Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/Against Two Letters of the Pelagians/Book III/Chapter 21
Chapter 21.—That Righteousness is Never Perfected in This Life.
Now, according to this righteousness of God, that is, which we have from God, faith now worketh by love. But it worketh that, in what way man can attain to Him on whom now, not seeing, he believes; and when he shall see Him, then that which was in faith through a glass enigmatically, shall at length be in sight face to face; and then shall be perfected even love itself. Because it is said with excessive folly, that God is loved as much before He is seen, as He will be loved when He is seen. Further, if in this life, as no religious person doubts, the more we love God, so much the more righteous we certainly are, who can doubt that pious and true righteousness will then be perfected when the love of God shall be perfect? Then the law, therefore, shall be fulfilled; so that nothing at all is wanting to it, of which law, according to the apostle, the fulfilling is Love. And thus, when he had said, “Not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is by the faith of Jesus Christ, which is the righteousness from God in faith,” he then added, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.” All these things were not yet full and perfect in the apostle; but, as if he were placed on the way, he was running towards their fulness and perfection. For how had he already perfectly known Christ, who says in another place, “Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known”? And how had he already perfectly known the power of His resurrection, to whom it remained to know it yet more fully by experience at the time of the resurrection of the flesh? And how had he perfectly known already the fellowship of His suffering, if he had not yet experienced for him the suffering of death? Finally, he adds and says, “If in any manner I may attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” And then he says, “Not that I have already received or am already perfected.” What, then, does he confess that he has not yet received, and in what is he not yet perfected, except that righteousness which is of God, which he desired, not willing to have his own righteousness, which is of the law? For hence he was speaking, and such was the reason for his saying these things in resistance to the enemies of the grace of God, for the bestowal of which Christ was crucified; and of the race of whom are also these.
- Phil. iii. 9, 10.
- 1 Cor. xiii. 12.
- Phil. iii. 11, 12.