Part 4
Chapter 2—Of Redemption

Section 8—Origines Alexandrinus. A.D. 230.

Origen is represented[1] as holding, that Christ suffered and died for the salvation of all rational creatures, in heaven and in earth, devils as well as men; and that all in the issue will be saved: and there are passages[2] in his writings which favor this notion. Could our universalists give into, and prove such an assertion, that all mankind will be saved, the controversy about general redemption would soon be at an end. It is no wonder that a writer, who had imbibed such a notion, should express himself in very general terms about the sufferings and death of Christ, and assert him to be the Savior of all men, which is the substance of the citations out of him by M. Daille;[3] nevertheless, as it is very probable, he was not always of this mind; and it is certain, that when this notion of his was not in view, he says many things which not only contradict that, but very much countenance the doctrine of particular redemption, as will appear from the following observations.

1. He expressly affirms, that the sufferings and death of Christ are of no use and service to some persons; and that the fruit and effect of them only belong to others, whom he describes; his words are these:[4] "The sufferings of Christ, indeed, confer life on them that believe, but death on them that believe not: for though the Gentiles have salvation and justification by his cross, yet is it destruction and condemnation to the Jews; for so it is written in the Gospel; This child is born for the fall and rising again of many."And in another place;[5] "If any would be saved, let him come to the house," says he, "in which the blood of Christ is for a sign of redemption; for with them who said, His blood be upon us and upon our children, Christi sanguis in condemnatione est,‘the blood of Christ is for condemnation;' for Jesus was set for the fall and rising again of many; and therefore to them that speak against his sign efficitur sanguis ejus ad paenam,‘his blood is for punishment;' but to them that believe, for salvation." And elsewhere,[6] mentioning. these words, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,he adds, by way of explanation, ou panton de e amartia apo tou amnou airetai,"the sin of all is not indeed taken away by the Lamb, even of those who do not grieve, nor are afflicted until it be taken away."

2. Though he sometimes speaks of Christ's procuring salvation, redemption, and remission of sin, for all men, for the whole world: yet from other passages of his it appears, that he is to be understood of the sufficiency of the price of Christ's blood to procure these things for all men, which is not denied. In one place,[7] taking notice of the legal sacrifices, he has these expressions: "Among all these there is one Lamb which is able to take away the sins of the whole world; for such was this sacrifice, ut una sola sufficieret pro totius mundi salute,‘that that alone was sufficient for the salvation of the whole world.'" And in another place he thus expresses himself,[8] "Until the blood of Jesus was given, which was so precious, ut solus pro omnium redemptione sufficieret,‘that it alone was sufficient for the redemption of all;' it was necessary, that they who were brought up in the law, should every one for himself, in imitation of the future redemption, give his own blood," meaning the blood of circumcision.

3. It may be further observed, that Origen, by the world,sometimes understands the church,for which, he frequently says, Christ suffered and died. The apostle Paul says, (2 Cor. 5:19), that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself;where, by the world,is not to be understood the whole world, that is, those who are in the whole world, as Origen in one place[9] observes; and in another place[10] having cited the same passage, adds, "the sin of which world Christ has took away, peri gar tou kosmou thv ekklhsiav ‘for of the world of the church is this word written;'" and immediately subjoins John 1:29, as to be understood in the same sense. And elsewhere,[11] in the same work, he not only mentions it as the sense of a certain expositor, that by the world is meant the church, which is the ornament and beauty of the world, an inquires whether it may be called so, and also light, but affirms it to be so, legesqw toinon h ekklhsia kosmov, "therefore," says he, "let the church be called the world because it is enlightened by the Savior; and cites several passages of Scripture, as Matthew 5:14, John 1:29, 1 John 2:2, 1 Timothy 4:10, to be interpreted in the same way And it is easy to observe, that Origen often speaks of Christ's suffering and dying for the church: in one place,[12] speaking of Christ and the church as bridegroom and bride, he says "First the bride prays, and immediately, in the midst of her prayers she is heard, she sees the bridegroom present, she sees the virgins joined in company with him. Moreover the Bridegroom answers her, and after his words, dum ille pro ejus patitur salute,‘while he suffers for her salvation,' the companions answer, until the bridegroom is in bed, and rises from suffering, they will make some ornaments for the bride." And in the same work[13] on these words, Arise, fair one,he thus comments; "Why does he say, arise? Why hasten? I have sustained for thee the rage of tempests; I have received the floods which were due to thee; my soul is made sorrowful unto death for thee." In another place he says,[14] "The church of Christ is strengthened by the grace of him who was crucified for her." And elsewhere[15] we call the fat, that is, of the sacrifices, the life of Christ, which is the church of his friends, pro quibus animam suam posuit,"for whom he laid down his life." Again,[16] "He has delivered him for all, not only for the saints, not only for the great ones, but the Father delivered his own Son for them who are altogether the least in the church."

4. Origen sometimes calls the world for whom Christ died, the believing world, and the people of believers,and describes those for whom he suffered by such distinguishing characters: his words in one place are these,[17] "If any one is ashamed of the cross of Christ, he is ashamed of that economy by which these (powers) are triumphant over; for he that knows and believes these things ought to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which Christ being stauroumenou to kosmo to pisteuonti, ‘crucified for the world that believes,' the principalities are made a show of, and triumphed over." And in another place,[18] "because he (Christ) took upon him the sins tou laou ton pisteuonton els auton,‘of the people of those that believe in him,' he often says, what he does in Psalm 22:1, and 64:5." And elsewhere,[19] speaking of Christ, he says, "This is the live goat sent into the wilderness; and this is the goat which is offered to the Lord a sacrifice to expiate sin; and he hath made a true propitiation in himself, credentibus populis,‘for the believing people.'" Again,[20] "The Son of God is come, and hath given himself a ransom; that is, he hath delivered himself for enemies, and for them that thirst he hath shed his blood; el haec est credentibus facta redemptio,"and this becomes redemption to them that believe." He interprets that text[21] in Matthew 20:21, "And to give his life a ransom for many," thus, and pollon ton pisteusanton eis auton, "for the many that believed on him." He adds indeed, "And by way of hypothesis, if all believe in him, he gave his life a ransom for all." To which may be added the following passage, "The true purification was not before, but in the Passover, when Jesus died uper ton agnizomenon,‘for them that are purified,' as the Lamb of God, and took away the sin of the world."[22] Monsieur Daille[23] next cites a passage as from Gregory of Neocaesarea, a hearer of Origen, but the work from whence it is taken is judged by learned men to be none of his;[24] and this writer himself seems to question it, since he adds, "or whoever is the author of the anathemas which are carried about under his name." And besides, this testimony only shows, that Christ is the "Savior of the world, and the light of the world;" which nobody denies, for they are the express words of the Scripture; but the question is, in what sense these phrases are to be understood.


[1] Vide Hieron. ad Avitum, tom. 2. p. 52.

[2] Vide Comment. in Romans 1. 5, fol. 179, B; et Comment. In Joannem, p. 38.

[3] Apol. p. 765, etc.

[4] Leviticus homil. 3, fol. 57, D.

[5] In Joshua, homil: 3. fol. 152, 153, L.

[6] Comment. in Joan. 146.

[7] In Numbers homil. 24, fol. 138, C.

[8] In Romans 1:2, fol. 148, B.

[9] Comment. in Genesis p. 17.

[10] Ibid. in Joan. p. 5.

[11] Ibid. p. 147.

[12] In Cantic: homil. 1, apud Hieron. tom. 3. fol. 57. G.

[13] Ibid. hom. 2, fol. 61. B.

[14] In Genesis homil. 3, fol. 8, E.

[15] In Leviticus homil. 5, fol. 67, A.

[16] In Romans 1:7, fol. 193, A.

[17] In Matthew p. 283.

[18] In Joan. p. 73.

[19] In Leviticus homil. 10, fol. 82, D.

[20] In Romans 1:3, fol. 155, F.

[21] Com. in Matthew p. 422.

[22] Joan. p. 372.

[23] Apolog. p. 768.

[24] Vide Rivet. Critic. Sacr. 1. 2, c. 16, p. 220; Fabricii Bibl. Graec. 1. 5, c. l, s. 28, p. 252.