|A treatise on Christian Perfection
St Gregory of Nyssa
[ 335 – 394 A.D. ]
Paul’s words show us the significance of Christ’s name, when he said that Christ is the power and wisdom of God. But he also called Christ: peace; the inaccessible light where God dwells; our sanctification and redemption; the great high priest; our Passover and our sacrifice of expiation; the brightness of glory; the very image of God’s substance; the creator of the ages; our spiritual food and drink; the rock and the water; the foundation of faith; the chief cornerstone; the image of the great and invisible God; the head of his body, the Church; the first-born of the new creation and the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep; the first-born from the dead, the first-born among many brothers; the mediator between God and man; the only-begotten Son crowned with honour and glory; the Lord of glory; the beginning of all things; the King of justice, but not only of justice but also the King of peace and the King of all things, the King whose kingdom is boundless.More than anyone, St Paul understood who Christ is and those requirements needed by the person named after him. Paul spoke of what he himself had accomplished and accurately imitated him in a manner to show the Lord expressed in his own person. By careful imitation Paul became a model so that it is no longer he who is perceived as living and speaking, but Christ who lives in him. Knowing his own blessings, that good man said You seek proof that Christ is speaking in me and, elsewhere, It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.
Paul gave all these names to Christ and many others too: so many that they cannot easily be counted. But they are all related, and if you understand the meaning of each of them on its own and put those meanings together then you will come to understand the full meaning of that one word “Christ” and that will show you – as far as the human soul is able to comprehend it – God’s inexpressible greatness.
The good Lord has granted us the privilege of sharing in this, the greatest, most divine and chief of all names, so that, honoured by the name of Christ, we are called “Christians.” So then we must ensure that in us are seen all the meanings of the name of Christ, so that our title is not false and meaningless but is borne out by our lives.