Kenosis Links

Early Fathers and Thomas Aquinas

In Scripture the phrase, "emptied himself," occurs only in Philippians 2:7 and in Schaff's 38-volume series, about 100 locations of this phrase can be found. The views of the early Church fathers find their fullest expression in Augustine and Chrysostom.

St. Augustine, On the Trinity, Book 1, 22pp
From Schaff's NPNF, Series 1, vol. 3, book 1, Ch. 1. How could Christ be omniscient if He did not know the day or hour of His return? How could He be omnipresent if confined to a human body? Augustine's list of apparent Biblical arguments against the undiminished Deity of Christ is probably much longer than yours. Clue: Have you ever said that you will never die? Have you ever said that you will die someday? Just as we are body and soul, so Christ is flesh and Divinity. OUTLINE: (Abbreviated) 1. Book was written against those who assail the faith in the Trinity. 2. Manner of discourse, 3. Augustine's request of readers, 4. The Catholic doctrine of the Trinity, 5. Difficulties concerning the Trinity, 6. Equality of Members of the Godhead, 7. How the Son is less than the Father and than Himself, 8. Misunderstandings of Biblical texts regarding the Son's subjection to the father, 9. All 3 are sometimes understood in one person, 10. How Christ shall deliver up the kingdom, 11. How the son is both equal and less, 12. Things said according to the form of God and things said according to the form of a servant, 13. Diverse things said because of diverse nature of the hypostasis. See especially chapters 4, 6, 7, 11, & 12.

St. Chrysostom, Phil. 2:5-8, 6pp,
In my labors to defend orthodoxy nothing has been more inspiring than this homily. Every major heresy through the ages has stumbled over this passage. Chrysostom, as did other early fathers, found in the passage, not a rock of stumbling, but a gem through which to let the light of truth shine on key Christological issues. These truths, having endured all the heresies, are compared to a charioteer in competition. "For if when chariots contend in the horse race there is nothing so pleasing as when one of them dashes against and overthrows whole chariots with their drivers, and after throwing down many with the charioteers that stood thereon, drives by alone towards the goal, and the end of the course, and amid the applause and clamor which rises on all sides to heaven, with coursers winged as it were by that joy and that applause, sweeps over the whole ground; how much greater will the pleasure be here, when by the grace of God we overthrow at one and in a body the combinations and devilish machinations of all these heresies together with their charioteers?" The same theme is continued in Homily 7, 6pp which he expands to cover Phil 2:5-11.

The Early Church Fathers, 38Vol. Set
Nowhere in the writings of the early fathers is any intimation that Christ confined or limited the use of His divinity when He became a man. You can do your own search at this site to see what the early fathers thought. The phrase, "emptied himself," occurs only in Phil 2:7. In the early fathers' writings this phrase always appears in reference to this text. Other productive searches would include those on phrases such as "became flesh", "incarnation", "hypostasis", "kenosis", "trinity". I'd strongly recommend printing and studying Athanasius' classic, The Incarnation. Athanasius was the fourth century champion of Nicaea who suffered exile no less than five times in defense of orthodox Christianity. The Catholic Encyclopedia above has an inspiring article about him.

Aquinas, Summa Theologica III, 3, 1 "Whether it was fitting that God should become incarnate? 2pp
Aquinas answers four objections. Note especially Objection 4: "It is not becoming that He Who surpassed the greatest things (governing the universe) should be contained in the least... (the frail body of a babe)" Answer: "As Augustine replies... 'The Christian doctrine nowhere holds that God was so joined to human flesh as either to desert or lose, or to transfer and as it were, contract within this frail body, the care of governing the universe... God is great not in mass, but in might. Hence the greatness of His might feels no straits in narrow surroundings... Is it incredible that the abiding Word of God should be everywhere at once?"

"Emptied Himself" Links

In the pages linked below are links to all the occurrences of the phrase, "emptied himself," in Schaff's 38-volume work on the early Church fathers. This great historical work of the late 19th century is divided into three sets of volumes: The Ante-Nicene Fathers, The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers - Series 1, and The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers - Series 2.

The links are listed by file name. For example, ANF-02A is from Volume 2 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and NPN2-07A is from Series 2 of the Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers. The numbers after the hyphens are the volume numbers in the particular series. The letters at the ends of the file names, for example, "A" above, represent the first occurrence of the phrase in that volume. The letter "B" would represent the second occurrence, "C," the third, and so forth. The letter "T" represents the total of several other files combined into one file.

Searches for the phrase, "emptied Himself," were originally done on the Ages Digital Software. The passages were then located in Schaff's works at the Wheaton Ethereal Library, copied, pasted and then filed. The searches are thus highly accurate. Some of the entire books were downloaded from the ethereal library and word searches using the Windows "search" function confirmed the accuracy of the Ages software. The Ages software actually had about eight passages containing the phrase "emptied Himself" which were not in the ethereal library. These missing files were copied and filed with permission of Ages Software. Where copied you will see the name "Ages" in parenthases. The Ages Software, which sells for $69, besides being the greatest value in great Christian literature, is a must for any serious student of the early fathers and great leaders of the Church throughout history.

Ante-Nicene Fathers
Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers - Series 1
Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers - Series 2