QUESTION 13: OF THE POWER OF CHRIST'S SOUL
We must now consider the power of Christ's soul; and under this head
there are four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether He had omnipotence simply?
(2) Whether He had omnipotence with regard to corporeal creatures?
(3) Whether He had omnipotence with regard to His own body?
(4) Whether He had omnipotence as regards the execution of His own will?
Article 1: Whether the soul of Christ had omnipotence?
Objection 1: It would seem that the soul of Christ had omnipotence. For Ambrose [*Gloss, Ord.] says on Lk. 1:32: "The power which the Son of God had naturally, the Man was about to receive in time." Now this would seem to regard the soul principally, since it is the chief part of man. Hence since the Son of God had omnipotence from all eternity, it would seem that the soul of Christ received omnipotence in time.
Objection 2: Further, as the power of God is infinite, so is His knowledge.
But the soul of Christ in a manner had the knowledge of all that God
knows, as was said above (Question , Article ). Therefore He had all power; and
thus He was omnipotent.
Objection 3: Further, the soul of Christ has all knowledge. Now knowledge is
either practical or speculative. Therefore He has a practical knowledge
of what He knows, i.e. He knew how to do what He knows; and thus it seems
that He can do all things.
On the contrary, What is proper to God cannot belong to any creature.
But it is proper to God to be omnipotent, according to Ex. 15:2,3: "He is
my God and I will glorify Him," and further on, "Almighty is His name."
Therefore the soul of Christ, as being a creature, has not omnipotence.
I answer that, As was said above (Question , Article ; Question , Article ) in the
mystery of the Incarnation the union in person so took place that there
still remained the distinction of natures, each nature still retaining
what belonged to it. Now the active principle of a thing follows its
form, which is the principle of action. But the form is either the very
nature of the thing, as in simple things; or is the constituent of the
nature of the thing; as in such as are composed of matter and form.
And it is in this way that omnipotence flows, so to say, from the Divine
Nature. For since the Divine Nature is the very uncircumscribed Being of
God, as is plain from Dionysius (Div. Nom. v), it has an active power
over everything that can have the nature of being; and this is to have
omnipotence; just as every other thing has an active power over such
things as the perfection of its nature extends to; as what is hot gives
heat. Therefore since the soul of Christ is a part of human nature, it
cannot possibly have omnipotence.
Reply to Objection 1: By union with the Person, the Man receives omnipotence in
time, which the Son of God had from eternity; the result of which union
is that as the Man is said to be God, so is He said to be omnipotent; not
that the omnipotence of the Man is distinct (as neither is His Godhead)
from that of the Son of God, but because there is one Person of God and
Reply to Objection 2: According to some, knowledge and active power are not in
the same ratio; for an active power flows from the very nature of the
thing, inasmuch as action is considered to come forth from the agent; but
knowledge is not always possessed by the very essence or form of the
knower, since it may be had by assimilation of the knower to the thing
known by the aid of received species. But this reason seems not to
suffice, because even as we may understand by a likeness obtained from
another, so also may we act by a form obtained from another, as water or
iron heats, by heat borrowed from fire. Hence there would be no reason
why the soul of Christ, as it can know all things by the similitudes of
all things impressed upon it by God, cannot do these things by the same
It has, therefore, to be further considered that what is received in the
lower nature from the higher is possessed in an inferior manner; for heat
is not received by water in the perfection and strength it had in fire.
Therefore, since the soul of Christ is of an inferior nature to the
Divine Nature, the similitudes of things are not received in the soul of
Christ in the perfection and strength they had in the Divine Nature. And
hence it is that the knowledge of Christ's soul is inferior to Divine
knowledge as regards the manner of knowing, for God knows (things) more
perfectly than the soul of Christ; and also as regards the number of
things known, since the soul of Christ does not know all that God can do,
and these God knows by the knowledge of simple intelligence; although it
knows all things present, past, and future, which God knows by the
knowledge of vision. So, too, the similitudes of things infused into
Christ's soul do not equal the Divine power in acting, i.e. so as to do
all that God can do, or to do in the same manner as God does, Who acts
with an infinite might whereof the creature is not capable. Now there is
no thing, to know which in some way an infinite power is needed, although
a certain kind of knowledge belongs to an infinite power; yet there are
things which can be done only by an infinite power, as creation and the
like, as is plain from what has been said in the FP, Question . Hence
Christ's soul which, being a creature, is finite in might, can know,
indeed, all things, but not in every way; yet it cannot do all things,
which pertains to the nature of omnipotence; and, amongst other things,
it is clear it cannot create itself.
Reply to Objection 3: Christ's soul has practical and speculative knowledge; yet
it is not necessary that it should have practical knowledge of those
things of which it has speculative knowledge. Because for speculative
knowledge a mere conformity or assimilation of the knower to the thing
known suffices; whereas for practical knowledge it is required that the
forms of the things in the intellect should be operative. Now to have a
form and to impress this form upon something else is more than merely to
have the form; as to be lightsome and to enlighten is more than merely to
be lightsome. Hence the soul of Christ has a speculative knowledge of
creation (for it knows the mode of God's creation), but it has no
practical knowledge of this mode, since it has no knowledge operative of
Article 2: Whether the soul of Christ had omnipotence with regard to the transmutation of creatures?
Objection 1: It would seem that the soul of Christ had omnipotence with regard
to the transmutation of creatures. For He Himself says (Mt. 28:18): "All
power is given to Me in heaven and on earth." Now by the words "heaven
and earth" are meant all creatures, as is plain from Gn. 1:1: "In the
beginning God created heaven and earth." Therefore it seems that the soul
of Christ had omnipotence with regard to the transmutation of creatures.
Objection 2: Further, the soul of Christ is the most perfect of all creatures.
But every creature can be moved by another creature; for Augustine says
(De Trin. iii, 4) that "even as the denser and lower bodies are ruled in
a fixed way by the subtler and stronger bodies; so are all bodies by the
spirit of life, and the irrational spirit of life by the rational spirit
of life, and the truant and sinful rational spirit of life by the
rational, loyal, and righteous spirit of life." But the soul of Christ
moves even the highest spirits, enlightening them, as Dionysius says
(Coel. Hier. vii). Therefore it seems that the soul of Christ has
omnipotence with regard to the transmutation of creatures.
Objection 3: Further, Christ's soul had in its highest degree the "grace of
miracles" or works of might. But every transmutation of the creature can
belong to the grace of miracles; since even the heavenly bodies were
miraculously changed from their course, as Dionysius proves (Ep. ad
Polycarp). Therefore Christ's soul had omnipotence with regard to the
transmutation of creatures.
On the contrary, To transmute creatures belongs to Him Who preserves
them. Now this belongs to God alone, according to Heb. 1:3: "Upholding
all things by the word of His power." Therefore God alone has omnipotence
with regard to the transmutation of creatures. Therefore this does not
belong to Christ's soul.
I answer that, Two distinctions are here needed. of these the first is
with respect to the transmutation of creatures, which is three-fold. The
first is natural, being brought about by the proper agent naturally; the
second is miraculous, being brought about by a supernatural agent above
the wonted order and course of nature, as to raise the dead; the third is
inasmuch as every creature may be brought to nothing.
The second distinction has to do with Christ's soul, which may be looked
at in two ways: first in its proper nature and with its power of nature
or of grace; secondly, as it is the instrument of the Word of God,
personally united to Him. Therefore if we speak of the soul of Christ in
its proper nature and with its power of nature or of grace, it had power
to cause those effects proper to a soul (e.g. to rule the body and direct
human acts, and also, by the fulness of grace and knowledge to enlighten
all rational creatures falling short of its perfection), in a manner
befitting a rational creature. But if we speak of the soul of Christ as
it is the instrument of the Word united to Him, it had an instrumental
power to effect all the miraculous transmutations ordainable to the end
of the Incarnation, which is "to re-establish all things that are in
heaven and on earth" [*Eph. 1:10]. But the transmutation of creatures,
inasmuch as they may be brought to nothing, corresponds to their
creation, whereby they were brought from nothing. And hence even as God
alone can create, so, too, He alone can bring creatures to nothing, and
He alone upholds them in being, lest they fall back to nothing. And thus
it must be said that the soul of Christ had not omnipotence with regard
to the transmutation of creatures.
Reply to Objection 1: As Jerome says (on the text quoted): "Power is given Him,"
i.e. to Christ as man, "Who a little while before was crucified, buried
in the tomb, and afterwards rose again." But power is said to have been
given Him, by reason of the union whereby it was brought about that a Man
was omnipotent, as was said above (Article , ad 1). And although this was
made known to the angels before the Resurrection, yet after the
Resurrection it was made known to all men, as Remigius says (cf. Catena
Aurea). Now, "things are said to happen when they are made known" [*Hugh
of St. Victor: Qq. in Ep. ad Philip.]. Hence after the Resurrection our
Lord says "that all power is given" to Him "in heaven and on earth."
Reply to Objection 2: Although every creature is transmutable by some other
creature, except, indeed, the highest angel, and even it can be
enlightened by Christ's soul; yet not every transmutation that can be
made in a creature can be made by a creature; since some transmutations
can be made by God alone. Yet all transmutations that can be made in
creatures can be made by the soul of Christ, as the instrument of the
Word, but not in its proper nature and power, since some of these
transmutations pertain to the soul neither in the order of nature nor in
the order of grace.
Reply to Objection 3: As was said in the SS, Question , Article , ad 1, the grace of
mighty works or miracles is given to the soul of a saint, so that these
miracles are wrought not by his own, but by Divine power. Now this grace
was bestowed on Christ's soul most excellently, i.e. not only that He
might work miracles, but also that He might communicate this grace to
others. Hence it is written (Mt. 10:1) that, "having called His twelve
disciples together, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them
out, and to heal all manner of diseases, and all manner of infirmities."
Article 3: Whether the soul of Christ had omnipotence with regard to His own body?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ's soul had omnipotence with regard to
His own body. For Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 20,23) that "all
natural things were voluntary to Christ; He willed to hunger, He willed
to thirst, He willed to fear, He willed to die." Now God is called
omnipotent because "He hath done all things whatsoever He would" (Ps. 113:11). Therefore it seems that Christ's soul had omnipotence with
regard to the natural operations of the body.
Objection 2: Further, human nature was more perfect in Christ than in Adam, who had a body entirely subject to the soul, so that nothing could happen to the body against the will of the soul---and this on account of the original justice which it had in the state of innocence. Much more, therefore, had Christ's soul omnipotence with regard to His body.
Objection 3: Further, the body is naturally changed by the imaginations of the
soul; and so much more changed, the stronger the soul's imagination, as
was said in the FP, Question , Article , ad 3. Now the soul of Christ had most
perfect strength as regards both the imagination and the other powers.
Therefore the soul of Christ was omnipotent with regard to His own body.
On the contrary, It is written (Heb. 2:17) that "it behooved Him in all
things to be made like unto His brethren," and especially as regards what
belongs to the condition of human nature. But it belongs to the condition
of human nature that the health of the body and its nourishment and
growth are not subject to the bidding of reason or will, since natural
things are subject to God alone Who is the author of nature. Therefore
they were not subject in Christ. Therefore Christ's soul was not
omnipotent with regard to His own body.
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), Christ's soul may be viewed in
two ways. First, in its proper nature and power; and in this way, as it
was incapable of making exterior bodies swerve from the course and order
of nature, so, too, was it incapable of changing its own body from its
natural disposition, since the soul, of its own nature, has a determinate
relation to its body. Secondly, Christ's soul may be viewed as an
instrument united in person to God's Word; and thus every disposition of
His own body was wholly subject to His power. Nevertheless, since the
power of an action is not properly attributed to the instrument, but to
the principal agent, this omnipotence is attributed to the Word of God
rather than to Christ's soul.
Reply to Objection 1: This saving of Damascene refers to the Divine will of
Christ, since, as he says in the preceding chapter (De Fide Orth. xix,
14,15), it was by the consent of the Divine will that the flesh was
allowed to suffer and do what was proper to it.
Reply to Objection 2: It was no part of the original justice which Adam had in
the state of innocence that a man's soul should have the power of
changing his own body to any form, but that it should keep it from any
hurt. Yet Christ could have assumed even this power if He had wished. But
since man has three states---viz. innocence, sin, and glory, even as from
the state of glory He assumed comprehension and from the state of
innocence, freedom from sin---so also from the state of sin did He assume
the necessity of being under the penalties of this life, as will be said
(Question , Article ).
Reply to Objection 3: If the imagination be strong, the body obeys naturally in
some things, e.g. as regards falling from a beam set on high, since the
imagination was formed to be a principle of local motion, as is said De
Anima iii, 9,10. So, too, as regards alteration in heat and cold, and
their consequences; for the passions of the soul, wherewith the heart is
moved, naturally follow the imagination, and thus by commotion of the
spirits the whole body is altered. But the other corporeal dispositions
which have no natural relation to the imagination are not transmuted by
the imagination, however strong it is, e.g. the shape of the hand, or
foot, or such like.
Article 4: Whether the soul of Christ had omnipotence as regards the execution of His will?
Objection 1: It would seem that the soul of Christ had not omnipotence as
regards the execution of His own will. For it is written (Mk. 7:24) that
"entering into a house, He would that no man should know it, and He could
not be hid." Therefore He could not carry out the purpose of His will in
Objection 2: Further, a command is a sign of will, as was said in the FP,
Question , Article . But our Lord commanded certain things to be done, and the
contrary came to pass, for it is written (Mt. 9:30, 31) that Jesus
strictly charged them whose eyes had been opened, saying: "See that no
man know this. But they going out spread His fame abroad in all that
country." Therefore He could not carry out the purpose of His will in
Objection 3: Further, a man does not ask from another for what he can do
himself. But our Lord besought the Father, praying for what He wished to
be done, for it is written (Lk. 6:12): "He went out into a mountain to
pray, and He passed the whole night in the prayer of God." Therefore He
could not carry out the purpose of His will in all things.
On the contrary, Augustine says (Qq. Nov. et Vet. Test., qu. 77): "It is
impossible for the will of the Saviour not to be fulfilled: nor is it
possible for Him to will what He knows ought not to come to pass."
I answer that, Christ's soul willed things in two ways. First, what was
to be brought about by Himself; and it must be said that He was capable
of whatever He willed thus, since it would not befit His wisdom if He
willed to do anything of Himself that was not subject to His will.
Secondly, He wished things to be brought about by the Divine power, as
the resurrection of His own body and such like miraculous deeds, which He
could not effect by His own power, except as the instrument of the
Godhead, as was said above (Article ).
Reply to Objection 1: As Augustine says (Qq. Nov. et Vet. Test., qu. 77): "What
came to pass, this Christ must be said to have willed. For it must be
remarked that this happened in the country of the Gentiles, to whom it
was not yet time to preach. Yet it would have been invidious not to
welcome such as came spontaneously for the faith. Hence He did not wish
to be heralded by His own, and yet He wished to be sought; and so it came
to pass." Or it may be said that this will of Christ was not with regard
to what was to be carried out by it, but with regard to what was to be
done by others, which did not come under His human will. Hence in the
letter of Pope Agatho, which was approved in the Sixth Council [*Third
Council of Constantinople, Act. iv], we read: "When He, the Creator and
Redeemer of all, wished to be hid and could not, must not this be
referred only to His human will which He deigned to assume in time?"
Reply to Objection 2: As Gregory says (Moral. xix), by the fact that "Our Lord
charged His mighty works to be kept secret, He gave an example to His
servants coming after Him that they should wish their miracles to be
hidden; and yet, that others may profit by their example, they are made
public against their will." And thus this command signified His will to
fly from human glory, according to Jn. 8:50, "I seek not My own glory."
Yet He wished absolutely, and especially by His Divine will, that the
miracle wrought should be published for the good of others.
Reply to Objection 3: Christ prayed both for things that were to be brought about
by the Divine power, and for what He Himself was to do by His human will,
since the power and operation of Christ's soul depended on God, "Who
works in all [Vulg.: 'you'], both to will and to accomplish" (Phil. 2:13).