Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of John. Book 1, Part 3

Book I. (Cont.)

34. Christ as the First and the Last; He Is also What Lies Between These.

Further, we have to ask in what sense He is called in the Apocalypse the First and the Last, and how, in His character as the First, He is not the same as the Alpha and the beginning, while in His character as the Last He is not the same as the Omega and the end. It appears to me, then, that the reasonable beings which exist are characterized by many forms, and that some of them are the first, some the second, some the third, and so on to the last. To pronounce exactly, however, which is the first, what kind of a being the second is, which may truly be designated third, and to carry this out to the end of the series, this is not a task for man, but transcends our nature. We shall yet venture, such as we are, to stand still a little at this point, and to make some observations on the matter. There are some gods of whom God is god, as we hear in prophecy, (Psa_134:2) “Thank ye the God of gods,” and (Psa_50:1) “The God of gods hath spoken, and called the earth.” Now God, according to the Gospel, (Mat_20:5) “is not the God of the dead but of the living.” Those gods, then, are living of whom God is god. The Apostle, too, writing to the Corinthians, says: (1Co_8:5) “As there are gods many and lords many,” and so we have spoken of these gods as really existing. Now there are, besides the gods of whom God is god, certain others, who are called thrones, and others called dominions, lordships, also, and powers in addition to these. The phrase, (Eph_1:21) “above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come,” leads us to believe that there are yet others besides these which are less familiar to us; one kind of these the Hebrews called Sabai, from which Sabaoth was formed, who is their ruler, and is none other than God. Add to all these the reasonable being who is mortal, man. Now the God of all things made first in honour some race of reasonable beings; this I consider to be those who are called gods, and the second order, let us say, for the present, are the thrones, and the third, undoubtedly, the dominions. And thus we come down in order to the last reasonable race, which, perhaps, cannot be any other than man. The Saviour accordingly became, in a diviner way than Paul, all things to all, that He might either gain all or perfect them; it is clear that to men He became a man, and to the angels an angel. As for His becoming man no believer has any doubt, but as to His becoming an angel, we shall find reason for believing it was so, if we observe carefully the appearances and the words of the angels, in some of which the powers of the angels seem to belong to Him. In several passages angels speak in such a way as to suggest this, as when (Exo_3:2, Exo_3:6) “the angel of the Lord appeared in a flame of fire. And he said. I am the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.” But Isaiah also says: (Isa_9:6) “His name is called Angel of Great Counsel.” The Saviour, then, is the first and the last, not that He is not what lies between, but the extremities are named to show that He became all things. Consider, however, whether the last is man, or the things said to be under the earth, of which are the demons, all of them or some. We must ask, too, about those things which the Saviour became which He speaks of through the prophet David, (Psa_88:4, Psa_88:5) “And I became as a man without any to help him, free among the dead.” His birth from the Virgin and His life so admirably lived showed Him to be more than man, and it was the same among the dead. He was the only free person there, and His soul was not left in hell. Thus, then, He is the first and the last. Again, if there be letters of God, as such there are, by reading which the saints may say they have read what is written on the tablets of heaven, these letters, by which heavenly things are to be read, are the notions, divided into small parts, into Α and so on to Ω, the Son of God. Again, He is the beginning and the end, but He is this not in all His aspects equally. For He is the beginning, as the Proverbs teach us, inasmuch as He is wisdom; it is written: “The Lord rounded Me in the beginning of His ways, for His works.” In the respect of His being the Logos He is not the beginning. “The Word was in the beginning.” Thus in His aspects one comes first and is the beginning, and there is a second after the beginning, and a third, and so on to the end, as if He had said, I am the beginning, inasmuch as I am wisdom, and the second, perhaps, inasmuch as I am invisible, and the third in that I am life, for “what was made was life in Him.” One who was qualified to examine and to discern the sense of Scripture might, no doubt, find many members of the series; I cannot say if he could find them all. “The beginning and the end” is a phrase we usually apply to a thing that is a completed unity; the beginning of a house is its foundation and the end the parapet. We cannot but think of this figure, since Christ is the stone which is the head of the corner, to the great unity of the body of the saved. For Christ the only-begotten Son is all and in all, He is as the beginning in the man He assumed, He is present as the end in the last of the saints, and He is also in those between, or else He is present as the beginning in Adam, as the end in His life on earth, according to the saying: “The last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” This saying harmonizes well with the interpretation we have given of the first and the last.


35. Christ as the Living and the Dead.

In what has been said about the first and the last, and about the beginning and the end, we have referred these words at one point to the different forms of reasonable beings, at another to the different conceptions of the Son of God. Thus we have gained a distinction between the first and the beginning, and between the last and the end, and also the distinctive meaning of Α and Ω. It is not hard to see why he is called (Rev_1:17, Rev_1:18) “the Living and the Dead,” and after being dead He that is alive for evermore. For since we were not helped by His original life, sunk as we were in sin, He came down into our deadness in order that, He having died to sin, we, (2Co_4:10) bearing about in our body the dying of Jesus, might then receive that life of His which is for evermore. For those who always carry about in their body the dying of Jesus shall obtain the life of Jesus also, manifested in their bodies.


36. Christ as a Sword.

The texts of the New Testament, which we have discussed, are things said by Himself about Himself. Isaiah, however, He said (Isa_49:1, Isa_49:3) that His mouth had been set by His Father as a sharp sword, and that He was hidden under the shadow of His hand, made like to a chosen shaft and kept close in the Father’s quiver, called His servant by the God of all things, and Israel, and Light of the Gentiles. The mouth of the Son of God is a sharp sword, for (Heb_4:12) “The word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.” And indeed He came not to bring peace on the earth, that is, to corporeal and sensible things, but a sword, and to cut through, if I may say so, the disastrous friendship of soul and body, so that the soul, committing herself to the spirit which was against the flesh, may enter into friendship with God. Hence, according to the prophetic word, He made His mouth as a sword, as a sharp sword. Can any one behold so many wounded by the divine love, like her in the Song of Songs, who complained that she was wounded: (Son_2:5) “I am wounded with love,” and find the dart that wounded so many souls for the love of God, in any but Him who said, “He hath made Me as a chosen shaft.”


37. Christ as a Servant, as the Lamb of God, and as the Man Whom John Did Not Know.

Again, let any one consider how Jesus was to His disciples, not as He who sits at meat, but as He who serves, and how though the Son of God He took on Him the form of a servant for the sake of the freedom of those who were enslaved in sin, and he will be at no loss to account for the Father’s saying to Him: (Isa_49:3, Isa_49:6) “Thou art My servant,” and a little further on: “It is a great thing that thou shouldst be called My servant.” For we do not hesitate to say that the goodness of Christ appears in a greater and more divine light, and more according to the image of the Father, because (Phi_2:6, Phi_2:8) “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” than if He had judged it a thing to be grasped to be equal with God, and had shrunk from becoming a servant for the salvation of the world. Hence He says, (Isa_49:5, Isa_49:6) desiring to teach us that in accepting this state of servitude He had received a great gift from His Father: “And My God shall be My strength. And He said to Me, It is a great thing for Thee to be called My servant.” For if He had not become a servant, He would not have raised up the tribes of Jacob, nor have turned the heart of the diaspora of Israel, and neither would He have become a light of the Gentiles to be for salvation to the ends of the earth. And it is no great thing for Him to become a servant, even if it is called a great thing by His Father, for this is in comparison with His being called with an innocent sheep and with a lamb. For the Lamb of God became like an innocent sheep being led to the slaughter, that He may take away the sin of the world. He who supplies reason logos to all is made like a lamb which is dumb before her shearer, that we might be purified by His death, which is given as a sort of medicine against the opposing power, and also against the sin of those who open their minds to the truth. For the death of Christ reduced to impotence those powers which war against the human race, and it set free from sin by a power beyond our words the life of each believer. Since, then, He takes away sin until every enemy shall be destroyed and death last of all, in order that the whole world may be free from sin, therefore John points to Him and says: (Joh_1:29) “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” It is not said that He will take it away in the future, nor that He is at present taking it, nor that He has taken it, but is not taking it away now. His taking away sin is still going on, He is taking it away from every individual in the world, till sin be taken away from the whole world, and the Saviour deliver the kingdom prepared and completed to the Father, a kingdom in which no sin is left at all, and which, therefore, is ready to accept the Father as its king, and which on the other hand is waiting to receive all God has to bestow, fully, and in every part, at that time when the saying (1Co_15:28) is fulfilled, “That God may be all in all.” Further, we hear of a man who is said to be coming after John, who was made before him and was before him. This is to teach us that the man also of the Son of God, the man who was mixed with His divinity, was older than His birth from Mary. John says he does not know this man, but must he not have known Him when he leapt for joy when yet a babe unborn in Elisabeth’s womb, as soon as the voice of Mary’s salutation sounded in the ears of the wife of Zacharias? Consider, therefore, if the words “I know Him not” may have reference to the period before the bodily existence. Though he did not know Him before He assumed His body, yet he knew Him when yet in his mother’s womb, and perhaps he is here learning something new about Him beyond what was known to him before, namely, that on whomsoever the Holy Spirit shall descend and abide on him, that is he who is to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He knew him from his mother’s womb, but not all about Him. He did not know perhaps that this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire, when he saw the Spirit descending and abiding on Him. Yet that He was indeed a man, and the first man, John did not know.


38. Christ as Paraclete, as Propitiation, and as the Power of God.

But none of the names we have mentioned expresses His representation of us with the Father, as He pleads for human nature, and makes atonement for it; the Paraclete, and the propitiation, and the atonement. He has the name Paraclete in the Epistle of John: (Joh_2:1, Joh_2:2) “If any man sin, we have a Paraclete with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” And He is said in the same epistle to be the atonement22 for our sins. Similarly, in the Epistle to the Romans, He is called a propitiation:23 “Whom God set forth to be a propitiation through faith.” Of this proportion there was a type in the inmost part of the temple, the Holy of Holies, namely, the golden mercy-seat placed upon the two cherubim. But how could He ever be the Paraclete, and the atonement, and the propitiation without the power of God, which makes an end of our weakness, flows over the souls of believers, and is administered by Jesus, who indeed is prior to it and Himself the power of God, who enables a man to say: (Phi_4:13) “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengtheneth me.” Whence we know that Simon Magus, who gave himself the title of “The power of God, which is called great,” was consigned to perdition and destruction, he and his money with him. We, on the contrary, who confess Christ as the true power of God, believe that we share with Him, inasmuch as He is that power, all things in which any energy resides.


39. Christ as Wisdom and Sanctification and Redemption.

We must not, however, pass over in silence that He is of right the wisdom of God, and hence is called by that name. For the wisdom of the God and Father of all things does not apprehend His substance in mere visions, like the phantasms of human thoughts. Whoever is able to conceive a bodiless existence of manifold speculations which extend to the rationale of existing things, living and, as it were, ensouled, he will see how well the Wisdom of God which is above every creature speaks of herself, when she says: (Pro_8:22) “God created me the beginning of His ways, for His works.” By this creating act the whole creation was enabled to exist, not being unreceptive of that divine wisdom according to which it was brought into being; for God, according to the prophet David, (Psa_104:24) made all things in wisdom. But many things came into being by the help of wisdom, which do not lay hold of that by which they were created: and few things indeed there are which lay hold not only of that wisdom which concerns themselves, but of that which has to do with many things besides, namely, of Christ who is the whole of wisdom. But each of the sages, in proportion as he embraces wisdom, partakes to that extent of Christ, in that He is wisdom; just as every one who is greatly gifted with power, in proportion as he has power, in that proportion also has a share in Christ, inasmuch as He is power. The same is to be thought about sanctification and redemption; for Jesus Himself is made sanctification to us and redemption. Each of us is sanctified with that sanctification, and redeemed with that redemption. Consider, moreover, if the words “to us,” added by the Apostle, have any special force. Christ, he says, “was made to us of God, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” In other passages, he speaks about Christ as being wisdom, without any such qualification, and of His being power, saying that Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, though we might have conceived that He was not the wisdom of God or the power of God, absolutely, but only for us. Now, in respect of wisdom and power, we have both forms of the statement, the relative and the absolute; but in respect of sanctification and redemption, this is not the case. Consider, therefore, since (Heb_2:11) “He that sanctifies and they that are sanctified are all of one,” whether the Father is the sanctification of Him who is our sanctification, as, Christ being our head, God is His head. But Christ is our redemption because we had become prisoners and needed ransoming. I do not enquire as to His own redemption, for though He was tempted in all things as we are, He was without sin, and His enemies never reduced Him to captivity.


40. Christ as Righteousness; as the Demiurge, the Agent of the Good God, and as High-Priest.

Having expiscated the “to us” and the “absolutely” – santification and redemption being “to us” and not absolute, wisdom and redemption both to us and absolute – we must not omit to enquire into the position of righteousness in the same passage. That Christ is righteousness relatively to us appears clearly from the words: “Who was made to us of God wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” And if we do not find Him to be righteousness absolutely as He is the wisdom and the power of God absolutely, then we must enquire whether to Christ Himself, as the Father is santification, so the Father is also righteousness. There is, we know, no unrighteousness with God; (Joh_7:18) He is a righteous and holy Lord, (Rev_16:5, Rev_16:7) and His judgments are in righteousness, and being righteous, He orders all things righteously.

The heretics drew a distinction for purposes of their own between the just and the good. They did not make the matter very clear, but they considered that the demiurge was just, while the Father of Christ was good. That distinction may, I think, if carefully examined, be applied to the Father and the Son; the Son being righteousness, and having received power (Joh_5:27) to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man and will judge the world in righteousness, but the Father doing good to those who have been disciplined by the righteousness of the Son. This is after the kingdom of the Son; then the Father will manifest in His works His name the Good, when God becomes all in all. And perhaps by His righteousness the Saviour prepares everything at the fit times, and by His word, by His ordering, by His chastisements, and, if I may use such an expression, by His spiritual healing aids, disposes all things to receive at the end the goodness of the Father. It was from His sense of that goodness that He answered him who addressed the Only-begotten with the words “Good Master,” (Heb_2:9) and said, “Why callest thou Me good? None is good but one, God, the Father.” This we have treated of elsewhere, especially in dealing with the question of the greater than the demiurge; Christ we have taken to be the demiurge, and the Father the greater than He. Such great things, then, He is, the Paraclete, the atonement, the propitiation, the sympathizer with our weaknesses, who was tempted in all human things, as we are, without sin; and in consequence He is a great High-Priest, having offered Himself as the sacrifice which is offered once for all, and not for men only but for every rational creature. For without24 God He tasted death for every one. In some copies of the Epistle to the Hebrews the words are “by the grace of God.” Now, whether He tasted death for every one without God. He died not for men only but for all other intellectual beings too, or whether He tasted death for every one by the grace of God, He died for all without God, for by the grace of God He tasted death for every one. It would surely be absurd to say that He tasted death for human sins and not for any other being besides man which had fallen into sin, as for example for the stars. For not even the stars are clean in the eyes of God, as we read in Job, (Job_25:5) “The stars are not clean in His sight,” unless this is to be regarded as a hyperbole. Hence he is a great High-Priest, since He restores all things to His Father’s kingdom, and arranges that whatever defects exist in each part of creation shall be filled up so as to be full of the glory of the Father. This High-Priest is called, from some other notion of him than those we have noticed, Judas, that those who are Jews secretly (Rom_2:29) may take the name of Jew not froth Judah, son of Jacob, but from Him, since they are His brethren, and praise Him for the freedom they have attained. For it is He who sets them free, saving them from their enemies on whose backs He lays His hand to subdue them. When He has put under His feet the opposing power, and is alone in presence of His Father, then He is Jacob and Israel; and thus as we are made light by Him, since He is the light of the world, so we are made Jacob since He is called Jacob, and Israel since He is called Israel.


41. Christ as the Rod, the Flower, the Stone.

Now He receives the kingdom from the king whom the children of Israel appointed, beginning the monarchy not at the divine command and without even consulting God. He therefore fights the battles of the Lord and so prepares peace for His Son, His people, and this perhaps is the reason why He is called David. Then He is called a rod; (Isa_11:1) such He is to those who need a harder and severer discipline, and have not submitted to the love and gentleness of God. On this account, if He is a rod, He has to “go forth;” He does not remain in Himself, but appears to go beyond His earlier state. Going forth, then, and becoming a rod, He does not remain a rod, but after the rod He becomes a flower that rises up, and after being a rod He is made known as a flower to those who, by His being a rod, have met with visitation. For “God will visit their iniquities with a rod,” (Psa_89:32, Psa_89:33) that is, Christ. But “His mercy He will not take from him,” for He will have mercy on him, for on whom the Son has mercy the Father has mercy also. An interpretation may be given which makes Him a rod and a flower in respect of different persons, a rod to those who have need of chastisement, a flower to those who are being saved; but I prefer the account of the matter given above. We must add here, however, that, perhaps, looking to the end, if Christ is a rod to any man He is also a flower to him, while it is not the case that he who receives Him as a flower must also know Him as a rod. And yet as one flower is more perfect than another and plants are said to flower, even though they bring forth no perfect fruit, so the perfect receive that of Christ which transcends the flower. Those, on the other hand, who have known Him as a rod will partake along with it, not in His perfection, but in the flower which comes before the fruit. Last of all, before we come to the word Logos, Christ was a stone, (Psa_118:22) set at naught by the builders but placed on the head of the corner, for the living stones are built up as on a foundation on the other stones of the Apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself our Lord being the chief corner-stone, because He is a part of the building made of living stones in the land of the living; therefore He is called a stone. All this we have said to show how capricious and baseless is the procedure of those who, when so many names are given to Christ, take the mere appellation “the Word,” without enquiring, as in the case of His other titles, in what sense it is used; surely they ought to ask what is meant when it is said of the Son of God that He was the Word, and God, and that He was in the beginning with the Father, and that all things were made by Him.


42. Of the Various Ways in Which Christ Is the Logos.

As, then, from His activity in enlightening the world whose light He is, Christ is named the Light of the World, and as from His making those who sincerely attach themselves to Him put away their deadness and rise again and put on newness of life, He is called the Resurrection, so from an activity of another kind He is called Shepherd and Teacher, King and Chosen Shaft, and Servant, and in addition to these Paraclete and Atonement and Propitiation. And after the same fashion He is also called the Logos,25 because He takes away from us all that is irrational, and makes us truly reasonable, so that we do all things, even to eating and drinking, to the glory of God, and discharge by the Logos to the glory of God both the commoner functions of life and those which belong to a more advanced stage. For if, by having part in Him, we are raised up and enlightened, herded also it may be and ruled over, then it is clear that we become in a divine manner reasonable, when He drives away from us what in us is irrational and dead, since He is the Logos reason and the Resurrection. Consider, however, whether all men have in some way part in Him in His character as Logos. On this point the Apostle teaches us that He is to be sought not outside the seeker, and that those find Him in themselves who set their heart on doing so; “Say not (Rom_10:6, Rom_10:8) in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? That is to bring Christ down; or, Who shall descend into the abyss? That is to bring Christ up from the dead. But what saith the Scripture? The Word is very nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart,” as if Christ Himself were the same thing as the Word said to be sought after. But when the Lord Himself says (Joh_15:22) “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin but now they have no cloak for their sin,” the only sense we can find in His words is that the Logos Himself says that those are not chargeable with sin to whom He reason has not fully come, but that those, if they sin, are guilty who, having had part in Him, act contrary to the ideas by which He declares His full presence in us. Only when thus read is the saying true: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin.” Should the words be applied, as many are of opinion that they should, to the visible Christ, then how is it true that those had no sin to whom He did not come? In that case all who lived before the advent of the Saviour will be free from sin, since Jesus, as seen in flesh, had not yet come. And more – all those to whom He has never been preached will have no sin, and if they have no sin, then it is clear they are not liable to judgment. But the Logos in man, in which we have said that our whole race had part, is spoken of in two senses; first, in that of the filling up of ideas which takes place, prodigies excepted, in every one who passes beyond the age of boyhood, but secondly, in that of the consummation, which takes place only in the perfect. The words, therefore, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have had sin, but now they have no cloak for their sin,” are to be understood in the former sense; but the words, (Joh_10:8) “All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not hear them,” in the latter. For before the consummation of reason comes, there is nothing in man but what is blameworthy; all is imperfect and defective, and can by no means command the obedience of those irrational elements in us which are tropically spoken of as sheep. And perhaps the former meaning is to be recognized in the words “The Logos was made flesh,” but the second in “The Logos was God.” We must accordingly look at what there is to be seen in human affairs between the saying, “The Word reason was made flesh” and “The Word was God.” When the Word was made flesh can we say that it was to some extent broken up and thinned out, and can we say that it recovered from that point onward till it became again what it was at first, God the Word, the Word with the Father; the Word whose glory John saw, the verily only-begotten, as from the Father. But the Son may also be the Logos Word, because He reports the secret things of His Father who is intellect in the same way as the Son who is called the Word. For as with us the word is a messenger of those things which the mind perceives, so the Word of God, knowing the Father, since no created being can approach Him without a guide, reveals the Father whom He knows. For no one knows the Father save the Son, (Mat_11:27) and he to whomsoever the Son reveals Him, and inasmuch as He is the Word He is the Messenger of Great Counsel, Isa_9:5, Isa_9:6 who has the government upon His shoulders; for He entered on His kingdom by enduring the cross. In the Apocalypse, (Joh_19:11) moreover, the Faithful and True the Word, is said to sit on a white horse, the epithets indicating, I consider, the clearness of the voice with which the Word of truth speaks to us when He sojourns among us. This is scarcely the place to show how the word “horse” is often used in passages spoken for our encouragement in sacred learning. I only cite two of these: “A horse is deceitful for safety,” (Psa_33:17) and “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will rejoice in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psa_20:7) Nor must we leave unnoticed a passage in the forty-fourth Psalm, (Psa_44:1) frequently quoted by many writers as if they understood it: “My heart hath belched forth a good word, I speak my works to the King.” Suppose it is God the Father who speaks thus; what is His heart, that the good word should appear in accordance with His heart? If, as these writers suppose, the Word Logos needs no interpretation, then the heart is to be taken in the natural sense too. But it is quite absurd to suppose God’s heart to be a part of Him as ours is of our body. We must remind such writers that as when the hand of God is spoken of, and His arm and His finger, we do not read the words literally but enquire in what sound sense we may take them so as to be worthy of God, so His heart is to be understood of His rational power, by which He disposes all things, and His word of that which announces what is in this heart of His. But who is it that announces the counsel of the Father to those of His creatures who are worthy and who have risen above themselves, who but the Saviour? That “belched forth” is not, perhaps, without significance; a hundred other terms might have been employed; “My heart has produced a good word,” it might have been said, or “My heart has spoken a good word.” But in belching, some wind that was hidden makes its way out to the world, and so it may be that the Father gives out views of truth not continuously, but as it were after the fashion of belching, and the word has the character of the things thus produced, and is called, therefore, the image of the invisible God. We may enter our agreement, therefore, with the ordinary acceptation of these words, and take them to be spoken by the Father. It is not, however, a matter of course, that it is God Himself who announces these things. Why should it not be a prophet? Filled with the Spirit and unable to contain himself, he brings forth a word about his prophecy concerning Christ: “My heart hath belched forth a good word, I speak my works to the King, my pen is the tongue of a ready writer. Excellent in beauty is He beyond the sons of men.” Then to the Christ Himself: “Grace is poured out on Thy lips.” If the Father were the speaker, how could He go on after the words, “Grace is poured out on thy lips,” to say, “Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever,” and a little further on, “Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Some of those who wish to make the Father the speaker may appeal to the words, “Hear, O daughter, and behold and incline thine ear, and forget thy people and thy father.” The prophet, it may be said, could not address the Church in the words, “Hear, O daughter.” It is not difficult, however, to show that changes of person occur frequently in the Psalms, so that these words, “Hear, O daughter,” might be from the Father, in this passage, though the Psalm as a whole is not. To our discussion of the Word we may here add the passage, (Psa_33:6) “By the word of the Lord were the heavens rounded, and all the power of them by the breath of His mouth.” Some refer this to the Saviour and the Holy Spirit. The passage, however, does not necessarily imply any more than that the heavens were founded by the reason logos of God, as when we say that a house is built by the plan logos of the architect, or a ship by the plan logos of the shipbuilder. In the same way the heavens were founded made solid by the Word of God, for they are26 of a more divine substance, which on this account is called solid;27 it has little fluidity for the most part, nor is it easily melted like other parts of the world, and specially the lower parts. On account of this difference the heavens are said in a special manner to be constituted by the Word of God.

The saying then stands, first, “In the beginning was the Logos;” we are to place that full in our view; but the testimonies we cited from the Proverbs led us to place wisdom first, and to think of wisdom as preceding the Word which announces her. We must observe, then, that the Logos is in the beginning, that is, in wisdom, always. Its being in wisdom, which is called the beginning, does not prevent it from being with God and from being God, and it is not simply with God, but is in the beginning, in wisdom, with God. For he goes on: “He was in the beginning with God.” He might have said, “He was with God;” but as He was in the beginning, so He was with God in the beginning, and “All things were made by Him,” being in the beginning, for God made all things, as David tells us, in wisdom. And to let us understand that the Word has His own definite place and sphere as one who has life in Himself and is a distinct person, we must also speak about powers, not about power. “Thus saith the Lord of powers, A.V. hosts” we frequently read; there are certain creatures, rational and divine, which are called powers: and of these Christ was the highest and best, and is called not only the wisdom of God but also His power. As, then, there are several powers of God, each of them in its own form, and the Saviour is different from these, so also Christ, even if that which is Logos in us is not in respect of form outside of us, will be understood from our discussion up to this point to be the Logos, who has His being in the beginning, in wisdom. This for the present may suffice, on the word: “In the beginning was the Logos.”





22 ὶλασμὁς

23 ὶλαστήριον, Rom_3:25

24 χωορις for χαριτι, a widely diffused early variant.

25 It is impossible to render by any one English word the Greek λὀγος as used by Origen in the following discussion. We shall therefore in many passages leave it untranslated.

26 Reading τυγχάνμτας

27 στερεός, of which στερἑομα, firmament, is made.