The Philosophy of Creation

 

PHILOSOPHY OF CREATION

Truly Origen’s treatment of cosmology is philosophical rather than theological, and he is reacting to the Neoplatonism in the atmosphere around him, but his purpose is not to present a philosophical idea, but to serve the exegesis of the Scripture through the contemporary ideas of cosmology.

Gerald Bostock believes that the framework of Origen’s philosophy of creation is clarified in his exegesis of Genesis 1:6, concerning the image of the firmament, which lies between the upper and the lower waters of creation.

First of all heaven is said to be made, the totality that is of spiritual substance, where God rests on a throne as it were ... (cf. Isa. 66:1).

But this heaven, namely the firmament, is corporeal.

And so that first heaven, which we call spiritual, represents our mind ... our inner spiritual being which looks on God.

But this corporeal heaven, which is called the firmament, represents our external being which sees physical reality. Just as the firmament is called "heaven," so a man who is in the body, and who can distinguish between the waters which are above and those which are below the firmament, will be called a heaven or heavenly man ... (cf. Phil. 3:20) ... sharing in the water which is above the firmament, the spiritual water welling up to eternal life (John. 4:14), because he is separated from the water of the abyss (Gen. 1:2), where darkness dwells and the prince of this world (John. 12:31).

This passage, according to Bostock, sets out three basic principles:

First, that there is a spiritual heaven or realm which transcends and precedes the establishment of the firmament or this present world.

Secondly, that the firmament is set between entirely different "waters" of a higher and lower nature.

 

Thirdly, that the nature of man is co-ordinated with the structure of the universe.

Bostock says that in affirming the first principle Origen sets himself within the Platonic tradition as it is expounded by Philo, who says that the intelligible world came into existence before the creation of the physical world. Unlike Philo however Origen is in no danger of seeing this intelligible world as a purely mental construct, because he sees it as the heaven of Biblical tradition, the dwelling-place of God and of His holy angels. This heaven is God's first and essential act of creation, as opposed to the second creation of the visible world. The present visible world is not to be thought of as the first of God’s works.

Origen has no difficulty in reconciling this idea with Genesis, because the word "beginning" in Gen. 1:1 (arche) does not have any temporal significance. "Scripture, recognizing the distinction between first and beginning, does not say ‘He first made’... The world had its beginning (i.e. source) in the Creator, but was not the first of His works, because He made many things earlier.

The spiritual world, in which the angels dwell, constitutes the heaven of Biblical teaching. But it is also the realm of incorporeal reality, as this is described in the Platonic tradition. "To be in the heavenly realms (Eph. 1:3) means to be in mental and intangible reality. For a man stores up treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:20) and no longer has his heart on earth, in material and corporeal concerns that is, when he attends to the intelligible universe. G. Bostock states that there is a clear, philosophical contrast between the static realm of Platonic ideas and the heaven of Origen's theology. Origen has a dynamic concept, as he refers to the Holy Spirit who blows where He wills, who moves over the face of the waters.

Origen refers to God as the universal source of being, and the one who continually wills existence.

Secondly, that the firmament is set between entirely different "waters" of a higher and lower nature. Their characteristics are different in that the higher waters represent the pure substance of the Spirit, while the lower waters represent the substance of mere matter. Origen clearly believes that matter, however inferior to Spirit in terms of unity and structure, is substance in the sense that it is everlasting. Its eternity must not be taken to mean that matter existed prior to God and His creation, as Plato appears to suggest. Origen rejects this view of matter. It is not the eternity of an autonomous realm, but that of an element within the eternal creation of God. It has no absolute beginning. In other words, creation, as Origen understands it, is the temporal expression of an eternal order.

Creation, as Origen understands it, is the temporal expression of an eternal order. And it is from this standpoint that we have to approach the description in Genesis of the creation of the world. It is an act which essentially takes place outside time.

The God who made the whole world did not need time to make the mighty creation of heaven and earth... For even if these things seem to have been made in six days, intelligence is required to understand in what sense the words "In six days" are meant...

Origen believes it is ridiculous to understand creation as taking place in "six days,’ interpreted as a literal sequence. He points out that "days" did not exist before the sun and moon and stars were formed, and it is quite clear to him that the "days" described in Genesis 1 do not refer to a literal succession. In this he is following the thinking of Philo, and of the Middle Platonists who said that Plato's description of an apparently temporal creation was made for the sake of "clarity of instruction." In the same way, Origen says that "everything was made at once ... but for the sake of clarity a list of days and their events was given. The same line of thought is found in St. Didymus. The story of creation, in other words, refers to one simultaneous act, but was presented in sequential form to enable us to imagine the process.

Origen is happy to affirm that "bodily nature was created out of nothing after a space of time and brought into being from non-existence." Similarly it will end in non-existence: "bodily matter exists but for a space of time, and just as it did not exist before it was made, so it will again be resolved into non-existence." This philosophical proposition is confidently related by Origen to those Biblical texts which affirm that heaven and earth will pass away. This world has both a beginning and an end. Its nature is such that it forms a cosmic counterpart to the life of the individual, who enters into time by his birth and departs from it by his death.

 

Thirdly, that the nature of man is co-ordinated with the structure of the universe. Creation itself serves the purposes of salvation.

1. Creation can serve the purposes of salvation because it has two distinct levels of reality enabling the soul to make a choice between spirit and matter, and the related values of good and evil. The making of this choice requires the nature of man to be such that it can relate to these two orders, and it is clearly necessary for men to have a two-fold nature corresponding to the two-fold structure of the cosmos.

2. Man can acknowledge the invisible heaven through the visible things of this world.

God made all things in wisdom so He created all species of visible things on earth in which to place some knowledge of things invisible, whereby the human mind can mount to spiritual understanding and find the causes of things in heaven."

 

CREATION AND THE CREATOR

As we have seen in our speech of the Father, the Creator Himself is the Good God. Origen’s cosmology shows His goodness, for He created the world in a marvelous harmony, through the divine Wisdom. He also asserts the divine providence and free will of rational beings. R. Cadiou says,

Let us assume that this primary Demiurge is the Creator Himself. He has created matter by giving to it the quantity necessary to enable it to receive divine ideas. This much simpler hypothesis explains also the plasticity of things in the hands of the Artisan of the universe.

Why, then, should we have need of imagining a different worker in the process of creation?

Is it not more logical to think of matter as being predisposed to order because this predisposition has been given to it by the almighty Power which originally created it?

We must not forget that the world, in its creation, received the totality of the ideas formed by the divine Wisdom.

It is one power that grasps and holds together all the diversity of the world and leads the different movements toward one work, lest it is so immense an undertaking that the world should be dissolved by the dissensions of souls. And for this reason we think that God, the Father of all things, in order to ensure the salvation of all His creatures through the ineffable plan of His word and wisdom, so arranged each of these that every spirit, whether soul or rational existence, however called, should not be compelled by force, against the liberty of his own will, to any other course than that to which the motives of his own mind led him (lest by so doing the power of exercising free will should seem to be taken away, which certainly would produce a change in the nature of the being itself). And He so arranged that the varying purposes of these would be suitably and usefully adapted to the harmony of one world, by some of them requiring help, and others being able to give it, and others again being the cause of struggle and contest to those who are making progress. Among these their diligence would be deemed more worthy of approval, and the place of rank obtained after victory be held with greater certainty, which should be established by the difficulties of the contest.

The cosmology of the De Principiis illustrates in many ways the theory of a universe peopled with beings created by God; the world is a proving-ground where providence raises up the stronger for the help of the weaker in the struggle for perfection, and thus the communion of saints is adjusted to the harmony of nature.

Are we to offer our congratulations to the Creator for having found the special set of circumstances, lack of which would have prevented Him from being the Demiurge, the Father, the Benefactor, the God of justice and mercy? He has no need of destiny or chance or even of an anterior nature to set Him to work.

THE ORIGIN OF MATTER

Origen concentrated his efforts on two problems: the problem of the origin of matter and the problem of the foreknowledge of God. His entire criticism was directed to the exposure of an ambiguity by which the philosophers of his day were misled.

His adjustment was based on a classical doctrine of philosophy. Matter was always considered and unbegotten substance as old as the divine ideas themselves. It is the receptacle of qualities. It is quite undetermined and quite without form, if considered simply in itself. Actually, of course, it cannot be separated from the modes of being which give it existence. In itself, it always lacks determination, yet it always receives some determination.

 

IS EVIL CREATED?

For Origen the cause of evil is within the soul. The soul might not have come into being at all, and even in this created state it does not necessarily possess all its being or all its good. Seeing that it can weaken without involving the Creator in the responsibility for such weakness, he recognized sin as the sole cause of evil. Thus, matter will no longer be the force of rebellion but the most imperfect of the things created by God, an occasion of trouble and annoyance for the souls that dwell above it on the levels where the spirits move and live. With regard to primeval matter and the elements with which the Creator performed His work, Origen will find them in the divine thought itself, in the wisdom established "in the beginning of His ways."

 

 

PRESENTATION OF CREATION IN THE MIND OF GOD

Creation, as Origen understands it, is the temporal expression of an eternal order.

Yet in this matter human intelligence is feeble and limited, when it tries to understand how during the whole of God’s existence His creatures have existed also, and how those things, which we must undoubtedly believe to have been created and made by God have subsisted, if we may say so, without a beginning...

This is that Wisdom in whom God delighted when the world was finished, in order that we might understand from this that God ever rejoices. In this Wisdom, therefore, whoever existed with the Father, the creation was always present in form and outline, and there was never a time when the pre-figuration of those things which hereafter were to be did not exist in Wisdom...

God did not begin at a certain time to be Creator, when he had not been such before.

 

Innumerable worlds

St. Jerome writes,

In the second book he (Origen) asserts that there are innumerable worlds, not, in the manner of Epicurus, many similar worlds existent at one time, but that after the end of one world comes the beginning of another. A world existed before this world of ours, and another in turn will exist after it, and another after that, and others in constant succession. But he is in doubt whether there will ever be a world similar in every respect to another world, so that the two would appear to differ in no particular, or whether it is certain that there will never be one world quite like another and totally indistinguishable from it.

In St. Theophilus of Alexandria’s Paschal letter, translated by St. Jerome we also find the following: "Nor does any man die over and over again, as Origen dared to write, in his desire to establish that most impious doctrine of the Stoics is by the authority of the divine Scriptures."

It seems that Origen himself refuses this idea, as he says,

Moreover, as for those who maintain that worlds similar to each other and in all respects alike sometimes come into existence, I do not know what proofs they can bring in support of this theory. For if it is said that there is to be a world similar in all respects to the present world, then it will happen that Adam and Eve will again do what they did before, there will be another flood, the same Moses will once more lead a people numbering six hundred thousand out of Egypt, Judas also will twice betray his Lord, Saul will a second time keep the clothes of those who are stoning Stephen, and we shall say that every deed which has been done in this life must be done again. I do not think that this can be established by any reasoning, if souls are actuated by freedom of choice and maintain their progress or the reverse in accordance with the power of their own will. For souls are not driven on some revolving course which brings them into the same cycle again after many ages, with the result that they do or desire this or that, but they direct the course of their deeds towards whatever end the freedom of their individual minds may aim at.

 

THE WHOLE UNIVERSE IS GOD'S TEMPLE

But a Christian, even of the common people, is assured that every place forms part of the universe, and the whole universe is God's temple.

 

THE WORLD AS A PLACE OF PURIFICATION

Rowan A. Greer says,

Discernment is the key to Origen's idea. The Christian must learn to look beyond corporeal and visible things to the Creator. If sometimes Origen expresses his idea as a rejection of the world, we must keep in mind that it is the world as a fallen order and as a place of torment for the soul that is rejected.

 

CREATION SERVES THE RIGHTEOUS MEN

Origen believes that evil men hate all creatures, while righteous men who are full of love, are served by the creatures. For them, what seems violent changes and becomes kind to them. The righteous man passes the Red Sea as if it was a land, while the evil man is drowned in it. For the righteous, the water becomes walls on his right and left hands for his protection (Exod. 14:22-29). In the terrible wilderness he receives food descending from heaven (Ps 78:20)... God promises us that if we walk through the fire we shall not be burned (Is. 43:2). God changes even the rock into a spring of water... at last Origen says, "The righteous must not be afraid of anything, for all the creation is subject to him (Gen. 1:26; Ps. 8:7)"

 


THE STARS

 

ST. CLEMENT AND THE STARS

Alan Scott speaks of Clement of Alexandria as the teacher of Origen and his view on stars explaining the following points:

1. St. Clement of Alexandria is an uncompromising opponent of the Hellenistic religion of the heavens, particularly in his Protriptikos, which is addressed to pagans. He is aware of the pagan and Gnostic depiction of the stars as either gods or evil demons, and rejects both. He attacks Alcmaeon of Croton for believing that the stars are gods and alive, and Xenocrates for suggesting that the planets and the cosmos are eight gods. The heavenly bodies are not gods but are at best administrators and instruments established by God to measure time . Like Philo, he is also a strong opponent of astrology.

 

2. With Philo and St. Justin Martyr, St. Clement proposes that God allowed the pagans to worship the heavenly bodies so that they may be spared from atheism and might have at least some knowledge of the divine.

3. In the Ecllogae Propheticae, Clement says that the stars are "spiritual bodies, in communion with and governed by their angels." He follows this with a long interpretation of Psalm 18:5 (19:4), "He set his tent in the sun." Clement denies the Gnostic interpretation of Hermogenes that Christ’s body is taken from the sun, and passes on his own teacher Pantaenus’ view that Old Testament prophecy has a future as well as a past reference, so that this passage in fact looks forward to the Resurrection.

 

 

ORIGEN AND THE STARS

Alan Scott in his dissertation explains the following points:

1. According to Origen’s student, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Origen devotes considerable attention to secular learning, including astronomy. It was a propaedeutic, not to philosophy but to the study of the scripture. His knowledge of astrology depends on the advances of contemporary astronomy, but he only uses them in a highly restricted role. He regards himself not as a scientist or a free thinker in cosmological matters, but describes himself as a churchman, who was interested in the faith and tradition of the Church.

2. Origen is the first Christian theologian to discuss the physical composition of the stars. With Philo he rejects Anaxagoras’ contention that the stars are fiery metal,but he thinks they are still made of some type of body which is ethereal in nature.

3. Since Origen saw pagan learning as a preparation for understanding the gospel, much of his cosmology comes out only incidentally in doctrinal discussion and scriptural exegesis.

a. Following the view of contemporary astronomy that the sun is the leader of the other planets, Origen interprets this in a Christian sense, saying that the superiority of the sun illustrates the place that the Logos has in the spiritual world .

b. Like most Hellenistic philosophers he realizes that the moon reflects the light of the sun, but he then compares this again and again to the Church’s relationship to Christ, the only light which the Church has is that given it by the Sun of Righteousness, who is Christ

c. Origen passes on the standard scientific view that the earth lies at the absolute center of the universe, stating that it rests on nothing but the power of God.

d. Many of the stars are greater than the earth, so we cannot interpret literally the words of Philipians 2:10 , that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth.

4. Origen believes that the heavenly bodies are living beings; and they have a much happier life than that of humanity. But there is some room for doubt in his mind as we will see. He notes that tradition does not make clear whether the stars have life or not.

The sun also, and the moon and the rest of the heavenly bodies are living beings; and moreover, just as we men for certain sins have been enveloped in these bodies of ours, which are gross and heavy, so the lights of heaven have been given bodies of one sort or another to enable them to provide more or less light, while the demons, for greater offenses, have been clothed with real bodies.

Quoting Romans 8:22 "all creation groans and grieves," Origen believes that the universe has a soul, and it will be judged likewise humanity. He also thinks that heavenly bodies commit sin as it is written that the stars are not clean in His sight (Job 25:5), therefore they possess life and soul.

In time the sun itself may say: "I desire to be dissolved, to return and be with Christ, which is far better." The sun, moon and stars are obedient to God, for did not the Lord say- "I have given a commandment to all the stars" (Isa. 45:I2)? Thus they bestow upon the world the amount of splendor God has entrusted to them, and like all other living creatures they will partake in the end of a new heaven and a new earth, "when perhaps every bodily substance will be like the other, of a celestial purity and clearness."

5. Angels are assigned to the heavenly bodies, one to the sun, another to the moon, and a third to the stars.

6. The movement of the stars witnesses their goodness. Against the Gnostics, Origen asserts that the world, created by God, is good. When the Scripture called the world "evil," it denoted earthly and human affairs.

7. Origen denies worshipping the stars. He believes that the universe is filled with rational, spiritual beings who have powers and responsibilities which are much greater than anything in the human race.

8. Origen is acutely aware that his cosmological speculations are innovative, and he frequently expresses his views hesitantly. He confesses that he is unable to give answers to some questions concerning the world to come; and also concerning the stars.

When... the saints have reached the heavenly places, then they will clearly see the nature of the stars one by one, and will understand whether they are living beings or whatever else may be the case.

9. Origen asserts that the stars and planets cannot be eternal, since they are created and visible.

10. Origen’s combination of physical and theological speculations was not developed in Patristic literature because there was a strong tendency to separate theology from physics and astronomy.


Rational Creatures

J.W. Trigg gives an account of Origen’s view on rational creatures in the following words:

Origen followed his discussion of God (in De Principiis) with a discussion of rational creatures.

These beings have the gift of reason as their principal attribute, and since they are rational, Origen, who accepted the arguments of Plato's Phaedo on the immortality of the soul, considered them to be naturally immortal as well.

The spiritual world of rational creatures was, Origen believed, God’s original creation, and the creation of the material world came later.

He claimed biblical warrant for his doctrine of two creations in the puzzling first verse of Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." He accepted the interpretation of Philo that this verse, which would seem to be superfluous in light of the detailed description of the creation in the rest of the first chapter, actually applies to the creation of the spiritual world, the rest of the chapter being the description of the material world.

God, Origen held, must have created a limited number of rational creatures, as an infinite number of them would be incomprehensible even to God, and to allow that the All-knowing could fail to comprehend anything would be to postulate what is not possible, a self-contradiction in the nature of God. Origen may have learned of the problem of the incomprehensibility of the infinite from Numenius, who wrote that if matter is infinite, it is unbounded; if unbounded, irrational; if irrational, unknowable; if unknowable, without order.

Since they are not God, these rational creatures are not good essentially, as only God is, but they do possess free will to choose the good and the concomitant moral responsibility to do so.

There are four major types of rational creatures: angels, the powers of wickedness, the animating spirits of the heavenly bodies, and human souls.

The human soul of Christ, as we have seen, is a rational creature that is a uniquely special case.

The thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers of Paul suggested to Origen that within these four large groups there are a multitude of ranks, each with its proper dignity and authority. Angels and devils, much less animated heavenly bodies, are scarcely prominent in theological thought today, but Christians, Gnostics, Platonists, and Jews all affirmed their existence and importance in Origen's time.

Every mind that participates in the intelligible light ought undoubtedly to be of one nature with every other mind that in a similar fashion participates in the intelligible light.

If, therefore, the heavenly powers by the fact that they participate in wisdom and sanctification receive participation in the intelligible light, that is, the divine nature, and if the human soul receives participation in the same light and wisdom, they and it will be of one nature and of one substance with one another.

Moreover, the heavenly powers are incorruptible and immortal; so, doubtless, the substance of the human soul will be incorruptible, and immortal.

Not only this, but since the nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, from whose intelligible light alone the entire creation draws participation, is itself incorruptible and eternal, it certainly both follows and is necessary that every substance that draws participation from that eternal nature also endures itself forever both incorruptible and eternal, so that the eternity of the divine goodness may be understood by the fact that those who receive His benefits are also eternal.

But just as in our examples the diversity of perceiving the light is retained, since the vision of the person seeing is described as duller or sharper, so also in the case of participation in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit diversity is retained in proportion to the attention of the understanding and the capacity of the mind.

A similar course of reasoning must be applied to the angels. We must not suppose that it is the result of chance that a particular duty is assigned to a particular angel; the work of curing and healing, for instance, to Raphael; the supervising of mortals to Michael.

We must believe that they have obtained these duties for no other reason except their own individual merits and that they entered upon them as a reward for the zeal and virtue they displayed before the construction of this world; after which event this or that kind of duty was assigned to each member of the order of archangels, while others were counted worthy of being enrolled in the order of angels and to act under this or that archangel, or under this or that leader or chief of his order.

All this, as we have said, was arranged not by chance or at random, but by the most appropriate and righteous judgment of God, being settled in accordance with merit, God himself deciding and approving.

Thus to one angel would be entrusted the Church of Ephesus, to another the Church of Smyrna; this angel would be Peter’s, that Paul’s; and so on through the entire number of those ‘least ones’ who are in the Church it would be decided which of the angels, who daily "see the face of God," must be attached to each, and also which angel it must be who was to encamp "around them that fear God."

 

ANGELS, DEMONS, AND SOULS OF MEN

He considers the universe a community of distinct spirits, a city of obedient souls; as a necessary consequence, it is a vast living thing, with a unity that is moral rather than physical. The individual souls, which are not parts of a total soul but natures or essences irreducible one to another, work together for the general harmony, each according to its own personal value.

No such hierarchy of classes is found in Origen’s concept of the spiritual universe. For him, the universe consists of a multitude of dwellings, as it were, peopled by souls that are ever in process of either rise or fall. Above men are the spirits of the stars and of the angels, and below them are the demons, plunged in the deepest degradation. At the beginning those spiritual powers were all intelligences, and they can still return to their pristine condition. Their original unity and equality render possible the restoration of the world. To save someone, it is necessary not only to help him, but to raise him to himself.

Origen believes that angels, demons and souls of men were all rational creatures and have free will. They were good, but their goodness is accidental and not essential, God alone is good by His own nature. They also possessed the same and equal qualities, and by their own will they increased or decreased in their degrees. All had sinned, the sins of the angels were not grievous like those of the demons, while the sins of the souls of men are in the middle.

Besides those three rational creatures, Origen adds the stars as living beings as we already noticed.

 

J.N.D. Kelly states that Origen is a firm exponent of the theory of the pre-existence of all individual souls. In the beginning, he explains, God out of His goodness created a fixed number of rational essences, all of them equal and alike (there was no reason for any diversity), and all of them endowed with free will - thus he strives to defend the divine justice and the principle of liberty against the Gnostics. Since these souls were free, it rested with their own volition to advance by imitating God, or to fall away by neglecting Him, to depart from good being tantamount to settling down to evil. With the unique exception of Christ’s pre-existent soul, all these rational beings opted in varying degrees for the latter; the result was their fall, which gave rise to the manifold and unequal gradations of spiritual existence.

Before the ages they were all pure intelligences (n o e V ), whether demons or souls or angels. one of them, the Devil, since he possessed free will, chose to resist God, and God rejected him. All the other powers fell away with him, becoming demons, angels and archangels according as their misdeeds were more, or less, or still less, heinous. Each obtained a lot proportionate to his sin. There remained the souls; these had not sinned so grievously as to become demons or so venially as to become angels. God therefore made the present world, binding the soul to the body as a punishment... Plainly He chastises each to suit his sin, making one a demon, another a soul, another an archangel...

THE PRE-EXISTENT CHURCH

All the rational creatures, those which would later become angels, men, demons, were created together and absolutely equal. They were absorbed in the contemplation of God and formed the Church of the pre-existence, united like the Bride to the Bridegroom with the pre-existent intelligence that was joined to the Word and had been created with them.

 


MAN

G. Bostock states that Origen makes use of the two accounts of creation in Genesis to demonstrate that man has a two-fold nature - both an inner self, made in the image of God, and an external form fashioned from the dust of the ground. This inner self, which is "invisible and Incorporeal, Immaculate and immortal," corresponds to the eternal creation, while his external form corresponds to the physical world. Like the eternal world which precedes the formation of the physical order, man's inner self is older and superior to his external form. It was created directly by God, when God "breathed the breath of life" (Gen. 2:7) into man, so that he shared in God's own incorruptible Spirit.

 

GREATNESS OF MAN

St. Gregory of Nyssa, the disciple of Origen, considers man as the dearest creature to God. He inherits this concept from his teacher, who looks to Christ in His relation to believers as the Great of great ones, the Lord of lords, the King of kings.

"Among his brothers" Jesus is "great," among these who previously had been called "Great;" and thus, he is "Pastor of pastors" (Cf. 1 Pet. 5:4), and "High priest of high priests" (Cf. Heb. 4:14), and "Lord of lords" and "King of kings" (Cf. 1 Tim. 6:15). And so, He is the great of the great; and this is why it is added, "Great among his brothers.

When contemplating God’s supreme view of His beloved creature, i.e., man, and God's close and deep relationship with him, Origen was incited to believe that man’s soul is much greater than to be attributed to this visible world. Erroneously, he believed that the soul existed before the body to which it was assigned as a penalty for its sin. The Alexandrians rejected this Origenist theory, for it deforms the believers view of the body and also of the world. They believe that the body is not a jail where the soul is imprisoned but is a good divine gift, that helps the soul and partakes with it in all human needs, and will partake with it in the heavenly glory.

Even after the fall of souls, God cannot abandon them, for He has created the soul to know the reasons of things and to contemplate in Him.

 

MAN’S SOUL AS A DWELLING-PLACE OF GOD

Those who defile their souls, and change them from being a house of the Heavenly Father, the holy Jerusalem and house of prayer into a cave of thieves... They deprive their souls from what is precious, and rob the best of what they have so that they become as nothing.

 

MAN AS AN IMAGE OF GOD

The theme of the creation of man in the image of God flows from three passages in Genesis: I:26-27 which links the image of God with man’s domination over the animals; 5:I-3 where the image expresses a certain filiation; 9:6 where the image makes man a sacred being whose blood may not be spilt.

Origen understands the first two chapters of Genesis, not as two accounts of the creation, but as two distinct creations. Of these the first relates to the soul, which alone is created after the image, the soul which is the incorporeal and invisible image of the incorporeal and invisible Word, and the second relates to the body, which is simply the vessel containing the image. Origen in his Commentary on Genesis saw the second chapter as an account of the creation of the ethereal body of the pre-existent: since only the Trinity is without a body, these two creations, though logically distinct, must have been chronologically simultaneous.

The ‘after-the-image’ is, Origen expressly says, ‘our principal substance,’ the very basis of our nature: man is defined, at the deepest level of his being, by his relation to God and by the movement that leads to his becoming more like his model, thanks to the divine action which is manifest at the beginning and at each of the stages of this development, and thanks also to the freedom that God has given man when creating him. This freedom, in which free will, the power of choice, holds an important place, is not, however, limited to free will, but exhibits, through our author’s spiritual doctrine, all the shades of meaning of Paul’s eleutheria. The truth is that adherence to God liberates, rejection of God enslaves. The ‘after-the-image’ is, in addition, a ‘source of knowledge’: of course, all knowledge of God is revelation, but the first of these revelations is the one God gave us when he created us in his image: in this ‘after-the-image,’ which is what the most profound element of our being, we find God. Here, Origen reproduces a principle of Greek philosophy which is a common-sense affirmation: only the like knows the like.

The likeness will be achieved with perfect knowledge, in the resurrection and the beatitude. We do not press the point here, for it will be studied more completely in connection with Origen’s eschatology. Let us simply say that the likeness will end in unity with Christ, a unity which is not understood in a pantheistic manner, for it respects the ‘hypostaseis’ of the angels and of men as Origen makes clear in contradiction to the Stoic ‘conflagration.. But all, having become sons, somehow within the Only Son, will see the Father in the same way that the Son sees Him. All having become one Sun in the Sun of Righteousness, the Word, will shine with the same glory. It would not do to conclude, as has sometimes too hastily been done, that there will not then be any further mediation by the Word. That will always exist, but its mode will have changed: it is in becoming within the Son that the saints will see the Father as Himself and will shine with His glory.

Man has two icons, one he had received from God at the time of creation as it is written in Genesis " In the image of God He created" Gen. 1:27, and the other is the image of the earthly man ( 1 Cor. 15:49) which he received on his disobedience and sinning, when he was moved away from Paradise, when the prince of this world seduced him (John 12:31)...

As the coin has the image of the ruler of this world, thus he who completes the deeds of the kings of darkness (Eph. 6:12) has his image.

Jesus orders us to render this image and move it away so that we may have the original image in which He created, so that we should be in the likeness of God. Thus we render what is of Caesar to Caesar, and what is to God to God (Luke 20:23-26) .

But it is our inner man, invisible, incorporeal, incorruptible, and immortal which is made "according to the image of God." For it is in such qualities as these that the image of God is more correctly understood. but if anyone supposes that this man who is made "according to the image and likeness of God" is made of flesh, he will appear to represent God Himself as made of flesh and in human form. It is most clearly impious to think this about God.

For if man, made according to the image of God, contrary to nature by beholding the image of the devil has been made like him by sin, much more by beholding the image of God, according to whose likeness he has been made by God, he will receive that form, which was given to him by nature, through the Word and His power. And let no one, seeing his image to be more with the devil than with God, despair that he can again regain the form of the image of God, because the Savior came not "to call the just, but sinners to repentance."(Cf. Luke 5.32.)

 

CHRIST, THE UNIQUE IMAGE OF THE FATHER

Only Christ is in the strict sense the image of God, the perfect image: He is this by His divinity alone, "invisible image of the invisible God," for God, invisible and incorporeal, can only have one image, invisible and incorporeal.

If the humanity of Christ is not included by Origen in the image of God, it is like that of all men ‘after the image’ or ‘image of the image.’ However, it plays a special part in the transmission of the image, it is like a second, intermediate image, the Word being the first, between God and us, for it is the most immediate model offered to us to imitate, and, according to Origen’s interpretation of Lamentations 4, 20 which we shall explain below, the Shadow of the Lord Christ under which ‘we live among the nations’. Contrariwise, we know of no passage in Origen which brings in the Holy Spirit in connection with the image.

 

THE IMAGE OF GOD IS CONTINUOUSLY MAGNIFIED OR DECREASED IN US

Origen comments on the words of St. Mary, "my soul magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1:46), saying that the Lord is unchangeable, but His image in us may be magnified or decreased.

As the image (of the Lord) is magnified and becomes more bright by my deeds, thoughts, and words and thus the Lord is glorified...

So when we sin His image becomes belittled and faded.

 

According to Rown A. Greer Origen's writings reveal that his primary interest lies in the drama of the soul's struggle to return to God after her fall. Origen's views of martyrdom, prayer and Scripture merge into one vision of the Christian life as a movement towards a perfect knowledge of God and perfect fellowship with Him through Christ.

Origen insists that in all men some elements of the divine image remain. The Logos lights every man coming into the world; all beings that are rational partake of the true Light. The Gospel brings to actuality what in unbelievers is present potentially. The preacher needs not hesitate to claim for a Christian possession all that seems sound and good in Hellenic culture.

 

ADAM’S SIN OR INDIVIDUAL SIN?!

There are passages in Origen’s writings especially in his Commentary on Romans, where he appears to accept the doctrine that the whole race was present in Adam’s loins and "sinned in him." It is difficult, however, to take them at their face value, for we know that in his translation, he adjusted his teaching in the interests of orthodoxy.

Man in his essential nature is essentially incorporeal, and would have stayed immortal if he had not fallen into sin. As it is he has fallen from the heights of heaven, and his original divine nature is now robed in flesh.

Origen states that the Fall has caused man to put on the garments of mortality and of frailty. These are the "coats of skin" (Gen. 3:21) made by God for Adam and Eve when they were being expelled from Paradise. Following Philo and the Gnostics, who had interpreted the coats of skin as bodies, Origen sees the Fall not simply as a moral but as a metaphysical event. The Fall means that man enters a world which is separate from God, and takes on a dual nature of spirit and of flesh because he is now clothed in a physical body.

Man’s dual nature includes a dual means of perception because the Fall has the effect of creating man’s physical sight, which corresponds to the physical world in which he now lives. "They ate and the eyes of both of them were opened" (Gen. 3:6-7). Their eyes which were opened were those of the senses ... But it was the eyes of the soul with which they saw when they rejoiced in God and His Paradise." As a result of his first creation in the image of God man still has a capacity for spiritual sight, but the Fall means that he normally uses his physical sight and his spiritual sight remains unused.

As a result of this dual means of perception man can make an effective choice between the two levels of creation to which his nature corresponds. Morally speaking he is poised like the firmament between matter and Spirit - pure matter representing the limit of his soul's movement away from God while the Spirit representing the goal of his striving for God. Mentally speaking however his nature must correspond to the whole of the cosmos. Origen believes that man's nature is analogous to that of the whole cosmos, because he is in himself a "minor mundus'- or microcosm. Origen spells this out in graphic detail: "You must recognize that you have within yourself flocks of cattle ... and even of birds. You yourself are indeed another small world, with the sun, moon and stars within you."

Origen had no difficulty in finding Scriptural support that the pre-existent soul committed sins before receiving her body, especially the story of Jacob and Esau, the one loved, the other hated by God at birth.

 

GOODNESS OF MAN IS ACCIDENTAL

If then there are any other things called good in the Scriptures, such as an angel, or a man, or a slave, or a treasure, or a good heart, or a good tree, all these are so called by an inexact use of the word, since the goodness contained in them is accidental and not essential.

MAN AS A TRICHOTOMY

Origen believes that man consists of three elements:

1. The pneuma or spiritus. The spirit is the divine element present in man and thus it has real continuity with the Hebrew ruach. Being a gift of God, it is not strictly speaking a part of the human personality, for it takes no responsibility for a man’s sins; nevertheless these reduce it to a state of torpor, preventing it from acting on the soul. It is the pedagogue of the soul, or rather of the intellect, training the latter in the practice of the virtues, for it is in the spirit that the moral consciousness is found; and training it also in the knowledge of God and in prayer.

2. The soul (psyche anima), contains a higher and a lower element. In De Principiis 2:10:7 Origen discusses the better element of the soul "which was made after the image and likeness of God," and "the other part . . . , the friend and lover of corporeal matter."

The soul is the seat of the free will, of the power of choice and so of the personality. If it submits to the guidance of the spirit, it is assimilated to the spirit, becomes wholly spiritual, even in its lower element. But if it rejects the spirit and turns towards the flesh, the lower element takes over from the higher its governing role and renders the soul entirely carnal.

This higher element, intellect, heart or governing faculty, constituted the whole of the soul in the pre-existence, according to the theory favored by Origen.

The lower element of the soul was added to it after the primitive fall: it corresponds to the soul’s standing temptation to turn aside from the spirit and yield to the attraction of the body. It is the source of the instincts and the passions, and it is sometimes treated as equivalent to the two lower elements in Plato’s trichotomy, the thymos and the epithymia, without Origen distinguishing between the noble and the evil tendencies in these.

It seems that Origen feels a kind of confusion concerning the soul of man, for he concludes his speech of the soul, saying,

These points about the rational soul we have brought forward to the best of our ability rather as matters for discussion by our readers than as definite and settled doctrines.

Henry Chadwick states that in the doctrine of the soul Origen was faced by a choice between three possible doctrines:

(a) The Creationist view that God creates each soul for each individual as conceived and born.

(b) The Traducianist view: There is also a creation but indirect and mediate: they suppose that the soul derives with the body from the paternal seed.

(c) The Platonic Pre-existence theory, according to which immortal and pre-existent souls temporarily reside in the body. Those who believed in theory lodes to the Traducianists as their opponents. They presented a grave objection. If the soul is truly that breath which the Lord in the beginning breathed into Adam, then how can it come with the body from the seed of the father? Does not this then mean that it will die with the body, a conclusion that our faith cannot accept?

Creationism seemed to involve God in endless fuss; Traducianism seemed to endanger the transcendence of the soul in relation to the body by making it something corporeal. Pre-existence had the merit of making a theodicy possible which answered the Gnostics’ complaint against the justice and goodness of the Creator. On several occasions Origen disclaims the myth of transmigration as false, yet his own system presupposes a picture of the soul's course which is strikingly similar. Probably the right solution of this problem is to be found in Origen's insistence on freedom rather than destiny as the key to the universe. In other words, he objected to the fatalistic principles underlying the doctrine of transmigration; he did not object to the idea if its foundations rested on the goodness and justice of God assigning souls to bodies in strict accordance with their merits on the basis of free choices .

Origen teaches that souls are not unbegotten and eternal, but created by God, who from overflowing goodness created rational, incorporeal beings.

And there is the further question whether the soul puts on a body only once and, having laid it down, seeks for it no more; or whether, when it once has laid aside what it took, it takes it yet again; and, if it does so a second time, whether it keeps what it has taken always, or some day puts it off once more. But if, as the Scriptures lead us to think, the consummation of the world is near and this present state of corruption will be changed into one of incorruption, there seems no doubt that the soul cannot come to the body a second or third time under the conditions of this present life. For, if this other view were accepted, then the world would know no end of such successive re-assumptions.

In the creation of a soul God does not produce an unfinished or imperfect work. The created soul, however, has within itself the power to turn away from God, the power to abandon truth for falsehood, and reality for illusion.

3. The body (soma, corpus). It is because the souls of men have been implicated in the primitive fall in a less grave way than the demons and because there is for them some hope of cure that they have been put into this perceptible and terrestrial world as a place of correction, having bodies.

Origen applies the word body both to the terrestrial body and to the more subtle bodies which he distinguishes in his speculations on the history of rational beings: ‘ethereal’ bodies or ‘dazzling’ bodies, belonging to the pre-existent intelligences; the angels; those raised from the dead to eternal blessedness; the ‘dark’ bodies of the demons and of those raised from the dead to damnation.

We have seen that we must not confuse the meaning of the word body with the almost always pejorative meaning of the word flesh, which expresses an undue attachment to the body and thus refers rather to the lower part of the soul. But the earthly body, like everything perceptible, is good in itself: created by God, it is among those realities of which the Bible says that when He looked at them in their profound being: ‘God saw that they were good."

After death, even before the resurrection, the soul retains a certain bodily dress which Origen infers from the parable of the evil rich man and Lazarus and from the appearance of Samuel to Saul, if we rely on a text quoted by Methodius of Olympus in his Aglaophon or On the Resurrection: he assimilates it expressly to the ‘vehicle of the soul’ and it is of course a logical consequence of the affirmation that the Trinity alone is absolutely incorporeal.

 

MIND AND SOUL

God is fire and warmth. Moving further away from God the intelligences got cold and became souls. So we are tailing about a decline in fervor and charity. The reduction from intelligence into soul is a matter of degree, for not all fell to the same level.

We must see, therefore, whether perchance, as we said was made clear by its very name, the psyche or soul was so called from its having cooled from the fervor of the righteous and from its participation in the divine fire, and yet has not lost the power of restoring itself to that condition of fervor in which it was at the beginning. Some such fact the prophet appears to point to when he says, ‘Turn unto your rest, O my soul’. All these considerations seem to show that when the mind departed from its original condition and dignity it became or was termed a soul, and if ever it is restored and corrected it returns to the condition of being a mind.

Mind when it fell was made soul, and soul in its turn when furnished with virtues will become mind...

Now if this is so, it seems to me that the departure and downward course of the mind must not be thought of as equal in all cases, but as a greater or lesser degree of change into soul, and that some minds retain a portion of their original vigor, while others retain none or only very little. This is the reason why some are found right from their earliest years to be of ardent keenness, while others are duller, and some are born extremely dense and altogether untouchable.

But perhaps it will be asked: If it is the mind, which with the spirit prays and sighs, and the mind also which receives perfection and salvation, how is it that Peter says, ‘Receiving the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls’? If the soul neither prays nor sings with the spirit, how shall it hope for salvation? Or, if it should attain to blessedness, will it no longer be called a soul? Let us see whether, perhaps, this point may be answered in the following manner, that just as the Savior came to save that which was lost, but when the lost is saved, it is no longer lost; so, if he came to save the soul, as he came to save that which was lost, the soul when saved remains a soul no longer.

 

THE SOUL OF JESUS CHRIST

The pre-existent "intellect" of Jesus is from the moment of its creation united to the Word, in a way which makes it absolutely incapable of sin, through the intensity of its charity, that charity which in a way transforms it into the Word, as iron plunged into fire becomes fire.

But all question about the soul of Christ is removed when we consider the nature of the incarnation. For just as he truly had flesh, so also he truly had a soul .

The reader must also take this point into consideration, that of the passages in the Gospels which concern the soul of the Savior, it is noticeable that some refer to it under the name of soul and others under the name of spirit. When Scripture wishes to indicate any suffering or trouble that affected Him, it does so under the name soul, as when it says: ‘Now is My soul troubled’ (John 12:27), and ‘My soul is sorrowful even unto death’ (Matt. 26:38) and ‘No one takes my soul from Me, but I lay it down of Myself’ (Luke 23:46). On the other hand He commends ‘into His Father’s hands’ not His soul but His spirit; and when He says the ‘flesh is weak’ He does not say the ‘soul’ is ‘willing’ but the spirit’; from which it appears as if the soul were a kind of medium between the weak flesh and the willing spirit.

But if the above argument, that there exist in Christ a rational soul, should seem to anyone to constitute a difficulty, on the ground that in the course of our discussion we have often shown that souls are by their nature capable of good and evil, we shall resolve the difficulty in the following manner. It cannot be doubted that the nature of His soul was the same as that of all souls; otherwise it could not be called a soul, if it were not truly one. But since the ability to choose good or evil is within the immediate reach of all, this soul which belongs to Christ so chose to love righteousness as to cling to it unchangeable and inseparably in accordance with the immensity of its love; the result being that by firmness of purpose, immensity of affection and an inextinguishable warmth of love all susceptibility to change or alteration was destroyed, and what formerly depended upon the will was by the influence of long custom changed into nature. Thus we must believe that there did exist in Christ a human and rational soul, and yet not suppose that it had any susceptibility to or possibility of sin...

Suppose then a lump of iron be placed for some time in a fire. It receives the fire in all its pores and all its veins, and becomes completely changed into fire, provided the fire is never removed from it and itself is not separated from the fire...

And while, indeed, some warmth of the Word of God where the divine fire itself essentially rested, and that it is from this that some warmth has come to all others.

THE BODY

In his work First Principles Origen remarks "We ought first to consider the nature of the resurrection, that we may know what that body is which shall come either to punishment or to rest or to happiness; which shall question in other treatise which we have composed regarding the resurrection we have discussed at great length, and have shown what our opinions are regarding it." Eusebius mentions two volumes On the Resurrection. The list of St. Jerome names De resurrection libros II but adds et alios resurrection dialogos II. It seems that later were both combined into one. Pamphilus, Methodius of Philippi and Jerome. From Methodius we learn that Origen rejected the idea of a material identity of the risen, with the human, body and its parts. St. Jerome's remarks that in this study Origen compared Christian doctrine with the teaching of ancient philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Numenius and Cornutus.

Alongside that, many passages affirm the essential goodness of the human body. Origen argues, "The body of the rational being that is devoted to the God of the Universe is a temple of the God whom they (Christians) worship." The human body could be "made holy" for God; and each Christian man or woman could build their body into a "holy tabernacle of the Lord." "You have progressed to become a temple of God, and you who were mere flesh and blood have reached so far that you are a limb of Christ's body."

On the other hand, the flesh, for Origen, is impure because it is ambiguous and dangerous. He emphasizes the imperfection of every human act performed by a human being whose concupiscence never entirely leaves. Origen proclaims repeatedly that through time until the end of the world, the trace of past deeds is engraved on human heart, even the traces of thoughts which passed and were rejected by human will.

 

INNER PURITY

For there are also others who offer their flesh as a whole burnt offering but not through the ministry of the priest. They offer neither knowingly nor according to the Law which is in the mouth of the priest. They are indeed pure in body but are found to be impure in spirit.

It is possible for such to be pure in body. Yet, they do not offer their whole burnt offerings through the hands and ministry of the priest. For they do not have in them the counsel and the prudence with which to perform the priestly function in the presence of God . They are like those "five foolish virgins" who certainly were kept virgins and had purity of body. But they did not know how to store up the "oil" of charity and peace and the remaining virtues "in their vases"; and therefore they were excluded from the marriage chamber of the bridegroom (Cf. Matt. 25:1f.). Hence, the continence of the flesh alone is not able to reach to the altar of the Lord if it is lacking the remaining virtues and the priestly ministry.

And therefore, we who read or hear these things should attend to both parts-to be pure in heart, reformed in habits. We should strive to make progress in deeds, be vigilant in knowledge, faith, and actions, and be perfect in deeds and understanding in order that we may be worthy to be conformed to the likeness of Christ's offering, through our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, through whom to God the Almighty Father with the Holy Spirit be "glory and power forever and ever. Amen" (Cf. 1 Pet. 4:11; Rev. 1:6).

 

THE RELATION BETWEEN THE BODY AND THE SOUL

Origen would revive the functions of the soul. The directive part of the soul became, in his hands, the power of contemplating the Good.

This "couch," which she refers to as shared by herself and her Bridegroom, seems to me to mean the human body in which while the human soul is still a tenant it is deemed worthy of consorting with the Word of God... It is fitting that such a soul should have this common "couch" of the body with the Word, for the power from on High bestows grace on the body also-the gifts of chastity, continence, and other good works.

Rational being, of which the human soul forms a part, can beget no good things of itself-even if it can receive them. It is like a woman: it needs another to beget the virtues of action and thought that it proves able to bring to birth. Hence I call it the bride-of no mean bridegroom, but of Him alone who can sow the seed of good, none other than Jesus... .

This matter of the body, then, which now is corruptible, shall put on incorruption when a perfect soul, instructed in the doctrines of incorruption, has begun to use it.

And I would not have you be surprised that we should use the metaphor of bodily clothing to describe a perfect soul, which on account of the word of God and his wisdom is here called ‘incorruption’. For indeed Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Lord and Creator of the soul, is said to be the ‘clothing’ of the saints, as the apostle says, ‘Put you on the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom. 13:14). As therefore Christ is the clothing of the soul, so by an intelligible kind of reasoning the soul is said to be the clothing of the body; for it is an ornament of the body, covering and concealing its mortal nature. When therefore the apostle says, ‘This corruptible must put on incorruption’, it is as if he said, ‘This body, with its corruptible nature, must receive the clothing of incorruption, that is, a soul that possesses in itself incorruption, by virtue of the fact that it has put on Christ, who is the wisdom and the word of God.

 

MAN'S EFFECT ON THE CONGREGATION

When one person commits a sin, anger will include all the people (Jos. 7:1) .

 


 

ANGELS

 

Jean Daniélou presents Origen’s view on angels and their role in heaven and on earth, in his book, "The Angels and their Mission According to the Fathers of the Church."

For the highly developed teaching of Origen on angels and demons see De Principiis. 1;8; 3:2.

In the preface of De Principiis Origen found that the express teaching of the church had laid it down as the official tradition that the angels were the servants of God (and, as such, his creatures), but had left the time of their creation and the nature of their existence as matters for investigation and speculation.

 

 

THEIR GOOD WILL TOWARDS GOD

But if they are "mighty in strength" Ps. 103:20 to do the will of God, and if they seek the destruction of the impious, this is a sign that it is on account of their good will towards God that they stand before Him (Luke 1:19) and serve Him and are at His right hand.

 

ANGELS’ FREE WILL

Not only Origen assures the free will of angels, demons, and souls of men, and their capacity to do good and evil, but also he believes that angels admitted evil but in a little degree. God alone is Holy by nature.

Our contention is, however, that among all rational creatures there is none which is not capable of both good and evil. But it does not necessarily follow that, because we say there is no nature which cannot admit evil, we therefore affirm that every nature has admitted evil, that is, has become evil. Just as we may say that every human nature possesses the capacity to become a sailor, and yet this will not result in every man becoming a sailor; or again that it is possible for every man to learn the art of grammar or medicine, and yet this does not prove that every man is either a doctor or a schoolmaster; so when we say that there is no nature which cannot admit evil, we do not necessarily indicate that every nature has actually done so; nor on the other hand will the statement that there is no nature which may not admit good prove that every nature has admitted what is good.

Our opinion is that not even the devil himself was incapable of good, but the fact that he could admit good did not lead him to desire it or to take pains to acquire virtue. For, as we learn from the passages we quoted out of the prophets, he was at one time good, when he dwelt ‘in the paradise of God," "in the midst of the cherubim." Just as, therefore, he had in himself the power of admitting either good or evil, and falling away from good he turned with his whole mind to evil, so also there are other created beings who, while possessing the power to choose either, by the exercise of free will flee from evil and cleave to the good...

The nature of the Holy Spirit, which is Holy, does not admit pollution, for it is holy by nature or essence...

Thus there exists that other order of rational creatures, who have so utterly abandoned themselves to wickedness that they lack the desire, rather than the power, to return, so long as the frenzy of their evil deeds is a passion and a delight.

CHURCH OF ANGELS

"If the angel of the Lord encamps beside those who fear the Lord and brings them deliverance (Ps. 33:. 8)... it would seem that when a number of people duly meet together for the glory of Christ, they will each have their own angel encamped beside them, since they all fear the Lord. Each angel will be with the man he has been commissioned to guard and direct. Thus, when the saints are assembled, there will be two Churches, one of men and one of angels."

There are two Churches, a Church of men and a Church of angels. Whenever we say anything in conformity with the real drift and meaning of the Scriptures, the angels rejoice at it and pray with us. And because the angels are present in the Church at any rate, in any Church that deserves to be called Christ's - St. Paul orders that when women go there to pray, they should have their heads veiled, for the angels' sake [I Cor. 11:I0]. These are evidently the angels that stand by the saints and rejoice over the Church. We cannot see them, because our eyes are darkened by the filth of sin, but the Disciples saw them-Jesus said to them: 'Believe me when I tell you this; you will see heaven opening, and the angels of God going up and coming down upon the Son of Man' (John 1:51).

According to Origen, guardian angels are Christ's diligent co-workers in the saving of all mankind. Each one of us is attended by a good and bad angel.

 

ANGELS AND PEOPLE OF GOD IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

a. The angels as the friends of the Bridegroom instruct the Church, that is to say, the people of God, during the time of their espousals, the Old Testament. But the Church longs for the kiss of the Bridegroom, His coming in person. "When I was preparing myself for my marriage with the Son of the King and the First-Born of every creature, the holy angels followed me and ministered to me, bringing me the Law as a wedding present. Indeed it has been said that the Law was promulgated through the angels by means of a mediator (Gal. 3:19). But, since the world was already nearing its end and still His presence was not granted me and I only saw His servants rising and descending about me, I poured out my prayer to you, the Father of my Bridegroom, begging you to have pity on my love and send Him to me so that he need no longer speak with me through His servants the angels but might come Himself."

In his comment on the words: "We will make the chains of gold, inlaid with silver" (Song of Songs 1:10), he states that this time he sets it in relation with the figurative character of the Old Law, which is signified by the silver, as opposed to the spiritual reality of the Gospel, which is the gold.

We propose to show how the holy angels who, before the coming of Christ, watched over the bride while she was still young are the friends and companions of the Bridegroom mentioned here... In fact, it seems to me that the Law which was promulgated through the agency of a mediator did indeed contain a foreshadowing of the good things which were to come, but not their actual likeness; and that the events set down in the Law and enacted in figure though not in reality are merely imitations of gold, not real gold.

Among these imitations are the Ark of the Covenant, the mercy seat, the Cherubim, ... the Temple itself and everything which is written in the Law. It is these imitations which were given to the Church, the bride, by the angels, who are the friends of the Bridegroom and who served her in the Law and the other mysteries. That, I believe, is what St. Paul meant when he spoke of the "worship of the angels which some enter into blindly, puffed up by their mere human minds" (Col. 2:18). Thus, the entire cult and the religion of the Jews were imitations of the gold. Wherever anyone turns toward the Lord and the veil is lifted from before him, he sees the real gold."

"If we explain the passage as referring to the soul, it must appear that, as long as the soul is still young and not fully formed, it is under guardians and teachers. These are the angels who are called the guardians of children and who always see the face of the Father in heaven. Accordingly, they are imitations of gold given to the soul which is not yet sustained with the solid nourishment of the Word." Thus there is a parallelism between the history of humanity and the history of the individual. In the one as well as the other, the role of the angels is concerned with the beginnings, the preparations. This conception contains an entire general theology of the missions of the angels in outline form.

b. Origen speaks of angels set in charge of the four elements, who were perhaps well known to St. Paul (Gal. 4:9), and of angels presiding over the different domains of the universe, over the stars, the metros, the plants and animals.

c. The promulgation of the Law is the principal gift made by God to His people through the ministry of the angels.

For the Law is said to have been ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator(Gal. 3:19).

The angels served the people of Israel in the Law and in the other mysteries.

d. According to the Book of Wisdom, during the entire Exodus the people not only were served by angels, but also they were nourished by the bread of the angels, "You did feed Your people with the food of angels and gave them bread from heaven prepared without labor, having in it all that is delicious and the sweetness of every taste" (Wis. 16: 20). Origen asks our souls to practice the Exodus, and to have their spiritual trip in the desert of this life that we may receive the same angelic food.

Do not waver at the solitude of the desert; it is during your sojourn in the tents that you will receive the manna from heaven and eat the bread of angels.

d. Origen tells us that the "Ark of the Covenant, the mercy seat, the Cherubim, and even the temple itself" were given to Israel through the angels.

 

 

THE ANGELS AND THE MINISTRY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

Origen sees one of these angels in the Macedonian who appeared to St. Paul to beg aid of him.

The role of the angels of the Churches has its remote beginning in their mission toward souls who are still pagan.

Come, Angel, receive him who has been converted from his former error, from the doctrine of the demons... Receive him as a careful physician; warm and heal him... Receive him and give him the baptism of the second birth.

The Apostles have the angels to assist them in the accomplishment of their ministry of preaching, in the completion of their gospel work.

ANGELS AND THE NATIONS

Origen like his teacher St. Clement of Alexandria believes that "the presiding powers of the angels have been distributed according to the nations and the cities." He writes: "Some certain spiritual powers have come into a presiding office over particular nations in this world."

Origen, following the Jewish tradition, attributes to them a part in the origin of the various languages. But their mission is primarily spiritual.

We read in Scripture that there are princes over each nation-and the context makes it quite clear that they are angels and not men. It is these princes and the other powers of this world who each have a separate science and a special doctrine to teach.

Accordingly we find in the holy Scriptures that there are rulers over individual nations, as for instance, we read in Daniel of a certain ‘prince of the kingdom of the Persians’ and another ‘prince of the kingdom of the Greeks’ who, as is clearly shown by the sense of the passage itself, are not men but powers. Moreover in the prophet Ezekiel the ‘prince of Tyre’ is most plainly pictured as a certain spiritual power.

The angels to whom the nations were entrusted are powerless to stop the flood of evil. "Before the birth of Christ these angels could be of little use to those entrusted to them and their attempts were not followed by success... Whenever the angels of the Egyptians helped the Egyptians, there was hardly a single proselyte who believed in God."

 

 

THE ANGELS OF THE NATIVITY

Origen says, "The coming of Christ into the world was a great joy for those to whom the care of men and nations had been entrusted"

Origen has already shown the angels eager to descend with the Word. "When the angels saw the Prince of the heavenly host tarrying among the places of earth, they entered by the way that He had opened, following their Lord and obeying the will of Him who apportioned to their guardianship those who believe in Him. The angels are in the service of Your salvation. If He descended into a body, they have been granted to the Son of God to follow Him. They say among themselves, ‘If He has put on mortal flesh, how can we remain doing nothing? Come, angels, let us all descend from heaven,’ That is why there was a multitude of the heavenly host praising and glorifying God when Christ was born. Everything is filled with angels."

Origen interprets the shepherds of Bethlehem allegorically as the angels of the nations, making a play on the word shepherd, which applies to the one as well as to the other. "The shepherds can be considered as the angels to whom men are entrusted. They all had need of assistance so that the nations in their charge would be well governed. It is to them that the angel came to announce the birth of the true Shepherd."

 

 

THE ANGELS OF THE ASCENSION

The entry of the Incarnate Word into heaven appears much like an unforeseen revelation made to the heavenly powers.

With Origen appears the text of Isaiah 63, and the allusion to the blood of the Passion. "When he came forward the Victor, His body raised up from the dead, certain of the Powers said, ‘Who is this that comes from Bosra, with His garments dyed red?’ But those who were escorting Him said to those in charge of the gates of heaven, ‘Open, you gates of eternity.’"

 

 

ANGELS AND THE LAST ADVENT

As the Son of man comes in the glory of His own Father, so the angels, who are the words in the prophets, are present with Him preserving the measure of their own glory. But when the Word comes in such form with His own angels, He will give to each a part of His own glory and of the brightness of His own angels, according to the action of each.

 

THE ANGELS ARE EVANGELISTS

The angels are not merely entrusted with one small service for the gospel... But the angel "flying" on duty "in mid-air" (Rev. 14:6) has a gospel wherewith to evangelize all nations, for the good Father has in no wise deserted those who have fallen from Him.

Now if there are those among men who are honored with the ministry of evangelists, and if Jesus Himself brings tidings of good things, and preaches the Gospel to the poor, surely those messengers who were made spirits by God (Ps. 104:4), those who are a flame of fire, ministers of the Father of all, cannot have been excluded from being evangelists also. Hence an angel standing over the shepherds made a bright light to shine round about them, and said: "Fear not; behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you, this day, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David" (Luke 2:10, 11). And at a time when there was no knowledge among men of the mystery of the Gospel, those who were greater than men and inhabitants of heaven, the army of God, praised God, saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men." And having said this, the angels went away from the shepherds into heaven, leaving us to gather how the joy preached to us through the birth of Jesus Christ is glory in the highest of God; they humbled themselves even to the ground, and then returned to their place of rest, to glorify God in the highest through Jesus Christ. But the angels also wonder at the peace which is to be brought about on account of Jesus on the earth, that seat of war, on which Lucifer, star of the morning, fell from heaven, to be warred against and destroyed by Jesus.

 

THE ANGELS AND SACRAMENTS

Origen believes that the angels have their role in the preparation of men for baptism as well as they have their role in baptism itself.

Come, angel, receive him who has been converted from his former error, from the doctrine of the demons...

Receive him as a careful physician, warm and heal him...

Receive him and give him the baptism of the second birth.

At the time that the Sacrament of the Faith was administered to you, there were present heavenly Powers, the ministrations of the angels, the Church of the first-born.

The angels are present at Baptism.

Yes, the powers of heaven were present when the sacrament of faith was given you; the hierarchies of angels, the Church of the firstborn, were there [cf. Heb. 22:. 23]. If we realize that 'Israel' means 'seeing God mentally', we shall see that the name is even more appropriate when used of the angels who minister to us; for, as the Lord said when speaking of the children-and you were a child yourself when you were baptized, your angels always see the heavenly Father's face [Matt. 18:10]... Such were those sons of Israel who were present, gazing on God's face, when the sacraments of faith were given you...

As the angels preside over baptism so they are equally present at every Christian assembly.

On the question of the angels the following is a necessary conclusion: If the angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear Him, and shall deliver them; and if what Jacob says is true not only in his own case but also in the case of all those who are dedicated to the omniscient God, when he speaks of the angel that delivers me from all evils: then it is probable that, when many are assembled legitimately for the glory of Christ, the angel of each encamps round each of them that fear God, and that he stands at the side of the man whose protection and guidance has been entrusted to him. Thus, when the saints are assembled together, there is a twofold Church present, that of men and that of angels.

I have no doubt that there are angels in the midst of our assembly too, not only the Church in general, but each church individually-those of whom it is said that ‘their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.’ Thus we have here a twofold Church, one of men, the other of angels. If what we say is in conformity with both reason and the meaning of Scripture, the angels rejoice and pray together with us. And since there are angels present in Church-that is, in the Church which deserves them, being of Christ-women when they pray are ordered to have a covering upon their heads because of those angels. They assist the saints and rejoice in the Church. We indeed do not see them because our eyes are grown dim with the stains of sin; but the Apostles see them, as they were promised: ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened and the angels of God going up and coming down upon the Son of Man.’ And if I had this grace which the Apostles had, I would see the multitude of angels that Eliseus saw, when Giezi, standing right beside him, saw nothing.

With reference to the words, "when through the laver I became a child in Christ," it may be said, that there is no holy angel present with those who are still in wickedness, but that during the period of unbelief they are under the angels of Satan; but, after the regeneration, He who has redeemed us with His own blood consigns us to a holy angel, who also, because of his purity, beholds the face of God.

ANGELS

If the angels of God came to Jesus and ministered to Him (Matt. 4:11), and if it is not right for us to believe that this ministry of the angels to Jesus was for a short time only during His bodily sojourn among men, when He was still in the midst of those who believed, not as He that sits at table but as he that serves (Luke 22:27), how many angels, do you think, minister to Jesus who wishes to gather together the sons of Israel one by one and assemble those of the dispersion and saves them that are in fear and call upon Him?(Isa. 27:12; John 10:16; 11:52; Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:12f.) And do they not contribute more than the apostles to the growth and increase of the Church, so that John says in the Apocalypse that certain angels stand over the churches? (Rev. 1:20; 2:1, 8, 12,18; 3:1,7, 14.) Nor is it in vain that the angels of God ascend and descend upon the Son of man, and are seen by eyes illumined by the light of knowledge (John 1:51; Osee 10:12 LXX).

The angel, indeed, of each one, even of the little ones in the Church, always seeing the face of the Father who is in heaven (Matt. 18:10) and beholding the divinity of our Creator, prays with us and cooperates with us, as far as is possible, in what we seek.

If then God knows the free will of every man, therefore, since he foresees it, He arranges by His Providence what is fair according to the deserts of each, and provides what he may pray for, the deposition of such and such thus showing his faith and the object of his desire...

To this other man who will be of such and such a character, I will send a particular guardian angel to work with him at his salvation from such and such a time, and to remain with him up to a certain time. And to another I will send another angel, one, for example, of higher rank, because this man will be better than the former. And in the case of another, who, having devoted himself to lofty teachings, becomes weak and returns to material things, I will deprive him of his more powerful helper; and when he departs, a certain evil power-as he deserves-will seize the opportunity of profiting by his weakness, and will seduce him, now that he has shown his readiness to sin, to commit such and such sins."

THE GUARDIAN ANGELS

The doctrine of guardian angels was not new with him; it is found in the Shepherd of Barnabas, and St. Clement of Alexandria, and was based principally on the Scriptures (Gen. 48:16; Tob. 3:25); Matt. 18:10. This doctrine appears in the earliest Christian texts. It is found in Pseudo Barnabas, in Hermas, in St. Clement of Alexandria, who goes back himself to the Apocalypse of St. Peter. Origen develops the doctrine to a great extent.

All of the faithful in Christ, no matter how small, are helped by an angel, and Christ says that these angels always see the face of the Father who is in heaven.

Here Origen refers to Matthew 18:10; elsewhere he refers to Acts 12:15.

We must say that every human soul is under the direction of an angel who is like a father.

The Fathers of the fourth century profess the same doctrine. For St. Basil "an angel is put in charge of every believer, provided we do not drive him out by sin. He guards the soul like an army."

When a man has received the Faith, Christ who has redeemed him by His blood from his evil masters entrusts him, since hereafter he is to believe in God, to a holy angel who, because of his great purity, always sees the face of the Father.

But, lest this should happen, lest the evil spirits should again find foothold in her, God's providence looked forward in such wise as to provide the little ones and those who, being as yet but babes and sucklings in Christ, cannot defend themselves against the wiles of the devil and the attacks of evil spirits, with angel champions and guardians. These are ordained by Him to act as tutors and governors of those who, as we said, are under age and so unable to fight for themselves (1 Cor. 3:1; Eph. 6:11; Gal. 4:2).

Each and everyone of the faithful, and he the least in the Church, is said to be assisted by an angel, of whom the Savior says that he sees the face of God the Father.

Angels are the highest rational creatures. Origen believed that angels direct nations and churches as well as act as the guardians of individual people. Angels of higher rank have charge of more important functions. In his homilies at Caesarea, Origen claimed, for example, that angels of higher rank are assigned to persons of higher intellectual stature and consequently greater responsibility, than are assigned to the common run of folk. Persons who failed to behave worthily of their high calling could be divorced by their heavenly guardians and assigned to an angel of lower rank.

 

Angels, demons and men were created equal; differences even among heavenly creatures are a result of their conduct, that depended on their own will.

God gave angels the care of all of creation; rational and irrational.

Before conversion, man is subject to demons, but after conversion he is under the care of a private angel who incites him to do good and defends him against evil angels.

Angels participate with us in our worship. When the church assembles, the angels of believers also assemble with them as a hidden church.

So great was the demonic influence felt to be that Origen devotes a chapter of his work On First Principles to "how the devil and the opposing powers are, according to the Scriptures, at war with the human race." He expends much of his effort, however, on putting the demons' role into perspective. Some simple Christians think, Origen says, that the demons' powers are so overwhelming that they drive people into sin, and that if there were no demons there would be no sin. But this is not the case; sin arises from within, and the demons take advantage of our sinfulness and aggravate it, although they do in fact introduce some evil thoughts into our hearts as well. In any event, we are not alone in the fight against the evil powers, since there are good spirits too who come to our aid. Here Origen recalls a passage from the second-century Shepherd of Hermas, which speaks of two angels in the human person, one of righteousness and one of wickedness, each competing for his soul.

Or at least since the Lord in the gospel testifies that the hearts of sinners are besieged by "seven demons" (Luke 11:26), "the priest" appropriately "sprinkles seven times before the Lord" in purification that the expulsion "of the seven evil spirits" from the heart of the person purified maybe shown by " the oil shaken seven times from the fingers."

Origen applies a verse from Psalm 90 to the Christians: "For He has given His angels charge over you; to keep you in all your ways." (Psalm 90:11). He comments: "For it is the just who need the aid of the angels of God, so as not to be overthrown by the devils, and so that their hearts will no be pierced by the arrow which flies in the darkness."

Origen attributes to the angels a role in this healing process. Interpreting the parable of the Good Samaritan as pertaining to the conversion of the sinner, he writes: "When he was about to leave in the morning, he took two pennies from the money he had with him, from his silver, and gave them to the innkeeper, certainly the angel of the church, whom he commands to look after [the sick man] carefully, and nurse him back to health." Elsewhere, comparing the resurrection of Lazarus to that of the sinner, Origen remarks that the body of Lazarus, after leaving the tomb, is still bound with bandages: "One might ask to whom Jesus said ‘Loose him.’ It is not recorded as being said to the disciples, nor to the crowd, nor to those who are with Mary. Because of the words, ‘Angels drew near and ministered to Him,’ and because of the symbolic character of the passage, one might suppose that it is other than these who are addressed here."

Origen distinguishes the general presence of the angles with regard to the one who is praying and the special presence of the guardian angel. "In the same way we must suppose that the angels who are the overseers and ministers of God are present to one who is praying in order to ask with him for what he petitions, the angel, indeed, of each one, even of the little ones in the Church, always seeing the face of the Father who is in heaven and beholding the divinity of our Creator, prays with us and cooperates with us, and far as is possible, in what we seek." This participation of the guardian angel in prayer, his union with our supplication, comes up frequently in Origen. This Christian has nothing to fear from the devil, because "the Angel of the Lord shall encamp round about those that fear Him and he shall deliver them; and his angel who constantly sees the face of the Father in heaven, always offers up his prayers through the one High-Priest to the God of all. In fact, he himself joins in the prayers of the one entrusted to his care."

Thus the angel circulates between the soul and heaven. "We readily admit... that they rise upwards carrying the prayers of men.. and come back down bringing to each one what he desires of the goods that God has appointed them to administer to the objects of their loving kindness."

"All men are moved by two angels, an evil one who inclines them to evil and a good one who inclines them to good." And again: "What I say of every single province I think ought to be believed as well of every single man. For everyone is influenced by two angels, one of justice and the other of iniquity. If there are good thoughts in our head, there is no doubt that the angel of the Lord is speaking to us. But if evil things come into our heart, the angel of the evil one is speaking to us."

 

 

THE ANGELS AND SPIRITUAL LIFE

The assistance of the angels which is given to the soul at baptism is to continue throughout the whole course of its life. Not even sins can suppress it. They can only sadden the angel of the soul.

Origen had already written: "There had to be angels who are in charge of holy works, who teach the understanding of the eternal light, the knowledge of the secrets of God, and the science of the divine."

Thus Origen writes: "But set forth, be not afraid of the desert solitude. Soon even the angels will come to join you."

Origen was the first really to emphasize this characteristic of the action of the angels, the fact that it is concerned with the beginnings of the spiritual life: "Look and see if it is not above all the children, led by fear, who have angels; and if in the case of the more advanced it is of the Lord of the angels who says to each of them: ‘I am with you in tribulation.; To the extent that we are imperfect, we have need of an angel to free us from evils. But when we are mature and when we have passed the time for being under teachers and masters, we can be led by Christ Himself."

Here Origen stresses a general aspect of the doctrine of the angels, their relation with beginnings and preparations. It is they who prepared the path of Christ in the Old Testament; they are the friends of the Bridegroom whose joy is perfect when they hear the voice of the Bridegroom and who leave the Bride alone with Him; it is they who, as the Gospel teaches, have a particular relationship with children. So their role remains connected with the beginnings of the spiritual life. They draw the soul to good by noble inspirations and they give it a horror of sin. Thus they dispose it to receive the visitation of the Word. But they withdraw before Him. In the course of its spiritual ascent, the soul passes first of all through the angelic spheres, but it goes beyond in order to arrive to the realm of God. The whole mission of the angels is to lead souls to the King of the angels and then to disappear before Him.

 

 

ANGELS REJOICE FOR OUR VICTORY

When you will be engaged in the conflict you can say with Paul: We are made a spectacle to the world and to angels and to men (1 Cor. 4:9). The whole world, therefore, all the angels on the right and on the left, all men, both those on the side of God (Deut. 32:9; Col. 1:12) and the others - all will hear us fighting the fight for Christianity. Either the angels in heaven will rejoice over us, and the rivers shall clap their hands, the mountains shall rejoice together, and all the trees of the plain shall clap their branches (Ps. 97:8; Isa. 55:12 LXX) - or - and God forbid that it should happen - the powers of the lower world will gloat over our crime and will be glad.

THE ANGELS AT THE MOMENT OF OUR DEATH

The angels as the servants of the Savior desire and help us in our salvation. they assist at the ascension of the souls of the true believers, specially the martyrs, crying out, "Quis est iste?" Origen shows the angels assisting with open admiration at the struggles of the martyrs, just as they did at that of Christ:

A great multitude is assembled to watch you when you combat and are called to martyrdom. It is as if we said that thousands gather to watch a contest in which contestants of outstanding reputation are engaged. When you are engaged in the conflict you can say with St. Paul: "We are made a spectacle to the world and to the angels and to men." The whole world, therefore, all the angels on the right and on the left, all men, both those on the side of God and the others-all will hear us fighting the fight for Christianity. The angels in heaven will rejoice with us.

Who could follow the soul of a martyr as it passes beyond all the powers of the air [the demons] and makes its way towards the altar of heaven? Blessed is that soul which, by the crimson of its blood poured out in martyrdom, puts to rout the ranks of the demons of the air advancing toward it. Blessed is he of whom the angels shall sing the prophetic words as he enters into heaven, "Who is this that comes up from Bosra? "

When this tabernacle has been dissolved, and we have begun to enter into the Holies and pass on to the promised land, those who are really holy and whose place is in the Holy of Holies will make their way supported by the angels, and until the tabernacle of God come to a halt, they will be carried on their shoulders and raised up by their hands. This the Prophet foresaw in spirit, when he said: ‘For he has given his angels charge over you; to keep you in all your ways’ (Psalm 90:11). But everything that is written in this Psalm applies to the just rather than the Lord... Paul, treating of the same mystery, strengthens the belief that some will be borne upon the clouds by the angels when he says, "Then we who live, who survive, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thess. 4:17).

The angels who have had the responsibility of human souls are shown examining the merits and demerits of the souls who present themselves before the gates of heaven. They are somewhat like customs officials at the gates of cities.

Every angel, at the end of the world, will present himself for judgment, leading with him those whom he guided, helped, and taught.

ANGELS AND SPIRITUAL UNION WITH THE SOULS OF MEN

We must therefore take heed lest there be found in us any unseemly thing, and we should not find favor in the eyes of our husband Christ, or of the angel who has been set over us. For if we do not take heed, perhaps we also shall receive the bill of divorcement, and either be bereft of our guardian, or go to another man. But I consider that it is not of good omen to receive, as it were, the marriage of an angel with our own soul.

THE FOOD OF ANGELS

The saints can sometimes share spiritual and rational food not only with men, but also with the more divine powers. They do so either to help them, or to show what excellent nourishment they have been able to prepare for themselves. The angels rejoice and nourish themselves on such a demonstration, and become the more ready to cooperate in every way and for the future to join their efforts towards a more comprehensive and more profound understanding for him who, provided only with the nourishing doctrines that earlier were his, has brought joy to them and, to put it thus, nourished them. Nor must we wonder that man should give nourishment to the angels. Christ Himself confesses that He stands at the door and knocks, that He may come in to him who opens the door to Him, and sup with him (Rev. 3:20). And then He gives of His own to him who first nourished, as well as he could, the Son of God.

Since the angels also are nourished on the wisdom of God and receive strength to accomplish their own proper works from the contemplation of truth and wisdom, so in the Psalms we find it written that the angels also take food, the men of God, who are called Hebrews, sharing with the angels and, so to speak, becoming table-companions with them. As much is said in the passage, Man ate the bread of angels (Ps. 77:25). Our mind must not be so beggarly as to think that the angels forever partake of and nourish themselves on some kind of material bread which, as is told, came down from heaven upon those who went out of Egypt (Exod 16:15; Ps. 77:24), and that it was this same bread which the Hebrews shared with the angels, the spirits dedicated to the service of God (Heb. 1:14).

Just as the demons, sitting by the altars of the Gentiles, used to feed on the steam of the sacrifices, so also the angels, allured by the blood of the victims which Israel offered as symbols of spiritual things, and by the smoke of the incense, used to dwell near the altars and to be nourished on food of this sort.

 


DEMONS

The demons, having once been rational (logika) beings, have become, through their rejection of God irrational (aloga) beings without reason; thus they are assimilated to the animals, becoming as it were spiritual beasts. Origen states that the Church assures the existence of the demons, and left the questions what they are, and how they are for discussion.

Further, in regard to the devil and his angels and the opposing spiritual powers, the Church teaching lays it down that these beings exist, but what they are or how they exist it has not explained very clearly. Among most Christians, however, the following opinion is held, that this devil was formerly an angel, but became an apostate and persuaded as many angels as he could to fall away with him; and these are even now called his angels.

 

THE AUTHORITY OF THE DEMONS UPON THE WICKED

Origen asks if truly Satan and his angels have been destroyed by the redeeming work of Christ, why we believe that he still has authority against the servants of God? He answers that the violent activity of Satan has its effect on evildoers only, but he has no authority upon those who are in Christ.

One must suppose that if a man becomes unworthy of a holy angel, he may even give himself up to an angel of the devil because of the sins he commits and his disobedience wherewith he condemns God.

In this way, then, even Satan was once light, before he went astray and fell to this place, when "his glory was turned into dust" (Isa. 14:11) which is the peculiar mark of the wicked, as the prophet also says. And so he is called the "prince of this world" (John 12:31; 16:11) for he exercises his princely power over those who are obedient to his wickedness, since "this whole world" (and here I take "world" to mean this earthly place) "lies in the evil one" (1 John 5:19), that is, in this apostate. That he is an apostate, or fugitive, the Lord also says in Job, in the following words, "You wilt take with a hook the apostate dragon" (Job 40:20), that is, the fugitive dragon. And it is certain that the dragon means the devil himself.

R. Cadiou says,

The devil’s power is derived from the weakness of the soul. Is that power ever exerted unless the soul is off guard and lacking in vigilance? Does not the devil take advantage of the lowering of our resistance owing to luxury and sloth? Seizing the occasion of the first transgression, he presses us hard in every way, seeking to extend our sins over a wider field. He knows how to profit from sin, for he was the first sinner on this earth. He exploits the threefold temptation of the body, of external things, and of our thoughts. He turns a man of uncontrollable anger into a murderer. He takes full control, we know, in the morbid states of obsession, of madness, and of melancholia. He offers such incitements to sin that even the purest soul must be vigilant against the merest defilement from his assaults. But his attacks are never greater than our powers of resistance. No being, except the Savior, has ever had to withstand the attacks of all the powers of hell. Therefore the great occasion of sin is the flesh itself, with its instincts that turn the soul away from its true end. Within our body there are germs of evil, opposed to the germs of good which God has implanted in the mind. The human will, which of itself is weak to accomplish any good, readily yields to those instincts. Then the memory, in its weakness to hold fast to good, makes sinful impressions even stronger.

 

BAPTISM AND OUR AUTHORITY ON THE DEMONS

Before baptism a renunciation of Satan is realized. In performing this solemn act, the catechumen faced the west, the region of the devil and his cohorts of evil angels. He then turned toward the east, the land of salvation, to be baptized.

And how many savage beasts infuriated against us, wicked spirits and evil men, have we encountered and often through our prayers muzzled so that they were unable to fix their teeth in those among us who had become the members of Christ! (Cf. 1 Cor. 6:15; Dan. 6:22)

THE AUTHORITY OF BELIEVERS UPON THE DEMONS

Origen warns that evil spirits are lying in wait to lead men astray and subject them to their kingdom of darkness.

He asks the powers of betrayal to attack the souls of men not openly but suddenly through unstraight ways... We say with Paul, "we do not ignore his plans."

The believer should cultivate the aid of the administering spirits of God to repulse those hostile demons.

Do the demons have any authority? Origen believes that these diabolical and bestial images cannot destroy the image of God. The latter endures beneath the former like the water in Abraham’s well which the Philistines filled with mire. A picture painted by the Son of God, it is indelible. But, just as Isaac had to come to clear out the wells his father had dug, only Christ, our Isaac, can clear the wells of our soul of the filth that our sins have accumulated, so that the living water can flow again. The permanence of the ‘after-the-image’ in man despite his faults assures, through the grace of Christ, the possibility of conversion: it is the same with the permanence of the spirit, an element of the trichotomic anthropology.

Before we have the faith there was a kingdom of sin in everyone of us. But by the coming of Jesus, all kings who were reigning over us were killed... He teaches us how to kill them all and do not leave even one of them to escape, for if we leave one alive, we cannot be considered as the followers of Joshua’s sword (Jos. 11:10-11).

If a sin of greed, pride or carnal lusts reigns over you, you are not a soldier of Israel and you disobeyed the commandment which God gave to Joshua.

All the earth is the palace of this king who received authority over the whole earth as if it is his own palace; it is the Satan!...

It is written in the Gospels that the strong one sleeps in his palace in security until He who is stronger comes and fetters him with chains and deprives him of his possessions. Then, the king of this palace is the prince of this world.

Origen comments on the words, "you should tread upon the lion and the cobra "Ps. 91:13".

As we read in the Scripture which straightens us, we acknowledge completely that we have an authority to tread upon you (O devil ) with feet.

This authority is not given in the Old Testament (Ps. 91:13), but in the New Testament. Does not the Savior say: "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and Scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you" (Luke 10:19).

Let us trust in this authority and receive our armor, and trample with our conduct on the lion and copra.

Jesus came strong in the battle to destroy all our enemies and redeem us from their snares and free us from our enemies and all who hate us.

PERPETUAL FATHERHOOD OF THE DEVIL AND THAT OF GOD

The devil was formerly our father, before God became our Father. Perhaps indeed the devil still is;... if "everyone that commits sin is born of the devil," so to speak, as often as we sin.

Such perpetual birth from the devil is as wretched as perpetual birth from God is blessed.

Note that I do not say that the righteous man has been born once and for all of God, but that he is so born on every occasion that God gives him birth for some good action. (This perpetual rebirth is true even of Christ) for Christ is the "effulgence" of "glory", and such effulgence is not generated once only but as often as the light creates it... Our Savior is the "Wisdom of God", and wisdom is the "effulgence of eternal light" (Wisdom 7:26). If then the Savior is always being born... from the Father, so too are you, if you have the spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15), and God is always begetting you in every deed and thought you have; and this begetting makes you a perpetually re-born son of God in Christ Jesus.

Our inner man, therefore, is said either to have God as Father, if he lives according to God and does those things which are of God, or the devil, if he lives in sin and performs his wishes.

The Savior shows this clearly in the Gospels when he says, "You are of your father the devil and you wish to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and he did not stand in the truth" (John 8:44).

As, therefore, the seed of God is said to remain in us when we, preserving the word of God in us, do not sin, as John says, "He who is of God does not sin because God's seed remains in Him,"(1 John 3.9.) so also when we are persuaded to sin by the devil we receive his seed.

 

TRUSTING IN THE DEMONS

Origen states that horses in the Scriptures refer to the Devil.

"A horse is a vain hope for safety, neither shall it deliver any by its great strength" Ps. 33:17. This also is said concerning those who trust in the Devil: "They have bowed down and fallen; but we have risen and stand upright" Ps. 20:8. Comparison here, in fact, is not between the chariot (horses) and the Lord, as if to these we appeal. But here he explains that we supplicate the true God, while they to the chariots and horses, i.e., to the evil spirits.

DEVIL’S CURRENCY

Well, murder is the devil’s currency... You have committed murder: you have, then, received the devil’s money. Adultery is the devil’s currency... You have committed adultery: you have received coinage from the devil. Robbery, false witness, rapacity, violence-all these are the devil’s riches and his... treasure; for such is the money that comes from his mint. It is, then, with this kind of money that he buys his victims, and makes his slaves all those who have taken the smallest coin from such a treasury.

DEMONS AS EVIL GUARDIANS

The demons can be guardians, guardians in reverse, trying to make those they have taken charge of sin, whether individuals or nations. At their head is their chief, Satan, the Devil, the Evil One, in whom Origen sees the "Principle" of the fall following (Job 40,14 [19 LXX]): "He is made to be the first of the works (plasma) of God, to be the laughing stock of his angels.

 

 

THE CROSS AND THE DEVIL

1. The Demons as the princes of this world laid a snare to Jesus Christ, and crucified Him, not knowing who was concealed within Him.

When these, therefore, and other similar princes of this world, each having his own individual wisdom and formulating his own doctrines and peculiar opinions, saw our Lord and Savior promising and proclaiming that he had come into the world for the purpose of destroying all the doctrines, whatever they might be, of the "knowledge falsely so called" (1 Tim. 6:20), they immediately laid snares for Him, not knowing who was concealed within Him. For "the kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ" (Ps. 2:2)... They crucified the Lord of glory .’

2. Through the cross the demons lost their dominion.

He began on the cross by chaining the demon, and, having entered into his house, that is to say, into Hell, and having ascended from there into the heights, He led away captives, that is to say, those who rose again and entered with Him into the heavenly Jerusalem.

But if we follow Jesus and believe His words and are filled with His faith, the demons will be as nothing in our sight.

 

THE SALVATION OF THE DEVIL

In chapter four under the title "Apokatastis," I have dealt with this topic, the salvation of the Devil according to Origen. Robert Payne says,

Just as he believed that the sun would return to God, so he believed that even the Devil would return to his proper inheritance, and "walk once again in the Paradise of God between the cherubim." And why, he asks, should it not be? Was he not once the Prince of Tyre among the saints, without stain, adorned with the crown of comeliness and beauty, and is it to be supposed that such a one is any degree inferior to the saints? Sin did not brand a man eternally; the pains of Hell are disciplinary and temporary, not everlasting, and Hell fire is no more than the purifying flame which removes the baser elements from the soul’s metal. Not the body as flesh, but the body as spirit will rise again on that eternal morning, of which all the ages of the world are no more than the previous night. And that this Heaven exists, and that the end will be as the beginning we have no doubt, "for God would never have implanted in our minds the love of truth, if it were never to have an opportunity of satisfaction."

 

 

THE DEVIL AS THE BLINDER

Origen maintains that the ‘blinder’ is the evil one, the ‘Healer’ is our Lord Jesus Christ.

But as for "they could not believe," we must say that the case is similar to that of congenital physical blindness, later cured by the Savior: to say "I cannot see because I am blind" would not be to deny that the blind man would ever be able to see. Indeed later he could, when Jesus opened the eyes of the blind and graciously bestowed the gift of sight... In the same way those who once could not believe because their eyes had been blinded by the evil one were still able to come to believe by coming to Jesus... and seeking the gift of (spiritual) sight.

We are not under the control of demons but of the God of the universe, through Jesus Christ who brings us to Him. According to the laws of God no demon has inherited control of things on the earth; but one may suggest that through their own defense of the law they divided among themselves those places where there is no knowledge of God and the life according to His will, or where there are many enemies of His divinity. Another suggestion would be that because the demons were fitted to govern and punish the wicked, they were appointed by the Word that administers the universe, to rule those who have subjected themselves to sin and not to God.