Quotations From Selected Fathers and Theologians of the Eastern Church

St. John Chrysostom:

His advent arrested the wrath of God, and caused us to live by faith. (Homilies on Galatians, PNF p. 22)

For that He might not save us to no purpose, He both Himself underwent the penalty, and also required of men the faith.... (Ibid, p. 72)

The wrath He appeased by His death, and hath made us meet for the Father’s love through the Spirit... (Ibid, p. 75)

He himself, though suffering punishment, did away with both the sin and punishment, and He was punished on the Cross. (Homilies on Colossians, PNF p. 286)

We all were under sin and punishment. [Christ] Himself, through suffering punishment, did away with both the sin and the punishment, and He was punished on the Cross. (Homilies on Colossians, PNF p. 286)

Think how great a thing it were to give His Son for those that had outraged Him. But now He hath both well achieved mighty things, and besides, hath suffered for Him that did no wrong to be punished for those who did wrong. (Homilies on II Corinthians, PNF p. 334)

The Father willed not to leave us this inheritance, but was wroth against us, and was displeased with us as being estranged from Him; He accordingly became Mediator between us and Him, and prevailed with Him... We had offended; we ought to have died; He died for us and made us worthy of the Testament. (Homilies on Hebrews, PNF p. 443)


...He suffered these things, not for His own sake but for ours. “Thou hast made Thy wrath to rest upon me,” says the one [i.e., Psalm 88]; and the other [Psalm 69] adds, “I paid them things I never took.” For He did not die as being Himself liable to death: He suffered for us, and bore in Himself the wrath that was the penalty for our transgression, even as Isaiah says, “Himself bore our sickness.” (Letter to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms, 4)

...After offering Himself for us, He raised His Body from the dead, and, as now, Himself brings near and offers to the Father those who in faith approach Him, redeeming all, and for all propitiating God. (Four Discourses Against the Arians, 2.5)

...To this end He takes to Himself a body capable of death, that it, by partaking of the Word Who is above all, might be worthy to die in the stead of all, and might, because of the Word which was come to dwell in it, remain incorruptible, and that thenceforth corruption might be stayed from all by the Grace of the Resurrection. Whence, by offering unto death the body He Himself had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from any stain, straightway He put away death from all His peers by the offering of an equivalent. For being over all, the Word of God naturally by offering His own temple and corporeal instrument for the life of all satisfied the debt by His death. (On the Incarnation, 9-10)

Since here also the ministry through Him has become better, in that “what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh,” ridding it of the trespass, in which, being continually held captive, it admitted not the Divine mind. And having rendered the flesh capable of the Word, He made us walk, no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, and say again and again, “But we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,” and, “For the Son of God came into the world, not to judge the world, but to redeem all men, and that the world might be saved through Him.” Formerly the world, as guilty, was under judgment from the Law; but now the Word has taken on Himself the judgment, and having suffered in the body for all, has bestowed salvation to all. (Four Discourses Against the Arians, 1.60)

Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures):

If Phineas, when he waxed zealous and slew the evil-doer, staved the wrath of God, shall not Jesus, who slew not another, but gave up Himself for a ransom, put away the wrath which is against mankind? (13.2)

These things the Savior endured, and made peace through the Blood of His Cross, for things in heaven, and things in earth. For we were enemies of God through sin, and God had appointed the sinner to die. There must needs therefore have happened one of two things; either that God, in His truth, should destroy all men, or that in His loving-kindness He should cancel the sentence. But behold the wisdom of God; He preserved both the truth of His sentence, and the exercise of His loving-kindness. Christ took our sins in His body on the tree, that we by His death might die to sin, and live unto righteousness. Of no small account was He who died for us; He was not a literal sheep; He was not a mere man; He was more than an Angel; He was God made man. The transgression of sinners was not so great as the righteousness of Him who died for them; the sin which we committed was not so great as the righteousness which He wrought who laid down His life for us... (13.33)

St. Symeon the New Theologian:

Just think how great was the humility of the Lord Jesus when He, being God, humbled Himself even to voluntary death and died on the Cross a death which served as punishment for the worst kind of people. (Homily 37.2, “The Ancestral Sin and our Regeneration,” The First-Created Man, tr. Seraphim Rose [St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2001] p. 70)

When God condemns for something, He also gives a sentence, and His sentence becomes deed and eternal chastisement . . . (Homily 1.1, “The Transgression of Adam and Our Redemption by Jesus Christ,” The First-Created Man, tr. Seraphim Rose [St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2001] p. 43)

...Christ was for us a curse, through being hung upon the tree of the Cross, so as to offer Himself as a sacrifice to His Father, as has been said, and to annihilate the sentence of God by the superabundant worth of the sacrifice. (1.3, p. 47)

Nicholas Cabasilas (Life in Christ):

God from the beginning vindicates His laws when they have been violated, in that He punishes him who has broken them by means of pain and suffering. He would not have seen fit to exact this penalty were it not the opposite of the offense and capable of delivering from judgement. (7. 4)

He who had done no evil pleaded for us by dying on the cross. By this He paid the penalty for the sins which we had audaciously committed; then, because of that death, we were made friends of God and righteous. By His death the Saviour...released us and reconciled us to the Father... (1.7)

[Christ] alone, then, was able to render all the honour that is due to the Father and make satisfaction for that which had been taken away. (4.4)

Hilary of Poitiers, Homily on Psalm 53(54):

He was subjected to suffering of no natural necessity, but to accomplish the mystery of man’s salvation; that He submitted to suffering of His own Will, and not under compulsion... And although this suffering did not belong to His nature as eternal Son, the immutability of God being proof against the assault of any derogatory disturbance, yet it was freely undertaken, and was intended to fulfill a penal function without, however, inflicting the pain of penalty upon the sufferer: not that the suffering in question was not of a kind to cause pain, but because the divine Nature feels no pain. (12)

He offered Himself to the death of the accursed that He might break the curse of the Law, offering Himself voluntarily a victim to God the Father, in order that by means of a voluntary victim the curse which attended the discontinuance of the regular victim might be removed. (13)

He submitted to death, . . . the debt which man must manifestly pay: but He rose again and abides for ever and looks down with an eye that death cannot dim upon His enemies, being exalted unto the glory of God... (14)

St. Gregory Palamas:

He gave His Blood, which was sinless and therefore guiltless, as a ransom for us who were liable to punishment because of our sins, He redeemed us from our guilt. (Homily 16.31)

St. Ephraim of Syria (Hymns on the Nativity):

Thy Day was able to reconcile the Just One, who was wroth at our sins; Thy day forgave thousands of sins, for in it bowels of mercy shone forth upon the guilty! (III.6)

The bowels of the Father brought Him down to us; He did not bring up our debts to Him, but made a satisfaction to that Majesty with His own goods. (VI.1)

St. Ephraim of Syria (Nisibene Hymns):

Our Lord subdued His might and constrained it, that His living death might give life to Adam. His hands He gave to the piercing of the nails, instead of the hand that plucked the fruit: He was smitten on the cheek in the judgment hall, instead of the mouth that ate it in Eden. And because his foot bore Adam thence, His feet were pierced. (36.1)

John of Damascus (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith):

Since our Lord Jesus Christ was without sin (for He committed no sin, He Who took away the sin of the world, nor was there any deceit found in His mouth) He was not subject to death, since death came into the world through sin. He dies, therefore, because He took on Himself death on our behalf, and He makes Himself an offering to the Father for our sakes. For we had sinned against Him, and it was meet that He should receive the ransom for us, and that we should thus he delivered from the condemnation. God forbid that the blood of the Lord should have been offered to the tyrant. (III.27)

John of Damascus (On the Divine Images):

From the time that God, the Son of God...chose to suffer voluntarily, He wiped out our debt, by paying for us a most admirable and precious ransom. We are all made free through the blood of the Son, which pleads for us to the Father... (I:21)

John of Damascus (Barlaam and Ioasaph):

On the third day he rose again from the dead, and redeemed us from our first penalty, and restored us to our first glory. (xxxiv)

Blessed Theophylact:

It is the Father Who says, “I will smite the shepherd.” Since the Father permitted to the Son to be smitten, the Father is said to smite the One Who is smitten by His permission. (The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Mark, p. 123)

He Himself bore our infirmities and our sins, and He took upon Himself our burdens which to Him were light. He paid off all that we owed.... (The Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Luke, p. 193)

Justin Martyr:

...If the Father of all wished His Christ for the whole human family to take upon Him the curses of all, knowing that, after He had been crucified and was dead, He would raise Him up, why do you argue about Him, who submitted to suffer these things according to the Father’s will, as if He were accursed, and do not rather bewail yourselves? For although His Father caused Him to suffer these things in behalf of the human family, yet you did not commit the deed as in obedience to the will of God. (Dialogue With Trypho, 45)

St. John of Kronstadt:

He Himself became my Teacher, my Healer, my Worker of miracles and my Saviour; He Himself bore the punishment for us, died for us in order that we should not be eternally lost. (My Life In Christ, p. 284.)

Cyril of Alexandria:

The penalty for transgression of God’s law and contempt of the Lord’s will is death. But the Creator had pity on human nature thus doomed to destruction: and the Only-begotten became man, and wore a body by nature liable to death, and bore the name of flesh, so that, by submitting to the death which hung over us as a result of our sins, he might annihilate sin, and put an end to Satan’s accusations: for in the person of Christ himself we paid the penalty of the sins of which we stood accused. (On Worship in Spirit and Truth, 3)

Some Patristic Quotations on Divine Justice, Substitution
and Propitiation as Aspects of the Atonement

Return to the Lutheran Theology Web Site Home Page