Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9: 9.13.08 Origen - Gospel of John - Book 2 Part 3

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Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9: 9.13.08 Origen - Gospel of John - Book 2 Part 3

TOPIC: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 9 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 9.13.08 Origen - Gospel of John - Book 2 Part 3

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Commentaries of Origen (Cont.)

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

Book II. (Cont.)

21. Christ Is Not, Like God, Quite Free from Darkness: Since He Bore Our Sins.

Now some one will ask how this statement that there is no darkness in Him can be regarded as a thing peculiar to Him, when we consider that the Saviour also was quite without sin. Could it not be said of Him also that “He is light, and that there is no darkness in Him”? The difference between the two cases has been partly set forth above. We will now, however, go a step further than we did before, and add, that if God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin for us, (2Co_5:21) then it could not be said of Him that there was no darkness in Him. For if Jesus was in the likeness Rom_8:3 of the flesh of sin and for sin, and condemned sin by taking ripen Him the likeness of the flesh of sin, then it cannot be said of Him, absolutely and directly, that there was no darkness in Him. We may add that “He (Mat_8:17) took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses,” both infirmities of the soul and sicknesses of the hidden man of our heart. On account of these infirmities and sicknesses which He bore away from us, He declares His soul to be sorrowful and sore troubled, (Mat_26:38) and He is said in Zechariah to have put on filthy garments, (Zec_3:4) which, when He was about to take them off, are said to be sins. “Behold, it is said, I have taken away thy sins.” Because He had taken on Himself the sins of the people of those who believed in Him, he uses many such expressions as these: “Far from my salvation are the words of my transgressions,” (Psa_22:1) and “Thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins were not hid from Thee.” (Psa_69:5) And let no one suppose that we say this from any lack of piety towards the Christ of God; for as the Father alone has immortality and our Lord took upon Himself, for His love to men, the death He died for us, so to the Father alone the words apply, “In Him is no darkness,” since Christ took upon Himself, for His goodwill towards men, our darknesses. This He did, that by His power He might destroy our death and remove the darkness which is in our soul, so that the saying in Isaiah might be fulfilled, (Isa_9:2) “The people that sat in darkness saw a great light.” This light, which came into being in the Logos, and is also life, shines in the darkness of our souls, and it has come where the rulers of this darkness carry on their struggle with the race of men and strive to subdue to darkness those who do not stand firm with all their power; that they might be enlightened the light has come so far, and that they might be called sons of light. And shining in darkness this light is pursued by the darkness, but not overtaken.

22. How the Darkness Failed to Overtake the Light.

Should any one consider that we are adding something that is not written, namely, the pursuit of the light by the darkness, let him reflect that unless the darkness had pursued the light the words, “The darkness did not overtake it,” would have no meaning. John writes for those who have wit to see what is omitted and to supply it as the context requires, and so he wrote, “The darkness did not overtake it.” If it did not overtake it, it must first have pursued it, 339 and that the darkness did pursue the light is clear from what the Saviour suffered, and those also who received His teachings, His own children, when darkness was doing what it could against the sons of light and was minded to drive light away from men. But since, if God be for us, (Rom_8:1) no one, however that way minded, can be against us, the more they humbled themselves the more they grew, and they prevailed exceedingly. In two ways the darkness did not overtake the light. Either it was left far behind and was itself so slow, while the light was in its course so sharp and swift, that it was not even able to keep following it, or if the light sought to lay a snare for the darkness, and waited for it in pursuance of the plan it had formed, then darkness, coming near the light, was brought to an end. In either case the darkness did not overtake the light.

23. There Is a Divine Darkness Which Is Not Evil, and Which Ultimately Becomes Light.

In connection with this subject it is necessary for us to point out that darkness is not to be understood, every time it is mentioned, in a bad sense; Scripture speaks of it sometimes in a good sense. The heterodox have failed to observe this distinction, and have accordingly adopted most shameful doctrines about the Maker of the world, and have indeed revolted from Him, and addicted themselves to fictions and myths. We must, therefore, show how and when the name of darkness is taken in a good sense. Darkness and clouds and tempest are said in Exodus (Exo_19:9, Exo_19:16) to be round about God, and in the seventeenth Psalm, (Psa_18:11) “He made darkness His secret place, His tent round about Him, dark water in clouds of the air.” Indeed, if one considers the multitude of speculation and knowledge about God, beyond the power of human nature to take in, beyond the power, perhaps, of all originated beings except Christ and the Holy Spirit, then one may know how God is surrounded with darkness, because the discourse is hid in ignorance which would be required to tell in what darkness He has made His hiding-place when He arranged that the things concerning Him should be unknown and beyond the grasp of knowledge. Should any one be staggered by these expositions, he may be reconciled to them both by the “dark sayings” and by the “treasures of darkness,” hidden, invisible, which are given to Christ by God. In nowise different, I consider, are the treasures of darkness which are hid in Christ, from what is spoken of in the text, “God made darkness His secret place,” and the saint “shall understand parable and dark saying.” (Pro_1:6) And consider if we have here the reason of the Saviour’s saying to His disciples, “What ye have heard in darkness, speak ye in the light.” The mysteries committed to them in secret and where few could hear, hard to be known and obscure, He bids them, when enlightened and therefore said to be in the light, to make known to every one who is made light. I might add a still stranger feature of this darkness which is praised, namely, that it hastens to the light and overtakes it, and so at last, after having been unknown as darkness, undergoes for him who does not see its power such a change that he comes to know it and to declare that what was formerly known to him as darkness has now become light.

24. John the Baptist Was Sent. From Where? His Soul Was Sent from a Higher Region.

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” (Joh_1:6) He who is sent is sent from somewhere to somewhere; and the careful student will, therefore, enquire from what quarter John was sent, and whither. The “whither” is quite plain on the face of the story; he was sent to Israel, and to those who were willing to hear him when he was staying in the wilderness of Judaea and baptizing by the banks of the Jordan. According to the deeper sense, however, he was sent into the world, the world being understood as this earthly place where men are; and the careful student will have this in view in enquiring from where John was sent. Examining the words more closely, he will perhaps declare that as it is written of Adam, (Gen_3:23) “And the Lord sent him forth out of the Paradise of pleasure to till the earth, out of which he was taken,” so also John was sent, either from heaven or from Paradise, or from some other quarter to this place on the earth. He was sent that he might bear witness of the light. There is, however, an objection to this interpretation, which is not to be lightly dismissed. It is written in Isaiah: (Isa_6:1, Isa_6:9) “Whom shall I send, and who will go to the people?” The prophet answers: “Here am I, - send me.” He, then, who objects to that rendering of 340 our passage which appears to be the deeper may say that Isaiah was sent not to this world from another place, but after having seen “the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up,” was sent to the people, to say, “Hearing, ye shall hear and shall not understand,” and so on; and that in the same manner John, the beginning of his mission not being narrated, is sent after the analogy of the mission of Isaiah, to baptize, (Luk_1:17) and to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for Him, and to bear witness of the light. So much we have said of the first sense; and now we adduce certain solutions which help to confirm the deeper meaning about John. In the same passage it is added, “He came for witness, to bear witness of the light.” Now, if he came, where did he come from? To those who find it difficult to follow us, we point to what John says afterwards of having seen the Holy Spirit as a dove descending on the Saviour. “He that sent me,” he says, (Joh_1:33) “to baptize with water, He said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shall see the Holy Spirit descending and abiding upon Him, the same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” When did He send him and give him this injunction? The answer to the question will probably be that when He sent him to begin to baptize, then He who was dealing with him uttered this word. But a more convincing argument for the view that John was sent from another region when he entered into the body, the one object of his entry into this life being that he should bear witness of the truth, may be drawn from the narrative of his birth. Gabriel, when announcing to Zacharias the birth of John, and to Mary the advent of our Saviour among men, says: (Luk_1:13, Luk_1:15) That John is to be “filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb.” And we have also the saying, “For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” He who sedulously guards himself in his dealings with Scripture against forced, or casual, or capricious procedure, must necessarily assume that John’s soul was older than his body, and subsisted by itself before it was sent on the ministry of the witness of the light. Nor must we overlook the text, “This is Elijah which is to come.” (Mat_11:14) For if that general doctrine of the soul is to be received, namely, that it is not sown at the same time with the body, but is before it, and is then, for various causes, clothed with flesh and blood; then the words “sent from God” will not appear to be applicable to John alone. The most evil of all, the man of sin, the son of perdition, is said by Paul to be sent by God: (2Th_2:11, 2Th_2:12) “God sendeth them a working of error that they should believe a lie; that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” But our present question may, perhaps, be solved in this way, that as every man is a man of God, simply because God created him, but not every man is called a man of God, but only he who has devoted himself to God, such as Elijah and those who are called men of God in the Scriptures, thus every man might be said in ordinary language to be sent from God, but in the absolute sense no one is to be spoken of in this way who has not entered this life for a divine ministry and in the service of the salvation of mankind. We do not find it said of any one but the saints that he is sent by God. It is said of Isaiah as we showed before; it is also said of Jeremiah, “To whomsoever I shall send thee thou shalt go”; (Jer_1:7) and it is said of Ezekiel, (Eze_2:3) “I send thee to nations that are rebellious and have not believed in Me.” The examples, however, do not expressly speak era mission from the region outside life into life, and as it is a mission into life that we are enquiring about, they may seem to have little bearing on our subject. But there is nothing absurd in our transferring the argument derived from them to our question. They tell us that it is only the saints, and we were speaking of them, whom God is said to send, and in this sense they may be applied to the case of those who are sent into this life.

25. Argument from the Prayer of Joseph, to Show That the Baptist May Have Been an Angel Who Became a Man.

As we are now engaged with what is said of John, and are asking about his mission, I may take the opportunity to state the view which I entertain about him. We have read this prophecy about him, “Behold, I send My messenger angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee;” and at this we ask if it can be one of the holy angels who is sent down on this ministry as forerunner of our Saviour. No wonder if, when the first-born of all creation was assuming a human body, some of them should 341 have been filled with love to man and become admirers and followers of Christ, and thought it good to minister to his kindness towards man by having a body like that of men. And who would not be moved at the thought of his leaping for joy when yet in the belly, surpassing as he did the common nature of man? Should the piece; entitled “The prayer of Joseph,” one of the apocryphal works current among the Hebrews, be thought worthy of credence, this dogma will be found in it clearly expressed. Those at the beginning, it is represented, having some marked distinction beyond men, and being much greater than other souls, because they were angels, they have come down to human nature. Thus Jacob says: “I, Jacob, who speak to you, and Israel, I am an angel of God, a ruling spirit, and Abraham and Isaac were created before every work of God; and I am Jacob, called Jacob by men, but my name is Israel, called Israel by God, a man seeing God, because I am the first-born of every creature which God caused to live.” And he adds: “When I was coming from Mesopotamia of Syria, Uriel, the angel of God, came forth, and said, I have come down to the earth and made my dwelling among men, and I am called Jacob by name. He was wroth with me and fought with me and wrestled against me, saying that his name and the name of Him who is before every angel should be before my name. And I told him his name and how great he was among the sons of God; Art not thou Uriel my eighth, and I am Israel and archangel of the power of the Lord and a chief captain among the sons of God? Am not I Israel, the first minister in the sight of God, and I invoked my God by the inextinguishable name?” It is likely that this was really said by Jacob, and was therefore written down, and that there is also a deeper meaning in what we are told, “He supplanted his brother in the womb.” Consider whether the celebrated question about Jacob and Esau has a solution. We read,’ “The children being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of him that calleth, it was said, “The elder shall serve the younger.” Even as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say, then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.” If, then, when they were not yet born, and had not done any-thing either good or evil, in order that God’s purpose according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth, if at such a period this was said, how if we do not go back to the works done before this life, can it be said that there is no unrighteousness with God when the elder serves the younger and is hated by God before he has done anything worthy of slavery or of hatred? We have made something of a digression in introducing this story about Jacob and appealing to a writing which we cannot well treat with contempt; but it certainly adds weight to our argument about John, to the effect that as Isaiah’s voice declares (Isa_40:3) he is an angel who assumed a body for the sake of bearing witness to the light. So much about John considered as a man.

26. John Is Voice, Jesus Is Speech. Relation of These Two to Each Other.

Now we know voice and speech to be different things. The voice can be produced without any meaning and with no speech in it, and similarly speech can be reported to the mind without voice, as when we make mental excursions, within ourselves. And thus the Saviour is, in one view of Him, speech, and John differs from Him; for as the Saviour is speech, John is voice. John himself invites me to take this view of him, for to those who asked who he was, he answered, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord! make His paths straight!” This explains, perhaps, how it was that Zacharias lost his voice at the birth of the voice which points out the Word of God, and only recovered it when the voice, forerunner of the Word, was born. A voice must be perceived with the ears if the mind is afterwards to receive the speech which the voice indicates. Hence, John is, in point of his birth, a little older than Christ, for our voice comes to us before our speech. But John also points to Christ; for speech is brought forward by the voice. And Christ is baptized by John, though John declares himself to have need to be baptized by Christ; for with men speech is purified by voice, though the natural way is that speech should purify the voice which indicates it. In a word, when John points out Christ, it is man pointing out God, the Saviour incorporeal, the voice pointing out the Word.

27. Significance of the Names of John and of His Parents.

The force that is in names may be applied 342 in many matters, and it may be worth our while to ask at this point what is the significance of the names John and Zacharias. The relatives wish, as the giving of a name is a thing not to be lightly disposed of, to call the child Zacharias, and are surprised that Elisabeth should want him to be called John. Zacharias then writes, “His name is John,” and is at once freed from his troublesome silence. On examining the names, then, we find “Joannes “to be “Joa” without the “nes.” The New Testament gives Hebrew names a Greek form and treats them as Greek words; Jacob is changed into Jacobus, Symeon into Simon, and Joannes is the same as Joa. Zacharias is said to be memory, and Elisabeth “oath of my God,” or “strength of my God.” John then came into the world from grace of God (=Joa=Joannes), and his parents were Memory (about God) and the Oath of our God, about the fathers. Thus was he born to make ready for the Lord a people fit for Him, at the end of the Covenant now grown old, which is the end of the Sabbatic period. Hence it is not possible that the rest after the Sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh of our God; on the contrary, it is our Saviour who, after the pattern of His own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of His death, and hence also of His resurrection.39

28. The Prophets Bore Witness to Christ and Foretold Many Things Concerning Him.

“He came for a witness that He might bear witness of the light, that all through Him might believe.” (Joh_1:7) Some of the dissenters from the Church’s doctrine, men who profess to believe in Christ, have desired another being, as indeed their system requires, besides the Creator, and hence cannot allow His coming to the world to have been foretold by the prophets.40 They therefore endeavour to get rid of the testimonies of the prophets about Christ, and say that the Son of God has no need of witnesses, but that He brings with Him His own evidence, partly in the sound words full of power which He proclaimed and partly in the wonderful works He did, which were sufficient at once to convince any one whatever. Then they say: If Moses is believed on account of his word and his works, and has no need of any witnesses to announce him beforehand, and if the prophets were received, every one of them, by these people, as messengers from God, how should not one who is much greater than Moses and the prophets accomplish His mission and benefit the human race, without prophets to bear witness about Him? They regard it as superfluous that He should have been foretold by the prophets, since the prophets were concerned, as these opponents would say, that those who believed in Christ should not receive Him as a new God, and therefore did what they could to bring them to that same God whom Moses and the prophets taught before Jesus. To this we must say that as there are many causes which may lead men to believe, since men who are not moved by one argument may be by another, so God is able to provide for men a number of occasions, any of which may cause their minds to open to the truth that God, who is over all, has taken on Himself human nature. It is manifest to all, how some are brought by the prophetic writings to the admiration of Christ. They are astounded at the voices of so many prophets before Him, which establish the place of His birth, the country of His upbringing, the power of His teaching, His working of wonderful works, and His human passion brought to a close by His resurrection. We must notice, too, that Christ’s stupendous acts of power were able to bring to the faith those of Christ’s own time, but that they lost their demonstrative force with the lapse of years and began to be regarded as mythical. Greater evidential value than that of the miracles then performed attaches to the comparison which we now make between these miracles and the prophecy of them; this makes it impossible for the student to cast any doubt on the former. The prophetic testimonies do not declare merely the advent of the Messiah; it is by no means the case that they teach this and nothing else. They teach a great deal of theology. The relation of the Father to the Son and of the Son to the Father may be learned not less from what the prophets announce about Christ, than from the Apostles narrating the splendours of the Son of God. A parallel case, which we may venture to adduce, is that of the martyrs, who were honoured by the witness they bore Him, and by no means conferred any favour on Him by their witnessing for the Son of God. And how is it if, as many of Christ’s true disciples were honoured by having thus to witness for Him, so the 343 prophets received from God as their special gift that of understanding about Christ and announcing Him before, and that they taught not only those living after Christ’s advent how they should regard the Son of God, but those also who lived in the generations before Him? As he who in these times does not know the Son has not the Father either, (1Jo_2:23) so also we are to understand it was in these earlier times. Hence “Abraham rejoiced to see the day of Christ, and he saw it and was glad.” (Joh_8:56) He, therefore, who declares that they are not to testify about Christ is seeking to deprive the chorus of the prophets of the greatest gift they have; for what office of equal importance would be left to prophecy, inspired as it is by the Holy Spirit, if all connection with the economy of our Lord and Master were taken away from it? For as these have their faith well ordered who approach the God of the universe through Mediator and High-Priest and Paraclete, and as his religion is a halting one who does not go in through the door to the Father, so also in the case of men of old time. Their religion was sanctified and made acceptable to God by their knowledge and faith and expectation of Christ. For we have observed that God declares Himself to be a witness and exhorts them all to declare the same about Christ, and to be imitators of Him, bearing witness of Him to all who require it. For he says, (Isa_43:10) “Be witnesses for Me, and I am witness, saith the Lord God, and My servant whom I have chosen.” Now every one who bears witness to the truth, whether he support it by words or deeds, or in whatever way, may properly be called a witness martyr; but it has come to be the custom of the brotherhood, since they are struck with admiration of those who have contended to the death for truth and valour, to keep the name of martyr more properly for those who have borne witness to the mystery of godliness by shedding their blood for it. The Saviour gives the name of martyr to every one who bears witness to the truth He declares; thus at the Ascension He says to His disciples: (Act_1:8) “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judaea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” The leper who was cleansed (Mat_8:4) had still to bring the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony to those who did not believe in the Christ. In the same way the martyrs bear witness for a testimony to the unbelieving, and so do all the saints whose deeds shine before men. They spend their life rejoicing in the cross of Christ and bearing witness to the true light.

29. The Six Testimonies of the Baptist Enumerated. Jesus’ “Come and See.” Significance of the Tenth Hour.

Accordingly John came to bear witness of the light, and in his witness-bearing he cried, saying, (Joh_1:7, Joh_1:15-18) “He that cometh after me exists before me; for He was before me; for of His fulness we have all received and grace for grace, for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” This whole speech is from the mouth of the Baptist bearing witness to the Christ. Some take it otherwise, and consider that the words from “for of His fulness” to “He hath declared Him” are from the writer, John the Apostle. The true state of the case is that John’s first testimony begins, as we said before, “He that cometh after me,” and ends, “He hath declared Him,” and his second testimony is that spoken to the priests and levites sent from Jerusalem, whom the Jews had sent. To them he confesses and does not deny the truth, namely, that he is not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet, but “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as saith Isaiah the prophet.” (Joh_1:23) After this there is another testimony of the same Baptist to Christ, still teaching His superior nature, which goes forth into the whole world and enters into reasonable souls. He says, (Joh_1:26) “There standeth One among you whom you know not, even He that cometh after me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose.” Consider if, since the heart is in the middle of the whole body, and the ruling principle in the heart, the saying, “There standeth One among you whom you know not,” can be understood of41 the reason which is in every man. John’s fourth testimony of Christ after these points to His human sufferings. He says, (Joh_1:29-31) “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man who exists before me, for He was before me. And I knew Him not, but that He should be made 344 manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.” And the fifth testimony is recorded in the words, (Joh_1:32-34) “I beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and it abode upon Him, and I knew Him not, but He that sent me to baptize with water, He said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shall see the Spirit descending and abiding upon Him, the same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God.” In the sixth place John witnesses of Christ to the two disciples: (Joh_1:35-38) “He looked on Jesus as He walked and saith, Behold the Lamb of God.’: After this testimony the two disciples who heard it followed Jesus; and Jesus turned and beheld them following, and saith unto them, “What seek ye?” Perhaps it is not without significance that after six testimonies John ceases from his witness-bearing and Jesus brings forward in the seventh place His “What seek ye?” Very becoming in those who have been helped by John’s testimony is the speech in which they address Christ as their Master, and declare their wish to see the dwelling of the Son of God; for they say to Him, “Rabbi,” which answers to “Master,” in our language, “where dwellest Thou?” And since every one that seeketh findeth, when John’s disciples seek Jesus’ dwelling, Jesus shows it to them, saying, “Come and see.” By the word “Come” He exhorts them perhaps to the practical part of life, while the “see” is to suggest to them that that speculation which comes in the train of right conduct will be vouchsafed to those who desire it; in Jesus’ dwelling they will have it. After they had asked where Jesus dwells, and had followed the Master and had seen, they desired to stay with Him and to spend that day with the Son of God. Now the number ten is a sacred one, not a few mysteries being indicated by it; and so we are to understand that the mention of the tenth hour as that at which these disciples turned in with Jesus, is not without significance. Of these disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, is one; and he having profited by this day with Jesus and having found his own brother Simon perhaps he had not found him before, told him that he had found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, Christ. It is written that “he that seeketh findeth.” Now he had sought where Jesus dwelt, and had followed Him and looked upon His dwelling; he stays with the Lord “at the tenth hour,” and finds the Son of God, the Word, and Wisdom, and is ruled by Him as King. That is why he says, “We have found the Messiah,” and this a thing which every one can say who has found this Word of God and is ruled as by a king, by His Divinity. As a fruit he at once brings his brother to Christ, and Christ deigned to look upon Simon, that is to say, by looking at him to visit and enlighten his ruling principle; and Simon by Jesus’ looking at him was enabled to grow strong, so as to earn a new name from that work of firmness and strength, and to be called Peter.

30. How John Was a Witness of Christ, and Specially of “The Light.”

It may be asked why we should have gone through all this when the verse before us is, “He came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light.” But it was necessary to give John’s testimonies to the light, and to show the order in which they took place, and also, in order to show how effective John’s testimony proved, to set forth the help it afforded afterwards to those to whom he bore it. But before all these testimonies there was an earlier one when the Baptist leaped in the womb of Elisabeth at the greeting of Mary. That was a testimony to Christ and attested His divine conception and birth. And what more need I say? John is everywhere a witness and forerunner of Christ. He anticipates His birth and dies a little before the death of the Son of God, and thus witnesses not only for those at the time of the birth, but to those who were expecting the freedom which was to come for man through the death of Christ. Thus, in all his life, he is a little before Christ, and everywhere makes ready for the Lord a people prepared for Him. And John’s testimony precedes also the second and diviner coming of Christ, for we read, (Mat_11:14, Mat_11:15) “If ye will receive it, this is Elijah which is to come. He that hath ears to hear let him hear.” Now, there was a beginning, in which the Word was, - and we saw from Proverbs that that beginning was wisdom. - and the Word was in existence, and in the Word life was made, and the life was the light of men; and all this being so, I ask why the man who came, sent from God, whose name was John, why he came for witness to bear witness especially of the light? Why did he not come to bear witness of the life, or of the Word, or about the 345 beginning, or about any other of the many aspects in which Christ appears? Consider here the texts, “The people which sat in darkness saw a great light,” and “The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness overtook it not,” and consider how those who are in darkness, that is, men, have need of light. For if the light of men shines in darkness, and there is no active power in darkness to attain to it, then we must partake of other aspects of Christ; at present we have no real share of Him at all. For what share have we of life, we who are still in the body of death, and whose life is hid with Christ in God? (Col_3:3, Col_3:4) “For when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory.” It was not possible, therefore, that he who came should bear witness about a life which is still hid with Christ in God. Nor did he come for witness to bear witness of the Word, for we know the Word who was in the beginning with God and who is God the Word; for the Word was made flesh on the earth. And though the witness had been, at least apparently, about the Word, it would in fact have been about the Word made flesh and not about the word of God. He did not come, therefore, to bear witness of the Word. And how could there be any witness-bearing about wisdom, to those who, even if they appear to know something, cannot understand pure truth, but behold it through a glass and in an enigma? It is likely, however, that before the second and diviner advent of Christ, John or Elias will come to bear witness about life a little before Christ our life is made manifest, and that then they will bear witness about the Word, and offer also their testimony about wisdom. Some inquiry is necessary whether a testimony such as that of John is to precede each of the aspects of Christ. So much for the words, “He came for witness, to bear witness of the light.” What we are to understand by the further words, “That all might believe through Him,” may be considered later.


39 Origen here appears to be pointing to the fact that the Christian rest which is connected in its origin with the resurrection of Christ is not held as the Jewish Sabbath rest on the seventh but on the first day of the week. Joh marking the end of the old period is the son of Elisabeth the oath, or seventh, of God, and is thus connected with the seventh day; not so Jesus.

40 The Old Testament belongs to the Creator, the Demiurge.

40a Reading κατἁ for καἶ.