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It is very common and standard in Christian theological works to refer to Jesus as the Word. This comes to us from Jn 1 where we read 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus was called the Word because he was the ultimate revelation of God; he was God’s true Word to humanity. In Jn 1 John was describing the Word, Jesus, Son of God, as being with God from everlasting and also being God from everlasting. That is, before the Incarnation the Word was the everlasting, eternal Son of God with the Father and the Spirit. John put it very mysteriously in his gospel in order to provoke his readers to really focus on what he was saying. This Son of God was both with the Father and he was God just like the Father was God – this mystery of the Trinity.

Then, in v 14 John said And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. Jesus in the gospel of Jn was called the Word because Jesus was the one who revealed God. {Remember as a side note that we sometimes call the Bible “the Word” because the Bible is also the revelation of God, but Jn was not talking about Word in that sense in Jn 1.} Instead, in Jn 1 John was saying that Jesus was the ultimate revelation of God. He was also saying that even the Bible was simply the story about Jesus who was the real revelation of God. Following in the footsteps of Jn 1 1, Christian theologians, like Athanasius, therefore, ever after constantly called Jesus the Word.

In fact, the “Word” became a way to talk about the Son of the Father, the Son of God, Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity. Therefore, notice that for Athanasius in his On the Incarnation, this link between Creation and Creation’s renewal was to be found very solidly in the Incarnation – this event where heaven and earth were joined, this event in which the Creator was joined to the Creation in order to renew, restore and redeem the Creation. The Redemption of Creation and humanity. That’s where everything was heading in this plan of God’s salvation for his Creation including humanity. {The Incarnation is what Athanasius’ work was all about which is why his treatise was called On the Incarnation.}

In the catholic (universal), orthodox (right thinking) fourfold story of Creation, Incarnation, Redemption and Resurrection, the renewal and restoration of all Creation was what God’s plan of salvation history that we see throughout the Bible was all about. That was, and is, where it was all heading. That was thee true Christian hope, that of the renewal and restoration of all Creation and the resurrection of the body. So we have this wonderful symmetry that began with Creation and which will climax with the renewal of that Creation.

Further, in his On the Incarnation Athanasius told us the Creation and the re-Creation were inexorably linked together, and he told us they were linked through the Incarnation of Jesus, this Incarnation of the Lord, this Incarnation of God, the Son. You see, Jesus was the Son of God and together with the Father and the Holy Spirit he had brought all Creation into being in the first place. All the Persons of the Trinity were there in the Creation. All were involved in creating. We see that being told all through Scripture. Now, the Son had been sent by the Father for the resurrection and the redemption of God’s fallen Creation. In other words, the same one who made Creation was the same one who, through his Incarnation, would renew and restore the whole created order. The Son of God, Jesus, the Word, was the Creator, and he was the one who would redeem his Creation. So there is this symmetry between the Creation and the re-Creation, between Creation and Redemption. It would be the same Son of God, the same Jesus who had been the Creator in the beginning and who would be the Redeemer and Renewer of Creation in the climax of the Story itself.

In his On the Incarnation Athanasius pointed out this wonderful symmetry of Creation and re-Creation within the story. All of this, in fact, perfectly fits within the larger biblical framework in which God was the Creator and therefore God was the only one who could be the Redeemer. John therefore linked Creation and new Creation together forever – in the Incarnation – because it was the one Creator who would do both – both Creation and re-Creation, both Creation and Redemption. And in God’s plan all of this would come about through the ultimate revelation of God himself in the Incarnation. And that ultimate revelation of God himself was the Word who was, further, Jesus of Nazareth, who himself was the human Son of Mary and Joseph, who was the divine Son of God himself, born through the power of the Holy Spirit, both fully human and fully divine, then, now and forever. The Incarnation!

So we see that Creation and the renewal of Creation brought by Christ were wonderfully linked together. Through the Incarnation the renewal and restoration of all Creation would be brought about by the same God who created it in the first place, and this was a very important fulcrum in the thought of the early church fathers including Athanasius. The renewal and restoration of all Creation is very clearly stated throughout the Bible. Further, and notably, ancient Christians didn’t tune out this renewal as all too often modern day Christians do. And we know this because the renewal and restoration of all Creation was a constant theme within the writings of the classical theologians.