Tradition Thursday- #27

The series on the Catechetical Letters of St. Cyril of Jerusalem continues. This post will feature his tenth letter, which addresses the section of the Nicene Creed covering Jesus. Specifically it will cover the first half or so, to keep this post a more manageable length:

For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth ; yet to 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. They who have been taught to believe In One God the Father Almighty, ought also to believe in His Only-begotten Son. For he that denies the Son, the same has not the Father. 1 John 2:23 I am the Door , says Jesus; no one comes unto the Father but through Me. For if you deny the Door, the knowledge concerning the Father is shut off from you. No man knows the father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son shall reveal Him. Matthew 11:27 For if you deny Him who reveals, you remain in ignorance. There is a sentence in the Gospels, saying, He that believes not on the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36 For the Father has indignation when the Only-begotten Son is set at nought. For it is grievous to a king that merely his soldier should be dishonoured; and when one of his nobler officers or friends is dishonoured, then his anger is greatly increased: but if any should do despite to the king’s only-begotten son himself, who shall appease the father’s indignation on behalf of his only-begotten son?

2. If, therefore, any one wishes to show piety towards God, let him worship the Son, since otherwise the Father accepts not his service. The Father spoke with a loud voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matthew 3:17 The Father was well pleased; unless thou also be well pleased in Him, you have not life. Be not thou carried away with the Jews when they craftily say, There is one God alone; but with the knowledge that God is One, know that there is also an Only-begotten Son of God. I am not the first to say this, but the Psalmist in the person of the Son says, The Lord said unto Me, You are My Son. Heed not therefore what the Jews say, but what the Prophets say. Do you wonder that they who stoned and slew the Prophets, set at nought the Prophet.’ words?

3. Believe thou In One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God. For we say One Lord Jesus Christ, that His Sonship may be Only-begotten: we say One, that you may not suppose another: we say One, that you may not profanely diffuse the many names of His action among many sons. For He is called a Door ; but take not the name literally for a thing of wood, but a spiritual, a living Door, discriminating those who enter in. He is called a Way John 14:6, not one trodden by feet, but leading to the Father in heaven; He is called a Sheep , not an irrational one, but the one which through its precious blood cleanses the world from its sins, which is led before the shearers, and knows when to be silent. This Sheep again is called a Shepherd, who says, I am the Good Shepherd John 10:11: a Sheep because of His manhood, a Shepherd because of the loving-kindness of His Godhead. And would you know that there are rational sheep? The Saviour says to the Apostles, Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Again, He is called a Lion , not as a devourer of men, but indicating as it were by the title His kingly, and steadfast, and confident nature: a Lion He is also called in opposition to the lion our adversary, who roars and devours those who have been deceived. 1 Peter 5:8 For the Saviour came, not as having changed the gentleness of His own nature, but as the strong Lion of the tribe of Judah , saving them that believe, but treading down the adversary. He is called a Stone, not a lifeless stone, cut out by men’s hands, but a chief corner-stone , on whom whosoever believes shall not be put to shame.

4. He is called Christ, not as having been anointed by men’s hands, but eternally anointed by the Father to His High-Priesthood on behalf of men. He is called Dead, not as having abode among the dead, as all in Hades, but as being alone free among the dead. He is called Son of Man, not as having had His generation from earth, as each of us, but as coming upon the clouds To Judge Both Quick and Dead. He is called Lord, not improperly as those who are so called among men, but as having a natural and eternal Lordship. He is called Jesus by a fitting name, as having the appellation from His salutary healing. He is called Son, not as advanced by adoption, but as naturally begotten. And many are the titles of our Saviour; lest, therefore, His manifold appellations should make you think of many sons, and because of the errors of the heretics, who say that Christ is one, and Jesus another, and the Door another, and so on , the Faith secures you beforehand, saying well, In One Lord Jesus Christ: for though the titles are many, yet their subject is one.

5. But the Saviour comes in various forms to each man for his profit. For to those who have need of gladness He becomes a Vine; and to those who want to enter in He stands as a Door; and to those who need to offer up their prayers He stands a mediating High Priest. Again, to those who have sins He becomes a Sheep, that He may be sacrificed for them. He is made all things to all men 1 Corinthians 9:22, remaining in His own nature what He is. For so remaining, and holding the dignity of His Sonship in reality unchangeable, He adapts Himself to our infirmities, just as some excellent physician or compassionate teacher; though He is Very Lord, and received not the Lordship by advancement , but has the dignity of His Lordship from nature, and is not called Lord improperly , as we are, but is so in verity, since by the Father’s bidding He is Lord of His own works. For our lordship is over men of equal rights and like passions, nay often over our elders, and often a young master rules over aged servants. But in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ the Lordship is not so: but He is first Maker, then Lord : first He made all things by the Father’s will, then, He is Lord of the things which were made by Him.

6. Christ the Lord is He who was born in the city of David. Luke 2:11 And would you know that Christ is Lord with the Father even before His Incarnation , that you may not only accept the statement by faith, but may also receive proof from the Old Testament? Go to the first book, Genesis: God says, Let us make man, not ‘in My image,’ but, in Our image. Genesis 1:26 And after Adam was made, the sacred writer says, And God created man; in the image of God created He him. For he did not limit the dignity of the Godhead to the Father alone, but included the Son also: that it might be shown that man is not only the work of God, but also of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is Himself also Very God. This Lord, who works together with the Father, wrought with Him also in the case of Sodom, according to the Scripture: And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven. This Lord is He who afterwards was seen of Moses, as much as he was able to see. For the Lord is loving unto man, ever condescending to our infirmities.

7. Moreover, that you may be sure that this is He who was seen of Moses, hear Paul’s testimony, when he says, For they all drank of a spiritual rock that followed them; and the rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:4 And again: By faith Moses forsook Egypt Hebrews 11:27, and shortly after he says, accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. This Moses says to Him, Show me Yourself. You see that the Prophets also in those times saw the Christ, that is, as far as each was able. Show me Yourself, that I may see You with understanding. But He says, There shall no man see My face, and live. Exodus 33:20 For this reason then, because no man could see the face of the Godhead and live, He took on Him the face of human nature, that we might see this and live. And yet when He wished to show even that with a little majesty, when His face did shine as the sun Matthew 17:2, the disciples fell down affrighted. If then His bodily countenance, shining not in the full power of Him that wrought, but according to the capacity of the Disciples, affrighted them, so that even thus they could not bear it, how could any man gaze upon the majesty of the Godhead? ‘A great thing,’ says the Lord, you desire, O Moses: and I approve your insatiable desire, and I will do this thing for you, but according as you are able. Behold, I will put you in the cleft of the rock Exodus 33:22: for as being little, you shall lodge in a little space.’

8. Now here I wish you to make safe what I am going to say, because of the Jews. For our object is to prove that the Lord Jesus Christ was with the Father. The Lord then says to Moses, I will pass by before you with My glory, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. Being Himself the Lord, what Lord does He proclaim? You see how He was covertly teaching the godly doctrine of the Father and the Son. And again, in what follows it is written word for word: And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, both keeping righteousness and showing mercy unto thousands, taking away iniquities, and transgressions, and sins. Then in what follows, Moses bowed his head and worshipped Exodus 34:8 before the Lord who proclaimed the Father, and said: Go then, O Lord, in the midst of us.

9. This is the first proof: receive now a second plain one. The Lord said unto my Lord, sit Thou on My right hand. The Lord says this to the Lord, not to a servant, but to the Lord of all, and His own Son, to whom He put all things in subjection. But when He says that all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him, and what follows; that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:27-28 The Only-begotten Son is Lord of all, but the obedient Son of the Father, for He grasped not the Lordship , but received it by nature of the Father’s own will. For neither did the Son grasp it, nor the Father grudge to impart it. He it is who says, All things are delivered unto Me of My Father ; delivered unto Me, not as though I had them not before; and I keep them well, not robbing Him who has given them.

10. The Son of God then is Lord: He is Lord, who was born in Bethlehem of Judæa, according to the Angel who said to the shepherds, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that unto you is born this day in the city of David Christ the Lord Luke 2:10-11: of whom an Apostle says elsewhere, The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching the gospel of peace by Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all. Acts 10:36 But when he says, of all, do thou except nothing from His Lordship: for whether Angels, or Archangels, or principalities, or powers, or any created thing named by the Apostles, all are under the Lordship of the Son. Of Angels He is Lord, as you have it in the Gospels, Then the Devil departed from Him, and the Angels came and ministered unto Him Matthew 4:11; for the Scripture says not, they succoured Him, but they ministered unto Him, that is, like servants. When He was about to be born of a Virgin, Gabriel was then His servant, having received His service as a peculiar dignity. When He was about to go into Egypt, that He might overthrow the gods of Egypt made with hands , again an Angel appears to Joseph in a dream. Matthew 2:13 After He had been crucified, and had risen again, an Angel brought the good tidings, and as a trustworthy servant said to the women, Go, tell His disciples that He is risen, and goes before you into Galilee; lo, I have told you : almost as if he had said, I have not neglected my command, I protest that I have told you; that if you disregard it, the blame may not be on me, but on those who disregard it. This then is the One Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the lesson just now read speaks: For though there be many that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, and so on, yet to 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 8:5-6 .

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