Quotes From Early Church Fathers on Christ's Death 

The Word of Triumph, oil painting by John Dunne

The Body of Christ Gives Life to Those Who Receive It

From a Commentary on the Gospel of John by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444)

"I am dying for all men", says the Lord.  "I am dying to give them life through myself and to redeem the whole human race through my humanity. In my death, death itself will die and man's fallen nature will rise again with me. I wanted to be like my brothers in every respect, so I became a man like you, a descendant of Abraham". Understanding this well Saint Paul says: As the children of a family share the same flesh and blood, he too shared our human nature so that by his death he could destroy the power of the devil, the prince of death. Death itself and the prince of death could be destroyed only by Christ, who is above all, giving himself up as a ransom for all. 

And so, speaking as a spotless victim offering himself for us to God the Father, Christ says in one of the psalms: You desired no sacrifices or offerings, but you have prepared a body for me. You took no pleasure in holocausts or sin offerings. Then I said, "Behold, I am coming ". He was crucified for all, desiring his one for all to give all of us life in him. It was impossible for him to be conquered by death; nor could he who by his very nature is life be subject to corruption.Yet, that Christ offered his flesh for the life of the world we know from his own prayer, Holy Father, protect them, and from his words, For their sake I consecrate myself. By saying that he consecrates himself he means that he offers himself to God as a spotless and sweet-smelling sacrifice. According to the law, anything offered upon the altar was consecrated and considered holy. So Christ gave his own body for the life of all, and makes it the channel through which life flows once more into us.  How he does this I will explain to the best of my ability. 

When the life-giving Word of God dwelt in human flesh, he changed it into that good thing which is distinctively his, namely, life; and by being wholly united to the flesh in a way beyond our comprehension, he gave it the life-giving power which he has by his very nature. Therefore, the body of Christ gives life to those who receive it. Its presence in mortal men expels death and drives away corruption because it contains within itself in his entirety the Word who totally abolishes corruption. 

Reflections on the Cross of Christ from the early church fathers
What Happened on the Cross, by John Damascene
A Few Drops of Blood Renew the Whole World, by Gregory Nazianzen
What We Behold on the Cross, by Augustine
Contemplating the Lord's Passion by Leo the Great
The Lamb that was Slain by Melito of Sardis
The Power of the Blood of Christ by John Chrysostom
By One Death and Resurrection the World Was Saved by Basil
The Life-giving Cross of Christ by Theodore the Studite
Let us too glory in the Cross by Augustine
The Cross of Christ by Leo the Great
The Body of Christ Gives Life to Those Who Receive It, by Cyril of Alexandria
The Death of Death by Augustine

Return to | The Cross of Jesus Christ | News of the Resurrection | Daily Readings & Meditations |
 1999, 2014 edit / design by Don Schwager