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Wherefore, having mastered this rule for interpreting the Scriptures concerning the Son of God, that we are to distinguish in them what relates to the form of God, in which He is equal to the Father, and what to the form of a servant which He took, in which He is less than the Father; we shall not be disquieted by apparently contrary and mutually repugnant sayings of the sacred books. For both the Son and the Holy Spirit, according to the form of God, are equal to the Father, because neither of them is a creature, as we have already shown: but according to the form of a servant He is less than the Father, because He Himself has said, “My Father is greater than I;” (Jn. 14:28) and He is less than Himself, because it is said of Him, He emptied Himself;” (Phil. 2:7) and He is less than the Holy Spirit, because He Himself says, “Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven Him.” (Matt. 12:32) And in the Spirit too He wrought miracles, saying: “But if I with the Spirit of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.” (Matt. 12:28)--St. Augustine, On the Trininty, 1, 11
But now that they may not think that it is the prince of the devils in whom the Lord Jesus Christ casteth out devils, let them attend to what follows; “And if I,” He saith, “by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore shall they be your judges.” (Matt. 12:27) He spoke this undoubtedly of his disciples, the “children” of that people; who as being the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ were well conscious that they had learnt no evil arts from their Good Master, that through the prince of the devils they should cast out devils. “Therefore,” He saith, “shall they be your judges.” They, He saith, the base and contemptible things of this world, in whom none of this artificial malice, but the holy simplicity of My power is seen; they shall be My witnesses, they shall be your judges. Then He subjoins, “But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” (Matt. 12:28) What is this? “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils,” He saith, and your children, to whom I have given no hurtful and deceitful doctrine but a simple faith, can in no other way cast them out; no doubt the kingdom of God is come unto you; whereby the kingdom of the devil is subverted, and ye also are subverted with it.--St. Augustine, Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament, Sermon 21, 2
Here perhaps some one may ask, “whether the Holy Ghost only forgiveth sins, and not the Father and the Son also?” I answer, Both the Father and the Son forgive them. For the Son Himself saith of the Father, “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Matt. 6:14) And we say to Him in the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” (Matt. 6:9) And amongst the other petitions we ask this, saying, “Forgive us our debts.” (Matt. 6:12) And again of Himself He saith, “That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” (Matt. 9:6) “If then,” you will say, “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit forgive sins, why is that impenitence which shall never be forgiven, said to relate only to the blasphemy of the Spirit, as though he who should be bound in this sin of impenitence should seem to resist the gift of the Holy Spirit, because by that gift is wrought the remission of sins?” Now on this point, I will also ask, Whether Christ only cast out devils, or the Father and the Holy Spirit also? For if Christ only, what means His saying, “The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works.” (Jn. 14:10) For so it is said, “He doeth the works,” as if the Son doeth them not, but the Father who dwelleth in the Son. Why then in another place doth He say, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” (Jn. 5:17) And a little after, “For what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (Jn. 5:19) But when in another place He says, “If I had not done amongst them the works which none other man did,” (Jn. 15:24) He speaks as if He did them alone. Now if these things are so expressed, as that nevertheless the works of the Father and the Son are inseparable, what must we believe of the Holy Spirit, but that He also worketh equally with them? For in that very place, from which this question arose which we are discussing, when the Son was casting out devils, He yet said, “If I in the Holy Spirit cast out devils, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” (Matt. 12:28)--St. Augustine, Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament, Sermon 21, 25
Let us return to the words of the Psalm. “They shall bear Thee in their hands, lest at any time Thou hurt Thy foot against a stone” (Ps. 91:12). Christ was raised up in the hands of Angels, when He was taken up into heaven: not that, if Angels had not sustained Him, He would have fallen: but because they were attending on their King. Say not, Those who sustained Him are better than He who was sustained. Are then cattle better than men, because they sustain the weakness of men? And we ought not to speak thus either; for if the cattle withdraw their support, their riders fall. But how ought we to speak of it? For it is said even of God, “Heaven is My throne.” (Is. 66:1; Acts 7:49) Because then heaven supports Him, and God sits thereon, is therefore heaven the better? Thus also in this Psalm we may understand it of the service of the Angels: it does not pertain to any infirmity in our Lord, but to the honour they pay, and to their service.…What the finger of God is, the Gospel explaineth to us; for the finger of God is the Holy Ghost. How do we prove this? Our Lord, when answering those who accused Him of casting out devils in the name of Beelzebub, saith, “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God;” (Matt. 12:28) and another Evangelist, in relating the same saying, saith, “If I with the finger of God cast out devils.” (Lk. 11:20) What therefore is in one stated clearly, is darkly expressed in another. Thou didst not know what was the finger of God, but another Evangelist explains it by terming it the Spirit of God. --St. Augustine, Exposition on the Psalms, Psalm 91, 16
“But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you.” (Matt. 12:28)What means “the Kingdom”? “My coming.” See how again He conciliates and soothes them, and draws them to the knowledge of Himself, and signifies that they are warring with their own good, and contentious against their own salvation. “For whereas ye ought to rejoice,” saith He, “and leap for joy, that One is come bestowing those great and unutterable blessings, hymned of old by the prophets, and that the time of your prosperity is at hand; ye do the contrary; so far from receiving the blessings, you do even speak ill of them, and frame accusations that have no real being.” Now Matthew indeed saith, “If I by the Spirit of God cast out”; but Luke, “If I by the finger of God cast out the devils:” (Lk. 11:20) implying that to cast out devils is a work of the greatest power, and not of any ordinary grace. And He means indeed that from these things they should infer and say, If this be so, then the Son of God is come. This, however, He saith not, but in a reserved way, and so as not to be galling to them, He darkly intimates it by saying, “Then the kingdom of God is come unto you.” Seest thou exceeding wisdom? By the very things which they were blaming, He showed His presence shining forth. Then, to conciliate them, He said not simply, “The Kingdom is come,” but, “unto you,” as though He had said, To you the good things are come; wherefore then feel displeased at your proper blessings? why war against your own salvation? This is that time, which the prophets long ago foretold: this, the sign of that advent which was celebrated by them, even these things being wrought by divine power. For the fact indeed, that they are wrought, yourselves know; but that they are wrought by divine power, the deeds themselves cry out. Yea, and it is impossible that Satan should be stronger now; rather he must of absolute necessity be weak. But it cannot be, that he who is weak should, as though he were strong, cast out the strong devil. Now thus speaking He signified the power of charity, and the weakness of separation and contentiousness. Wherefore He was Himself also continually charging His disciples, on every occasion, concerning charity, and teaching them that the devil, to subvert it, leaves nothing undone.--St. John Chrysostom, Homily 41 on Matthew
“Until the day in which He was taken up, after that He, through the Holy Spirit, had given commandments unto the Apostles whom He had chosen. After He had given commandments through the Spirit” (Acts 1:2); i.e. they were spiritual words that He spake unto them, nothing human; either this is the meaning, or, that it was by the Spirit that He gave them commandments. Do you observe in what low terms he still speaks of Christ, as in fact Christ had spoken of Himself? “But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils” (Matt. 12:28); for indeed the Holy Ghost wrought in that Temple. Well, what did He command? “Go ye therefore,” He says, “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20) A high encomium this for the Apostles; to have such a charge entrusted to them, I mean, the salvation of the world! words full of the Spirit! And this the writer hints at in the expression, “through the Holy Ghost” (and, “the words which I spake unto you,” saith the Lord, “are Spirit”) (John 6:63); thus leading the hearer on to a desire of learning what the commands were, and establishing the authority of the Apostles, seeing it is the words of the Spirit they are about to speak, and the commandments of Christ.--St. John Chrysostom, Homilies 1 on Acts
What is there to wonder at, what to disbelieve, if the Lord who gives the Spirit, is here said Himself to be anointed with the Spirit, at a time when, necessity requiring it, He did not refuse in respect of His manhood to call Himself inferior to the Spirit? For the Jews saying that He cast out devils in Beelzebub, He answered and said to them, for the exposure of their blasphemy, ‘But if I through the Spirit of God cast out demons’ (Matt. 2:28) Behold, the Giver of the Spirit here says that He cast out demons in the Spirit; but this is not said, except because of His flesh. For since man’s nature is not equal of itself to casting out demons, but only in power of the Spirit, therefore as man He said, ‘But if I through the Spirit of God cast out demons.’ Of course too He signified that the blasphemy offered to the Holy Ghost is greater than that against His humanity, when He said, ‘Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him;’ such as were those who said, ‘Is not this the carpenter’s son?’ (Matt. 12:32; 13:55) but they who blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, and ascribe the deeds of the Word to the devil, shall have inevitable punishment. This is what the Lord spoke to the Jews, as man; but to the disciples shewing His Godhead and His majesty, and intimating that He was not inferior but equal to the Spirit, He gave the Spirit and said, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost,’ and ‘I send Him,’ and ‘He shall glorify Me,’ and ‘Whatsoever He heareth, that He shall speak' (Jn. 20:22; 14:13-14)--St. Athanasius, Against the Arians, 1, 12
Again, to banish devils, which Eunomius says is a property of the Spirit, this also the only-begotten God, Who said to the devil, “I charge thee" (cf Mk. 9:25) ascribes to the power of the Spirit, when He says, “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils” (Matt. 12:28) so that the expulsion of devils is not destructive of the glory of the Spirit, but rather a demonstration of His divine and transcendent power. “Healing the sick,” he says, “curing the infirm, comforting the afflicted, raising up those who stumble, recovering the distressed.” These are the words of those who think reverently of the Holy Ghost, for no one would ascribe the operation of any one of these effects to any one except to God. If then heresy affirms that those things which it belongs to none save God alone to effect, are wrought by the power of the Spirit, we have in support of the truths for which we are contending the witness even of our adversaries. --St. Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius, 2, 15
Since then the Holy Trinity fulfils every operation in a manner similar to that of which I have spoken, not by separate action according to the number of the Persons, but so that there is one motion and disposition of the good will which is communicated from the Father through the Son to the Spirit (for as we do not call those whose operation gives one life three Givers of life, neither do we call those who are contemplated in one goodness three Good beings, nor speak of them in the plural by any of their other attributes); so neither can we call those who exercise this Divine and superintending power and operation towards ourselves and all creation, conjointly and inseparably, by their mutual action, three Gods. For as when we learn concerning the God of the universe, from the words of Scripture, that He judges all the earth (Rom. 3:6), we say that He is the Judge of all things through the Son: and again, when we hear that the Father judgeth no man (Jn. 5:22), we do not think that the Scripture is at variance with itself,—(for He Who judges all the earth does this by His Son to Whom He has committed all judgment; and everything which is done by the Only-begotten has its reference to the Father, so that He Himself is at once the Judge of all things and judges no man, by reason of His having, as we said, committed all judgment to the Son, while all the judgment of the Son is conformable to the will of the Father; and one could not properly say either that They are two judges, or that one of Them is excluded from the authority and power implied in judgment);—so also in the case of the word “Godhead,” Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and that very power of superintendence and beholding which we call Godhead, the Father exercises through the Only-begotten, while the Son perfects every power by the Holy Spirit, judging, as Isaiah says, by the Spirit of judgment and the Spirit of burning (Is. 4:4), and acting by Him also, according to the saying in the Gospel which was spoken to the Jews. For He says, “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils" (Matt. 12:28); where He includes every form of doing good in a partial description, by reason of the unity of action: for the name derived from operation cannot be divided among many where the result of their mutual operation is one.--St. Gregory of Nyssa, Answer to Eunomius' Second Book, On 'Not Three Gods'
Again, if the sword of the spirit is the word of God, (Eph. 6:17) then the Holy Ghost is God, inasmuch as the sword belongs to Him of whom it is also called the word. Is He named the right hand of the Father? For “the right hand of the Lord bringeth mighty things to pass;” (Ps. 118:16) “doeth valiantly,” and “thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.” (Ex. 15:6) But the Holy Ghost is the finger of God, as it is said “if I by the finger of God cast out devils,” (Lk. 11:20) of which the version in another Gospel is “if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils.” (Matt. 12:28) So the Holy Ghost is of the same nature as the Father and the Son.--St. Basil the Great, Letter 8: To the Cæsareans, 11
But when we speak of the dispensations made for man by our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, (Tit. 2:13) who will gainsay their having been accomplished through the grace of the Spirit? Whether you wish to examine ancient evidence;—the blessings of the patriarchs, the succour given through the legislation, the types, the prophecies, the valorous feats in war, the signs wrought through just men;—or on the other hand the things done in the dispensation of the coming of our Lord in the flesh;—all is through the Spirit. In the first place He was made an unction, and being inseparably present was with the very flesh of the Lord, according to that which is written, “Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on Him, the same is” (Jn. 1:33) “my beloved Son;” (Matt. 3:17) and “Jesus of Nazareth” whom “God anointed with the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 10:38) After this every operation was wrought with the co-operation of the Spirit. He was present when the Lord was being tempted by the devil; for, it is said, “Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted.” (Matt. 4:1) He was inseparably with Him while working His wonderful works; for, it is said, “If I by the Spirit of God cast out devils.” (Matt. 12:28) And He did not leave Him when He had risen from the dead; for when renewing man, and, by breathing on the face of the disciples, restoring the grace, that came of the inbreathing of God, which man had lost, what did the Lord say? “Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever ye retain, they are retained.” (Jn. 20:22-23) And is it not plain and incontestable that the ordering of the Church is effected through the Spirit? For He gave, it is said, “in the church, first Apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues,” (1 Cor. 12:28) for this order is ordained in accordance with the division of the gifts that are of the Spirit.--St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit, 16
And now I ask whether thou thinkest that in the Spirit of God is signified a nature or a property belonging to a nature. For a nature is not identical with a thing belonging to it, just as neither is a man identical with what belongs to a man, nor fire with what belongs to fire itself, and in like manner God is not the same as that which belongs to God. For I am aware that the Son of God is revealed under the title Spirit of God in order that we may understand the presence of the Father in Him, and that the term Spirit of God may be employed to indicate Either, and that this is shewn not only on the authority of prophets but of evangelists also, when it is said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; therefore He hath anointed Me" (Lk. 4:18). And again, "Behold My Servant Whom I have chosen, My beloved in Whom My soul is well pleased, I will put My Spirit upon Him" (Matt. 12:18). And when the Lord Himself bears witness of Himself, "But if I in the Spirit of God cast out devils, then has the kingdom of God come upon you" (Matt. 12:28). For the passages seem without any doubt to denote either Father or Son, while they yet manifest the excellence of nature.--St. Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 8, 22-23
So, too, the Spirit is also called the Finger of God, because there is an indivisible and inseparable communion between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For as the Scripture called the Son of God the Right Hand of God, as it is said: “Thy Right Hand, O Lord, is made glorious in power. Thy Right Hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy;” (Ex. 15:6) so the Holy Spirit is called the Finger of God, as the Lord Himself says: “But if I by the Finger of God cast out devils.” (Lk. 11:20) For in the same place in another book of the Gospel He named the Spirit of God, as you find: “But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils.” (Matt. 12:28) What, then, could have been said to signify more expressly the unity of the Godhead, or of Its working, which Unity is according to the Godhead of the Father, or of the Son, or of the Holy Spirit, than that we should understand that the fulness of the eternal Godhead would seem to be divided far more than this body of ours, if any one were to sever the unity of Substance, and multiply Its powers, whereas the eternity of the same Godhead is one? For oftentimes it is convenient to estimate from our own words those things which are above us, and because we cannot see those things we draw inferences from those which we can see. “For the invisible things of Him,” says the Apostle, “from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by those things which are made.” (Rom. 1:20) And he adds: “His eternal power also and Godhead.” (Rom. 1:20) Of which one thing seems to be said of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit; that in the same manner as the Son is called the eternal Power of the Father, so, also, the Spirit, because He is divine, should be believed to be His eternal Godhead. For the Son, too, because He ever lives, is eternal life. This Finger, then, of God is both eternal and divine. For what is there belonging to God which is not eternal and divine? With this Finger, as we read, God wrote on those tables of stone which Moses received. For God did not with a finger of flesh write the forms and portions of those letters which we read, but gave the law by His Spirit. And so the Apostle says: “For the Law is spiritual, which, indeed, is written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but on fleshy tables of the heart.” (2 Cor. 3:3) For if the letter of the Apostle is written in the Spirit, what hinders us from believing that the Law of God was written not with ink, but with the Spirit of God, which certainly does not stain but enlightens the secret places of our heart and mind? Now it was written on tables of stone, because it was written in a type, but the tables were first broken and cast out of the hands of Moses, because the Jews fell away from the works of the prophet. And fitly were the tables broken, not the writing erased. And do you see that your table be not broken, that your mind and soul be not divided. Is Christ divided? He is not divided, but is one with the Father; and let no one separate you from Him. If your faith fails, the table of your heart is broken. The coherence of your soul is lessened if you do not believe the unity of Godhead in the Trinity. Your faith is written, and your sin is written, as Jeremiah said: “Thy sin, O Judah, is written with a pen of iron and the point of a diamond. And it is written,” he says, “on thy breast and on thy heart.” (Jer. 17:1) The sin, therefore, is there where grace is, but the sin is written with a pen, grace is denoted by the Spirit. With this Finger, also, the Lord Jesus, with bowed head, mystically wrote on the ground, when the adulteress was brought before Him by the Jews, signifying in a figure that, when we judge of the sins of another, we ought to remember our own. And lest, again, because God wrote the Law by His Spirit, we should believe any inferiority, as it were, concerning the ministry of the Spirit, or from the consideration of our own body should think the Spirit to be a small part of God, the Apostle says, elsewhere, that he does not speak with words of human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, and that he compares spiritual things with spiritual; but that the natural man receiveth not the things which pertain to the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2:13-14) For he knew that he who compared divine with carnal things was amongst natural things, and not to be reckoned amongst spiritual men; “for they are foolishness,” he says, “unto him.” (1 Cor. 2:13-14) And so, because he knew that these questions would arise amongst natural men, foreseeing the future he says: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16)--St. Ambrose of Milan, On the Holy Spirit, 3, 3
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