Saturday, June 20, 2009

Oecumenius - Justification by Faith

Sometime earlier this week, I ran across a couple of quotes on the Puritan Board by a post-Nicene father by the name of Oecumenius. I'm not familiar with this particular figure, but according to the person who originally posted the quotes, Oecumenius was a 6th century Greek layman who wrote commentaries on Acts, the epistles, and on Revelation.

The following two quotes are interesting as they seen to have a bearing on the historical development of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. This first quote is a commentary on Romans 3:24-26. Here, Oecumenius writes:

Wherefore all that believe in Christ are freely justified, bringing their faith only with them. [1]

Greek text: Διὸ πάντες πιστεύσαντες εἰς Χριστὸν δωρεὰν δικαιοῦνται, τὸ πιστεύειν μόνον συνεισάγοντες [2]
This second quote presented here from Oecumenius is a commentary on James 2:23, wherein he writes:

Abraham is the image of someone who is justified by faith alone, since what he believed was credited to him as righteousness. But he is also approved because of his works, since he offered up his son Isaac on the altar. Of course he did not do this work by itself; in doing it, he remained firmly anchored in his faith, believing that through Isaac his seed would be multiplied until it was as numerous as the stars. [3]

Greek text: Της μὲν ἐκ μόνης πίστεως δικαιώσεως εἰκὼν ἦν Ἀβραὰμ, ὅτε πιστεύσας ἐλογίσθη αὐτοῦ εἷς δικαιοσύνην, τῆς δὲ ἔξ ἔργων, ὅτε τὸν υἱον ἀνενέγκας ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον. Καὶ γὰρ οὐ μόνον τὸ ἔργον ἐποίει, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῆς πίστεως οὐκ ἀπέστη, ὅτι ἐν Ἰσαὰκ μέλλει τὸ σπέρμα αὐτοῦ πληθύνειν ὡς τὰ ἄστρα [4]

There seems to be that one little caveat where he says "But he is also approved because of his works, since he offered up his son Isaac on the altar," though this can quite easily be explained by the proceeding sentence which explain that his works are the result of his faith.

In any case, since I'm not well acquainted with this particular church father and his writings, I don't have much else to add to this. I would like to see the rest of what Oecumenius has written, so that I may be able to gain a better idea of this person's beliefs and how they shape the doctrine of Justification by faith.

End Notes

1. Beveridge, William. Ecclesia Anglicana Ecclesia Catholica, 3rd edition. Oxford: University Press, 1847. p. 297.
2. Oecumenius. Pauli Epistola Ad Romanos. Caput V, PG 118:383.
3. Bray, Gerald. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000. p. 33.
4. Oecumenius. Jacobi Apostoli Epistola Catholica. Caput IV, PG 119:481.

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