[K:NWTS 22/1 (May 2007) 17]

Athanasius on Salvation1

For [Christ] suffered to prepare freedom from suffering for those who suffer in him. He descended so that he may raise us up. He took upon himself the ordeal of being born that we might love him who is unbegotten. He went down to corruption that corruption might put on immortality. He became weak for us that we might rise with power. He descended to death that he might grant us immortality and give life to the dead. Finally he became human that we who die as human beings might live again and that death may no longer have sovereignty over us; for the apostolic word proclaims, "Death shall not have dominion over us."


1 Athanasius of Alexandria (ca.295-373) was the great champion of the orthodoxy of the Nicene Creed (325). This comment is from his "Festal Letter," X.8 for Easter 338. Our text is from the excellent new biography of Athanasius by Anatolios Khaled, Athanasius (Routledge, 2004) 70. Anatolios's book also contains fresh translations of excerpts from the most important of Athanasius's works. For another version of the Festal Letter, compare The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, 4:531. For yet another excellent book on Athanasius, see Alvyn Pettersen, Athanasius (1995). Pettersen provides a superb exposition of the theological mind of the great Egyptian church father.