Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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A friendly discussion about a point in our faith almost always reveal how easily anyone of us could be misunderstanding (or even God forbid misteaching) key points in the nature of Christ. Other times we realize there may be more than one way to say the same thing. Unfortunately, there are even more ways to be speaking the wrong thing, even having a solid or acceptable understanding yourself, and this is not a light matter as servants who help to interpret and explain to others.

Thankfully, our mother, the church, is so rich to give us not only a multitude of fathers/scholars/giants in defending the faith to study and learn from, but even more we have also contemporary well-learned as well as spiritual fathers who have been given a special grace to teach us in a language and manner we can understand and relate to best. I find them often able to correct wording used by servants nonchalantly as being absolutely, although unintentionally and unknowingly, heretical. Understanding the truth always required guidance and submission with prayer and humility, along with our academic study of church teachings because as we've seen in just a day's conversation, a quote from a church father, as any verse from the Bible, may still be interpreted this way or that.

I feel most comfortable always comparing my understanding of things I have learned/read/heard/interpreted or even always taken for granted to be the truth with the teaching of our fathers today, (aka by asking, sometimes not even just hearing a sermon). When all else fails, we also take the words of HHPS III that that which we may not understand fully concerning the Holy Trinity or be able to explain plainly without causing a brother to stumble, we dare not open our mouth to speak. That is my humble opinion, but thanks to the group for bringing up the hot topic and for taking the act of humility to ask a church father. I have learned a lot from everyone's reading of the church fathers!

From another writer in the group: I had a question about the meaning of Mark 13:32: "But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father..." Did Christ the incarnate God in the flesh, really not know the hour? Even though as God, He was, and continues to be, all-knowing and all-powerful? He even describes everything that will happen in the end of times to His disciples right before saying this statement. Christ read the minds of His disciples on numerous occasions; He prophesied about many things in the future so precisely (including the destruction of Jerusalem earlier in that chapter). How then can Our Lord say that He doesn't know the hour of His coming? If we say He does know, then is He hiding something from His disciples?
There was a research done for an explanation for this through many church fathers' sayings on this verse and repeatedly they agree that: He knew because of His divinity but didn't know because of His Humanity. I am uncomfortable with this because this gives me a notion of separation of the incarnate God... which makes me a bit uneasy, as if His humanity and Divinity know different things and have different thoughts.
St. Athanasius (Discourse 3.42-43):

"Through the Word all things have been made, times and seasons and night and day and the whole creation; and is the Framer of all said to be ignorant of His work?... so the Lord saying what precedes that day and that hour, knows exactly, nor is ignorant, when the hour and the day are at hand... but why, though He knew, He said, 'no, not the Son knows?'... He made this as those other declarations as man by reason of the flesh. For this as before is not the Word's deficiency, but of that human nature whose property it is to be ignorant. And this again will be well seen by honestly examining into the occasion, when and to whom the Savior spoke thus. Not then when the heaven was made by Him, nor when He was with the Father Himself, the Word ' disposing all things s,' nor before He became man did He say it, but when ' the Word became flesh ." On this account it is reasonable to ascribe to His manhood everything which, after He became man, He speaks humanly... as man He is ignorant of it, for ignorance is proper to man, and especially ignorance of these things. Moreover this is proper to the Savior's love of man; for since He was made man, He is not ashamed, because of the flesh which is ignorant', to say ' I know not,' that He may shew that knowing as God, He is but ignorant according to the flesh. And therefore He said not, 'no, not the Son of God knows,' lest the Godhead should seem ignorant, but simply, ' no, not the Son,' that the ignorance might be the Son's as born from among men."

This really became a subject of confusion for me and a few other servants. Does Christ know of that hour or He does not? If He does not, then is it true that Christ was not all-knowing while in the flesh? If He does, what is the meaning of His response to His disciples in Mark 13:32?

You have well articulated your understanding regarding the intended meaning of this verse. Indeed Christ's divinity is never separate from His humanity. In the context of Mark 13:32, our Lord is emphasizing His mission as the submissive Servant (Isaiah 52:13-15). He is All-Knowing and All-Powerful, yet, He willingly obeys the Father in the Godhead of the Holy Trinity and distinguishes Himself as the Son and Servant. In the commentaries mentioned by the Early Church Fathers regarding the ignorance of His humanity, they do not necessarily mean that Christ lacked any knowledge, but rather that He willingly submitted His foreknowledge to the Father. The Apostle Paul taught, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:5-11).

The prophet David praised God upon his instruments and poetically sang, "O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have (plural verb to be, i.e., referring to the Holy Trinity) set Your glory above the heavens....What is man that Your are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor" (Psalm 8). This applies to humanity, but also to Christ, for in His submission to death, He willingly accepted to be subject to death in the flesh so to raise humanity out of death. In His obedience even unto death, He subjected Himself to a lower state that not even the angels are subject. We can say that in His emptying out of Himself, He submits even His great foreknowledge to the Father, for He set aside all His glory when He not only gave Himself to humanity in His glorious Incarnation, but in His emptying out of Himself upon the holy cross to receive us in His glory.

There are certain key points throughout the four accounts of the Holy Gospel in which Christ purposely revealed the inseparability of the Holy Trinity and the specific functions of each Person in His hypostasis of a Triune God. The Father is in the Son and in the Holy Spirit; the Son is in the Father and in the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is in the Father and in the Son. Furthermore, the Father is not the Son nor the Holy Spirit; the Son is not the Father nor the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is not the Father nor the Son. Christ prayed, not needing to pray, and taught us to say "Our Father ..." In John 17, our Lord Jesus Christ shares a deep and intimate prayer to the Father. Although here He reveals His knowledge that "the hour has come ...", yet He humbly submits in prayer and supplication as He is fully aware that His mission and ministry for Salvation nears its appointed time. When questioned by the high priest after being arrested, Christ answered saying, "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing" (John 18:20). Therefore, Christ confirms that His words have always been spoken clearly and truthfully, causing no confusion. "Then Jesus said to them, 'When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.' As He spoke these words, many believed in Him" (John 8:28-30).

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