You're here: oChristian.com » Articles Home » St. Augustine » Faith, Hope, and Love » 10 - Jesus Christ the Mediator

Faith, Hope, and Love, 10 - Jesus Christ the Mediator

By St. Augustine


      CHAPTER X. Jesus Christ the Mediator

      33. Thus it was that the human race was bound in a just doom and all men were children of wrath. Of this wrath it is written: "For all our days are wasted; we are ruined in thy wrath; our years seem like a spider's web." [64] Likewise Job spoke of this wrath: "Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble." [65] And even the Lord Jesus said of it: "He that believes in the Son has life everlasting, but he that believes not does not have life. Instead, the wrath of God abides in him." [66] He does not say, "It will come," but, "It now abides." Indeed every man is born into this state. Wherefore the apostle says, "For we too were by nature children of wrath even as the others." [67] Since men are in this state of wrath through original sin-a condition made still graver and more pernicious as they compounded more and worse sins with it-a Mediator was required; that is to say, a Reconciler who by offering a unique sacrifice, of which all the sacrifices of the Law and the Prophets were shadows, should allay that wrath. Thus the apostle says, "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, even more now being reconciled by his blood we shall be saved from wrath through him." [68] However, when God is said to be wrathful, this does not signify any such perturbation in him as there is in the soul of a wrathful man. His verdict, which is always just, takes the name "wrath" as a term borrowed from the language of human feelings. This, then, is the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord-that we are reconciled to God through the Mediator and receive the Holy Spirit so that we may be changed from enemies into sons, "for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." [69]

      34. It would take too long to say all that would be truly worthy of this Mediator. Indeed, men cannot speak properly of such matters. For who can unfold in cogent enough fashion this statement, that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us," [70] so that we should then believe in "the only Son of God the Father Almighty, born of the Holy Spirit and Mary the Virgin." Yet it is indeed true that the Word was made flesh, the flesh being assumed by the Divinity, not the Divinity being changed into flesh. Of course, by the term "flesh" we ought here to understand "man," an expression in which the part signifies the whole, just as it is said, "Since by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified," [71] which is to say, no man shall be justified. Yet certainly we must say that in that assumption nothing was lacking that belongs to human nature.

      But it was a nature entirely free from the bonds of all sin. It was not a nature born of both sexes with fleshly desires, with the burden of sin, the guilt of which is washed away in regeneration. Instead, it was the kind of nature that would be fittingly born of a virgin, conceived by His mother's faith and not her fleshly desires. Now if in his being born, her virginity had been destroyed, he would not then have been born of a virgin. It would then be false (which is unthinkable) for the whole Church to confess him "born of the Virgin Mary." This is the Church which, imitating his mother, daily gives birth to his members yet remains virgin. Read, if you please, my letter on the virginity of Saint Mary written to that illustrious man, Volusianus, whom I name with honor and affection. [72]

      35. Christ Jesus, Son of God, is thus both God and man. He was God before all ages; he is man in this age of ours. He is God because he is the Word of God, for "the Word was God." [73] Yet he is man also, since in the unity of his Person a rational soul and body is joined to the Word.

      Accordingly, in so far as he is God, he and the Father are one. Yet in so far as he is man, the Father is greater than he. Since he was God's only Son-not by grace but by nature-to the end that he might indeed be the fullness of all grace, he was also made Son of Man-and yet he was in the one nature as well as in the other, one Christ. "For being in the form of God, he judged it not a violation to be what he was by nature, the equal of God. Yet he emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant," [74] yet neither losing nor diminishing the form of God. [75] Thus he was made less and remained equal, and both these in a unity as we said before. But he is one of these because he is the Word; the other, because he was a man. As the Word, he is the equal of the Father; as a man, he is less. He is the one Son of God, and at the same time Son of Man; the one Son of Man, and at the same time God's Son. These are not two sons of God, one God and the other man, but one Son of God-God without origin, man with a definite origin-our Lord Jesus Christ.

      NOTES:

      [64] Cf. Ps. 90:9.

      [65] Job 14:1.

      [66] John 3:36.

      [67] Eph. 2:3.

      [68] Rom. 5:9, 10.

      [69] Rom. 8:14.

      [70] John 1:14.

      [71] Rom. 3:20.

      [72] Epistle CXXXVII, written in 412 in reply to a list of queries sent to Augustine by the proconsul of Africa.

      [73] John 1:1.

      [74] Phil. 2:6, 7.

      [75] These metaphors for contrasting the "two natures" of Jesus Christ were favorite figures of speech in Augustine's Christological thought. Cf. On the Gospel of John, Tractate 78; On the Trinity, I, 7; II, 2; IV, 19-20; VII, 3; New Testament Sermons, 76, 14.

Back to St. Augustine index.

See Also:
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 1 - The Occasion and Purpose of this Manual
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 2 - The Creed and the Lord's Prayer as Guides
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 3 - God the Creator of All; and the Goodness of All Creation
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 4 - The Problem of Evil
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 5 - The Kinds and Degrees of Error
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 6 - The Problem of Lying
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 7 - Disputed Questions about the Limits of Knowledge and Certainty
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 8 - The Plight of Man After the Fall
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 9 - The Replacement of the Fallen Angels By Elect Men
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 10 - Jesus Christ the Mediator
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 11 - The Incarnation as Example of God's Grace
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 12 - The Role of the Holy Spirit
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 13 - Baptism and Original Sin
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 14 - he Mysteries of Christ's Mediatorial Work and Justification
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 15 - The Holy Spirit and the Church
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 16 - Problems About Heavenly and Earthly Divisions of the Church
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 17 - Forgiveness of Sins in the Church
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 18 - Faith and Works
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 19 - Almsgiving and Forgiveness
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 20 - Spiritual Almsgiving
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 21 - Problems of Casuistry
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 22 - The Two Causes of Sin
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 23 - Reality of the Resurrection
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 24 - Solution to Present Spiritual Enigmas
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 25 - Predestination and the Justice of God
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 26 - Triumph of God's Sovereign Good Will
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 27 - Limits of God's Plan for Human Salvation
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 28 - The Destiny of Man
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 29 - The Last Things
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 30 - The Principles of Christian Living: Faith and Hope
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 31 - Love
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 32 - The End of All the Law
   Faith, Hope, and Love, 33 - Conclusion

Loading

Like This Page?


© 1999-2016, oChristian.com. All rights reserved.