Archive for the ‘Jesus Christ’ Category

Jesus Obeyed the Fifth Commandment – Therefore Mariolatry is ok?

December 7, 2010

Jesus explicitly repudiated people who singled out his mother for special attention. For example:

Luke 11:27-28
And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

When we bring up the fact that Jesus explicitly repudiated people who singled out his mother for special attention, however, we sometimes get a zinger like this one: “Our Lord obeyed all the commandments including ‘honor your mother and father’ and did not repudiate her.” (Sean Patrick)

This zinger is faulty for a couple of reasons:

1) Of course, no one is arguing that Jesus sinned. Jesus could say that his flesh and blood relationships with his physical siblings and mother are basically insignificant compared to the relationship every believer has by faith in Christ, without breaking the fifth commandment.

2) The zinger assumes that Jesus was under Mary’s authority. It’s tempting to make this argument because Mary was – as to his humanity – his mother. But Jesus was unlike every other child – he was his own mother’s creator. She owed her existence to him in a much more important way than the way in which he owed his existence (i.e. only the existence of his human nature – and only by choice) to her. It is no dishonor to her, therefore, for Him to repudiate the idea of her having either special devotion or any special privileges with respect to him in the Kingdom of Heaven.

3) The Mariolaters are actually in good company in making this error in reasoning. Peter (who Jesus called Simon here, demonstrating to us that the name “Peter” was a surname, not a change in name) made a similar mistake.

Matthew 17:24-27
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Jesus was Jewish and within the realm of the Roman empire, but whether this was the temple tax or the Roman tribute, Christ was not required to pay. And remember that tribute and honor are different, but fall within the same general category of duties of the fifth commandment.

Romans 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

4) Moreover, Mary herself repudiates this error. Remember that Mary herself describes herself as the “handmaid of the Lord” (ἡ δούλη Κυρίου) not as His mistress. What a strange thing it would be to assert (without divine authority) that it is the handmaid who has authority over the Lord!

5) The only times we have Mary acting in something like an authoritative way toward Jesus, we see her getting shot down:

a) The attempts to get Jesus to come out from the midst of the crowd:

Matthew 12:46-50
While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Mark 3:20-35
And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: because they said, He hath an unclean spirit. There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

Luke 8:19-21
Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

And – of course – his comments in Luke 11:27-28 (quoted above) fit right in with his other teachings about who his true mother and brethren are in contrast to his physical mother and brethren (sorry if the idea of Mary having children with her husband offends you).

b) The attempt to get Jesus to perform a miracle:

John 2:1-5
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

Some people say that because Jesus nevertheless obliged his mother, that it proves he was under some sort of duty to do so. But if you really follow that reasoning, you should note that the servants also did what Mary suggested. Do you think they considered themselves under an obligation to obey her? Surely not.

c) The scolding of Jesus for staying in Jerusalem when his family went home:

Luke 2:42-52
And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

6) On the contrary, Jesus both ordered his mother and handed off his filial relationship / responsibilities to one of his disciples.

John 19:25-27
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

Conclusion

This zinger to which we’ve responded to is simply one response that Rome’s apologists offer. One of the zinger’s co-bloggers tried to come to his assistance with this:

That being said, on the surface it might appear that Jesus is doing what you say Our Lord is doing, repudiating devotion to His mother. But, let us remember Luke as a whole.

(Tom Reillo)

But this gets a similar response to the response we’ve given above. The whole of Luke (and of the gospels generally) supports our position regarding Jesus and his attitude toward to his biological mother.

The commenter continued:

As a reader of the Gospel, we have already learned that Mary is one who has received the Word of God, namely at the Annunciation, “may it be done according to thy word.” And she, we are told, kept the things concerning Her Son in her heart. As Pope John Paul II pointed out in his beautiful reflections on Mary, rather than being repudiated, the reader would already know that Mary is the model of discipleship, she receives the Word of God and she holds that Word deep within her and ponders and cherishes them in her heart.

But actually:

Luke 2:48-52
And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

a) Note that Jesus “was subject to them.” Not to “her,” meaning to Mary, but to them – both Mary and Joseph (whom Mary referred to as Jesus “father”). Of course, Joseph has no paternal authority over Jesus now – and people should realize that Mary likewise has no maternal authority over Jesus now either.

b) Note that Jesus “was subject to them.” The Greek is “ἦν ὑποτασσόμενος” which is a periphrastic pluperfect. The sense of the verb conveys to us that there was a then existing state of obedience of Jesus to his earthly parents. It was, however, a then-existing state. At that time, he submitted to his earthly parents’ request and left Jerusalem.

c) Note most of all “they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.” Mary remembered all the things that Jesus said, but she did not understand them. That she kept them in her heart makes her valuable as Luke’s eyewitness, but not particularly admirable as a disciple – especially when Mary herself understood the manner in which Jesus had been conceived.

Likewise:

Luke 2:17-19
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Again, Mary is apparently Luke’s eyewitness to the events, but she “wondered at those things which were told … by the shepherds,” meaning (it appears) that she did not really understand.

d) “Ponders and cherishes(?) them in her heart” – Notice that this commenter has gone beyond the text in a significant way. He adds in the idea that Mary loved the things that she pondered. The text does not say this, nor does it imply it. It’s simply an addition.

e) “receives the Word of God and she holds that Word deep within her” – Like many unauthorized typographies, this one breaks down in a rather dramatic way, namely that after nine months of holding Jesus deep within her, Mary pushed him out, never to return! That would make for a terrible illustration of what it means to be a disciple, so naturally the extremely selective mariolater cannot mention that detail. And, of course, there’s no connection between that typology and Mary’s pondering the things that the shepherds and Jesus said, although the commenter makes it sound as though the two ideas are connected.

In short, while the commenter is right that we need to look at Luke and the gospels as a whole, the whole does not change the perspective we gained from Luke 11:27-28. Jesus repudiated Mariolatry. The fact that Mary was, according to the flesh, Jesus’ mother does not change anything. Indeed, in the kingdom of heaven anyone who believes is Jesus’ brother and sister and mother. Could Jesus have said it more clearly? I certainly don’t think so.

-TurretinFan

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Church Fathers on Jesus’ Status as "Without Mother"

May 22, 2010

Ambrose (A.D. 337 – 397) writes: “He it is Who is without mother according to His Godhead …” (On the Mysteries, Chapter 8, Section 4

Theodoret (A.D. 393 – 457) writes: “On account of this difference of term He is said by the divine Paul to be “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.” He is without father as touching His humanity; for as man He was born of a mother alone. And He is without mother as God, for He was begotten from everlasting of the Father alone. And again He is without descent as God while as man He has descent.” (Letter 151)

Gregory Nazianzen (A.D. 329 – 389) writes: “These names however are still common to Him Who is above us, and to Him Who came for our sake. But others are peculiarly our own, and belong to that nature which He assumed. So He is called Man, not only that through His Body He may be apprehended by embodied creatures, whereas otherwise this would be impossible because of His incomprehensible nature; but also that by Himself He may sanctify humanity, and be as it were a leaven to the whole lump; and by uniting to Himself that which was condemned may release it from all condemnation, becoming for all men all things that we are, except sin;-body, soul, mind and all through which death reaches-and thus He became Man, who is the combination of all these; God in visible form, because He retained that which is perceived by mind alone. He is Son of Man, both on account of Adam, and of the Virgin from Whom He came; from the one as a forefather, from the other as His Mother, both in accordance with the law of generation, and apart from it. He is Christ, because of His Godhead. For this is the Anointing of His Manhood, and does not, as is the case with all other Anointed Ones, sanctify by its action, but by the Presence in His Fullness of the Anointing One; the effect of which is that That which anoints is called Man, and makes that which is anointed God. He is The Way, because He leads us through Himself; The Door, as letting us in; the Shepherd, as making us dwell in a place of green pastures, and bringing us up by waters of rest, and leading us there, and protecting us from wild beasts, converting the erring, bringing back that which was lost, binding up that which was broken, guarding the strong, and bringing them together in the Fold beyond, with words of pastoral knowledge. The Sheep, as the Victim: The Lamb, as being perfect: the Highpriest, as the Offerer; Melchisedec, as without Mother in that Nature which is above us, and without Father in ours; and without genealogy above (for who, it says, shall declare His generation?) and moreover, as King of Salem, which means Peace, and King of Righteousness, and as receiving tithes from Patriarchs, when they prevail over powers of evil. They are the titles of the Son.” (Fourth Theological Oration (Oration 30), Section 21)

John Cassian (A.D. 360 – 435) writes: “For as He was begotten in His Divine nature “without mother,” so He is in the body “without father:” and so though He is neither without father nor without mother, we must believe in Him “without father and without mother.” For if you regard Him as He is begotten of the Father, He is without mother: if, as born of His mother, He is without father. And so in each of these births He has one: in both together He is without each: for the birth of Divinity had no need of mother, and for the birth of His body, He was Himself sufficient, without a father. Therefore says the Apostle “Without mother, without genealogy.”” (On the Incarnation, Book 7, Chapter 14)

Augustine (A.D. 354 – 430) writes: “For the Lord was said to be a Galilean, because His parents were from the city of Nazareth. I have said “His parents” in regard to Mary, not as regards the seed of man; for on earth He sought but a mother, He had already a Father on high. For His nativity on both sides was marvellous: divine without mother, human without father.” (Tractates on John, Tractate 33, Section 2)

And Augustine again writes: “And He goes on: “And no man has ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” Behold, He was here, and was also in heaven; was here in His flesh, in heaven by His divinity; yea, everywhere by His divinity. Born of a mother, not quitting the Father. Two nativities of Christ are understood: one divine, the other human: one, that by which we were to be made; the other, that by which we were to be made anew: both marvellous; that without mother, this without father.” (Tractates on John, Tractate 12, Section 8)

-TurretinFan

UPDATE:

Augustine (354-430): At that time, therefore, when about to engage in divine acts, He repelled, as one unknown, her who was the mother, not of His divinity, but of His [human] infirmity. NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate CXIX, §1, John 19:24-30.

Augustine (354-430): Why, then, said the Son to the mother, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come ?” Our Lord Jesus Christ was both God and man. According as He was God, He had not a mother; according as He was man, He had. She was the mother, then, of His flesh, of His humanity, of the weakness which for our sakes He took upon Him. But the miracle which He was about to do, He was about to do according to His divine nature, not according to His weakness; according to that wherein He was God not according to that wherein He was born weak. But the weakness of God is stronger than men. His mother then demanded a miracle of Him; but He, about to perform divine works, so far did not recognize a human womb; saying in effect, “That in me which works a miracle was not born of thee, thou gavest not birth to my divine nature; but because my weakness was born of thee, I will recognize thee at the time when that same weakness shall hang upon the cross.” This, indeed, is the meaning of “Mine hour is not yet come.” For then it was that He recognized, who, in truth, always did know. He knew His mother in predestination, even before He was born of her; even before, as God, He created her of whom, as man, He was to be created, He knew her as His mother: but at a certain hour in a mystery He did not recognize her; and at a certain hour which had not yet come, again in a mystery, He does recognize her. For then did He recognize her, when that to which she gave birth was a-dying. That by which Mary was made did not die, but that which was made of Mary; not the eternity of the divine nature, but the weakness of the flesh, was dying. He made that answer therefore, making a distinction in the faith of believers, between the who; and the how, He came. For while He was God and the Lord of heaven and earth, He came by a mother who was a woman. In that He was Lord of the world, Lord of heaven and earth, He was, of course, the Lord of Mary also; but in that wherein it is said, “Made of a woman, made under the law,” He was Mary’s son. The same both the Lord of Mary and the son of Mary; the same both the Creator of Mary and created from Mary. Marvel not that He was both son and Lord. For just as He is called the son of Mary, so likewise is He called the son of David; and son of David because son of Mary. Hear the apostle openly declaring, “Who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Hear Him also declared the Lord of David; let David himself declare this: “ The Lord said to my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand. “ And this passage Jesus Himself brought forward to the Jews, and refuted them from it. How then was He both David’s son and David’s Lord? David’s son according to the flesh, David’s Lord according to His divinity; so also Mary’s son after the flesh, and Mary’s Lord after His majesty. Now as she was not the mother of His divine nature, whilst it was by His divinity the miracle she asked for would be wrought, therefore He answered her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee ?” NPNF1: Vol. VII, Tractates on John, Tractate VIII, §9, John 2:1-4.

Augustine (354-430): Each birth of his, you see, must be considered wonderful, both that of his divinity and that of his humanity. The first is from the Father without mother, the second from mother without father; the first apart from all time, the second at the acceptable time (2 Cor 6:2); the first eternal, the second at the right moment; the first without a body in the bosom of the Father (Jn 1:18), the second with a body, which did not violate the virginity of his mother; the first without either sex, the second without a man’s embrace. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 6, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermon 214.6 (New Rochelle: New City Press, 1993), p. 153.

Augustine (354-430): While hanging upon the cross, at the will and command of the Father, he also abandoned into the hands of men the human flesh which he assumed from the holy virgin, Mary, and commended his divinity into the hands of his Father, saying, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit (Lk 23:46). For Mary gave birth to the body which was destined to die, but the immortal God begot the immortal Son. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, The Arian Sermon §7, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), p. 133.

Augustine (354-430): Because of his eternal birth scripture says, In the beginning was the Word. Look, I say that God the Son was born from God the Father apart from time. I have shown how he who is his Father is also his God on account of the human nature which he has assumed and in which he was born from the womb of his mother without intercourse with a human father. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Answer to Maximinus the Arian, Book 2, XVIII, 2, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1995), p. 297.

Is Jesus’ Divinity Clearly Revealed in Scripture?

November 28, 2009

Over in the ever-growing comment box at Called to Communion (a Roman Catholic blog), there is at least one man, Mr. Ciatoris, who is trying to argue that the Scriptures do not clearly teach that Jesus is God. (link to the comment box in question)

John Cassian (lived about A.D. 360 – 435) thought differently:

As we have finished three books with the most certain and the most valuable witnesses, whose truth is substantiated not only by human but also by Divine evidences, they would abundantly suffice to prove our case by Divine authority, especially as the Divine authority of the case itself would be enough for this. But still as the whole mass of the sacred Scriptures is full of these evidences, and where there are so many witnesses, there are so many opinions to be urged— nay where Holy Scripture itself gives its witness so to speak with one Divine mouth— we have thought it well to add some others still, not from any need of confirmation, but because of the supply of material at our disposal; so that anything which might be unnecessary for purposes of defense, might be useful by way of ornamentation. Therefore since in the earlier books we proved the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ while He was in the flesh by the evidence not only of prophets and apostles, but of evangelists and angels as well, let us now show that He who was born in the flesh was God even before His Incarnation; that you may understand by the harmony and concord of the evidences from the sacred Scriptures, that you ought to believe that at His birth in the body He was both God and man, who before His birth was only God, and that He who after He had been brought forth by the Virgin in the body was God, was before His birth from the Virgin, God the Word.

– John Cassian, On the Incarnation, Book IV, Chapter 1

John Cassian goes on to give this as his first example:

Learn then first of all from the Apostle the teacher of the whole world, that He who is without beginning, God, the Son of God, became the Son of man at the end of the world, i.e., in the fullness of the times. For he says: “But when the fullness of the times had come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” [Galatians 4:4] Tell me then, before the Lord Jesus Christ was born of His mother Mary, had God a Son or had He not? You cannot deny that He had, for never yet was there either a son without a father, or a father without a son: because as a son is so called with reference to a father, so is a father so named with reference to a son.

– John Cassian, On the Incarnation, Book IV, Chapter 1

After some discussion of the text, John Cassian states:

And so as it is clear from the above testimony that God sent His own Son, and that He who was ever the Son of God became the Son of man, let us see whether the same Apostle gives any other testimony of the same sort elsewhere, that the truth which is already clear enough in itself, may be rendered still more clear by the light of a twofold testimony. So then the same Apostle says: “God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” [Romans 8:3] You see that the Apostle certainly did not use these words by chance or at random, as he repeated what he had already said once— for indeed there could not be found in him chance or want of consideration as the fullness of Divine counsel and speech had taken up its abode in him.

– John Cassian, On the Incarnation, Book IV, Chapter 3

But even leaving aside the fact that Mr. Ciatoris has a different view of Scripture than the fathers did, one has to wonder how Mr. Ciatoris cannot clearly see the divinity of Christ in this verse:

John 20:28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

Or in the comparison of Jesus’ teachings here:

Matthew 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Luke 4:8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

With the practices here:

Mark 5:6 But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him,

Matthew 28:9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Matthew 14:33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Scriptures do clearly teach the divinity of Christ, which is why they are sometimes accused of corruption by our Muslim opponents, who refuse to accept Jesus’ claim to be the “I AM.”

John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

-TurretinFan

UPDATE: Mr. Ciatoris thinks I’m posting a “flimsy straw man” of his position. His own words, however, were: “I suppose I’m glad that Nicene orthodoxy is perspicuous to you. Without the Church’s authoritative guidance, it’s not to me.”

And later:

I was not giving examples of proof-texting, but taking examples of possible pro-Nicene proof-texts (one of which you’d used yourself in a pretty proof-text-y way in #290, the other of which, I admit, I tacked on gratis) and showing that an Arian could answer these. The possibility that an Arian could respond coherently and plausibly demonstrates the insufficiency of proof-texting. I was by no means endorsing the practice, though I can understand why you might have taken me to mean that proof-texting was a legitimate theater for theological battle—I didn’t mean that.

Another comment of his that seems relevant is this:

I’m having trouble seeing a principled difference between you and an Arian who might say, “Look, guys, we all agree that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of the world through His cross and resurrection. He’s the Son of God, the perfect image of the Father, indeed he is God – just not in the same way the Father is, you know, not consubstantial. You’re all obsessing about non-essentials when you insist on this silly homoousios language. It’s not biblical – we Arians stick with biblical language – and I’m not going to let these bishops try to tell me that their reading of Scripture is guided by the Holy Spirit.” What’s the difference, lojahw? Why draw the line in the fourth century? Why pick on all those poor Bible-reading Arians but give a free pass to the Bible-reading reformers of the 16th century?

Sad News – "Jesus Christ" Not Welcome in PA State House

July 21, 2009

Apparently this is also old news, but it is reported that chaplains who pray in the Pennsylvania state House of Representatives are forbidden from using the name of Jesus Christ (link). There is such a thing as a state begging for God to send judgment upon it. Let us pray that instead he shows mercy.

Updated to reflect that this is PA state, not USA, house.

>Gregory of Nyssa on Sinlessness: Only Jesus Sinless

July 8, 2009

>Some folks like to paint Gregory of Nyssa as though he were a Roman Catholic. Certainly, of course, there are points where his theology contains errors. His beliefs would not have squared with the Westminster Confession of Faith in every respect. So, to be clear, Gregory of Nyssa was neither a “Roman Catholic” nor a “Reformed Presbyterian.” He was an early churchman, and more specifically a Cappadocian.

One area where we can see his similarity to the Reformed camp and difference from the Roman camp is on the issue of the supposed immaculate conception of Mary. Like many of the church fathers, Gregory of Nyssa had no concept of the sinlessness of Mary. The only person Gregory of Nyssa ever describes as “sinless” is Christ, and Gregory viewed Christ as unique in this regard. Let’s look at his discussion of that topic.

We next learn about the return of a person who has erred and the change from evil to enjoyment of the good. He [Christ] who has been tempted in all things and is without sin [Heb 4.15] holds converse with us in our human nature. He who assumed our weakness showed us a way out of evil through the infirmities of his human nature. “Instruct me in the Wisdom [Christ] according to the Solomon who was in the flesh which held converse with us.” Once familiar with it, we are able to pass judgment on what men pursue.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Commentaries on Ecclesiastes, Second Homily

This is really just a quotation of the Biblical declaration of Christ’s sinlessness.

The Christian Faith, which in accordance with the command of our Lord has been preached to all nations by His disciples, is neither of men, nor by men, but by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who being the Word, the Life, the Light, the Truth, and God, and Wisdom, and all else that He is by nature, for this cause above all was made in the likeness of man, and shared our nature, becoming like us in all things, yet without sin.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, Book II, Chapter 1

Again, this is just a quotation of the Biblical declaration of Christ’s sinlessness.

Thus we say that this expression, as well as the other, admits of an orthodox interpretation. For He Who for our sakes became like as we are, was in the last days truly created—He Who in the beginning being Word and God afterwards became Flesh and Man. For the nature of flesh is created: and by partaking in it in all points like as we do, yet without sin, He was created when He became man: and He was created “after God [Ephesians 4:24],” not after man, as the Apostle says, in a new manner and not according to human wont.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, Book II, Chapter 10

This too is just a quotation of the Biblical declaration of Christ’s sinlessness.

Now sin is nothing else than alienation from God, Who is the true and only life. Accordingly the first man lived many hundred years after his disobedience, and yet God lied not when He said, “In the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.” For by the fact of his alienation from the true life, the sentence of death was ratified against him that self-same day: and after this, at a much later time, there followed also the bodily death of Adam. He therefore Who came for this cause that He might seek and save that which was lost, (that which the shepherd in the parable calls the sheep,) both finds that which is lost, and carries home on His shoulders the whole sheep, not its skin only, that He may make the man of God complete, united to the deity in body and in soul. And thus He Who was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin, left no part of our nature which He did not take upon Himself. Now the soul is not sin though it is capable of admitting sin into it as the result of being ill-advised: and this He sanctifies by union with Himself for this end, that so the lump may be holy along with the first-fruits.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, Book II, Chapter 13

Here Christ’s sinlessness is used to uniquely identify him. Although Gregory does not explicitly say that there is only one such person, he uses the expression as though it were a particular identifier.

Now if, in becoming Son of Man, he were without participation in human nature, it would be logical to say that neither does He share in the Divine essence, though He is Son of God. But if the whole compound nature of man was in Him (for He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” [Hebrews 4:15]), it is surely necessary to believe that every property of the transcendent essence is also in Him, as the Word “Son” claims for Him both alike— the Human in the man, but in the God the Divine.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, Book III, Chapter 4

This is just another quotation of the Biblical declaration of Christ’s sinlessness.

For he everywhere attributes to the Human element in Christ the dispensation of the Passion, when he says, “for since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead [1 Corinthians 15:21],” and, “God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh ” (for he says, “in the flesh,” not “in the Godhead”); and “He was crucified through weakness” (where by “weakness” he means “the flesh”), “yet lives by power [2 Corinthians 13:4]” (while he indicates by “power” the Divine Nature); and, “He died unto sin” (that is, with regard to the body), “but lives unto God [Romans 6:10]” (that is, with regard to the Godhead, so that by these words it is established that, while the Man tasted death, the immortal Nature did not admit the suffering of death); and again; “He made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin 2 Corinthians 5:21,” giving once more the name of “sin” to the flesh.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, Book VI, Chapter 1

This passage is interesting in the debate on the atonement with modern Roman Catholics, but as to the issue of Christ’s sinlessness, it is simply a quotation of one of the Scriptural affirmations of that fact.

For we give the name of “passion” only to that which is opposed to the virtuous unimpassioned state and of this we believe that He Who granted us salvation was at all times devoid, Who “was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin [Hebrews 4:15].” Of that, at least, which is truly passion, which is a diseased condition of the will, He was not a partaker; for it says “He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth [1 Peter 2:22]”; but the peculiar attributes of our nature, which, by a kind of customary abuse of terms, are called by the same name of “passion,”— of these, we confess, the Lord did partake,— of birth, nourishment, growth, of sleep and toil, and all those natural dispositions which the soul is wont to experience with regard to bodily inconveniences,— the desire of that which is lacking, when the longing passes from the body to the soul, the sense of pain, the dread of death, and all the like, save only such as, if followed, lead to sin.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, Book VI, Chapter 3

Here Gregory emphasizes Christ’s sinlessness with reference to several relevant passages.

Since, then, this was the sum of our calamity, that humanity was exiled from the good Father, and was banished from the Divine oversight and care, for this cause He Who is the Shepherd of the whole rational creation, left in the heights of heaven His unsinning and supramundane flock, and, moved by love, went after the sheep which had gone astray, even our human nature. For human nature, which alone, according to the similitude in the parable, through vice roamed away from the hundred of rational beings, is, if it be compared with the whole, but an insignificant and infinitesimal part. Since then it was impossible that our life, which had been estranged from God, should of itself return to the high and heavenly place, for this cause, as says the Apostle, He Who knew no sin is made sin for us, and frees us from the curse by taking on Him our curse as His own, and having taken up, and, in the language of the Apostle, “slain” in Himself “the enmity” which by means of sin had come between us and God—(in fact sin was “the enmity”)— and having become what we were, He through Himself again united humanity to God.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, Book XII, Chapter 1

This is another passage that is very interesting with respect to the atonement. It also tangentially touches on the theological point that a reason that Christ was a suitable mediator was his sinlessness. But again, as to our particular topic, Gregory is simply reiterating the Scriptural position that Christ had no sin.

“But I do not see,” he rejoins, “how God can be above His own works simply by virtue of such things as do not belong to Him.” And on the strength of this clever sally he calls it a union of folly and profanity, that our great Basil has ventured on such terms. But I would counsel him not to indulge his ribaldry too freely against those who use these terms, lest he should be unconsciously at the same moment heaping insults on himself. For I think that he himself would not gainsay that the very grandeur of the Divine Nature is recognized in this, viz. in the absence of all participation in those things which the lower natures are shown to possess. For if God were involved in any of these peculiarities, He would not possess His superiority, but would be quite identified with any single individual among the beings who share that peculiarity. But if He is above such things, by reason, in fact, of His not possessing them, then He stands also above those who do possess them; just as we say that the Sinless is superior to those in sin. The fact of being removed from evil is an evidence of abounding in the best. But let him heap these insults on us to his heart’s content. We will only remark, in passing, on a single one of the points mentioned under this head, and will then return to the discussion of the main question.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Answer to Eunomius’ Second Book

Here Gregory identifies “Sinless” and God, and uses “the Sinless” as a unique designator, even more clearly than in the previous instance above.

He became the image of the invisible God out of love so that in his own form which he assumed, you might be conformed through him to the stamp of archetypal beauty for becoming what he was from the beginning. If we are to become the invisible God’s image, we must model the form of our life upon the pattern given us (Jn 13.15). What is this model? He who lives in the flesh does not live according to it (Rom 8.12). That prototype is the image of the invisible God; having become man through the Virgin, he was tempted in all things according to the likeness of human nature yet did not experience sin. “He committed no sin, neither was any guile found in his mouth” (1Pt 2.22).

– Gregory of Nyssa, On Perfection

This is a restatement and emphasis on the Scriptural teaching that Christ was and is sinless.

If we have become brothers of the Lord who became the First-Born among many brothers through a similar rebirth by water and the Spirit, certain characteristics in our lives should manifest a close relationship to him, the First-Born of creation, who was conformed to our life. What characteristics of that form has scripture taught us? We have often said that “He committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth” (1Pt 2.22). If we are to be named brothers of him who brought us into birth, innocence of life will constitute our relationship with him provided that no impurity separates us from a union in innocence.

– Gregory of Nyssa, On Perfection

This is yet another quotation of the Scriptural doctrine that Christ was sinless.

However, the mediator of God and man (1Tim 2.5) who joined the human race to God through his own person brings into union with God only that person who is worthy of it. When Christ united man to himself by the power of his divinity, he assumed part of our common nature not subject to nature’s passions which excite us to sin (for it says “He committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth”). Christ will unite each person with his divinity provided that they have no hindrance preventing their union with God.

– Gregory of Nyssa, On Perfection

This is another restatement and emphasis on the Scriptural teaching that Christ was and is sinless.

Only the Lord is free from the adversary’s possessions; he conformed himself to us and our passions yet had no sin [Heb 4.15]. “The prince of this world is coming and he has no power over me” [Jn 14.30]. Anyone who takes care to cleanse himself by repentance can observe persons who allow virtue to shine through. Paul despised the evil of unbelief by accepting the gift of prophecy [Gal 2.8-9] since it had the treasure he sought. Isaiah lost all impurity of word and thought through purification by the divine coal [Is 6.6-7] and was filled by the Holy Spirit. He lost every bit by participating in the good or anything he reckoned contrary to it. And so, the temperate man loses licentiousness, the righteous loses unrighteousness, the modest person loses arrogance, the benevolent loses jealousy and the loving person loses hostility. Similarly, the blind man in the Gospel found what he did not have and lost what he already had [Mk 8.22-26], that is, the splendor of light took the place of his blindness. Also the leper received the boon of health [Mt 8.1-4], and life was bestowed upon those who rose from the dead while death passed away [Mk 1.40-45]. Therefore our teaching claims that we cannot possess anything on high unless we lose our earthly, humble qualities.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on Ecclesiastes, Seventh Homily

This final quotation puts the nail in the coffin. If we did not have this quotation, we would have only indirect affirmations of the unique sinlessness of Christ, but this quotation makes it explicit: “Only the Lord.”

What about Mary? Did Gregory of Nyssa view her as sinless and somehow absentmindedly forget about her above? There is nothing in his teachings to suggest that. He does use the adjective “immaculate” of her, but only (as was traditionally the case) with respect to her body: she was an immaculate virgin, not simply a technical virgin or something like that.

Let us attempt to clarify our position and offer our own view. Human nature subsists by union of the intellectual soul with the body. However, both have their existence from a certain material substance. Man’s material existence has its origin in the divine power; if anyone supposes his existence does not spring from this creative power, matter is sterile and does not come to life through [God’s] creative activity. Just as this creative power brings man into existence by a union of body and soul, so does the power of the Most High exercise itself with regard to the Virgin’s immaculate body in an immaterial fashion through the Spirit’s vivifying where incorruptibility assumes matter in the virgin’s body to create a fetus. And so, the New Man is formed who first and alone received this means of existence. He was formed according to God, not man, since the divine power equally pervaded his entire constitution. As a result, both parts of his constitution partook of divinity with a harmonious composition of soul and body.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Against Apollinarius

Notice that it is the virgin’s immaculate body. The immaculateness of her body relates to the fact that no man had lain with her before the conception. Thus, Christ’s conception was the opposite, in a sense, of our own glorification:

1 Corinthians 15:53-54
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Furthermore, from the same passage of Gregory, we can see that he viewed Christ’s immaculate conception to be unique: “the New Man is formed who first and alone received this means of existence.” Now, of course, that is primarily referring to having God as a father instead of a human father, but the whole event is unique and unparalleled.

I believe that [Christ] is both man and God, a statement complying with faith’s correct interpretation and not with [Apollinarius’] inscription. For neither is the divinity earthly nor is humanity divine as he maintains; rather, the power of the Most High comes from above through the Holy Spirit [Lk 1.35] which overshadowed our human nature, that is, this power took on form, the spotless Virgin nourished it in human flesh, and he who was born from her was named Son of the Most High. The divine power which has its origin with the Most High thus assumed fellowship with mankind.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Against Apollinarius

Again, notice that the “spotless” aspect of the Virgin is in regard to her flesh. She was a spotless Virgin, not having even marred her virginity by intercourse with Joseph during Jesus’ pregnancy.

This, I think, was the reason why our Master, Jesus Christ Himself, the Fountain of all innocence, did not come into the world by wedlock. It was, to divulge by the manner of His Incarnation this great secret; that purity is the only complete indication of the presence of God and of His coming, and that no one can in reality secure this for himself, unless he has altogether estranged himself from the passions of the flesh. What happened in the stainless Mary when the fullness of the Godhead which was in Christ shone out through her, that happens in every soul that leads by rule the virgin life.

– Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, Chapter 2

Likewise here, the “stainless” aspect of Mary is her virginity. Of course, there is some ambiguity. If someone wanted to try to impose a view of Mary being sinless, this is doubtless where they would attempt to do so, since there is some parallel between Mary and “every soul.” But, in context, it is referring to the fact that Mary was “estranged … from the passions of the flesh,” meaning that she did not know Joseph before Jesus was born.

I searched in vain for additional references to Mary being “immaculate” in any sense in Gregory’s writings. No further references were forthcoming. Nevertheless, some additional uses of that term (or terms like it) were to be found in Gregory’s writings:

Such is the God of heresy. But what we, who, in the words of the Apostle, have been called to liberty by Christ, Who has freed us from bondage, have been taught by the Scriptures to think, I will set forth in few words. I take my start from the inspired teaching, and boldly declare that the Divine Word does not wish even us to be slaves, our nature having now been changed for the better, and that He Who has taken all that was ours, on the terms of giving to us in return what is His, even as He took disease, death, curse, and sin, so took our slavery also, not in such a way as Himself to have what He took, but so as to purge our nature of such evils, our defects being swallowed up and done away with in His stainless nature.

– Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, Book X, Chapter 4

The nature of Christ is stainless according to Gregory – no similar comment is ever made (that we can find) by Gregory of Mary.

For our Lord has announced that the life after our resurrection shall be as that of the angels. Now the peculiarity of the angelic nature is that they are strangers to marriage; therefore the blessing of this promise has been already received by him who has not only mingled his own glory with the halo of the Saints, but also by the stainlessness of his life has so imitated the purity of these incorporeal beings.

– Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, Chapter 13

In this example, the “stainlessness” that Gregory seems to have in mind is Christ’s own virginity, although it could perhaps refer to Christ’s sinlessness.

Indeed it has been revealed in the oracles of God, on what occasion to conceive and to bring forth is a good thing, and what species of fecundity was desired by God’s saints; for both the Prophet Isaiah and the divine Apostle have made this clear and certain. The one cries, “From fear of You, O Lord, have I conceived;” the other boasts that he is the parent of the largest family of any, bringing to the birth whole cities and nations; not the Corinthians and Galatians only whom by his travailings he moulded for the Lord, but all in the wide circuit from Jerusalem to Illyricum; his children filled the world, “begotten” by him in Christ through the Gospel. In the same strain the womb of the Holy Virgin, which ministered to an Immaculate Birth, is pronounced blessed in the Gospel; for that birth did not annul the Virginity, nor did the Virginity impede so great a birth.

– Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, Chapter 19

Here we find further confirmation of the same principle. This is the only “immaculate birth” of which Gregory is aware (the only one that appears in his writings that we can find). It is the immaculate birth of Christ. Now, to be sure, there is some doctrine in Gregory’s comments here that sounds more like a Gnostic or Roman Catholic view (especially the idea that “birth did not annul the Virginity, nor did the Virginity impede so great a birth”). But we can just accept the fact that Gregory was neither a Roman Catholic nor a Reformed Presbyterian. Like any Christian, his teachings were imperfect, but we must take him as he was, not try to change him into something he was not as our Romanist adversaries sometimes try.

-TurretinFan

Hebrews 1:8 – A Proof of Jesus’ Divinity

April 1, 2009

This is a response to a video (link) that seems to suggest that we cannot use Hebrews 1:8 to establish the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. I respectfully but firmly disagree, for the reasons I set forth in more detail in video (sorry, audio only, plus a slideshow in case you must watch something).

Enjoy!

-TurretinFan

The Greatness of Jesus compared to John the Baptist – A Response to a Heckler

March 19, 2009

In response to my earlier Question for My Muslim Readers, one heckler (he was anonymous, so I do not wish to accuse of Islam of being associated with him) tried to provide a counter-argument:

In Luke 7:28 Jesus say “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

So, either John is greater than Jesus or Jesus wasn’t born of a woman. See, two can play at this game.

(all errors in original)

This kind of comment would be very puzzling for a Muslim to raise. After all, is there any doubt that, within Islam, Jesus is a greater prophet than John the Baptist? If so, why even raise this verse? Is it just to try to make Christians uncomfortable? I cannot see how it would be raised by a Muslim who was seeking the truth.

So, perhaps our anonymous heckler was not a Muslim.

What then, within a Christian understanding, did Jesus mean by His claim? Well, the most obvious understanding is that Jesus means that John held the role of greatest honor among the prophets because he was the immediate forerunner of Christ. While Christ did prophesy, Jesus Christ is not viewed as being one of the prophets.

This, of course, is a difference between Christianity and Islam. The Bible presents Jesus, not as a mere prophet, but as the Son of God. Thus, it is natural for Jesus not to include Himself in a list of the prophets, since they were the messengers of God, but He was God in the flesh.

Likewise, the second half of the verse clarifies that Jesus is speaking of those within the kingdom of heaven, but Jesus Himself is the king of that kingdom. So, naturally, He is not within the group of those who are of the kingdom of heaven.

Finally, when Jesus spoke of “the prophets,” Jesus generally referred to those who came before Him. Thus, for this additional reason, it would be natural for Jesus

But Jesus did speak to his own excellence:

Jesus is Greater than the Temple
Matthew 12:6 But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.

Jesus is Greater than the Prophet Jonah
Matthew 12:41 (and Luke 11:32) The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Jesus is Greater than King Solomon
Matthew 12:42 (and Luke 11:31) The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

Jesus is Greater than the patriarch Jacob
John 4:11-14
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Jesus is Greater than Abraham
John 8:49-58
49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

And Jesus did make a comparison between himself and John the Baptist:

John 5:33-36
33 Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. 34 But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved. 35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

How could the witness of Jesus be greater than the witness of any prophet? How could Jesus be greater than King Solomon, the greatest earthly King that was? How could Jesus be a greater prophet than Jonah, who converted the gentile city of Ninevah? How could Jesus be greater than the patriarch Jacob, who fathered all of Israel? How could Jesus be greater than Abraham and be before Abraham?

The answer is simple: Jesus was not a mere prophet, He was God incarnate. This is the teaching of Jesus, and to be a follower of Jesus and a follower of God, once must accept this. This is no game, for if you reject the Son of God, on the day of judgment that you know is coming, He will reject you.

Think about it.

-TurretinFan

Question for My Muslim Readers

March 6, 2009

Today I stumbled across an interesting question for my Muslim readers. The question is, how can Mohamed be called the greatest prophet? The question provides evidence from the Koran itself to document the idea that, even based solely on the Koran, Jesus was a greater prophet than any other prophet. Please consider reading and thinking about this question before you answer (link).

I should be quick to point out that the reason why I believe that Jesus was greater than Mohamed was not only the sorts of things laid out in the linked question, but specifically the fact that Jesus was (and is) both God and man, in two distinct natures and one person.

In terms of specific evidence, I direct you to the fact that not only did Jesus himself raise the dead, but on the third day after the crucifixion of the Messiah, God raised Jesus from the dead.

-TurretinFan

The Real Turretin on: The Three-Fold Office of Christ

January 8, 2009

Los at Already and Not Yet, has provided a short but concise explanation from the real Turretin on the three-fold office of Christ and its relation to the three-fold misery of man (link).

-TurretinFan

Christ’s Voluntary Death

December 16, 2008

I greatly enjoyed the following video by Dr. James White, explaining to a Muslim antagonist the voluntary nature of Christ’s death on the cross:

I would add that there is more revelation that declares that Jesus’ sacrifice was voluntary, namely in the prophecy of that great prophet, the prophet Isaiah (prophecying of Jesus the Messiah):

Isaiah 53:7-8
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

It Jesus who was slain for the transgressions (sins) of the elect. And the prophecy continues:

Isaiah 53:9-10

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

You see, Jesus was an offering for sins, by which obtained his seed – his children purchased by his blood. And still the prophecy continues:

Isaiah 53:11-12
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

It was not an easy thing to do, but He did it and was satisfied. Through his knowledge (love) many are justified, by his bearing their iniquities (sins). He poured out his soul unto death, it was his choice, and yet he is great by virtue of this humiliation.

The sins of the elect were imputed to Christ, and he bare those sins, and now makes intercession for the elect in heaven.

He is our God and our hope for eternal life. He is the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

-TurretinFan


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