Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Anti-Marcion/On the Flesh of Christ/XIV
Chapter XIV.—Christ Took Not on Him an Angelic Nature, But the Human. It Was Men, Not Angels, Whom He Came to Save.
But Christ, they say, bare (the nature of) an angel. For what reason? The same which induced Him to become man? Christ, then, was actuated by the motive which led Him to take human nature. Man’s salvation was the motive, the restoration of that which had perished. Man had perished; his recovery had become necessary. No such cause, however, existed for Christ’s taking on Him the nature of angels. For although there is assigned to angels also perdition in “the fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” yet a restoration is never promised to them. No charge about the salvation of angels did Christ ever receive from the Father; and that which the Father neither promised nor commanded, Christ could not have undertaken. For what object, therefore, did He bear the angelic nature, if it were not (that He might have it) as a powerful helper wherewithal to execute the salvation of man? The Son of God, in sooth, was not competent alone to deliver man, whom a solitary and single serpent had overthrown! There is, then, no longer but one God, but one Saviour, if there be two to contrive salvation, and one of them in need of the other. But was it His object indeed to deliver man by an angel? Why, then, come down to do that which He was about to expedite with an angel’s help? If by an angel’s aid, why come Himself also? If He meant to do all by Himself, why have an angel too? He has been, it is true, called “the Angel of great counsel,” that is, a messenger, by a term expressive of official function, not of nature. For He had to announce to the world the mighty purpose of the Father, even that which ordained the restoration of man. But He is not on this account to be regarded as an angel, as a Gabriel or a Michael. For the Lord of the Vineyard sends even His Son to the labourers to require fruit, as well as His servants. Yet the Son will not therefore be counted as one of the servants because He undertook the office of a servant. I may, then, more easily say, if such an expression is to be hazarded, that the Son is actually an angel, that is, a messenger, from the Father, than that there is an angel in the Son. Forasmuch, however, as it has been declared concerning the Son Himself, “Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels” how will it appear that He put on the nature of angels if He was made lower than the angels, having become man, with flesh and soul as the Son of man? As “the Spirit of God,” however, and “the Power of the Highest,” can He be regarded as lower than the angels,—He who is verily God, and the Son of God? Well, but as bearing human nature, He is so far made inferior to the angels; but as bearing angelic nature, He to the same degree loses that inferiority. This opinion will be very suitable for Ebion, who holds Jesus to be a mere man, and nothing more than a descendant of David, and not also the Son of God; although He is, to be sure, in one respect more glorious than the prophets, inasmuch as he declares that there was an angel in Him, just as there was in Zechariah. Only it was never said by Christ, “And the angel, which spake within me, said unto me.” Neither, indeed, was ever used by Christ that familiar phrase of all the prophets, “Thus saith the Lord.” For He was Himself the Lord, who openly spake by His own authority, prefacing His words with the formula, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” What need is there of further argument? Hear what Isaiah says in emphatic words, “It was no angel, nor deputy, but the Lord Himself who saved them.”