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Re: The authority of those sent

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  • Reader Christopher
    ... whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God ? In context, this verse refers to the Lord Jesus and probably to John the Baptist as well. But do these words
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 1, 2007
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      --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, Jo�l Herndon
      <jluthiste@...> wrote:
      > How do the Orthodox understand such Scriptures as John 3:34, "For he
      whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God"? In context, this verse
      refers to the Lord Jesus and probably to John the Baptist as well. But
      do these words apply derivatively to the apostles also and, more
      importantly for this discussion, to the bishops their successors? Is
      there an implication here that the Church is infallible in what she
      > Thanks!
      > Joel

      Here is what St. John Chrysostom writes:

      "“He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is
      true.” Here he terrifies them also by showing that he who believeth
      not on Him, disbelieveth not Him alone, but the Father also; wherefore
      he adds:

      Ver. 34 . “He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.”

      Since then He speaketh His words, he that believeth and he that
      believeth not, believeth or believeth not God. “Hath set to His seal,”
      that is, “hath declared.” Then, to increase their dread, he saith,
      “that God is true;” thus showing, that no man could disbelieve Christ
      without making God who sent Him guilty of a falsehood. Because, since
      He saith nothing save what is from the Father, but all that He saith
      is His, he that heareth not Him, heareth not Him that sent Him. See
      how by these words again he strikes them with fear. As yet they
      thought it no great thing not to hearken to Christ; and therefore he
      held so great a danger above the heads of the unbelievers, that they
      might learn that they hearken not to God Himself, who hearken not to
      Christ. Then he proceeds with the discourse, descending to the measure
      of their infirmity, and saying,

      “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure.”

      Again, as I said, he brings down his discourse to lower ground,
      varying it and making it suitable to be received by those who heard it
      then; otherwise he could not have raised them and increased their
      fear. For had he spoken anything great and sublime concerning Jesus
      Himself, they would not have believed, but might even have despised
      Him. Therefore he leads up all to the Father, speaking for a while of
      Christ as of a man. But what is it that he saith, “God giveth not the
      Spirit by measure”? He would show that we all have received the
      operation of the Spirit, by measure, (for in this place he means by
      “Spirit” the operation of the Spirit, for this it is that is divided,)
      but that Christ hath all Its operation unmeasured and entire. Now if
      His operations be unmeasured, 104 much more His Essence. Seest thou
      too that the Spirit is Infinite? How then can He who hath received all
      the operation of the Spirit, who knoweth the things of God, who saith,
      “We speak that We have heard, and testify that We have seen” ( c. iii.
      11 ), be rightly suspected? He saith nothing which is not “of God,” or
      which is not of “the Spirit.” And for a while he uttereth nothing
      concerning God the Word, 764764 τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγου but maketh all his
      doctrine credible by (reference to) the Father and the Spirit. For
      that there is a God they knew, and that there is a Spirit they knew,
      (even though they held not a right opinion concerning Him,) but that
      there is a Son, they knew not. It is for this reason that he ever has
      recourse to the Father and the Spirit, thence confirming his words.
      For if any one should take no account of this reason, and examine his
      language by itself, it 765765 or, “ he. ” would fall very far short of
      the Dignity of Christ. Christ was not therefore worthy of their faith,
      because He had the operation of the Spirit, (for He needeth not aid
      from thence,) but is Himself Self-sufficient; only for a while the
      Baptist speaks to the understanding of the simpler 766766 ἀ τελεστέρων
      sort, desiring to raise them up by degrees from their low notions.

      And this I say, that we may not carelessly pass by what is contained
      in the Scriptures, but may fully consider the object of the speaker,
      and the infirmity of the hearers, and many other points in them. For
      teachers do not say all as they themselves would wish, but generally
      as the state of their weak (hearers) requires. Wherefore Paul saith,
      “I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal; I
      have fed you with milk, and not with meat.” ( 1 Cor. iii. 1, 2 .) He
      means, “I desired indeed to speak unto you as unto spiritual, but
      could not”; not because he was unable, but because they were not able
      so to hear. So too John desired to teach some great things to the
      disciples, but they could not yet bear to receive them, and therefore
      he dwells for the most part on that which is lowlier.

      It behooves us therefore to explore all carefully. For the words of
      the Scriptures are our spiritual weapons; but if we know not how to
      fit those weapons and to arm our scholars rightly, they keep indeed
      their proper power, but cannot help those who receive them. For let us
      suppose there to be a strong corselet, and helm, and shield, and
      spear; and let one take this armor and put the corselet upon his feet,
      the helmet over his eyes instead of on his head, let him not put the
      shield before his breast, but perversely tie it to his legs: will he
      be able to gain any advantage from the armor? will he not rather be
      harmed? It is plain to any one that he will. Yet not on account of the
      weakness of the weapons, but on account of the unskillfulness of the
      man who knows not how to use them well. So with the Scriptures, if we
      confound their order; they will even so retain their proper force, yet
      will do us no good. Although I am always telling you this both in
      private and in public, I effect nothing, but see you all your time
      nailed to the things of this life, and not so much as dreaming 767767
      οὐδὲ ὄναρ μετέχοντας , al. οá½"δενα λόγον ποιουμένους of spiritual
      matters. Therefore our lives are careless, and we who strive for truth
      have but little power, and are become a laughing stock to Greeks and
      Jews and Heretics. Had ye been careless in other matters, and
      exhibited in this place the same indifference as elsewhere, not even
      so could your doings have been defended; but now in matters of this
      life, every one of you, artisan and politician alike, is keener than a
      sword, while in necessary and spiritual things we are duller than any;
      making by-work business, and not deeming that which we ought to have
      esteemed more pressing than any business, to be by-work even. Know ye
      not that the Scriptures were written not for the first of mankind
      alone, but for our sakes also? Hearest thou not Paul say, that “they
      are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are
      come; that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might
      have hope”? ( 1 Cor. x. 11; Rom. xv. 4 .) I know that I speak in vain,
      yet will I not cease to speak, for thus I shall clear myself 768768 ἀ
      πολογήσομαι before God, though there be none to hear me. He that
      speaketh to them that give heed hath this at least to cheer his
      speech, the persuasion of his hearers; but he that speaks continually
      and is not listened to, and yet ceaseth not to speak, may be worthy of
      greater honor than the other, because he fulfills the will of God,
      even though none give heed unto him, to the best of his power. Still,
      though our reward will be greater owing to your disobedience, we
      rather desire that it be diminished, and that your salvation be
      advanced, thinking that your being well approved of 769769 εὐδοκίμησιν
      is a great reward. And we now say this not to make our discourse
      painful and burdensome to you, but to show to you the grief which we
      feel by reason of your indifference. God grant that we may be all of
      us delivered from this, that we may cling to spiritual zeal and obtain
      the blessings of heaven, through the grace and lovingkindness of our
      Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be
      glory, for ever and ever. Amen."


      Here is St. Augustine:

      "9. “For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.” Himself is
      the true God, and God sent Him: God sent God. Join both, one God, true
      God sent by God. Ask concerning them singly, He is God; ask concerning
      them both, they are God. Not individually God, and both Gods; but each
      individual God, and both God. For so great is the charity of the Holy
      Spirit there, so great the peace of unity, that when thou questionest
      about them individually, the answer to thee is, God; when thou askest
      concerning the Trinity, thou gettest for answer, God. For if the
      spirit of man, when it cleaves to God, is one spirit, as the apostle
      openly declares, “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit;”322322
      1 Cor. vi. 17. how much more is the equal Son, joined to the Father,
      together with Him one God! Hear another testimony. You know how many
      believed, when they sold all they had and laid it at the apostles’
      feet, that it might be distributed to each according to his need; and
      what saith the Scripture of that gathering of the saints? “They had
      one soul and one heart in the Lord.”323323 Acts iv. 32. If charity
      made one soul of so many souls, and one heart of so many hearts, how
      great must be the charity between the Father and the Son! Surely it
      must be greater than that between those men who had one heart. If,
      then, the heart of many brethren was one by charity, if the soul of
      many brethren was one by charity, wouldst thou say that God the Father
      and God the Son are two? If they are two Gods, there is not the
      highest charity between them. For if charity is here so great as to
      make thy soul and thy friend’s soul one soul, how can it be then that
      the Father and the Son is not one God? Far be unfeigned faith from
      this thought. In short, how excellent that charity is, understand
      98hence: the souls of many men are many, and if they love one another,
      it is one soul; still, in the case of men, they may be called many
      souls, because the union is not so strong. But there it is right for
      thee to say one God; two or three Gods it is not right for thee to
      say. From this, the supreme and surpassing excellency of charity is
      shown thee to be such, that a greater cannot be.

      10. “For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.” This, of
      course, he said of Christ, to distinguish himself from Christ. What
      then? Did not God send John himself? Did he not say himself, “I am
      sent before Him”? and, “He that sent me to baptize with water”? And is
      it not of John that it is said, “Behold, I send my messenger before
      Thee, and he shall prepare Thy way”?324324 Mal. iii. 1. Does he not
      himself speak the words of God, he of whom it is said that he is more
      than a prophet? Then, if God sent him too, and he speaks the words of
      God, how do we understand him to have distinctly said of Christ, “He
      whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God”? But see what he adds:
      “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure.” What is this, “For God
      giveth not the Spirit by measure”? We find that God does give the
      Spirit by measure. Hear the apostle when he says, “According to the
      measure of the gift of Christ.”325325 Eph. iv. 7. To men He gives by
      measure, to the only Son He gives not by measure. How does He give to
      men by measure? “To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to
      another the word of wisdom according to the same Spirit; to another
      faith by the same Spirit; to another prophecy; to another discerning
      of spirits; to another kinds of tongues; to another the gift of
      healing. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all
      workers of miracles? Have all the gift of healing? Do all speak with
      tongues? Do all interpret?”326326 1 Cor. xii. 8â€"30. This man has one
      gift, that man another; and what that man has, this has not: there is
      a measure, a certain division of gifts. To men, therefore, it is given
      by measure, and concord among them makes one body. As the hand
      receives one kind of gift to work, the eye another to see, the ear
      another to hear, the foot another to walk; nevertheless the soul that
      does all is one, in the hand to work, in the foot to walk, in the ear
      to hear, in the eye to see; so are also the gifts of believers
      diverse, distributed to them as to members, to each according to his
      proper measure. But Christ, who gives, receives not by measure."


      Bp Kallistos refers to this passage in the following context:

      "In the Church, being born of water is clearly seen in the
      Sacrament of Baptism, the Christian’s mystical entrance into Christ’s
      own death and Resurrection, and in like manner, being born of the
      Spirit is expressed mystically through Chrismation â€" the giving of the
      Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit. In this sacrament, the Holy
      Spirit is given “fully, abundantly, overwhelmingly”2, since God’s
      gifts are always given in fullness. “It is not by measure that He
      gives the Spirit” (John 3:34), and “of His fullness have we all
      received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). This seal of the Gift or
      charisma of the Holy Spirit is bestowed on all God’s people, not just
      the bishops and the clergy."

      - Bishop Kallistos (Ware), The Orthodox Way, (Crestwood, NY: St
      Vladimir’s Seminary Press,1995) p.94.

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