The Early Church and Sola FideArticles on Justification by Faith Alone
Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.
A good brother on the Puritanboard posted this in his research on Sola Fide. It is worthy to read and consider.
Roman apologists love to point out that Alister McGrath noted in his Iusti Dei: The History of the Doctrine of Justification is often cited as proof of the absence of sola fide until the time of Luther. I have disagreed with McGrath for awhile and have been more persuaded by Thomas Oden’s Justification Reader, in which he demonstrated sola fide and related doctrines in early Patristic writings. I have read McGrath and Oden’s little book as well. While I liked Oden’s attempt, I do think that his ambition falls short of proving his case. I do not think you find the present day Reformed understanding of sola fide expressed in the ECFs or in the medieval period. But they do give what I would call inconsistent expressions to it, and I’m happy to share some of my own studies here.
I find it interesting that the church historian Jaroslav Pelikan, who was a Lutheran, but converted to Eastern Orthodoxy some years before he died, once observed…
That being said, here is some of that evidence for sola fide in its infancy stages in the early church. I say “infancy” because we must be careful not to read a mature understanding of sola fide as expressed in the time of the Reformers back into the early church. The early church writers were not always consistent in their understanding and/or expressions of it.
The earliest writers of the post-apostolic age seem to have understood it the best, yet not as well as the biblical writers themselves…
Clement of Rome (Fl. 96): Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honored, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ANF: Vol. I, The Apostolic Fathers, First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 32.
Greek text: Ὃ ἐάν τις καθ’ ἓν ἕκαστον εἰλικρινῶς κατανοήσῃ, ἐπιγνώσεται μεγαλεῖα τῶν ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ δεδομένων δωρεῶν. Ἐξ αὐτοῦ γὰρ ἱερεῖς καὶ λευΐται πάντες οἱ λειτουργοῦντες τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ τοῦ θεοῦ· ἐξ αὐτοῦ ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα· ἐξ αὐτοῦ βασιλεῖς καὶ ἄρχοντες καὶ ἡγούμενοι κατὰ τὸν Ἰούδαν· τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ σκῆπτρα αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἐν μικρᾷ δόξῃ ὑπάρχουσιν, ὡς ἐπαγγειλαμένου τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅτι· «Ἔσται τὸ σπέρμα σου ὡς οἱ ἀστέρες τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.» Πάντες οὖν ἐδοξάσθησαν καὶ ἐμεγαλύνθησαν οὐ διʼ αὐτῶν ἢ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῶν ἢ τῆς δικαιοπραγίας ἧς κατειργάσαντο, ἀλλὰ διὰ τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ. Καὶ ἡμεῖς οὖν, διὰ θελήματος αὐτοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ κληθέντες, οὐ δι’ ἑαυτῶν δικαιούμεθα οὐδὲ διὰ τῆς ἡμετέρας σοφίας ἢ συνέσεως ἢ εὐσεβείας ἢ ἔργων ὧν κατειργασάμεθα ἐν ὁσιότητι καρδίας, ἀλλὰ διὰ τῆς πίστεως, διʼ ἧς πάντας τοὺς ἀπʼ αἰῶνος ὁ παντοκράτωρ θεὸς ἐδικαίωσεν· ᾧ ἔστω ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν. See J. B. Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, eds. and trans., The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations of Their Writings, 2nd. ed., The Letter of the Romans to the Corinthians (1 Clement), Chapter 32.1-4 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), pp. 62, 64. See also Epistula I ad Corinthios, Caput XXXII, PG 1:272.
Mathetes to Diognetus: As long then as the former time endured, He permitted us to be borne along by unruly impulses, being drawn away by the desire of pleasure and various lusts. This was not that He at all delighted in our sins, but that He simply endured them; nor that He approved the time of working iniquity which then was, but that He sought to form a mind conscious of righteousness, so that being convinced in that time of our unworthiness of attaining life through our own works, it should now, through the kindness of God, be vouchsafed to us; and having made it manifest that in ourselves we were unable to enter into the kingdom of God, we might through the power of God be made able. But when our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward, punishment and death, was impending over us; and when the time had come which God had before appointed for manifesting His own kindness and power, how the one love of God, through exceeding regard for men, did not regard us with hatred, nor thrust us away, nor remember our iniquity against us, but showed great long-suffering, and bore with us, He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange (substitution)! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors! Having therefore convinced us in the former time that our nature was unable to attain to life, and having now revealed the Savior who is able to save even those things which it was [formerly] impossible to save, by both these facts He desired to lead us to trust in His kindness, to esteem Him our Nourisher, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, our Wisdom, Light, Honor, Glory, Power, and Life, so that we should not be anxious concerning clothing and food. Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume I, Mathetes to Diognetus, Chapter 9.
Greek text: Πάντʼ οὖν ἤδη παρʼ ἑαυτῷ σὺν τῷ παιδὶ οἰκονομηκώς, μέχρι μὲν [οὖν] τοῦ πρόσθεν χρόνου εἴασεν ἡμᾶς ὡς ἐβουλόμεθα ἀτάκτοις φοραῖς φέρεσθαι, ἡδοναῖς καὶ ἐπιθυμίαις ἀπαγομένους, οὐ πάντως ἐφηδόμενος τοῖς ἁμαρτήμασιν ἡμῶν, ἀλλʼ ἀνεχόμενος, οὐδὲ τῷ τότε τῆς ἀδικίας καιρῷ συνευδοκῶν, ἀλλὰ τὸν νῦν τῆς δικαιοσύνης δημιουργῶν, ἵνα ἐν τῷ τότε χρόνῳ ἐλεγχθέντες ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων ἔργων ἀνάξιοι ζωῆς, νῦν ὑπὸ τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ χρηστότητος ἀξιωθῶμεν, καὶ τὸ καθʼ ἑαυτοὺς φανερώσαντες ἀδύνατον εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ τῇ δυνάμει τοῦ Θεοῦ δυνατοὶ γενηθῶμεν. Ἐπεὶ δὲ πεπλήρωτο μὲν ἡ ἡμετέρα ἀδικία, καὶ τελείως πεφανέρωτο ὅτι ὁ μισθὸς αὐτῆς κόλασις καὶ θάνατος προσεδοκᾶτο, ἦλθε δὲ ὁ καιρὸς ὃν Θεὸς προέθετο λοιπὸν φανερῶσαι τὴν ἑαυτοῦ χρηστότητα καὶ δύναμιν –ὢ τῆς ὑπερβαλλούσης φιλανθρωπίας καὶ ἀγάπης τοῦ Θεοῦ· –οὐκ ἐμίσησεν ἡμᾶς οὐδὲ ἀπώσατο οὐδὲ ἐμνησικάκησεν, ἀλλὰ ἐμακροθύμησεν, ἠνέσχετο, ἐλεῶν αὐτὸς τὰς ἡμετέρας ἁμαρτίας ἀνεδέξατο, αὐτὸς τὸν ἴδιον υἱὸν ἀπέδοτο λύτρον ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, τὸν ἅγιον ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀνόμων, τὸν ἄκακον ὑπὲρ τῶν κακῶν, τὸν δίκαιον ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀδίκων, τὸν ἄφθαρτον ὑπὲρ τῶν φθαρτῶν, τὸν ἀθάνατον ὑπὲρ τῶν θνητῶν.
Τί γὰρ ἄλλο τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν ἠδυνήθη καλύψαι ἢ ἐκείνου δικαιοσύνη; ἐν τίνι δικαιωθῆναι δυνατὸν τοὺς ἀνόμους ἡμᾶς καὶ ἀσεβεῖς ἢ ἐν μόνῳ τῷ υἱῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ; ὢ τῆς γλυκείας ἀνταλλαγῆς, ὢ τῆς ἀνεξιχνιάστου δημιουργίας, ὢ τῶν ἀπροσδοκήτων εὐεργεσιῶν· ἵνα ἀνομία μὲν πολλῶν ἐν δικαίῳ ἑνὶ κρυβῇ, δικαιοσύνη δὲ ἑνὸς πολλοὺς ἀνόμους δικαιώσῃ. Ἐλέγξας οὖν ἐν μὲν τῷ πρόσθεν χρόνῳ τὸ ἀδύνατον τῆς ἡμετέρας φύσεως εἰς τὸ τυχεῖν ζωῆς, νῦν δὲ τὸν σωτῆρα δείξας δυνατὸν σóζειν καὶ τὰ ἀδύνατα, ἐξ ἀμφοτέρων ἐβουλήθη πιστεύειν ἡμᾶς τῇ χρηστότητι αὐτοῦ, αὐτὸν ἡγεῖσθαι τροφέα, πατέρα, διδάσκαλον, σύμβουλον, ἰατρόν, νοῦν, φῶς, τιμήν, δόξαν, ἰσχύν, ζωήν, περὶ ἐνδύσεως καὶ τροφῆς μὴ μεριμνᾶν. Epistola ad Diognetum, Caput IX, PG 2:1180-1181.
Marius Victorinus (born c. 280, converted around 356): Every mystery which is enacted by our Lord Jesus Christ asks only for faith. The mystery was enacted at that time for our sake and aimed at our resurrection and liberation, should we have faith in the mystery of Christ and in Christ. For the patriarchs prefigured and foretold that man would be justified from faith. Therefore, just as it was reckoned as righteousness to Abraham that he had faith, so we too, if we have faith in Christ and every mystery of his, will be sons of Abraham. Our whole life will be accounted as righteous. Epistle to the Galatians, 1.3.7. Mark J. Edwards, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 39.
Latin text: Omne mysterium, quod a Domino nostro Jesu Christo actum est, fidem solam quaerit: fuit enim pro nobis actum, et in nostram resurrectionem actum et liberationem, si fidem in mysterium Christi et in Christum habeamus. Hoc enim praelusit divinitas et praemisit, ut ex fide homo justificaretur. Ut reputatum est igitur Abrahae ad justitiam, quia fidem habuit; sic et nos, si fidem habemus in Christum ejusque mysterium, erimus filii Abrahae, id est reputabitur nobis omnis vita ad justitiam. In Epistolam Pauli Ad Galatas, Liber Primus, Cap. III, PL 8:1169A.
Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379): [As the Apostle says,] Let him who boasts boast in the Lord, [I say that] Christ has been made by God for us righteousness, wisdom, justification, [and] redemption, that, as it is written, “he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.” [For] this is perfect and pure boasting in God, when one is not proud on account of his own righteousness but knows that he is indeed unworthy of the true righteousness and is (or has been, δεδικαιωμένον, perfect passive participle, accusative, masculine of δικαιόω) justified solely by faith in Christ. See Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part 1, trans. Fred Kramer (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971), p. 505.
Greek text: Λέγει δὲ ὁ Ἀπόστολος· Ὁ καυχώμενος ἐν Κυρίῳ καυχάσθω, λέγω ὅτι Χριστὸς ἡμῖν ἐγενήθη σοφία ἀπὸ Θεοῦ, δικαιοσύνη τε καὶ ἁγιασμὸς καὶ ἀπολύτρωσις· ἵνα καθὼς γέγραπται, Ὁ καυχώμενος ἐν Κυρίῳ καυχάσθω. Αὕτη γὰρ δὴ ἡ τελεία καὶ ὁλόκληρος καύχησις ἐν Θεῳ, ὅτε μήτε ἐπὶ δικαιοσύνῃ τις ἐπαίρεται τῇ ἑαυτοῦ, ἀλλʼ ἔγνω μὲν ἐνδεῆ ὄντα ἑαυτὸν δικαιοσύνης ἀληθοῦς, πίστει δὲ μόνῃ τῇ εἰς Χριστὸν δεδικαιωμένον. Homilia XX, Homilia De Humilitate, §3, PG 31:529. In context, Basil appealed to the example of the Apostle Paul as a regenerate man. The verb, δεδικαιωμένον, is a perfect passive participle, accusative, masculine of δικαιόω, meaning “to declare righteous.”
Chrysostom (349-407): What does he mean when he says: “I have declared your justice?” He did not simply say: “I have given,” but “I have declared.” What does this mean? That he has justified our race not by right actions, not by toils, not by barter and exchange, but by grace alone. Paul, too, made this clear when he said: “But now the justice of God has been made manifest independently of the Law.” But the justice of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ and not through any labor and suffering. FC, Vol. 68, Discourses Against Judaizing Christians, Disc. 7.3.2 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1979), pp. 186-187.
Greek text: Τί ποτέ ἐστιν, Εὐηγγελισάμην δικαιοσύνην; Οὐκ εἶπεν ἁπλῶς, Ἔδωκα, ἀλλ’, Εὐηγγελισάμην. Τί δήποτε; Ὅτι οὐκ ἀπὸ κατορθωμάτων, οὐδὲ πόνων, οὐδὲ ἀμοιβῆς, ἀλλʼ ἀπὸ χάριτος μόνης τὸ γένος ἐδικαίωσε τὸ ἡμέτερον. Ὅπερ οὖν καὶ ὁ Παῦλος δηλῶν ἔλεγε· Νυνὶ δὲ χωρὶς νόμου δικαιοσύνη Θεοῦ πεφανέρωται· δικαιοσύνη δὲ Θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, οὐ διὰ καμάτου τινὸς καὶ πόνου. Adversus Judaeos, VII, §3, PG 48:919.
Chrysostom (349-407): The patriarch Abraham himself before receiving circumcision had been declared righteous on the score of faith alone: before circumcision, the text says, “Abraham believed God, and credit for it brought him to righteousness.” Fathers of the Church, Vol. 82, Homilies on Genesis 18-45, Homily 27.7 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1990), p. 167.
Greek text: Αὐτὸς ὁ πατριάρχης Ἀβραὰμ, πρὶν ἢ τὴν περιτομὴν δέξασθαι, ἀπὸ τῆς πίστεως μόνης ἐδικαιώθη. Πρὸ γὰρ τῆς περιτομῆς, φησὶ, καὶ Ἐπίστευσε δὲ Ἀβραὰμ τῷ Θεῷ, καὶ ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην. Homiliae in Genesim, Caput VIII, Homilia XXVII, §3, PG 53:243.
Chrysostom (349-407): Let us see, however, whether the brigand gave evidence of effort and upright deeds and a good yield. Far from his being able to claim even this, he made his way into paradise before the apostles with a mere word, on the basis of faith alone, the intention being for you to learn that it was not so much a case of his sound values prevailing as the Lord’s lovingkindness being completely responsible. Robert Charles Hill, trans., St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis (Boston: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2004) Sermon 7, p. 123. These sermons were delivered by Chrysostom in Antioch during Lent of 386 (see p. 3).
Greek text: Ἀλλʼ ἴδωμεν, μὴ πόνους ἐπεδείξατο καὶ κατορθώματα καὶ καρποὺς ὁ λῃστής. Οὐδὲ τοῦτο ἔστιν εἰπεῖν, ἀλλʼ ἀπὸ ψιλοῦ ῥήματος, ἀπὸ πίστεως μόνης πρὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων εἰσεπήδησεν εἰς τὸν παράδεισον, ἵνα μάθῃς ὅτι οὐχ ἡ ἐκείνου εὐγνωμοσύνη τοσοῦτον ἴσχυσεν, ὅσον τοῦ Δεσπότου ἡ φιλανθρωπία τὸ πᾶν ἐποίησε. In Genesim, Sermo VII, §4, PG 54:613.
Chrysostom (349-407): Everywhere he puts the Gentiles upon a thorough equality. ‘And put no difference between us and them, having purified their hearts by faith.’ (v. 9.) From faith alone, he says, they obtained the same gifts. This is also meant as a lesson to those (objectors); this is able to teach even them that faith only is needed, not works nor circumcision. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, Homly 32, Acts 15:1.
Chrysostom (349-407): For if even before this, the circumcision was made uncircumcision, much rather was it now, since it is cast out from both periods. But after saying that “it was excluded,” he shows also, how. How then does he say it was excluded? “By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.” See he calls the faith also a law delighting to keep to the names, and so allay the seeming novelty. But what is the “law of faith?” It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only. NPNF1: Vol. XI, Homilies on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Homily 7, vs. 27.
Chrysostom (349-407): Now since the Jews kept turning over and over the fact, that the Patriarch, and friend of God, was the first to receive circumcision, he wishes to show, that it was by faith that he too was justified. And this was quite a vantage ground to insist upon. For a person who had no works, to be justified by faith, was nothing unlikely. But for a person richly adorned with good deeds, not to be made just from hence, but from faith, this is the thing to cause wonder, and to set the power of faith in a strong light. NPNF1: Vol. XI, Homilies on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Homily 8, Romans 4:1-2, first paragraph.
Chrysostom (349-407): They said that he who kept not the Law was cursed, but he proves that he who kept it was cursed, and he who kept it not, blessed. Again, they said that he who adhered to Faith alone was cursed, but he shows that he who adhered to Faith alone, is blessed. And how does he prove all this? for it is no common thing which we have promised; wherefore it is necessary to give close attention to what follows. He had already shown this, by referring to the words spoken to the Patriarch, ‘In thee shall all nations be blessed,’ (Genesis 12:4.) at a time, that is, when Faith existed, not the Law. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Commentary on Galatians, 3:8.
Chrysostom (349-407): Attend to this, ye who come to baptism at the close of life, for we indeed pray that after baptism ye may have also this deportment, but thou art seeking and doing thy utmost to depart without it. For, what though thou be justified: yet is it of faith only. But we pray that thou shouldest have as well the confidence that cometh of good works. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, On the Second Epistle of St. Paul The Apostle to the Corinthians, Homily 2, §8.
Chrysostom (349-407): God’s mission was not to save people in order that they may remain barren or inert. For Scripture says that faith has saved us. Put better: Since God willed it, faith has saved us. Now in what case, tell me, does faith save without itself doing anything at all? Faith’s workings themselves are a gift of God, lest anyone should boast. What then is Paul saying? Not that God has forbidden works but that he has forbidden us to be justified by works. No one, Paul says, is justified by works, precisely in order that the grace and benevolence of God may become apparent. Homily 4 on Ephesians 4.2.9. Mark J. Edwards, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 134. See also John Chrysostom. F. Field, ed. Interpretatio omnium Epistolarum Paulinarum per Homilias Facta (Oxford J. H. Parker, 1845-1862), 2:160.
Chrysostom (349-407): For he makes a wide distinction between ‘commandments’ and ‘ordinances.’ He either then means ‘faith,’ calling that an ‘ordinance,’ (for by faith alone He saved us,) or he means ‘precept,’ such as Christ gave, when He said, ‘But I say unto you, that ye are not to be angry at all.’ (Matthew 5:22.) That is to say, ‘If thou shalt believe that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’ (Romans 10:6-9.) And again, ‘The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart. Say not, Who shall ascend into heaven, or who shall descend into the abyss?’ or, who hath ‘brought. Him again from the dead?’ Instead of a certain manner of life, He brought in faith. For that He might not save us to no purpose, He both Himself underwent the penalty, and also required of men the faith that is by doctrines. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Homilies on Ephesians, Homly 5, Ephesians 2:11,12.
Greek text: Πολλὴν γὰρ ἐνταῦθα διαφοράν φησιν ἐντολῆς καὶ δογμάτων. Ἢ τὴν πίστιν οὖν φησι, δόγμα αὐτὴν καλῶν· ἀπὸ γὰρ πίστεως μόνης ἔσωσεν· ἢ τὴν παραγγελίαν, καθὼς ἔλεγεν ὁ Χριστός· Ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, μηδὲ ὀργισθῆναι ὅλως. Τουτέστιν, Ἐὰν πιστεύσῃς, ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς αὐτὸν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν, σωθήσῃ· Καὶ πάλιν, Ἐγγύς σου τὸ ῥῆμά ἐστιν ἐν τῷ στόματί σου, καὶ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου. 62.40 Μὴ εἴπῃς, Τίς ἀναβήσεται εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν, ἢ τίς καταβήσεται εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον, ἢ τίς αὐτὸν ἀνήγαγεν ἐκ νεκρῶν; Ἀντὶ βίου πίστιν εἰσήγαγεν. Ἵνα γὰρ μὴ εἰκῆ σώσῃ, καὶ αὐτὸς ἐκολάσθη, καὶ ἀπῄτησεν αὐτοὺς τὴν πίστιν διὰ δογμάτων. In epistulam ad Ephesios, Homilia V, §2, PG 62:39-40.
Chrysostom (349-407): That those who were enemies, and sinners, neither justified by the law, nor by works, should immediately through faith alone be advanced to the highest favor. Upon this head accordingly Paul has discoursed at length in his Epistle to the Romans, and here again at length. “This is a faithful saying,” he says, “and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” As the Jews were chiefly attracted by this, he persuades them not to give heed to the law, since they could not attain salvation by it without faith. Against this he contends; for it seemed to them incredible, that a man who had mis-spent all his former life in vain and wicked actions, should afterwards be saved by his faith alone. On this account he says, “It is a saying to be believed.” But some not only disbelieved but even objected, as the Greeks do now. “Let us then do evil, that good may come.” This was the consequence they drew in derision of our faith, from his words, “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound.” (Rom. 3:8, and 5:20). NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Homilies on First Timothy, Homily 4, 1 Timothy 1:15, 16.
Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), wrote while commenting on 1 Cor. 1:4b: God has decreed that a person who believes in Christ can be saved without works. By faith alone he receives the forgiveness of sins. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VII: 1-2 Corinthians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 6.
Latin Text: Datam dicit gratiam a Deo in Christo Jesu, quae gratia sic data est in Christo Jesu; quia hoc constitutum est a Deo, ut qui credit in Christum, salvus sit sine opere: sola fide gratis accipit remissionem peccatorum. In Epistolam B. Pauli Ad Corinthios Primam, PL 17:185.
Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 1:11: For the mercy of God had been given for this reason, that they should cease from the works of the law, as I have often said, because God, taking pity on our weaknesses, decreed that the human race would be saved by faith alone, along with the natural law. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 23.
Latin Text: Nam misericordia Dei ad hoc data est, ut Lex cessaret, quod saepe jam dixi; quia Deus consulens infirmitati humanae, sola fide addita legi naturali, hominum genus salvare decrevit. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:53.
Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 2:12: For if the law is given not for the righteous but for the unrighteous, whoever does not sin is a friend of the law. For him faith alone is the way by which he is made perfect. For others mere avoidance of evil will not gain them any advantage with God unless they also believe in God, so that they may be righteous on both counts. For the one righteousness is temporal; the other is eternal. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 65.
Latin Text: Si enim justo non est lex posita, sed injustis; qui non peccat, amicus legis est. Huic sola fides deest, per quam fiat perfectus quia nihil illi proderit apud Deum abstinere a contrariis, nisi fidem in Deum acceperit, ut sit justus per utraque; quia illa temporis justitia est, haec aeternitatis. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:67.
Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 3:24: They are justified freely because they have not done anything nor given anything in return, but by faith alone they have been made holy by the gift of God. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 101.
Latin Text: Justificati gratis per gratiam ipsius. Justificati sunt gratis, quia nihil operantes, neque vicem reddentes, sola fide justificati sunt dono Dei. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:79.
Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 3:27: Paul tells those who live under the law that they have no reason to boast basing themselves on the law and claiming to be of the race of Abraham, seeing that no one is justified before God except by faith. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 103.
Latin Text: Ubi est ergo gloriatio tua? Exclusa est. Per quam legem? factorum? Non, sed per legem fidei. Reddita ratione, ad eos loquitur, qui agunt sub lege, quod sine causa glorientur, blandientes sibi de lege, et propter quod genus sint Abrahae, videntes non justificari hominem apud Deum, nisi per fidem. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:80.
Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 4:5: How then can the Jews think that they have been justified by the works of the law in the same way as Abraham, when they see that Abraham was not justified by the works of the law but by faith alone? Therefore there is no need of the law when the ungodly is justified before God by faith alone. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 112.
Latin Text: Hoc dicit, quia sine operibus legis credenti impio, id est gentili, in Christum, reputatur fides ejus ad justitiam, sicut et Abrahae. Quomodo ergo Judaei per opera legis justificari se putant justificatione Abrahae; cum videant Abraham non per opera legis, sed sola fide justificatum? Non ergo opus est lex, quando impius per solam fidem justificatur apud Deum. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:82-83.
Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 4:6, ‘righteousness apart from works’: Paul backs this up by the example of the prophet David, who says that those are blessed of whom God has decreed that, without work or any keeping of the law, they are justified before God by faith alone. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 113.
Latin Text: Hoc ipsum munit exemplo prophetae. Beatitudinem hominis, cui Deus accepto fert justitiam sine operibus. Beatos dicit de quibus hoc sanxit Deus, ut sine labore et aliqua observatione, sola fide justificentur apud Deum. In Epistolam Ad Romanos, PL 17:83.
Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Romans 3:22-23: He (Paul) briefly showed all to be guilty and in need of grace. Justified gratuitously by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (v.24): bringing faith alone, we received the forgiveness of sins, since Christ the Lord offered his own body as a kind of ransom for us. Whom God put forward as a mercy seat by his blood effective through faith (v.25). The mercy seat was of gold leaf, situated on the ark; on either side it had the carvings of the cherubim. From there God’s benevolence was revealed to the high priest as he ministered. The divine apostle, then, teaches that Christ the Lord is the true mercy seat: the old one had the function of a type of the latter. Now, the title belongs to him as a man, not as God: as God he gave a response through the mercy seat, while as man he receives this name as he does others, like sheep, lamb, sin, curse and suchlike. Whereas the old mercy seat was without blood, insofar as it was lifeless, and drops of the blood of the victims fell on it, Christ the Lord is God and mercy seat, high priesnt and lamb, and with his blood worked our salvation, requiring from us only faith. Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 1 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 64.
Greek text: Ἐν συντόμῳ πάντας ὑπευθύνους ἔδειξε, καὶ τῆς χάριτος ἐνδεεῖς. Δικαιούμενοι δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι, διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως τῆς ἐν Χπριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. Πίστιν γὰρ μόνην εἰσενεγκόντες, τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων τὴν ἄφεσιν ἐδεξάμεθα· ἐπειδὴ οἷον τι λύτρον ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ὁ Δεσπότης Χριστὸς τὸ οἰκεῖον προσενήνοχε σῶμα. Ὅν προέθετο ὁ Θεὸς ἱλαστήριον διὰ τῆς πίστεως, ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι. Τὸ ἱλαστήριον πέταλον ἦν χρυσοῦν· ἐπέκειτο δὲ τῇ κιβωτῷ· ἐκατέρωθεν δὲ εἶχε τὰ τῶν Χερουβὶμ ἐκτυπώματα. Ἐκεῖθεν τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ λειτουργοῦντι ἐγίνετο δήλη τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡ εὐμένεια. Διδάσκει τοίνυν ὁ Θεὸς Ἀπόσλολος, ὡς τὸ ἀληθινὸν ἱλαστήριον ὁ Δεσπότης ἐστὶ Χριστὸς. Ἐκεῖνο γὰρ τὸ παλαιὸν τούτου τὸν τύπον ἐπλήρου. Ἁρμόττει δὲ αὐτῷ ὡς ἀνθρώπῳ τὸ ὄνομα, οὐχ ὡς Θεῷ. Ὡς γὰρ Θεὸς, αὐτὸς διὰ τοῦ ἱλαστηρίου χρηματίζει· ὡς δὲ ἄνθρωπος, καὶ ταύττην δέχεται τὴν προσηγορίαν, καθάπερ καὶ τὰς ἄλλας, οἷον πρόβατον, καὶ ἀμνὸς, καὶ ἁμαρτία, καὶ κατάρα, καὶ ὅσα τοιαῦτα. Καὶ τὸ μέν παλαιὸν ἱλαστήριον καὶ ἄναιμος ἦν, ἐπείπερ καὶ ἄψυχον· τοῦ δὲ τῶν ἱερείων αἵματος τὰς ῥανίδας ἐδέχετο. Ὁ δὲ Δεσπότης Χριστὸς, καὶ Θεός ἐστὶ, καὶ ἱλαστήριον, καὶ ἀρχιερεὺς, καὶ ἀμνὸς, καὶ ἐν τῷ οἰκείῳ αἵματι τὴν ἡμετέραν ἐπραγματεύσατο σωτηρίαν, πίστιν μόνην παρʼ ἡμῶν ἀπαιτήσας. Interpretatio Epistolae ad Romanos, Cap III, PG 82:84-85.
Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Ephesians 2:8-9: By grace, in fact, you are saved through faith (v.8): the grace of God regaled us with these good things; we had only faith to offer, but divine grace worked with it. He went on in this vein: This is no doing of yours: it is the gift of God, not from works lest anyone boast (vv.8-9): we have not believed of our own volition; rather we made our approach when called, and when we did he did not require of us purity of life―instead, he accepted faith alone and granted us forgiveness of sins. Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 39.
Greek text: «Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι διὰ τῆς πίστεως.» Ἡ τοῦ Θεοῦ χάρις τούτων ἡμᾶς ἠξίωσε τῶν ἀγαθῶν. Ἡμεῖς δὲ μόνην τὴν πίστιν προσενηνόχαμεν. Ἀλλὰ καὶ ταύτης ἡ θεία χάρις γεγένηται συνεργός. Τοῦτο γὰρ ἐπήγαγε· «Καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν· Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον· οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται.» Οὐ γὰρ αὐτόματοι πεπιστεύκαμεν, ἀλλὰ κληθέντες προσεληλύθαμεν, καὶ προσελθόντας οὐκ ἀπήτησε καθαρότητα βίου, ἀλλὰ μόνην τὴν πίστιν δεξάμενος, τὴν τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων ἄφεσιν ἐδωρήσατο. Interpretatio Epistolae ad Ephesios, Caput II, PG 82:521A-B.
Theodoret of Cyrus (393-466): I own myself wretched—aye thrice wretched. I am guilty of many errors. Through faith alone I look for finding some mercy in the day of the Lord’s appearing. NPNF2: Vol. III, Letters of the Blessed Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus, Letter 83.
Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466): Thus, again, having demonstrated the appearance of the iniquity of the priestly law, promising the forgiveness of sins, which is bestowed through all-holy baptism, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” [Isa 43:25]. For indeed, not through works worthy of praise, but through faith alone have we obtained the mystically good. Surely, as well, the divine apostle has cried out, “By grace you have been saved, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, in order that no one may boast.” (my translation)
Greek text: Οὕτω πάλιν δείξας ἀνόνητα τῆς νομικῆς ἱερουργίας τὰ εἴδη, ὑπισχνεῖται τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων τὴν ἄφεσιν, ἣν διὰ τοῦ παναγίου βαπτίσματος ἐδωρήσατο· «Ἐγώ εἰμι, ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἐξαλείφων τὰς ἀνομίας σου ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, καὶ τὰς ἁμαρτίας σου οὐ μὴ μνησθήσομαι.» Οὐ γὰρ δὴ διʼ ἔργων ἀξιεπαίνων, ἀλλὰ διὰ μόνης πίστεως τῶν μυστικῶν τετυχήκαμεν ἀγαθῶν. Τῷ τοι καὶ ὁ θεῖος Ἀπόστολος κέκραγεν· «Χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται.» Τοῦτο κἀνταῦθα δηλῶν, τὸ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ τέθεικεν. Graecarum Affectionum curatio, Sermo VII. De Sacrificiis, PG 83:1001B.
Oecumenius (6th century), commenting on James 2:23: Abraham is the image of someone who is justified by faith alone, since what he believed was credited to him as righteousness. But he is also approved because of his works, since he offered up his son Isaac on the altar. Of course he did not do this work by itself; in doing it, he remained firmly anchored in his faith, believing that through Isaac his seed would be multiplied until it was as numerous as the stars. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 33. See PG 119:481. (credited = imputed)
Jerome (347-420): Every mouth is stopped, and the whole world is guilty before God: because, from the works of the law, no flesh shall be justified before him. And there is no difference of persons: for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely through his grace. But, when he write; We think that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law, since it is God who justifies the circumcision from faith and the uncircumcision through faith: he manifestly shows, that righteousness is not in the merit of man, but in the grace of God; who, without the works of the law, accepts the faith of believers. For translation, see George Stanley Faber, The Primitive Doctrine of Justification (London: R. B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1837), p. 120.
Latin text: Omne enim os obstruitur, et obnoxius est omnis mundus Deo: Quia ex operibus legis non justificabitur omnis caro coram eo. Nullaque distantia est personarum. Omnes enim peccaverunt, et indigent gloria Dei: justificati gratis per gratiam ipsius. Si autem scribit: Existimamus fide justificari hominem sine operibus legis, siquidem unus est Deus, qui justificat circumcisionem ex lege, et praeputium ex fide: manifeste ostendit, non in hominis merito, sed in Dei gratia esse justitiam, qui sine legis operibus credentium suscipit fidem. Dialogus adversus Pelagianos, Liber Secundus, §7, PL 23:543A-543B.
Jerome (347-420): For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed in God. So great was the faith of Abraham, that both his former sins were forgiven him, and it alone was declared to be accepted above all righteousness. Afterward, he burned with great love, that he prepared himself for the performance of all good works. And it was imputed unto him for righteousness. Therefore he hath glory with God, according to that which the law approved. Now to him, who worketh, is the reward reckoned, not of grace, but of debt. For it is the part of a debtor to do things which are commanded: and; unless he obeys, he is condemned. But, if he does them, he has no glory: for he still is called an unprofitable servant, who does nothing more than is commanded. Righteousness is not given unto him freely: but a reward is paid for his former works. But to him, who worketh not but believeth on him who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is imputed for righteousness. When an ungodly man is converted, God justifies him through faith alone, not on account of good works which he possessed not: otherwise, on account of his deeds of ungodliness, he ought to have been punished. Observe: he doth not say, that a sinner is justified through faith, but an ungodly man; that is, one who hath lately become a believer, according to the purpose of the grace of God: who purposed to forgive sins freely through faith alone. For translation, see George Stanley Faber, The Primitive Doctrine of Justification (London: R. B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1837), pp. 120-121.
Latin text: Quid enim dicit Scriptura? Credidit Abraham Deo. Tam magna fuit fides Abrahae, ut et pristina ei peccata donarentur, et sola prae omni justitia doceretur accepta, et tanto deinceps amore flagravit, ut super omnia se opera praeparet. Et reputatum est illi ad justitiam. Et ideo habet gloriam apud Deum, secundum quod lex probavit. Ei autem qui operatur, merces non imputatur secundum gratiam, sed secundum debitum. Debitoris enim est facere, quae jubentur: et nisi paruerit, damnatur: si autem fecerit, non habet gloriam, quia inutilis adhuc servus dicitur, qui nihil amplius, quam quod praeceptum est, operatur. Aliter: Non illis gratis donatur justitia, seu merces redditur operum pristinorum. Ei vero qui non operatur, credenti autem in eum qui justificat impium, reputatur fides ejus ad justitiam. Convertentem impium, per solam fidem justificat Deus, non opera bona, quae non habuit. Alioquin per impietatis opera fuerat puniendus. Simul attende, quia non peccatorem dicit justificari per fidem, sed impium: hoc est nuper credentem asseruit. Secundum propositum gratiae Dei. Qui proposuit gratis per solam fidem peccata dimittere. Commentarii in Evangelia necnon et in Epistolas B. Pauli, In Epistolam Ad Romanos, Caput IV, PL 30: 663A-663C.
Jerome (347-420): Being justified therefore from faith. The matter having been handled, that no one is justified from works, but all from faith; which he proves by the example of Abraham whose sons the Jews deemed themselves exclusively: he shows by argument, that neither descent nor circumcision, but faith alone, makes sons of Abraham, who from faith alone was first justified. Which argument being concluded, he exhorts them to have peace: because no one by his own merit, but all equally by the grace of God, are saved. For translation, see George Stanley Faber, The Primitive Doctrine of Justification (London: R. B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1837), p. 122.
Latin text: Justificati igitur ex fide. Pertractata causa quare nemo eorum ex operibus justificatus sit, sed omnes ex fide (quod exemplo Abrahae probat: cujus se filios esse soli Judaei putabant), ostendit ratione, quod non genus, nec circumcisio, sed fides faciat filios Abrahae qui ex sola prima fide justificatus est. Qua ratione conclusa, pacem eos habere hortatur: quia nemo suo merito, sed omnes aequaliter Dei gratia sunt salvati. Commentarii in Evangelia necnon et in Epistolas B. Pauli, In Epistolam Ad Romanos, Caput V, PL 30: 665D-666A.
Jerome (347-420) on Romans 10:3: God justifies alone by faith.
Latin text: Ignorantes enim justitiam Dei, et suam quaerentes statuere: justitiae Dei non sunt subjecti. Ignorantes quod Deus ex sola fide justificat: et justos se ex legis operibus, quam non custodierunt, esse putantes: noluerunt se remissioni subjicere peccatorum, ne peccatores fuisse viderentur, sicut scriptum est: Pharisaei autem spernentes consilium Dei in semetipsis, noluerunt baptizari baptismo Joannis. Item quia sacrificia legis, et caetera, quae umbra erant veritatis, quae per Christum perfici habebant, praesentia Christi cessaverunt: cui credere noluerunt: In Epistolam Ad Romanos, Caput X, v. 3, PL 30:692D.
Jerome (347-420) commenting on Galatians 3:6: Abraham believed in God: and it was imputed unto him for righteousness. Thus likewise to you faith alone is sufficient for righteousness. For translation, see George Stanley Faber, The Primitive Doctrine of Justification (London: R. B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1837), p. 122.
Latin text: Abraham credidit Deo, et reputatum est illi ad justitiam. Ita et vobis ad justitiam sola sufficit fides. Commentarii in Evangelia necnon et in Epistolas B. Pauli, In Epistolam ad Galatas, Caput III, PL 30:812A.
Jerome (347-420): He who with all his spirit has placed his faith in Christ, even if he die in sin, shall by his faith live forever. Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1984), p. 61.
Latin text: Qui enim tota mente in Christo confidit, etiamsi, ut homo lapsus, mortuus fuerit in peccato, fide sua vivit in perpetuum. Epistola CXIX, Ad Minervium et Alexandrum Monachos, §7, PL 22:973.
Pope Boniface to Caesarius: [Phil. 1:29]–it appears obvious that our faith in Christ, like all good things, comes to individuals from the gift of divine grace and not from the power of human nature. We rejoice that your brotherhood perceived this truth in accordance with catholic faith, when a council of some bishops of Gaul was held. As you have indicated, they decided unanimously that our faith in Christ is conferred on men by the intervention of divine grace. They added that there is absolutely nothing good in God’s eyes that anyone can wish, begin, do, or complete without the grace of God, for as our Savior said, “Without me you can do nothing” [John 15:5]. For it is both a certainty and an article of catholic faith that in all good things, the greatest of which is faith, divine mercy intervenes for us when we are not yet willing [to believe], so that we might become willing; it remains in us when we are willing [to believe]; and it follows us so that we remain in faith. William E. Klingshirn, trans., Caesarius of Arles: Life, Testament, Letters, Letter 20 – Pope Boniface to Caesarius, §2 (Liverpool: University Press, 1994), p. 125.
Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch 412-444): Seeing then that the law condemned sinners and sometimes imposed the supreme penalty on those who disregarded it and was in no way merciful, how was the appointment of a truly compassionate and merciful high priest not necessary for those on earth — one who would abrogate the curse, check the legal process, and free the sinners with forgiving grace and commands based on gentleness? ‘I,’ says the text, ‘I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins’ (Is. 43:25). For we are justified by faith, not by works of the law, as Scripture says (Gal. 2:16). [The language “check the legal process” demonstrates the forensic nature of justification]
By faith in whom, then, are we justified? Is it not in him who suffered death according to the flesh for our sake? Is it not in one Lord Jesus Christ? See his Against Nestorius in Norman Russell, Cyril of Alexandria (London: Rutledge, 2000), p. 165.
Greek text: Κατακρίνοτος τοίνυν τοῦ νόμου τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας, καὶ τὴν ἐσχάτην ἐσθʼ ὅτε ποινὴν καθορίζοντος τῶν ἠμεληκότων, καὶ κατʼ οὐδένα πρόπον οἰκτείραντος, πῶς οὐκ ἀναγκαία τοῖς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ἡ τοῦ φιλοκτίρμονος καὶ ἐλεήμονος ἀληθῶς ἀρχιερέως ἀνάδειξις ἦν; παύοντος μὲν τὴν ἀράν· ἀνακόπτοντος δὲ τὴν δίκην· καὶ ἀπαλλάττοντος τοὺς ἡμαρτηκότας ἀμνησικάκῳ χάριτι, καὶ τοῖς ἐξ ἡμερότητος νεύμασιν; (Ἐγὼ γὰρ φησὶν, εἰμὶ ὁ ἐξαλείφως τὰς ἀνομίας σου, καὶ οὐ μὴ μνσθήσομαι. Δεδικαιώμεθα γὰρ ἐν πίστει καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου,) κατὰ τὸ γεγραμμένον. Εἰς τίνα δὴ οὖν πιστεύοντες δικαιουμεθα; οὐκ εἰς τὸν παθόντα δὲ ἡμᾶς τὸν κατὰ σάρκα θάνατον; οὐκ εἰς ἕνα Κύριον Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν; Adversus Nestorium, Caput IΙI, PG 76:132.
Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch 412-444): For truly the compassion from beside the Father is Christ, as he takes away the sins, dismisses the charges and justifies by faith, and recovers the lost and makes [them] stronger than death. For what is good and he does not give? Therefore the knowledge of God is better than sacrifice and holocausts, as it is brought to perfection in Christ. For by him and in him we have known the Father, and we have become rich in the justification by faith. Commentary on Hosea. Alberto Ferreiro, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament XIV: The Twelve Prophets (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003), p. 29. See PG 71:168; and Eugen J. Pentiuc, Long-Suffering Love: A Commentary on Hosea with Patristic Annotations (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2002), p. 100.
Greek text: Ἔλεος γὰρ ἀληθῶς τὸ παρὰ Πατρὸς ὁ Χριστὸς, ὡς ἀφαιρῶν ἁμαρτίας, ὡς ἀνιεὶς ἐγκλημάτων, καὶ δικαιῶν τῇ πίστει, καὶ ἀνασώζων τοὺς ἀπολωλότας, καὶ θανάτου κρείττονας ἀποφαίνων· καὶ τί γὰρ οὐχὶ τῶν παγκάλων δωρούμενος; Οὐκοῦν ἀμείνων θυσίας καὶ ὁλοκαυτωμάτων ἡ Θεοῦ γνῶσις, ὡς ἐν Χριστῷ τελουμένη· Ἐγνώκαμεν γὰρ διʼ αὐτοῦ τε καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ τὸν Πατέρα, καὶ τὴν ἐν πίστει δικαίωσιν πεπλουτήκαμεν. Commentarius in Oseam Prohetam, Caput VI, v. 6, PG 71:168.
Bede (672/673-735), commenting on Paul and James: Although the apostle Paul preached that we are justified by faith without works, those who understand by this that it does not matter whether they live evil lives or do wicked and terrible things, as long as they believe in Christ, because salvation is through faith, have made a great mistake. James here expounds how Paul’s words ought to be understood. This is why he uses the example of Abraham, whom Paul also used as an example of faith, to show that the patriarch also performed good works in the light of his faith. It is therefore wrong to interpret Paul in such a way as to suggest that it did not matter whether Abraham put his faith into practice or not. What Paul meant was that no one obtains the gift of justification on the basis of merits derived from works performed beforehand, because the gift of justification comes only from faith. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament XI: James, 1-2Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 31.
Latin text: Quoniam Paulus apostolus praedicans justificari hominem per fidem sine operibus, non bene intellectus est ab eis qui sic dictum acceperunt, ut putarent, cum semel in Christum credidissent, etiam si male operarentur, et facinorose flagitioseque viverent, salvos se esse per fidem: locus iste hujus epistolae eumdem sensum Pauli apostoli quomodo sit intelligendus exponit. Ideoque magis Abrahae exemplo utitur, vacuam esse fidem si non bene operetur, quoniam Abrahae exemplo etiam Paulus usus est, ut probaret justificari hominem sine operibus posse. Cum enim bona opera commemorat Abrahae, quae ejus fidem comitata sunt, satis ostendit apostolum Paulum, non ita per Abraham docere justificari hominem per fidem sine operibus, ut si quis crediderit, non ad eum pertineat bene operari, sed ad hoc potius, ut nemo arbitretur meritis priorum bonorum operum se pervenisse ad donum justificationis quae est in fide. Super Divi Jacobi Epistolam, Caput II, PL 93:22.
Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67) on Matthew 9: This was forgiven by Christ through faith, because the Law could not yield, for faith alone justifies.
Latin text: Et remissum est ab eo, quod lex laxare non poterat; fides enim sola justificat. Sancti Hilarii In Evangelium Matthaei Commentarius, Caput VIII, §6, PL 9:961.
Ambrose (c. 339-97): Let no man arrogate any thing unto himself, let no man glory in his own merits or good deeds, let no man boast of his power: let us all hope to find mercy by our Lord Jesus; for we shall all stand before his judgment-seat. Of him will I beg pardon, of him will I desire indulgence; what other hope is there for sinners? See The Works of John Owen, Vol. 5, p. 18 for text and translation.
Latin text: Nemo ergo sibi arroget, nemo de meritis, nemo de potestate se jactet: sed omnes speremus per Dominum Jesum misericordiam invenire; quoniam omnes ante tribunal ejus stabimus. De illo veniam, de illo indulgentiam postulabo; quae enim spes alia peccatoribus? Expositio in psalmum CXVIII, Sermo Vigesimus, §14, PL 15:1488A.
Ambrose (c. 339-97): Thus I do not have the wherewithal to enable me to glory in my own works, I do not have the wherewithal to boast of myself, and so I will glory in Christ. I will not glory because I have been redeemed. I will not glory because I am free of sins, but because sins have been forgiven me. I will not glory because I am profitable or because anyone is profitable to me, but because Christ is an advocate in my behalf with the Father, because the blood of Christ has been poured out in my behalf. FC, Vol. 65, Saint Ambrose, Seven Exegetical Works, Jacob and the Happy Life, Book 1, §6.21 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1972), p. 133.
Latin text: Non habeo igitur unde gloriari in operibus meis possim, non habeo unde me jactem; et ideo gloriabor in Christo. Non gloriabor quia justus sum: sed gloriabor quia redemptus sum. Gloriabor, non quia vacuus peccatis sum, sed quia mihi remissa sunt peccata. Non gloriabor quia profui, neque quia profuit mihi quisquam: sed quia pro me advocatus apud Patrem Christus est: sed quia pro me Christi sanguis effusus est. De Jacob et Vita beata, Caput VI, §21, PL 14:607.
Ambrose (c. 339-97): Ye behold the mysteries, ye behold the grace of Christ, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, which is conferred in some sort fortuitously; forasmuch as every one is not justified by the Lord by reason of his works, but by reason of faith. George Finch, A Sketch of the Romish Controversy (London: G. Norman, 1831), p. 220.
Latin text: Videtis mysteria, videtis gratiam Christi, gratiam Spiritus sancti, qui velut quadam sorte defertur; quoniam non ex operibus, sed ex fide unusquisque justificatur a Domino. De Virginitate, Caput VII, §43, PL 16:349.
Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-395) on the Concept of Imputation: He hath transferred unto himself the filth of my sins, and communicated unto me his purity, and made me partaker of His beauty. For translation, see The Works of John Owen, On Justification, General Considerations, ed. William H. Goold, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, Third printing, 1977), vol. V, p. 36.
Greek text: Μεταθεὶς γὰρ πρὸς ἑαυτὸν τὸν τῶν ἐμῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ῥύπον μετέδωκέ μοι τῆς ἑαυτοῦ καθαρότητος κοινωνόν με τοῦ ἑαυτοῦ κάλλους ἀπεργασάμενος· Commentarius in Canticum Canticorum, Homilia II, PG 44:789C.
Thomas Aquinas: The sacraments of the New Law however, although they are material elements, are not needy elements; hence they can justify. Again, if there were any in the Old Law who were just, they were not made just by the works of the Law but only by the faith of Christ “Whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation through faith,” as is said in Romans (3:25). Hence the sacraments of the Old Law were certain protestations of the faith of Christ, just as our sacraments are, but not in the same way, because those sacraments were configured to the grace of Christ as to something that lay in the future; our sacraments, however, testify as things containing a grace that is present. Therefore, he says significantly, that it is not by the works of the law that we are justified, but by the faith of Christ, because, although some who observed the works of the Law in times past were made just, nevertheless, this was effected only by the faith of Jesus Christ. St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galations, trans. F. R. Larcher, O.P. (Albany: Magi Books, Inc., 1966), Chapter 2, Lecture 4, (Gal. 2:15-16), pp. 54-55.
Augustine (354-430): Although it can be said that God’s commandments pertain to faith alone, if it is not a dead [faith], but rather understood as that live faith, which works through love. See Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 361 for translation.
Latin text: licet recte dici possit ad solam fidem pertinere Dei mandata, si non mortua, sed viva illa intelligatur fides, quae per dilectionem operatur. De Fide Et Operibus, Caput XXII, PL 40:223.
Augustine (354-430): Not so our father Abraham. This passage of scripture is meant to draw our attention to the difference. We confess that the holy patriarch was pleasing to God; this is what our faith affirms about him. So true is it that we can declare and be certain that he did have grounds for pride before God, and this is what the apostle tells us. It is quite certain, he says, and we know it for sure, that Abraham has grounds for pride before God. But if he had been justified by works, he would have had grounds for pride, but not before God. However, since we know he does have grounds for pride before God, it follows that he was not justified on the basis of works. So if Abraham was not justified by works, how was he justified?” The apostle goes on to tell us how: What does scripture say? (that is, about how Abraham was justified). Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom 4:3; Gn 15:6). Abraham, then, was justified by faith. Paul and James do not contradict each other: good works follow justification.
3. Now when you hear this statement, that justification comes not from works, but by faith, remember the abyss of which I spoke earlier. You see that Abraham was justified not by what he did, but by his faith: all right then, so I can do whatever I like, because even though I have no good works to show, but simply believe in God, that is reckoned to me as righteousness? Anyone who has said this and has decided on it as a policy has already fallen in and sunk; anyone who is still considering it and hesitating is in mortal danger. But God’s scripture, truly understood, not only safeguards an endangered person, but even hauls up a drowned one from the deep.
My advice is, on the face of it, a contradiction of what the apostle says; what I have to say about Abraham is what we find in the letter of another apostle, who set out to correct people who had misunderstood Paul. James in his letter opposed those who would not act rightly but relied on faith alone; and so he reminded them of the good works of this same Abraham whose faith was commended by Paul. The two apostles are not contradicting each other. James dwells on an action performed by Abraham that we all know about: he offered his son to God as a sacrifice. That is a great work, but it proceeded from faith. I have nothing but praise for the superstructure of action, but I see the foundation of faith; I admire the good work as a fruit, but I recognize that it springs from the root of faith. If Abraham had done it without right faith it would have profited him nothing, however noble the work was. On the other hand, if Abraham had been so complacent in his faith that, on hearing God’s command to offer his son as a sacrificial victim, he had said to himself, “No, I won’t. But I believe that God will set me free, even if I ignore his orders,” his faith would have been a dead faith because it did not issue in right action, and it would have remained a barren, dried-up root that never produced fruit.
4. What are we to make of this? That no good actions take precedence of faith, in the sense that no one can be said to have performed good works before believing? Yes, that’s right, because although people may claim to perform good works before faith, works that seem praiseworthy to onlookers, such works are vacuous. They look to me like someone running with great power and at high speed, but off course. This is why no one should reckon actions performed before belief as good; where there was no faith, there was no good action either. It is the intention that makes an action good, and the intention is directed by faith. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., WSA, Part 3, Vol. 15, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms 1-32, Exposition 2 of Psalm 31, §2-4 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2000), pp. 364-365.
Augustine (354-430): But what about the person who does no work (Rom 4:5)? Think here of some godless sinner, who has no good works to show. What of him or her? What if such a person comes to believe in God who justifies the impious? People like that are impious because they accomplish nothing good; they may seem to do good things, but their actions cannot truly be called good, because performed without faith. But when someone believes in him who justifies the impious, that faith is reckoned as justice to the believer, as David too declares that person blessed whom God has accepted and endowed with righteousness, independently of any righteous actions (Rom 4:5-6). What righteousness is this? The righteousness of faith, preceded by no good works, but with good works as its consequence. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 1, Vol. 11, trans. Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Expositions of the Psalms 1-32, Exposition 2 of Psalm 31, §7 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2000), p. 370.
Didymus the Blind (c. 313-398): But how can some say that because the spirit which gives life to the body is more honorable than the body, therefore works are more honorable than faith? I have looked into this matter in some detail and shall try to explain my position on this. It is undoubtedly true that the spirit is nobler than the body, but this does not mean that works can be put before faith, because a person is saved by grace, not by works but by faith. There should be no doubt but that faith saves and then lives by doing its own works, so that the works which are added to salvation by faith are not those of the law but a different kind of thing altogether. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 34. See PG 39:1732, from his Commentary on James, 2:26b.
Fulgentius, bishop of Ruspe (c. 467-532) commenting on Eph. 2:8a: The blessed Paul argues that we are saved by faith, which he declares to be not from us but a gift from God. Thus there cannot possibly be true salvation where there is no true faith, and, since this faith is divinely enabled, it is without doubt bestowed by his free generosity. Where there is true belief through true faith, true salvation certainly accompanies it. Anyone who departs from true faith will not possess the grace of true salvation. On the Incarnation, 1. Mark J. Edwards, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), pp. 133-134.
Latin text: Nam quia idem beatus Paulus gratia nos dicit salvos factos esse per fidem, quam non ex nobis, sed Dei asserit donum utique vera salus non erit ubi vera fides non fuerit; quae cum divinitus infunditur, procul dubio gratuita largitate donatur; et ubi per veram fidem veritas fuerit credulitatis, veritas utique comitabitur et salutis: quisquis autem a vera fide deviaverit, verae salutis gratiam non habebit. Proinde torpere non debet fidelis animus ad quaerendum si quid in sacramento fidei sibi cernit ambiguum: maxime in mysterio dominicae incarnationis, per quam justitia impiis, vita mortuis, salus infirmis, et verae libertatis est gratia donata captivis. De incarnatione Filii Dei, 1, PL 65:573.
Augustine (354-430): Pelagius will perhaps say, “I did not say that the apostle, to whom those great graces were given, was worthy of them on the basis of works, but on the basis of faith. After all, it was not the good works which he did not previously have, but his faith that merited them.” Well then, are we to suppose that faith does not involve work? On the contrary, it truly works, for it works through love. However much the works of unbelievers are praised, we know that the statement of the apostle is true and irrefutable, Everything that does not come from faith is sin (Rom 14:23). He often says that righteousness is credited to us, not on the basis of works, but on the basis of faith, since faith works through love. For he does not want anyone to think that one can come to faith by the merits of works, since faith is the beginning from which good works arise. After all, as was just said, what does not come from faith is sin. Hence, in the Song of Songs it is said to the Church, You will come and pass from the beginning of faith (Sg 4:8 LXX).
Thus, although faith obtains the grace to do good works, we have not merited to have this faith by any faith. Rather, in giving to us the faith to follow the Lord, his mercy has gone before us. Have we given it to ourselves and made ourselves believers? Here too, I will, of course, cry out, He made us; we did not make ourselves (Ps 100:9); the teaching of the apostle presents us with nothing else. He says, Through the grace of God which has been given to me, I say to all who are among you not to be more wise than one ought to be, but to be wise in moderation, as God has given to each one the measure of faith (Rom 12:3). From him we also have this text, After all, what do you have that you have not received? (1 Cor 4:7). And so, we have received even that from which there begins whatever good we have in our actions. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, The Deeds of Pelagius, Part 1, Vol. 23, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., Chapter 14, §34 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1997), pp. 358-359.
Latin text: Hoc forte dicet: Ego non ex operibus, sed ex fide dixi Apostolum dignum fuisse, cui tantae illae gratiae donarentur; non enim opera, quae bona ante non habuit, sed tamen fides ejus hoc meruit. Quid enim, putamus quod fides non operetur? Imo ipsa veraciter operatur, quae per dilectionem operatur (Galat. V, 6). Quantumlibet autem opera infidelium praedicentur, ejusdem apostoli sententiam veram novimus et invictam, Omne quod non est ex fide, peccatum est (Rom. XIV, 23). Ideo vero saepe dicit, non ex operibus, sed ex fide, nobis justitiam deputari, cum potius fides per dilectionem operetur, ne quisquam existimet ad ipsam fidem meritis operum perveniri, cum ipsa sit initium, unde bona opera incipiunt; quoniam, ut dictum est, quod ex ipsa non est, peccatum est. Hinc et Ecclesiae dicitur in Cantico canticorum, Venies, et transies ab initio fidei (Cant. IV, 8, sec. LXX). Quapropter quamvis bene operandi gratiam fides impetret: ipsam certe fidem ut haberemus, nulla fide meruimus, sed in ea nobis danda, in qua Dominum sequeremur, misericordia ejus praevenit nos (Psal. LVIII, 11). An ipsam nobis nos dedimus, et ipsi nos ipsos fideles fecimus? Prorsus etiam hic clamabo, Ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos (Psal. XCIX, 3). Nihil vero aliud apostolica doctrina commendat, ubi ait: Dico autem per gratiam Dei, quae data est mihi, omnibus qui sunt in vobis, non plus sapere, quam oportet sapere, sed sapere ad temperantiam, sicut unicuique Deus partitus est mensuram fidei (Rom. XII, 3). Hinc est quippe et illud: Quid enim habes quod non accepisti (I Cor. IV, 7)? Quando et hoc accepimus, unde incipit quidquid in nostris actibus habemus boni. De gestis Pelagii, Caput XIV, §34, PL 44:340-341.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): It would be hard, believe me, to tear me away from these two pillars—I mean Augustine and Ambrose. I Own to going along with them in wisdom or in error, for I too believe that a person can be saved by faith alone, through the desire to receive the sacrament, but only if such a one is forestalled by death or prevented by some other insuperable force from implementing this devout desire. Perhaps this was why the Saviour, when he said: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, took care not to repeat ‘whoever is not baptized’, but only, whoever does not believe will be condemned, intimating strongly that faith is sometimes sufficient for salvation and that without it nothing suffices. And while it is conceded that martyrdom can stand in for baptism, it is clearly not the torment but the faith which is operative. For without faith what is martyrdom but torment? If faith, then, which gives to martyrdom an eminence that sets it on par with baptism, is so impotent and feeble of itself, how can it confer some something else what is not potent enough to win on its own? To shed one’s blood for Christ is without doubt a proof of great faith, but one given not to God, but to human beings. Supposing God, who has no need of tangible proofs, sees in the heart of someone dying in peace an equally great faith, a faith not put to the test of martyrdom but nonetheless meet for it; if that person, recalling that he had not yet received the mystery of salvation, longs for it with the fullness of a disconsolate and contrite heart, and if sudden death prevents him attaining it, will God condemn his faithful servant? Will he condemn, I ask you, someone who is ready to die for him? Paul says: No one is able to say ‘Lord Jesus’ save in the Holy Spirit. So what then of the person who at the hour of death not only invokes the Lord Jesus, but also longs for his sacrament with all the fullness of his heart, shall we say that he does not speak in the Holy Spirit, thus making a liar of the Apostle, or, alternatively, that even with the Spirit he will be condemned? He has the Saviour dwelling in his heart through faith and in his mouth through avowal; with his Saviour present will he be condemned? Since martyrdom earns from faith alone the exceptional privilege of being received in all security in place of baptism, I do not see why faith should not have the same sway with God, who does not need the proof of martyrdom to recognize it. I should certainly say that it is as efficacious for salvation, though not for the amassing of merit, where martyrdom undoubtedly takes precedence. We read that Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and again that If a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. What is plainer than that the will is taken for the deed, when force of circumstance prevents the doing? Unless perhaps it is thought that ill will carries a greater weight than good with the God who is love, and that the merciful and magnanimous Lord is quicker to avenge himself than to reward. Just as someone who calls to mind—it may be at the point of death—that he is pledged to a creditor and lacks the wherewithal to discharge the debt, is believed nonetheless to win remission and be let off any judgment by simple dint of repentance and genuine sorrow, even so will faith alone and the conversion of the mind to God, without shedding of blood and pouring of water, assuredly win salvation for whomsoever wishes to be baptized but, waylaid by death, is unable to put that wish into effect. And just as no repentance can remit the sin of the debtor who, when he can, does not restore what he has taken, even so no faith will avail the other who fails to receive the sacrament when he is able. Indeed, neglecting to do so proves that his faith is not perfect. A true and full faith embraces all commands; and this is the very chief of commands. Anyone therefore who refuses to obey it will rightly be deemed, not faithful, but frankly rebellious and contemptuous. For how can one be faithful and hold God’s sacrament in contempt? See Pauline Matarasso, trans., Bernard of Clairvaux: On Baptism and the Office of Bishops, On Baptism and Other Questions, Chapter II.8 (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, Inc.,2004), pp. 159-162.
Latin text: Ab his ergo duabus columnis, Augustinum loquor et Ambrosium, crede mihi, difficile avellor. Cum his, inquam, me aut errare, aut sapere fateor: credens et ipse, sola fide hominem posse salvari, cum desiderio percipiendi sacramentum: si tamen pio adimplendi desiderio mors anticipans, seu alia quaecunque vis invincibilis obviarit. Vide etiam ne forte ob hoc Salvator cum diceret: Qui crediderit et baptizatus fuerit, salvus erit; caute et vigilanter non repetierit, Qui vero baptizatus non fuerit; sed tantum: Qui vero, inquit, non crediderit, condemnabitur: nimirum innuens solam interdum fidem sufficere ad salutem, et sine ipsa sufficere nihil. Quapropter etsi martyrium vicem Baptismi posse implere conceditur, non plane hoc facit poena, sed ipsa fides. Nam absque ipsa quid est martyrium, nisi poena? Quae ergo martyrio praestat, ut absque ulla dubietate pro Baptismate reputetur; ipsa ita infirma et imbecillis per se erit, ut quod dare alteri valet, sola non valeat obtinere? Et prorsus sanguinis pro Christo effusio magnae cujusdam fidei indubitata probatio est, non Deo tamen, sed hominibus. Sed qui si Deus profecto ad probandum quod vult, nullis indiget experimentis, aeque magnam in corde cujuspiam in pace morientis inspicit fidem, martyrio quidem non interrogatam, martyrio tamen idoneam? Si recordatus fuerit homo, necdum se salutis percepisse mysterium, et dolens poenitensque toto desiderio expetierit, sed assequi mortis celeritate praeoccupatus nequiverit; damnabit fidelem suum Deus? damnabit, inquam, hominem pro se etiam paratum mori? Paulus dicit: Nemo potest dicere, Dominus Jesus, nisi in Spiritu sancto. Hunc ergo qui in articulo mortis non solum invocat Dominum Jesum, sed ipsius quoque toto desiderio expetit Sacramentum; dicemus aut non loqui in Spiritu sancto, et falsus erit Apostolus; aut et cum Spiritu sancto damnari? Salvatorem habet habitantem per fidem in corde, et in ore per confessionem; et cum Salvatore damnabitur! Pro certo, cum non aliunde martyrium, nisi ex fidei merito illam obtinuerit praerogativam, ut singulariter vice Baptismi secure suscipiatur: non video cur non ipsa aeque et sine martyrio apud Deum tantumdem possit, cui et sine martyrii probamento procul dubio innotescit. Pessit sane tantumdem, dixerim, quantum ad salutis spectat obtentum, non autem ad meriti cumulum, quo indubitanter martyrium antecellit. Legimus, Omnis qui odit fratrem suum, homicida est; et item: Qui viderit mulierem ad concupiscendum eam, jam maechatus est in corde suo. Quid planius, quod voluntas pro facto reputetur, ubi factum excludit necessitas? Nisi forte putetur in malo, quam in bono efficacior inveniri voluntas apud Deum qui charitas est; et promptior esse ad ulciscendum, quam ad remunerandum misericors et miserator Dominus. Quomodo is qui alieno debito se teneri forte in extremis positus recolit, si desit unde persolvat, sola nihilominus poenitentia et cordis contritione obtinere veniam creditur, ne jam pro eo damnetur: sic sola fides et mentis ad Deum conversio, sine effusione sanguinis, et sine perfusione aquae, salutem sine dubio operatur volenti, sed non valenti, prohibente mortis articulo, baptizari. Et sicut nulla illi poenitentia remittitur peccatum, si, cum possit, non restituit ablatum: sic et huic nulla proderit fides, si cum possit, non percipit Sacramentum. Quanquam et fidem convincitur non habere perfectam, si negligit. Vera enim et plena fides universa praecepta complectitur: est autem hoc unum ipsumque praecipuum ex praeceptis. Merito ergo non infidelis, sed plane rebellis atque contemptor reputabitur, quisquis obedire renuerit. Quomodo denique fidelis, qui Dei contemnit Sacramentum? Tractatus de baptismo aliisque quaestionibus, Caput II, §8, PL 182:1036C-1037D.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): O thou alone truly blessed, to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin: for there is no one, who actually hath not sin. All have sinned: and all want the glory of God. Yet, who shall bring any accusation against the elect of God? To me it is sufficient, for all righteousness, only to have him propitiated, against whom only I have sinned. Every thing, which he shall have decreed not to impute to me, is thus as if it had never been. Freedom from all sin is the Righteousness of God: the pure indulgence of God is the righteousness of man. For translation, see George Stanley Faber, The Primitive Doctrine of Justification Investigated, 2nd edition (London: R. B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1839), pp. 187-188.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): He alone is happy “whom the Lord accuses of no guilt.” There is no one without sin, not even one. “For all have sinned and forfeited God’s glory.” But “could anyone accuse those that God has chosen?” I ask no further pledge of righteousness if he is on my side whom alone I have offended. If he decrees that a sin is not to be to me, it is as if it never existed. Inability to sin constitutes God’s righteousness; God’s forgiveness constitutes man’s. See Kilian Walsh, O.C.S.O., Bernard of Clairvaux On the Song of Songs II (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, Inc.,1983), Sermon 23.15, p. 39.
Latin text: O solus vere beatus, cui non imputabit Dominus peccatum! Nam qui non habuerit peccatum, nemo. Omnes enim peccaverunt, et omnes egent gloria Dei. Quis accusabit tamen adversus electos Dei? Sufficit mihi ad omnem justitiam solum habere propitium, cui soli peccavi. Omne quod mihi ipse non imputare decreverit, sic est quasi non fuerit. Non peccare. Dei justitia est; hominis justitia, indulgentia Dei. Sermones in Cantica, Sermo XXIII, §15, PL 183:892C-D.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): Man therefore was lawfully delivered up, but mercifully set free. Yet mercy was shown in such a way that a kind of justice was not lacking even in his liberation, since, as was most fitting for man s recovery, it was part of the mercy of the liberator to employ justice rather than power against man s enemy. For what could man, the slave of sin, fast bound by the devil, do of himself to recover that righteousness which he had formerly lost? Therefore he who lacked righteousness had another’s imputed to him, and in this way: The prince of this world came and found nothing in the Saviour, and because he notwithstanding laid hands on the Innocent he lost most justly those whom he held captive; since He who owed nothing to death, lawfully freed him who was subject to it, both from the debt of death, and the dominion of the devil, by accepting the injustice of death; for with what justice could that be exacted from man a second time? It was man who owed the debt, it was man who paid it. For if one, says S. Paul, died for all, then were all dead (2 Cor. v. 14), so that, as One bore the sins of all, the satisfaction of One is imputed to all. It is not that one forfeited, another satisfied; the Head and body is one, viz., Christ. The Head, therefore, satisfied for the members, Christ for His children, since, according to the Gospel of Paul, by which Peter’s [i.e., Abelard] falsehood is refuted, He who died for us, quickened us together with Himself, forgiving us all our trespasses, blotting out the hand writing of ordinances that was against us, and took il out of the way , nailing it to His cross, having spoiled principalities and powers (Col. ii. 13, 14). Dom. John Mabillon, ed., Life and Works of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, trans. Samuel J. Eales, Vol. II, Letter CXC – Against Certain Heads of Abaelard’s Heresies, 6.15 (London: Burns and Oates Limited, 1889), pp. 580-581. 6.15
Latin text: Juste igitur homo addictus, sed misericorditer liberatus; sic tamen misericorditer, ut non defuerit justitia quaedam et in ipsa liberatione: quoniam hoc quoque fuit de misericordia liberantis, ut (quod congruebat remediis liberandi) justitia magis contra invasorem, quam potentia uteretur. Quid namque ex se agere poterat, ut semel amissam justitiam recuperaret homo servus peccati, vinctus diaboli? Assignata est ei proinde aliena, qui caruit sua; et ipsa sic est. Venit princeps hujus mundi, et in Salvatore non invenit quidquam: et cum nihilominus innocenti manus injecit, justissime quos tenebat amisit: quando is qui morti nihil debebat, accepta mortis injuria, jure illum, qui obnoxius erat, et mortis debito, et diaboli solvit dominio. Qua enim justitia id secundo homo exigeretur? Homo siquidem qui debuit, homo qui solvit. Nam si unus,inquit, pro omnibus mortuus est, ergo omnes mortui sunt: ut videlicet satisfactio unius omnibus imputetur, sicut omnium peccata unus ille portavit; nec alter jam inveniatur qui forefecit, alter qui satisfecit: quia caput et corpus unus est Christus. Satisfecit ergo caput pro membris, Christus pro visceribus suis, quando juxta Evangelium Pauli, quo convincitur mendacium Petri, mortuus pro nobis convivificavit nos sibi, donans nobis omnia delicta, delens quod adversum nos erat chirographum decreti, quod erat contrarium nobis; et ipsum tulit de medio, affigens illud cruci, exspolians principatus et potestates. Epistola CXC, ad Innocentum II, Pontificem, Tractatus de erroribus Petri Abaelardi, Caput VI, §15, PL 182:1065B-D.
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): Faithful is the saying and worthy of all acceptation, that while we were yet sinners we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son (Rom. v. 10). “Where there is reconciliation there is also remission of sins. For if, as the Scripture says, our sins separate between us and God” (Is. lix. 2), there is no reconciliation while sin remains. In what, then, is remission of sins? This cup, He says, is the new testament in My Blood which shall be shed for you for the remission of sins (S.Matt. xxvi. 28). Therefore where there is reconciliation there is remission of sins. And what is that but justification? Whether, therefore, we call it reconciliation, or remission of sins, or justification, or, again, redemption, or liberation from the chains of the devil, by whom we were taken captive at his will, at all events by the death of the Only Begotten, we obtain that we have been justified freely by His blood, in whom, as S. Paul says again, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Eph. i. 7). You say, Why by His blood when He could have wrought it by His Word? Ask Himself. It is only allowed me to know that it is so, not why it is so. Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, “Why hast Thou made me thus?” Dom. John Mabillon, ed., Life and Works of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, trans. Samuel J. Eales, Vol. II, Letter CXC – Against Certain Heads of Abaelard’s Heresies, 8.20 (London: Burns and Oates Limited, 1889), pp. 586-587.
Latin text: Fidelis sermo, et omni acceptione dignus! quoniam cum adhuc peccatores essemus, reconciliati sumus Deo per mortem Filii ejus. Ubi reconciliatio, et remissio peccatorum. Nam si, dicente Scriptura, Peccata nostra separant inter nos et Deum, manente peccato, non est reconciliatio. In quo ergo remissio peccatorum? Hic calix, inquit,novi testamenti in meo sanguine, qui pro vobis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum. Itaque ubi reconciliatio, ibi remissio peccatorum. Et quid ipsa, nisi justificatio? Sive igitur reconciliatio, sive remissio peccatorum, sive justificatio sit; sive etiam redemptio, vel liberatio de vinculis diaboli a quo captivi tenebamur ad ipsius voluntatem: intercedente morte Unigeniti obtinemus, justificati gratis in sanguine ipsius, in quo, sicut idem dicit, habemus redemptionem per sanguinem ejus et remissionem peccatorum, secundum divitias gratiae ejus. Cur, inquis, per sanguinem, quod potuit facere per sermonem? Ipsum interroga. Mihi scire licet quod ita: cur ita, non licet. Nunquid dicit figmentum ei qui se finxit: Quid me finxisti sic! Epistola CXC, ad Innocentum II, Pontificem, Tractatus de erroribus Petri Abaelardi, Caput VI, §15, PL 182:1069B-C.