St. Ambrose – Bk 5 – Chapter 8

shepherdChrist, so far as He is true Son of God, has no Lord, but only so far as He is Man; as is shown by His words in which He addressed at one time the Father, at another the Lord. How many heresies are silenced by one verse of Scripture! We must distinguish between the things that belong to Christ as Son of God or as Son of David. For under the latter title only must we ascribe it to Him that He was a servant. Lastly, he points out that many passages cannot be taken except as referring to the Incarnation.

99. Wherefore also it is plain how He calls Him Lord, Whom He knew as Father. For He says: I confess to You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. Matthew 11:25 First Wisdom spoke of His own Father, and then proclaimed Him Lord of creation. For this reason the Lord shows in His Gospel that no lordship is exercised where there is a true offspring, saying: What do you think of Christ? Whose Son is He? They say unto Him, The son of David. Jesus says to them, How then does David in spirit call Him Lord, saying: The Lord said unto my Lord: Sit on My right hand? Then he added: If David in spirit then call Him Lord, how is He his son? And no man was able to answer Him a word. Matthew 22:42-46

100. With what care did the Lord provide for the faith in this witness because of the Arians! For He did not say: The spirit calls HimLord, but that David spoke in spirit; in order that men might believe that as He is his, that is, David’s son according to the flesh, so also He is his Lord and God according to His Godhead. You see, then, that there is a distinction between the titles that are used of relationship and of lordship.

101. And rightly did the Lord speak of His own Father, but of the Lord of heaven and earth; so that you, when you read of the Father and the Lord, may understand it is the Father of the Son, and the Lord of Creation. In the one title rests the claim of nature, in the other the authority to rule. For taking on Himself the form of a servant, He calls Him Lord, because He has submitted to service; being equal to Him in the form of God, but being a servant in the form of His body: for service is the due of the flesh, but lordship is the due of theGodhead. Wherefore also the Apostle says: The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, 2 Corinthians 1:3 that is, terming HimGod of the adoption of humanity but the Father of glory. Did God have two Sons, Christ and Glory? Certainly not. Therefore if there is oneSon of God, even Christ, Christ is Glory. Why do you strive to belittle Him who is the glory of the Father?

102. If then the Son is glory, and the Father is glory (for the Father of glory cannot be anything else than glory), there is no separation of glories, but glory is one. Thus glory is referred to its own proper nature, but lordship to the service of the body that was assumed. For if the flesh is subject to the soul of a just man as it is written: I chastise my body and bring it into subjection; 1 Corinthians 9:27 how much more is it subject to the Godhead, of Which it is said: For all things serve You?

103. By one question the Lord has shut out both Sabellians and Photinians and Arians. For when He said that the Lord spoke to the Lord,Sabellius is set aside, who will have it that the same Person is both Father and Son. Photinus is set aside, who thinks of Him merely as man; for none could be Lord of David the King, but He Who is God, for it is written: You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve. Deuteronomy 6:13 Would the prophet who ruled under the Law act contrary to the Law? Arius is set aside, who hears that the Son sits on the right hand of the Father; so that if he argues from human ways, he refutes himself, and makes the poison of hisblasphemous arguments to flow back upon himself. For in interpreting the inequality of the Father and the Son by the analogy of humanhabits (wandering from the truth in either case), he puts Him first Whom he makes little of, confessing Him to be the First, Whom he hears to be at the right hand. The Manichæan also is set aside, for he does not deny that He is the Son of David according to the flesh, Who, at the cry of the blind men, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us, Matthew 20:30 was pleased at their faith and stood and healed them. But He does deny that this refers to His eternity, if He is called Son of David alone by those who are false.

104. For Son of God is against Ebion, Son of David, is against the Manichees; Son of God is against Photinus, Son of David is against Marcion; Son of God is against Paul of Samosata, Son of David is against Valentinus; Son of God is against Arius and Sabellius, the inheritors of heathen errors. Lord of David is against the Jews, who beholding the Son of God in the flesh, in impiousmadness believed Him to be only man.

105. But in the faith of the Church one and the same is both Son of God the Father and Son of David. For the mystery of the Incarnationof God is the salvation of the whole of creation, according to that which is written: That without God He should taste death for every man; Hebrews 2:9 that is, that every creature might be redeemed without any suffering at the price of the blood of the Lord’s Divinity, as it stands elsewhere: Every creature shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption. Romans 8:21

106. It is one thing to be named Son according to the divine Substance, it is another thing to be so called according to the adoption ofhuman flesh. For, according to the divine Generation, the Son is equal to God the Father; and, according to the adoption of a body, He is a servant to God the Father. For, it says, He took upon Him the form of a servant. Philippians 2:7 The Son is, however, one and the same. On the other hand, according to His glory, He is Lord to the holy patriarch David, but his Son in the line of actual descent, not abandoning anything of His own, but acquiring for Himself the rights that go with the adoption into our race.

107. Not only does He undergo service in the character of man by reason of His descent from David, but also by reason of His name, as it is written: I have found David My Servant; and elsewhere: Behold I will send unto you My Servant, the Orient is His name.Zechariah 3:8 And the Son Himself says: Thus says the Lord, that formed Me from the womb to be His servant, and said unto Me: It is a great thing for You to be called My Servant. Behold I have set You up for a witness to My people, and a light to the Gentiles, that You may be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:5-6 To whom is this said, if not to Christ? Who being in the form of God, emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a servant. Philippians 2:6-7 But what can be in the form of God, except that which exists in the fullness of the Godhead?

108. Learn, then, what this means: He took upon Him the form of a servant. It means that He took upon Him all the perfections of humanity in their completeness, and obedience in its completeness. And so it says in the thirtieth Psalm: You have set my feet in a large room. I am made a reproach above all mine enemies. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant. Servant means the Man in whom He was sanctified; it means the Man in whom He was anointed; it means the Man in whom He was made under the law, made of the Virgin; and, to put it briefly, it means the Man in whose person He has a mother, as it is written: O Lord, I am Your Servant, I am Your Servant, and the Son of Your hand-maid; and again: I am cast down and sore humbled.

109. Who is sore humbled, but Christ, Who came to free all through His obedience? For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Romans 5:19 Who received the cup of salvation? Christ the HighPriest, or David who never held the priesthood, nor endured suffering? Who offered the sacrifice of Thanksgiving?

110. But that is insufficient; take again: Preserve My soul, for I am holy. Did David say this of himself? Nay, He says it, Who also says:You will not leave My soul in hell, neither will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. The Same then says both of these.

111. He has added further: Save Your Servant; and, further on: Give Your strength to Your servant, and to the Son of Your handmaid; and, elsewhere, that is, in Ezekiel: And I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall rule them, even My ServantDavid. He shall feed them, and He shall be their Shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My Servant David a prince among them.Ezekiel 34:23-24 Now David the Son of Jesse was already dead. Therefore he speaks of Christ, Who for our sakes was made the Son of a handmaiden in the form of man; for according to His divine Generation He has no Mother, but a Father only: nor is He the fruit of earthly desire, but the eternal Power of God.

112. And so, also, when we read that the Lord said: My time is not yet full come; John 7:8 and: Yet a little while I am with you; and:I go unto Him that sent Me; John 7:33 and: Now is the Son of Man glorified; John 13:31 we ought to refer all this to the sacrament of the Incarnation. But when we read: And God is glorified in Him, and God has glorified Him; John 13:31 what doubt is there here, where the Son is glorified by the Father, and the Father is glorified by the Son?

113. Next, to make clear the faith of the Unity, and the Union of the Trinity, He also said that He would be glorified by the Spirit, as it stands: He shall receive of Mine, and shall glorify Me. John 16:14 Therefore the Holy Spirit also glorifies the Son of God. How, then, did He say: If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing. John 8:54 Is then the glory of the Son nothing? It is blasphemy to say so, unless we apply these words to His flesh; for the Son spoke in the character of man, for by comparison with the Godhead, there is no glory of the flesh.

114. Let them cease from their wicked objections which are but thrown back upon their own falseness. For they say, it is written: Now is the Son of Man glorified. I do not deny that it is written: The Son of Man is glorified. But let them see what follows: And God isglorified in Him. I can plead some excuse for the Son of Man, but He has none for His Father; for the Father took not flesh upon Himself. I can plead an excuse, but do not use it. He has none, and is falsely attacked. I can either understand it in its plain sense, or I can apply to the flesh what concerns the flesh. A devout mind distinguishes between the things which are spoken after the flesh or after theGodhead. An impious mind turns aside to the dishonour of the Godhead, all that is said with regard to the littleness of the flesh.

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