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29. The Coming of the Son of Man in Glory.
"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His own Father with His angels." Now, indeed, the Son of man has not come in His glory; "for we saw Him, and He had no form nor beauty; but His form was dishonoured and defective compared with the sons of men; He was a man in affliction and toil, and acquainted with the enduring of sickness, because His face was turned away, He was dishonoured and not esteemed." And it was necessary that He should come in such form that He might bear our sins and suffer pain for us; for it did not become Him in glory to bear our sins and suffer pain for us. But He also comes in glory, having prepared the disciples through that epiphany of His which has no form nor beauty; and, having become as they that they might become as He, "conformed to the image of His glory," since He formerly became conformed to "the body of our humiliation," when He "emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a servant," He is restored to the image of God and also makes them conformed unto it.
30. The Word Appears in Different Forms; The Time of His Coming in Glory.
But if you will understand the differences of the Word which by "the foolishness of preaching" is proclaimed to those who believe, and spoken in wisdom to them that are perfect, you will see in what way the Word has the form of a slave to those who are learning the rudiments, so that they say, "We saw Him and He had no form or beauty." But to the perfect He comes "in the glory of His own Father," who might say, "and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." For indeed to the perfect appears the glory of the Word, and the only-begotten of God His Father, add the fulness of grace and likewise of truth, which that man cannot perceive who requires the "foolishness of the preaching," in order to believe. But "the Son of man shall come in the glory of His own Father" not alone, but "with His own angels." And if you can conceive of all those who are fellow-helpers in the glory of the Word, and in the revelation of the Wisdom which is Christ, coming along with Him, you will see in what way the Son of man comes in the glory of His own Father with His own angels. And consider whether you can in this connection say that the prophets who formerly suffered in virtue of their word having "no form or beauty" had an analogous position to the Word who had "no form or beauty." And, as the Son of man comes in the glory of His own Father, so the angels, who are the words in the prophets, are present with Him preserving the measure of their own glory. But when the Word comes in such form with His own angels, He will give to each a part of His own glory and of the brightness of His own angels, according to the action of each. But we say these things not rejecting even the second coming of the Son of God understood in its simpler form. But when shall these things happen? Shall it be when that apostolic oracle is fulfilled which says, "For we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things dope in the body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad? " But if He will render to each according to his deed, not the good deed only, nor the evil apart from the good, it is manifest that He will render to each according to every evil, and according to every good, deed. But I suppose-in this also following the Apostle, but comparing also the sayings of Ezekiel, in which the sins of him who is a perfect convert are wiped out, and the former uprightness of him who has utterly fallen away is not held of account-that in the case of him who is perfected, and has altogether laid aside wickedness, the sins are wiped out, but that, in the case of him who has altogether revolted from piety, if anything good was formerly done by him, it is not taken into account. But to us, who occupy a middle position between the perfect man add the apostate, when we stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, there is rendered what we have done, whether good or bad; for we have not been so pure that our evil deeds are not at all imputed unto us, nor have we fallen away to such an extent that our better actions are forgotten.
31. The Simpler Interpretation of the Promise About Not Tasting of Death.
"Verily I say unto you there be some of them that stand here that shall not taste of death." Some refer these things to the going up-six days after, or, as Luke says, eight days-of the three disciples into the high mountain with Jesus apart; and those who adopt this interpretation say that Peter and the remaining two did not taste of death before they saw the Son of man coining in His own kingdom and in His own glory. For when they saw Jesus transfigured before them so that "His face shone," etc., "they saw the kingdom of God coming with power." For even as some spear-bearers stand around a king, so Moses and Elijah appeared to those who had gone up into the mountains, talking with Jesus. But it is worth while considering whether the sitting on the right hand and on the left band of the Saviour in His kingdom refers to them, so that the words, "But for whom it is prepared," were spoken because of them. Now this interpretation about the three Apostles not tasting of death until they have seen Jesus transfigured, is adapted to those who are designated by Peter as "new-born babes longing for the reasonable milk which is without guile," to whom Paul says, "I have fed you with milk, not with meat," etc. Now, too, every interpretation of a text which is able to build up those who cannot receive greater truths might reasonably be called milk, flowing from the holy ground of the Scriptures, which flows with milk and honey. But he who has been weaned, like Isaac, worthy of the good cheer and reception which Abraham gave at the weaning of his son, would seek here and in every Scripture food which is different, I think, from that which is meat, indeed, but is not solid food, and from what are figuratively called herbs, which are food to one who has been weaned and is not yet strong but weak, according to the saying, "He that is weak eateth herbs." In like manner also he who has been weaned, like Samuel, and dedicated by his mother to God, -she was Hannah, which is, by interpretation, grace, -would be also a son of grace, seeking, like one nurtured in the temple, flesh of God, the holy food of those who are at once perfect and priests.
32. Standing by the Saviour.
The reflections in regard to the passage before us that occur to us at the present time are these: Some were standing where Jesus was, having the footsteps of the soul firmly planted with Jesus, and the standing of their feet was akin to the standing of which Moses said in the passage, "And I stood on the mountain forty days and forty nights," who was deemed worthy to have it said to him by God who asked him to stand by Him, "But stand thou here with Me." Those who really stand by Jesus-that is, by the Word of God-do not all stand equally; for among those who stand by Jesus are differences from each other. Wherefore, not all who stand by the Saviour, but some of them as standing better, do not taste of death until they shall have seen the Word who dwelt with men, and on that account called Son of man, coming in His own kingdom; for Jesus does not always come in His own kingdom when He comes, since to the newly initiated He is such that they might say, beholding the Word Himself not glorious nor great, but inferior to many among them, "We saw Him, and He had no form or beauty, but His form was dishonoured, defective compared with all the sons of men." And these things will be said by those who beheld His glory in connection with their own former times, when at first the Word as understood in the synagogue had no form nor beauty to them. To the Word, therefore, who has assumed most manifestly the power above all words. there belongs a royal dignity which is visible to some of those who stand by Jesus, when they have been able to follow Him as He goes before them and ascends to the lofty mountain of His own manifestation. And of this honour some of those who stand by Jesus are deemed worthy if they be either a Peter against whom the gates of Hades do not prevail, or the sons of thunder, and are begotten of the mighty voice of God who thunders and cries aloud from heaven great things to those who have ears and are wise. Such at least do not taste death.
33. Interpretation of "Tasting of Death."
But we must seek to understand what is meant by "tasting of death." And He is life who says, "I am the life," and this life assuredly has been hidden with Christ in God; and. "when Christ our life shall be manifested, then along with Him" shall be manifested those who are worthy of being manifested with Him in glory. But the enemy of this life, who is also the last enemy of all His enemies that shall be destroyed, is death, of which the soul that sinneth dies, having the opposite disposition to that which takes place in the soul that lives uprightly, and in consequence of living uprightly lives. And when it is said in the law, "I have placed life before thy face," the Scripture says this about Him who said, "I am the Life," and about His enemy, death; the one or other of which each of us by his deeds is always choosing. And when we sin with life before our face, the curse is fulfilled against us which says, "And thy life shall be hanging up before thee," etc., down to the words, "and for the sights of thine eyes which thou shall see.:" As, therefore, the Life is also the living bread which came down from heaven and gave life to the world, so His enemy death is dead bread. Now every rational soul is fed either on living bread or dead bread, by the opinions good or bad which it receives. As then in the case of more common foods it is the practice at one time only to taste them, and at another to eat of them more largely; so also, in the case of these loaves, one eats insufficiently only tasting them, but another is satiated,-he that is good or is on the way to being good with the living bread which came down from heaven, but he that is wicked with the dead bread, which is death; and some perhaps sparingly, and sinning a little, only taste of death; but those who have attained to virtue do not even taste of it, but are always fed on the living bread. It naturally followed then in the case of Peter, against whom the gates of Hades will not prevail, that he did not taste of death, since any one tastes of death and eats death at the time when the gates of Hades prevail against him; and one eats or tastes of death in proportion as the gates of Hades to a greater or less extent, more or fewer in number, prevail against him. But also for the sons of thunder who were begotten of thunder, which is a heavenly thing, it was impossible to taste of death, which is extremely far removed from thunder, their mother. But these things the Word prophesies to those who shall be perfected, and who by standing with the Word advanced so far that they did not taste of death, until they saw the manifestation and the glory and the kingdom and the excellency of the Word of God in virtue of which He excels every word, which by an appearance of truth draws away and drags about those who are not able to break through the bonds of distraction, and go up to the height of the excellency of the Word of truth.
34. Meaning of "Until." No Limitation of Promise.
But since some one may think that the promise of the Saviour prescribes a limit of time to their not tasting of death, namely, that they will not taste of death "until" they see the Son of man coming in His own kingdom. but after this will taste of it, let us show that according to the scriptural usage the word "until" signifies that the time concerning the thing signified is pressing, but is not so defined that after the "until," that which is contrary to the thing signified should at all take place. Now, the Saviour says to the eleven disciples when He rose from the dead, this among other things, "Lo, I am with you all the days, even until the consummation of the age." When He said this, did He promise that He was going to be with them until the consummation of the age, but that after the consummation of the age, when another age was at hand, which is "called the age to come," He would be no longer with them?-so that according to this, the condition of the disciples would be better before the consummation of the age than after the consummation of the age? But I do not think that any one will dare to say, that after the consummation of the age the Son of God will be no longer with the disciples, because the expression declares that He will be with them for so long, until the consummation of the age is at hand; for it is clear that the matter under inquiry was, whether the Son of God was forthwith going to be with His disciples before the age to come and the hoped for promises of God which were given as a recompense. But there might have been a question-it being granted that He would be with them-whether sometimes He was present with them, and sometimes not present. Wherefore setting us free from the suspicion that might have arisen from doubt, He declared that now and even all the days He would be with the disciples, and that He would not leave those who had become His disciples until the consummation of the age; (because He said "all the days" He did not deny that by night, when the sun set, He would be present with them.) But if such is the force of the words, "until the consummation of the age," plainly we shall not be compelled to admit that those who see the Son of man coming in His own kingdom shall taste of death, after being deemed worthy of beholding Him in such guise. But as in the case of the passage we brought forward, the urgent necessity was to teach us that "until the consummation of the age" He would not leave us but be with us all the days; so also in this case I think that it is clear to those who know how to look at the logical coherence of things that He who has seen once for all "the Son of man coming in His own kingdom," and seen Him "in His own glory," and seen "the kingdom of God come with power," could not possibly taste of death after the contemplation of things so good and great. But apart from the word of the promise of Jesus, we have conjectured not without reason that we would taste of death, so long as we were not yet held worthy to see "the kingdom of God come with power," and "the Son of man coming in His own glory and in His own kingdom."
35. Scriptural References to Death.
But since here it is written in the three Evangelists, "They shall not taste of death," but in other writers different things are written concerning death, it may not be out of place to bring forward and examine these passages along with the "taste." In the Psalms, then, it is said, "What man is he that shall live and not see death? " And again, in another place, "Let death come upon them and let them go down into Hades alive; " but in one of the prophets, "Death becoming mighty has swallowed them up; " and in the Apocalypse, "Death and Hades follow some." Now in these passages it appears to me that it is one thing to taste of death, but another thing to see death, and another thing for it to come upon some, and that a fourth thing, different from the aforesaid, is signified by the words, "Death becoming mighty has swallowed them up," and a fifth thing, different from these, by the words, Death and Hades follow them." And if yon were to collect them, you would perhaps find also other differences than those which we have mentioned, by a comparison of which with one another and right investigation, you would find the things signified in each place. But here I inquire whether it is a less evil to see death, but a greater evil than seeing to taste of it, but still worse than this that death should follow any one, and not only follow him, but also now come upon him and seize him whom it formerly followed; but to be swallowed up seems to be more grievous than all the things spoken of. But giving heed to what is said, and to the differences of sins committed, you will not I think, be slow to admit that things of this kind were intended by the Spirit who caused these things to be written in the oracles of God. But, if it be necessary to give an exposition clearer than what has been said of what is signified by seeing the Son of man coming in His own kingdom, or in His own glory, and what is signified by seeing the kingdom of God come with power, these things-whether those that are made to shine in our hearts, or that are found by those who seek, or that enter gradually into our thoughts.-let each one judge as he wills-we will set forth. He who beholds and apprehends the excellency of the Word, as tie breaks down and refutes all the plausible forms of things which are truly lies but profess to be truths, sees the Son of man, (according to the word of John, "the Word of God,") coming in His own kingdom; but if such an one were to behold the Word, not only breaking down plausible oppositions, but also representing His own truths with perfect clearness, he would behold His glory in addition to His kingdom. And such an one indeed would see in Him the kingdom of God come with power; and he would see this, as one who is no longer now under the reign of "sin which reigns in the mortal body of those who sin," but is ever under the orders of the king, who is God of all, whose kingdom is indeed potentially "within us," but actually, and, as Mark has called it, "with power," and not at all in weakness within the perfect alone. These things, then, Jesus promised to the disciples who were standing, prophesying not about all of them, but about some.
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