As Thursday has come again, we feature another Tradition Thursday post highlighting St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures. Our post for today covers the first part of his 17th Lecture:
1 Corinthians 12:8
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, etc.
1. In the preceding Lecture, according to our ability we set before you, our beloved hearers, some small portion of the testimonies concerning the Holy Ghost; and on the present occasion, we will, if it be God’s pleasure, proceed to treat, as far as may be, of those which remain out of the New Testament: and as then to keep within due limit of your attention we restrained our eagerness (for there is no satiety in discoursing concerning the Holy Ghost), so now again we must say but a small part of what remains. For now, as well as then, we candidly own that our weakness is overwhelmed by the multitude of things written. Neither today will we use the subtleties of men, for that is unprofitable; but merely call to mind what comes from the divine Scriptures; for this is the safest course, according to the blessed Apostle Paul, who says, Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Corinthians 2:13 Thus we act like travellers or voyagers, who having one goal to a very long journey, though hastening on with eagerness, yet by reason of human weakness are wont to touch in their way at various cities or harbours.
2. Therefore though our discourses concerning the Holy Ghost are divided, yet He Himself is undivided, being one and the same. For as in speaking concerning the Father, at one time we taught how He is the one only Cause ; and at another, how He is called Father , or Almighty ; and at another, how He is the Creator of the universe; and yet the division of the Lectures made no division of the Faith, in that He, the Object of devotion, both was and is One—and again, as in discoursing concerning the Only-begotten Son of God we taught at one time concerning His Godhead , and at another concerning His Manhood , dividing into many discourses the doctrines concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, yet preaching undivided faith towards Him—so now also though the Lectures concerning the Holy Spirit are divided, yet we preach faith undivided towards Him. For it is one and the Self-same Spirit who divides His gifts to every man severally as He will 1 Corinthians 12:11, Himself the while remaining undivided. For the Comforter is not different from the Holy Ghost, but one and the self-same, called by various names; who lives and subsists, and speaks, and works; and of all rational natures made by God through Christ, both of Angels and of men, He is the Sanctifier.
3. But lest any from lack of learning, should suppose from the different titles of the Holy Ghost that these are various spirits, and not one and the self-same, which alone there is, therefore the Catholic Church guarding you beforehand has delivered to you in the profession of the faith, that you
believe in one Holy Ghost the Comforter, who spoke by the Prophets; that you might know, that though His names be many, the Holy Spirit is but one—of which names, we will now rehearse to you a few out of many.
4. He is called the Spirit, according to the Scripture just now read, For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom. 1 Corinthians 12:8 He is called the Spirit of Truth, as the Saviour says, When He, the Spirit of Truth, has come. John 16:13 He is called also the Comforter, as He said, For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you. But that He is one and the same, though called by different titles, is shown plainly from the following. For that the Holy Spirit and the Comforter are the same, is declared in those words, But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost John 14:26; and that the Comforter is the same as the Spirit of Truth, is declared, when it is said, And I will give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth ; and again, But when the Comforter has come whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth. And He is called the Spirit of God, according as it is written, And I saw the Spirit of God descending John 1:32; and again, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Romans 8:14 He is called also the Spirit of the Father, as the Saviour says, For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you Matthew 10:20; and again Paul says, For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, and the rest;… that He would grant you to be strengthened by His Spirit. Ephesians 3:14-16 He is also called the Spirit of the Lord, according to that which Peter spoke, Why is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord Acts 5:9? He is called also the Spirit of God and Christ, as Paul writes, But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. But if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. Romans 8:9 He is called also the Spirit of the Son of God, as it is said, And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son. Galatians 4:6 He is called also the Spirit of Christ, as it is written, Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify ; and again, Through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ Philippians 1:19 .
5. You will find many other titles of the Holy Ghost besides. Thus He is called the Spirit of Holiness, as it is written, According to the Spirit of Holiness. Romans 1:4 He is also called the Spirit of adoption, as Paul says, For you received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. He is also called the Spirit of revelation, as it is written, May give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Ephesians 1:17 He is also called the Spirit of promise, as the same Paul says, In whom you also after that you believed, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. He is also called the Spirit of grace, as when he says again, And has done despite to the Spirit of grace. Hebrews 10:29 And by many other such-like titles is He named. And you heard plainly in the foregoing Lecture, that in the Psalms He is called at one time the good Spirit , and at another the princely Spirit ; and in Esaias He was styled the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel, and might, of knowledge, and of godliness, and of the fear of God Isaiah 11:2. By all which Scriptures both those before and those now alleged, it is established, that though the titles of the Holy Ghost be different, He is one and the same; living and subsisting, and always present together with the Father and the Son ; not uttered or breathed from the mouth and lips of the Father or the Son, nor dispersed into the air, but having a real substance , Himself speaking, and working, and dispensing, and sanctifying; even as the Economy of salvation which is to usward from the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, is inseparable and harmonious and one, as we have also said before. For I wish you to keep in mind those things which were lately spoken, and to know clearly that there is not one Spirit in the Law and the Prophets, and another in the Gospels and Apostles; but that it is One and the Self-same Holy Spirit, which both in the Old and in the New Testament, spoke the divine Scriptures.
6. This is the Holy Ghost, who came upon the Holy Virgin Mary; for since He who was conceived was Christ the Only-begotten, the power of the Highest overshadowed her, and the Holy Ghost came upon her Luke 1:35, and sanctified her, that she might be able to receive Him, by whom all things were made. John 1:3 But I have no need of many words to teach you that generation was without defilement or taint, for you have learned it. It is Gabriel who says to her, I am the herald of what shall be done, but have no part in the work. Though an Archangel, I know my place; and though I joyfully bid you All hail, yet how you shall bring forth, is not of any grace of mine. The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you; therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God Luke 1:35 .
7. This Holy Spirit wrought in Elisabeth; for He recognises not virgins only, but matrons also, so that their marriage be lawful. And Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost Luke 1:41, and prophesied; and that noble hand-maiden says of her own Lord, And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me ? For Elisabeth counted herself blessed. Filled with this Holy Spirit, Zacharias also, the father of John, prophesied , telling how many good things the Only-begotten should procure, and that John should be His harbinger through baptism. By this Holy Ghost also it was revealed to just Symeon, that he should not see death, till he had seen the Lord’s Christ Luke 2:26-35; and he received Him in his arms, and bore clear testimony in the Temple concerning Him.
8. And John also, who had been filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb , was for this cause sanctified, that he might baptize the Lord; not giving the Spirit himself, but preaching glad tidings of Him who gives the Spirit. For he says, I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He that comes after me, and the rest; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Matthew 3:11 But wherefore with fire? Because the descent of the Holy Ghost was in fiery tongues; concerning which the Lord says joyfully, I have come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled Luke 12:49?
9. This Holy Ghost came down when the Lord was baptized, that the dignity of Him who was baptized might not be hidden; as John says, But He which sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whomsoever you shall see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, the same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost. John 1:33 But see what says the Gospel; the heavens were opened; they were opened because of the dignity of Him who descended; for, lo, he says, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and lighting upon Him Matthew 3:16: that is, with voluntary motion in His descent. For it was fit, as some have interpreted, that the primacy and first-fruits of the Holy Spirit promised to the baptized should be conferred upon the manhood of the Saviour, who is the giver of such grace. But perhaps He came down in the form of a dove, as some say, to exhibit a figure of that dove who is pure and innocent and undefiled, and also helps the prayers for the children she has begotten, and for forgiveness of sins ; even as it was emblematically foretold that Christ should be thus manifested in the appearance of His eyes; for in the Canticles she cries concerning the Bridegroom, and says, Your eyes are as doves by the rivers of water.
10. Of this dove, the dove of Noe, according to some, was in part a figure. For as in his time by means of wood and of water there came salvation to themselves, and the beginning of a new generation, and the dove returned to him towards evening with an olive branch; thus, say they, the Holy Ghost also descended upon the true Noe, the Author of the second birth, who draws together into one the wills of all nations, of whom the various dispositions of the animals in the ark were a figure:— Him at whose coming the spiritual wolves feed with the lambs, in whose Church the calf, and the lion, and the ox, feed in the same pasture, as we behold to this day the rulers of the world guided and taught by Churchmen. The spiritual dove therefore, as some interpret, came down at the season of His baptism, that He might show that it is He who by the wood of the Cross saves them who believe, He who at eventide should grant salvation through His death.
11. And these things perhaps should be otherwise explained; but now again we must hear the words of the Saviour Himself concerning the Holy Ghost. For He says, Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5 And that this grace is from the Father, He thus states, How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him. Luke 11:13 And that we ought to worship God in the Spirit, He shows thus, But the hour comes and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth; for the Father also seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. John 4:23 And again, But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils Matthew 12:28; and immediately afterwards, Therefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. And again He says, And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may be with you for ever, the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him; but you know Him, for He abides with you, and shall be in you. John 14:16 And again He says, These things have I spoken unto you being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said unto you. And again He says, But when the Comforter has come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me. And again the Saviour says, For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you. …. And when He has come, He will convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment ; and afterwards again, I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He the Spirit of Truth has come, He will declare unto you all the truth; for He shall not speak from Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear that shall He speak, and He shall announce unto you the things to come. He shall glorify Me, for He shall take of Mine, and shall announce it unto you. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore said I, That He shall take of Mine, and shall announce it unto you. I have read to you now the utterances of the Only-begotten Himself, that you may not give heed to men’s words.
12. The fellowship of this Holy Spirit He bestowed on the Apostles; for it is written, And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and says unto them, Receive the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins you retain, they are retained. John 20:22 This was the second time He breathed on man (His first breath having been stifled through wilful sins); that the Scripture might be fulfilled, He went up breathing upon your face, and delivering you from affliction. But whence went He up? From Hades; for thus the Gospel relates, that then after His resurrection He breathed on them. But though He bestowed His grace then, He was to lavish it yet more bountifully; and He says to them, I am ready to give it even now, but the vessel cannot yet hold it; for a while therefore receive ye as much grace as you can bear; and look forward for yet more; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be clothed with power from on high. Luke 24:39 Receive it in part now; then, you shall wear it in its fullness. For he who receives, often possesses the gift but in part; but he who is clothed, is completely enfolded by his robe.
Fear not, He says,
the weapons and darts of the devil; for you shall bear with you the power of the Holy Ghost. But remember what was lately said, that the Holy Ghost is not divided, but only the grace which is given by Him.