Thursday, June 02, 2011

Grace in Cyril's Commentary on the Book of Exodus (First Discourse)

The Orthodox Research Institute has published an English translation of the first discourse of Cyril of Alexandria's Commentary on the Book of Exodus. It's not a massive volume (about 50 pages of English text). Nevertheless, it serves to illustrate some aspects of Cyril's teachings on topics related to the doctrines of grace. Most of the following will be quotations from this single work. Any bolding is my own, whereas material in brackets is added by the translator:

The State of Fallen Man
The following interestingly seems like some form of recognition of original sin, at least of concupiscence, and its universal applicability to the human race, as well as its source in God's withholding grace:
But let the word of the narrative pause at this point. Let us say presently bringing the mind into the innermost spectacles, that because the thought of man is persistently devoted to evil things since his youth because of lack of good things from above, the whole human race, so to speak, was being corrupted and something like a famine was devouring the heavenly lessons; It was exactly as we could observe the prodigal who is also drawn as a model of a parable, who devoured the paternal fortune in foreign lands, and wished to satisfy his hunger with the fruit of the carob tree from which the pigs were eating.
(Chapter 3 at p. 13)

Bondage of the Will
In the following, Cyril appears to argue that it is the knowledge of God that brings true freedom of will.
"But God," he says, "considered them, and looked upon the children of Israel, and was made known to them." When, therefore, we live in ignorance of God {ignoring God or being ignored by God} then we all will also fall under those who do us injustice, and we roll around into the mires of sin, having as bitter and raw {cruel} supervisors of such things the unclean demons. But the grace of freedom will always follow the knowledge of God (knowing God will always be followed by the freedom of will}.
(Chapter 8, at p. 75)

Justification of the Impious by Faith in Christ

In the following, Cyril appears to argue for justification by grace through faith:
For {the fact that} those who do not move away from the worship according to the law are being held under the power of corruption, Christ himself will make clear. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink the blood, ye have no life in you." And this was the mystery, not from those under the law from some place or other, but from those who have accepted the faith and have been justified in Christ and {have accepted} the education which is better than the one under the law, and I mean the evangelic one. Those, therefore, who did not become free of the burden through faith, or under the {power of} corruption, and as in a mall, {which is} the mother of death, and I mean, indeed, the same, and they are away from Christ. But if they would wish to untie the sample, that is the corruption, which {corruption} does not have the power to justify them, and {if they would wish} to approach the grace which truly produces life, then they will approach the one who justifies the impious one, {they will approach} Christ, that is, through whom and with whom the glory belongs to the Father together with the Holy Spirit to the centuries of centuries. Amen.
(Chapter 8, at p. 87)

Plain and Direct Style of Scripture
Finally, here is one quotation from Evie Zachariades-Holmberg, editor/translator, which is of interest as it relates to the perspicuity of Scripture:
There are, of course examples in the early Christian literature, where the authors achieve masterpieces with the use of the simple or the sophisticated / artificial style in the language. St. Paul's mode of expression for example in chapters 12 and 13 of the first epistle to the Corinthians is amazing in its directness, vivacity, power and simplicity, especially when compared to the epistle of Clement of Rome who is also addressing the Corinthians on the same subject.
(p. xv)

- TurretinFan


Anonymous said...

When I read that:

But the grace of freedom will always follow the knowledge of God (knowing God will always be followed by the freedom of will}.

I thought of this:

2Ch 30:18 For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, "May the good LORD pardon everyone
2Ch 30:19 who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness."
2Ch 30:20 And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
2Ch 30:21 And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness, and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day by day, singing with all their might to the LORD.
2Ch 30:22 And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the LORD. So they ate the food of the festival for seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the LORD, the God of their fathers.
2Ch 30:23 Then the whole assembly agreed together to keep the feast for another seven days. So they kept it for another seven days with gladness.

For a bunch of unclean people after being healed and pardoned, not struck down for being bankrupt according to the requirements of God's Holy Laws, it is quite liberating and tends to produce "gladness" in the Grace of freedom and the freedom of the will!

Now, of course, it does not in any way change the Law of Righteousness, just the willingness to be glad to be forgiven and cleansed by being pardoned after one has prayed for you as well! :)

Eph 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,


Col 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Fredericka said...

Hi TF.

"Those, therefore, who did not become three of the burden through faith..."

'Free' of the burden?

Turretinfan said...

Yes, thank you for the correction, Fredericka.

Jason Landless said...
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