My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
AN EXPOSITION OF THE PREACHING OF THE APOSTLE (Part V)
by Saint Irenaios of Lyons
Actions of Christ: Their Necessity and Significance
The Significance of the Cross
The sin which came by the tree (Genesis 3:6) was undone by the tree of obedience to God when the Son of man was nailed to the tree. There He overcame the knowledge of evil and brought in the knowledge of good. Evil is disobedience to God, and good is obedience to God.
Thus, the Logos/Word spoke through Isaiah the Prophet, announcing what was to come in the future--prophets are so called because they foretell the future. Through Isaiah the Logos/Word said: "I refuse not, nor gainsay; I gave my back to scourging and my cheeks to smiting; and my face I turned not away from the shame of spitting" (Isaiah 51:5 f). By obedience "even unto death" (Philippians 2:8)--hanging on the tree--He undid the old disobedience which was effected through the tree.
He is the Logos/Word of God Almighty, in our midst in His unseen form, permeating the whole universe and encompassing its length and breadth and height and depth (cf. Ephesians 3:18)--for the whole world is ordered and arranged by the Logos/Word of God. Therefore the Son of God was crucified in all these, inscribed upon all in the form of a cross.
In taking on visible form He necessarily had to display the universality of His Cross openly, in order to demonstrate in a visible form, His action upon visible things. For it is He Who illuminates the height, the heavens; He Who holds the deep, which is in the bowels of the earth; He Who stretches out and extends the length from East to West; He Who guides the breath of North and South; and He Who summons all who are scattered everywhere to the knowledge of the Fathers (cf. Ecclesiasticus 24:6-9; St. John 12:32; St. John 11:51 f).
The Fulfillment of the Abrahamic Promises
Furthermore, He fulfilled the promise made to Abraham by God that He would make His descendants like the stars of the heaven (cf. 15:5). Christ did this by being born of the Virgin, who was a descendant of Abraham and making lights in the world those who had faith in Him (cf. St. Matthew 4:4; Philippians 2:15).
Thus the Gentiles (pagans) were justified by the same faith as Abraham. For "Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; St. James 2:23). In the same manner we are also justified by faith in God, for "the just shall live by faith" (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; cf. Hebrews 10:38). "Not by the law is the promise to Abraham (Romans 4:13), for Abraham was justified by faith, and "for a righteous man the law is not made" (1 Timothy 1:9).
We too, then, are not justified by the law; but by faith in Him to whom the law, as well as the Prophets sent to us by the Logos/Word of God, bears witness (cf. Romans 3:21 f).
The Fulfillment of the Promises of David
God also fulfilled the promise to David, to whom God had promised that "of the fruit of his body" (2 Samuel 7: 12f; Psalm 132:11) He would raise up an Eternal King whose reign would never end. This King is Christ, the Son of God, Who became the Son of man, fruit of the Virgin descended from David. That is why the promise was "of the fruit of the body." This expression refers specifically to conception by a woman and is therefore used instead of "from the fruit of the loins" or "of the reins" which are terms used specifically of a man. It was chosen so that He might declare as unique and special this Fruit of the virgin womb of the line of David, for the One Who is this Fruit is the Eternal King over the house of David. It is His Kingdom which shall never end (cf. St. Luke 1:32).
A Summary of the Fulfillment
In this manner He gloriously accomplished our redemption, fulfilled the promise to the fathers, and abolished the original disobedience. The Son of God became a son of David and a son of Abraham. To accomplish these things and gather them up in Himself, the Logos/Word of God was made flesh by means of the Virgin, to abolish death and bring life to humanity. For we were bound by sin, having been born through sinfulness and living under the sentence of death.
He Took on Humanity
Great, therefore, was the mercy of God the Father. He sent His Creative Logos/Word, Who, coming so save us, took on our condition and the situation in which we lost life. He broke the chains which bound us, and by His Light dispelled the darkness in our prison. Sanctifying our birth, He destroyed death, setting us loose from those same chains.
The Logos/Word revealed the Resurrection (2 Timothy 1:10) becoming Himself "the firstborn of the dead" (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5). In Himself He raised up fallen man, lifting him far above the heavens through the prophet, saying, "I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen" (Amos 9:11; Acts 15:16)--that is, the body that was from the line of David.
Our Lord Jesus Christ truly accomplished all of this when He triumphantly achieved our resurrection, that He might truly raise us up, setting us free to the Father.
If anyone rejects His birth from a virgin, how can he accept His resurrection from the dead? It is not a marvelous, astonishing or extraordinary thing for someone who was never born to rise from the dead. We would not even talk about such a resurrection, for one who was not born is immortal and is no more subject to death than to birth. How could one who did not take on man's beginning receive his end?
The Firstborn of the Dead
If He was not born, He did not die, either. If He did not die, He did not rise from the dead. If He did not rise from the dead, He did not conquer death and bring its reign to an end. And finally, if death has not been conquered, how can we, who have been subject to death from the beginning, ascend to life? (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:12-17). Those who take redemption away from man and do not believe that God will raise them from the dead, despise the birth of our Lord--which the Logos/Word of God underwent for our sake, becoming flesh in order to show forth the resurrection of the flesh.
He holds first place in heaven, as the first-born, first-begotten of the thought of the Father, the Logos/Word, perfecting all things in the world through his guidance and rule. He also, however, is the firstborn of the Virgin, a just and holy man, a servant of God, good and well-pleasing, freeing from Hell all who follow Him. He is, then, the firstborn of the dead, prince and source of life unto God (cf. Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5).
Communion with God through Christ
The Logos/Word of God holds first place in all things (cf. Colossians 1:18), because He is true man as well "wonderful counselor and mighty God" (Isaiah 9:6). As such, He calls humanity back to communion with God, so that by communion with Him we may partake of incorruptibility (cf, 2 Peter 1:4).
So, then He came into the world--He Who was proclaimed by the Law through Moses and by the Prophets of the Most High and Almighty God. Into Judea came the Son of the Father of all, source of everything--He Who spoke with Moses. Now He was begotten of God by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, she who was of the line of David and Abraham. He was Jesus, the Anointed of God, showing Himself to be the One Who had been announced in advance by the Prophets. (Source: The Preaching of the Apostles by Very Rev. Fr. Jack N. Sparks)
(To be continued)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God