St. Ambrose – Bk 5 – Chapter 14

jesus-christ-190He continues the discussion of the difficulty he has entered upon, and teaches that Christ is not subject but only according to the flesh. Christ, however, whilst in subjection in the Flesh, still gave proofs of His Godhead. He combats the idea that Christ is made subject in This. The humanity indeed, which He adopted, has been so far made subject in us, as ours has been raised in that very humanity of His. Lastly, we are taught, when that same subjection of Christ will take place.

170. However, lest anyone should cavil, see what care Scripture takes under divine inspiration. For it shows to us in what Christ is made subject to God, while it also teaches us in what He made the universe subject to Himself. And so it says: Now we see not yet all things put under Him. Hebrews 2:8 For we see Jesus made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death.Hebrews 2:9 It shows therefore that He was made lower in taking on Him our flesh. What then hinders Him from openly showing His subjection in taking on Him our flesh, through which He subjects all things to Himself, while He Himself is made subject in it to God the Father?

171. Let us then think of His subjection. Father, He says, if You be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will but Yours be done. Luke 22:42 Therefore that subjection will be according to the assumption of human nature; as we read: Being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, being made obedient unto death. Philippians 2:8 The subjection therefore is that of obedience; the obedience is that of death; the death is that of the assumed humanity; that subjection therefore will be the subjection of the assumed humanity. Thus in no wise is there a weakness in the Godhead, but there is such a discharge of pious duty as this.

172. See how I do not fear their intentions. They allege that He must be subject to God the Father, I say He was subject to Mary His Mother. For it is written of Joseph and Mary: He was subject unto them. Luke 2:51 But if they think so, let them say how the Deity was made subject to men.

173. Let not the fact that He is said to have been made subject work against Him, Who receives no hurt from the fact that He is called a servant, or is stated to have been crucified, or is spoken of as dead. For when He died He lived; when He was made subject He was reigning; when He was buried He revived again. He offered Himself in subjection to human power, yet at another time He declared He was the Lord of eternal glory. He was before the judge, yet claimed for Himself a throne at the right hand of God, as Judge forever. For thus it is written: Hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Matthew 26:64 He was scourged by the Jews, and commanded the angels; He was born of Mary under the law; Galatians 4:4 He was before Abraham above the law. On the cross He was revered by nature; the sun fled; the earth trembled; the angels became silent. Could the elements see the Generation of Him Whose Passion they feared to see? And will they uphold the subjection of an adorable Nature in Him, in Whom they could not endure the subjection of the body?

174. But since the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of one Nature, the Father certainly will not be in subjection to Himself. And therefore the Son will not be in subjection in that in which He is one with the Father; lest it should seem that through the unity of the Godhead the Father also is in subjection to the Son. Therefore, as upon that cross it was not the fullness of the Godhead, but our weakness that was brought into subjection, so also will the Son hereafter become subject to the Father in the participation of our nature, in order that when the lusts of the flesh are brought into subjection the heart may have no care for riches, or ambition, or pleasures; but that God may be all to us, if we live after His image and likeness, as far as we can attain to it, through all.

175. The benefit has passed, then, from the individual to the community; for in His flesh He has tamed the nature of all human flesh. Thus, according to the Apostle: As we have borne the image of the earthly, so also shall we bear the image of the heavenly. 1 Corinthians 15:49 This thing certainly cannot come to pass except in the inner man. Therefore, laying aside all these, that is those things which we read of: anger, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication; Colossians 3:8 as he also says below: Let us, having put off the old man with his deeds, put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him. Colossians 3:9-10

176. And that you might know that when he says: That God may be all in all, he does not separate Christ from God the Father, he also says to the Colossians: Where there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Colossians 3:11 So also saying to the Corinthians: That God may be all and in all, he comprehended in that the unity and equality of Christ with God the Father, for the Son is not separated from the Father. And in like manner as the Father works all and in all, so also Christ works all in all. If, then, Christ also works all in all, He is not made subject in the glory of the Godhead, but in us. But how is He made subject in us, except in the way in which He was made lower than the angels, I mean in the sacrament of His body? For all things which served their Creator from their first beginning seemed not as yet to be made subject to Him in that.

177. But if you should ask how He was made subject in us, He Himself shows us, saying: I was in prison, and you came unto Me; I was sick, and you visited Me: Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these you have done it unto Me.Matthew 25:36, 40 You hear of Him as sick and weak, and art not moved. You hear of Him in subjection, and art moved, though He is sick and weak in Him in whom He is in subjection, in whom He was made sin and a curse for us.

178. As, then, He was made sin and a curse not on His own account but on ours, so He became subject in us not for His own sake but for ours, being not in subjection in His eternal Nature, nor accursed in His eternal Nature. For cursed is every one that hangs on a tree. Galatians 3:13 Cursed He was, for He bore our curses; in subjection, also, for He took upon Him our subjection, but in the assumption of the form of a servant, not in the glory of God; so that while he makes Himself a partaker of our weakness in the flesh, He makes us partakers of the divine Nature in His power. But neither in one nor the other have we any natural fellowship with the heavenly Generation of Christ, nor is there any subjection of the Godhead in Christ. But as the Apostle has said that on Him through that flesh which is the pledge of our salvation, we sit in heavenly places, Ephesians 2:6 though certainly not sitting ourselves, so also He is said to be subject in us through the assumption of our nature.

179. For who is so mad as to think, as we have said already, that a seat of honour is due to Him at the right hand of God the Father, when that is granted to Christ according to the flesh by the Father of His Generation, even a seat of a heavenly and equal power? The angels worship, and do you attempt to overthrow the throne of God with impious presumption?

180. It is written, you say, that when we were dead in sins, He has quickened us in Christ, by Whose grace you are saved, and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:5-6 I acknowledge that it is so written; but it is not written that God suffers men to sit on His right hand, but only to sit there in the Person of Christ. For He is the foundation of all, and is the head of the Church, Ephesians 5:23 in Whom our common nature according to the flesh has merited the right to the heavenly throne. For the flesh is honoured as having a share in Christ Who is God, and the nature of the whole human race is honoured as having a share in the flesh.

181. As we then sit in Him by fellowship in our fleshly nature, so also He, Who through the assumption of our flesh was made acurse for us (seeing that a curse could not fall upon the blessed Son of God), so, I say, He through the obedience of all will become subject in us; when the Gentile has believed, and the Jew has acknowledged Him Whom he crucified; when the Manichæan has worshipped Him, Whom he has not believed to have come in the flesh; when the Arian has confessed Him to be Almighty, Whom he has denied; when, lastly, the wisdom of God, His justice, peace, love, resurrection, is in all. Through His own works and through the manifold forms of virtues Christ will be in us in subjection to the Father. And when, with vice renounced and crime at an end, one spirit in the heart of all peoples has begun to cleave to God in all things, then will God be all and in all.1 Corinthians 15:28

 

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