Last week, when I was studying Mark’s account of Jesus’ baptism I ran across Hippolytus’ (d. 236) comments on this most important event. Mark wrote that at Jesus’ baptism, the heavens were torn open, the Spirit – as a dove – came down upon Christ, and the Father spoke his words of divine approval and love of the Son (Mk. 1:9-11). Here’s what Hippolytus said about this story:
For this reason did the Father send down the Holy Spirit from heaven upon Him who was baptized. For as in the ark of Noah the love of God toward man is signified by the dove, so also now the Spirit, descending in the form of a dove, bearing as it were the fruit of the olive, rested on Him to whom the witness was borne. For what reason? That the faithfulness of the Father’s voice might be made known, and that the prophetic utterance of a long time past might be ratified. …What voice? “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This is He who is named the son of Joseph, and who is according to the divine essence my Only-begotten.
“This is my beloved Son” – He who is hungry, and yet maintains myriads; who is weary, and yet gives rest to the weary; who has nowhere to lay His head, and yet bears up all things in His hand; who suffers, and yet heals sufferings; who is smitten, and yet confers liberty on the world; who is pierced in the side, and yet repairs the side of Adam.
Roberts, Alexander, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, eds. Fathers of the Third Century: Hippolytus, Cyprian, Novatian, Appendix. Vol. 5. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1886. Print. The Ante-Nicene Fathers.
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