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1,780 Years Young: Hippolytus on the Wondrous Grace of the God-Man

14 October, 2008

More than 1,500 years ago the Council of Chalcedon (451) put forth a confession concerning Christ as both God and man, in response to various heresies that had arisen which tended to conflate, divorce, or deny either divinity or humanity to Jesus. Here’s how they begin:

Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity and consubstantial with us as to his humanity; “like us in all things but sin”….

The Definition of Chalcedon has been hugely important to Christian orthodoxy, and what it testifies is still of utmost significance. Why? Well, let’s see what one of those ‘holy Fathers’ had to say — and not just the later Fathers, after things were well worked through and explained, but an early church father. Like Hippolytus. He wrote the following beautiful meditation on Christ’s person and work — and how essential confession of these things is for the gospel — around 230 … about 1,780 years ago. Hippolytus died for his faith five years after he wrote this:

‘…though demonstrated as God, [Christ] does not refuse the conditions proper to him as man, since he hungers and toils and thirsts in weariness, and flees in fear, and prays in trouble. And he who as God has a sleepless nature, slumbers on a pillow. And he who for this end came into the world, begs off from the cup of suffering. And in an agony he sweats blood, and is strengthened by an angel, who himself strengthens those who believe in him, and taught men to despise death by his work.

And he who knew what manner of man Judas was, is betrayed by Judas. And he, who formerly was honoured by him as God, in condemned by Caiaphas. And he is set at nought by Herod, who is himself to judge the whole earth. And he is scouraged by Pilate, who took upon himself our infirmities. And by the soldiers he is mocked, at whose behest stand thousands of thousands and myriads of myriads of angels and archangels. And he who fixed the heavens like a vault is fastened to the cross by the Jews.

And he who is inseperable from the Father cries to the Father, and commends to him his spirit; and bowing his head, he gives up the ghost, who said, “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again” [John 10:18]; and because he was not overmastered by death, as being himself Life, he said this: “I lay it down of myself.” And he who gives life bountifully to all, has his side pierced with a spear. And he who raises the dead is wrapped in linen and laid in a sepulchre, and on the third day he is raised again by the Father, though himself the Resurrection and the Life.

For all these things has he finished for us, who for our sakes was made as we are.

Against the Heresy of One Noetus, ch. 18.

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2 Comments
  1. 14 October, 2008 12:59 pm

    Praise God for His Amazing Grace…to me a sinner

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