33 the one who sends forth the light, and it goes; he called it, and it obeyed him, trembling; 34 the stars shone in their watches, and were glad; he called them, and they said, "Here we are!" They shone with gladness for him who made them. 35 This is our God; no other can be compared to him. 36 He found the whole way to knowledge, and gave her to his servant Jacob and to Israel, whom he loved. 37 Afterward she appeared on earth and lived with humankind.
Athanasius Discourse Against the Arians 19
For if He is Offspring, how call ye Him creature? For no one says that He begets what He creates, nor calls His proper offspring creatures; and again, if He is Only-begotten, how becomes He 'beginning of the ways?' for of necessity, if He was created a beginning of all things, He is no longer alone, as having those who came into being after Him. For Reuben, when he became a beginning of the children , was not only-begotten, but in time indeed first, but in nature and relationship one among those who came after him. Therefore if the Word also is 'a beginning of the ways,' He must be such as the ways are, and the ways must be such as the Word, though in point of time He be created first of them. For the beginning or initiative of a city is such as the other parts of the city are, and the members too being joined to it, make the city whole and one, as the many members of one body; nor does one part of it make, and another come to be, and is subject to the former, but all the city equally has its government and constitution from its maker. If then the Lord is in such sense created as a 'beginning' of all things, it would follow that He and all other things together make up the unity of the creation, and He neither differs from all others, though He become the 'beginning' of all, nor is He Lord of them, though older in point of time; but He has the same manner of framing and the same Lord as the rest. Nay, if He be a creature, as you hold, how can He be created sole and first at all, so as to be beginning of all? When it is plain from what has been said, that among the creatures not any is of a constant nature and of prior formation, but each has its origination with all the rest, however it may excel others in glory. For as to the separate stars or the great lights, not this appeared first, and that second, but in one day and by the same command, they were all called into being. And such was the original formation of the quadrupeds, and of birds, and fishes, and cattle, and plants; thus too has the race made after God's Image come to be, namely men; for though Adam only was formed out of earth, yet in him was involved the succession of the whole race. And from the visible creation, we clearly discern that His invisible things also, 'being perceived by the things that are made,' are not independent of each other; for it was not first one and then another, but all at once were constituted after their kind. For the Apostle did not number individually, so as to say 'whether Angel, or Throne, or Dominion, or Authority,' but he mentions together all according to their kind, 'whether Angels, or Archangels, or Principalities :' for in this way is the origination of the creatures. If then, as I have said, the Word were creature He must have been brought into being, not first of them, but with all the other Powers, though in glory He excel the rest ever so much. For so we find it to be in their case, that at once they came to be, with neither first nor second, and they differ from each other in glory, some on the right of the throne, some all around, and some on the left, but one and all praising and standing in service before the Lord. Therefore if the Word be creature He would not be first or beginning of the rest; yet if He be before all, as indeed He is, and is Himself alone First and Son, it does not follow that He is beginning of all things as to His Essence , for what is the beginning of all is in the number of all. And if He is not such a beginning, then neither is He a creature, but it is very plain that He differs in essence and nature from the creatures, and is other than they, and is Likeness and Image of the sole and true God, being Himself sole also. Hence He is not classed with creatures in Scripture, but David rebukes those who dare even to think of Him as such, saying, 'Who among the gods is like the Lord?' and 'Who is like the Lord among the sons of God.' and Baruch, 'This is our God, and another shall not be reckoned with Him.' For the One creates, and the rest are created; and the One is the own Word and Wisdom of the Father's Essence, and through this Word things which came to be, which before existed not, were made. Your famous assertion then, that the Son is a creature, is not true, but is your fantasy only; nay Solomon convicts you of having many times slandered him. For he has not called Him creature, but God's Offspring and Wisdom, saying, 'God in Wisdom established the earth,' and 'Wisdom built her an house.' And the very passage in question proves your irreligious spirit; for it is written, 'The Lord created me a beginning of His ways for His works.' Therefore if He is before all things, yet says 'He created me' (not 'that I might make the works,' but) 'for the works,' unless 'He created' relates to something later than Himself, He will seem later than the works, finding them on His creation already in existence before Him, for the sake of which He is also brought into being. And if so, how is He before all things notwithstanding? And how were all things made through Him and consist in Him? For behold, you say that the works consisted before Him, for which He is created and sent. But it is not so; perish the thought! false is the supposition of the heretics. For the Word of God is not creature but Creator; and says in the manner of proverbs, 'He created me' when He put on created flesh. And something besides may be understood from the passage itself; for, being Son and having God for His Father, for He is His proper Offspring, yet here He names the Father Lord; not that He was servant, but because He took the servant's form. For it became Him, on the one hand being the Word from the Father, to call God Father: for this is proper to son towards father; on the other, having come to finish the work, and taken a servant's form, to name the Father Lord. And this difference He Himself has taught by an apt distinction, saying in the Gospels, 'I thank You, O Father,' and then, 'Lord of heaven and earth.' For He calls God His Father, but of the creatures He names Him Lord; as showing clearly from these words, that, when He put on the creature , then it was He called the Father Lord. For in the prayer of David the Holy Spirit marks the same distinction, saying in the Psalms, 'Give Your strength unto Your Child, and help the Son of Your handmaid.' For the natural and true child of God is one, and the sons of the handmaid, that is, of the nature of things originate, are other. Wherefore the One, as Son, has the Father's might; but the rest are in need of salvation. (But if, because He was called child, they idly talk, let them know that both Isaac was named Abraham's child, and the son of the Shunamite was called young child.) Reasonably then, we being servants, when He became as we, He too calls the Father Lord, as we do; and this He has so done from love to man, that we too, being servants by nature, and receiving the Spirit of the Son, might have confidence to call Him by grace Father, who is by nature our Lord. But as we, in calling the Lord Father, do not deny our servitude by nature (for we are His works, and it is 'He that has made us, and not we ourselves '), so when the Son, on taking the servant's form, says, 'The Lord created me a beginning of His ways,' let them not deny the eternity of His Godhead, and that 'in the beginning was the Word,' and 'all things were made by Him,' and 'in Him all things were created.'
Notes and References
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