Friday, January 16, 2015

Destroying Death and the Devil

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.  (He 2:14-15)

The Father is Father, and is Unoriginate, for He is of no one; the Son is Son, and is not unoriginate, for He is of the Father.  But if you take the word Origin in a temporal sense, He too is Unoriginate, for He is the Maker of Time, and is not subject to Time.  The Holy Ghost is truly Spirit, coming forth from the Father indeed, but not after the manner of the Son, for it is not by Generation but by Procession (since I must coin a word for the sake of clearness).  For neither did the Father cease to be Unbegotten because of His begetting something, nor the Son to be begotten because He is of the Unbegotten (how could that be?), nor is the Spirit changed into Father or Son because He proceeds, or because He is God—though the ungodly do not believe it.…  There is then One God in Three, and These Three are One, as we have said.

Since then these things are so, or rather since This is so; and His Adoration ought not to be rendered only by Beings above, but there ought to be also worshipers on earth, that all things may be filled with the glory of God (for as much as they are filled with God Himself); therefore man was created and honored with the hand and Image of God.  But to despise man, when by the envy of the Devil and the bitter taste of sin he was pitiably severed from God his Maker—this was not in the Nature of God.  What then was done, and what is the great Mystery that concerns us?  An innovation is made upon nature, and God is made Man.  He that rides upon the Heaven of Heavens in the East of His own glory and Majesty, is glorified in the West of our meanness and lowliness.  And the Son of God deigns to become and to be called Son of Man—not changing what He was (for It is unchangeable), but assuming what He was not (for He is full of love to man), that the Incomprehensible might be comprehended, conversing with us through the mediation of the Flesh as through a veil, since it was not possible for that nature which is subject to birth and decay to endure His unveiled Godhead.  Therefore the Unmingled is mingled; and not only is God mingled with birth and Spirit with flesh, and the Eternal with time, and the Uncircumscribed with measure, but also Generation with Virginity and dishonor with Him who is higher than all honor—He who is impassible with Suffering, and the Immortal with the corruptible.  For since that Deceiver thought that he was unconquerable in his malice, after he had cheated us with the hope of becoming gods, he was himself cheated by God’s assumption of our nature, so that in attacking Adam as he thought, he should really meet with God.  And thus the new Adam should save the old, and the condemnation of the flesh should be abolished, death being slain by flesh.

Gregory Nazianzen, On the Holy Lights, 39.12-13

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