[1] Therapeutic Punishment
[2] God All in All
[3] What Sinners Need to Know

Christ Heals a Leper. Carolingian. illum MS, 10th

[1] THERAPEUTIC PUNISHMENT: De Principiis Book 2, 10.6-8
[2] GOD ALL IN ALL: De Principiis Book 3, 6.6
[2] WHAT SINNERS NEED to KNOW Contra Celsum 6.26

LATIN TEXT FROM Origen, De Principiis, ed. H. Crouzel and M. Simonetti, Sources Chréteinnes 252 (Paris:Cerf, 1978) 68-413.  English: Origen, De principiis, tr. G. W. Butterworth, Origen on First Principles, (London:SPCK, 1936), pp.1-328 (pp. 142-146).















10.6. There are many other matters, too, which are hidden from us, and are known only to him who is the physician of our souls. For if in regard to bodily health we occasionally find it necessary to take some very unpleasant and bitter medicine as a cure for the ills we have brought on through eating and drinking, and sometimes, if the character of the ill demands it, we need the severe treatment of the knife and a painful operation, yes, and should the disease have extended beyond the reach even of these remedies, in the last resort the ill is burnt out by fire, how much more should we realise that God our physician, in his desire to wash away the ills of our souls, which they have brought on themselves through a variety of sins and crimes, makes use of penal remedies of a similar sort, even to the infliction of a punishment of fire on those who have lost their soul’s health

10.6. [p.386] Multa sunt etiam alia quae nos latent, quae illi soli cognita sunt, qui est medicus animarum nostrarum. Si enim ad corporis sanitatem pro his uitiis, quae per escam potusque collegimus, necessariam habemus interdum 190 austerioris ac mordacioris medicamenti curam, nonnumquam uero, si id uitii qualitas depoposesrit, rigore [p.388] ferri et sectionis asperitate indigemus, quodsi et haec supergressus fuerit morbi modus, ad ultimum conceptum uitium etiam ignis exurit: quanto magis intellegendum 195 est medicum nostrum deum uolentem diluere uitia animarum nostrarum, quae ex peccatorum et scelerum diuersitate collegerant, uti huiuscemodi poenalibus curis, insuper etiam ignis inferre supplicium his, qui sanitatem animae perdiderunt

Allusions to this are found also in the holy scriptures. For instance, in Deuteronomy the divine word threatens that sinners are to be punished with ‘fevers and cold and pallor’, and tortured with ‘feebleness of eyes and insanity and paralysis and blindness and weakness of the reins’.(cf  Deut 28. 22,28,29) And so if anyone will gather at his leisure from the whole of scripture all the references to sufferings which in threats against sinners are called by the names [p.144]  of bodily sicknesses, he will find that through them allusion is being made to either the ills or the punishments of souls.

200 Cuius rei imagines etiam in scripturis sanctis referuntur. Denique in Deuteronomio sermo diuinus peccatoribus comminatur quod febribus et frigoribus et aurugine puniantur, et occulorum uacillationibus et mentis alienatione et paraplexia et caecitate ac debilitate renium 205 cruciandi sint (Deut 28, 22:28). Si qui ergo ex otio de omni scriptura congreget omnes languorum commemorationes, quae in comminatione peccatoribus uelut corporearum aegritudinum appellationibus memorantur, inueniet quod animarum uel uitia uel supplicia per haec figuraliter indicentur.

And to help us understand that as physicians supply aids to sufferers with the object of restoring them to health through careful treatment, so with the same motive God acts towards those who have lapsed and fallen into sin, there is proof in that passage in which, through the prophet Jeremiah, God’s ‘cup of fury’ is commanded ‘to be set before all nations’ that ‘they may drink it and become mad and spew it out’.(see Jer 25. 15,16,27) In this passage there is a threat which says, ‘If anyone refuse to drink, he shall not be cleansed’; (see Jer 25. 28,29) from which certainly we understand that the fury of God’s vengeance ministers to the purification of souls.

210 Vt autem intellegamus quia ea ratione, qua medici adiutoria languentibus adhibent, ut per curas reparent sanitatem, etiam deus agit circa eos, qui lapsi sunt et deciderunt, indicio est illud, quod per Hieremiam prophetam iubetur calix furoris dei propinari omnibus gentibus, ut bibant et insaniant et euomant. In quo comminatur dicens quia si qui noluerit bibere, non mundabitur. Ex quo utique intellegitur quod furor uindictae dei ad purgationem proficiat animarum.

 Isaiah teaches that even the punishments which are said to be inflicted by fire are meant to be applied as a help, when he speaks thus about Israel: ‘The Lord will wash away the filth of the sons and daughters of Sion, and will purge away the blood from the midst of them by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning’.(Is. 4) And of the Chaldaeans he speaks thus: ‘Thou hast coals of fire, sit upon them; they shall be to thee for a help’, (Is. 47. 14, 15 [lxx.]) 5  and in other places he says: ‘The Lord shall sanctify them in burning fire’,(see Is. 66. 16, 17) and in the prophet Malachi it speaks as follows: ‘The Lord shall sift and refine his people as gold and silver; he shall refine and purify and pour forth purified the sons of Judah’.(Mal 3. 3)

Quoniam autem et ea poena, quae per ignem illferri dicitur, pro adiutorio intellegitur adhiberi, Esaias docet, qui de Israhel quidem sic dicit: Abluet [390] dominus sordes filiorum et filiarum Sion, et sanguinem ezpurgabit e medio ipsorum spiritu iudieii et spiritu adustionis. De Chaldaeis autem sic dicit: Habes carbones ignis, sede super eos, hi erant tibi ad iutorio, et in aliis dicit: Sanetificabit eos dominus in igne ardenti, et in Malachia pro pheta ita dicit: Sedens dominus conflabit sicut aurum et argenlum populum suum, conflabit ct purgabit et fundet purgatos filios Iuda.

7. Moreover, the saying in the gospel about unjust stewards, who must be ‘cut asunder’ and ‘their portion placed with the unbelievers’, (See St. Luke 12. 42-46) as if the portion which was not theirs were to be sent somewhere else, undoubtedly alludes to some sort of punish­ment, as it seems to me, which falls on those whose spirit has to be separated from their soul. Now if we are to understand this spirit as belonging to the divine nature, that is, as being the Holy Spirit, we shall perceive that the passage relates to the gift of the Holy Spirit.

7. Sed et illud, quod de dispensatoribus non bonis in euangelio dictum est. qui diuidendi dicuntur, et pars eorum cum infidelibus poni, tamquam ea pars, quae ipsorum propria non sit, aliorsum mittenda, sine dubio genus aliquod indicat poenae eorum, quorum, ut mihi uidetur, separandus ab anima spiritus indicatur.  Qui spiritus si quidem diuinae naturae, id est spiritus sanctus intellegendlls est.

It tells us that when, whether through baptism or the grace of the Spirit, the ‘word of wisdom’ or the ‘word of knowledge’(See 2 Cor. 12. 8) or of any other endowment has been given to a man as a gift and not rightly used, that is to say, either ‘hidden in the earth’ or ‘bound up in a napkin’,(See St. Matt. 25. 25; St. Luke 19. 20) the gift of the Spirit will surely be withdrawn from his soul, and the portion which remains, namely the essence of the soul, will be placed with the unbelievers, cut asunder and separated from that Spirit with whom, by joining itself to the Lord, it ought to have been ‘one spirit’.10

sentiemus hoc dictum de dono spiritus sancti; quod siue per baptismum siue per gratiam spiritus, cum alicui sermo sapientiae uel sermo seientiae uel alterius cuiusque datus est doni et non recte administratus, id est aut in terram defossus est aut in sudario conligatus, auferetur profecto ab anima donum spiritus, et pars reliqua quae superest, id est animae substantia, cum infidelibus ponitur, diuisa a: separata ab eo spiritu, cum quo adiungens se domino unus spiritus esse debuerat.

1 See Jerem. XXV. Ij, 16, 27.           2 See Jerem. XXV. 28, 29.

.       6

7 .    8 

9 .      10 (See X Cor. 6. 17)





[145] If, however, we are to understand the spirit as being not the Spirit of God but the nature of the soul itself, then that portion of it will be called the better, which was made in the ‘image and likeness’ of God,’ whereas the other portion will be that which afterwards through the misuse of free will was received in a condition contrary to the nature of its original purity; and this portion, as being the friend and beloved companion of the material body, is visited with the fate of the unbelievers.  Si uero hoc non de dei spiritu, sed de natura ipsius animae intellegendum est. pars eius melior illa dicetur, quae ad imaginern dei et similitudinem facta est. alia autem pars ea. quae [p.392] postmodum per liberi arbitrii lapsum contra naturam primae conditionis et puritatis adsumpta est. quae utique pars utpote amica et cara materiae corporalis cum infidelium sorte multatur.

But the cutting asunder may also be understood in a third sense, namely, that whereas each of the faithful, though he be the least in the Church, is we are told attended by an angel who is declared by the Saviour always to ‘behold the face of God the Father’,2 this angel of God, who was certainly one with him over whom he was set, is to be withdrawn from him if by disobedience he becomes unworthy; and in that case ‘his portion’, that is the portion consisting of his human nature, being torn asunder from God’s portion, is to be numbered with the unbelievers, seeing that he did not faithfully observe the warnings of the angel allotted to him by God . 3

Potest autem etiam tertio sensu illud intellegi de diuisiolle ista, ut quoniam unicuique fidelium, etiamsi minimus sit in ecclesia, adesse angelus dicitur, qui et semper uidere faciem dei patris a saluatore perhibetur, et hic, qui utique unum erat cum eo, cui praeerat, si is per inoboedientiam efficiatur indignus, auferri ab eo dei angelus dicitur, et tunc pars eius, id est humanae naturae pars, auulsa a dei p arte cum infidelibus deputatur, quoniam commonitiones appositi sibi a deo angeli non fi.leliter custodiuit.

8. The ‘outer darkness’,4 too, is in my opinion not to be understood as a place with a murky atmosphere and no light at all, but rather as a description of those who through their immersion in the darkness of deep ignorance have become separated from every gleam of reason and intelligence.

8. Sed et exteriores tenebras, ut ego opinor, non tam aerem aliquem obscurum et sine ullo lumine intellegendum puto, quam de his, qui proffundae ignorantiae tenebris inmersi extra omne rationis et intellegentiae lumen effecti sunt.

We must also see whether possibly this expression does not mean that just as the saints will receive back the very bodies in which they have lived in holiness and purity during their stay in this life, but bright and glorious as a result of the resurrection, so, too, the wicked, who in this life have loved the darkness of error and the night of ignorance, will after the resurrection be clothed with murky and darkened bodies, in order that this very gloom of ignorance, which in the present world has taken possession of the inner parts of their mind, may in the world to come be revealed through the garment of their outward body.

Videndum quoque est. ne forte etiam illud iste sermo significet, quod sicut sancti corpora sua, in quibus sancte et pure in huius uitae habitatione uixerunt, lucida et gloriosa ex resurrectione suscipient, ita et impii quique, qui in hac uita errorum tenebras et noctem ignorantiae dilexerunt, obscuris et atris post resurrectionem corporibus induantur, ut ea ipsa caligo igllorantiae, quae in hoc mundo interiora eorum mentis obsederat, in futuro per exterius corporis appareat indumentum.

(Perhaps,  however, the ‘gloom and darkness’6 should be taken to mean this coarse and earthly body, through which at the end of this world each man that must pass into another world will receive the beginnings of a fresh birth) * * * The expression ‘prison” must be thought of in a similar way. * * * * *

Similiter quoque etiam de carcere sentiendum est.

lSee Gen. 1. 26. 2 See St. Matt. XVIII. Io.

s See St. Luke Xll. 46. 4 St. Matt. Vlll. 12 etc

‘ This passage, taken from Jerome, Ep. ad Avitum 7, has been omitted by Rufinus. Jerome adds: ‘ In so speaking he clearly supports the doctrine of transmigration taught by Pythagoras and Plato. ‘6 See St. Matt. Vlll. 12 etc.

7 I St. Peter 111. 19 and p. 138 above. This sentence belongs to Rufinus.






[??] GREEK There is a resurrection of the dead, and there is punishment, but not everlasting. For when the body is punished the soul is gradually purified, and so is restored to its ancient rank  
[There are those who say] [[[ Anath 9 of 543]  Εἴ τις λέγει
there will be a time when the duration of punishment for wicked men for demons will have attained its goal [telos]  ἢ ἔχει πρόσκαιρον εἶναι τὴν τῶν δαιμόνων καὶ ἀσεβῶν ἀνθρώπων κόλασιν καὶ τέλος κατά τινα χρόνον αὐτὴν

 and both demons and wicked men shall be restored to their former rank.

ἕξειν ἢ γοῦν ἀποκατάστασιν ἔσεσθαι δαιμόνων ἢ ἀσεβῶν ἀνθρώπων,

  ἀνάθεμα ἔστω.]]]]

Fragment 25, Koetschau, the first part taken from Leont. Byz. De Sectis Act. X. 6 (Migne P. G. 86 1, 1265), and the second (beginning ‘For all w;cked men ....’) from Justinian, Ep. ad Mennam (Mansi IX 517). Rufinus has omitted the explicit denial of everlasting punishment.


LATIN Let these remarks, which we have made at this point, to preserve the order of our discourse, in the fewest possible words, suffice for the present.

[p.394] Sed sufficiant ista in praesenti loco, quae interim nunc, ut dicendi ordo seruaretur, quam pauoi9simiR dicta sunt.






De Principiis Bk 3, 6.6 ANF vol. 4 pp. 346-346 tr. Frederick Crombie, D.D.








6. Into this condition, then, we are to suppose that all this bodily substance of ours will be brought, when all things shall be re-established in a state of unity, and when God shall be all in all. And this result must be understood as being brought about, not suddenly, but slowly and gradually, seeing that the process of amendment and correction will take place imperceptibly in the individual instances during the lapse of countless and unmeasured ages, some outstripping others, and tending by a swifter course towards perfection,[1] while others again follow close at hand, and some again a long way behind; and thus, through the numerous and uncounted orders of progressive beings who are being reconciled to God from a state of enmity, the last enemy is finally reached, who is called death, so that he also may be destroyed, and no longer be an enemy. In huuc ergo statum omnem hanc nostram substantiam corporalem putandum est perducendam, tunc cura omnia reslituentur ut unura sint, et cum Dens fuerit omnia in omnibus. Quod lamen non ad sub35 itum fieri, sed paulatim et per parles inlelligendum est, infinida et iramensis labentibus saeculis, cum s ens i m et per síngalos emendatio filent et correctio prosecula, pt;aecurrenlibus aliis et velociori cursu ad summa tendenlibus, aliis vero proximo quoque spatio insequentibus, tum deinde aliis longe posterius: 5 et sic per Multos et innúmeros ordines prolicientium ac Deo se ex inimicis reconciliantiuiu pervenitur usque ad novissimum inimicimi qui dicitui- mors, ut etiam ipse deslruatur, ne ultra sit inimicus.
When, therefore, all rational souls shall have been restored to a condition of this kind, then the nature of this body of ours will undergo a change into the glory of a spiritual body. Cum ergo restitutae fuerint omnes ralionabiles animae in 10 huiuscemodi statum, tunc natura eliam huius corporis nostri in spiritalis corporis gloriam perducetur.
For as we see it not to be the case with rational natures, that some of them have lived in a condition of degradation owing to their sins, while others have been called to a state of happiness on account of their merits; but as we see those same souls who had formerly been sinful, assisted, after their conversion and reconciliation to God, to a state of happiness; so also are we to consider, with respect to the nature of the body, that the one which we now make use of in a state of meanness, and corruption, and weakness, is not a different body from that which we shall possess in incorruption, and in power, and in glory; but that the same body, when it has cast away the infirmities in which it is now entangled, shall be transmuted into a condition of glory, being rendered spiritual, so that what was a vessel of dishonour may, when cleansed, become a vessel unto honour, and an abode of blessedness.  
And in this condition, also, we are to believe, that by the will of the Creator, it will abide for ever without any change, as is confirmed by the declaration of the apostle, when he says, “We have a house, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” For the faith of the Church[2] does not admit the view of certain Grecian philosophers, that there is besides the body, composed of four elements, another fifth body, which is different in all its parts, and diverse from this our present body; since neither out of sacred Scripture can any produce the slightest suspicion of evidence for such an opinion, nor can any rational inference from things allow the reception of it, especially when the holy apostle manifestly declares, that it is not new bodies which are given to those who rise from the dead, but that they receive those identical ones which they had possessed when living, transformed from an inferior into a better condition.  
For his words are: “It is sown an animal body, it will rise a spiritual body; it is sown in corruption, it will arise in incorruption: it is sown in weakness, it will arise in power: it is sown in dishonour, it will arise in glory.”[3] As, therefore, there is a kind of advance in man, so that from being first an animal being, and not understanding what belongs to the Spirit of God, he reaches by means of instruction the stage of being made a spiritual being, and of judging all things, while he himself is judged by no one; so also, with respect to the state of the body, we are to hold that this very body which now, on account of its service to the soul, is styled an animal body, will, by means of a certain progress, when the soul, united to God, shall have been made one spirit with Him (the body even then ministering, as it were, to the spirit), attain to a spiritual condition and quality, especially since, as we have often pointed out, bodily nature was so formed by the Creator, as to pass easily into whatever condition he should wish, or the nature of the case demand.  






[3] What Sinners Need to Know
That the multitude need know only what pertains to the punishment of sinners 


Contra Celsum 6.26 ANF vol. 4 p. 585 Greek: Origene. Contre Celse, Sources chretiennes, 136, 147, 150 ed. M. Borret, ( Cerf , Paris 1:1967; 2:1968; 3-4:1969) 







IT is in the precincts of Jerusalem, then, that punishments will be inflicted upon those who undergo the process of purification,who have received into the substance of their soul the elements of wickedness, which in a certain place is figuratively termed lead, and on that account iniquity is represented in Zechariah as sitting upon a talent of lead.(cf. Zech. 5:7) 

καὶ κατὰ τὸ περὶ τὴν Ἱερουσαλὴμ γίνεσθαι κολάσεις χωνευομένων, τῶν ἀναλαβόντων εἰς τὴν ἑαυτῶν τῆς ψυχῆς ὑπόστασιν τὰ ἀπὸ κακίας, τροπικῶς που ὀνομαζομένης μολίβδου· διὸ ἡ ἀνομία παρὰ τῷ  Ζαχαρίᾳ ἐπὶ "τάλαντον μολίβδου" ἐκαθέζετο.   

BUT the remarks which might be made on this topic are neither to be made to all, nor to be uttered on the present occasion; for it is not unattended with danger to commit to writing the explanation of such subjects, seeing the multitude need no further instruction than that which relates to the punishment of sinners; while to ascend beyond this is not expedient, for the sake of those who are with difficulty restrained, even by fear of eternal punishment, from plunging into any degree of wickedness, and into the flood of evils which result from sin. 

 Ὅσα δ' εἰς τὸν τόπον λεχθείη ἄν, οὔτε πᾶσιν οὔτε τοῦ παρόντος καιροῦ ἐστι διηγήσασθαι· ἀλλ' οὐδ' ἀκίνδυνον    τὴν τῶν τοιούτων σαφήνειαν πιστεῦσαι γραφῇ, ἅτε τῶν πολλῶν οὐ χρῃζόντων πλείονος διδασκαλίας παρὰ τὴν περὶ τῆς κατὰ τῶν ἁμαρτανόντων κολάσεως.  Εἰς γὰρ τὰ ὑπερέκεινα αὐτῆς οὐ χρήσιμον ἀναβαίνειν διὰ τοὺς μόγις φόβῳ τῆς αἰωνίου κολάσεως κἂν συστέλλοντας ἐπὶ ποσὸν τῆς κακίας καὶ τῶν ἀπ' αὐτῆς ἁμαρτανομένων χύσιν.  

The doctrine of Geenna, then, is unknown both to the diagram and to Celsus: for had it been otherwise, the framers of the former would not have boasted of their pictures of animals and diagrams, as if the truth were represented by these; nor would Celsus, in his treatise against the Christians, have introduced among the charges directed against them statements which they never uttered instead of what was spoken by some who perhaps are no longer in existence, but have altogether disappeared, or been reduced to a very few individuals, and these easily counted. 

  Οὔτ' οὖν <οἱ κατασκευάσαντες> τὸ διάγραμμα οὔτε  Κέλσος οἶδε τὸν περὶ  Γεέννης λόγον· ἐπεὶ οὔτ' ἂν ἐκεῖνοι ζωγραφίας καὶ διαγράμματα ἐσεμνοποίουν ὡς δι' αὐτῶν παριστάντες τὸ ἀληθές, οὔτ' ἂν ὁ  Κέλσος ἐν τῷ κατὰ  Χριστιανῶν συγγράμματι τὰ μηδαμῶς ὑπὸ  Χριστιανῶν λεγόμενα ἀλλά τινων τάχα οὐδ' ἔτι ὄντων ἀλλὰ πάντῃ ἐκλελοιπότων <ἢ> καὶ εἰς ὀλίγους καὶ εὐαριθμήτους καταστάντων, ἐνετίθει ταῖς κατὰ  Χριστιανῶν κατηγορίαις.   

And as it does not beseem those who profess the doctrines of Plato to offer a defence of Epicurus and his impious opinions, so neither is it for us to defend the diagram, or to refute the accusations brought against it by Celsus. We may therefore allow his charges on these points to pass as superfluous and useless, for we would censure more severely than Celsus any who should be carried away by such opinions.

Καὶ ὥσπερ οὐ καθήκει τοῖς τὰ  Πλάτωνος φιλοσοφοῦσιν ἀπολογεῖσθαι περὶ Ἐπικούρου καὶ τῶν ἀσεβῶν αὐτοῦ δογμάτων, οὕτως οὐδ' ἡμῖν περὶ τῶν ἐν τῷ διαγράμματι καὶ τῶν κατ' αὐτοῦ λεγομένων ὑπὸ  Κέλσου.  Διόπερ ὡς περισσὰ καὶ μάτην ἐκκείμενα ἐῶμεν τὰ ὑπὸ  Κέλσου εἰς ταῦτα λελεγμένα· μᾶλλον γὰρ  Κέλσου ἡμεῖς αὐτῶν παρὰ τοῖς κεκρατημένοις ὑπὸ τοιούτων λόγων κατηγορήσομεν.


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