You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you.
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Cyril of Alexandria
In contrast to the terrors which will sometimes assail those inclined towards obedience and love of virtue He has set the gain of their love towards Him, in order that by the consolations ensuing from this, and by their aiming at what is greater, that which is burdensome may disappear and that which sometimes seems to cause pain sink into insignificance. Sweet is their labour to those who love God, since indeed theirs is a near and rich reward. Who then could conceive any thing greater, and what will he say is more glorious, than to be and be called the friend of Christ? For see how the reward surpasses the very limits of the nature of man. For all things are subject unto Him that made them, according to the saying of the Psalmist; and there is, I suppose, nothing in Creation which has not been subjected to the yoke of slavery, in accordance with the decree becoming the Creator and His work. For the work produced is not on an equality with its producer; and how could it be'? But God, Who is over all, will hold sway over and direct His own works. The universe then being under the yoke of subjection, and putting itself under servitude to God, the Lord leads up His holy ones to a supernatural glory, if they appear willing to work His Will and bring to Him, as an offering that is due, a blameless subjection. Their reward then is glorious and worthy of envy.
But we must consider this point especially at this juncture, for it will be of no small profit. For if friendship towards Christ will be sufficient in the case of any for the dignity of freedom and the being no longer called slaves, how could He be a slave except as made and created, according to the thoughtlessness of some? For He is not able to allot the honour of freedom to all others, while His own Nature is bereft of this attribute. For I suppose He must appear in possession of it more than all the rest, for then will He most suitably give to those who have it not the blessing that is His own. But the dignity must be conferred on and given to the holy Apostles, or perhaps also to all others who mount up through faith to the friendship that is towards our Lord Jesus Christ, as by way of honour, but not existing in like manner with that enjoyed by Him. For they, mounting up by their likeness to Him to the glory of liberty, would display by this that which naturally belongs to Him alone. For that which is by position is compared with that which is by nature.
This however we must demonstrate; for I think it is necessary to go through every inquiry which is useful and particularly necessitates explanation. For the justice which is derived from faith in Christ has a more ancient manifestation than that justice which is according to the law; and further, because the knowledge of the Divine mysteries is revealed to those that believe and obey Christ, and the counsel of God the Father is interpreted by him who knows that of the Son, but to those who are disobedient, not at all.
Come then, let us again illustrate this by the inspired Scripture, dwelling somewhat at length upon it to advantage. It has then been written in a book of Moses that Abraham believed in God, but his faith was accounted unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. And what was the manner of his faith, or how then was he called the friend of God? He heard the words, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, unto a land that I will show thee. Moreoyer, when he was enjoined to sacrifice his only son as a type of Christ he learnt the purpose hidden in God. And for this reason the Saviour spoke concerning him to the impious Jews, saying: Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it and was glad. Therefore the inspired Abraham, owing to obedience and sacrifice, was called the friend of God and put on himself the boast of righteousness.
And not only this, but he was deemed worthy of Divine converse, and knew the counsel of God, which came to pass in the last times. For in the fulness of time Christ died for us----the true, sacred, and holy sacrifice which taketh away the sin of the world.
But see again a like fulfilment in the case of those who mount up by faith to the friendship of our Saviour Christ. They also heard the words Get thee out of thy country. And that they did it eagerly we may learn from what they say: For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come, whose builder and maker is God. For they are strangers and sojourners upon earth, being citizens of heaven and leaving the land of their birth to speak allegorically of their heavenward aspirations, desiring eagerly the resting-place above. For this the Saviour set before them when He said, I go and will prepare a place for you; and when I come, I will receive you with Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. They were told to go forth from their kindred; and how shall we show this? We will refer to Christ's own words: He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And that the things of God were preferred to their earthly and fleshly relationship, and their love towards Christ set forth as far stronger, is certainly unquestioned among those who reverence Him. And the blessed Abraham was ordered to bring to God his own son for an odour of a sweet-smelling savour, while others, girding themselves with the righteousness that is by faith, were commanded to offer not others but themselves. For he says: Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Since it has been written concerning them: They that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof, they knew the mystery that is in Christ. For they know the powers of the age to come, and what will be in the last days; for they will receive the rewards of their labours, and take as requital the recompence of their piety towards Christ. Therefore we shall become just and the friends of God, as did Abraham. And the Gospel dispensation is far more ancient than that of the Law. I mean by the Gospel dispensation that which is by faith and friendship towards God, then moulded first in Abraham, as in the beginning of his race according to the flesh, that is of Israel, but now coming as from a type to truth, and being well fulfilled in the holy disciples themselves, as in the beginning of a spiritual race preserved as a people for God's own possession, which also is called a holy nation and a royal priesthood. Therefore it has been said to the mother of the Jews, I mean the synagogue, by the voice of the Psalmist: Instead of fathers thy sons have been born.
For the inspired disciples are truly sons of the synagogue of the Jews, for they were nourished up in the Mosaic usages. They became fathers, holding the position of Abraham, and were the beginning of the spiritual race, and for this reason were ordained as rulers, offering up as a sacrifice the Gospel of Christ in all the world, as did Abraham Isaac as a type of Christ. We thus speak, not depriving the blessed Abraham of the glory which is his due and befits him, but showing in him, as in a figure, what has been appointed in the last days by Christ. The reward of friendship with God which was then seen in Abraham first is intimately conjoined with the freedom which comes by faith, and now also it is seen in the holy disciples as the firstfruits of a new generation. Let then the inspired Paul point out to us the necessity of thus speaking, vehemently contending with the Jews, that the righteousness that is of faith is far older than that of the Law. For when he made mention of the circumcision according to the flesh, he affirmed that this was given to the firstfruits of the race, that is Abraham, for no other reason save his becoming the sign and seal of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision. But if uncircumcision with which also is faith was before the Law, but circumcision which has not the glory of faith after the Law, and Abraham believed in uncircumcision, how will not the justice through faith of those who are justified and freed through love towards God, as was Abraham, be more ancient than the dispensation by the Law? For thus also he will be father of many nations by promise, not according to the flesh. And these things have we now pertinently said on account of our Lord's word: No longer do I call you servants: ye are My friends; for all things that I heard from My Father, I have made known unto you.