For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich.
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Paul is saying that Christ was made poor because God deigned to be born as man, humbling the power of his might so that he might obtain for men the riches of divinity and thus share in the divine nature, as Peter says. He was made man in order to take humanity right into the Godhead. Therefore Christ was made poor, not for his sake but for ours, but we are made poor for our own benefit. Commentary on Paul’s Epistles.
Listen, now, to something about riches in answer to the next inquiry in your letter. In it you wrote that some are saying a rich man who continues to live rich cannot enter the kingdom of heaven unless he sells all he has and that it cannot do him any good to keep the commandments while he keeps his riches. Their arguments have overlooked our fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who departed long ago from this life. It is a fact that all these had extensive riches, as the Scripture faithfully bears witness, yet he who became poor for our sakes, although he was truly rich, foretold in a truthful promise that many would come from the east and the west and would sit down not above them nor without them but with them in the kingdom of heaven. Yes, the haughty rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and feasted sumptuously every day, died and was tormented in hell. Nevertheless, if he had shown mercy to the poor man covered with sores who lay at his door and was treated with scorn,...
What human being could know all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in Christ and concealed under the poverty of his humanity? For, “being rich, he became poor for our sake that by his poverty we might become rich.” When he assumed our mortality and overcame death, he manifested himself in poverty, but he promised riches though they might be deferred; he did not lose them as if they were taken from him. How great is the multitude of his sweetness which he hides from those who fear him but which he reveals to those that hope in him! For we understand only in part until that which is perfect comes to us. To make us worthy of this perfect gift, he, equal to the Father in the form of God, became like to us in the form of a servant and refashions us into the likeness of God.
And why does the appellation “poor man” disturb you? Remember your nature—that you came into the world naked and naked will leave it again. What is more destitute than a naked man? You have been called nothing that is derogatory, unless you make the terms used really applicable to yourself. Who was ever hauled to prison because he was poor? It is not being poor that is reprehensible but failing to bear poverty with nobility. Recall that the Lord, “being rich, became poor for our sakes.”
If, then, we keep in reserve any earthly possessions or perishable wealth, the mind sinks down as into mire and the soul inevitably becomes blind to God and insensible to the desire for the beauties of heaven and the good things laid up for us by promise. These we cannot gain possession of unless a strong and singleminded desire leads us to ask for them and lightens the labor of their attainment. This, then, is renunciation, as our discourse defines it: the severance of the bonds of this material and transient life and freedom from human concerns whereby we render ourselves more fit to set out upon the road leading to God. It is the unhindered impulse toward the possession and enjoyment of inestimable goods… In short, it is the transference of the human heart to a heavenly mode of life. … Also—and this is the chief point—it is the first step toward the likeness to Christ, who, being rich, became poor for our sake. Unless we attain to this likeness, it is impossible for us to achieve a ...
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a fresh stimulus to almsgiving. Christ, the King of kings, for your sakes became poor when He was born in the stable, because there was no room for Him in the inn. Instead of His royal throne He had a manger; for bedding, hay; for fire, the breath of ox and ass; for curtains, spiders" webs; for sweet perfumes, stable ordure; for purple, filthy rags; for His stud, ox and ass; for a crowd of nobles, Joseph and Mary. Song of Solomon , too, His whole after-life was stamped with poverty, or, as Erasmus renders the Greek here, with beggary. From this it appears that Christ was not merely poor, but was also an actual beggar.
That ye through His poverty might be rich. Rich with spiritual riches, with lessons of godliness, with forgiveness of sins, righteousness, holiness, and other virtues. The Corinthians are tacitly bidden, if they wish to imitate Christ closely, to enrich the poor with their alms, to impoverish themselves so as to enr...
Therefore, it is proper to the Son alone mercifully to have received the form of a servant. That taking up of the form of a servant pertained to the person of God the Word. It did not with resulting confusion pass into the divine nature. Therefore, that taking up of the form of a servant, according to which the Son of God, who is the Lord of all things and in whom dwells all the fullness of divinity, became a true and complete human being, took away from him nothing of his divine fullness. It took away nothing of the power, because in that one person remained without confusion a divine nature and a human nature. Hence it is that in one and the same Christ both the truth of the human nature shone forth and the eternal immutability of the divine nature remained. Neither was anything diminished in him at all or changed which he had by nature from eternity, through that which he received from time. In his exterior aspect, he became a servant, but he did not cease to be by nature the Lord o...
'For have in mind,' says he, 'ponder and consider the grace of God and do not lightly pass it by, but aim at realizing the greatness of it both as to extent and nature , and you will grudge nothing of yours. He emptied Himself of His glory that you, not through His riches but through His poverty, might be rich. If you believe not that poverty is productive of riches, have in mind your Lord and you will doubt no longer. For had He not become poor, you would not have become rich. For this is the marvel, that poverty has made riches rich.' And by riches here he means the knowledge of godliness, the cleansing away of sins, justification, sanctification, the countless good things which He bestowed upon us and purposes to bestow. And all these things accrued to us through His poverty. What poverty? Through His taking flesh on Him and becoming man and suffering what He suffered. And yet he owed not this, but thou dost owe to Him.
If you do not believe that poverty is productive of great wealth, think of the case of Jesus and you will be persuaded otherwise. For if he had not become poor, you would not have become rich. By riches, Paul means the knowledge of godliness, the cleansing away of sins, justification, sanctification, the countless good things which God bestowed upon us and which he intends to bestow.