St. Ambrose – Bk 3 – Chapter 4

images (7)We are told that Christ was only made so far as regards the flesh. For the redemption of mankind He needed no means of aid, even as He needed none in order to His Resurrection, whereas others, in order to raise the dead, had need of recourse to prayer. Even when Christ prayed, the prayer was offered by Him in His capacity as human; whilst He must be accounted divine from the fact that He commanded (that such and such things should be done). On this point the devil’s testimony is truer than the Arians’ arguments. The discussion concludes with an explanation of the reason why the title of mighty is given to the Son of Man.

26. It is now sufficiently made plain that the Father is not God in solitude, without the Son, and that the Son cannot be thought of as God alone, without the Father, for it is in respect of His flesh that we read that the Son of God was made, not in respect of His generation from God the Father.

27. Indeed, in what sense He was made He has declared by the mouth of the holy patriarch, saying: For My soul is filled with sorrow to overflowing, and My life has drawn near unto hell. I have been counted with them that go down into the pit; I have been made as a man free, without help, among the dead. Here, then, we read: I have been made as a man, not I have been made as God; and again: My soul overflows with sorrows. My soul, mark you, not My Godhead. He was made in so far as that was concerned wherein He was due to hell, wherein He was reckoned with others, for the Godhead admits of no likeness which may be ground for classing it with others. Yet mark how the majesty of Godhead shows itself in Christ, even in that flesh which was appointed to death. Although He was made as a man, and made as flesh, yet He was made free among the dead, free, without help.

28. But how can the Son say here that He was without help, when it has already been said: I have laid help upon One that ismighty? Distinguish here also the two natures present. The flesh has need of help, the Godhead has no need. He is free, then, because the chains of death had no hold upon Him. He was not made prisoner by the powers of darkness, it is He Who exerted power among them. He is without help, because He Himself, the Lord, has by no office of messenger or ambassador, but by His own might, saved His people. How could He, Who raised others to life, require any help in order to raise His own body?

29. And though men also have raised the dead, still they did this not of their own power, but in the Name of Christ. To ask is one thing, to command is another; to obtain is different from bestowing.

30. Elijah, then, raised the dead, but he prayed— he did not command. Elisha raised one to life after laying himself upon the dead body, in accordance with its posture; 2 Kings 4:34 and, again, the very contact of Elisha’s corpse gave life to the dead, that the prophet might foreshow the coming of Him, Who, being sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, should, even after His burial, raise the dead to life.

31. Peter, again, when he healed Aeneas, said: In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise and walk. Not in his own name, but in the Name of Christ. But rise is a command; on the other hand, it is an instance of confidence in one’s right, SeeMark 16:17-18not an arrogant claim to power, and the authority of the command stood in the effective influence of the Name, not in its own might. What answer, then, make the Arians? Peter commands in the Name of Christ—this on the one hand: on the other, they will have it that the Son of God did not command, but requested.

32. We read, they objected, of His uttering a prayer. John 11:41 But take note of the difference. He prays as Son of Man, He commands as Son of God. Will you not ascribe unto the Son of God what even the devil has ascribed? Will you accuse yourselves of greater wickedness than Satan’s? The devil says: If You be the Son of God, command this stone that it become bread. Luke 4:3 Satan says command, you say entreat. The devil believes that, at the word of God’s Son, the nature of an elementary substance may be exchanged for that of a composite one; you think that, unless the Son of God prefers a request, even His Will cannot be done. Again, the devil thinks that the Son of God is to be esteemed from His power, Romans 1:4 you that He is to be esteemed from His infirmity. The devil’s temptations are more tolerable than the Arians’ disputings.

33. Let us not, then, be troubled if we find the Son of Man entitled mighty in one place, and yet in another, that the Lord ofglory was crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:8 What might is greater than sovereignty over the powers of heaven? But this was in the hands of Him Who ruled over thrones, principalities, angels; for, although He was among the wild beasts, as it is written, yetangels ministered to Him, that you may perceive the difference between what is proper to the Incarnation, and what is proper to Sovereignty. So far as His flesh is concerned, then, He endures the assault of wild beasts; in regard of His Godhead, He isadored by angels.

34. We have learned, then, that He was made man, and that His being made must be referred to His manhood. Furthermore, in another passage of Scripture, you may read: Who was made for Him of the seed of David, Romans 1:3 that is to say, in respect of the flesh He was made of the seed of David, but He was God begotten of God before the worlds.

This entry was posted in St. Ambrose's Exposition of the Christian Faith. and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s