Devil in Athanasius of Alexandria, part 7

Herein we conclude, from part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part

Herein we conclude, from
part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, considering info on the Devil in Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373 AD). The fuller complete result consists of quotations of those sections within the text that refer to Angels, Cherubim, Seraphim, Devil, Satan, demons, serpent and dragon. The point is not to elucidate these references but to provide relevant partial quotations and citations. See my section on Angels here, Cherubim and Seraphim here, Satan here and Demons here.

Devil in Athanasius of Alexandria’s Letters.

Letter 1 For thus the Holy Ghost, describing sinners and their food, referred to the devil when He said, ‘I have given him to be meat to the people of Æthiopia.’ For this is the food of sinners. And as our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, being heavenly bread, is the food of the saints, according to this; ‘Unless you eat My flesh, and drink My blood;’ so is the devil the food of the impure, and of those who do nothing which is of the light, but work the deeds of darkness.

Letter 2 And the first to put on this appearance was the serpent, the inventor of wickedness from the beginning— the devil—who, in disguise, conversed with Eve, and immediately deceived her…And let us not forget that which Paul delivered, declaring it to the Corinthians; I mean His resurrection, whereby ‘He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;’ and raised us up together with Him, having loosed the bands of death, and vouchsafed a blessing instead of a curse.

Letter 3 Now, my beloved, our will ought to keep pace with the grace of God, and not fall short; lest while our will remains idle, the grace given us should begin to depart, and the enemy finding us empty and naked, should enter [into us], as was the case with him spoken of in the Gospel, from whom the devil went out; ‘for having gone through dry places, he took seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and returning and finding the house empty, he dwelt there, and the last state of that man was worse than the first. ‘ For the departure from virtue gives place for the entrance of the unclean spirit…But such men have the due reward of their folly, since their expectation will be vain through their ingratitude; for there is no hope for the ungrateful, the last fire, prepared for the devil and his Angels, awaits those who have neglected divine light. Such then is the end of the unthankful.

Letter 4 Now, however, that the devil, that tyrant against the whole world, is slain, we do not approach a temporal feast, my beloved, but an eternal and heavenly. Not in shadows do we show it forth, but we come to it in truth. For they being filled with…For when death reigned, ‘sitting down by the rivers of Babylon, we wept ,’ and mourned, because we felt the bitterness of captivity; but now that death and the kingdom of the devil is abolished, everything is entirely filled with joy and gladness.

Letter 5 For then they toiled earnestly to pass from Egypt to Jerusalem, but now we depart from death to life; they then passed from Pharaoh to Moses, but now we rise from the devil to the Saviour.

Letter 10 For apart from light there is darkness, and apart from blessing there is a curse, the devil also is apart from the saints, and sin far from virtue…But of the devil the Scripture bears witness, that the devil went out from before God, and smote Job with sore boils…In this way he prevailed against all the divisions of the devil, writing, ‘I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ’…I know indeed, that when these things are spoken, they will gnash their teeth upon us, with the devil who stirs them up, since they are troubled by the declaration of the true glory concerning the Redeemer. But the Lord, Who always has scoffed at the devil, does the same even now, saying, ‘I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.’

Letter 13 He Who once brought His people out of Egypt, and has now abolished death, and him that had the power of death, that is the devil, will likewise now turn him to shame, and again grant aid to those who are troubled, and cry unto God day and night.

Letter 22 Where our Lord Jesus Christ, who took upon Him to die for all, stretched forth His hands, not somewhere on the Earth beneath, but in the air itself, in order that the Salvation effected by the Cross might be shown to be for all men everywhere: destroying the devil who was working in the air: and that He might consecrate our road up to Heaven, and make it free.

Letter 48 But since the devil’s darts are varied and subtle, and he contrives to trouble those who are of simpler mind, and tries to hinder the ordinary exercises of the brethren, scattering secretly among them thoughts of uncleanness and defilement; come let us briefly dispel the error of the evil one by the grace of the Saviour, and confirm the mind of the simple. For ‘to the pure all things are pure,’ but both the conscience and all that belongs to the unclean are defiled. I marvel also at the craft of the devil, in that, although he is corruption and mischief itself, he suggests thoughts under the show of purity; but with the result of a snare rather than a test.

Letter 50 O new kind of men and of persecution which the devil has devised, namely to use such cruelty, and even ministers as the agents of evil.

Letter 51 Whence did you get such exhortations to the way of heaven, whence such confidence against the devil, and such proofs against heretics, unless the Holy Spirit had been lodged in you?

Letter 60 God, Who has given you such grace as not only to have right opinions, but also, so far as that is possible, not to be ignorant of the devices of the devil…But this attempt is a plot of the devil, and an imitation of the disobedient Jews…But since, instigated by their father the devil, ‘they knew not nor understood,’ as it is written, ‘but go on still in darkness,’ let them learn from your piety that this error of theirs belongs to Valentinus and Marcion, and to Manichæus…But if they wish to abide by their impieties, let them alone take their fill of them, and let them gnash their teeth like their father the devil, because the Faith of the Catholic Church knows that the Word of God is creator and maker of all things.

In the next segment, we will consider Cherubim, Seraphim and Dragon in Athanasius.


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