Athanasius on the Atonement

Here is a great quote from Athanasius (Incarnation 4.20):

You must not be surprised if we repeat ourselves in dealing with this subject. We are speaking of the good pleasure of God and of the things which He in His loving wisdom thought fit to do, and it is better to put the same thing in several ways than to run the risk of leaving something out. The body of the Word, then, being a real human body, in spite of its having been uniquely formed from a virgin, was of itself mortal and, like other bodies, liable to death. But the indwelling of the Word loosed it from this natural liability, so that corruption could not touch it. Thus it happened that two opposite marvels took place at once: the death of all was consummated in the Lord’s body; yet, because the Word was in it, death and corruption were in the same act utterly abolished. Death there had to be, and death for all, so that the due of all might be paid. Wherefore, the Word, as I said, being Himself incapable of death, assumed a mortal body, that He might offer it as His own in place of all, and suffering for the sake of all through His union with it, ” might bring to nought Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might deliver them who all their lifetime were enslaved by the fear of death.

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  • griffingulledge

    This is excellent.

  • Patrick

    Here’s a question.

    John says “The Word became flesh”. i.e. Christ cannot be separated into Divine and human parts, Christ is both, always. He became flesh. God became part of His creation in effect that moment.

    IF that is accurate, then Athanasius could be wrong to see Christ as “The Word indwelling Jesus’ body”, right? Which gives me the impression of the body of Christ being indwelled by the spirit.

    It’s an important distinction, IMO. Having said that, Athanasius’ conclusions seem very sound to me.

    • JIZ

      I came across another translation over at “But by virtue of the union of the Word with it, it was no longer subject to corruption according to its own nature, but by reason of the Word that had come to dwell in it it was placed out of the reach of corruption..” Perhaps St. Athanasius might be referring to, or thinking about, Col. 2:9 in speaking of the indwelling of the Word?

  • Jean

    Why is “Him” in the last sentence, referring to the devil, capitalized?