Ambrose (337-397): God is Good to All, With Reference to John 1:29

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in God is Good


(2.4) Consider another point. “How good is God to Israel, to them that are right in heart!” Is God not good to all men, then? He is certainly good to all, because He is the Savior of all men, especially of the faithful. And so the Lord Jesus came that He might save what was lost;1 He came, indeed, to take away the sin of the world,2 to heal our wounds. But not all men desire the remedy, and many avoid it; else the sore may be stung by the drugs and lose its virulence. For that reason, He heals those that arc willing and does not compel the unwilling. Therefore, those who desire the remedy regain their health. But those who resist the physician3 and do not seek him out, cannot perceive his goodness, for they do not experience it. Now one who is healed is also restored to health, and thus the physician is good to those whom he has restored to health. Accordingly, God is good to those whose sins He has forgiven. But if someone has a sin that is incurable from a sore on his spirit, how can he value the physician as good, when he is avoiding Him? And therefore, as I said earlier, the Apostle aptly explained that God, who wishes all men to be saved,”4 is good to all men. And the special favor of God’s goodness is reserved most of all for the faithful, who receive the assistance of His good will and of His grace. But also, when the psalmist said, "How good is God to Israel, to them that are right in heart" he conveyed the sentiment of those who do not know how to entertain any other opinion concerning God, except that He is good toward all things and is in all.

Ambrose, “The Prayer of Job and David,” in Seven Exegetical Works, trans. Michael P. McHugh (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1972), 371-372.[Underlining mine; footnote values modified; footnote content original.]


1Cf. Luke 19.10.

2Cf. John 1.29 .

3The motif of Christ as physician occurs very frequently in Ambrose. For a listing of the relevant passages, see Gryson 287 n. 157, and add the passing reference to the good physician in The Prayer of Job and David 2.3.10, above. Studies have been done on this theme as it appears, most notably, in Augustine, but none as yet on its use by Ambrose.

41 Tim. 2.4.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 at 9:41 am and is filed under God is Good. 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.