Chistus Victor – A Primer (Part Three)


Within the salvific model of Christus Victor there is the wonderful concept, or better, aspect of recapitulation. Since this posting is part three of a primer of Christus Victor, let me move immediately to the New Testament, specifically St. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians:

Having declared to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he intended for him [Christ], for the purpose of the fulness of time: to gather together all things [anakephalaiosasthai ta panta] in Christ, those things in the heavens, and those things on earth (Eph 1: 9 – 10).

St. Paul is declaring that all that was lost and scattered into the exile of sin, death, darkness, and alienation by Adam’s disobedience and capitulation has been gathered together into relationship, light, life, and holiness in Christ. All that is of creation — all that is imaginable — from the smallest subatomic particle to the most bizarre and remote and distant extraterrestrial thing is gathered together, and contained within, the God-man, Jesus Christ. (Remember, God took his human, physical, material flesh from his human, physical, material mother, Mary of Narareth.)

This causes the movement to a very brief discussion of microcosm. Maximus the Confessor writes of this, but microcosm will not be addressed at any great length in this posting. I, again, turn to St. Paul:

He is before all things, and in him [Christ] all things [ta panta] stand in proper order…Because in him [Christ] all the fulness [pan to pleroma] was pleased to dwell. And through him to reconcile all things [ta panta] to him, making peace through the blood of his cross, whether those things upon the earth, or those things in the heavens (Col 1: 17, 19 – 20).

A brief exegesis of these verses of Colossians is put forth. Both Ephesians and Colossians are two of St. Paul’s four prison epistles. Hence, they were written within a reasonably short period of time, and reflect a striking similarity in the apostle’s thought and theology. Thus, it is permissible to see the noted parallels in themes of these two letters. I next address the use of to pleroma. It is simply translated “fulness”, and in ancient secular literature the word frequently refers to the fulness of a ship’s cargo — it was packed. In the second chapter of Colossians (2: 9) St. Paul again uses the word. However, in this verse he refers to the fulness [to pleroma] of Christ’s deity: “Because in him all the fulness [to pleroma] of the Godhead dwelt bodily.” It would be a mistake to put the same meaning of to pleroma in Col 1: 19, where the context calls for a more inclusive meaning of the word:  yes the fulness of God dwelt in him, but also the fulness of all things — the fulness of both Creator and creation dwell fully in Jesus Christ! He is Microcosm, and as the Container of both deity and creation, he is uniquely and truly able to both gather all things within himself, and to reconcile all things to himself!

If all things are in Christ, then all things, in some way appropriate for the “species” have encountered Christ’s reconciliation. Then, all and all things have encountered Christ’s acts of healing and ministry. All and all things have encountered his death on the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, and his second and glorious coming again. Thus, all and all things are even glorified, and await their ultimate manifestation in the glory of Christ who is the Victor! This is the work of our victorious God!

In Christ who contains within himself all things,
Fr. Irenaeus


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