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Gregory Nazianzen the Theologian In Defence of His Flight to Pontus and His Return, After His Ordination to the Priesthood, with an Exposition of the Character of the Priestly Office (Oration II), Complete

Translated by Ch. Browne and J. Swallow.

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3. For my present position is due, my good people, not to inexperience and ignorance, nay indeed, that I may boast myself a little, [2548] neither is it due to contempt for the divine laws and ordinances. Now, just as in the body there is [2549] one member [2550] which rules and, so to say, presides, while another is ruled over and subject; so too in the churches, God has ordained, according either to a law of equality, which admits of an order of merit, or to one of providence, by which He has knit all together, that those for whom such treatment is beneficial, should be subject to pastoral care and rule, and be guided by word and deed in the path of duty; while others should be pastors and teachers, [2551] for the perfecting of the church, those, I mean, who surpass the majority in virtue and nearness to God, performing the functions of the soul in the body, and of the intellect in the soul; in order that both may be so united and compacted together, that, although one is lacking and another is pre-eminent, they may, like the members of our bodies, be so combined and knit together by the harmony of the Spirit, as to form one perfect body, [2552] really worthy of Christ Himself, our Head. [2553]

4. I am aware then that anarchy [2554] and disorder cannot be more advantageous than order and rule, either to other creatures or to men; nay, this is true of men in the highest possible degree, because the interests at stake in their case are greater; since it is a great thing [2555] for them, even if they fail of their highest purpose—to be free from sin—to attain at least to that which is second best, restoration from sin. Since this seems right and just, it is, I take it, equally wrong and disorderly that all should wish to rule, and that no one should accept [2556] it. For if all men were to shirk this office, whether it must be called a ministry or a leadership, the fair fulness [2557] of the Church would be halting in the highest degree, and in fact cease to be fair. And further, where, and by whom would God be worshipped among us in those mystic and elevating rites which are our greatest and most precious privilege, if there were neither king, nor governor, nor priesthood, nor sacrifice, [2558] nor all those highest offices to the loss of which, for their great sins, men were of old condemned in consequence of their disobedience?

[2548] 2 Cor. xi. 16.

[2549] One member. The Ben. editors object to this translation (which is that of Rufinus, Billius and Gabriel) as inconsistent with the following allusion to the relation of the soul to the body. It seems, however, more in harmony with the figure of S. Paul, who compares the arrangement of the members of the body to the hierarchy of the Church.

[2550] Rom. xii. 4; 1 Cor. xii. 12.

[2551] Eph. iv. 11.

[2552] 1 Cor. xii. 20; Eph. iv. 15.

[2553] Eph. iv. 15.

[2554] Anarchy, &c. Comp. Plato Legg. XII. 2.

[2555] A great thing. The Ben. editors note the obscurity of the original here.

[2556] Accept, dechesthai. Many mss have harchesthai, preserving the play upon the word archein. The latter reading, the Ben. editors suggest, may have an active sense, as Hom. Il. II. 345.

[2557] Eph. i. 23.

[2558] Hos. iii. 4.

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