Virtus Dei in Christo ostenditur
God’s power shown in Christ
1:19 et quae sit supereminens magnitudo virtutis ejus in nos, qui credimus secundum operationem potentiae virtutis ejus, [n. 56]
1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us, who believe according to the operation of the might of his power, [n. 56]
1:20 quam operatus est in Christo, suscitans illum a mortuis, [n. 58] et constituens ad dexteram suam in caelestibus: [n. 60]
1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, raising him up from the dead [n. 58] and setting him on his right hand in the heavenly places. [n. 60]
1:21 supra omnem principatum, et potestatem, et virtutem, et dominationem, [n. 62] et omne nomen, quod nominatur non solum in hoc saeculo, sed etiam in futuro. [n. 64]
1:21 Above all principality and power and virtue and dominion [n. 62] and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. [n. 64]
56. Enumeratis beneficiis, quae Apostolus conferenda optat Ephesiis in futurum, hic consequenter ponit formam et exemplar illorum beneficiorum. Sicut autem vita Christi est forma et exemplar iustitiae nostrae, ita et gloria et exaltatio Christi est forma et exemplar gloriae et exaltationis nostrae. Ideo hic Apostolus duo facit, quia
56. Once he has listed the blessings which he hopes will be granted to the Ephesians in the future, the Apostle discusses the form and exemplar of those benefits. As the life of Christ is the form and exemplar of our justice, so Christ’s glory and exultation is the form and exemplar of our glory and exaltation. Here the Apostle makes two points:
primo proponit formam exaltationis beneficiorum et donorum in generali;
first, he proposes in a general manner the form of our exaltation with its blessings and gifts;
secundo manifestat eam in speciali, ibi suscitans illum a mortuis, et cetera.
second, he discusses it in detail, at raising him up from the dead.
57. Forma autem et exemplar operationis divinae in nos, est operatio divina in Christo. Et quantum ad hoc dicit secundum operationem, id est ad similitudinem operationis, potentiae virtutis eius, id est virtuosae potentiae Dei, quam operatus est in Christo, exaltans caput illud, supple: ita virtuose operabitur in nobis. Phil. III, 20 s.: salvatorem expectamus Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, qui reformabit corpus humilitatis nostrae, et cetera.
57. The divine activity in Christ is the form and exemplar of the divine activity in us. In reference to this he states according to the operation, that is, in the likeness of the operation, of the might of his power, meaning the powerful might of God, which he wrought in Christ exalting him who is the head. Understand that in this way he will mightily act in us. We await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transfigure our wretched body to be like his glorious body by the power which enables him to subject all things to himself (Phil 3:20–21).
Nos autem exaltari ad similitudinem exaltationis Christi frequenter legimus in Scriptura. Rom. VIII, 17: si compatimur, ut et glorificemur. Item Apoc. III, 21: qui vicerit, dabo ei sedere mecum in throno meo, sicut et ego vici et sedi cum Patre meo in throno eius.
In Scripture we frequently read that we will be exalted in the likeness of Christ’s exaltation: provided we suffer with him, so as also to be glorified with him (Rom 8:17); he who conquers I will grant him to sit with me in my throne; as I myself have conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne (Rev 3:21).
58. Consequenter explicat formam et exemplar in speciali, manifestans ea quae pertinent ad exaltationem Christi, loquendo de Christo inquantum est homo, dicens suscitans illum, et cetera.
58. As a result, he specifies the form and exemplar in more detail, showing what pertains to the exaltation of Christ while speaking of him inasmuch as he is man, at raising him.
Circa quod tria beneficia ponit exaltationis Christi.
He writes of three favors in the exaltation of Christ:
Primum est transitus de morte ad vitam, et quantum ad hoc dicit suscitans illum a mortuis.
first, the transition from death to life, in regard to which he adds raising him up from the dead;
Secundum est exaltatio ad gloriam altissimam, et quantum ad hoc dicit constituens illum ad dexteram suam.
second, the exaltation to the utmost heights of glory, in regard to which he says setting him on his right hand;
Tertium est sublimatio ad potentiam maximam, et quantum ad hoc dicit et omnia subiecit sub pedibus eius.
third, an elevation to the greatest of power, in regard to which he says and he has subjected all things under his feet (Eph 1:22).
59. Dicit ergo quantum ad primum: dico quod hoc erit secundum operationem quam operatus est in Christo, scilicet Deus Pater eadem virtute, quam habet cum Christo. Unde et ipse Christus seipsum resuscitavit, et Deus Pater eum resuscitavit. Rom. c. VIII, 11: si Spiritus eius, qui suscitavit Iesum a mortuis habitat in vobis, qui suscitavit Iesum a mortuis, vivificabit et mortalia corpora vestra.
59. Concerning the first he states that it was according to the operation which God the Father wrought in Christ by the same power which he shares with Christ. Christ both restored himself to life and was restored to life by the Father. And, if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Jesus Christ from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies, because of his Spirit that dwells in you (Rom 8:11).
60. Quantum vero ad secundum dicit constituens illum, et cetera. Quae quidem celsitudo gloriae potest tripliciter considerari, scilicet per comparationem ad Deum, per comparationem ad corporales creaturas, et per comparationem ad creaturas spirituales.
60. Setting him on his right hand refers to the second element in Christ’s exaltation. This height of glory can be viewed in three perspectives: in its relation to God, to material creatures, and to spiritual creatures.
Si ergo consideretur per comparationem ad Deum, sic constitutus est ad dexteram suam, quae quidem dextera non est intelligenda pars corporalis, quia, ut dicitur Io. IV, v. 24, spiritus est Deus, sed metaphorice dicitur, ut sicut per dexteram intelligitur nobilior et virtuosior pars hominis ita cum dicimus Christum Iesum constitutum ad dexteram Dei, intelligatur secundum humanitatem constitutus in potioribus bonis Patris, et secundum divinitatem intelligatur aequalis Patri. Unde Ps. CIX, 1: dixit Dominus Domino meo: sede a dextris meis, et cetera. Item Mc. ult.: et Dominus quidem Iesus postquam locutus est eis, assumptus est in caelum, et sedet ad dexteram Dei.
Considered in relation to God, he is seated at his right hand; this is not to be thought of as a bodily organ—God is spirit (John 4:24)—but as a metaphorical way of speaking. The right hand is taken as a nobler and stronger part of man; so when we say that Christ Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, it should be understood that according to his humanity he partakes of the Father’s choicest blessings, and according to his divinity it is understood as equality with the Father. Yahweh spoke to my Lord: take the throne at my right (Ps 110:1). And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God (Mark 16:19).
In comparatione vero ad corporales creaturas dicit in caelestibus. Nam corpora caelestia tenent supremum locum in comparatione ad alia corpora. Infra, IV, 10: qui descendit, ipse est et qui ascendit super omnes caelos.
In heavenly places defines the relation of Christ’s exaltation to material creatures. For the heavenly bodies occupy the highest place in comparison to the other bodies; yet, he that descended is the same also who ascended above all the heavens (Eph 4:10).
In comparatione vero ad spirituales creaturas, primo dicit Christum exaltatum super aliquas specialiter; secundo super omnes generaliter, ibi et super omne nomen, et cetera.
In relation to spiritual creatures, he first mentions that Christ is exalted over certain specific ones, and second, over all of them generally, at above every name.
61. Ad horum autem intelligentiam sciendum est, quod novem sunt ordines angelorum, quorum quatuor Apostolus tangit hic, qui quidem sunt medii. Nam supra eos sunt tres superiores, scilicet throni, cherubim et seraphim. Sub eis autem sunt duo inferiores, scilicet archangeli et angeli. Qui quidem novem ordines distinguuntur in tres hierarchias, id est, sacros principatus, in quarum qualibet assignantur tres ordines.
61. To understand this, note that there are nine ranks of angels, of which the Apostle here mentions only the four middle ranks. Above these are the three superior ranks of the thrones, cherubim and seraphim. Below them are the two lower ranks of the archangels and the angels. These nine ranks are also differentiated into three hierarchies, or sacred authorities, each of which embraces three ranks.
Sed in assignatione ordinum hierarchiae primae conveniunt omnes doctores in hoc scilicet quod supremus ordo ipsius sit seraphim, secundus cherubim, tertius throni. In assignatione vero ordinum aliarum duarum hierarchiarum, scilicet mediae et infimae, discordant Dionysius et Gregorius. Nam Dionysius in supremo ordine mediae hierarchiae ponit dominationes, in secundo virtutes, in tertio potestates, descendendo. In supremo vero ordine infimae hierarchiae posuit principatus, in secundo archangelos, in tertio angelos. Et haec assignatio ordinum concordat litterae praesenti. Nam Apostolus ascendendo incipit a supremo infimae hierarchiae, qui est septimus.
All the doctors agree in assigning the ranks of the first hierarchy. The highest rank is the seraphim, second are the cherubim, third are the thrones. In assigning the ranks among the middle and lower hierarchies, however, Dionysius and Gregory disagree. Dionysius, in descending order, places the dominions as first in the middle hierarchy, the virtues second, and the powers third. In the first rank of the lower hierarchy he puts the principalities, second are the archangels and third are the angels. This listing of the ranks is in accord with the present text where the Apostle begins, in an ascending order, from the first rank of the lower hierarchy, the seventh down from the seraphim.
Gregorius autem aliter ordinat, quia ponit principatus in medio dominationum et potestatum, quod pertinet ad secundum ordinem mediae hierarchiae; virtutes vero ponit in medio potestatum et archangelorum, quod pertinet ad supremum ordinem infimae hierarchiae. Et haec assignatio etiam fulcimentum habet ex verbis Apostoli, Col. III ubi dicit sive throni, sive dominationes, sive principatus, sive potestates, ubi illos ordines enumerat descendendo.
Gregory, on the other hand, arranges them differently. He places the principalities between the dominions and the powers, which is the second rank of the middle hierarchy; while he puts the virtues between the powers and the archangels, which is the first rank of the lower hierarchy. This arrangement is supported by the Apostle’s words: for in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers (Col 1:16), where he enumerates those ranks in a descending order.
Sed, reservata ordinatione Gregorii, usquequo legamus epistolam ad Colossenses, ad praesens viam Dionysii magis competentem praesenti litterae prosequemur.
Reserving Gregory’s classification until we lecture on the letter to the Colossians, for the present we will follow Dionysius’s approach since it accords with the text at hand.
62. Ad cuius intellectum sciendum est, quod potest considerari tripliciter ordo rerum. Primo quidem secundum quod sunt in prima omnium causa, scilicet in Deo; secundo vero secundum quod sunt in causis universalibus; tertio secundum determinationem ad speciales effectus.
62. To understand this, it should be realized that the structure of reality can be considered in three ways: first, according as it is present in the first cause of everything, namely in God; second, according as it is in the universal causes; third, according to the arrangement of individual causes.
Et quia omnia quae fiunt in creaturis ministrantur per angelos, ideo secundum triplicem acceptionem ordinis rerum distinguuntur tres angelicae hierarchiae, ad quarum unam pertinet accipere rationes rerum in ipso rerum vertice, scilicet Deo; ad aliam vero pertinet accipere rationes rerum in causis universalibus; ad aliam vero in propriis effectibus. Nam quanto mentes angelicae sunt superiores, tanto divinam illuminationem in maiori universalitate recipiunt. Et ideo ad supremam hierarchiam pertinet administratio rerum in comparatione ad Deum. Propter quod ordines hierarchiae istius denominantur per comparationem ad Deum, quia seraphim dicuntur ardentes, et uniti Deo per amorem. cherubim vero quasi lucentes, in quantum supereminenter divina secreta cognoscunt. Throni vero dicuntur sic, in quantum in eis Deus sua iudicia exercet.
Since everything that happens among creatures occurs with the assistance of the angels, the three angelic hierarchies are distinguished according to the threefold way of conceiving the structure of reality. To one it belongs to grasp the intelligible patterns of things in the very summit of reality, God; it pertains to another to grasp the intelligible patterns of reality in the universal causes; still another understands these patterns in the individual causes. For the higher the angelic minds are, the more do they receive divine illumination with greater universality. Therefore, the governance of reality in relation to God pertains to the first hierarchy. On this account, the ranks of that hierarchy are named with reference to God. The seraphim are so called because they are burning with love and through it are united to God. The cherubim are, as it were, radiant inasmuch as they possess a supereminent knowledge of divine mysteries. The thrones are so termed inasmuch as in them God carries out his judgments.
Et de istis tribus ordinibus nullam facit hic Apostolus mentionem.
Of these three ranks the Apostle makes no mention here.
Ad mediam hierarchiam pertinet rerum administratio per comparationem ad causas universales. Unde denominantur ordines hierarchiae illius nominibus ad potestatem pertinentibus, cum causae universales sint virtute et potestate in inferioribus et particularibus. Ad potestates autem, quae habent universale regimen, tria pertinent. Primo quod sint aliqui per imperium dirigentes; secundo quod sint aliqui qui impedimenta executionis repellant; tertio quod sint aliqui qui ordinent qualiter alii imperium exequantur. Horum autem primum pertinet ad dominationes, quae, ut dicit Dionysius, sunt liberae ab omni subiectione, nec ad exteriora mittuntur sed eis, qui mittuntur, imperant. Secundum vero pertinet ad virtutes, quae praebent facilitatem ad imperium implendum. Tertium vero pertinet ad potestates imperium exequentes.
To the middle hierarchy belongs the governance of things in relation to the universal causes. Hence the ranks of this hierarchy have names associated with power since the universal causes are present in the lower and individual things by their power and strength. Three tasks pertain to these powers which govern universally. First, some must give direction by their commands; second, others must dispose of any impediments to the fulfillment of those commands; third, some must arrange how others will carry out the commands. Of these, the first belongs to the dominions who, as Dionysius remarks, are free from any subordination; nor are they sent out on external missions but they give orders to those who are sent. The second pertains to the virtues who facilitate the execution of the commands. The third belongs to the powers who carry out the commands.
Ad infimam autem hierarchiam pertinet administratio rerum in comparatione ad speciales effectus, unde nominibus ad eos pertinentibus nuncupantur. Unde angeli dicuntur illi, qui exequuntur ea quae pertinent ad salutem singulorum; Archangeli vero qui exequuntur ea quae pertinent ad salutem et utilitatem magnorum. Principatus vero dicuntur illi, qui praesunt singulis provinciis.
On the lower hierarchy devolves the guidance of things in relation to individual causes, and they are named from what is consigned to them. Hence, those called angels carry out what pertains to the salvation of individual persons. The salvation and utility of greater personages is entrusted to the archangels. Principalities is the name of those who preside over each of the provinces.
63. His ergo expositis, Christus super omnes est.
63. Christ is above all of these ranks that have been discussed.
De his vero quatuor Apostolus specialem mentionem facit. Cuius ratio est, quia horum quatuor ordinum nomina a dignitate imponuntur; et quia agit de dignitate Christi, ideo hic specialiter eos nominat, ut ostendat Christum omnem dignitatem creatam excedere.
The Apostle only makes a special mention of four of them. The reason is that the names of these four ranks are given them for their dignity, and since he is dealing with the dignity of Christ, he names them especially to show that Christ surpasses all created dignity.
64. Consequenter cum dicit et omne nomen quod nominatur, etc., ostendit Christum exaltatum esse communiter supra omnem creaturam spiritualem.
64. Consequently, when he says and above every name that is named, he teaches that Christ has been exalted above every spiritual creature in general.
Dixerat enim supra Christum esse exaltatum super omnes creaturas spirituales, quae a potestate denominantur, sed quia praeter illos angelorum ordines, in Sacra Scriptura quidam alii ordines caelestium spirituum inveniuntur, scilicet seraphim et cherubim et throni, et de istis non fecerat mentionem, ideo ostendit Christum, secundum quod homo, supra omnes huiusmodi ordines esse exaltatum: propter quod subiungit, dicens et super omne nomen, etc., id est, non solum principatus sed super omne nominabile.
He had stated previously that Christ was exalted above all the spiritual creatures whose names were related to power. However, in Sacred Scripture, besides those ranks of angels, other ranks of celestial spirits are mentioned; for instance, the seraphim (Isa 6), cherubim (Ezek 10, 11, and 41), and thrones (Psalms), which he did not speak of. Therefore, he shows that Christ, as man, is exalted above all of these ranks by adding above every name that is named, that is, above not only those who exercise authority but also everything capable of being named.
Sciendum est enim, quod nomen imponitur ad cognoscendum rem, unde significat rei substantiam, cum significatum nominis sit diffinitiva ratio rei. Cum ergo dicit et omne nomen quod nominatur, dat intelligere quod exaltatus est supra omnem substantiam, de qua potest haberi notitia et quae possit nomine comprehendi. Quod dico ut excludatur substantia divinitatis, quae incomprehensibilis est. Unde Glossa dicit supra omne nomen, id est nominabile.
For it should be recognized that a name is given to understand the object referred to; it signifies the object’s substance when what the name designates is the precise intelligibility of the object. In asserting every name that is named he lets us know that the exaltation is above every substance which can be known and comprehended by a name. I say this to exclude the substance of divinity which is incomprehensible; so a Gloss remarks that above every name means everything that can be named.
Et ne intelligatur, quod sit supra nomen Dei, ideo subdit quod nominatur. Nam maiestas divina nullo nomine concludi, vel nominari potest.
And lest it be thought that he is above the name of God, he inserts that is named. For the divine majesty can be neither contained nor designated by a name.
Addit autem non solum in hoc saeculo, sed etiam in futuro, quia multa fiunt in hoc saeculo, quae notitia comprehendimus et nominamus: quaedam tamen sunt in futuro saeculo, quae hic comprehendi non possunt, nec etiam nominari, quia, ut dicitur I Cor. c. XIII, 9: ex parte cognoscimus, et ex parte prophetamus. Nominantur tamen haec a beatis, qui sunt in futuro saeculo. Huiusmodi autem sunt de quibus dicit Apostolus II Cor. XII, 4, quod audivit arcana verba, quae non licet homini loqui. Et tamen super haec omnia exaltatus est Christus. Phil. II, v. 9: dedit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen.
Not only in this world, but also in that which is to come is added because there are many facts in this life that we grasp through knowledge and which we name, whereas those of the future life cannot be comprehended or named: we know in part; and we prophesy in part (1 Cor 13:9). Nevertheless, the blessed in the future life do name these latter; they are those realities of which the Apostle says that he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter (2 Cor 12:4). Yet Christ is even exalted above these. He gave him a name which is above all names (Phil 2:9).