Early Church Fathers
John XVII. 1.
1. Before these words, which we are now, with the Lord's help, to make the subject of discourse, Jesus had said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace;" which we are to consider as referring, not to the later words uttered by Him immediately before, but to all that He had addressed to them, whether from the time that He began to account them disciples, or at least from the time after supper when He commenced this admirable and lengthened discourse. He gave them, indeed, such a reason for speaking to them, that either all He ever spake to them may with the utmost propriety be referred to that end, or those especially, as His last words, which He now spake when on the eve of dying for them, after that he who was to betray Him had quitted their company. For He gave this as the cause of His discourse, that in Him they might have peace, just as it is wholly on this account that we are Christians. For this peace will have no temporal end, but will itself be the end of every pious intention and action that are ours at present. For its sake we are endowed with His sacraments, for its sake we are instructed by His works and sayings, for its sake we have received the earnest of the Spirit, for its sake we believe and hope in Him, and according to His gracious giving are enkindled with His love: by this peace we are comforted in all our distresses, by it we are delivered from them all: for its sake we endure with fortitude every tribulation, that in it we may reign in happiness without any tribulation. Fitly therewith did He bring His words to a close, which were proverbs to the disciples, who as yet had little understanding, but would afterwards understand them, when He had given them the Holy Spirit of promise, of whom He had said before: These things have I spoken unto you being yet present with you. But the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."1 Such, doubtless, was to be the hour, wherein He promised that He would no more speak unto them in proverbs, but show them openly of the Father. For these same words of His, when revealed by the Holy Spirit, were no more to be proverbs to those who had understanding. For when the Holy Spirit was speaking in their hearts, there was not to be silence on the part of the only-begotten Son, who had said that in that hour He would show them plainly of the Father, which, of course, would no longer be a proverb to them when now endowed with understanding. But even this also, how it is that both the Son of God and the Holy Spirit speak at once in the hearts of their spiritual ones, yea the Trinity itself, which is ever inseparably at work, is a word to those who have, but a proverb to those who are without, understanding.
2. When, therefore, He had told them on what account He had spoken all things, namely, that in Him they might have peace while having distress in the world, and had exhorted them to be of good cheer, because He had overcome the world; having thus finished His discourse to them, He then directed His words to the Father, and began to pray. For so the evangelist proceeds to say: "These things spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son." The Lord, the Only-begotten and coeternal with the Father, could in the form of a servant and out of the form of a servant, if such were needful, pray in silence; but in this other way He wished to show Himself as one who prayed to the Father, that He might remember that He was still our Teacher. Accordingly, the prayer which He offered for us, He made also known to us; seeing that it is not only the delivering of discourses to them by so great a Master, but also the praying for them to the Father, that is a means of edification to disciples. And if so to those who were present to hear what was said, it is certainly so also to us who were to have the reading of it when written. Wherefore in saying this, "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son," He showed that all time, and every occasion when He did anything or suffered anything to be done, were arranged by Him who was subject to no time: since those things, which were individually future in point of time, have their efficient causes in the wisdom of God, wherein there are no distinctions of time. Let it not, then, be supposed that this hour came through any urgency of fate, but rather by the divine appointment. It was no necessary law of the heavenly bodies that tied to its time the passion of Christ; for we may well shrink from the thought that the stars should compel their own Maker to die. It was not the time, therefore, that drove Christ to His death, but Christ who selected the time to die: who also fixed the time, when He was born of the Virgin, with the Father, of whom He was born independently of time. And in accordance with this true and salutary doctrine, the Apostle Paul also says, "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son;"2 and God declares by the prophet, "In an acceptable time have I heard Thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee;"3 and yet again the apostle, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."4 He then may say, "Father, the hour is come," who has arranged every hour with the Father: saying, as it were, "Father, the hour," which we fixed together for the sake of men and of my glorification among them, "is come, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee."3. The glorification of the Son by the Father is understood by some to consist in this, that He spared Him not, but delivered Him up for us all.5 But if we say that He was glorified by His passion, how much more was He so by His resurrection! For in His passion our attention is directed more to His humility than to His glory, in accordance with the testimony of the apostle, who says, "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross:" and then he goes on to say of His glorification, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father." This is the glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ, that took its commencement from His resurrection. His humility accordingly begins in the apostle's discourse with the passage where he says, "He emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant;" and reaches "even to the death of the cross." But His glory begins with the clause where he says, "Wherefore God also hath exalted Him;" and reaches on to the words, "is in the glory of God the Father."6 For even the noun itself, if the language of the Greek codices be examined, from which the apostolic epistles have been translated into Latin, which in the latter is read, glory, is in the former read, doca: whence we have the verb derived in Greek for the purpose of saying here, docason (glorify), which the Latin translator renders by "clarifica" (make illustrious), although he might as well have said "glorifica" (glorify), which is the same in meaning. And for the same reason, in the apostle's epistle where we find "gloria," "claritas" might have been used; for by so doing, the meaning would have been equally preserved. But not to depart from the sound of the words, just as "clarificatio" (the making lustrous) is derived from "claritas" (lustre), so is "glorificatio" (the making glorious) from "gloria" (glory). In order, then, that the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, might be made lustrous or glorious by His resurrection, He was first humbled by suffering; for had He not died, He would not have risen from the dead. Humility is the earning of glory; glory, the reward of humility. This, however, was done in the form of a servant; but He was always in the form of God, and always shall His glory continue: yea, it was not in the past as if it were no more so in the present, nor shall it be, as if it did not yet exist; but without beginning and without end, His glory is everlasting. Accordingly, when He says, "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son," it is to be understood as if He said, The hour is come for sowing the seed-corn of humility, delay not the fruit of my glory. But what is the meaning of the words that follow: "That Thy Son may glorify Thee"? Was it that God the Father likewise endured the humiliation of the body or of suffering, out of which He must needs be raised to glory? If not, how then was the Son to glorify Him, whose eternal glory could neither appear diminished through human form, nor be enlarged in the divine? But I will not confine such a question within the present discourse, or draw the latter out to greater length by such a discussion.