Origen, in his writings and preaching, concentrates on Christ. His heart is abundantly flamed with the love of Christ, as he finds in Him all his needs.
1. Origen believes that the souls of men had fallen from their heavenly rank, and instead of their freedom they are unable to be restored to their origin without Christ.
2. Christ in His infinite love stretches His hands for the whole of mankind for their eternal glorification.
3. In His love He paid His precious blood to the devil who enslaves us, as a cost of our freedom.
4. As the Savior of the world he is the High Priest who offers His life as the unique Victim and Sacrifice.
5. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Heavenly Groom who works for His spiritual marriage with our souls as His own bride.
6. He is the true heavenly and unique Teacher and Physician who heals our souls from the darkness of ignorance and corruption, granting Himself as the Truth, the Medicine, and the Righteousness.
7. He satisfies all our needs, asking us to receive Him as the heavenly Kingdom, heavenly Bread, the spiritual Jordan, the hidden Treasure, the divine Way, the Door, the Truth, the Rock, the Resurrection, the Beginning and the End etc.
8. Men of God of the Old Testament were joyfully waiting for the Messiah (Christ). Origen finds our Lord Jesus Christ everywhere, and the entire Old Testament speaks of Him only.
CHRIST AS A LOVER OF MANKIND
Origen believes that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of all rational creatures, especially mankind. He believes in the restoration of all these creatures, even the devil and his evil angels.
Christ who loved men, even while they were sinners and enemies, and sacrificed Himself on their behalf, enter in a personal relationship with the soul of man. Therefore Origen attributes Christ to himself as his own, calling Him "my Jesus."
The Apostle (St. Paul) declares what is written about Adam and Eve thus: This is a great mystery in Christ and in the Church (Eph. 5:32); He so loved her that He gave Himself for her, while she was yet undutiful, even as he says: When as yet we were ungodly according to the time, Christ died for us (Gal. 2:20); and again: When as yet we were sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:6).
But if my Jesus is said to be taken up "in glory," I see Gods graciousness.
THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST
Origen saw that the Person of the Word was not reduced to a role or an office. The Son is a Hypostasis, Living Wisdom. He is verily and substantially God, and therefore of necessity co-eternal and co-equal with the Father.
ETERNAL SON OF GOD
In the previous chapter we noticed that Origen states that the generation of the Son is eternal and also continuous; the Father is begetting the Son at each instant, just as light is always emitting its radiance. By eternity and continuity Origen expresses eternity conceived as a unique instant which cannot be expressed by human language.
There never can have been a time when He was not. For when was that God, whom John calls the Light, destitute of the radiance of His proper glory, so that a man may dare to ascribe a beginning of existence to the Son... Let a man, who ventures to say there was a time when the Son was not, consider that this is all one with saying there was a time when Wisdom was not, the Word was not, the Life was not.
None of these testimonies, however, sets forth distinctly the Saviors exalted birth; but when the words are addressed to Him, "You are My Son, this day have I begotten You" (Ps. 2:7; Mark 1:11; Heb. 1:5), this is spoken to Him by God, with whom all time is to-day, for there is no evening with God, as I consider, and there is no morning, nothing but time that stretches out, along with His unbeginning and unseen life. The day is to-day with Him in which the Son was begotten, and thus the beginning of His birth is not found, as neither is the day of it.
Wherefore we recognize that God was always the Father of his Only-begotten Son, who was born indeed of Him and draws His being from Him, but is yet without any beginning, not only of that kind which can be distinguished by periods of time, but even of that other kind which the mind alone is wont to contemplate in itself and to perceive, if I may so say, with the bare intellect and reason...
John, however, uses yet more exalted and wonderful language in the beginning of his gospel, when by an appropriate declaration he defines the Word to be God; "And the Word was God, and He was in the beginning with God" John 1:1, 2). Let him who assigns a beginning to the Word of God or the Wisdom of God beware lest he utters impiety against the unbegotten Father Himself, in denying that He was always a Father and that He begets the Word and possessed wisdom in all previous times or ages or whatever else they may be called...
This is an eternal and everlasting beginning, as brightness is begotten from light. For he does not become Son in an external way through the adoption of the Spirit, but is Son by nature.
Now, as we said above, the wisdom of God has her subsistence nowhere else but in Him who is the beginning of all things, from Whom also she took her birth. And because He Himself, who alone is a Son by nature, is this Wisdom, He is on this account also called the "Only-Begotten".
ETERNAL WISDOM OF GOD
But since the Wisdom of God, which is His Only-begotten Son, is in all respects unalterable and unchangeable, and since every good quality in Him is essential and can never be changed or altered, His glory is on that account described as pure and sincere...
Now Gods Wisdom is the Brightness of that Light, not only in so far as it is light, but in so far as it is everlasting Light. His Wisdom is therefore an everlasting Brightness, enduring eternally. If this point is fully understood, it is a clear proof that the Sons existence springs from the Father Himself, yet not in time, nor from any other beginning except, as we have said, from God Himself.
Now Christ is Wisdom-as-a-whole, and the capacity for wisdom achieved by each of the wise is actually a partaking in Christ... .
HIS DIVINITY IS NOT LIMITED BY A PLACE
In his "De Principiis" Origen assures Christs divinity and that His divinity is not limited by a place:
But perhaps someone will say that through those who are participants (cf. Heb. 3:14) in Gods Word or His Wisdom or truth or life the Word and Wisdom appears Himself to be in a place. The answer must be given that there is no doubt that Christ insofar as He is Logos and Wisdom and all the rest was in Paul, because of which he said, "Or do you desire proof that Christ is speaking in me?" (2 Cor. 13:3). And again, "But it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). Then, therefore, since He was in Paul, who will doubt that He was likewise in Peter, in John, and in each one of the saints, and not only in those on earth but also in those in the heavens? For it is absurd to say that Christ was in Peter and Paul, but not in Michael the Archangel and in Gabriel. From this it is clearly discovered that the divinity of the Son of God was not confined to any place, since He is not so much in one as not to be in another. Rather, since He is not confined in any place because of the majesty of His incorporeal nature, He is further understood not to be absent from any place...
He is not present in a similar way in every one. And He is present more fully and more clearly and, if I may put it this way, more openly in the archangels than in holy men. This is evident from the fact that when the saints arrive at the highest perfection, they are said to be made "like angels" or "equal" to angels according to the view of the Gospel (cf. Mt. 22:30; Luke. 20:36). It follows that Christ is made present in different ones to the degree that the reckoning of what they deserve permits...
And David points out the mystery of the entire Trinity in the creation of everything when he says, "By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their power by the Spirit of His mouth" (Ps. 33:6).
And John the Baptist points to some such conclusion when in Jesus corporeal absence he said to the crowds, "Among you stands One whom you do not know, even He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie" (John. 1:26-27). John could not have said He stood in the midst of those among whom He was not corporeally present, about Him who was absent, so far as His corporeal presence was concerned. Thus, it is clear that the Son of God is both wholly present in the body and wholly present everywhere.
THE INCARNATION AND CHRISTS DIVINITY
Origen insists on the fact that "having become man, he remained what he was, God." Jesus kenosis did not put an end to his divine character.
Then again: Christ Jesus, He who came to earth, was begotten of the Father before every created thing. And after He had ministered to the Father in the foundation of all things, for "all things were made through Him" (John 1:3), in these last times He emptied Himself and was made Man, was made flesh, although He was God; and being made man, He still remained what He was, namely, God. He took to Himself a body like our body, differing in this alone, that it was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit. And this Jesus Christ was born and suffered in truth and not merely in appearance, and truly died our common death. Moreover He truly rose from the dead, and after the resurrection... He was then taken up into heaven.
Hear also Paul say, "You are Gods field, Gods building,"(1 Cor. 3.9.) What then is that "sanctuary" which has "not been made by the hand of man," but prepared by the hands of God? Hear Wisdom saying, "She has built a house for herself."(Prov. 9.1.) I think, however, that this is understood more correctly of the Lords incarnation. For "it was not made by the hand of men," that is the temple of flesh is not built in the virgin by human work, but, as Daniel had prophesied, "A stone cut without hands separated and became a great mountain."(Dan. 2.34-35.) That is the "sanctuary" of the flesh which was taken up and "cut" from the mountain of human nature and the substance of flesh "without hands," that is, apart from the work of men.
Joseph C. McLelland, under the title "God: Changeless Yet Lively" deals with Origens view on the incarnation of the Logos. He writes,
For Origen, the question is approached in terms of the Platonic doctrine of model and image, and of the place of the Incarnate Word in this kind of universe.
He faces a profound difficulty in all this, because he is opposing those (Stoics, Epicurus, even Aristotle) who have filled the world "with a doctrine that abolishes providence, or limits it, or introduces a corruptible first principle which is corporeal, "while the doctrine of the Jews and Christians which preserves the unchangeable and unalterable nature of God has been regarded as irreverent, since it is not in agreement with those who hold impious opinions about God..."
The incarnate Word participates in the relative and temporary nature of the world into which He comes. The truth of the Gospel consists in apprehending a gracious divine-human reality, to be sure, but there follows recognition of the merely symbolic nature of the human element and ascension to the divine reality above it...
The question of the divine descent in incarnation is therefore decisive for the entire theology of Origen. Celsus had brought the objection "that we affirm that God Himself will come down to men. And he thinks it follows from this that He leaves his throne." But Celsus, replies Origen, does not know the power of God, for He both fills all things and maintains all things in their being. If God is said to descend, or if the Word "comes to us," this does not mean that He moves from one place to another or leaves His throne. There is no "changing" or "leaving" involved. "Even supposing that we do say that He leaves one place and fills another, we would not mean this in a spatial sense." In what sense would we mean it? In an existential sense, for the "change" is to be understood as taking place in us: "anyone who has received the coming of the Word of God into his own soul changes from bad to good, from licentiousness to self-control, and from superstition to piety." One scholar has concluded that for Origen, "The earthly life of Christ was a grand symbolic drama, a divine mystery-play for the enlightenment of humanity."
Origen refers to his former reply, and adds, "While remaining unchanged in essence, He comes down in His providence and care over human affairs." He distinguishes this doctrine from that of Epicurus and the Stoics, for they have missed "the true conception of Gods nature, as being entirely incorruptible, simple, uncompounded, and indivisible." So also Christ was in the he form of God but emptied Himself, that men might be able to receive Him. "But he underwent no change from good to bad." When the Word assumed a human body and a human soul, He remained "Word in essence," suffering "nothing of the experience of the body or the soul." His descent is to the low level of those who cannot behold the divine radiance; He "becomes as it were flesh, and is spoken of in physical terms, until he who has accepted him in this form is gradually lifted up by the Word and can look even upon, so to speak, his absolute form."
There are different forms corresponding to the different kinds of receivers - "whether he is a beginner, or has made a little progress, or is considerably advanced, or has nearly attained to virtue already, or has in fact attained it." A favorite illustration in this respect is the Transfiguration story. The people down below could not receive the truer form in which he showed himself to the chosen few on the mountain. The former saw only the mortal nature (Origen quotes Isaiah 53, "he had no form or beauty"), while the disciples attained to the immortal Logos. Yet Origen does not wish to suggest that the human form is an appearance only-"he does not mislead or tell lies. Although he will not say that the incarnate form partakes of an absolute character, he is not saying the opposite, in the Gnostic manner of reducing the incarnation to an appearance of relative value--a sort of theophany. He wishes to maintain its truth as preparatory rather than normative. Again it is pedagogy which is operative: the divine Logos assumes humanity in relation to our present fallen state, for we "could only thus at first receive Him".
JESUS CHRIST BECAME TRUE MAN
Origen does not deny the reality of Christs body, it had genuine need of sustenance. His life, His Passion were in no sense fantastic. Origen believes that so real was Jesus body that we cannot accept in the literal sense the story of His being carried up into a mountain by the tempter.
Now this body (of the demon) is by nature a fine substance and thin like air, and on this account most people think and speak of it as incorporeal; but the Savior had a body which was solid and capable of being handled..
Origen is facing the deep mystery of the "composite nature" of Christ. He grants that the Logos intentionally assumed a body no different from human flesh, "so he assumed with the body also its pains and grieves." Yet he knows that His passion and death are at the heart of divine love and salvation - he can speak of the "benefit" of Christs death , and can argue from the reality of his agonies to the reality of his resurrection.
Origen, who gave the Greek Christology the scientific terms, physis, hypostasis, ousia, homousios, theonthropos, is the first to use the designation God-man (theonthropos)), to affirm Jesus humanity against the Gnostics. He also affirmed the unity of Christs nature. He stated that "Christ" though designated by a name which connotes His divinity, human attributes can be predicated of Him and vice versa. He says:
The Son of God, through whom all things were created was named Jesus Christ and the Son of man. For the Son of God also is said to have died-in reference, namely, to that nature which could admit of death; and He is called the Son of man, who is announced as about to come in the glory of God the Father, with the holy angels. And for this reason, throughout the whole of Scripture, not only is the divine nature spoken of in human words, but the human nature is adored by appellations of divine dignity.
After the Incarnation the soul and body of Jesus become one with the Word of God.
THE SHAPE OF HIS BODY
Origen believes that our Lord Jesus Christ had a true body which had its shape like all men, and was seen by all who surrounded Him, at the same time His body changed in accordance with the capacity of those who saw it, and because of this its appearances could be beneficial and fitting to the needs of each viewer. At one time it might be said "He had no form nor beauty," and at another He might appear to the chosen three transfigured in glory... To those who are still at the foot of the mountain and not yet prepared to ascend, the Word "has no form nor beauty". His form to such people is dishonored and deficient in comparison with those who by following Him have received power to go with Him even as He climbs the high mountain, He has a more divine form.
Not only did He possess two forms, one in which He was seen by all, another into which He was transformed before His disciples on the mountain - but that He used to appear to every individual in a form corresponding to his worth.
The Word appears in different forms in accordance with each mans capacity. For some He has no form nor beauty; for others He is blooming with beauty. By those who are [still] "ascending" through lofty works and thus making for the "high mountain" of wisdom, He is conceived in His simpler form and known in carnal terms. But by the perfect He is conceived in His divinity, and their knowledge enables them to see Him in the form of God.
"And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him" (Luke 4:20)... How much I desire that in our congregation... the eyes of the soul, and not of the body, of the catechumens and believers, men, women and children, be fixed on Jesus. for beholding Him makes His light reflect and your faces become more bright.
CHRIST HAS A HUMAN SOUL
Charles Bigg states:
He is the first to speak at large of the Human Soul of Jesus. Like other souls, it is eternal and eternally united with the Word. From the first it received Him wholly, and clove to Him inseparably. It was like in all things to all other human souls, free as they; but the perfection of love, the singleness of worthiness, bound it so closely to the Godhead, that the union of the two may be compared to a mass of iron glowing for ever with a white heat. He who should touch the iron would feel not the iron but the fire. Hence in scripture we commonly find the titles proper to the Humanity of our Lord transferred to His Divinity and the Humanity of our Lord transferred to His Divinity and conversely. It is the communicatio Idiomatum. The Flesh of Jesus was pure from all birth stain, from all defilement of every kind. It was real flesh.
In his work "De Principiis," Origen assured that Christ has a human soul.
Therefore, when the Son of God wished to appear to men and live among men for the salvation of the human race, He took not only a human body, as some suppose, but also a soul, and one like our souls in its nature, but like Himself in purpose and power, and such as could fulfill without turning all the wishes and dispensations of the Word and Wisdom.
Origen believes in the pre-existence of the soul of Christ, like all other rational creatures. Henri Crouzel says,
So the Christ-man exists in the pre-existence, long before the incarnation, and has quite a history before that event. He is the Bridegroom of the pre-existent Church formed of the totality of rational creatures.
THE PURPOSES OF THE INCARNATION
Benjamin Drewery gives a summary of Origens view on the purposes of the incarnation, saying;
Christ became like men that they might become like Him: He made available all good things-teaching the way to God, warning of judgment, exemplifying the good life, converting, reforming, purging from evil, gladdening His followers, sowing the seed of Gods word, opening the kingdom of God to all the world, to unworthy as well as worthy, even if not to the unwilling.
1. To join us with Himself
Consider, then, how the Son will be able to be elevated in His flesh to the possession of those goods that already belong to Him by reason of His divinity; for those who are in the world, since they belong to the Father, can be considered to belong, in a certain way, to the Son, the sharer in the Fathers purposes. How, then, can He receive from the Father the order to demand that the nations be given to Him for an inheritance and that His possessions should extend to the ends of the earth? The reason is that man, to avoid serving God, has risen in futile revolt against God; and the Father, who is the Creator of all beings, in His wish to redeem mankind has sent into this world the Logos, His Only-begotten Son, to the end that the Son might be made flesh and go forth, without changing His divine nature, to preach deliverance to the captives and to give sight to the blind. Therefore we say that the Son receives His kingdom and is recognized as being established as the heir. But, although we can say this because of the human nature which He has assumed, we must be on our guard so as not to misunderstand the inner structure of the mystery of the Trinity.
When Jesus is among the multitudes He is outside His house,(Matt. 13:1) for the multitudes are outside the house. This work issues through His love towards men, for He leaves the house and goes far to those who are unable to come to Him.
2. To renew our nature
Nothing good has happened among men without the working of the divine Word.
The Lord became man to resurrect our fallen human nature, and to change it from earth unto heaven.
It says, "a consecrated linen tunic will be put on" (Lev. 16.4). Flax thread comes from the earth; therefore, it is "a sanctified linen tunic" that Christ, the true high priest, puts on when he takes up the nature of an earthly body; for it is said about the body that "it is earth and it will go into the earth.." (Cf. Gen. 3:19.) Therefore, my Lord and Savior, wanting to resurrect that which had gone "into the earth," took an earthly body that he might carry it raised up from the earth to heaven.
In the Epistle to the Hebrews, St. Paul clearly explains the difference between the animal sacrifice and Christs Sacrifice, for the first one was repeated because of its weakness and failure to renew the depth of human nature, but the last One was offered once only for it still has the power to renew our interior man. Origen says that Jesus Christ as a Priest and Victim at the same time did not offer animals blood that consumes but His own Blood that gives life, resurrection and immortality. He always changes believers from mortality into immortality, redeeming their nature to participate in His life and to bear His likeness.
Discoursing in bodily form and giving Himself out as flesh, He summons to Himself those who are flesh, in order that He may first of all transform them into the likeness of the Word who has been made flesh, and after that He was before He became flesh.
The Son of His kindness generously imparted deification to others ... who are transformed through Him into gods, as images of the prototype .. the word is the archetype of the many images.
In his Commentary on John, Origen states that the word "Jordan" means "their going down." Christ, our Savior, is the Jordan, in Him we descend to be purified. In other words, the Logos descended by His incarnation and became man, so that we may descend and gain Him as our purification.
When, therefore, we consider these great and marvelous truths about the nature of the Son of God, we are lost in the deepest amazement that such a being, towering high above all, should have "emptied himself" of his majestic condition and become man and dwelt among men, a fact which is evidenced by the "grace poured upon his lips" and by the witness which the heavenly Father bore him, and confirmed by the signs and wonders and mighty deeds which He did. And before that personal appearance which He manifested in the body, He sent the prophets as heralds and messengers of His coming; while after His ascension into the heavens He caused the holy apostles, unlearned and ignorant men from the ranks of tax-gatherers or fishermen but filled with His divine power, to travel through-out the world, in order to gather together out of every nation and all races a people composed of devout believers in Him...
When, therefore, we see in Him some things so human that they appear in no way to differ from the common frailty of mortals, and some things so divine that they are appropriate to nothing else but the primal and ineffable nature of deity, the human understanding with its narrow limits is baffled, and struck with amazement at so mighty a wonder and knows not which way to turn, what to hold to, or whither to betake itself. If it thinks of God, it sees a man; if it thinks of a man, it beholds One returning from the dead with spoils after vanquishing the kingdom of death.
Let us look at the words of the Gospel now before us. "Jordan" means "their going down." The name "Jared" is etymologically akin to it, if I may say so; it also yields the meaning "going down;" for Jared was born to Maleleel, as it is written in the Book of Enoch - if any one cares to accept that book as sacred-in the days when the sons of God came down to the daughters of men. Under this descent some have supposed that there is an enigmatical reference to the descent of souls into bodies, taking the phrase "daughters of men" as a tropical expression of this earthly tabernacle. Should this be so, what river will "their going down" be, to which one must come to be purified, a river going down, not with its own descent, but "theirs," that, namely, of men, what but our Savior who separates those who received their lots from Moses from those who obtained their own portions through Jesus (Joshua)? His current, flowing in the descending stream, makes glad, as we find in the Psalms, (55:4) the city of God, not the visible Jerusalem - for it has no river beside it - but the blameless Church of God, built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus our Lord being the chief corner-stone. Under the Jordan, accordingly, we have to understand the Word of God who became flesh and tabernacle among us. Jesus who gives us as our inheritance the humanity which He assumed, for that is the head corner-stone, which being taken up into the deity of the Son of God, is washed by being so assumed, and then receives into itself the pure and guileless dove of the Spirit, bound to it and no longer able to fly away from it.
("for the falling and the rising of many" Luke 2:34.): "The first blessing is that he who stands in sin should fall and die in sin: the second that he should rise and live in righteousness. Faith in Christ graciously bestows both these blessings.
The sojourning of the Savior with us, which made available to us all good things.
If we have risen with Christ, who is righteousness, and we walk in newness of life, and live according to righteousness, Christ has risen for us, that we might be justified... Christ, then, justifies only those who have undertaken a new life, on the model of His Resurrection, and cast off the old clothing of... unrighteousness as that which leads to death.
3. To grant man victory over sin, the evil world, and the devil
Jesus the Son of God, my Lord, may grant and order me to tread beneath my feet the "spirit of fornication", to tread on the neck of the spirit of wrath and anger, the demon of avarice (etc.)...
Just as the Father "alone has immortality" (1 Tim. 6:16) our Lord having, for love of us, taken on Himself the burden of death on our behalf - by the same showing to the Father alone belong the words "in Him there is no darkness" - Christ having, for mans benefit, taken on Himself our darkness, that by His power He might bring our death to naught and disperse the darkness in our souls.
Before the advent of our Lord and Savior all the demons reigned in mens minds and bodies, in undisturbed possession of their spirits. But when the grace and mercy of our Savior God appeared on earth to teach us how each mans spirit should regain the liberty and image of God in which it was created...
Who is this if not Jesus Christ, by whose stripes we who believe in Him were healed, when he "put off the principalities and powers" among us, and made a show of them "openly" upon the Cross? (Col. 2:15) .
We have fallen under the power of our enemies - namely, the "ruler of this age" and his subordinate evil powers; hence we required redemption, through the One who buys us back from our state of alienation from Him. Hence our Savior gave His own blood as a "ransom" for us... "Forgiveness of sins" follows redemption, and is indeed impossible before a man has been redeemed. First we must be redeemed from the power of the one who has taken us prisoner and holds us in his sway: freed from him-beyond the reach of his hands, so to speak-we may thus be able profitably to receive the forgiveness of sins, and healed from the wounds of sin to do the works of piety and the other virtues.
4. To grant man victory on death
For everyone who is with Jesus is beyond the power of death.
He once rose from the dead and so utterly convinced His disciples of the truth of His resurrection that they showed all men through their sufferings that their gaze is fixed on life eternal and the resurrection which has been exemplified to them in word and deed, and so can mock at all the hardships of this life.
5. To grant us the true effective Knowledge "Gnosis"
Origen says that the Logos is our Teacher, Law-giver and Model. He teaches us not only through words, but also by granting us to associate with Him, thus we lose our deadliness and irrationality, and become divinely possessed and rational. He also is the pattern of the perfect life, the exemplar of true virtue into whose likeness Christians are transformed, thereby being enabled to participate in the divine nature.
Within the divinity of the Word is power not only to help and cure those who are sick,... but to show to the pure in body and mind "the revelation of the mystery"...
The divine Word was sent as a doctor to sinners, but as a teacher of divine mysteries to the already pure and sinless.
With the light of the Word we banish the darkness of impious doctrines... Because the Word has opened the eyes of our soul, we see the difference between light and darkness, and choose in every way to stand in the light.
6. To convert the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" and then, because of their unbelief, to take away "the kingdom of God" from the former, Jewish, husbandmen and give it to "other husbandmen."
7. He registers as the Head of our race
Just as through having Adam as the first example , the head, of our natural mode of birth, we are all said to have in this respect one body, even so do we register Christ as our head through the divine regeneration, which has become a pattern for us, of His death and resurrection.
CONTINUITY OF THE GOODNESS OF JESUS
The goodness of Jesus toward men was not confined to the days of His incarnation; even to this day the power of Jesus is working for the conversion and moral growth of those who believe in God through Him.
INCARNATION AND ANGELS
Origen believes that the mediatorship of the Logos lasts not only in the Church as a whole and in every member of her, but also in the angels and powers . Thus the Logos gradually unifies all with Himself, without violating the freedom of rational beings.
Origen believes that through Gods goodness to men He became a man, and to angels appears as an angel so that all feel that He belongs to them.
The Savior accordingly became, in a diviner way than Paul, all things to all, that He might either gain all or perfect them; it is clear that to men He became a man, and to the angels an angel. As for His becoming man no believer has any doubt, but as to His becoming an angel, we shall find reason for believing it was so, if we observe carefully the appearances and the words of the angels, in some of which the powers of the angels seem to belong to Him.
THE TWO ADVENTS OF CHRIST
Origen suggests that the two visits of our Lord Jesus Christ to Cana of Galilee symbolize His two advents.
In the first, after washing, He gladdens us who make our lives with Him, giving us to drink of what by His power is wine... For in reality before Jesus the Scripture was water, but since He came it has become wine to us.
In the second (advent), He relieves from fever at the time of the judgment with which He has been entrusted by God, freeing from fever and completely healing the noblemans son...
Thus at the first coming those who receive Him are gladdened; at the second those who were not willing before to drink of His wine are freed from all disease and the fiery darts of the enemy (Eph. 6:16).
"For the Son of Man has come already, but not in His glory" (Origen quotes Isa. 53 2-5). He had to come in this way, that He might "bear our sins" and suffer "on our behalf;" for it was not fitting that the Christ in glory should "bear our sins" and suffer "for us."
But He is coming again in glory after this preliminary preparing of His disciples through that appearing of His which had no "form nor comeliness". He became like them that they might become like Him, "conformed to the image" (Rom. 8:29) of His glory: since at His first coming He became conformed to "the body of our humiliation" (Phil. 3:21) when He "emptied Himself and took the form of a servant", He restores men to the form of God and makes them like unto it.
It was not the aim of His first advent to judge mankind before He had taught them and shown them the things they should do; nor did He come to punish the bad and save the good, but to sow in His own wonderful way the seed of His word by a certain divine power among the whole human race.
THE NEED OF SALVATION
1. Origen who was aflame with the love of God as a response to the divine love says to Celsus that the only thing that God needs is the salvation of His creatures, not for any lack, but because of His infinite love towards His creatures.
2. Natural religion and natural morality are not enough. There is salvation only in Christ, and good works done before justification are of no avail. The soul of man is so weakened and distracted that it cannot be redeemed apart from the power and grace of God in Christ. The severity of Origens judgment on "the good pagan" is, of course, much qualified by his denial that this life is the only chance a man has.
And, because the Enemy had spread these nets everywhere and had trapped almost everyone in them, it was needful that somebody should come who should be stronger than they and stand out above them and should destroy them, and thus clear the way for those who followed Him.
3. Basil Studer states that the external function of the Logos for Origen is two fold: it refers to creation and to the history of salvation. Through Him the world has been created. As the world soul He established its order. Thus He establishes salvation, which consists in the conservation of the world. Even His incarnation served salvation in this sense of conservation. In the history of salvation the Logos is behind all human events. In the Old Testament He exercises the works of Prophetic insight meditated through chosen men and through His own appearances. In the fullness of time He was made man, to rid men of demons, to re-establish the Law and to provide the example of a virtuous man.
4. The fulfillment of salvation will be realized when He Himself, as the Head of the Church will subordinate Himself to the Father and God will be all in all. This will be realized in the last advent (parousia) of the Logos in creation and history.
CONCEPT OF SALVATION
To understand the various explanations that Origen gave of the mystery of redemption, we must never lose sight of the first two books of the Commentary on John. With Origen, the Passion is always bound up with the mission of the Word. The suffering Christ is the horseman of the Apocalypse, riding on a white horse. The horse is white as a symbol of the truth proclaiming His glory, and the Riders garments are sprinkled with the blood with which He triumphed. Christs sacrifice is a preparation for the spiritual progress of the Christian soul.
We can summarize the concept of salvation according to Origen in the following points which cannot be separated from each other:
1. For Origen salvation is not separated from illumination. Our Savior is the Divine Revealer, Educator and Enlightenment.
Salvation is expressed as light in opposition of darkness, and knowledge in opposition of ignorance. Concerning the redeeming work of our Lord Jesus Christ, J.N.D. Kelly says that the Logos is our Teacher, Law-giver and Model etc.
By associating with Him we lose our deadliness and irrationality, becoming "divinely possessed and rational."
He is "the Pattern of the perfect life," the Exemplar of true virtue into whose likeness Christians are transformed, thereby being enabled to participate in the divine nature. As he puts it, "Discoursing in bodily form and giving Himself out as flesh, He summons to Himself those who are flesh, in order that He may first of all transform them into the likeness of the Word who has been made flesh, and after that may exalt them so as to behold Him as He was before He became flesh;" and again "with Jesus humanity and divinity began to be woven together, so that by fellowship with divinity human nature might become divine, not only in Jesus Himself, but also in all those who believe and embrace the life which Jesus taught, the life which leads everyone who lives according to His commandments to friendship with God and fellowship with Him."
It might be said that being a didaskalos (teacher) himself, Origen regarded his God as a Didaskalos too, as a Master in charge of the education of children, and looked on Gods universe as a vast didaskaleion in which every single thing contributed to the education of the free human beings at school there.
From the statements of the Gospel of John that "grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17) and that Christ was "the truth" (John 14:6) in person, it followed that the only reliable source of the Christian life lay in the very words and teachings of Christ. But, continued Origen, the words of Christ did not include only the words which He spoke while He was in flesh, for Christ had also been the Word of God active in Moses and the prophets.
The Spirit that worked in the prophets was Christ... it is Christ who has given us the Spirit of prophecy.
According to Origen, Jesus allowed darkness to descend upon His soul in order that it might be dispelled from ours. How could the darkness have overtaken Him? The Word is quicker than the evil powers, and they are always outstripped by Him. If He waits for them, as He did in the drama of His Passion, they are entrapped. When they approach Him, they are certain to be destroyed. Redemption is, therefore, only the first aspect of illumination. It is a struggle in which Truth confronts the powers of darkness before vanquishing them utterly.
2. Salvation is a reconciliation with God.
"We have peace with God" (Rom. 5:1), but it is through our Lord Jesus Christ who reconciled us to God through the sacrifice of His blood... Christ came that He might destroy the enemies and make peace, and reconcile us to God when we were separated because of the barrier of wickedness which we set up by sinning.
3. Origen, explaining the work of the Savior and His death, he declares, "not only has been set forth as an example of dying for religion, but has affected a beginning and an advancing of the overthrow of the evil one, the Devil, who dominated the whole earth." From the moment of His birth His life was a conflict with the powers of darkness. His passion and resurrection signified their final defeat. Origen appeals to Col. 2:15 as proving that the Saviors death has a twofold aspect, being both an example and also the trophy of His victory over the devil, who in effect was nailed to the cross with his principalities and powers...
Salvation is seen basically in the context of the war between good and evil, between God and the devil. Origen can maintain that Christ as the Logos conquers the opposing powers by reason, "by making war on his enemies by reason and righteousness, so that what is irrational and wicked is destroyed." Right doctrine is a means of conquering sin. The Light shines not only on the darkness of mens souls, but has penetrated to where the rulers of this darkness carry on their struggle with the race of men; and shining in darkness the Light is pursued by darkness, but is not overtaken.
Young says that the conquest of the devil is in fact the most prominent theme of Origens soteriology. The De Principiis spends a chapter on "How the devil and the opposing powers are, according to the scriptures, at war with the human race." The activity of the demons plays a large role in Origens arguments with Celsus. The Homilies on Joshua are full of warfare against the devil, for Joshuas wars are allegorized as the wars of Christ and his followers against the devil and his angels. In the Commentary on Romans. Origen explains the Incarnation and Work of Christ by means of a parable which expresses this soteriological position: there was a just and noble king, who was waging a war against an unjust tyrant, but trying to avoid a violent and bloody conflict, because some of his own men were fighting on the tyrants side, and he wanted to free them, not destroy them. He adopted the uniform of the tyrants men, until he managed to persuade them to desert and return to their proper kingdom, and succeeded in binding the "strong man" in fetters, destroying his principalities and powers and carrying off those dead captive. This idea is basic to Origens whole understanding of salvation, and is the theory to which he turns to explain all soteriological problems.
4. Frances Young says that connected with the idea of Christ as Educator, is another important theme of Origens soteriology, the description of Him as the Example of obedience which Christians should follow, as the Way. This theme finds expression particularly in the call to martyrdom, which is the culmination of observance of "the entire pattern of living set out in the Gospel." This is closely linked with the idea of illumination which we have already considered, since by following Christ of heaven, especially through martyrdom, men will understand as never before, all secrets and understand all mysteries, and will discover the nature of the intelligible and the beauty of Truth. But again this description of Christs saving work is part of the picture of the struggle against the devil and his angels, for, above all, "martyrs in Christ despoil with Him the principalities and powers and triumph with him, by partaking in his sufferings and the great deeds accomplished in his sufferings - among which is his triumphing over principalities and powers which you will soon see conquered and overcome with shame."
Obedience, self-denial and humiliation, death to sin, the spiritualized martyrdom, is likewise an imitation of Christ, part of the educative work of the Savior, and an incident on the drama of conquering evil and leading to virtue and participation in the divine nature. It is essentially Christs work to restore what had been corrupted, and deal with the enemy that had caused the corruption.
5. Salvation is a process of healing which is realized by the true Physician who Himself is the Medicine. Christ brings healing to the morally sick, and resurrection and life to the morally dead. He came into our deadness to deliver mankind from the bondage of corruption. This, too, is part of Christs conquest of the tyranny of death, sin and the devil, for the devil has the power of death and is the enemy of him who is the life.
Only, if one wishes to be healed, let him follow Jesus.
Come now to Jesus, the heavenly Physician.
Enter into this medical clinic, His Church.
See, lying there, a multitude of feeble ones. The woman comes who was made "unclean" from birth (Mark 5:25; Lev. 12:2f.). "A leper" comes who was segregated "outside the camp" for the uncleanness of his leprosy (Mark 1:40; Lev. 13:46). They seek a cure from the Physician: how they may be healthy, how they may be cleansed.
Because this Jesus, who is a doctor, is Himself the Word of God, He prepares medications for His sick ones, not from potions of herbs but from the sacraments of words.
If anyone sees these verbal medicines scattered inelegantly through books as through fields, not knowing the strength of individual words, he will overlook them as cheap things, as not having any elegance of word. But the person who in some part learns that the medicine of souls is with Christ certainly will understand from these books which are read in the Church how each person ought to take salutary herbs from the fields and mountains, namely the strength of the words, so that anyone weary in soul may be healed not so much by the strength of the outward branches and coverings as by the strength of the inner juice.
There are many other matters, too, which are hidden from us, and are known only to Him who is the Physician of our souls. For if in regard to bodily health we occasionally find it necessary to take some very unpleasant and bitter medicine as a cure for the ills we have brought on through eating and drinking, and sometimes, if the character of the ill demands it, we need the severe treatment of the knife and a painful operation, yes, and should the disease have extended beyond the reach even of these remedies, in the last resort the ill is burnt out by fire, how much more should we realize that God our physician, in his desire to wash away the ills of our souls, which they have brought on themselves through a variety of sins and crimes, makes use of penal remedies of a similar sort, even to the infliction of a punishment of fire on those who have lost their souls health.
Origen believes that those who become perfect are in need of Jesus Christ, not as a Physician but as a Teacher.
We do not find any healing recorded of the disciples; since if any one is already a disciple of Jesus he is whole, and being well he needs Jesus not as a Physician but in respect of His other powers.
6. Salvation is realized through Atonement. Frances Young states that all the previous various ways of expressing Christs work have led to the Classic theory of Atonement. The work of salvation is, first the conquest of the powers of corruption, and then the exaltation of man by a process of healing and education.
The work of Atonement in Origens thought is, first the wresting of the evil powers, the death and sin which tyrannize over human nature, and then the reconciliation of human nature with God.
For no man could die with Jesus the death for us all, that we may live, because all had been in sin and all had need of another to die for them, not they for others.
This description of Christs work appears as Origens allegorization of the Day of Atonement ritual (Lev. 16).
The two goats which were presented before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting (Lev. 16:7), and the high-priest casts lots for them, are Barabbas and Jesus; Pilate sent off Barabbas alive with the sins of the people on his head, whereas Christ was offered as a sin offering to cover the sins of those who were to be forgiven.
The desert to which the scapegoat was sent, was a place empty of virtues, empty of God, empty of justice, empty of Christ, empty of every good thing.
The man who led off the scapegoat had to be pure, and he must be understood to represent the Lord himself, our Savior. Origen draws the parallel between their actions, first pointing out that as the man washed his garments in the evening, so Christ purified the tunic of our flesh and blood, the human nature he had assumed on our behalf. He then interprets his leading away the scapegoat in terms of Colossians 2.15: "he nailed to his Cross the principalities and hostile powers and triumphed over them." This means Origen asserts, that "he fulfilled the lot of the apopompaeus (the LXX word for Azazel) in them, and as the man in readiness led them into the wilderness; thus he led away the spiritual hosts of wickedness and the rulers of the darkness of this world, triumphing over them within himself (in semetipso)." He alone had the power to lead them off to the desert, the empty places of hell. He then returned with His work accomplished, and ascended to heaven, where He was purified more completely at the heavenly altar, that He might present the pledge of our flesh which He took with Him in perpetual purity. This then is the "dies propitiation is," when God is propitious to men. When sin has been removed, when the hostile powers have been led out of the way and human nature purified, then reconciliation with God is possible.
7. For Origen, the sacrificial death of Christ gave mankind the means of escape from the domination of the evil powers and of participation in the divine nature.
For the divinity of Christ is from above by which this fire is enflamed. Suitably, therefore, the heavenly fire consumed all these things which were done in the body by the Savior and restored all things to the nature of his divinity...
For indeed, the whole burnt offering of his flesh which was offered through the wood of the cross united the earthly with the heavenly, the human with the divine.
For the ancients, sheep, he-goats, cattle, and birds were killed and fine wheat flour was moistened. For you, the Son of God was killed. How could it please you to sin again? And yet, lest these things not so much build up your souls for virtue as cast them down to despair, you heard how many sacrifices there were in the Law for sins. Now hear how many are the remissions of sins in the gospel.
Such great things, then, He is, the Paraclete, the atonement, the propitiation, the sympathizer with our weaknesses, who was tempted in all human things, as we are, without sin; and in consequence He is a great High-Priest, having offered Himself as the sacrifice which is offered once for all, and not for men only but for every rational creature.
8. Salvation means the glorification of believers through the resurrection of Christ. At the resurrection Christs humanity was glorified, and we as the Church had the right to be glorified through union with Him. Christs resurrection is the paradigm for the exaltation of believers.
With a view to giving us the blessings of the firstborn, he himself becomes "firstborn from the dead," that he himself might have the primacy in everything, and may take up us, who believe in his resurrection, for his first fruits . . . if, indeed, we keep firm hold on the grace of these blessings to the end, aided by the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ himself.
THE DEATH OF CHRIST AS A PROPITIATORY SACRIFICE
Origen applies Isaiah 53:4 f. to Christs passion, stating that "He too has borne our sins and has been bruised because of our iniquities, and the punishment which was owing to us, in order that we might be chastised and might obtain peace, has fallen on Him". In some passages, Origen states that Christs death is conceived as paying His precious blood to the devil to purchase us and grant us freedom from his dominion.
Because He is a sacrificial victim, He becomes, by the pouring out of His blood, a propitiation in that He gives remission of past sins. Such propitiation, however, comes to each believer by the path of faith... It is certain that propitiation was fulfilled by the pouring out of the sacred blood [ Heb 9 22] .
But now Christ died for us, and how, since he was the Lamb of God, he bore the sin of the world and carried our weaknesses and suffered for us, we have often explained in other places, where we brought as examples accounts that are found in secular histories; for even in them, some persons are said to have driven away pestilences, storms and other such eventualities by throwing themselves into the grip of death, and to have freed their homeland or nation from the destruction of an impending catastrophe. How true these stories are, or what rational explanation they may have, God alone knows. Yet of those of whom these stories are told, not even in fiction is it said that anyone freed the whole world, except Jesus alone, "who though he was in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal with God but emptied himself, and took the form of a servant and offered a victim for the whole world, delivering his own blood to the prince of this world, according to the wisdom of God.
Christ indeed "did no sin," but He was "made sin on our behalf," when He who was "in the form of God" deigns to be "in the form of a servant:, when He who is immortal dies, and He who is impassible suffers, and He who is invisible is seen; and since death and every other weakness of the flesh is imposed on us all because of our sinful state, He Himself also, who "was made in the likeness of man and found in fashion as a man", "offered as a sacrifice to God" a "calf without blemish" - that is, His immaculate flesh -unquestionably in return for the sin which he took over from us in "bearing our sins" .
At the same time, Origen believes that the meaning of words implying propitiation certainly did not mean buying off the anger of God. One of the problems he and his contemporaries faced was the challenge of Marcions view that in Christ was revealed a God of love, while the God of the Old Testament was a God of justice and wrath, distinct from the Father of Jesus Christ. Perhaps for this is reason Origen had to explain the wrath of God in so many homilies.
Origen speaks of Jesus delivering up His soul, or life, as a ransom for many. To whom did he give it? It could not have been to the Father; rather it was to the devil who had dominion over us until the soul of Jesus was given to him as a ransom for us. He delivered His soul in exchange for the souls of men which the Devil had claimed as due because of their sinfulness. The devil accepted the exchange, but could not hold Jesus, who proved stronger than death, in his clutches and was thus cheated of his victim. The devil was deceived; he thought he could master it (the soul) and did not realize that he could not bear the torture of holding it. So the life offered in sacrifice and the blood shed as an expiation become in the hands of Origen the ransom price given by God to the devil. For it was the Holy Father of Jesus who "spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all," as his lamb, that the lamb of God, who died for every man, might bear away the sin of the world.
The sin of all, however, is not taken away by the Lamb without suffering or affliction for the sinners before its removal. For thorns have been not only scattered but deeply rooted "in the hands" of every man who has become "drunk" with evil and lost the power to become sober.
THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST AND ANIMAL SACRIFICES
In the Epistle to the Hebrews, St. Paul clearly explains the difference between animal sacrifices and Christ's Sacrifice, for the first one was repeated because of its weakness and failure to renew the depth of human nature, but the last One was offered once only for it still has the power to renew our inner man. Origen stated that animal sacrifices were consumed by eating or even burning them; however, our Lords Sacrifice is not only alive, but is Life-giving to those who partake of It. Jesus Christ as a Priest and Victim at the same time did not offer animals blood that consumes but His own Blood that gives life, resurrection and immortality. He always changes believers from mortality into immortality, redeeming their nature to participate in His life and to bear His likeness.
CHRISTS SACRIFICE FOR SIN
Because of the interdependence of sacrificial interpretations of Christs death and ways of understanding Old Testament sacrifices, Origen frequently uses Old testament sacrificial language to describe the death of Christ without attempting to explain further how the sacrifice for sin worked. Consequently in many passages, his view appears to be the expiatory idea found in the Old and New Testaments. Under the Old Covenant, they tried to remove sins by the blood of bullocks and goats, but they could not do it. It was because they were so ineffectual that the Son of God came in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin; He condemned sin in the flesh, because He was made a sacrificial Victim for sin and was offered for the purging of sin. The whole scripture testifies to this, he claims; he does not question the principle. As we have already seen, the removal of sin was Origens idea of the means of propitiation; so, as in the New Testament, vocabulary of propitiation is used with an expiatory sense.
Occasionally Origen tries to explain how Christs sacrifice could remove sin. According to Leviticus, the priests eat the sin-offering: so, says Origen, Christ, who is priest as well as victim, eats the sins of the people. God is a consuming fire. The God of fire consumes human sins; He assumes them, devours them and purges them. Christ thus took upon Himself our sins, and like a fire, He ate and assumed them Himself.
A second explanation depends closely on Old Testament ideas. Christ was a sacrificial offering without blemish; this purity is in a way contagious, so that anyone who touches the flesh of this sacrifice is sanctified.
Both these attempts to explain are based on an acceptance of scriptural language and ideas; they emphasize the fact that the sacrifice dealt with sin by removing it, but do not satisfactorily explain how.
Whenever Origen really requires an explanation, he passes over to the classic theory For example, "This slain lamb has been made, according to certain hidden reasons, a purification for the whole world; for which, according to the Fathers love to man, He submitted to death purchasing us back by His own blood from him who had got us in his power, sold under sin."
THE NATURE OF THE SACRIFICE OFFERED BY CHRIST
Christs sacrifice is superior to the sacrifices of the Old Testament, because It takes place in heaven. In Homilies on Leviticus Origen regards Christs sacrifice on earth, that is, his death on the cross, as a type of his heavenly sacrifice. But he makes a quite different distinction, for the priest offered one bull on the altar as a holocaust (burnt-offering) and another as sin-offering which was burned outside the camp, and there is a difference between a burnt-offering and sin-offering.
So, interpreting this allegorically, Christ offered a burnt-offering on the heavenly altar, but on earth, that is, outside the camp of heaven, where sin had reigned since Adam, He offered it for sin. Perhaps Origen considers Christs heavenly sacrifice a gift sacrifice, a sacrifice of praise, worship and thanksgiving.
Origen frequently refers to Christian sacrifices as an imitation of Christ, of martyrdom being a holocaust, of perfect obedience and imitation of Christ leading to the holy place, and making the Christian a partaker in the divine sacrifice. Thus the sacrifice of Christ was the offering of perfect worship and obedience to God, the example for Christians to imitate.
See, therefore, if perhaps Jesus, whom Paul says through his own blood "to have made peace not only for the things which are in earth but also for the things in heave," is the same calf which was offered "in heaven," certainly not "for sin" but for an offering; and "on earth," where sin "reigned from Adam to Moses," he was offered "for sin." And this is the one which suffered "outside the camp," outside that camp, I think, which Jacob had seen, the celestial camp of the angels of God about whom it was written in Genesis, "And when he looked up, Jacob saw the camp of God in its splendor, and the angels of God went up to him. And when he saw them, Jacob said, This is the camp of God. " Therefore, outside that heavenly camp is everything in which we live; this earthly place in which Christ suffered in the flesh.
CHRIST AS THE HIGH-PRIEST
The expression of St. Cyril of Alexandria "Christ is the altar, the offering and the priest" comes from Origen.
The fact that Isaac "carried wood for the burnt offering" prefigured the bearing by Christ of His own cross. Now carrying the wood for the burnt-offering is the duty of the priest. Christ is therefore both Victim and Priest.
Not only do the sacrifices of the Old Testament point to Christ, Christ is a fulfillment of the "shadows and images" of the high priest.
As a true High Priest, He has offered the Father a true sacrifice in which He is Himself the Victim, thereby propitiating the Father.
For as none is good (Matt. 8:2, 3) but one, God the Father, so among rivers none is good but the Jordan, nor able to cleanse form his leprosy him who with faith washes his soul in Jesus. And this, I suppose, is the reason why the Israelites are recorded to have wept when they sat by the rivers of Babylon and remembered Zion; those who are carried captive, on account of their wickedness, when they taste other waters after sacred Jordan, are led to remember with longing their own river of salvation. Therefore it is said of the rivers of Babylon, "There we sat down," clearly because they were unable to stand, and wept." And Jeremiah rebukes those who wish to drink the waters of Egypt, and desert the water which comes down form heaven, and is named from its so coming down-namely, the Jordan.
Origen interprets Christs death as an act of vicarious substitution or propitiatory sacrifice. He argues that, as the Leader of the Church, Jesus is the head of a body of which we are members; He has taken our sins upon Himself, has borne them and has suffered freely for us. As a true priest, He has offered the Father a true sacrifice in which He is Himself the Victim, thereby propitiating the Father. The Son offers the Christians own gifts of pity, justice, piety, peace. He offers the lives of transformed believers.
Christ, the true High Priest who by His own blood made God propitious to you and reconciled you to the Father.
THE MYSTERY OF THE CROSS
Henri De Lubac says,
But the proclamation of Jesus crucified remains no less essential. For "the economy of the Passion" is central. It is "the Economy" par excellence. Origen knows that without the wood of the cross the leprosy of sin cannot be healed. He knows that it is the whole Church, without any distinction of categories, that was saved by the blood of Christ. He knows that the death of Christ is the Tree of life for all of us, that all fruitfulness comes from this death as from the grain of wheat which must fall into the earth and seem to perish. He declares that all the glory and all the riches of the Church lie in Christs Passion. For him, to be converted is "to come to the cross of Christ"" and the wisdom of the perfect consists not in some other knowledge, but in the contemplation of "the profound mysteries which Paul uncovers there for us" and then in rejecting... the wisdom of the world. It is to be crucified to this worlds wisdom. For there is total opposition between the narrow way of salvation shown to us in the cross of Christ, and the wide and easy way which the philosophy of the wise men of the world seeks to engage us. The "vision of the Logos" can be attained only at the price of death to the world and at the cost of great tribulation; and no matter how sublime this vision may be, it will never make us lose sight of the crucified Jesus, at once priest and victim. There is no wisdom that excuses us from taking up his cross and following him. Even supposing that, like Paul, one has been caught up to the third heaven, there is only one way not to fall back; and it is precisely this, to "take up the cross and follow Jesus in whom we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens.""
Every soul, therefore, which comes to childhood, and is on the way to full growth, until the fullness of time is at hand, needs a tutor and stewards and guardians, in order that, after all these things he who formerly differed nothing from a bond-servant, though he is lord of all, (Cf. Gal. 4:1,2) may receive, when free from a tutor and stewards and guardians, the patrimony corresponding to the very costly pearl, and to that which is perfect, which on its coming does away with that which is in part, when one is able to receive "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ , having been previously exercised so to speak, in those forms of knowledge which are surpassed by the Knowledge of Christ," (Phil. 3:8) having been previously exercised, so to speak, in those forms of knowledge which are surpassed by the knowledge of Christ.
The passion of (Jesus) on the Cross was the judgment of the whole of this world... Since the divine event on the Cross entailed the judgment on all existing things, He could say when the moment of the Passion drew near-"Now is the judgment of this world".
R. Cadiou states that Origen tells his pupils that a study of the crucified Jesus is the means of reaching the highest degrees of the spiritual life. He warns them that this mystery of the Saviors Passion would give them a knowledge of Christ that would be far from imperfect, and that it is so difficult a mystery that even the Apostles had to be instructed in its meaning before they could understand it and before they could see that it meant our salvation.
Cadiou also says that we need feel no shame of the Saviors Passion, for it has its source in His voluntary abasement and in His extreme desire to serve. "We do not hesitate to say that the goodness of Christ appears in a greater and more divine light, and more according to the image of the Father, because He humbled Himself." His acceptance of servitude was but a small part of His sacrifice. In His sufferings, in His silence, in His agony, the Word-made-flesh experienced all the sorrows that afflict the human heart. In Him their domain was limited, because He was without sin. But in another sense His afflictions were total, since He who was always the Savior and even in His transcendence and in His divinity willed that it should be so. He was silent before Pilate, "He desired to suffer for all mankind. If He had spoken, He would not have been crucified because of weakness. There was no weakness in what the Son of God said."
The Cross is a sign of the divine love.
He would not have done unless He had possessed... boundless love for us, and this is true both of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself in dying for the ungodly, and of God the Father in giving His only-begotten Son for the redemption of the ungodly.
The Cross gives a perfect example to believers of Christian dying for the sake of God.
Christ slew the enmity in His own flesh, when by undergoing death He gave an example to mankind of fighting against sin even unto death, and thus at length by resolving the enmity in His own flesh reconciled by His blood mankind to God.
It is in no way unreasonable that the One who was to be the living model for mankind showed how they should die for the sake of religion.
The Cross is a sign of victory.
For when pagans lead their enemies in triumphal processions they put up trophies of victory over them in the form of a cross; and in this way the Cross of Christ is a trophy of victory over Satan. Hence Paul can say, "May I never boast save in the Cross" (Gal. 6:14), for he knew what that Cross has power to achieve-my liberation from evil, won by His dying to save me from death.
What do the demons fear? At what do they tremble? Beyond question - the Cross of Christ, in which they are "triumphed over..." (Col. 2:15). Fear and trembling, therefore, will fall upon them when they see the sign of the Cross fixed in faith upon us... .
Origen comments on Joshua 8:29 LXX, where it reads "he hanged the king of Gai on a double tree," saying,
The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ was "double"... that is, it stands on two footings...; on the visible plane the Son of God was crucified in the flesh, but invisibly there was nailed on that cross the "devil" and his "principalities and powers" [Col. 2: 14f. quoted in full]... Hence the cross of the Lord has two meanings: the first is given by the apostle Peter - Christ crucified "left us an example" (1 Pet 2:21); and this second shows the cross as a trophy of victory over the devil "on which he was crucified and vanquished."
The Cross gathers believers from all the world in unity of love.
when, lifted up upon the cross He was about to embrace with His arms the whole world.
CHRIST AS THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE SOUL
Man is in need of the Logos to satisfy all his needs. He presents Himself to man as if He is everything to him.
And perhaps, as the Apostle says, for those who have their senses exercised to the discerning of good and evil (Heb. 5:14), Christ becomes each of these things in turn, to suit the several senses of the soul.
He is called the true Light, therefore, so that the souls eyes may have something to lighten them.
He is the Logos, so that her ears may have something to hear.
Again, He is the Bread of life, so that the souls palate may have something to taste.
And in the same way, He is called the Spikenard or Ointment, that the souls sense of smell may apprehend the fragrance of the Word.
For the same reason He is said also to be able to be felt and handled, and is called the Logos made flesh, so that the hand of the interior soul may touch concerning the Word of life (John 1:1-4; 1 John 1:1).
But all these things are the One, Same Logos of God, who adapts Himself to the sundry tempers of prayer according to these several guises, and so leaves none of the souls faculties empty of His grace.
Christ offers Himself to those who feel in need of Him. This feeling grants them the merit of His presence and dwelling in their hearts.
Indeed I might say He becomes everything that every creature capable of being liberated needs of Him. Because of this He becomes the Light of men when they, darkened by evil, seek that light which shines in darkness and is not comprehended by it; He would never have become the Light of men if men had not come to be in darkness.
Christ who is one and the same presents Himself to every believer according to his spiritual condition,
There are, as it were, different forms of the Logos, as He appears to each of those led to know him, corresponding to their condition - the beginners, those slightly or considerably advanced, and those approaching or already in possession of virtue.
Christ becomes present in each individual to the degree that his merits have allowed.
THE TITLES OF CHRIST
Although Christ is one in essence, He has many titles to indicate His powers and his workings; for He is apprehended in His being as Grace, Righteousness..., Peace..., Life..., Truth..., the Logos.
To seek Jesus is to seek the Logos, Wisdom, Righteousness, Truth, the Power of the Father; for Christ is all these.
SUFFICIENCY TO BEGINNERS AND TO THE SPIRITUALITY MATURE
Origen makes a distinction between the titles of Christ, those which are offered to the beginners in their spirituality, and others for those who are mature. The former are in need of Christ as a Physician to heal their wounded nature, as the Shepherd to take care of their needs, or as the Savior who forgives their sins. The latter are in need of Him as the Wisdom, Logos and Righteousness.
Happy indeed are they who needing the Son of God have yet become such as no longer to need Him as a Doctor who heals the sick or as a Shepherd or as Redeemer, but as Wisdom, Logos, Righteousness, or one of the other titles that He takes for those whose spiritual maturity fits them for His noblest gifts.
CHRIST IS ALL GOOD THINGS
Now what the Gospels say is to be regarded in the light of promises of good things; and we must say that the good things the apostles announce in this Gospel are simply Jesus.
One good thing which they are said to announce is the resurrection; but the resurrection is in a manner Jesus, for Jesus says: "I am the resurrection"...
Isaiah too says: "How beautiful are the feet of them that proclaim good tidings" (Isa. 52:7); he sees how beautiful and how opportune was the announcement of the Apostles who walked in Him who said, "I am the way," and praises the feet of those who walk in the intellectual way of Christ Jesus, and through that door go in to God.
They announce good tidings, those whose feet are beautiful, namely, Jesus.
CHRIST IS THE BEGINNING AND END
"The Beginning and the End" is a phrase we usually apply to a thing that is a completed unity; the beginning of a house is its foundation and the end the parapet.
We cannot but think of this figure, since Christ is the stone which is the head of the corner, to the great unity of the body of the saved.
For Christ the only-begotten Son is all and in all, He is as the beginning in the man He assumed, He is present as the end in the last of the saints, and He is also in those between, or else He is present as the beginning in Adam, as the end in His life on earth, according to the saying: "The last Adam was made a quickening spirit." This saying harmonizes well with the interpretation we have given of the first and the last.
CHRIST AS THE LOGOS
Joseph C. McLelland writes,
It is when Origen handles the titles of Christ that he formulates his own answer. His introduction to the Commentary on John is a treatise on the epinoiai. The manifold functions of the Logos are expressed through his tittles: word, wisdom, redeemer, shepherd, etc. It would seem that "Word" is the highest, the eternal title, and yet: "if we go through all his titles carefully we find that he is the arche only in respect of his being wisdom. Not even as the Word is he the arche, for the Word was in the arche. And so one might venture to say that wisdom is anterior to all the thoughts that are expressed in the titles of this first-born of every creature" (1:22). This does not mean, however, that the title of Word is not crucial, since it is Logos which on investigation forces theology to reckon with positing a second, "separate entity," a Son of God, and so to examine all other titles (1:23).
He is the Word, "because He is as it were the interpreter of the secrets of the divine intelligence," the channel of Revelation.
Origen uses the term "Logos" as a source of our reasoning:
As, then, from His activity in enlightening the world whose light He is, Christ is named the Light of the world, and as from His making those who sincerely attach themselves to Him put away their deadness and rise again and put on newness of like, He is called the Resurrection, so from an activity of another kind He is called Shepherd and Teacher, King and Chosen Shaft, and Servant, and in addition to these Paraclete and Atonement and Propitiation. And after the same fashion He is also called the Logos, because He takes away from us all that is irrational, and make us truly reasonable, so that we do all things, even to eating and drinking, to the glory of God, and discharge by the Logos to the glory of God both the commoner functions of life and those which belong to a more advanced stage.
If we consider the Logos in the beginning, who was with God, God the 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.
CHRIST IS THE LIGHT
For He Himself is "the Light of the world" who also illuminates the Church by His light. For just as the moon is said to receive light from the sun so that the night likewise can be illuminated by it, so also the Church, when the light of Christ has been received, illuminates all those who live in the night of ignorance.
But if someone progresses in this so that he is already made a "child of the day," so that "he walks honestly in the day," (Cf. Rom. 13:13) as "a child of the day and a child of light," (Cf. 1 Thess. 5:5) this person is illuminated by Christ Himself just as the day is illuminated by the sun.
CHRIST IS THE TRUTH
The Only-begotten is the Truth because He embraces in Himself according to the Fathers will the whole reason of all things with perfect clearness; and being the Truth, He communicates to each creature in proportion to its worthiness.
CHRIST as the Wisdom OF GOD
Basil Studer states that for Origen, the Son is the Wisdom and the Logos (Word). In relation to the Father He is Wisdom, whose knowledge He is. In relation to the world He is the Logos, the communication of what He beholds in the Father.
Joseph C. McLelland states that even the title "wisdom" is for us. He writes,
In acknowledging Wisdom as the only attribute properly eternal, a distinct problem is posed by the text of I Cor. 1:30: "Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption." For once having settled the question of an "eternal" or absolute title, Origen wishes to show that all other titles were taken by Wisdom "for us," in accommodation to human needs rather than in expression of divine verities. He explains Pauls words by referring them to other passages which call the Son wisdom (and "power") in an absolute sense. Thus we have "both forms of the statement, the relative and the absolute" whereas with the other titles such as sanctification and redemption we have only the relative. Origens purpose is to distinguish the higher titles, including Wisdom, Word, Life and Truth from those which are later, "which he took for our sake." Divine providence has met human need and human potential by supplying the variety of titles to lead us along the way of attribution toward the absolute and ultimate Arche. And a crucial passage observes, "happy indeed are those who in their need for the Son of God have yet become such persons as not to need him in his character as a physician healing the sick, nor in that of a shepherd, nor in that of redeemer, but only in his characters as wisdom, as the word and righteousness, or if there be any other title suitable for those who are so perfect as to receive him in his fairest characters".
The two classes (simpler and higher believers) have "analogies in what concerns the Logos. Some are adorned with the Word himself; some with what is next to him but appears to be the very original Logos himself, those, namely, who know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified, and who behold the Word as flesh". The Logos "is not on earth as He is in heaven; on earth he is made flesh and speaks through shadow, type and image." Origen concludes: "the multitude, therefore, of those who are reputed to believe are disciples of the shadow of the Word, not of the true Word of God which is in the opened heaven".
The Word is milk for those Christians who are like children, vegetables for those who are weak, and solid meat "adapted to athletes" for those engaged in active combat. The solid form of the "living bread" is "spiritual and reasonable food" shared with angels, and confers deification.
CHRIST AS THE WAY
"For without boasting, it is self-evident that nothing better could be conceived than to entrust oneself to the Supreme God and to be dedicated to a doctrine which teaches us to leave everything created and leads us to the supreme God through the inanimate and living Logos."
CHRIST AS THE KING
Both the Son of God and the Antichrist desire to reign. The Antichrist desires to reign in order to destroy, while Christ to redeem.
Christ reigns upon those who are faithful among us, by His Word, Wisdom, Justice and Truth. But if we prefer our lusts upon God then sin reigns upon us, as the apostle says, "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body "Rom. 6:12.
There are two kings who want to reign: Either sin and the devil who reign over evildoers; or Justice and Christ over righteous men. No doubt, our Lord and Savior desires to reign but by justice, truth and every virtue. . . He does not want to be crowned as a King without suffering ( the Cross. ) .
CHRIST IS OUR KINGDOM
Our aim is to attain the kingdom of God within us, which is Christ Himself. It was Origen who said Jesus was the autobasileia, the kingdom in Person. In his Commentary On Matthew 12:14, Origen clarifies that the Kingdom of the heavens is the totality of virtues, and Christ is each and every virtue.
He is here speaking of Himself as the Kingdom of God, for He is King and God.
For this reason as long as Jesus Christ, the divine Word that was in the beginning with God, does not dwell in a soul, the kingdom of heaven is not in that soul. But when one is ready to receive that Word, the Kingdom of heaven is nigh at his hand.
CHRIST AS THE HEAVENLY BREAD
But the Scripture says, "And in the morning you will be filled with bread" (Exod. 16:12). The Word of God is also bread for us. For He himself is "the Living Bread which descends from heaven and gives life to this world" (John 6:51,33). But the fact that it says that this bread is given "in the morning" while we say that His coming in the flesh took place in the evening, I think is to be understood as follows.
The Lord came in the evening of the declining world and near the end of its appointed course, but at His coming, since He himself is "the Sun of Righteousness."(Cf. Mal 4.2 LXX: 3.20) He restored a new day for those who believe. Because, therefore, a new light of knowledge arose in the world, in a certain manner He made his own day in the morning and, as it were, "the Sun of Righteousness" brought forth its own morning, and in this morning those who receive his precepts are filled with bread...
Besides this interpretation, we can also take it to mean that for each one our morning and beginning of day is that time when we first are illuminated and approach the light of faith. At this time, therefore, when we are still in the first principles we cannot eat the flesh of the word, that is, we are not yet capable of perfect and complete doctrine. But after long exercises, after much advance, when now we are near evening and are being impelled to the goal of perfection, then at last we can become capable of solid food and the perfect word.
Let us, therefore, now hasten to receive the heavenly manna. That manna imparts the kind of taste to each mouth that each one wishes. For hear also the Lord saying to those who approach Him: "Be it is done unto you according to your faith" (Matt. 8:13). And, therefore, if you receive the word of God which is preached in the Church with complete faith and devotion, that word will become whatever you desire.
For instance, if you are afflicted, it consoles you saying, "God does not despise a contrite and humble heart" (Ps. 50:19).
If you rejoice in your future hope, it heaps up joys for you saying, "Rejoice in the Lord and exult, O righteous" (Ps. 31:11).
If you are angry, it calms you saying, "Cease from wrath and leave indignation behind" (Ps. 36:8).
If you are in pain, it heals you saying, "The Lord heals all your weaknesses"(Cf. Ps. 102:3).
If you are consumed by poverty, it consoles you saying, "The Lord lifts up from the earth the helpless and snatches the poor from the dung" (Ps. 112:7).
So, therefore, the manna of the word of God imparts into your mouth whatever taste you wish.
But many things might be said about the Logos Himself who became flesh, and true meat of which he that eats shall assuredly live for ever, no worthless person being able to eat it; for if it were possible for one who continues worthless to eat of Him who became flesh, who was the Logos and the living bread, it would not have been written, that "every one who eats of this bread shall live for ever" (John 6:51).
What can nourish the soul except the Word, and what is "more precious to his mind more than the wisdom of God?....
CHRIST AS THE SERVANT
Again, let any one consider how Jesus was to His disciples, not as he who sits at meat, but as he who serves, and how, though the Son of God, He took on Him the form of a servant for the sake of the freedom of those who were enslaved in sin, and He will be at no loss to account for the Fathers saying to him: "You are My Servant" (Isa. 49:3,6.). And a little further on: "It is a great thing that you should be called My Servant." For we do not hesitate to say that the goodness of Christ appears in a greater and more divine light, and more according to the image of the Father, because "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:6,8). Than if he had judged it a thing to be grasped to be equal with God, and had shrunk from becoming with God, and had shrunk from becoming a servant for the salvation of the world.
CHRIST IS THE JORDAN
Naaman is angry; he does not see that our Jordan is the cleanser of those who are impure form leprosy, from that impurity, and their restorer to health; it is the Jordan that does this, and not the prophet; the office of the prophet is to direct to the healing agency...
But as the dragon is in the river of Egypt, so is God in the river which makes glad the city of God; for the Father is in the Son. Hence those who come to wash themselves in Him put away the reproach of Egypt, and become more fit to be restored.
CHRIST AS OUR HIDDEN TREASURE
The heavenly things, therefore, even the kingdom of heaven, or Christ Himself the King of the ages, are the kingdom of heaven which is likened to a treasure hidden in the field.
What treasures? Compare the words "in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3). These treasures are in Christ. From that source come forth these winds, these spirits, so that one man becomes wise, another faithful, another has knowledge, and others receive whatever grace-gift of God it may be (I Cor. 12:8) .
CHRIST AS THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Origen comments on the event of the standing of the sun over Gibeon in the days of Joshua till the people took revenge upon their enemies (Jos. 10:12-14) that it was a symbol of the work of our Savior who changes our life into a continuous day till we attain final victory over our enemy.
we desire to explain - if it is possible - how the Lord Jesus spreads the light and extends the day for the salvation of the souls and the destruction of the powers of evil. . . .
The Sun ever shines and not realizes sunset, i.e. , the Sun of Righteousness who shines the light of truth in the believers hearts, when the number of believers is completed then the evil time will come, the last generation in which the love of many will be cold because of the increase of selfishness and the lack of righteousness. Only little numbers of believers will remain, and the day will be shortened (Matt. 24:22).
Yes, God Himself knows the extension of the days at the time of salvation and the shortening of time at tribulation and waste!
For us, let us walk faithfully through the light of the day and accomplish the works of light, as long as we attain with the day and the time of light is extended.
Let us struggle against our enemies "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12).
The Sun of Righteousness does not stop from His companionship to us , for He never leaves us. He is not in a hurry for the sunset, as He Himself says, "I am with you always "(Matt. 28:20). He is with us not only for a troubled day, but all the days, even to the end of the ages, till we conquer our enemies.
CHRIST, THE SOURCE OF TRUE JOY
For the Logos of God does not show forth His own beauty so much in healing the sick, as in His tendering the temperate draught to make glad those who are in good health and are able to join in the banquet.
CHRIST IS OUR PROTECTION
We live under the shadow of the grace of Christ.
He who imitates Christ is a rock.
CHRIST, THE SOURCE OF VICTORY
None boasted of His victory or ascribed it to His own courage, but because they knew that it is Jesus who gives the victory, "not a man moves his tongue" (Josh 10:21). The apostle well understood this when he said "Not I but the grace of God that is in me" (1 Cor. 15:10)...
May my Lord Jesus grant me (after winning the battle of life).. to lay the victory not to my own credit but to that of His cross.
Jesus... who destroys the vices within us and overturns the most vile kingdoms of sin.. .
CHRIST IS THE REST OF THE SOUL
Scripture does not say that "the land had rest from wars" under Moses, but under Joshua (= Jesus) (Joshua 11:23). It is likewise certain that the "territory" of our own lives, the field of our struggles and tribulations, will only have rest from war by the power of the Lord Jesus. For within us are all those tribes of vices which... besiege the soul... .
CHRIST, THE GROOM OF THE SOUL
Christ is called the Bridegroom of the soul, whom the soul espouses when she comes to the faith.
CHRIST AND REVEALING THE MYSTERIES OF THE SCRIPTURES
It is He who "opens the Scriptures" (Luke 24:32) and so kindles the hearts of the disciples.
PROPHETS AND THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST
According to Origen, many prophets received the grace of Christ as they desire to see Him through their initiation by allegory.
JESUS AND THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY
Christ, who has given us the Spirit of prophecy.
CARRYING JESUS CHRIST
Simon the elder reveals the need of mankind to enter the Temple of God under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to carry Jesus Christ on their hands so that they might be freed from the prison of this world.
Simon didnt enter the temple by chance, but he was led by the Spirit of God...
You also, if you want to receive Christ, embrace him among your hands and to be ready for freedom from prison, endeavor to be led by the Spirit who enter you into the temple of God. There is Jesus inside the church, in the temple which is established by the living stones.
The One Word... sent out the rays which reach the souls of those willing to receive Him.
THE GROWTH OF CHRIST
By the might by which He emptied Himself, He also grows!...
He appeared weak as He took a weak body, and He was able to grow also and be strengthened...
The Son of God emptied Himself, and with the same night He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was with Him!..
SEEKING FOR CHRIST
St. Mary and St. Joseph were seeking for Jesus Christ among the relations and friends but they did not find Him.
We do not find Jesus while we are among the relations and friends according to the flesh. We do not find Him in the family according to the flesh... I shall not find my Jesus among the multitudes... Seek Him in the temple of God.
Seek Him in the Church.
Seek Him among the teachers who do not leave the temple. There you will find Him...
May we seek him with great effort anxiously then we shall find Him, as the Scripture says, "your father and I have sought you anxiously " (Luke 2:48). Dont seek Him in slackness, slothfulness and hesitation, as some do for they do not find Him.
If you have lost the Son of God a day seek Him at first in the temple...
But hurry to the temple; there you will find Jesus the Word and the Wisdom.
BE A RELATIVE TO CHRIST!
The Gospel gives the title "parents" to the Virgin for she conceived Him and to Joseph for he served Him.
HOW DO WE DO GREATER WORKS THAN JESUS CHRIST (JOHN 14:12)?
For I think it is in truth a "greater" work when a man while still in the flesh, frail and easily falling, overcomes in battle the giants and the legions of the demons, his only weapons being the Gospel of Christ and his own faith in it. He ranks as greater than the one He gains Himself.