St. Ambrose – Bk 4 – Chapter 11

Holy_Trinty_Catholic_Church_Father_Son_Holy_SpiritThe particular distinction which the Arians endeavoured to prove upon the Apostle’s teaching that all things are of the Father and through the Son, is overthrown, it being shown that in the passage cited the same Omnipotence is ascribed both to Father and to Son, as is proved from various texts, especially from the words of St. Paul himself, in which heretics foolishly find a reference to the Father only, though indeed there is no diminution or inferiority of the Son’s sovereignty proved, even by such a reference. Finally, the three phrases, of Whom, through Whom, in Whom, are shown to suppose or imply no difference (of power), and each and all to hold true of the Three Persons.

139. Now we come to that laughable method, attempted by some, of showing a difference of Power to subsist between Father and Son, on the strength of apostolic testimony, it being written: But for us there is One God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we in Him, and One Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and we through Him. 1 Corinthians 8:6 It is urged that no small difference in degree of Divine Majesty is signified in the affirmation that all things areof the Father, and through the Son. Whereas nothing is clearer than that here a plain reason is given of the Omnipotence of the Son, inasmuch as while all things are of the Father, none the less are they all through the Son.

140. The Father is not among all things, for to Him it is confessed that all things serve You. Nor is the Son reckoned among all things, for all things were made by Him, John 1:3 and all things exist together in Him, and He is above all the heavens. Colossians 1:17 The Son, therefore, exists not among but aboveall things, being, indeed, after the flesh, of the people, of the Jews, but yet at the same time God over all, blessed for ever, having a Name which is above every name, Philippians 2:9 it being said of Him, You have put all things in subjection under His feet. But in making all things subject to Him, He left nothing that is not subject, even as the Apostle has said. Hebrews 2:8 But suppose that the Apostle’s words were intended with reference to the Incarnate Lord; how then can wedoubt the incomparable majesty of His Divine Generation?

141. Certain it is, then, that between Father and Son there can be no difference of Power. Nay, so far is such difference from being present, that the sameApostle has said that all things are of Him, by Whom are all things, as follows: For of Him and through Him and in Him are all things. Romans 11:36

142. Now if, as they suppose, it is the Father alone Who is spoken of, it cannot be that He is at once Omnipotent because all things are of Him, and notOmnipotent because all things are through Him. On their own showing, then, they will declare the Father lacking in Power, and not Omnipotent, or at the least they will be confessing with their own mouth, all against their will though it be, the Omnipotence of the Son as well as of the Father.

143. Howbeit, let them decide whether they will understand this affirmation as made concerning the Father. If they do so decide then all things are through Him also. If they decide that it is the Son Who is spoken of, then all things are of Him as well as of the Father. But if all things are through the Father also, then surely there is no argument for diminishing from the honour due to the Son; and if all things are of the Son, the Son must be honoured in like manner as the Father is.

144. In case our opponents should suspect that we are taking advantage of some intrusion of a single spurious verse into the text, let us review the whole passage. O depth of the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge! exclaims the Apostle, how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor? Or who has been first to give unto Him, and shall be recompensed? For of Him and through Him and in Him are all things. To Him be glory for ever!

145. Who, then, think they, is here spoken of— the Father or the Son? If it be the Father— then we answer that the Father is not the Wisdom of God, for the Son is. But what is there that is impossible to Wisdom, of Whom it is written: Seeing that she is almighty and abiding, she makes all things new in herself?Wisdom 7:27 We read of Wisdom, then, not as approaching, but as abiding. Thus have you the authority of Solomon to teach you of the Omnipotence and Eternityof Wisdom, and of her Goodness as well, for it is written: But malice overcomes not Wisdom. Wisdom 7:30

146. But to purpose. How unsearchable, says the Apostle, are His judgments! Now if the Father has given all judgment to the Son, John 5:22 it seems that the Father points to the Son as Judge.

147. But now, to show us that He is speaking of the Son, not of the Father, St. Paul proceeds: Who was first in giving to Him? For the Father has given to theSon, but it was as acknowledging the rights of Him Whom He has begotten, not by way of largess. Therefore, it being undeniable that the Son has received at the hands of the Father, as it is written, All things have been given unto Me of My Father, Matthew 11:27 yet, in saying, Who was first in giving to Him? theApostle has not denied that the Son has received gifts of the Father, by virtue of His Nature, but he has indeed shown that, of Father and Son, Neither can be said to be before the Other, forasmuch as, albeit the Father has given gifts unto the Son, yet He has not so bestowed them as upon one that began to be after Him; because the uncreate and incomprehensible Trinity, Which is of One Eternity and Glory, admits neither difference of time nor degree of precedence.

148. If, however, we hold ourselves more bound to observe those Greek manuscripts which show τίς προσέδωχεν αὐτῳ; it is clear that He to Whom nothing can be added is not unequal to Him Who is perfect and complete. Therefore, if this passage from the Apostle, in its entirety, is better understood with reference to the Son, we see that we must also believe concerning the Son, that all things are of Him, even as it is written: For of Him and through Him and in Him are all things.

149. Be it so, nevertheless, that they suppose the passage to be intended of the Father, then let us call to mind that even as we read of all things being of Him, so too we read of all things being through Him, that is to say, the authority of the Father and of the Son is extended over the whole created universe. And, though we have already proved the Omnipotence of the Son by the Omnipotence of the Father, still— forasmuch as they are ever bent upon disparagement— let them consider that they disparage the Father as well as the Son. For if the Son be limited in might, because all things are through Him, do we say further, that the Father likewise is limited, because all things are through Him also?

150. But to bring them to understand that these phrases involve no difference, I will once again show that it is the same person, of whom anything is, andthrough whom anything is, and that we read of things being related in both these ways to the Father. For we find: Faithful is God, through Whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son. Let our adversaries weigh the meaning of the Apostle’s words. We are called through the Father— they raise no controversy: we are created through the Son— and this they have set down as a mark of inferiority. The Father has called us into fellowship with His Son, and this truth we, as in duty bound, devoutly receive. The Son has created all things, and Arius’ followers imagine that here they have not the decree of a free Will, but a forced service, slavishly performed!

151. Again, to obtain fuller understanding that, forasmuch as we are called through the Father into fellowship with His Son, there is no difference of Power in the Father and the Son, [note that] the fellowship itself has its beginning of the Son, as it is written: For from His fullness have we all received, though, if we follow the Greek text of the Gospel, we ought to render  of His fullness. John 1:16

152. See, then, how there is fellowship both through the Father and of the Son, and yet not a different fellowship, but one and the same. And that our fellowship be with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3

153. Observe, further, that Scripture speaks of our having one fellowship not only of the Father and the Son, but also of the Holy Spirit. The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, says the Apostle, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

154. Now, I ask, wherein does He, through Whom are all things, appear less than He, of Whom are all things? Is it because He is declared to be the Worker? But the Father also works, for He is true who said, My Father works hitherto, and I work. John 5:17 Therefore, even as the Father works, so works the Son also; and so He Who works is not limitary in power nor abject, for the Father also works; which being so, that which is common to the Son with the Father, or even which the Son has by the Father, ought not to be the less esteemed, lest heretics further dishonour the Father in the Person of the Son.

155. Not to be passed over for silencing the disputings of Arian misbelief are those words of the same Saint John, which he set down in another Scripture: If youknow that He is just, know that he which does righteousness is born of Him. 1 John 2:29 But who is righteous, save the Lord, Who loves righteousness? Or whom— as the foregoing texts warn us— have we to assure us of everlasting life, if we have not the Son? If, therefore, the Son of God has promised us everlasting life, and He is righteous, surely we are born of Him. Else, if our adversaries deny that we are born of the Son by grace, they likewise deny His righteousness.

156. You must therefore believe that all things are of the Son of God [even as of God the Father, for even as God is the Father of all, so likewise is the Son the Author and Creator of all. We see, then, the vanity of this their questioning, for as much as it holds good of the Son [as of the Father], that of Him and through Him and in Him are all things.

157. We have shown how all things are of Him, and likewise how all things are also through Him. Who then doubts that all things are in Him, when anotherScripture says: For in Him are all things founded, that are in the heavens, and in Him they were created, and He is before all things, and all things consist in Him? Colossians 1:16. Of Him, then, you have grace; Himself you have for your Creator; in Him you find the foundation of all things.

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