Friday, December 16, 2016

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to Sunday

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.  (Heb 1:1-4)

Gerrit van Honthorst, “Adoration of the Shepherds”
Truly, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”  This at least the blessed Paul intimates here also, in the very beginning of his Epistle to the Hebrews.  For since as it was likely that afflicted, worn out by evils, and judging things from that perspective, [the recipients] would think themselves worse off than all other men,—he shows here that they had rather been made partakers of greater, even very exceeding, grace; arousing the hearer at the very opening of his discourse.… And the expression, “In times past,” and this, “In the end of the days,” shadows forth some other meaning:—that when a long time had intervened, when we were on the edge of punishment, when the Gifts had failed, when there was no expectation of deliverance, when we were expecting to have less than all—then we have had more.

John Chrysostom, On the Epistle to the Hebrews 1

Jan Brueghel the Younger, “Creation of Adam”
In this way the divine apostle in several terms brought out the reality of the begetting, the oneness in being, and the shared eternity of the Father and the Son.  Since the divinity transcends all understanding, and it is impossible to bring out in one single image the mystery of the true doctrine of God, the preachers of the truth are obliged to do so by many.… Blessed Paul called Him “Son” to show Him to be different from the Father in regard to personhood; he spoke of Him as “creator of the ages” to bring out in these ways His eternity and called Him also “brightness of glory” to indicate by this His shared eternity and the sameness of being, the brightness being of the nature of the fire.  He added that He is “stamp of His nature” to bring out both things at the same time, that He subsists of Himself and that He reveals in Himself the paternal characteristics.  He adds also something else: “upholding all things by the word of His power.”  He not only made everything but also directs and guides it.

Theodoret of Cyrus, Interpretation of Hebrews 1

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