Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9: 9.13.07 Origen - Gospel of John - Book 2 Part 2

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Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9: 9.13.07 Origen - Gospel of John - Book 2 Part 2

TOPIC: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 9.13.07 Origen - Gospel of John - Book 2 Part 2

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Commentaries of Origen (Cont.)

Origen’s Commentary on the Gospel of John. (Cont.)

Book II. (Cont.)

7. Of Things Not Made Through The Logos.

Let us see, however, why the words are added, “And without Him was not anything (Gr. even one thing) made.” Some might think it superfluous to add to the words “All things were made through Him,” the phrase “Without Him was not anything made.” For if everything whatsoever was made through the Logos, then nothing was made without Him. Yet it does not follow from the proposition that without the Logos nothing was made, that all things were made through the Logos. It is possible that though nothing was made without the Logos, all things were made, not through the Logos only, but some things by Him. We must, therefore, make ourselves sure in what sense the “all things” is to be understood, and in what sense the “nothing.” For, without a clear preliminary definition of these terms, it might be maintained that, if all things were made through the Logos, and evil is a part of all things, then the whole matter of sin, and everything that is wicked, that these also were made through the Logos. But this we must regard as false. There is nothing absurd in thinking that creatures were made through the Logos, and also that men’s brave deeds have been done through Him, and all the useful acts of those who are now in bliss; but with the sins and misfortunes of men it is otherwise. Now some have held that since evil is not based in the constitution of things - for it did not exist at the beginning and at the end it will have ceased - that, therefore, the evils of which we spoke are the Nothing; and as some of the Greeks say that genera and forms, such as the general animal and the man, belong to the category of Nothings, so it has been supposed that all that is not of God is Nothing, and has not even obtained through the Word the subsistence it appears to have. We ask whether it is possible to show from Scripture in any convincing way that this is so. As for the meanings of the word “Nothing” and “Not-being,” they would appear to be synonymous, for Nothing can be spoken of as Not-being, and the Not-being can be described as Nothing. The Apostle, however, appears to count the things which are not, not among those which have no existence whatever, but rather among things which are evil. To him the Not-being is evil; “God,” he says, (Rom_4:17) “called the things that are not as things that are.” And Mardochaeus, too, in the Esther of the Septuagint, calls the enemies of Israel “those that are not,” saying, (Additions to Esther 4:22) “Deliver not Thy sceptre, O Lord, to those that are not.” We may also notice how evil men, on account of their wickedness, are said not to be, from the name ascribed to God in Exodus: (Exo_3:14, Exo_3:15) “For the Lord said to Moses, I am, that is My name.” The good God says this with respect of us also who pray that we may be part of His congregation. The Saviour praises him, saying, (Mar_10:18) “None is good but one, God the Father.” The good, then, is the same as He who is. Over against good is evil or wickedness, and over against Him who is that which is not, whence it follows that evil and wickedness are that which is not. This, perhaps, is what has led some to affirm that the devil is not created by God. In respect that he is the devil he is not the work of God, but he who is the devil is a created being, and as there is no other creator but our God, he is a work of God. It is as if we should say that a murderer is not a work of God, while we may say that in respect he is a man, God made him. His being as a man he received from God; 331 we do not assert that he received from God his being as a murderer. All, then, who have part in Him who is, and the saints have part in Him, may properly be called Beings; but those who have given up their part in the Being, by depriving themselves of Being, have become Not-beings. But we said when entering on this discussion, that Not-being and Nothing are synonymous, and hence those who are not beings are Nothing, and all evil is nothing, since it is Not-being, and thus since they are called Not-being came into existence without the Logos, not being numbered among the all things which were made through Him. Thus we have shown, so far as our powers admit, what are the “all things” which were made through the Logos, and what came into existence without Him, since at no time is it Being, and it is, therefore, called “Nothing.”

8. Heracleon’s View That the Logos Is Not the Agent of Creation.

It was, I consider, a violent and unwarranted procedure which was adopted by Heracleon,35 the friend, as it is said, of Valentinus, in discussing this sentence: “All things were made through Him.” He excepted the whole world and all that it contains, excluding, as far as his hypothesis goes, from the “all things “what is best in the world and its contents. For he says that the aeon age, and the things in it, were not made by the Logos; he considers them to have come into existence before the Logos. He deals with the statement, “Without Him was nothing made,” with some degree of audacity, nor is he afraid of the warning: (Pro_30:6) “Add not to His words, lest He find thee out and thou prove a liar,” for to the “Nothing” he adds: “Of what is in the world and the creation.” And as his statements on the passage are obviously very much forced and in the face of the evidence, for what he considers divine is excluded from the all, and what he regards as purely evil is, that and nothing else, the all things, we need not waste our time in rebutting what is, on the face of it, absurd, when, without any warrant from Scripture, he adds to the words, “Without Him was nothing made,” the further words, “Of what is in the earth and the creation.” In this proposal, which has no inner probability to recommend it, he is asking us, in fact, to trust him as we do the prophets, or the Apostles, who had authority and were not responsible to men for the writings belonging to man’s salvation, which they handed to those about them and to those who should come after. He had, also, a private interpretation of his own of the words: “All things were made through Him,” when he said that it was the Logos who caused the demiurge to make the world, not, however, the Logos from whom or by whom, but Him through whom, taking the written words in a different sense from that of common parlance.36 For, if the truth of the matter was as he considers, then the writer ought to have said that all things were made through the demiurge by the Word, and not through the Word by the demiurge. We accept the “through whom,” as it is usually understood, and have brought evidence in support of our interpretation, while he not only puts forward a new rendering of his own, unsupported by the divine Scripture, but appears even to scorn the truth and shamelessly and openly oppose it. For he says: “It was not the Logos who made all things, as under another who was the operating agent,” taking the “through whom” in this sense, “but another made them, the Logos Himself being the operating agent.” This is not a suitable occasion for the proof that it was not the demiurge who became the servant of the Logos and made the world; but that the Logos became the servant of the demiurge and formed the world. For, according to the prophet David, (Psa_148:5) “God spake and they came into being, He commanded and they were created.” For the unbegotten God commanded the first-born of all creation, (Col_1:15, Col_1:16) and they were created, not only the world and what is therein, but also all other things, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, for all things were made through Him and unto Him, and He is before all things.”

9. That the Logos Present in Us Is Not Responsible for Our Sins.

One point more on the words: “Without Him was not anything made.” The question about evil must receive adequate discussion; what was said of it has not, it is true, a very likely appearance, and yet it appears to me that it ought not to be simply overlooked. The question is whether evil, also, was made through the Logos, taking the Logos, now be it well noted, in the sense of that reason which is in every one, as thus brought into being by the reason 332 which was from the beginning. The Apostle says: (Rom_7:8, Rom_7:9) “Without the law sin was dead,” and adds, “But when the commandment came sin revived,” and so teaches generally about sin that it has no power before the law and the commandment but the Logos is, in a sense, law and commandment, and there would be no sin were there no law, for, (Rom_5:13) “sin is not imputed where there is no law.” And, again, there would be no sin but for the Logos, for “if I had not come and spoken unto them,” Christ says, (Joh_15:22) “they had not had sin.” For every excuse is taken away from one who wants to make excuse for his sin, if, though the Word is in him and shows him what he ought to do, he does not obey it. It seems, them, that all things, the worse things not excepted, were made by the Logos, and without Him, taking the nothing here in its simpler sense, was nothing made. Nor must we blame the Logos if all things were made by Him, and without Him nothing was made, any more than we blame the master who has showed the pupil his duty, when the instruction has been such as to leave the pupil, should he sin, no excuse or room to say that he erred through ignorance. This appears the more plainly when we consider that master and pupil are inseparable. For as master and pupil are correlatives, and belong together, so the Logos is present in the nature of reasonable beings as such, always suggesting what they ought to do, even should we pay no heed to his commands, but devote ourselves to pleasure and allow his best counsels to pass by us unregarded. As the eye is a servant given us for the best purposes, and yet we use it to see things on which it is wrong for us to look, and as we make a wrong use of our hearing when we spend our time in listening to singing competitions and to other forbidden sounds, so we outrage the Logos who is in us, and use Him otherwise than as we ought, when we make Him assist in our transgressions. For He is present with those who sin, for their condemnation, and He condemns the man who does not prefer Him to everything else. Hence we find it written: (Joh_12:48) “The word which I have spoken unto you, the same shall judge you.” That is as if He should say: “I, the Word, who am always lifting up my voice in you, I, myself, will judge you, and no refuge or excuse will then be left you.” This interpretation, however, may appear somewhat strained, as we have taken the Word in one sense to be the Word in the beginning, who was with God, God the Word, and have now taken it in another sense, speaking of it, not only in reference to the principal works of creation, as in the words, “All things were made through Him,” but as related to all the acts of reasonable beings, this last being the Logos reason, without whose presence none of our sins are committed. The question arises whether the Logos in us is to be pronounced the same being as that which was in the beginning and was with God, God the Word. The Apostle, certainly, does not appear to make the Logos in us a different being from the Logos who was in the beginning with God. “Say not in thine heart,” he says, (Rom_10:6-8) “who shall go up into heaven; that is to bring Christ down, or who shall go down into the abyss; that is to bring Christ up from the dead. But what saith the Scripture? The Logos is very nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart.”

10. “That Which Was Made Was Life in Him, and the Life Was the Light of Men.” This Involves the Paradox That What Does Not Derive Life from the Logos Does Not Live at All.

The Greeks have certain apothegms, called paradoxes, in which the wisdom of their sages is presented at its highest, and some proof, or what appears to be proof, is given. Thus it is said that the wise man alone, and that every wise man, is a priest, because the wise man aloha: and every wise man possesses knowledge as to the service of God. Again, that the wise man alone and that every wise man is free and has received from the divine law authority to do what he himself is minded to do, and this authority they call lawful power of decision. Why should we say more about these so-called paradoxes? Much discussion is devoted to them, and they call for a comparison of the sense of Scripture with the doctrine thus conveyed, so that we may be in a position to determine where religious doctrine agrees with them and where it differs from them. This has been suggested to us by our study of the words, “That which was made was life in Him;” for it appears possible to follow the words of Scripture here and to make out a number of thing’s which partake of the character of the paradoxes and are even more paradoxical than these sentences of the Greeks. If we consider the Logos in the beginning, who was with God, God the 333 Word, we shall perhaps be able to declare that only he who partakes of this being, considered in this character, is to be pronounced reasonable “logical”, and thus we should demonstrate that the saint alone is reasonable. Again, if we apprehend that life has come in the Logos, he, namely, who said, “I am the life,” then we shall say that no one is alive who is outside the faith of Christ, that all are dead who are not living to God, that their life is life to sin, and therefore, if I may so express myself, a life of death. Consider however, whether the divine Scriptures do not in many places teach this; as where the Saviour says, (Mar_12:26) “Or have ye not read that which was spoken at the bush, I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He is not God of the dead but of the living.” And (Psa_143:2) “Before Thee shall no living being be justified.” But why need we speak about God Himself or the Saviour? For it is disputed to which of them the voice belongs which says in the prophets, (Num_14:28) “As I live, saith the Lord.”

11. How No One Is Righteous or Can Truly Be Said to Live in Comparison with God.

First let us look at the words, “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” That is equivalent to saying that He is not the God of sinners but of saints. For it was a great gift to the Patriarchs that God in place of His own name should add their name to His own designation as God, as Paul says, (Heb_11:16) “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.” He is the God, therefore, of the fathers and of all the saints; it might be hard to find a passage to the effect that God is the God of any of the wicked. If, then, He is the God of the saints, and is said to be the God of the living, then the saints are the living and the living are saints; neither is there any saint outside the living, nor when any one is called living is the further implication absent that in addition to his having life he is a holy one. Near akin to this is the lesson to be drawn from the saying, (Psa_116:9) “I shall be well pleasing to the Lord in the land of the living.” The good pleasure of the Lord, he appears to say, is in the ranks of the saints, or in the place of the saints, and it is there that he hopes to be. No one pleases God well who has not entered the rank of the saints, or the place of the saints; and to that place every one must come who has assumed beforehand, as it were in this life, the shadow and image of true God-pleasing. The passage which declares that before God no living being shall be justified shows that in comparison with God and the righteousness that is in Him none, even of the most finished saints, will be justified. We might take a parable from another quarter and say that no candle can give light before the sun, not that the candle will not give light, only it will not when the sun out-shines it. In the same way every “living” will be justified, only not before God, when it is compared with those who are below and who are in the power of darkness. To them the light of the saints will shine. Here, perhaps, we have the key to the meaning of that verse: (Mat_5:16) “Let your light shine before men.” He does not say, Let your light shine before God; had he said so he would have given a commandment impossible of fulfilment, as if he had bidden those lights which have souls to let their light shine before the sun. It is not only, therefore, the ordinary mass of the living who will not be justified before God, but even those among the living who are distinguished above the rest, or, to put it more truly, the whole righteousness of the living will not be justified before God, as compared with the righteousness of God, as if I were to call together all the lights which shine on the earth by night, and to say that they could not give light in comparison with the rays of the sun. We rise from these considerations to a higher level when we take the words before our minds, “I live, saith the Lord.” Life, in the full sense of the word, especially after what we have been saying on the subject, belongs perhaps to God and none but Him. Is this the reason why the Apostle, after speaking of the supreme excellency of the life of God and being led to the highest expression about it, says about God showing in this a true understanding of that saying, “I live, saith the Lord”; “who only hath immortality.” (1Ti_6:16) No living being besides God has life free from change and variation. Why should we be in further doubt? Even Christ did not share the Father’s immortality; for He “tasted death for every man.”

12. Is the Saviour All That He Is, to All?

We have thus enquired as to the life of God, and the life which is Christ, and the living who are in a place by themselves, and have seen how the living are not justified before God, and we have noticed the cognate statement, “Who alone hath immortality.” 334 We may now take up the assumption which may appear to be involved in this, namely, that whatever being is gifted with reason does not possess blessedness as a part of its essence, or as an inseparable part of its nature. For if blessedness and the highest life were an inseparable characteristic of reasonable being, how could it be truly said of God that He only has immortality? We should therefore remark, that the Saviour is some things, not to Himself but to others, and some things both to Himself and others, and we must enquire if there are some things which He is to Himself and to no other. Clearly it is to others that He is a Shepherd, not a shepherd like those among men who make gain out of their occupation; unless the benefit conferred on the sheep might be regarded, on account of His love to men, as a benefit to Himself also. Similarly it is to others that He is the Way and the Door, and, as all will admit, the Rod. To Himself and to others He is Wisdom and perhaps also Reason Logos. It may be asked whether, as He has in Himself a system of speculations, inasmuch as He is wisdom, there are some of those speculations which cannot be received by any nature that is begotten, but His own, and which He knows for Himself only. Nor should the reverence we owe to the Holy Spirit keep us from seeking to answer this question. For the Holy Spirit Himself receives instruction, as is clear from what is said about the Paraclete and the Holy Spirit, (Joh_16:14, Joh_16:15) “He shall take of mine and shall declare it to you.” Does He, then, from these instructions, take in everything that the Son, gazing at the Father from the first, Himself knows? That would require further consideration. And if the Saviour is some things to others, and some things it may be to Himself, and to no other, or to one only, or to few, then we ask, in so far as He is the life which came in the Loges, whether he is life to Himself and to others, or to others, and if to others, to what others. And are life and the light of men the same thing, for the text says, “That which was made was life in Him and the life was the light of men.” But the light of men is the light only of some, not of all, rational creatures; the word “men” which is added shows this. But He is the light of men, and so He is the life of those whose light he is also. And inasmuch as He is life He may be called the Saviour, not for Himself but to be life to others, whose light also He is. And this life comes to the Logos and is inseparable from Him, once it has come to Him. But the Loges, who cleanses the soul, must have been in the soul first; it is after Him and the cleansing that proceeds from Him, when all that is dead or weak in her has been taken away, that pure life comes to every one who has made himself a fit dwelling for the Loges, considered as God.

13. How the Life in the Logos Copies After the Beginning.

Here, we must carefully observe, we have two things which are one, and we have to define the difference between them. First, what is before us in The Word in the beginning, then what is implied in The Life in Word. The Word was not made in the beginning; there was no time when the beginning was devoid of the Word, and hence it is said, “In the beginning was the Word.” Of life, on the other hand, we read, not that it was as the Word, but that it was made; if at least it he the case that the life is the light of men. For when man was not yet, there was no light of men; for the light of men is conceived only in relation to men. And let no one annoy us with the objection that we have put this trader the category of time, though it be the order of the things themselves, that make them first and second and so on, and even though there should have been no time when the things placed by the Loges third and fourth were not in existence. As, then, all things were made by Him, not all things were by Him, and as without Him was nothing made, not, without Him nothing was, so what was made in Him, not what was in Him, was life. And, again, not what was made in the beginning was the Word, but what was in the beginning was the Word. Some of the copies, it is true, have a reading which is not devoid of probability, “What was made is life in Him.” But if life is the same thing as the light of men, then no one who is in darkness is living, and none of the living is in darkness; but every one who is alive is also in light, and every one who is in light is living, so that not he only who is living, but every one who is living, is a son of light; and he who is a son of light is he whose work shines before men.

14. How the Natures of Men Are Not So Fixed from the First, But That They May Pass from Darkness to Light.

We have been discussing certain things which are opposite, and what has been said of them may serve to suggest what 335 has been omitted. We are speaking of life and the light of men, and the opposite to life is death; the opposite to the light of men, the darkness of men. It is therefore plain that he who is in the darkness of men is in death, and that he who works the works of death is nowhere but in darkness. But he who is mindful of God, if we consider what it is to be mindful of Him, is not in death, according to the saying, (Psa_6:6) “In death there is no one who remembers Thee.” Are the darkness of men, and death, such as they are by nature? On this point we have another passage, (Eph_5:8) “We were once darkness, but now light in the Lord,” even if we be now in the fullest sense saints and spiritual persons. Thus he who was once darkness has become, like Paul, capable of being light in the Lord. Some consider that some natures are spiritual from the first, such as those of Paul and the holy Apostles; but I scarcely see how to reconcile with such a view, what the above text tells us, that the spiritual person was once darkness and afterwards became light. For if the spiritual was once darkness what can the earthy have been? But if it is true that darkness became light, as in the text, how is it unreasonable to suppose that all darkness is capable of becoming light? Had not Paul said, “We were once in darkness, but now are we light in the Lord,” and thus implied of those whom they consider to be naturally lost, that they were darkness, or are darkness still, the hypothesis about the different natures might have been admissible. But Paul distinctly says that he had once been darkness but was now light in the Lord, which implies the possibility that darkness should turn into light. But he who perceives the possibility of a change on each side for the better or for the worse, will not find it hard to gain an insight into every darkness of men, or into that death which consists in the darkness of men.

15. Heracleon’s View That the Lord Brought Life Only to the Spiritual, Refutation of This.

Heracleon adopts a somewhat violent course when he arrives at this passage, “What was made in Him was life.” Instead of the “In Him” of the text he understands “to those men who are spiritual,” as if he considered the Logos and the spiritual to be identical, though this he does not plainly say; and then he proceeds to give, as it were, an account of the origin of the matter and says, “He the Logos provided them with their first form at their birth, carrying further and making manifest what had been sown by another,37 into form and into illumination and into an outline of its own.” He did not observe how Paul speaks of the spiritual, 1Co_2:14, 1Co_2:15 and how he refrains from saying that they are men. “A natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; but the spiritual judgeth all things.” We maintain that it was not without a meaning that he did not add the word men to the word spiritual. Spiritual is something better than man, for man receives his form either in soul, or in body, or in both together, not in what is more divine than these, namely, in spirit; and it is after he has come to have a prevailing share of this that he is called “spiritual.” Moreover, in bringing forward such a hypothesis as this, he furnishes not even the pretence of a proof, and shows himself unable to reach even a moderate degree of plausibility for his argument on the subject. So much, then, for him.

16. The Life May Be the Light of Others Besides

Let us suggest another question, namely, whether the life was the light of men only, and not of every being as well that is in blessedness. For if the life were the same thing as the light of men, and if the light of Christ were for men alone, then the life also would be only for men. But such a view is both foolish and impious, since the other Scriptures testify against this interpretation and declare that, when we are somewhat more advanced, we shall be equal to the angels. (Mat_22:30) The question is to be solved on the principle that when a predicate is applied to certain persons, it is not to be at once taken to apply to them alone. Thus, when the light of men is spoken of, it is not the light of men only; had that been the meaning, a word would have been added to express it; the life, it would have read, was the light of men only. For it is possible for the light of men to be the light of others besides men, just as it is possible that certain animals and certain plants may form the food of men, and that the same animals and plants should be the food of other creatures too. That is an example from common life; it is fitting that another analogy should be adduced from the inspired books. Now the question here 336 before us, is why the light of men should not be the light of other creatures also, and we have seen that to speak of the light of men by no means excludes the possibility that the light may be that of other beings besides man, whether inferior to him or like him, Now a name is given to God; He is said to be the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob. He, then, who infers from the saying, “The life was the light of men,” that the light is for no other than for men, ought also to conclude that the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob is the God of no one else but these three patriarchs. But He is also the God of Elijah, (2Ki_2:14) and, as Judith says, (Judith 9:2) of her father Simeon, and the God of the Hebrews. By analogy of reasoning, then, if nothing prevents Him from being the God of others, nothing prevents the light of men from being the light of others besides men.

17. The Higher Powers Are Men; and Christ Is Their Light Also.

Another, again, appeals to the text, “Let us make man according to our image and likeness,” (Gen_1:26) and maintains that whatever is made according to God’s image and likeness is man. To support this, numberless instances are adduced to show that in Scripture “man” and “angel” are used indifferently, and that the same subject is entitled both angel and man. This is true of the three who were entertained by Abraham, and of the two who came to Sodom; in the whole course of Scripture, persons are styled sometimes men, sometimes angels. Those who hold this view will say that since persons are styled angels who are manifestly men, as when Zechariah says, (Zec_1:9; Hag_1:13) “The messenger of the Lord, I am with you, saith the Lord Almighty,” and as it is written of John the Baptist, (Mal_3:1; Mar_1:2) “Behold I send My messenger before thy face,” the angels messengers of God are so called on account of their office, and are not here called men on account of their nature. It confirms this view that the names applied to the higher powers are not those of species of living beings, but those of the orders, assigned by God to this and to that reasonable being. “Throne” is not a species of living being, nor “dominion,” nor “principality,” nor “power”; these are names of the businesses to which those clothed with the names have been appointed; the subjects themselves are nothing but men, but the subject has come to be a throne, or a dominion, or a principality, or a power. In Joshua, the son of Nun, we read (Jos_5:13, Jos_5:14) that in Jericho there appeared to Joshua a man who said, “I am captain of the Lord’s host, now am I come.” The outcome of this is that the light of men must be held to be the same as the light of every being endowed with reason; for every reasonable being is man, since it is according to the image and likeness of God. It is spoken of in three different ways. “the light of men,” and simply “the light,” and “the true light.” It is the light of men either, as we showed before, because there is nothing to prevent us from regarding it as the light of other beings besides men, or because all beings endowed with reason are called men because they are made in the image of God.

18. How God also Is Light, But in a Different Way; and How Life Came Before Light.

The Saviour is here called simply light. But in the Catholic Epistle of this same John (1Jo_1:5) we read that God is light. This, it has been maintained, furnishes a proof that the Son is not in substance different from the Father. Another student, however, looking into the matter more closely and with a sounder judgment, will say that the light which shines in darkness and is not overtaken by it, is not the same as the light in which there is no darkness at all. The light which shines in darkness comes upon this darkness, as it were, and is pursued by it, and, in spite of attempts made upon it, is not overtaken. But the light in which there is no darkness at all neither shines on darkness, nor is at first pursued by it, so as to prove victor and to have it recorded that it was not overtaken by its pursuer. The third designation was “the true light.” But in proportion as God, since He is the Father of truth, is more and greater than truth, and since He is the Father of wisdom is greater and more excellent than wisdom, in the same proportion He is more than the true light. We may learn, perhaps, in a more suggestive manner, how the Father and the Son are two lights, from David, who says in the thirty-fifth Psalm, (Psa_36:10) “In Thy light we shall see light.” This same light of men which shines in darkness, the true light, is called, further on in the Gospel, the light of the world; Jesus says, (Joh_8:12) “I am the light of the world.” Nor must we omit to notice that whereas the passage might very well have 337 run, “That which was made was in Him the light of men, and the light of men was life,” he chose the opposite order. He puts life before the light of men, even if life and the light of men are the same thing; in thinking of those who have part in life, though that life is also the light of men, we are to come first to the fact that they are living the divine life spoken of before; then we come to their enlightenment. For life must come first if the living person is to be enlightened; it would not be a good arrange-meat to speak of the illumination of one not yet conceived as living, and to make life come after the illumination. For though “life” and “the light” of men are the same thing, the notions are taken separately. This light of men is also called, by Isaiah, “the light of the Gentiles,” where he says, (Isa_42:6) “Behold I have set Thee for a covenant of the generation, for a light of the Gentiles;” and David, placing his confidence in this light, says in the twenty-sixth Psalm, (Psa_27:1) “The Lord is my illumination and my Saviour; whom shall I fear?”

19. The Life Here Spoken of Is the Higher Life, That of Reason.

As for those who make up a mythology about the aeons and arrange them in syzygies yokes or pairs, and who consider the Logos and Life to have been emitted by Intellect and Truth, it may not be beside the point to state the following difficulties. How can life, in their system, the yokefellow of the Word, derive his origin from his yokefellow? For “what was made in Him,” he says, evidently referring to the Word, mentioned immediately before, “was life.” Will they tell us how life, the yokefellow, as they say, of the Word, came into being in the Word, and how life rather than the Word is the light of men. It would be quite natural if men of reasonable minds, who are perplexed with such questions and find the point we have raised hard to dispose of, should turn round upon us and invite us to discuss the reason why it is not the Word that is said to be the light of men, but life which originated in the Word. To such an enquiry we shall reply that the life here spoken of is not that which is common to rational beings and to beings without reason, but that life which is added to us upon the completion of reason in us, our share in that life, being derived from the first reason Logos. It is when we turn away from the life which is life in appearance only, not in truth, and when we yearn to be filled with the true life, that we are made partakers of it, and when it has arisen in us it becomes the foundation of the light of the higher knowledge gnosis. With some it may be that this life is only potentially and not actually light, with those who do not strive to search out the things of the higher knowledge, while with others it is actually light. With these it clearly is so who act on Paul’s injunction, “Seek earnestly the best gifts;” and among the greatest gifts is that which all are enjoined to seek, namely, the word of wisdom, and it is followed by the word of knowledge. This wisdom and this knowledge lie side by side; into the difference between them this is not a fitting occasion to enquire.

20. Different Kinds of Light; and of Darkness.

“And (Joh_1:5) the light shineth in darkness and the darkness hath not overtaken it.” We are still enquiring about the light of men, since it is what was spoken of in the preceding verse, and also, I consider, about darkness, which is named as its adversary, the darkness also being, if the definition of it is correct, that of men. The light of men is a generic notion covering two special things; and with the darkness of men it is the same. He who has gained the light of men and shares its beams will do the work of light and know in the higher sense, being illuminated by the light of the higher knowledge. And we must recognize the analogous case of those on the other side, and of their evil actions, and of that which is thought to be bat is not really knowledge, since those who exercise it have the reason Logos not of light but of darkness. And because the sacred word knows the things which produce light, Isaiah says: (Isa_26:9) “Because Thy commandments are a light upon the earth,” and David says in the Psalm, (Psa_19:9) “The precept of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes.” But since in addition to the commandments and the precepts there is a light of higher knowledge, we read in one of the twelve prophets, (Hos_10:12) “Sow to yourselves for righteousness, reap to yourselves for the fruit of life, make light for yourselves the light of knowledge.” There is a further light of knowledge in addition to the commandments, and so we read, “Make light for yourselves,” not simply light, but what light? - the light of knowledge. For if any light that a man kindles for himself were a 338 light of knowledge, then the added words, “Make light for yourselves, the light of knowledge,” would have no meaning. And again that darkness is brought upon men by their evil deeds, we learn from John himself, when he says in his epistle, (1Jo_1:6, 1Jo_2:9, 1Jo_2:11) “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth,” and again, “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now,” and again, “He that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because darkness hath blinded his eyes.” Walking in darkness signifies evil conduct, and to hate one’s brother, is not that to fall away from that which is properly called knowledge? But he also who is ignorant of divine things walks in darkness, just because of that ignorance; as David says, Psa_82:5 “They knew not, they understood not, they walk in darkness.” Consider, however, this passage, (1Jo_1:5) “God is light and in Him is no38 darkness,” and see if the reason for this saying is not that darkness is not one, being either two, because there are two kinds of it, or many, because it is taken distributively, individually with reference to the many evil actions and the many false doctrines; so that there are many darknesses, not one of which is in God. The saying of the Saviour could not be spoken of the Holy One, “Ye are the light of the world;” for the Holy One is light of the world absolute, not particular, and there is not in Him any darkness.


35 On the fragments of Heracleon in this work of Origen, see Texts and Studies, vol. i. part iv. by A. E. Brooks, m.a.

36 Accepting Jacobi’s and Brooks correction παρα τὴν.

37 The demiurge.

38 οὺδεμία, not one.