Wednesday, March 29, 2006

More Patristic Quotations on Divine Justice, Substitution and Propitiation as Aspects of the Atonement

When I was sick in the flesh, the Savior was sent to me in the likeness of sinful flesh, fulfilling such a dispensation, to redeem me from slavery, from corruption, and from death. And he became to me righteousness, and sanctification, and salvation. Righteousness, by setting me free from sin through faith in him. Sanctification, in having set me free through water and the Spirit and his Word. And salvation, his blood being the ransom of the true Lamb, having given himself up on my behalf. An expiatory sacrifice for the cleansing of the world, for the reconciliation of all things in heaven as well as on earth, the mystery hidden before the ages and generations, fulfilled at the ordained time.
(St. Epiphanios of Cyprus, Panarion 3:1:2)

Jesus took on himself even death, that the sentence of condemnation might be carried out, that he might satisfy the judgment that sinful flesh should be cursed even unto death. Nothing therefore was done contrary to the sentence of God, since the condition of God’s sentence was fulfilled.
(St. Ambrose of Milan, De Fuga 44)

He it is that was crucified before the sun and all creation as witnesses, and before those who put Him to death: and by His death has salvation come to all, and all creation been ransomed. He is the Life of all, and He it is that as a sheep yielded His body to death as a substitute, for the salvation of all, even though the Jews believe it not.
(St. Athanasios the Great, De Incarnatione XXXVII.7)

Thus then the Lord also, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;’ but when the Father willed that ransoms should be paid for all and to all, grace should be given, then truly the Word, as Aaron his robe, so did He take earthly flesh, having Mary for the Mother of His Body as if virgin earth, that, as a High Priest, having He as others an offering, He might offer Himself to the Father, and cleanse us all from sins in His own blood, and might rise from the dead.
(St. Athanasios the Great, Contra Arianos II.7)

For the Word, perceiving that no otherwise could the corruption of men be undone save by death as a necessary condition, while it was impossible for the Word to suffer death, being immortal, and Son of the Father; to this end He takes to Himself a body capable of death, that it, by partaking of the Word Who is above all, might be worthy to die in the stead of all, and might, because of the Word which was come to dwell in it, remain incorruptible, and that thenceforth corruption might be stayed from all by the Grace of the Resurrection. Whence, by offering unto death the body He Himself had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from any stain, straightway He put away death from all His peers by the offering of an equivalent. For being over all, the Word of God naturally by offering His own temple and corporeal instrument for the life of all satisfied the debt by His death.
(St. Athanasios the Great, De Incarnatione IX.1,2)

He is Sanctification, as being Purity, that the Pure may be contained by Purity. And Redemption, because He sets us free, who were held captive under sin, giving Himself a Ransom for us, the Sacrifice to make expiation for the world. And Resurrection, because He raises up from hence, and brings to life again us, who were slain by sin.
(St. Gregory Nazianzen, Discourses XXX.20)

The Lord was bound to taste of death for every man—to become a propitiation for the world and to justify all men by His own blood.
(St. Basil the Great, Letters CCLX.9)

But at the sixth hour the spotless Sacrifice, our Lord and Saviour, was offered up to the Father, and, ascending the cross for the salvation of the whole world, made atonement for the sins of mankind, and, despoiling principalities and powers, led them away openly; and all of us who were liable to death and bound by the debt of the handwriting that could not be paid, He freed, by taking it away out of the midst and affixing it to His cross for a trophy.
(St. John Cassian, Institutes, III.3)

Moreover, in the Epistle to the Hebrews we may learn the same truth from Paul, when he says that Jesus was made an Apostle and High Priest by God, “being faithful to him that made Him so.” For in that passage too, in giving the name of High Priest to Him Who made with His own Blood the priestly propitiation for our sins, he does not by the word “made” declare the first existence of the Only-begotten, but says “made” with the intention of representing that grace which is commonly spoken of in connection with the appointment of priests. For Jesus, the great High Priest (as Zechariah says), Who offered up his own lamb, that is, His own Body, for the sin of the world; Who, by reason of the children that are partakers of flesh and blood, Himself also in like manner took part with them in blood (not in that He was in the beginning, being the Word and God, and being in the form of God, and equal with God, but in that He emptied Himself in the form of the servant, and offered an oblation and sacrifice for us), He, I say, became a High Priest many generations later, after the order of Melchisedech.
(St. Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, VI.2)

Every action, therefore, and performance of miracles by Christ are most great and divine and marvellous: but the most marvellous of all is His precious Cross. For no other thing has subdued death, expiated the sin of the first parent, despoiled Hades, bestowed the resurrection, granted the power to us of contemning the present and even death itself, prepared the return to our former blessedness, opened the gates of Paradise, given our nature a seat at the right hand of God, and made us the children and heirs of God, save the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(St. John Damascene, De Fide Orthodoxa, IV.11)

For as it cannot be denied that “the Word became flesh and dwelt in us,” so it cannot be denied that “GOD was in CHRIST, reconciling the world to Himself.” But what reconciliation can there be, whereby GOD might be propitiated for the human race, unless the mediator between GOD and man took up the cause of all? And in what way could He properly fulfil His mediation, unless He who in the form of GOD was equal to the Father, were a sharer of our nature also in the form of a slave: so that the one new Man might effect a renewal of the old: and the bond of death fastened on us by one man’s wrong-doing might be loosened by the death of the one Man who alone owed nothing to death. For the pouring out of the blood of the righteous on behalf of the unrighteous was so powerful in its effect, so rich a ransom that, if the whole body of us prisoners only believed in their Redeemer, not one would be held in the tyrant’s bonds: since as the Apostle says, “where sin abounded, grace also did much more abound.” And since we, who were born under the imputation of sin, have received the power of a new birth unto righteousness, the gift of liberty has become stronger than the debt of slavery.
(Pope St. Leo the Great, Letters, CXXIV:3)

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