John chapter 1, verse 3.- "All things were made by Him;
and without Him was not anything made that was made."
[1.] Moses in the beginning of the history and writings of the Old Testament
speaks to us of the objects of sense, and enumerates them to us at length.
For, "In the beginning," he says, "God made the heaven and the earth,"
and then he adds, that light was created, and a second heaven and the stars,
the various kinds of living creatures, and, that we may not delay by going
through particulars, everything else. But this Evangelist, cutting all
short, includes both these things and the things which are above these
in a single sentence; with reason, because they were known to his hearers,
and because he is hastening to a greater subject, and has instituted all
his treatise, that he might speak not of the works but of the Creator,
and Him who produced them all. And therefore Moses, though he has selected
the smaller portion of the creation, (for he has spoken nothing to us concerning
the invisible powers,) dwells on these things;1 while John, as hastening
to ascend to the Creator Himself, runs by both these things, and those
on which Moses was silent, having comprised them in one little saying,
"All things were made by Him." And that you may not think that he merely
speaks of all the things mentioned by Moses, he adds, that "without Him
was not anything made that was made." That is to say, that of created things,
not one, whether it be visible2 or intelligible3 was brought into being
without the power of the Son.
For we will not put the full stop after "not anything," as the heretics
do. They, because they wish to make the Spirit created, say, "What was
made, in Him was Life"; yet so what is said becomes unintelligible. First,
it was not the time here to make mention of the Spirit, and if he desired
to do so, why did he state it so indistinctly? For how is it clear that
this saying relates to the Spirit? Besides, we shall find by this argument,
not that the Spirit, but that the Son Himself, is created by Himself. But
rouse yourselves, that what is said may not escape you; and come, let us
read for a while after their fashion, for so its absurdity will be clearer
to us. "What was made, in Him was Life." They say that the Spirit is called
"Life." But this "Life" is found to be also "Light," for he adds, "And
the Life was the Light of men." (Ver. 4.) Therefore, according to them
the "Light of men" here means the Spirit. Well, but when he goes on to
say, that "There was a man sent from God, to bear witness of that Light"
(vers. 6, 7), they needs must assert, that this too is spoken of the Spirit;
for whom he above called "Word," Him as he proceeds he calls "God," and
"Life," and "Light." This "Word" he says was "Life," and this "Life" was
"Light." If now this Word was Life, and if this Word and this Life became
flesh, then the Life, that is to say, the Word, "was made flesh, and we
beheld" Its "glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father." If
then they say that the Spirit is here called "Life," consider what strange
consequences will follow. It will be the Spirit, not the Son, that was
made flesh; the Spirit will be the Only-Begotten Son.
And those who read the passage so will fall, if not into this, yet in
avoiding this into another most strange conclusion. If they allow that
the words are spoken of the Son, and yet do not stop or read as we do,
then they will assert that the Son is created by Himself. Since, if "the
Word was Life," and "what was made in Him was Life"; according to this
reading He is created in Himself and through Himself. Then after some words
between, he has added, "And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten
of the Father." (Ver. 14.) See, the Holy Spirit is found, according to
the reading of those who assert these things, to be also an only-begotten
Son, for it is concerning Him that all this declaration is uttered by him.
See when the word has swerved4 from the truth, whither it is perverted,
and what strange consequences it produces!
What then, says one, is not the Spirit "Light"? It is Light: but in
this place there is no mention of the Spirit. Since even God (the Father)
is called "Spirit," that is to say, incorporeal, yet God (the Father) is
not absolutely meant wherever "Spirit" is mentioned. And why do you wonder
if we say this of the Father? We could not even say of the Comforter, that
wherever "Spirit" (is mentioned), the Comforter is absolutely meant, and
yet this is His most distinctive name; still not always where Spirit (is
mentioned is) the Comforter (meant). Thus Christ is called "the power of
God" (1 Cor. 1. 24), and "the wisdom of God"; yet not always where "the
power" and "the wisdom of God" are mentioned is Christ meant; so in this
passage, although the Spirit does give "Light," yet the Evangelist is not
now speaking of the Spirit.
When we have shut them out from these strange opinions, they who take
all manner of pains to withstand the truth, say, (still clinging to the
same reading,) "Whatever came into existence5 by him was life, because,"
says one, "whatever came into existence was life." What then do you say
of the punishment of the men of Sodom, and the flood, and hell fire, and
ten thousand like things? "But," says one, "we are speaking of the material
creation."6 Well, these too belong entirely to the material creation. But
that we may out of our abundance7 refute their argument, we will ask them,
"Is wood, life," tell me? "Is stone, life?" these things that are lifeless
and motionless? Nay, is man absolutely life? Who would say so? he is not
pure life,8 but is capable of receiving life.
[2.] See here again, an absurdity; by the same succession of consequences
we will bring the argument to such a point, that even hence you may learn
their folly. In this way they assert things by no means befitting of the
Spirit. Being driven from their other ground, they apply those things to
men, which they before thought to be spoken worthily of the Spirit. However,
let us examine the reading itself this way also. The creature is now called
"life," therefore, the same is "light," and John came to witness concerning
it. Why then is not he also "light"? He says that "he was not that light"
(ver. 8), and yet he belonged to created things? How then is he not "light"?
How was he "in the world, and the world was made by him"? (Ver. 10.) Was
the creature in the creature, and was the creature made by the creature?
But how did "the world know him not"? How did the creature not know the
creature? "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become
the sons of God." (Ver. 12.) But enough of laughter. For the rest I leave
it to you to attack these monstrous reasonings, that we may not seem to
have chosen9 to raise a laugh for its own sake, and waste the time without
cause. For if these things are neither said of the Spirit, (and it has
been shown that they are not,) nor of anything created, and yet they still
hold to the same reading, that stranger conclusion than any which we before
mentioned, will follow, that the Son was made by Himself. For if the Son
is the true Light, and this Light was Life, and this Life was made in Him,
this must needs be the result according to their own reading. Let us then
relinquish this reading, and come to the recognized reading and explanation.10
And what is that? It is to make the sentence end at "was made," and
to begin the next sentence with, "In Him was Life." What (the Evangelist)
says is this, "Without Him was not anything made that was made"; whatever
created thing was made, says he, was not made without Him. See you how
by this short addition he has rectified all the besetting11 difficulties;
for the saying, that "without Him was not anything made," and then the
adding, "which was made," includes things cognizable by the intellect,12
but excludes the Spirit. For after he had said that "all things were made
by Him," and "without Him was not anything made," he needed this addition,
lest some one should say, "If all things were made by Him, then the Spirit
also was made." "I," he replies, "asserted that whatever was made was made
by Him, even though it be invisible, or incorporeal, or in the heavens.
For this reason, I did not say absolutely, `all things,' but `whatever
was made,' that is, `created things,' but the Spirit is uncreated."
Do you see the precision of his teaching? He has alluded to the creation
of material things, (for concerning these Moses had taught before him,)
and after bringing us to advance from thence to higher things, I mean the
immaterial and the invisible, he excepts the Holy Spirit from all creation.
And so Paul, inspired by the same grace, said, "For by Him were all things
created." (Col i. 16.) Observe too here again the same exactness. For the
same Spirit moved this soul also. That no one should except any created
things from the works of God because of their being invisible, nor yet
should confound the Comforter with them, after running through the objects
of sense which are known to all, he enumerates also things in the heavens,
saying, "Whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers";
for the expression "whether" subjoined to each, shows to us nothing else
but this, that "by Him all things were made, and without Him was not anything
made that was made."
But if you think that the expression "by"13 is a mark of inferiority,
(as making Christ an instrument,) hear him say, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning,
hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of
Thy hands." (Ps. cii. 25.) He says of the Son what is said of the Father
in His character of Creator; which he would not have said, unless he had
deemed of Him as of a Creator, and yet not subservient to any. And if the
expression "by Him" is here used, it is put for no other reason but to
prevent any one from supposing the Son to be Unbegotten. For that in respect
of the title of Creator He is nothing inferior to the Father; hear from
Himself, where He saith, "As the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth
them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will." (c. v. 21.) If now in the
Old Testament it is said of the Son, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast
laid the foundation of the earth," His title of Creator is plain. But if
you say that the Prophet spoke this of the Father, and that Paul attributed
to the Son what was said of the Father, even so the conclusion is the same.
For Paul would not have decided that the same expression suited the Son,
unless he had been very confident that between Father and Son there was
an equality of honor; since it would have been an act of extremest rashness
to refer what suited an incomparable Nature to a nature inferior to, and
falling short of it. But the Son is not inferior to, nor falls short of,
the Essence of the Father; and therefore Paul has not only dared to use
these expressions concerning Him, but also others like them. For the expression
"from Whom," which you decide to belong properly to the Father alone, he
uses also concerning the Son, when he says, "from which all the body by
joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth
with the increase of God." (Col. ii. 19.)
[3.] And he is not content with this only, he stops your mouths in another
way also, by applying to the Father the expression "by whom," which you
say is a mark of inferiority. For he says, "God is faithful, by whom ye
were called unto the fellowship of His Son" (1 Cor. i. 9): and again, "By
His will" (1 Cor. i. 1, &c.); and in another place, "For of Him, and
through Him, and to Him, are all things." (Rom. xi. 26.) Neither is the
expression "from14 whom," assigned to the Son only, but also to the Spirit;
for the angel said to Joseph, "Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife,
for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." (Matt. i. 20.)
As also the Prophet does not deem it improper to apply to the Father the
expression "in whom,"15 which belongs to the Spirit, when he says, "In16
God we shall do valiantly." (Ps. lx. 12.) And Paul, "Making request, if
by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey, in the will
of God, to come unto you." (Rom. i. 10.) And again he uses it of Christ,
saying, "In Christ Jesus." (Rom. vi. 11, 23, &c.) In short, we may
often and continually find these expressions interchanged;17 now this would
not have taken place, had not the same Essence been in every instance their
subject. And that you may not imagine that the words, "All things were
made by Him," are in this case used concerning His miracles, (for the other
Evangelists have discoursed concerning these;) he farther goes on to say,
"He was in the world, and the world was made by Him"; (but not the Spirit,
for This is not of the number of created things, but of those above all
Let us now attend to what follows. John having spoken of the work of
creation, that "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not
anything made that was made," goes on to speak concerning His Providence,
where he saith, "In Him was Life." That no one may doubt how so many and
so great things were "made by Him," he adds, that "In Him was Life." For
as with the fountain which is the mother of the great deeps, however much
you take away you nothing lessen the fountain; so with the energy of the
Only-Begotten, however much you believe has been produced and made by it,
it has become no whit the less. Or, to use a more familiar example, I will
instance that of light, which the Apostle himself added immediately, saying,
"And the Life was the Light." As then light, however many myriads it may
enlighten, suffers no diminution of its own brightness; so also God, before
commencing His work and after completing it, remains alike indefectible,
nothing diminished, nor wearied by the greatness of the creation. Nay,
if need were that ten thousand, or even an infinite number of such worlds
be created, He remains the same, sufficient for them all not merely to
produce, but also to control them after their creation. For the word "Life"
here refers not merely to the act of creation, but also to the providence
(engaged) about the permanence of the things created; it also lays down
beforehand the doctrine of the resurrection, and is the beginning18 of
these marvelous good tidings.19 Since when "life" has come to be with us,
the power of death is dissolved; and when "light" has shone upon us, there
is no longer darkness, but life ever abides within us, and death cannot
overcome it. So that what is asserted of the Father might be asserted absolutely
of Him (Christ) also, that "In Him we live and move and have our being."
(Col. i. 16, Col i. 17.) As Paul has shown when he says, "By Him were all
things created," and "by Him all things consist"; for which reason He has
been called also "Root"20 and "Foundation."21
But when you hear that "In Him was Life," do not imagine Him a compound
Being, since farther on he says of the Father also, "As the Father hath
Life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son also to have Life" (John v.
26); now as you would not on account of this expression say that the Father
is compounded, so neither can you say so of the Son. Thus in another place
he says, that "God is Light" (1 John i. 5), and elsewhere (it is said),
that He "dwelleth in light unapproachable" (1 Tim. vi. 16); yet these expressions
are used not that we may suppose a compounded nature,22 but that by little
and little we may be led up to the highest doctrines. For since one of
the multitude could not easily have understood how His life was Life Impersonate,23
he first used that humbler expression, and afterwards leads them (thus)
trained to the higher doctrine. For He who had said that "He hath given
Him (the Son) to have life" (c. v. 26); the Same saith in another place,
"I am the Life" (c. xiv. 6); and in another, "I am the Light." (c. viii.
12.) And what, tell me, is the nature of this "light"? This kind (of light)
is the object not of the senses, but of the intellect, enlightening the
soul herself. And since Christ should hereafter say, that "None can come
unto Me except the Father draw him" (c. vi. 44); the Apostle has in this
place anticipated an objection, and declared that it is He (the Son) who
"giveth light" (ver. 9); that although you hear a saying like this concerning
the Father, you may not say that it belongs to the Father only, but also
to the Son. For, "All things," He saith, "which the Father hath are Mine."
(c. xvi. 15.)
First then, the Evangelist hath instructed us respecting the creation,
after that he tells us of the goods relating to the soul which He supplied
to us by His coming; and these he has darkly described in one sentence,
when he says, "And the Life was the Light of men." (Ver. 4.) He
does not say, "was the light of the Jews," but universally "of men": nor
did the Jews only, but the Greeks also, come to this knowledge, and this
light was a common proffer made24 to all. "Why did he not add `Angels,'
but said, `of men'?" Because at present his discourse is of the nature
of men, and to them he came bearing glad tidings of good things.
"And the light shineth in darkness." (ver. 5.) He calls death
and error, "darkness." For the light which is the object of our senses
does not shine in darkness, but apart from it; but the preaching of Christ
hath shone forth in the midst of prevailing error, and made it to disappear.
And He by enduring death25 hath so overcome death, that He hath recovered
those already held by it. Since then neither death overcame it, nor error,
since it is bright everywhere, and shines by its proper strength, therefore
"And the darkness comprehended it not." For it cannot be overcome, and
will not dwell in souls which wish not to be enlightened.
[4.] But let it not trouble thee that It took not all, for not by necessity
and force, but by will and consent26 does God bring us to Himself. Therefore
do not thou shut thy doors against this light, and thou shalt enjoy great
happiness.27 But this light cometh by faith, and when it is come, it lighteth
abundantly him that hath received it; and if thou displayest a pure life
(meet) for it, remains indwelling within continually. "For," He saith,
"He that loveth Me, will keep My commandments; and I and My Father will
come unto him, and make Our abode with him." (John xiv. 23; slightly varied.)
As then one cannot rightly enjoy the sunlight, unless he opens his eyes;
so neither can one largely share this splendor, unless he have expanded
the eye of the soul, and rendered it in every way keen of sight.
But how is this effected? Then when we have cleansed the soul from all
the passions. For sin is darkness, and a deep darkness; as is clear, because
men do it unconsciously and secretly. For, "every one that doeth evil hateth
the light, neither cometh to the light." (c. iii. 20.) And, "It is a shame
even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret." (Eph.
v. 12.) For, as in darkness a man knows neither friend nor foe, but cannot
perceive any of the properties of objects; so too is it in sin. For he
who desires to get more gain, makes no difference between friend and enemy;
and the envious regards with hostile eyes the man with whom he is very
intimate; and the plotter is at mortal quarrel with all alike. In short,
as to distinguishing the nature of objects, he who commits sin is no better
than men who are drunk or mad. And as in the night, wood, lead, iron, silver,
gold, precious stones, seem to us all alike on account of the absence of
the light which shows their distinctions; so he who leads an impure life
knows neither the excellence of temperance nor the beauty of philosophy.
For in darkness, as I said before, even precious stones if they be displayed
do not show their luster, not by reason of their own nature, but because
of the want of discernment in the beholders. Nor is this the only evil
which happens to us who are in sin, but this also, that we live in constant
fear: and as men walking in a moonless night tremble, though none be by
to frighten them; so those who work iniquity cannot have confidence, though
there be none to accuse them; but they are afraid of everything, and are
suspicious, being pricked by their conscience: all to them is full of fear
and distress,28 they look about them at everything, are terrified at everything.
Let us then flee a life so painful, especially since after this painfulness
shall follow death; a deathless death, for of the punishment in that place
there will be no end; and in this life they (who sin) are no better than
madmen, in that they are dreaming of things that have no existence. They
think they are rich when they are not rich, that they enjoy when they are
not enjoying, nor do they properly perceive the cheat until they are freed
from themadness and have shaken off the sleep. Wherefore Paul exhorts all
to be sober, and to watch; and Christ also commands the same. For he who
is sober and awake, although he be captured by sin, quickly beats it off;
while he who sleeps and is beside himself, perceives not how he is held
prisoner of it.
Let us then not sleep. This is not the season of night, but of day.
Let us therefore "walk honestly29 as in the day" (Rom. xiii. 13); and nothing
is more indecent than sin. In point of indecency it is not so bad to go
about naked as in sin and wrong doing. That is not so great matter of blame,
since it might even be caused by poverty; but nothing has more shame and
less honor than the sinner. Let us think of those who come to the justice-hall
on some account of extortion, or overreaching;30 how base and ridiculous
they appear to all by their utter shamelessness, their lies, and audacity.31
But we are such pitiable and wretched beings, that we cannot bear ourselves
to put on a garment awkwardly or awry; nay, if we see another person in
this state, we set him right; and yet though we and all our neighbors are
walking on our heads, we do not even perceive it. For what, say, can be
more shameful than a man who goes in to a harlot? what more contemptible
than an insolent, a foul-tongued or an envious man? Whence then is it that
these things do not seem so disgraceful as to walk naked? Merely from habit.
To go naked no one has ever willingly endured; but all men are continually
venturing on the others without any fear. Yet if one came into an assembly
of angels, among whom nothing of the sort has ever taken place, there he
would clearly see the great ridicule (of such conduct). And why do I say
an assembly of angels? Even in the very palaces among us, should one introduce
a harlot and enjoy her, or be oppressed by excess of wine, or commit any
other like indecency, he would suffer extreme punishment. But if it be
intolerable hat men should dare such things in palaces, much more when
the King is everywhere present, and observes what is done, shall we if
we dare them undergo severest chastisement. Wherefore let us, I exhort
you, show forth in our life much gentleness, much purity, for we have a
King who beholds all our actions continually. In order then that this light
may ever richly enlighten us, let us gladly accept32 these bright beams,33
for so shall we enjoy both the good things present and those to come, through
the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom, and with
whom, to the Father, and the Holy Spirit, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 i.e. the visible creation.
4 e0kkulisqh, lit. "been rolled away."
7 e0k periousi/aj.
9 Sav. and Ms. Bodl. proh|sqai.
11 u9formou=nta, lit. "blockading."
12 i.e. the things of the invisible world, opposed to
13 Or, through dia;.
15 e0n w\|.
17 i.e. applied alike to the different Persons in the
19 Or, "Gospels," Acts xvii. 28.
20 Isa. xi. 10, as quoted Rom. xv. 12; Rev. xxii. 16.
21 1 Cor. iii. 11.
24 koino\n prou/keito.
25 Lit. "having been in death."
26 boulh/sei kai\ gnw/mh|.
27 trufh=j, "spiritual enjoyment."
29 eu0sxhmo/nwj, "decently."