1) 24. In what remains we have the appointment of the Father’s will. The Virgin, the birth, the Body, then the Cross, the death, the visit to the lower world; these things are our salvation. For the sake of mankind the Son of God was born of the Virgin and of the Holy Ghost. In this process He ministered to Himself; by His own power–the power of God–which overshadowed her He sowed the beginning of His Body, and entered on the first stage of His life in the flesh. He did it that by His Incarnation He might take to Himself from the Virgin the fleshly nature, and that through this commingling there might come into being a hallowed Body of all humanity; that so through that Body which He was pleased to assume all mankind might be hid in Him, and He in return, through His unseen existence, be reproduced in all. Thus the invisible Image of God scorned not the shame which marks the beginnings of human life. He passed through every stage; through conception, birth, wailing, cradle and each successive humiliation. Hilary of Poitiers, “De Trinitate” in Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed., Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), series 2, 9: 59. [Underlining mine.]

2) 31. But the words of the Gospel, For God is Spirit, need careful examination as to their sense and their purpose. For every saying has an antecedent cause and an aim which must be ascertained by study of the meaning. We must bear this in mind lest, on the strength of the words, God is Spirit, we deny not only the Name, but also the work and the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Lord was speaking with a woman of Samaria, for He had come to be the Redeemer for all mankind. After He had discoursed at length of the living water, and of her five husbands, and of him whom she then had who was not her husband, the woman answered, “Lord, I perceive that Thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” The Lord replied, “Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father. Ye worship that which ye know not; we worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. For God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in the Spirit and in truth, for God is Spirit.” Hilary of Poitiers, “De Trinitate” in Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed., Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), series 2, 9: 60. [Some reformatting and underlining mine.]

3) 9. The Son of God, therefore, having the charge of mankind, was first made man, that men might believe on Him; that He might be to us a witness, sprung from ourselves, of things Divine, and preach to us, weak and carnal as we are, through the weakness of the flesh concerning God the Father, so fulfilling the Father’s will, even as He says, “I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” It was not that He Himself was unwilling, but that He might manifest His obedience as the result of His Father’s will, for His own will is to do His Father’s. This is that will to carry out the Father’s will of which He testifies in the words: “Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may glorify Thee; even as Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that whatsoever Thou hast given Him, He should give it eternal life. And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him Whom Thou didst send, Jesus Christ. I have glorified Thee upon earth, having accomplished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me with Thine own Self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was. I have manifested Thy Name unto the men whom Thou hast given Me.” In words short and few He has revealed the whole task to which He was appointed and assigned. Yet those words, short and few as they are, are the true faith’s safeguard against every suggestion of the devil’s cunning. Let us briefly consider the force of each separate phrase. Hilary of Poitiers, “De Trinitate” in Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed., Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), series 2, 9: 64. [Some reformatting and underlining mine.]

4) 18. But godless unbelief finds it very hard to apprehend the true faith. Their capacity for devotion has never been expanded by belief, and is too narrow to receive a full presentment of the truth. Hence the unbelieving soul cannot grasp the great work done by God in being born as Man to accomplish the salvation of mankind; in the work of its salvation it fails to see the power of God. They think of the travail of His birth, the feebleness of infancy, the growth of childhood, the attainment of maturity, of bodily suffering and of the Cross with which it ended, and of the death upon the Cross; and all this conceals His true Godhead from their eyes. Yet He had called into being all these capacities for Himself, as additions to His nature; capacities which in His true Divine nature He had not possessed. Thus He acquired them without loss of His true Divinity, and ceased not to be God when He became Man; when He, Who is God eternally, became Man at a point in time. They cannot see an exercise of the true God’s power in His becoming what He was not before, yet never ceasing to be His former Self. And yet there would have been no acceptance of our feeble nature, had not He by the strength of His own omnipotent nature, while remaining what He was, come to be what previously He was not. Hilary of Poitiers, “De Trinitate” in Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed., Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), series 2, 9: 90. [Underlining mine.]

5) 13. To resume the argument; this title of office indicates no difference of nature, for He, Who is the Angel of God, is God. The test of His true Godhead shall be, whether or no His words and acts were those of God. He increases Ishmael into a great people, and promises that many nations shall bear his name. Is this, I ask, within an angel’s power? If not, and this is the power of God, why do you refuse true Divinity to Him Who, on your own confession, has the true power of God? Thus He possesses the true and perfect powers of the Divine nature. True God, in all the types in which He reveals Himself for the world’s salvation, is not, nor ever can be, other than true God. Hilary of Poitiers, “De Trinitate” in Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed., Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), series 2, 9: 89. [Underlining mine.]

6) 13. For next there follows: I will sacrifice unto Thee freely. The sacrifices of the Law, which consisted of whole burnt-offerings and oblations of goats and of bulls, did not involve an expression of free will, because the sentence of a curse was pronounced on all who broke the Law. Whoever failed to sacrifice laid himself open to the curse. And it was always necessary to go through the whole sacrificial action because the addition of a curse to the commandment forbad any trifling with the obligation of offering. It was from this curse that our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed us, when, as the Apostle says: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made curse for us, for it is written: cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. Thus He offered Himself to the death of the accursed that He might break the curse of the Law, offering Himself voluntarily a victim to God the Father, in order that by means of a voluntary victim the curse which attended the discontinuance of the regular victim might be removed. Now of this sacrifice mention is made in another passage of the Psalms: Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared for Me; that is, by offering to God the Father, Who refused the legal sacrifices, the acceptable offering of the body which He received. Of which offering the holy Apostle thus speaks: For this He did once for all when He offered Himself up, securing complete salvation for the human race by the offering of this holy, perfect victim. Hilary of Poitiers, “Homilies on Psalms” in Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed., Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), series 2, 9: 246-247. [Underlining mine.]

7) 6. As there is a dividing between the hours of night and the day, so too the number of three days and nights is fulfilled,33 while the veiled mystery of divine action is realized in the confusion of all creation.34 Then there is the cry unto God which is the voice of the Lord’s body35 attesting to the separation of the Word of God as it withdrew from him. Why did he cry out about being abandoned, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?36 He is abandoned because it was necessary for him to be subject to his humanity until the finality of death.37 Moreover, we must consider carefully why he drank sour wine given to him from a sponge on a stick38 and then rendered up his spirit with a cry.39 The wine is the honor and power of immortality, which turned sour on account of our sin and negligence. Although the wine had soured in Adam,40 Christ accepted it from pagan hands and drank it. It was offered that he might drink from a sponge on a stick; that is, he received the corporeal sins of pagans, sins that corrupt eternally. He transferred these sins of ours to himself and to the communion of his immortality. After he had finished drinking, as it reads in John, he said, It is completed,41 since he had drained the cup of all the sin of human corruption. And because there was nothing else that needed to be done, he breathed out his spirit42 with a loud shout, saddened that he bore not all of humanity’s sins.43 Hilary of Poitiers, St. Hilary of Poitiers Commentary on Matthew, tran. D.H Williams (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2012), 290-291. [Underlining mine; footnote values and content original.]

General statement:

1) 71. If then He said, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me, and Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit,” that we might be sure that He did die, was not this, in His care for our faith, rather a scattering of our doubts, than a confession of His weakness? When He was about to restore Lazarus, He prayed to the Father: but what need had He of prayer, Who said, “Father, I thank Thee, that Thou hast heard Me; and I know that Thou hearest Me always, but because of the multitude I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me?” He prayed then for us, that we may know Him to be the Son; the words of prayer availed Him nothing, but He said them for the advancement of our faith. He was not in want of help, but we of teaching. Again He prayed to be glorified; and immediately was heard from heaven the voice of God the Father glorifying Him: but when they wondered at the voice, He said, “This voice hath not come for My sake, but for your sakes.” The Father is besought for us, He speaks for us: may all this lead us to believe and confess! The answer of the Glorifier is granted not to the prayer for glory, but to the ignorance of the bystanders: must we not then regard the complaint of suffering, when He found His greatest joy in suffering, as intended for the building up of our faith? Christ prayed for His persecutors, because they knew not what they did. He promised Paradise from the cross, because He is God the King. He rejoiced upon the cross, that all was finished when He drank the vinegar, because He had fulfilled all prophecy before He died. He was born for us, suffered for us, died for us, rose again for us. This alone is necessary for our salvation, to confess the Son of God risen from the dead: why then should we die in this state of godless unbelief? If Christ, ever secure of His divinity, made clear to us His death, Himself indifferent to death, yet dying to assure that it was true humanity that He had assumed: why should we use this very confession of the Son of God that for us He became Son of Man and died as the chief weapon to deny His divinity? Hilary of Poitiers, “De Trinitate” in Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed., Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1963), series 2, 9: 202. [Underlining mine.]

[To be continued. . . .]

[Note: It would be completely incredible to argue that because Hilary uses first person plural to speak of Christ death “for us,” namely for believers and the Church, that Hilary was inclined to, or held to the doctrine of limited satisfaction or limited atonement.]


33As in the sign of Jonah, Mt 12.40.

34I.e., darkness during the day, Mt 27.45; earthquakes, 27,51.

35corporis vox est. For Hilary’s view of the relation between Christ’s divinity

and his body, see Introduction, 29-30.

36Mt 27.46. Cf. Ter tullian, Adv. Prax. 30.1-2.

37Mt 27.46.

3838. Mt 27.48.

39Mt 27.50.

401 Cor 15.22: "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (RSV). Cf. Irenaeus’s discussion of how Christ, another Adam, conquered the conquered state of the fallen Adam. Adv. haer. 3.23.6-8; 5.1.3.

41Jn 1930.

42Lit., "he emitted his spirit to the outside [of his body]" (extrinsecus spiritum . . . emittit). Cf. Tertullian, De resurr. 18.8.

43dolens non omnium se peccata portare. That is, the sin of Judas. See Sur Matt. II.257, n.20. Cf. supra, 32.5 Un 13.11). It seems an odd remark to make at this point since Hilary has just proclaimed the totality of Christ’s redemptive action (omne vitium humanae corruptionis). Moreover, it is incongruent for Hilary to attribute the personal experience of dolens to the Son, whereas he has made a painstaking case in 31.3 against the Son’s experiencing genuine sorrow or suffering as we understand it.

This entry was posted on Friday, November 15th, 2013 at 1:18 pm and is filed under For Whom did Christ Die?. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed at this time.