will weigh what cannot be weighed? Who will investigate the Father’s heart? Who is so mad as to divide mind and reason and spirit? “Amen, I say to you, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death, until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.” Some of the ancient interpreters, considering some tendency or other in the text, understood these sayings of the Lord as pointing to his glorious second coming. Therefore they established that the Evangelist John would not experience death, but would await the glorious coming of the Lord, because the Lord said, “There are some of those standing here who will not taste death, until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.” But his meaning is this—for one must not yield to the imagination, but must speak the truth, especially now when he has prompted even the little ones to speak their minds! Here, then, he is talking not about his second, glorious coming, but about his transfiguration on the mountain. For when he was transfigured on the mountain, the Lord Christ showed in some small way to his disciples the glory of his invisible divine kingship.

But immediately those who carry around a tongue sharpened for the kill will say: “And if the divine glory of God the Word is invisible, how did he show it to the Apostles? But if it is visible, it is not invisible, and if it is invisible, it is not visible!” Therefore listen intelligently! Here the Lord Christ both revealed to his disciples the glory of his invisible kingly power, and did not reveal it—fulfilling their expectations on the one hand, but sparing them on the other. For he fulfilled their expectations by showing them the divine glory of his invisible kingly power: not in its full greatness, but as much as those with bodily eyes were able to bear. But he spared them, without any trace of malice, in that he did not show them the full glory of his invisible kingly power, lest with that vision they also lose their lives. The witness of this is what the God of all things said to Moses, when he yearned to gaze on him, as the holy text reminds us: “Then Moses answered God and said, ‘If I have found favor in your sight, reveal yourself to me so that I may see you knowingly, face to face.” And what did God say to him? “You are wrong, Moses, in seeking for this. I do not begrudge you the vision, but I am concerned for your safety. No human being who sees God will live!” Here, then, he both revealed himself and did not reveal himself—fulfilling one desire, leaving the other unfulfilled. And to show that he is speaking not about his second, glorious coming but about the transfiguration on the mountain, and not about John alone but also about Peter and James—for he expressed himself not in the singular but in the plural form when he said, “There are some of those standing here . . .”; he did not say “one,” but “some”!—listen to what follows: for I must remind you, not teach you something new! “And after six days Jesus took Peter and James and John his brother, and he went up a high mountain alone, and was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold a voice was saying, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.'” Do you see that he was speaking not about his second, glorious coming, but about his transfiguration on the mountain?

Leontius of Constantinople

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