New Advent
 Home   Encyclopedia   Summa   Fathers   Bible   Library 
 A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z 
Home > Summa Theologica > Third Part > Question 7

Question 7. The grace of Christ as an individual man

  1. Was there any habitual grace in the soul of Christ?
  2. Were there virtues in Christ?
  3. Did He have faith?
  4. Did He have hope?
  5. Were there the gifts in Christ?
  6. Was the gift of fear in Christ?
  7. Were there any gratuitous graces in Christ?
  8. Was there prophecy in Christ?
  9. Was there the fulness of grace in Him?
  10. Was such fulness proper to Christ?
  11. Was the grace of Christ infinite?
  12. Could it have been increased?
  13. How this grace stood towards the union

Article 1. Whether in the Soul of Christ there was any habitual grace?

Objection 1. It would seem there was no habitual grace in the soul assumed by the Word. For grace is a certain partaking of the Godhead by the rational creature, according to 2 Peter 1:4: "By Whom He hath given us most great and precious promises, that by these you may be made partakers of the Divine Nature." Now Christ is God not by participation, but in truth. Therefore there was no habitual grace in Him.

Objection 2. Further, grace is necessary to man, that he may operate well, according to 1 Corinthians 15:10: "I have labored more abundantly than all they; yet not I, but the grace of God with me"; and in order that he may reach eternal life, according to Romans 6:23: "The grace of God (is) life everlasting." Now the inheritance of everlasting life was due to Christ by the mere fact of His being the natural Son of God; and by the fact of His being the Word, by Whom all things were made, He had the power of doing all things well. Therefore His human nature needed no further grace beyond union with the Word.

Objection 3. Further, what operates as an instrument does not need a habit for its own operations, since habits are rooted in the principal agent. Now the human nature in Christ was "as the instrument of the Godhead," as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 15). Therefore there was no need of habitual grace in Christ.

On the contrary, It is written (Isaiah 11:2): "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him"--which (Spirit), indeed, is said to be in man by habitual grace, as was said above (I, 8, 3; I, 43, 3,6). Therefore there was habitual grace in Christ.

I answer that, It is necessary to suppose habitual grace in Christ for three reasons. First, on account of the union of His soul with the Word of God. For the nearer any recipient is to an inflowing cause, the more does it partake of its influence. Now the influx of grace is from God, according to Psalm 83:12: "The Lord will give grace and glory." And hence it was most fitting that His soul should receive the influx of Divine grace. Secondly, on account of the dignity of this soul, whose operations were to attain so closely to God by knowledge and love, to which it is necessary for human nature to be raised by grace. Thirdly, on account of the relation of Christ to the human race. For Christ, as man, is the "Mediator of God and men," as is written, 1 Timothy 2:5; and hence it behooved Him to have grace which would overflow upon others, according to John 1:16: "And of His fulness we have all received, and grace for grace."

Reply to Objection 1. Christ is the true God in Divine Person and Nature. Yet because together with unity of person there remains distinction of natures, as stated above (2, 1,2), the soul of Christ. is not essentially Divine. Hence it behooves it to be Divine by participation, which is by grace.

Reply to Objection 2. To Christ, inasmuch as He is the natural Son of God, is due an eternal inheritance, which is the uncreated beatitude through the uncreated act of knowledge and love of God, i.e. the same whereby the Father knows and loves Himself. Now the soul was not capable of this act, on account of the difference of natures. Hence it behooved it to attain to God by a created act of fruition which could not be without grace. Likewise, inasmuch as He was the Word of God, He had the power of doing all things well by the Divine operation. And because it is necessary to admit a human operation, distinct from the Divine operation, as will be shown (19, 1), it was necessary for Him to have habitual grace, whereby this operation might be perfect in Him.

Reply to Objection 3. The humanity of Christ is the instrument of the Godhead--not, indeed, an inanimate instrument, which nowise acts, but is merely acted upon; but an instrument animated by a rational soul, which is so acted upon as to act. And hence the nature of the action demanded that he should have habitual grace.

Article 2. Whether in Christ there were virtues?

Objection 1. It would seem that in Christ there were no virtues. For Christ had the plenitude of grace. Now grace is sufficient for every good act, according to 2 Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for thee." Therefore there were no virtues in Christ.

Objection 2. Further, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. vii, 1), virtue is contrasted with a "certain heroic or godlike habit" which is attributed to godlike men. But this belongs chiefly to Christ. Therefore Christ had not virtues, but something higher than virtue.

Objection 3. Further, as was said above (I-II, 65, 1,2), all the virtues are bound together. But it was not becoming for Christ to have all the virtues, as is clear in the case of liberality and magnificence, for these have to do with riches, which Christ spurned, according to Matthew 8:20: "The Son of man hath not where to lay His head." Temperance and continence also regard wicked desires, from which Christ was free. Therefore Christ had not the virtues.

On the contrary, on Psalm 1:2, "But His will is in the law of the Lord," a gloss says: "This refers to Christ, Who is full of all good." But a good quality of the mind is a virtue. Therefore Christ was full of all virtue.

I answer that, As was said above (I-II, 110, 3,4), as grace regards the essence of the soul, so does virtue regard its power. Hence it is necessary that as the powers of the soul flow from its essence, so do the virtues flow from grace. Now the more perfect a principle is, the more it impresses its effects. Hence, since the grace of Christ was most perfect, there flowed from it, in consequence, the virtues which perfect the several powers of the soul for all the soul's acts; and thus Christ had all the virtues.

Reply to Objection 1. Grace suffices a man for all whereby he is ordained to beatitude; nevertheless, it effects some of these by itself--as to make him pleasing to God, and the like; and some others through the medium of the virtues which proceed from grace.

Reply to Objection 2. A heroic or godlike habit only differs from virtue commonly so called by a more perfect mode, inasmuch as one is disposed to good in a higher way than is common to all. Hence it is not hereby proved that Christ had not the virtues, but that He had them most perfectly beyond the common mode. In this sense Plotinus gave to a certain sublime degree of virtue the name of "virtue of the purified soul" (cf. I-II, 61, 5).

Reply to Objection 3. Liberality and magnificence are praiseworthy in regard to riches, inasmuch as anyone does not esteem wealth to the extent of wishing to retain it, so as to forego what ought to be done. But he esteems them least who wholly despises them, and casts them aside for love of perfection. And hence by altogether contemning all riches, Christ showed the highest kind of liberality and magnificence; although He also performed the act of liberality, as far as it became Him, by causing to be distributed to the poor what was given to Himself. Hence, when our Lord said to Judas (John 13:21), "That which thou dost do quickly," the disciples understood our Lord to have ordered him to give something to the poor. But Christ had no evil desires whatever, as will be shown (15, 1,2); yet He was not thereby prevented from having temperance, which is the more perfect in man, as he is without evil desires. Hence, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. vii, 9), the temperate man differs from the continent in this--that the temperate has not the evil desires which the continent suffers. Hence, taking continence in this sense, as the Philosopher takes it, Christ, from the very fact that He had all virtue, had not continence, since it is not a virtue, but something less than virtue.

Article 3. Whether in Christ there was faith?

Objection 1. It would seem that there was faith in Christ. For faith is a nobler virtue than the moral virtues, e.g. temperance and liberality. Now these were in Christ, as stated above (Article 2). Much more, therefore, was there faith in Him.

Objection 2. Further, Christ did not teach virtues which He had not Himself, according to Acts 1:1: "Jesus began to do and to teach." But of Christ it is said (Hebrews 12:2) that He is "the author and finisher of our faith." Therefore there was faith in Him before all others.

Objection 3. Further, everything imperfect is excluded from the blessed. But in the blessed there is faith; for on Romans 1:17, "the justice of God is revealed therein from faith to faith," a gloss says: "From the faith of words and hope to the faith of things and sight." Therefore it would seem that in Christ also there was faith, since it implies nothing imperfect.

On the contrary, It is written (Hebrews 11:1): "Faith is the evidence of things that appear not." But there was nothing that did not appear to Christ, according to what Peter said to Him (John 21:17): "Thou knowest all things." Therefore there was no faith in Christ.

I answer that, As was said above (II-II, 1, 4), the object of faith is a Divine thing not seen. Now the habit of virtue, as every other habit, takes its species from the object. Hence, if we deny that the Divine thing was not seen, we exclude the very essence of faith. Now from the first moment of His conception Christ saw God's Essence fully, as will be made clear (34, 1). Hence there could be no faith in Him.

Reply to Objection 1. Faith is a nobler virtue than the moral virtues, seeing that it has to do with nobler matter; nevertheless, it implies a certain defect with regard to that matter; and this defect was not in Christ. And hence there could be no faith in Him, although the moral virtues were in Him, since in their nature they imply no defect with regard to their matter.

Reply to Objection 2. The merit of faith consists in this--that man through obedience assents to what things he does not see, according to Romans 1:5: "For obedience to the faith in all nations for His name." Now Christ had most perfect obedience to God, according to Philippians 2:8: "Becoming obedient unto death." And hence He taught nothing pertaining to merit which He did not fulfil more perfectly Himself.

Reply to Objection 3. As a gloss says in the same place, faith is that "whereby such things as are not seen are believed." But faith in things seen is improperly so called, and only after a certain similitude with regard to the certainty and firmness of the assent.

Article 4. Whether in Christ there was hope?

Objection 1. It would seem that there was hope in Christ. For it is said in the Person of Christ (Psalm 30:1): "In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped." But the virtue of hope is that whereby a man hopes in God. Therefore the virtue of hope was in Christ.

Objection 2. Further, hope is the expectation of the bliss to come, as was shown above (II-II, 17, 5, ad 3). But Christ awaited something pertaining to bliss, viz. the glorifying of His body. Therefore it seems there was hope in Him.

Objection 3. Further, everyone may hope for what pertains to his perfection, if it has yet to come. But there was something still to come pertaining to Christ's perfection, according to Ephesians 4:12: "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building up [Douay: 'edifying'] of the body of Christ." Hence it seems that it befitted Christ to have hope.

On the contrary, It is written (Romans 8:24): "What a man seeth, why doth he hope for?" Thus it is clear that as faith is of the unseen, so also is hope. But there was no faith in Christ, as was said above (Article 1): neither, consequently, was there hope.

I answer that, As it is of the nature of faith that one assents to what one sees not, so is it of the nature of hope that one expects what as yet one has not; and as faith, forasmuch as it is a theological virtue, does not regard everything unseen, but only God; so likewise hope, as a theological virtue, has God Himself for its object, the fruition of Whom man chiefly expects by the virtue of hope; yet, in consequence, whoever has the virtue of hope may expect the Divine aid in other things, even as he who has the virtue of faith believes God not only in Divine things, but even in whatsoever is divinely revealed. Now from the beginning of His conception Christ had the Divine fruition fully, as will be shown (34, 4), and hence he had not the virtue of hope. Nevertheless He had hope as regards such things as He did not yet possess, although He had not faith with regard to anything; because, although He knew all things fully, wherefore faith was altogether wanting to Him, nevertheless He did not as yet fully possess all that pertained to His perfection, viz. immortality and glory of the body, which He could hope for.

Reply to Objection 1. This is said of Christ with reference to hope, not as a theological virtue, but inasmuch as He hoped for some other things not yet possessed, as was said above.

Reply to Objection 2. The glory of the body does not pertain to beatitude as being that in which beatitude principally consists, but by a certain outpouring from the soul's glory, as was said above (I-II, 4, 6). Hence hope, as a theological virtue, does not regard the bliss of the body but the soul's bliss, which consists in the Divine fruition.

Reply to Objection 3. The building up of the church by the conversion of the faithful does not pertain to the perfection of Christ, whereby He is perfect in Himself, but inasmuch as it leads others to a share of His perfection. And because hope properly regards what is expected by him who hopes, the virtue of hope cannot properly be said to be in Christ, because of the aforesaid reason.

Article 5. Whether in Christ there were the gifts?

Objection 1. It would seem that the gifts were not in Christ. For, as is commonly said, the gifts are given to help the virtues. But what is perfect in itself does not need an exterior help. Therefore, since the virtues of Christ were perfect, it seems there were no gifts in Him.

Objection 2. Further, to give and to receive gifts would not seem to belong to the same; since to give pertains to one who has, and to receive pertains to one who has not. But it belongs to Christ to give gifts according to Psalm 67:19. "Thou hast given gifts to men [Vulgate: 'Thou hast received gifts in men']." Therefore it was not becoming that Christ should receive gifts of the Holy Ghost.

Objection 3. Further, four gifts would seem to pertain to the contemplation of earth, viz. wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and counsel which pertains to prudence; hence the Philosopher (Ethic. vi, 3) enumerates these with the intellectual virtues. But Christ had the contemplation of heaven. Therefore He had not these gifts.

On the contrary, It is written (Isaiah 4:1): "Seven women shall take hold of one man": on which a gloss says: "That is, the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost shall take hold of Christ."

I answer that, As was said above (I-II, 68, 1), the gifts, properly, are certain perfections of the soul's powers, inasmuch a[9] these have a natural aptitude to be moved by the Holy Ghost, according to Luke 4:1: "And Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the desert." Hence it is manifest that in Christ the gifts were in a pre-eminent degree.

Reply to Objection 1. What is perfect in the order of its nature needs to be helped by something of a higher nature; as man, however perfect, needs to be helped by God. And in this way the virtues, which perfect the powers of the soul, as they are controlled by reason, no matter how perfect they are, need to be helped by the gifts, which perfect the soul's powers, inasmuch as these are moved by the Holy Ghost.

Reply to Objection 2. Christ is not a recipient and a giver of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, in the same respect; for He gives them as God and receives them as man. Hence Gregory says (Moral. ii) that "the Holy Ghost never quitted the human nature of Christ, from Whose Divine nature He proceedeth."

Reply to Objection 3. In Christ there was not only heavenly knowledge, but also earthly knowledge, as will be said (15, 10). And yet even in heaven the gifts of the Holy Ghost will still exist, in a certain manner, as was said above (I-II, 68, 6).

Article 6. Whether in Christ there was the gift of fear?

Objection 1. It would seem that in Christ there was not the gift of fear. For hope would seem to be stronger than fear; since the object of hope is goodness, and of fear, evil. as was said above (I-II, 40, 1; I-II, 42, 1). But in Christ there was not the virtue of hope, as was said above (Article 4). Hence, likewise, there was not the gift of fear in Him.

Objection 2. Further, by the gift of fear we fear either to be separated from God, which pertains to "chaste" fear--or to be punished by Him, which pertains to "servile" fear, as Augustine says (In Joan. Tract. ix). But Christ did not fear being separated from God by sin, nor being punished by Him on account of a fault, since it was impossible for Him to sin, as will be said (15, 1,2). Now fear is not of the impossible. Therefore in Christ there was not the gift of fear.

Objection 3. Further, it is written (1 John 4:18) that "perfect charity casteth out fear." But in Christ there was most perfect charity, according to Ephesians 3:19: "The charity of Christ which surpasseth all knowledge." Therefore in Christ there was not the gift of fear.

On the contrary, It is written (Isaiah 11:3): "And He shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord."

I answer that, As was said above (I-II, 42, 1), fear regards two objects, one of which is an evil causing terror; the other is that by whose power an evil can be inflicted, as we fear the king inasmuch as he has the power of putting to death. Now whoever can hurt would not be feared unless he had a certain greatness of might, to which resistance could not easily be offered; for what we easily repel we do not fear. And hence it is plain that no one is feared except for some pre-eminence. And in this way it is said that in Christ there was the fear of God, not indeed as it regards the evil of separation from God by fault, nor as it regards the evil of punishment for fault; but inasmuch as it regards the Divine pre-eminence, on account of which the soul of Christ, led by the Holy Spirit, was borne towards God in an act of reverence. Hence it is said (Hebrews 5:7) that in all things "he was heard for his reverence." For Christ as man had this act of reverence towards God in a fuller sense and beyond all others. And hence Scripture attributes to Him the fulness of the fear of the Lord.

Reply to Objection 1. The habits of virtues and gifts regard goodness properly and of themselves; but evil, consequently; since it pertains to the nature of virtue to render acts good, as is said Ethic. ii, 6. And hence the nature of the gift of fear regards not that evil which fear is concerned with, but the pre-eminence of that goodness, viz. of God, by Whose power evil may be inflicted. on the other hand, hope, as a virtue, regards not only the author of good, but even the good itself, as far as it is not yet possessed. And hence to Christ, Who already possessed the perfect good of beatitude, we do not attribute the virtue of hope, but we do attribute the gift of fear.

Reply to Objection 2. This reason is based on fear in so far as it regards the evil object.

Reply to Objection 3. Perfect charity casts out servile fear, which principally regards punishment. But this kind of fear was not in Christ.

Article 7. Whether the gratuitous graces were in Christ?

Objection 1. It would seem that the gratuitous graces were not in Christ. For whoever has anything in its fulness, to him it does not pertain to have it by participation. Now Christ has grace in its fulness, according to John 1:14: "Full of grace and truth." But the gratuitous graces would seem to be certain participations, bestowed distributively and particularly upon divers subjects, according to 1 Corinthians 12:4: "Now there are diversities of graces." Therefore it would seem that there were no gratuitous graces in Christ.

Objection 2. Further, what is due to anyone would not seem to be gratuitously bestowed on him. But it was due to the man Christ that He should abound in the word of wisdom and knowledge, and to be mighty in doing wonderful works and the like, all of which pertain to gratuitous graces: since He is "the power of God and the wisdom of God," as is written 1 Corinthians 1:24. Therefore it was not fitting for Christ to have the gratuitous graces.

Objection 3. Further, gratuitous graces are ordained to the benefit of the faithful. But it does not seem that a habit which a man does not use is for the benefit of others, according to Sirach 20:32: "Wisdom that is hid and treasure that is not seen: what profit is there in them both?" Now we do not read that Christ made use of these gratuitously given graces, especially as regards the gift of tongues. Therefore not all the gratuitous graces were in Christ.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Ep. ad Dardan. cclxxxvii) that "as in the head are all the senses, so in Christ were all the graces."

I answer that, As was said above (I-II, 3, 1,4), the gratuitous graces are ordained for the manifestation of faith and spiritual doctrine. For it behooves him who teaches to have the means of making his doctrine clear; otherwise his doctrine would be useless. Now Christ is the first and chief teacher of spiritual doctrine and faith, according to Hebrews 2:3-4: "Which having begun to be declared by the Lord was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him, God also bearing them witness by signs and wonders." Hence it is clear that all the gratuitous graces were most excellently in Christ, as in the first and chief teacher of the faith.

Reply to Objection 1. As sanctifying grace is ordained to meritorious acts both interior and exterior, so likewise gratuitous grace is ordained to certain exterior acts manifestive of the faith, as the working of miracles, and the like. Now of both these graces Christ had the fulness. since inasmuch as His soul was united to the Godhead, He had the perfect power of effecting all these acts. But other saints who are moved by God as separated and not united instruments, receive power in a particular manner in order to bring about this or that act. And hence in other saints these graces are divided, but not in Christ.

Reply to Objection 2. Christ is said to be the power of God and the wisdom of God, inasmuch as He is the Eternal Son of God. But in this respect it does not pertain to Him to have grace, but rather to be the bestower of grace. but it pertains to Him in His human nature to have grace.

Reply to Objection 3. The gift of tongues was bestowed on the apostles, because they were sent to teach all nations; but Christ wished to preach personally only in the one nation of the Jews, as He Himself says (Matthew 15:24): "I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel"; and the Apostle says (Romans 15:8): "I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision." And hence it was not necessary for Him to speak several languages. Yet was a knowledge of all languages not wanting to Him, since even the secrets of hearts, of which all words are signs, were not hidden from Him, as will be shown (10, 2). Nor was this knowledge uselessly possessed. just as it is not useless to have a habit, which we do not use when there is no occasion.

Article 8. Whether in Christ there was the gift of prophecy?

Objection 1. It would seem that in Christ there was not the gift of prophecy. For prophecy implies a certain obscure and imperfect knowledge, according to Numbers 12:6: "If there be among you a prophet of the Lord, I will appear to him in a vision, or I will speak to him in a dream." But Christ had full and unveiled knowledge, much more than Moses, of whom it is subjoined that "plainly and not by riddles and figures doth he see God" (Numbers 6:8). Therefore we ought not to admit prophecy in Christ.

Objection 2. Further, as faith has to do with what is not seen, and hope with what is not possessed, so prophecy has to do with what is not present, but distant; for a prophet means, as it were, a teller of far-off things. But in Christ there could be neither faith nor hope, as was said above (3,4). Hence prophecy also ought not to be admitted in Christ.

Objection 3. Further, a prophet is in an inferior order to an angel; hence Moses, who was the greatest of the prophets, as was said above (II-II, 174, 4) is said (Acts 7:38) to have spoken with an angel in the desert. But Christ was "made lower than the angels," not as to the knowledge of His soul, but only as regards the sufferings of His body, as is shown Hebrews 2:9. Therefore it seems that Christ was not a prophet.

On the contrary, It is written of Him (Deuteronomy 18:15): "Thy God will raise up to thee a prophet of thy nation and of thy brethren," and He says of Himself (Matthew 13:57; John 4:44): "A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country."

I answer that, A prophet means, as it were, a teller or seer of far-off things, inasmuch as he knows and announces what things are far from men's senses, as Augustine says (Contra Faust. xvi, 18). Now we must bear in mind that no one can be called a prophet for knowing and announcing what is distant from others, with whom he is not. And this is clear in regard to place and time. For if anyone living in France were to know and announce to others living in France what things were transpiring in Syria, it would be prophetical, as Eliseus told Giezi (2 Kings 5:26) how the man had leaped down from his chariot to meet him. But if anyone living in Syria were to announce what things were there, it would not be prophetical. And the same appears in regard to time. For it was prophetical of Isaias to announce that Cyrus, King of the Persians, would rebuild the temple of God, as is clear from Isaiah 44:28. But it was not prophetical of Esdras to write it, in whose time it took place. Hence if God or angels, or even the blessed, know and announce what is beyond our knowing, this does not pertain to prophecy, since they nowise touch our state. Now Christ before His passion touched our state, inasmuch as He was not merely a "comprehensor," but a "wayfarer." Hence it was prophetical in Him to know and announce what was beyond the knowledge of other "wayfarers": and for this reason He is called a prophet.

Reply to Objection 1. These words do not prove that enigmatical knowledge, viz. by dream and vision, belongs to the nature of prophecy; but the comparison is drawn between other prophets, who saw Divine things in dreams and visions, and Moses, who saw God plainly and not by riddles, and who yet is called a prophet, according to Deuteronomy 24:10: "And there arose no more a prophet in Israel like unto Moses." Nevertheless it may be said that although Christ had full and unveiled knowledge as regards the intellective part, yet in the imaginative part He had certain similitudes, in which Divine things could be viewed, inasmuch as He was not only a "comprehensor," but a "wayfarer."

Reply to Objection 2. Faith regards such things as are unseen by him who believes; and hope, too, is of such things as are not possessed by the one who hopes; but prophecy is of such things as are beyond the sense of men, with whom the prophet dwells and converses in this state of life. And hence faith and hope are repugnant to the perfection of Christ's beatitude; but prophecy is not.

Reply to Objection 3. Angels, being "comprehensors," are above prophets, who are merely "wayfarers"; but not above Christ, Who was both a "comprehensor" and a "wayfarer."

Article 9. Whether in Christ there was the fulness of grace?

Objection 1. It would seem that in Christ there was not the fulness of grace. For the virtues flow from grace, as was said above (I-II, 110, 4). But in Christ there were not all the virtues; for there was neither faith nor hope in Him, as was shown above (3,4). Therefore in Christ there was not the fulness of grace.

Objection 2. Further, as is plain from what was said above (I-II, 111, 2), grace is divided into operating and cooperating. Now operating grace signifies that whereby the ungodly is justified, which has no place in Christ, Who never lay under any sin. Therefore in Christ there was not the fulness of grace.

Objection 3. Further, it is written (James 1:17): "Every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." But what comes thus is possessed partially, and not fully. Therefore no creature, not even the soul of Christ, can have the fulness of the gifts of grace.

On the contrary, It is written (John 1:14): "We saw Him [Vulgate: 'His glory'] full of grace and truth."

I answer that, To have fully is to have wholly and perfectly. Now totality and perfection can be taken in two ways: First as regards their "intensive" quantity; for instance, I may say that some man has whiteness fully, because he has as much of it as can naturally be in him; secondly, "as regards power"; for instance, if anyone be said to have life fully, inasmuch as he has it in all the effects or works of life; and thus man has life fully, but senseless animals or plants have not. Now in both these ways Christ has the fulness of grace. First, since He has grace in its highest degree, in the most perfect way it can be had. And this appears, first, from the nearness of Christ's soul to the cause of grace. For it was said above (Article 1) that the nearer a recipient is to the inflowing cause, the more it receives. And hence the soul of Christ, which is more closely united to God than all other rational creatures, receives the greatest outpouring of His grace. Secondly, in His relation to the effect. For the soul of Christ so received grace, that, in a manner, it is poured out from it upon others. And hence it behooved Him to have the greatest grace; as fire which is the cause of heat in other hot things, is of all things the hottest.

Likewise, as regards the "virtue" of grace, He had grace fully, since He had it for all the operations and effects of grace; and this, because grace was bestowed on Him, as upon a universal principle in the genus of such as have grace. Now the virtue of the first principle of a genus universally extends itself to all the effects of that genus; thus the force of the sun, which is the universal cause of generation, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. i), extends to all things that come under generation. Hence the second fulness of grace is seen in Christ inasmuch as His grace extends to all the effects of grace, which are the virtues, gifts, and the like.

Reply to Objection 1. Faith and hope signify effects of grace with certain defects on the part of the recipient of grace, inasmuch as faith is of the unseen, and hope of what is not yet possessed. Hence it was not necessary that in Christ, Who is the author of grace, there should be any defects such as faith and hope imply; but whatever perfection is in faith and hope was in Christ most perfectly; as in fire there are not all the modes of heat which are defective by the subject's defect, but whatever belongs to the perfection of heat.

Reply to Objection 2. It pertains essentially to operating grace to justify; but that it makes the ungodly to be just is accidental to it on the part of the subject, in which sin is found. Therefore the soul of Christ was justified by operating grace, inasmuch as it was rendered just and holy by it from the beginning of His conception; not that it was until then sinful, or even not just.

Reply to Objection 3. The fulness of grace is attributed to the soul of Christ according to the capacity of the creature and not by comparison with the infinite fulness of the Divine goodness.

Article 10. Whether the fulness of grace is proper to Christ?

Objection 1. It would seem that the fulness of grace is not proper to Christ. For what is proper to anyone belongs to him alone. But to be full of grace is attributed to some others; for it was said to the Blessed Virgin (Luke 1:28): "Hail, full of grace"; and again it is written (Acts 6:8): "Stephen, full of grace and fortitude." Therefore the fulness of grace is not proper to Christ.

Objection 2. Further, what can be communicated to others through Christ does not seem to be proper to Christ. But the fulness of grace can be communicated to others through Christ, since the Apostle says (Ephesians 3:19): "That you may be filled unto all the fulness of God." Therefore the fulness of grace is not proper to Christ.

Objection 3. Further, the state of the wayfarer seems to be proportioned to the state of the comprehensor. But in the state of the comprehensor there will be a certain fulness, since "in our heavenly country with its fulness of all good, although some things are bestowed in a pre-eminent way, yet nothing is possessed singularly," as is clear from Gregory (Hom. De Cent. Ovib.; xxxiv in Ev.). Therefore in the state of the comprehensor the fulness of grace is possessed by everyone, and hence the fulness of grace is not proper to Christ. on the contrary, The fulness of grace is attributed to Christ inasmuch as He is the only-begotten of the Father, according to John 1:14: "We saw Him [Vulgate: 'His glory'] as it were . . . the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." But to be the Only-begotten of the Father is proper to Christ. Therefore it is proper to Him to be full of grace and truth.

I answer that, The fulness of grace may be taken in two ways: First, on the part of grace itself, or secondly on the part of the one who has grace. Now on the part of grace itself there is said to be the fulness of grace when the limit of grace is attained, as to essence and power, inasmuch as grace is possessed in its highest possible excellence and in its greatest possible extension to all its effects. And this fulness of grace is proper to Christ. But on the part of the subject there is said to be the fulness of grace when anyone fully possesses grace according to his condition--whether as regards intensity, by reason of grace being intense in him, to the limit assigned by God, according to Ephesians 4:1: "But to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the giving of Christ"--or "as regards power," by reason of a man having the help of grace for all that belongs to his office or state, as the Apostle says (Ephesians 3:8): "To me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace . . . to enlighten all men." And this fulness of grace is not proper to Christ, but is communicated to others by Christ.

Reply to Objection 1. The Blessed Virgin is said to be full of grace, not on the part of grace itself--since she had not grace in its greatest possible excellence--nor for all the effects of grace; but she is said to be full of grace in reference to herself, i.e. inasmuch as she had sufficient grace for the state to which God had chosen her, i.e. to be the mother of His Only-begotten. So, too, Stephen is said to be full of grace, since he had sufficient grace to be a fit minister and witness of God, to which office he had been called. And the same must be said of others. Of these fulnesses one is greater than another, according as one is divinely pre-ordained to a higher or lower state.

Reply to Objection 2. The Apostle is there speaking of that fulness which has reference to the subject, in comparison with what man is divinely pre-ordained to; and this is either something in common, to which all the saints are pre-ordained, or something special, which pertains to the pre-eminence of some. And in this manner a certain fulness of grace is common to all the saints, viz. to have grace enough to merit eternal life, which consists in the enjoyment of God. And this is the fulness of grace which the Apostle desires for the faithful to whom he writes.

Reply to Objection 3. These gifts which are in common in heaven, viz.: vision, possession and fruition, and the like, have certain gifts corresponding to them in this life which are also common to all the saints. Yet there are certain prerogatives of saints, both in heaven and on earth, which are not possessed by all.

Article 11. Whether the grace of Christ is infinite?

Objection 1. It would seem that Christ's grace is infinite. For everything immeasurable is infinite. But the grace of Christ is immeasurable; since it is written (John 3:34): "For God doth not give the Spirit by measure to His Son ['To His Son' is lacking in the Vulgate, namely Christ." Therefore the grace of Christ is infinite.

Objection 2. Further, an infinite effect betokens an infinite power which can only spring from an infinite essence. But the effect of Christ's grace is infinite, since it extends to the salvation of the whole human race; for He is the propitiation for our sins . . . and for those of the whole world, as is said (1 John 2:2). Therefore the grace of Christ is infinite.

Objection 3. Further, every finite thing by addition can attain to the quantity of any other finite thing. Therefore if the grace of Christ is finite the grace of any other man could increase to such an extent as to reach to an equality with Christ's grace, against what is written (Job 28:17): "Gold nor crystal cannot equal it," as Gregory expounds it (Moral. xviii). Therefore the grace of Christ is infinite.

On the contrary, Grace is something created in the soul. But every created thing is finite, according to Wisdom 11:21: "Thou hast ordered all things in measure and number and weight." Therefore the grace of Christ is not infinite.

I answer that, As was made clear above (Question 2, Article 10), a twofold grace may be considered in Christ; the first being the grace of union, which, as was said (6, 6), is for Him to be personally united to the Son of God, which union has been bestowed gratis on the human nature; and it is clear that this grace is infinite, as the Person of God is infinite. The second is habitual grace; which may be taken in two ways: first as a being, and in this way it must be a finite being, since it is in the soul of Christ, as in a subject, and Christ's soul is a creature having a finite capacity; hence the being of grace cannot be infinite, since it cannot exceed its subject. Secondly it may be viewed in its specific nature of grace; and thus the grace of Christ can be termed infinite, since it is not limited, i.e. it has whatsoever can pertain to the nature of grace, and what pertains to the nature of grace is not bestowed on Him in a fixed measure; seeing that "according to the purpose" of God to Whom it pertains to measure grace, it is bestowed on Christ's soul as on a universal principle for bestowing grace on human nature, according to Ephesians 1:5-6, "He hath graced us in His beloved Son"; thus we might say that the light of the sun is infinite, not indeed in being, but in the nature of light, as having whatever can pertain to the nature of light.

Reply to Objection 1. When it is said that the Father "doth not give the Spirit by measure," it may be expounded of the gift which God the Father from all eternity gave the Son, viz. the Divine Nature, which is an infinite gift. Hence the comment of a certain gloss: "So that the Son may be as great as the Father is." Or again, it may be referred to the gift which is given the human nature, to be united to the Divine Person, and this also is an infinite gift. Hence a gloss says on this text: "As the Father begot a full and perfect Word, it is united thus full and perfect to human nature." Thirdly, it may be referred to habitual grace, inasmuch as the grace of Christ extends to whatever belongs to grace. Hence Augustine expounding this (Tract. xiv in Joan.) says: "The division of the gifts is a measurement. For to one indeed by the Spirit is given the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge." But Christ the giver does not receive by measure.

Reply to Objection 2. The grace of Christ has an infinite effect, both because of the aforesaid infinity of grace, and because of the unity [Perhaps we should read 'infinity'--Ed.] of the Divine Person, to Whom Christ's soul is united.

Reply to Objection 3. The lesser can attain by augment to the quantity of the greater, when both have the same kind of quantity. But the grace of any man is compared to the grace of Christ as a particular to a universal power; hence as the force of fire, no matter how much it increases, can never equal the sun's strength, so the grace of a man, no matter how much it increases, can never equal the grace of Christ.

Article 12. Whether the grace of Christ could increase?

Objection 1. It would seem that the grace of Christ could increase. For to every finite thing addition can be made. But the grace of Christ was finite. Therefore it could increase.

Objection 2. Further, it is by Divine power that grace is increased, according to 2 Corinthians 9:8: "And God is able to make all grace abound in you." But the Divine power, being infinite, is confined by no limits. Therefore it seems that the grace of Christ could have been greater.

Objection 3. Further, it is written (Luke 2:52) that the child "Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace with God and men." Therefore the grace of Christ could increase.

On the contrary, It is written (John 1:14): "We saw Him [Vulgate: 'His glory'] as it were . . . the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." But nothing can be or can be thought greater than that anyone should be the Only-begotten of the Father. Therefore no greater grace can be or can be thought than that of which Christ was full.

I answer that, For a form to be incapable of increase happens in two ways: First on the part of the subject; secondly, on the part of the form itself. On the part of the subject, indeed, when the subject reaches the utmost limit wherein it partakes of this form, after its own manner, e.g. if we say that air cannot increase in heat, when it has reached the utmost limit of heat which can exist in the nature of air, although there may be greater heat in actual existence, viz. the heat of fire. But on the part of the form, the possibility of increase is excluded when a subject reaches the utmost perfection which this form can have by nature, e.g. if we say the heat of fire cannot be increased because there cannot be a more perfect grade of heat than that to which fire attains. Now the proper measure of grace, like that of other forms, is determined by the Divine wisdom, according to Wisdom 11:21: "Thou hast ordered all things in number, weight and measure." And it is with reference to its end that a measure is set to every form. as there is no greater gravity than that of the earth, because there is no lower place than that of the earth. Now the end of grace is the union of the rational creature with God. But there can neither be nor be thought a greater union of the rational creature with God than that which is in the Person. And hence the grace of Christ reached the highest measure of grace. Hence it is clear that the grace of Christ cannot be increased on the part of grace. But neither can it be increased on the part of the subject, since Christ as man was a true and full comprehensor from the first instant of His conception. Hence there could have been no increase of grace in Him, as there could be none in the rest of the blessed, whose grace could not increase, seeing that they have reached their last end. But as regards men who are wholly wayfarers, their grace can be increased not merely on the part of the form, since they have not attained the highest degree of grace, but also on the part of the subject, since they have not yet attained their end.

Reply to Objection 1. If we speak of mathematical quantity, addition can be made to any finite quantity, since there is nothing on the part of finite quantity which is repugnant to addition. But if we speak of natural quantity, there may be repugnance on the part of the form to which a determined quantity is due, even as other accidents are determined. Hence the Philosopher says (De Anima ii, 41) that "there is naturally a term of all things, and a fixed limit of magnitude and increase." And hence to the quantity of the whole there can be no addition. And still more must we suppose a term in the forms themselves, beyond which they may not go. Hence it is not necessary that addition should be capable of being made to Christ's grace, although it is finite in its essence.

Reply to Objection 2. Although the Divine power can make something greater and better than the habitual grace of Christ, yet it could not make it to be ordained to anything greater than the personal union with the Only-begotten Son of the Father; and to this union, by the purpose of the Divine wisdom, the measure of grace is sufficient.

Reply to Objection 3. Anyone may increase in wisdom and grace in two ways. First inasmuch as the very habits of wisdom and grace are increased; and in this way Christ did not increase. Secondly, as regards the effects, i.e. inasmuch as they do wiser and greater works; and in this way Christ increased in wisdom and grace even as in age, since in the course of time He did more perfect works, to prove Himself true man, both in the things of God, and in the things of man.

Article 13. Whether the habitual grace of Christ followed after the union?

Objection 1. It would seem that the habitual grace did not follow after the union. For nothing follows itself. But this habitual grace seems to be the same as the grace of union; for Augustine says (De Praedest. Sanct. xv): "Every man becomes a Christian from the beginning of his belief, by the same grace whereby this Man from His beginning became Christ"; and of these two the first pertains to habitual grace and the second to the grace of union. Therefore it would seem that habitual grace did not follow upon the union.

Objection 2. Further, disposition precedes perfection, if not in time, at least in thought. But the habitual grace seems to be a disposition in human nature for the personal union. Therefore it seems that the habitual grace did not follow but rather preceded the union.

Objection 3. Further, the common precedes the proper. But habitual grace is common to Christ and other men; and the grace of union is proper to Christ. Therefore habitual grace is prior in thought to the union. Therefore it does not follow it.

On the contrary, It is written (Isaiah 42:1): "Behold my servant, I will uphold Him . . . "and farther on: "I have given My Spirit upon Him"; and this pertains to the gift of habitual grace. Hence it remains that the assumption of human nature to the unity of the Person preceded the habitual grace of Christ.

I answer that, The union of the human nature with the Divine Person, which, as we have said above (2, 10; 6, 6), is the grace of union, precedes the habitual grace of Christ, not in order of time, but by nature and in thought; and this for a triple reason: First, with reference to the order of the principles of both. For the principle of the union is the Person of the Son assuming human nature, Who is said to be sent into the world, inasmuch as He assumed human nature; but the principle of habitual grace, which is given with charity, is the Holy Ghost, Who is said to be sent inasmuch as He dwells in the mind by charity. Now the mission of the Son is prior, in the order of nature, to the mission of the Holy Ghost, even as in the order of nature the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Son, and love from wisdom. Hence the personal union, according to which the mission of the Son took place, is prior in the order of nature to habitual grace, according to which the mission of the Holy Ghost takes place. Secondly, the reason of this order may be taken from the relation of grace to its cause. For grace is caused in man by the presence of the Godhead, as light in the air by the presence of the sun. Hence it is written (Ezekiel 43:2): "The glory of the God of Israel came in by the way of the east . . . and the earth shone with His majesty." But the presence of God in Christ is by the union of human nature with the Divine Person. Hence the habitual grace of Christ is understood to follow this union, as light follows the sun. Thirdly, the reason of this union can be taken from the end of grace, since it is ordained to acting rightly, and action belongs to the suppositum and the individual. Hence action and, in consequence, grace ordaining thereto, presuppose the hypostasis which operates. Now the hypostasis did not exist in the human nature before the union, as is clear from 4, 2]. Therefore the grace of union precedes, in thought, habitual grace.

Reply to Objection 1. Augustine here means by grace the gratuitous will of God, bestowing benefits gratis; and hence every man is said to be made a Christian by the same grace whereby a Man became Christ, since both take place by the gratuitous will of God without merits.

Reply to Objection 2. As disposition in the order of generation precedes the perfection to which it disposes, in such things as are gradually perfected; so it naturally follows the perfection which one has already obtained; as heat, which was a disposition to the form of fire, is an effect flowing from the form of already existing fire. Now the human nature in Christ is united to the Person of the Word from the beginning without succession. Hence habitual grace is not understood to have preceded the union, but to have followed it; as a natural property. Hence, as Augustine says (Enchiridion xl): "Grace is in a manner natural to the Man Christ."

Reply to Objection 3. The common precedes the proper, when both are of the same genus; but when they are of divers genera, there is nothing to prevent the proper being prior to the common. Now the grace of union is not in the same genus as habitual grace; but is above all genera even as the Divine Person Himself. Hence there is nothing to prevent this proper from being before the common since it does not result from something being added to the common, but is rather the principle and source of that which is common.

The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
APPROBATIO ORDINIS
Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ

MARIÆ IMMACULATÆ - SEDI SAPIENTIÆ

Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

CONTACT US