St. Ambrose – Bk 2 – Chapter 5

christthekingCertain passages from Scripture, urged against the Omnipotence of Christ, are resolved; the writer is also at especial pains to show that Christ not seldom spoke in accordance with the affections of human nature.

39. Although it is written concerning God, Blessed and only Potentate, (1 Timothy 5:15) yet I have no misgiving that the Son of God is thereby severed from Him, seeing that the Scripture entitled God, not the Father by Himself, the only Potentate. The Father Himself also declares by the prophet, concerning Christ, that I have set help upon one that is mighty. It is not the Father alone, then, Who is the only Potentate; God the Son also is Potentate, for in the Father’s praise the Son is praised too.

40. Aye, let some one show what there is that the Son of God cannot do. Who was His helper, when He made the heavens,— Who, when He laid the foundations of the world? Had He any need of a helper to set men free, Who needed none in constituting angels and principalities? (Colossians 1:15-16)

41. It is written, say they: ‘My Father, if it be possible, take away this cup from Me.’ If, then, He is Almighty, how comes He to doubt of the possibility? Which means that, because I have proved Him to be Almighty, I have proved Him unable to doubt of possibility.

42. The words, you say, are the words of Christ. True— consider, though, the occasion of His speaking them, and in what character He speaks. He has taken upon Him the substance of man, and therewith its affections. Again, you find in the place above cited, that He went forward a little further, and fell on His face, praying, and saying: Father, if it be possible. Not as God, then, but as man, speaks He, for could God be ignorant of the possibility or impossibility of anything? Or is anything impossible for God, when the Scripture says: For You nothing is impossible(Job 22:17)

43. Of Whom, howbeit, does He doubt— of Himself, or of the Father? Of Him, surely, Who says: Take away from Me,— being moved as man is moved to doubt. The prophet reckons nothing impossible with God. The prophet doubts not; think you that the Son doubts? Will you put God lower than man? What— God has doubts of His Father, and is fearful at the thought of death! Christ, then, is afraid— afraid, while Peter fears nothing. Peter says: I will lay down my life for Your sake. (John 13:37) Christ says: My soul is troubled. (John 12:27)

44. Both records are true, and it is equally natural that the person who is the less should not fear, as that He Who is the greater should endure this feeling, for the one has all a man’s ignorance of the might of death, while the other, as being God inhabiting a body, displays the weakness of the flesh, that the wickedness of those who deny the mystery of the Incarnation might have no excuse. Thus, then, has He spoken, yet the Manichæan believed not; Valentinus denied, and Marcion judged Him to be a ghost.

45. But indeed He so far put Himself on a level with man, such as He showed Himself to be in the reality of His bodily frame, as to say, Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will, (Matthew 26:39) though truly it is Christ’s special power to will what the Father wills, even as it is His to do what the Father does.

46. Here, then, let there be an end of the objection which it is your custom to oppose to us, on the ground that the Lord said, Not as I will, but as You will; and again, For this cause I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. (John 6:38)


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