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Passages that mention the energies of God


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#1 Fabio Lins

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 04:40 AM

I understand that there is already another thread about the energies of God, but I think that the intention of this one is different enough.

I just rememebered today of these passages in the Holy Scripture:

And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
ΚΑΙ ΕΥΘΥΣ Ο ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΕΠΙΓΝΟΥΣ ΕΝ ΕΑΥΤΩ ΤΗΝ ΕΞ ΑΥΤΟΥ ΔΥΝΑΜΙΝ ΕΞΕΛΘΟΥΣΑΝ ΕΠΙΣΤΡΑΦΕΙΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΟΧΛΩ ΕΛΕΓΕΝ ΤΙΣ ΜΟΥ ΗΨΑΤΟ ΤΩΝ ΙΜΑΤΙΩΝ;
St. Mark 5:30


and

And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.
Ο ΔΕ ΙΗΣΟΥΣ ΕΙΠΕΝ ΗΨΑΤΟ ΜΟΥ ΤΙΣ ΕΓΩ ΓΑΡ ΕΓΝΩΝ ΔΥΝΑΜΙΝ ΕΞΕΛΗΛΥΘΥΙΑΝ ΑΠ ΕΜΟΥ .
St. Luke 8:46


In which we have the word dynamis translated as virtue. But can we see here an early Scriptural mention of the energies of God acting over the woman who touched Our Lord?

And which other Scriptural references can we find about the Energies of God? And which other names have the Fathers given to it previous to St. Gregory Palamas?

#2 Olga

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 09:15 AM

The Greek word dynamis means power. While virtue is used in the King James NT, it is intended to mean power, and not the more familiar meaning of goodness or righteousness. Modern English retains this shade of meaning in such phrases as by virtue of, but it would be quite rare for an English-speaker today to use the noun virtue as a synonym for power.

Therefore, it seems that the passage quoted is indeed an example of the energies of God at work.

And which other Scriptural references can we find about the Energies of God?


The account of Creation in Genesis, for a start. Fiat lux.

#3 Ken McRae

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 02:19 PM

Now, I may very well be mistaken about this, so I'm steeping out on a limb, perhaps, by even posting it, but from what I've gathered so far, the Latins spoke of the "energies" of God in terms of His divine characteristics or attributes. If I'm not mistaken about this, then we may view all Scriptural references to God's "attributes" as actually referring to His divine "energies." For example: 2 Pet. 1:3-4 "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature." Note the expression, "partakers of the divine nature." There, the term "nature" refers not to the divine essence, but to the divine attributes or energies.

#4 Olga

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 03:34 PM

Divine essence is what God is. Divine energies are what God does.

#5 Ken McRae

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 04:11 PM

Now, I may very well be mistaken about this, so I'm steeping out on a limb, perhaps, by even posting it, but from what I've gathered so far, the Latins spoke of the "energies" of God in terms of His divine characteristics or attributes. If I'm not mistaken about this, then we may view all Scriptural references to God's "attributes" as actually referring to His divine "energies." For example: 2 Pet. 1:3-4 "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature." Note the expression, "partakers of the divine nature." There, the term "nature" refers not to the divine essence, but to the divine attributes or energies.


The Greek word for "nature," in 2 Peter 1:4, is "phusis." According to the Greek Lexicon, this term appears 11 times in the New Testament. Of the several "contextual" meanings given for it, the one which appears most suitable to 2 Pet. 1:4 is: "The sum of innate properties and powers by which one person differs from others, distinctive native peculiarities, natural characteristics."

On the Divine Attributes
by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky

"One may speak only of the attributes of God, but not of the very essence of God. The Fathers express themselves only indirectly concerning the nature of the Divinity, saying that the essence of God is “one, simple, incomplex.” However, this simplicity is not something without distinguishing characteristics or content; it contains within itself the fullness of the qualities of existence. “God is a sea of being, immeasurable and limitless” (St. Gregory the Theologian); “God is the fullness of all qualities and perfection in their highest and infinite form” (St. Basil the Great); “God is simple and incomplex; He is entirely feeling, entirely spirit, entirely thought, entirely mind, entirely source of all good things” (St. Irenaeus of Lyons).

Speaking of the attributes of God, the Holy Fathers indicate that their multiplicity, considering the simplicity of the essence, is a result of our own inability to find a mystical and single means of viewing the Divinity. In God, one attribute is an aspect of another. God is righteous: this implies that He is also blessed and good and Spirit. The multiple simplicity in God is like the light of the sun, which reveals itself in the various colors that are received by bodies on the earth, for example, by plants. In the enumeration of the attributes of God in the Holy Fathers and in the texts of the Divine services, there is a preponderance of expressions that are grammatically in a negative form, that is, with the prefixes “a-” or “un-.” However, one must keep in view, that this negative form indicates a “negation of limits,” as for example: “not unknowing” actually signifies “knowing.”

Thus, the negative form is really an affirmation of attributes that are without limit. We may find a model of such expressions in the Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by St. John Damascene: “God is unoriginate, unending, eternal, constant, uncreated, unchanging, unalterable, simple, uncomplicated, bodiless, invisible, intangible, indescribable, without bounds, inaccessible to the mind, uncontainable, incomprehensible, good, righteous, the Creator of all creatures, the Almighty Pantocrator, He who looketh down upon all, whose Providence is over everything, Who has dominion over all, the judge.”

Our thoughts about God in general speak: 1) either about His distinction from the created world (for example, God is unoriginate, while the world has an origin; He is endless, while the world has an end; He is eternal, while the world exists in time); or 2) about the activities of God in the world and the relation of the Creator to His creations (Creator, Providence, Merciful, Righteous Judge).

In indicating the attributes of God, we do not thereby give a “definition” of the concept of God Such a definition is essentially impossible, because every definition is an indication of “finiteness.” [In Russian, Father Michael is indicating here the derivation of the word opredeleniye (“definition”) from predel (“limit” or “boundary”). In English the same thing is true: “definition” derives from the Latin finis, (“limit”) and signifies, incompleteness.] However, in God there are no limits, and therefore there cannot be a definition of the concept of the Divinity: “For a concept is itself a form of limitation” (St. Gregory the Theologian, Homily 28, his Second Theological Oration).

Our reason demands the acknowledgement in God of a whole series of essential attributes. Reason tells us that God has a rational, free, and personal existence. If in the imperfect world we see free and rational personal beings, we cannot fail to recognize a free and rational personal existence in God Himself, who is the Source, Cause, and Creator of all life. Reason tells us that God is a most perfect Being. Every lack and imperfection are incompatible with the concept of “God.” Reason tells us that the most perfect Being can be only singular: God is One. There cannot be two perfect beings, since one would limit the other. Reason tells us that God is a self-existing Being, since nothing can be the cause or condition of the existence of God.

#6 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 16 September 2008 - 04:25 PM

A fundamental text for understanding all this is St Gregory of Nyssa's Letter to Abalabius: That there are not three gods.

A second fundamental texts is Epistle 38, found in the collected works of St Basil the Great (though thought by many likely to be in fact the work of St Gregory of Nyssa).

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#7 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 08:43 AM

http://www.myriobibl...y_essences.html

"1. The doctrine of the energies, ineffably distinct from the essence, is the dogmatic basis of the real character of all mystical experience. God, who is inaccessible in His essence, is present in His energies 'as in a mirror,' remaining invisible in that which He is; 'in the same way we are able to see our faces, themselves invisible to us in a glass,' according to a saying of St. Gregory Palamas. (Sermon on the Presentation of the Holy Virgin in the Temple). Wholly unknowable in His essence, God wholly reveals Himself in His energies, which yet in no way divide His nature into two parts--knowable and unknowable--but signify two different modes of the divine existence, in the essence and outside of the essence."

#8 Peter S.

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 10:37 AM

God, who is inaccessible in His essence, is present in His energies.

Effie



That means God in God's energies is what He is. And does.

Peter

#9 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 10:55 AM

Peter, I am still studying this text and admit I am quite confused.

But I don't think this means that His energies indicate what He is. We cannot know His essence.

Rather it means that His energies are what is manifested to us "as an image in a mirror" . His essence remains invisible (as is explained in the article). What He does in our lives is obviously the result of His energies. We cannot know God's nature or physis but we can experience and know His energies.

The second paragraph of the above article makes this a little clearer.

"This doctrine makes it possible to understand how the Trinity can remain incommunicable in essence and at the same time come and dwell within us, according to the promise of Christ (John xiv, 23). The presence is not a causal one, such as the divine omnipresence in creation; no more is it a presence according to the very essence--which is by definition incommunicable; it is a mode according to which the Trinity dwells in us by means of that in itself which is communicable--that is to say, by the energies which are common to the three hypostases, or, in other words, by grace--for it is by this name that we know the deifying energies which the Holy Spirit communicates to us."

Can the Holy Spirit also be described as some kind of bridge to knowledge of God? Is this too simplistic?

#10 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 20 September 2008 - 11:51 AM

To large extent, we are known by what we do. It is obviously not the whole story, we may be doing good things for bad reasons, or we may be doing things that seem bad for good reasons, but who we are is reflected to some degree in what we do, at the very least, what people THINK we are comes largely from what we do, so we are known by our actions.

Therefore the Psalmist can say that God is proclaimed in His handiwork which is Creation. Creation tells us something about God, the manifestation of God's energy in the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection shows us that He loves us and "wants us back". Therefore something about God is known, but not everything. I think this is a large part of what St. Gregory is telling us, in reaction to Barlaam, who claimed that God is simply unknowable. So what we know about God is what we have experienced through His energies.

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 22 September 2008 - 07:54 PM.
typo correction


#11 Peter S.

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 07:40 PM

"This doctrine makes it possible to understand how the Trinity can remain incommunicable in essence and at the same time come and dwell within us, according to the promise of Christ (John xiv, 23). The presence is not a causal one, such as the divine omnipresence in creation; no more is it a presence according to the very essence--which is by definition incommunicable; it is a mode according to which the Trinity dwells in us by means of that in itself which is communicable--that is to say, by the energies which are common to the three hypostases, or, in other words, by grace--for it is by this name that we know the deifying energies which the Holy Spirit communicates to us."

Can the Holy Spirit also be described as some kind of bridge to knowledge of God? Is this too simplistic?


God is Love. And God is Spirit. This we know from the New Testament. I believe you can say that Jesus Christ is the incarnated Love, but I have no patristic reference to this, so it is better for me to just mention that I believe it, not saying that I know the essence of Love. I also know that Jesus is now a deified body according to St. Paul.

Grace is something that we can find within us I have heard, and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. And Love is connected to God's grace. We can know God through the person of Jesus who is Love. We can not know God's essence, but we can know Love. Therefore I say God's energies is what God is and does.

Peter, the lay-preacher ;)

Edited by Peter S., 22 September 2008 - 08:08 PM.


#12 David Puline

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 08:40 AM

Hello...The following link really helped me to understand this problem:

annicius.sovereign.us/UNCREATED%20ENERGIES.htm

Blessings,
david

#13 Steve Roche

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 08:43 PM

A fundamental text for understanding all this is St Gregory of Nyssa's Letter to Abalabius: That there are not three gods.

This is a fascinating letter from Gregory. The instruction Gregory had received from Basil (letter 38) was well formed and enumerated in this elaboration of Basil’s earlier letter. The usage and description of ‘Godhead’ is a wonderful exploration:

The Father is God: the Son is God: and yet by the same proclamation God is One, because no difference either of nature or of operation is contemplated in the Godhead.”

Gregory’s examination of ‘first cause’ is also very intriguing:

“…we do not deny the difference in respect of cause, and that which is caused, by which alone we apprehend that one Person is distinguished from another—by our belief, that is, that one is the Cause, and another is of the Cause; and again in that which is of the Cause we recognize another distinction. For one is directly from the first Cause, and another by that which is directly from the first Cause; so that the attribute of being Only-begotten abides without doubt in the Son, and the interposition of the Son, while it guards His attribute of being Only-begotten, does not shut out the Spirit from His relation by way of nature to the Father.”


A second fundamental text is Epistle 38, found in the collected works of St Basil the Great (though thought by many likely to be in fact the work of St Gregory of Nyssa.

The link for Epistle 38 is broken, but can be found here: http://www.newadvent...ers/3202038.htm

The distinction Basil makes here between the essence and the substance, drawing on the analogy of the rainbow, is a milestone in Trinitarian theology. Basil recognises the distinction between hypostasis and homoousios where the Nicene fathers made the terms synonymous:

“But those who say: …'He is of another substance' (hypostasis) or 'essence,' (ousia)—they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church.” (Nicene Creed)

Basil is forced to expand on the Nicene creed with a fresh examination of hypostasis. The Cappadocian fathers adopted the formula: "Three Hypostases in one Ousia"; whereas Nicaea did not distinguish between hypostasis and homoousios.

Hello...The following link really helped me to understand this problem:

annicius.sovereign.us/UNCREATED ENERGIES.htm

Blessings,
david


The broken link is found here.
http://joannicius.sovereign.us/UNCREATED ENERGIES.htm

#14 Owen Jones

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 08:47 AM

Just as various scientific instruments have been built that can sense and measure the presence of various types of energy waves -- cosmic rays, electromagnetism, solar energy -- the mind/body complex is designed as the sense mechanism of the Divine Energies. What's more, just as absorption and retention and metabolization of solar energy is necessary for life on earth to exist and thrive, the Divine Energies are necessary for all things to continue to exist and function. In other words, without this energy, things would cease to exist.

The problem for the human is that the proper "absorption" of Divine Energy is interrupted by not only sin per se, but a kind of dysfunctionality of the mind/body system such that this power is attenuated, just as other types of energy waves are attenuated by certain types of media. Through purification of the mind/body system through the Orthodox path, this "dysfunctionality" of the mind/body system, what Romanides calls the neuro-biological, the proper energy flow is achieved, so that one is restored to his proper function, and this is primarily how the will is aligned with God's will, and not simply through an act of the human will. Furthermore, I will go further out on a limb and say that one of the characteristics of Divine Energy is that it functions as a flow. God, we might say, is a flowing Presence, again, not unlike that of other physical types of energies in the universe. If I am right, the one of the ramifications is that it is misleading to state that simply trying harder is the answer to man's spiritual problems, but rather "openness." Not openness in the contemporary psychological jargon, but openness as it relates to any type of complex system.




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