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On the Incarnation of the Word of God


Athanasius (ca. A.D. 296-373), Bishop of Alexandria, was the famed defender of orthodox Christology (i.e., the Biblical teaching about Christ) at the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325). His opponents, the Arians, taught a severely defective view of the person of Christ, and it was the brilliant defense of the truth by Athanasius that led to the defeat of Arianism. Athanasius, nicknamed "The Father of Orthodoxy," wrote the following (an excerpt from On the Incarnation of the Word) sometime in his early twenties (ca. A.D. 318). Informal translation by Fred G. Zaspel From the Greek text by A. Robertson, St. Athanasius on the Incarnation, 3rd ed.

"For the Word -- understanding that the corruption of men might not be done away with in another way except through real death, and understanding that it is not possible for Him, the Word, to die, because He is immortal and the Son of the Father -- He took for Himself a body which is able to die, in order that, since it partakes in the Logos which is over all, it might be able to become sufficient for all men with regard to death, and on account of the indwelling Logos, it might continue immortal, and finally corruption might cease from all men by the grace of the resurrection. . . .

"Just as when a great king comes into a certain great city and dwells in one of its homes, such a city is very highly esteemed, and no enemy or thief attacks or overturns it any longer, and it is worthy of all care on account of the king who dwells in one of its houses; so it has happened in the presence of the King of all.

"For since He came to our country, and dwelt in one body of like nature, finally every plot against men from the enemy has ceased, and the old corruption of death which was powerful against it is obliterated. For the enemy {Satan} would have destroyed the human race, if the Master of all and the Savior, God's Son, had not come to the term of death."