Friday, August 25, 2017

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Ro 11:33–36)

Whence this outburst of feeling? Surely from the recollection of the Scriptures, which he had been previously turning over, as well as from his contemplation of the mysteries which he had been setting forth above, in relation to the faith of Christ coming from the law.… The truth is, the Creator’s resources and riches, which once had been hidden, were now disclosed. For so had He promised: “I will give to them treasures which have been hidden, and which men have not seen will I open to them.” [Is 45:3] Hence, then, came the exclamation, “O the depth of the riches and the wisdom of God!” For His treasures were now opening out. This is the purport of what Isaiah said, and of (the apostle’s own) subsequent quotation of the self-same passage, of the prophet: “Who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been His counselor? Who has first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to him again?”

Tertullian, Against Marcion V.14

God knew from the beginning what man’s behavior and works would be like, in that the human race could not be saved only by the severity of his justice nor could it reach perfection only by his mercy. So at a particular time he decreed what should be preached, whereas before that time he allowed each person to decide for himself, because righteousness was recognized under the guidance of nature. And because the authority of natural righteousness was weakened by the habit of sin, the law was given so that the human race would be held back by the fear engendered by the revealed law. But because they did not restrain themselves and were counted guilty under the law, mercy was proclaimed, which would save those who took refuge in it but would blind those who rejected it for a time. During that time this mercy would invite the Gentiles, who earlier on had not wanted to follow the law given to Moses, to share in the promise, so that the Jews might become jealous of their salvation and because of that jealousy turn again to the source of the root, which is the Savior. This is “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God,” who by his many-sided providence has won both Jews and Gentiles to eternal life.

Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles

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