Part 4
Chapter 4—Of Efficacious  Grace

Section 16—Gregorius Nyssenus. A.D. 380.

Gregory of Nyssa attributes all virtue, and every good thing that is in us, or done by us, to God, and to his grace. Upon Song of Solomon 4:12, he has this note,[1] “Hence we learn, aretas de einai ten tou Theou phuteian, ‘that virtues are the plantation of God,' about which the intellective power of our souls being employed, is sealed with the character of truth, and formed with a habit to that which is good.” Yea, he asserts,[2] that, pan aretes onoma to kai noema eis ton Kurion ton areton anapheretai, “every name and thought of virtue is referred to the Lord of virtues.” And in another place he observes,[3] that “what food and drink is to the body, that is to the soul, to look to what is good, kai touto os alethos doma esti Theou to enatinozein Theo, ‘and this is truly the gift of God, to look intently unto God.” And a little after, “He that looks to that which is good, has the gift of God in all his labor; and this is it, always to look to that which is good.” And elsewhere,[4] having mentioned Galatians 2:20, he takes notice, that “the apostle says, that evangelical good works were not his, but he ascribes them to the grace of Christ, that dwelt in him.” And a little after, “The sum of all good things is subjection to God—and this is to be referred to him that lives in us; for if there is any thing excellent, it is his, kai ei ti anathon par autou, ‘and if there is any good thing, it is from him;' as says one of the prophets; if therefore subjection is excellent and good, it appears to be his, since his is every good thing, from whom the nature of all good comes.” To which agrees what he says in another place,[5] “Whatsoever is good, doreon meris esti, is a part of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Particularly he observes,[6] that “to be dead unto sin, and to be quickened by the Spirit, is doron Theou, the gift of God.” Regeneration is by him ascribed to the Spirit and grace of God. “This benefit,” says he,[7] speaking of regeneration, “the water does not give, for it would be above or higher than the whole creation, but the order of God, kai e tou Pneumatos epiphoitesis, and the coming of the Spirit upon us.” And in another place he says,[8] “They that are born of the Spirit are the children of God, for so expressly does he bear witness, to Agio Pneumati ton tou Theou teknon ten genesin, that the birth of the children of God is owing to the Holy Spirit, according to John 3:6. The change in regeneration he expresses thus;[9] We were once the trees of Lebanon but he hath made us a chariot for himself, metastoicheiosas tou xulou ten phusin dia tes palingenesias eis to argurion, transforming the nature of the word by regeneration into silver and gold, etc. This therefore must require an almighty power; and to this does Gregory ascribe it, when he says,[10] that Christ is made king over them, who are born and made kings, in whom is the rod of iron, that is, e atreptos dunamis, the immutable power, which breaking in pieces that which is earthly and frail, eis ten akeraton phurin metestoicheiosen, transforms into a nature incorrupt. And elsewhere speaking of the power and energy of God in regeneration, he says,[11] it is akataleptos kai atechnologetos, incomprehensible and inexpressible by art, easily producing whatsoever it will.”


[1] Greg. Nyss. in Cantic. homil. 9, p. 608, vol. 1:

[2] Ibid. in Eccl. homil. 8, p. 464.

[3] Ibid. p. 467.

[4] Ibid. Orat. In 1 Corinthians 15:28, p. 850, 851.

[5] Greg Nyss. contr. Eunom. 1. 1, p. 67, vol. 2.

[6] Ibid. in Eccl. hom. 6, p. 433, vol. 1.

[7] Ibid. in Baptism. Christ. p. 801, vol. 2.

[8] Ibid. contr. Eunom. 1. 1, p. 60.

[9] Ibid. in Cantic. homil. 7, p. 537, vol. 1.

[10] Ibid. in Psalm 100:8, p. 308.

[11] Ibid. in Baptism. Christ. p. 803, vol. 2.