27 May 2022

The Angelic Doctor Against the Errors of the Greeks - Chapter 26

How the assertion that even the Seraphim learn from Paul as a teacher is to be understood.

Perplexing also is what Cyril says in his Thesaurus that “from Paul as teacher not only is human reason instructed but the hidden mysteries of the Father’s heart are disclosed to the Seraphim alone.” Footnote This seems to mean that even to the highest angels knowledge comes from men. And the basis for this appears to be Ephesians (3:8): To me, the least of all the saints is granted this grace, to proclaim to the pagans the unfathomable riches of Christ, so that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God may be known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.

But Denis teaches the contrary in chapter four of the Angelic HierarchyFootnote where he shows that the knowledge of things divine is received by the angels before men; and in chapter seven of the same book he says that the Seraphim are taught immediately Footnote by God. And Augustine says in his literal commentary on Genesis Footnote that “the mystery of the Kingdom of heaven was not hidden from the angels, the mystery revealed in due season for our salvation.”

And so it is to be noted Footnote that since future events are foreknown only to God and not to angels, although as Augustine says the angels knew the mystery of our redemption from the beginning, Footnote they did not therefore know at all some circumstances of this redemption so long as such were still in the future. But once these were accomplished, they came to know them as they do other things actually occurring. Hence, the divine mysteries are not to be understood as being revealed to the highest Seraphim by Paul in the act of teaching, as if they had learned from Paul, but rather on the preaching of Paul and the other apostles there were accomplished those things which the angels came to know because present reality, but which had remained unknown to them so long as they were still in the future. And this is what the words of Jerome mean when he says that “the angels had no full understanding of the mystery until the passion of Christ was accomplished and the preaching of the Apostles extended to the Gentiles.” Footnote

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