St John of Damascus: Do You Venerate the Son's Two Begettings?

Feast of St Spyridon the Wonderworker of Trymithous

John_Damascene_Square_2.jpgWE SAY, then, that the divine Person of God the Word exists before all things timelessly and eternally, simple and uncompounded, uncreated, incorporeal, invisible, intangible, and uncircumscribed. And we say that it has all things that the Father has, since it is consubstantial with Him, and that it differs from the Person of the Father by the manner of its begetting and by relation, that it is perfect and never leaves the Person of the Father. But, at the same time, we say that in latter times, without leaving the bosom of the Father, the Word came to dwell uncircumscribed in the womb of the holy Virgin, without seed and without being contained, but after a manner known to Him, and in the very same Person as exists before the ages. He made flesh subsist for Himself from the Holy Virgin.

Thus, He was in all things and above all things, and at the same time He was existing in the womb of the holy Mother of God, but He was there by the operation of the Incarnation. And so, He was made flesh and took from her the first-fruits of our clay, a body animated by a rational and intellectual soul, so that the very Person of God the Word was accounted to the flesh. And the Person of the Word which formerly had been simple was made composite. Moreover, it was a composite from two perfect natures, divinity and humanity. And it had that characteristic and distinctive property of sonship by which God the Word is distinct from the Father and the Spirit, and also had those characteristic and distinctive properties of the flesh by which He is distinct both from His Mother and from the rest of men. It further had those properties of the divine nature in which He is one with the Father and the Spirit, and also had those features of human nature in which He is one with His Mother and with us. Moreover, He differs from the Father and the Spirit and from His Mother and us in yet another way, by His being at once both God and man. For this we recognize as a most peculiar property of the Person of Christ.

And so we confess that even after the Incarnation He is the one Son of God, and we confess that the same is the Son of Man, one Christ, one Lord, the only-begotten Son and Word of God, Jesus our Lord. And we venerate His two begettings—one from the Father before the ages and surpassing cause and reason and time and nature, and one in latter times for our own sake, after our own manner, and surpassing us. For our own sake, because it was for the sake of our salvation; after our own manner, because He was made man from a woman and with a period of gestation; and surpassing us, because, surpassing the law of conception, He was not from seed but from the Holy Spirit and the holy Virgin Mary. And we do not proclaim Him God alone, stripped of our humanity, nor do we despoil Him of His divinity and proclaim Him man alone. Neither do we proclaim Him one and another; rather, we proclaim Him to be one and the same, at once both God and man, perfect God and perfect man, God entire and man entire—the same being God entire, even with His flesh, and man entire, even with His most sacred divinity. By saying “perfect God and perfect man” we show the fullness and completeness of the natures, while by saying “God entire and man entire” we point out the individuality and the indivisibility of the person.

—St John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith

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