Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

incarnation

40 Entries

3. Hearing these things, arise, and surmise nothing low: but even because of this very thing most of all shouldest thou marvel, that being Son of the Unoriginate God, and His true Son, He suffered Himself to be called also Son of David, that He might make 10 thee Son of God. He suffered a slave to be father to Him, that He might make the Lord Father to thee a slave. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf110.html - NPNF1-10. St. Chrysostom: Homilies on the Gospel of Saint Matthew - Homily II



"The law of grace directly teaches those who are led by it to imitate God Himself. For it is permitted to speak in this way despite the fact that because of sin we were His enemies.

God loved us so much more than Himself that, although He is beyond every being, He entered without changing into our being, supra-essentially took on human nature, became man and, wishing to reveal Himself as a man among men, did not refuse to make His own the penalty we pay.

And as in His providence He became man, so He deified us by grace, in this way teaching us not only to cleave to one another naturally and to love others spiritually as ourselves, but also, like God, to be more concerned for others than for ourselves, and as proof of our love for each other readily to choose, as virtue enjoins, to die for others. For as Scripture tells us, there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend" (cf. John 15: 13). Philokalia, Vol. 2, "Fifth Century on Various Texts," No. 12



... The incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far From it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. St. Athanasius the Great

... if Christ is God, as indeed He is, but took not human nature upon Him, we are strangers to salvation. Let us then worship Him as God, but believe that He also was made Man. For neither is there any profit in calling Him man without Godhead, nor any salvation in refusing to confess the Manhood together with the Godhead. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 12 no. 1)

...He Who created us ... took on the form of being which He Himself had created, in order, as man, to manifest to us in our flesh the perfection of the Father to which we, too, are called. 'Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world' (John 16:33)." Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 11; SVS Press pg.84)

...Through this union of the immortal Son of God with our human nature, all men were clothed with incorruption in the promise of the resurrection... For the solidarity of mankind is such that, by virtue of the Word's indwelling in a single human body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all. You know how it is when some great king enters a large city, and dwells in one of its houses; because of his dwelling in that single h use, the whole city is honored, and enemies and robbers cease to molest it. Even so is it with the King of ail; He has come into our country and dwelt in one body amidst the many, and in consequence the designs of the enemy against mankind have been foiled, and the corruption of death, which formerly held them in its power, has simply ceased to be. For the human race would have perished utterly had not the Lord and Saviour of all, the Son of God, come among us to put an end to death. St. Athanasius the Great: On the Incarnation

...the Divine Logos took on Himself human flesh and thereby showed that God is not a fantasy of man's imagination, born of ignorant fear of unknown phenomena, but actual reality. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 5; SVS Press pg. 43

And being clothed with the Spirit, they [the prophets] saw that none among the creatures was able to heal that great wound, but only the bounty of God, that is to say His Only-begotten, Whom He sent to be the Saviour of all the world, for He is the great Physician, Who is able to heal the great wound. And they asked God and of His bounty the father of creatures spared not His Only-begotten for our salvation, but delivered Him up for us all and for our iniquities. And He humbled Himself, and by His stripes we all were healed. And by the word of His power He gathered us out of all lands, from one end of the world to the other end of the world, and raised up our hearts from the earth, and taught us that we are members one of another. The Letters of St. Anthony the Great

For His it was once more both to bring the corruptible to incorruption, and to maintain intact the just claim of the Father upon all. For being Word of the Father, and above all, He alone of natural fitness was both able to recreate everything, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be ambassador for all with the Father. For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit He was not far from us before. For no part of creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father. But He comes in condescension to show loving-kindness upon us, and to visit us. St. Athanasius of Alexandria, On the Incarnation

For by the sacrifice of His own body, He both put an end to the law which was against us, and made a new beginning of life for us, by the hope of resurrection which He has given us. For since from man it was that death prevailed over men, for this cause conversely, by the Word of God being made man has come about the destruction of death and the resurrection of life; as the man which bore Christ saith: For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive: and so forth. Fort no longer now do we die as subject to condemnation; but as men who rise from the dead we await the general resurrection of all, `which in its own times He shall show,' even God, Who has also wrought it, and bestowed it upon us. St. Athanasius of Alexandria, On the Incarnation

For since from man it was that death prevailed over men, for this cause conversely, by the Word of God being made man has come about the destruction of death and the resurrection of life; as the man which bore Christ saith: 'For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.' St. Athanasius of Alexandria, Incarnation of the Word.

For what principle did the Blood of His Only-Begotten Son delight the Father, Who would not receive even Isaac, when he was being offered by his father, but changed the sacrifice, putting a ram in the place of the human victim? Is it not evident that the Father accepts Him, but neither asked for Him nor demanded Him; but on account of the Incarnation, and because humanity must be sanctified by the Humanity of God, that He might deliver us Himself, and overcome the tyrant, and draw us to Himself by the mediation of His Son, Who also arranged this to the honor of the Father, Whom it is manifest that He obeys in all things? So much we have said of Christ; the greatest part of what we might say shall be reverenced with silence. St. Gregory the Theologian, Second Oration on Pascha

God's Majesty that had clothed Itself in all sorts of similitudes saw that humanity did not want to find salvation through this assistance, so He sent His Beloved One who, instead of the borrowed similitude with which God's Majesty had previously clothed Itself, clothed Himself with real limbs, as the First-born, and was mingled with humanity: He gave what belonged to Him and took what belonged to us, so that this mingling of His might give life to our dead state. St. Ephraim the Syrian, quoted in The Luminous Eye

How could anyone doubt that the nature of God the Word is filled with true and regal dominion? Certainly we must understand this nature as being in the very heights befitting to God. Since He appeared as a man, however, a being upon whom all things are bestowed as gifts, He received as a man, even though He is full and gives to all from His own fullness (Jn. 1:16). He made our poverty His own, and we see in Christ the strange and rare paradox of Lordship in servant's form and divine glory in human abasement. That which was under the yoke in terms of the limitations of manhood was crowned with royal dignity, and that which was humble was raised to the most supreme excellence. St. Cyril of Alexandria, On the Unity of Christ

If it was for us that the Word of God in His incarnation descended into the lower parts of the earth and ascended above all the heavens, while being Himself perfectly unmoved, He underwent in Himself through the incarnation as man our future destiny. Let the one who is moved by a love of knowledge mystically rejoice in learning of the great destiny which He has promised to those who love the Lord. St. Maximus the Confessor, Selected Writings

If the divine Logos of God the Father became son of man and man so that He might make men gods and the sons of God, let us believe that we shall reach the realm where Christ Himself now is; for He is the head of the whole body (cf. Col. 1:18), and endued with our humanity has gone to the Father as forerunner on our behalf. God will stand 'in the midst of the congregation of gods' (Ps. 82:1.LXX) - that is, of those who are saved - distributing the rewards of that realm's blessedness to those found worthy to receive them, not separated from them by any space." St. Maximos the Confessor (Second Century on Theology no. 25, The Philokalia Vol. 2 edited by Palmer, Sherrard and Ware; Faber and Faber pg. 143)

In saying that the Apostles were eyewitnesses of the substantial and living Word, the Evangelist agrees with John, who says, that the Word was made flesh, and tabernacled in us, and His glory was seen, the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father. For the Word became capable of being seen by reason of the flesh, which is visible and tangible and solid; whereas in Himself He is invisible. And John again in his Epistle says, That which was from the beginning, That which we have heard, That which we have seen with our eyes, and our hands have handled around the Word of Life, and the Life became manifest. Hearest thou not that he speaks of the Life as capable of being handled? This he does that thou mayest understand that the Son became man, and was visible in respect to the flesh, but invisible as regards His divinity." St. Cyril Patriarch of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke

It was unworthy of the goodness of God that creatures made by Him should be brought to nothing through the deceit wrought upon man by the devil; and it was supremely unfitting that the work of God in mankind should disappear, either through their own negligence or through the deceit of evil spirits. As, then, the creatures whom He had created reasonable, like the Word, were in fact perishing, and such noble works were on the road to ruin, what then, was God, being God, to do? Was He to let corruption and death have their way with them? In that case, what was the use of having made them in the beginning? Surely it would have been better never to have been created at all than, having been created, to be neglected and perish; and, besides that, such indifference to the ruin of His own work before His very eyes would argue not goodness in God but limitation, and that far more than if He had never created men at all....

Was He to demand repentance from men for their transgression? You might say that that was worthy of God, and argue further that, as through the Transgression they became subject to corruption, so through repentance they might return to incorruption again. But repentance would not guard the Divine consistency, for, if death did not hold dominion over men, God would still remain untrue. Nor does repentance recall men from what is according to their nature; all that it does is to make them cease from sinning. Had it been a case of a trespass only, and not of a subsequent corruption, repentance would have been well enough; but when once transgression had begun, men came under the power of the corruption proper to their nature and were bereft of the grace which belonged to them as creatures in the Image of God. No, repentance could not meet the case.

What-- or rather Who was it that was needed for such grace and such recall as we required? Who, save the Word of God Himself, Who also in the beginning had made all things out of nothing? His part it was, and His alone, both to bring again the corruptible to incorruption and to maintain for the Father His consistency of character with all. For he alone, being Word of the Father and above all, was in consequence both able to recreate all, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be an ambassador for all with the Father.

For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are, But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Father's Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which He Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father--a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the Virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death in place of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, when He had fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire St. Athanasius the Great: On the Incarnation



Jesus Christ, radiant center of glory, image of our God, the invisible Father, revealer of His eternal designs, prince of peace; Father of the world to come. For our sake he took the likeness of a slave, becoming flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, for our sake, wrapped in swaddling bands and laid in a manger adored by the shepherds and hymned by the angelic powers, who sang: Glory to God in the heavens and on earth peace and good to men. Make us worthy, Lord, to celebrate and to conclude in peace the feast which magnifies the rising of Thy light, by avoiding empty words, working with justice, fleeing from the passions, and raising up the spirit above earthly goods. Bless Thy Church, formed long ago to be united with Thou through Thy life-giving blood. Come to the aid of Thy faithful shepherds, of the priests and the teachers of the Gospel. Bless Thy faithful whose only hope is in Thy mercy; Christian souls, the sick, those who are tormented in spirit, and those who have asked us to pray for them. Have pity, in Thy infinite clemency, and preserve us in fitness to receive the future, endless, good things. We celebrate Thy glorious Nativity with the Father who sent thee for our redemption, with the life-giving Spirit, now and for ever and through all ages. Amen an ancient Syriac liturgy

Like a flaming pillar in the deepest darkness, so is the coming of God among men. The news of this coming began with an angel and a maiden, with a conversation between heavenly and earthly purity. When an impure heart converses with a pure one, there is strife. When an impure heart converses with a pure one, there is strife. Only when a pure heart converses with a pure one is there joy, peace and a great wonder St. Nicolai Velimirovich, HOMILY ON THE ANNUNCIATION

Men forsook God, and made carved images of men. Since therefore an image of man was falsely worshipped as God, God became truly Man, that the falsehood might be done away. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 12 no. 15)

Now the Word of God in His man's nature was not like that; for He was not bound to His body, but rather was Himself wielding it, so that He was not only in it, but was actually in everything, and while external to the universe, abode in His Father only. And this was the wonderful thing that He was at once walking as man, and as the Word was quickening all things, and as the Son was dwelling with His Father. So that not even when the virgin bore Him did He suffer any change, nor by being in the body was [His glory] dulled; but, on the contrary, He sanctified the body also. For not even by being in the universe does He share in its nature, but all things, on the contrary, are quickened and sustained by Him. St. Athanasius the Great, On The Incarnation of the Word

Our Lord was pleased to assume the likeness of every poor man and compared Himself to every poor man in order that no man who believes in Him should exalt himself over his brother, but, seeing his Lord in his brother, should consider himself less and worse than his brother, just as he is less than his Creator; and should take the poor man in and honor him, and be ready to exhaust all his means in helping him, just as our Lord Jesus Christ exhausted His blood for our salvation. Archimandrite Sophrony (His Life is Mine, Chapter 9; SVS Press pg. 73)

The Devil had used the flesh as an instrument against us; and Paul knowing this says, 'But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity' (Rom. 7:23). By the very same weapons, therefore, wherewith the Devil used to vanquish us, have we been saved. The Lord took on Him from us our likeness, that He might save man's nature: He took our likeness, that He might give greater grace to that which lacked; that sinful humanity might become partaker of God. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 12 no. 15)

The Son of God has become Son of Man in order to make us...sons of God, raising our race by grace to what He is Himself by nature, granting us birth from above through the grace of the Holy Spirit and leading us straightway to the kingdom of heaven, or rather, granting us this kingdom within us (Luke 17:21), in order that we should not merely be fed by the hope of entering it, but entering into full possession thereof should cry: our 'life is hid with Christ in God.' (Col. 3:3)." St. Simeon the New Theologian (Practical and Theological Precepts no. 120, Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart; Faber and Faber pg.26)

The Word of God thus acted consistently in assuming a body and using a human instrument to vitalize the body. He was consistent in working through man to reveal Himself everywhere, as well as through the other parts of His creation, so that nothing was left void of His Divinity and knowledge. For I take up now the point I made before, namely that the Saviour did this in order that He might fill all things everywhere with the knowledge of Himself, just as they are already filled with His presence, even as the Divine Scripture says, "The whole universe was filled with the knowledge of the Lord. St. Athanasius, On The Incarnation

The Word, having unveiled the truth, showed to men the summit of salvation, so that either repenting they might be saved, or refusing to obey, they might be condemned. This is the proclamation of righteousness: to those who obey, rejoicing; to those who disobey, condemnation." 190 AD St. Clement of Alexandria Exhortation to the Heathen chap. 11)

The Word, then, visited that earth in which He was yet always present; and saw all the evils.... For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us before. For no part of Creation is left void of Him: He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father. But He comes in condescension to show loving kindness upon us, and to visit us. St. Athanasius the Great, The Incarnation of the Word

The final end of Orthodoxy is pure knowledge of the two dogmas of faith - the Trinity and the Duality; to contemplate and know the Trinity as indivisible and yet not merged together; to know the Duality as the two natures of Christ joined in one person - that is, to know and to profess one's faith in the Son of God both before incarnation, and after incarnation, to praise Him in His two natures and wills unmerged, the one Divine and the other human. St. Gregory of Sinai (Texts on Commandments and Dogmas no. 26)

The mystery of the incarnation of the Logos is the key to all the arcane symbolism and typology in the Scriptures, and in addition gives us knowledge of created things, both visible and intelligible. He who apprehends the mystery of the cross and the burial apprehends the inward essence of created things; while he who is initiated into the inexpressible power of the resurrection apprehends the purpose for which God first established everything. St. Maximos the Confessor (First Century on Theology no. 66)

The perfect Teacher of babes (Rom. 2:20) became a babe among babes, that He might give wisdom to the foolish. The Bread of Heaven came down on earth (John 6:32,33,50) that He might feed the hungry. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 12 no. 1)

The purpose of the advent of the Saviour, when He gave us His life-giving commandments as purifying remedies in our passionate state, was to cleanse the soul from the damage done by the first transgression and bring it back to its original state. What medicines are for a sick body, that the commandments are for the passionate soul. St. Isaac of Syria

The purpose of the incarnate economy of God the Word, which is proclaimed by all the divine scriptures and which we read but do not understand, is surely summed up by saying that He has shared in what was ours to let us share in what was His. The Son of God became the Son of Man in order to make us men the sons of God. By grace He lifts up our race to what He is by nature. He gives birth to us from on high in the Holy Spirit, and then straightway leads us into the kingdom of heaven; or rather, He gives us the grace to have this kingdom within us. We therefore have more than just the hope of entering here; we really possess it as we cry out: 'Our life is hidden with Christ in God.' St. Symeon t he New Theologian, The Three Theological Discourses

The reason for the coming of the New Adam, Jesus Christ, can be said to be our liberation from seeking and loving only the visible things, and at the same time our exaltation to love and enjoy the spiritual realties, thus indicating our true transference to what is indeed better. Those who wanted to achieve this very goal with ease, that is, the cutting off of worldly pleasures and the enjoyment of the spiritual ones, were the true philosophers and ascetics who abandoned the inhabited places where there are always so many causes for sinful attacks and went to live in deserts and caves. Not finding there the usual causes of worldly pleasures, they were more readily able to subdue the senses and in relatively short periods of time were able to rise up to the sweetest enjoyment of the spiritual and divine realities. St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, Handbook of Spiritual Counsel

Through Eve yet virgin came death; through a virgin, or rather from a virgin, must the Life appear: that as the serpent beguiled the one, so to the other Gabriel might bring good tidings. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures: Lecture 12 no. 15)

Through His Incarnation, God gave us the model for a holy life and recalled us from our ancient fall. In addition to many other things, He taught us, feeble as we are, that we should fight against the demons with humility, fasting, prayer, and watchfulness. St. Hesychios the Priest

Through the fall our nature was stripped of divine illumination and resplendence. But the Logos of God had pity upon our disfigurement and in His compassion He took our nature upon Himself, and on Tabor He manifested it to His elect disciples clothed once again most brilliantly. He shows what we once were and what we shall become through Him in the age to come, if we choose to live our present life as far as possible in accordance with His ways. St. Gregory Palamas

We were created for eternal life by our Creator, we are called to it by the word of God, and we are renewed by holy Baptism. And Christ the Son of God came into the world for this, that He should call us and take us there, and He is the one thing needful. For this reason your very first endeavor and care should be to receive it. Without it everything is as nothing, though you have the whole world under you. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven

"The law of grace directly teaches those who are led by it to imitate God Himself. For -- it is permitted to speak in this way -- despite the fact that because of sin we were His enemies.

God loved us so much more than Himself that, although He is beyond every being, He entered without changing into our being, supra-essentially took on human nature, became man and, wishing to reveal Himself as a man among men, did not refuse to make His own the penalty we pay. And as in His providence He became man, so He deified us by grace, in this way teaching us not only to cleave to one another naturally and to love others spiritually as ourselves, but also, like God, to be more concerned for others than for ourselves, and as proof of our love for each other readily to choose, as virtue enjoins, to die for others. For as Scripture tells us, there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend" cf. John 15: 13. Philokalia, Vol. 2, "Fifth Century on Various Texts," No. 12



"...there has been appointed over the spiritual Sion, that is, over the Church, a prince and a teacher who was not promoted at the time when He is said to have acceded to that office. For the Word that was born from the Virgin was and is always king and Lord of all.

But when He became man, He made the limitations of humanity His own. For in this way we could believe truly and without hesitation that He became as we are. Therefore although it might be said that He received dominion over all things, this refers to His accepting the dispensation of the flesh, not to His pre-eminence by which He is regarded as Master of all things." St. Cyril of Alexandria (Commentary on Isaiah, Isa 42:1-4, Cyril of Alexandria written and translated by Norman Russell; Routledge pg. 85)







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