QUESTION 46: THE PASSION OF CHRIST
In proper sequence we have now to consider all that relates to Christ's
leaving the world. In the first place, His Passion; secondly, His death;
thirdly, His burial; and, fourthly, His descent into hell.
With regard to the Passion, there arises a threefold consideration: (1)
The Passion itself; (2) the efficient cause of the Passion; (3) the
fruits of the Passion.
Under the first heading there are twelve points of inquiry:
(1) Whether it was necessary for Christ to suffer for men's deliverance?
(2) Whether there was any other possible means of delivering men?
(3) Whether this was the more suitable means?
(4) Whether it was fitting for Christ to suffer on the cross?
(5) The extent of His sufferings;
(6) Whether the pain which He endured was the greatest?
(7) Whether His entire soul suffered?
(8) Whether His Passion hindered the joy of fruition?
(9) The time of the Passion;
(10) The place;
(11) Whether it was fitting for Him to be crucified with robbers?
(12) Whether Christ's Passion is to be attributed to the Godhead?
Article 1: Whether it was necessary for Christ to suffer for the deliverance of the human race?
Objection 1: It would seem that it was not necessary for Christ to suffer for
the deliverance of the human race. For the human race could not be
delivered except by God, according to Is. 45:21: "Am not I the Lord, and
there is no God else besides Me? A just God and a Saviour, there is none
besides Me." But no necessity can compel God, for this would be repugnant
to His omnipotence. Therefore it was not necessary for Christ to suffer.
Objection 2: Further, what is necessary is opposed to what is voluntary. But
Christ suffered of His own will; for it is written (Is. 53:7): "He was
offered because it was His own will." Therefore it was not necessary for
Him to suffer.
Objection 3: Further, as is written (Ps. 24:10): "All the ways of the Lord are
mercy and truth." But it does not seem necessary that He should suffer on
the part of the Divine mercy, which, as it bestows gifts freely, so it
appears to condone debts without satisfaction: nor, again, on the part of
Divine justice, according to which man had deserved everlasting
condemnation. Therefore it does not seem necessary that Christ should
have suffered for man's deliverance.
Objection 4: Further, the angelic nature is more excellent than the human, as
appears from Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv). But Christ did not suffer to
repair the angelic nature which had sinned. Therefore, apparently,
neither was it necessary for Him to suffer for the salvation of the human
On the contrary, It is written (Jn. 3:14): "As Moses lifted up the
serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that
whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting."
I answer that, As the Philosopher teaches (Metaph. v), there are several
acceptations of the word "necessary." In one way it means anything which
of its nature cannot be otherwise; and in this way it is evident that it
was not necessary either on the part of God or on the part of man for
Christ to suffer. In another sense a thing may be necessary from some
cause quite apart from itself; and should this be either an efficient or
a moving cause then it brings about the necessity of compulsion; as, for
instance, when a man cannot get away owing to the violence of someone
else holding him. But if the external factor which induces necessity be
an end, then it will be said to be necessary from presupposing such
end---namely, when some particular end cannot exist at all, or not
conveniently, except such end be presupposed. It was not necessary,
then, for Christ to suffer from necessity of compulsion, either on God's
part, who ruled that Christ should suffer, or on Christ's own part, who
suffered voluntarily. Yet it was necessary from necessity of the end
proposed; and this can be accepted in three ways. First of all, on our
part, who have been delivered by His Passion, according to John (3:14):
"The Son of man must be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him may
not perish, but may have life everlasting." Secondly, on Christ's part,
who merited the glory of being exalted, through the lowliness of His
Passion: and to this must be referred Lk. 24:26: "Ought not Christ to
have suffered these things, and so to enter into His glory?" Thirdly, on
God's part, whose determination regarding the Passion of Christ, foretold
in the Scriptures and prefigured in the observances of the Old Testament,
had to be fulfilled. And this is what St. Luke says (22:22): "The Son of
man indeed goeth, according to that which is determined"; and (Lk. 24:44,46): "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with
you, that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law
of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning Me: for it is
thus written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again
from the dead."
Reply to Objection 1: This argument is based on the necessity of compulsion on
Reply to Objection 2: This argument rests on the necessity of compulsion on the
part of the man Christ.
Reply to Objection 3: That man should be delivered by Christ's Passion was in
keeping with both His mercy and His justice. With His justice, because by
His Passion Christ made satisfaction for the sin of the human race; and
so man was set free by Christ's justice: and with His mercy, for since
man of himself could not satisfy for the sin of all human nature, as was
said above (Question , Article ), God gave him His Son to satisfy for him,
according to Rm. 3:24,25: "Being justified freely by His grace, through
the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath proposed to be a
propitiation, through faith in His blood." And this came of more copious
mercy than if He had forgiven sins without satisfaction. Hence it is said
(Eph. 2:4): "God, who is rich in mercy, for His exceeding charity
wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us
together in Christ."
Article 2: Whether there was any other possible way of human deliverance besides the Passion of Christ?
Objection 1: It would seem that there was no other possible way of human
deliverance besides Christ's Passion. For our Lord says (Jn. 12:24):
"Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the
ground dieth, itself remaineth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth
much fruit." Upon this St. Augustine (Tract. li) observes that "Christ
called Himself the seed." Consequently, unless He suffered death, He
would not otherwise have produced the fruit of our redemption.
Objection 2: Further, our Lord addresses the Father (Mt. 26:42): "My Father,
if this chalice may not pass away but I must drink it, Thy will be done."
But He spoke there of the chalice of the Passion. Therefore Christ's
Passion could not pass away; hence Hilary says (Comm. 31 in Matth.):
"Therefore the chalice cannot pass except He drink of it, because we
cannot be restored except through His Passion."
Objection 3: Further, God's justice required that Christ should satisfy by the
Passion in order that man might be delivered from sin. But Christ cannot
let His justice pass; for it is written (2 Tim. 2:13): "If we believe
not, He continueth faithful, He cannot deny Himself." But He would deny
Himself were He to deny His justice, since He is justice itself. It seems
impossible, then, for man to be delivered otherwise than by Christ's
Objection 4: Further, there can be no falsehood underlying faith. But the
Fathers of old believed that Christ would suffer. Consequently, it seems
that it had to be that Christ should suffer.
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. xiii): "We assert that the way
whereby God deigned to deliver us by the man Jesus Christ, who is
mediator between God and man, is both good and befitting the Divine
dignity; but let us also show that other possible means were not lacking
on God's part, to whose power all things are equally subordinate."
I answer that, A thing may be said to be possible or impossible in two
ways: first of all, simply and absolutely; or secondly, from supposition.
Therefore, speaking simply and absolutely, it was possible for God to
deliver mankind otherwise than by the Passion of Christ, because "no word
shall be impossible with God" (Lk. 1:37). Yet it was impossible if some
supposition be made. For since it is impossible for God's foreknowledge
to be deceived and His will or ordinance to be frustrated, then,
supposing God's foreknowledge and ordinance regarding Christ's Passion,
it was not possible at the same time for Christ not to suffer, and for
mankind to be delivered otherwise than by Christ's Passion. And the same
holds good of all things foreknown and preordained by God, as was laid
down in the FP, Question , Article .
Reply to Objection 1: Our Lord is speaking there presupposing God's foreknowledge
and predetermination, according to which it was resolved that the fruit
of man's salvation should not follow unless Christ suffered.
Reply to Objection 2: In the same way we must understand what is here objected to
in the second instance: "If this chalice may not pass away but I must
drink of it"---that is to say, because Thou hast so ordained it---hence
He adds: "Thy will be done."
Reply to Objection 3: Even this justice depends on the Divine will, requiring
satisfaction for sin from the human race. But if He had willed to free
man from sin without any satisfaction, He would not have acted against
justice. For a judge, while preserving justice, cannot pardon fault
without penalty, if he must visit fault committed against another---for
instance, against another man, or against the State, or any Prince in
higher authority. But God has no one higher than Himself, for He is the
sovereign and common good of the whole universe. Consequently, if He
forgive sin, which has the formality of fault in that it is committed
against Himself, He wrongs no one: just as anyone else, overlooking a
personal trespass, without satisfaction, acts mercifully and not
unjustly. And so David exclaimed when he sought mercy: "To Thee only have
I sinned" (Ps. 50:6), as if to say: "Thou canst pardon me without
Reply to Objection 4: Human faith, and even the Divine Scriptures upon which
faith is based, are both based on the Divine foreknowledge and ordinance.
And the same reason holds good of that necessity which comes of
supposition, and of the necessity which arises of the Divine
foreknowledge and will.
Article 3: Whether there was any more suitable way of delivering the human race than by Christ's Passion?
Objection 1: It would seem that there was some other more suitable way of
delivering the human race besides Christ's Passion. For nature in its
operation imitates the Divine work, since it is moved and regulated by
God. But nature never employs two agents where one will suffice.
Therefore, since God could have liberated mankind solely by His Divine
will, it does not seem fitting that Christ's Passion should have been
added for the deliverance of the human race.
Objection 2: Further, natural actions are more suitably performed than deeds
of violence, because violence is "a severance or lapse from what is
according to nature," as is said in De Coelo ii. But Christ's Passion
brought about His death by violence. Therefore it would have been more
appropriate had Christ died a natural death rather than suffer for man's
Objection 3: Further, it seems most fitting that whatsoever keeps something
unjustly and by violence, should be deprived of it by some superior
power; hence Isaias says (52:3): "You were sold gratis, and you shall be
redeemed without money." But the devil possessed no right over man, whom
he had deceived by guile, and whom he held subject in servitude by a sort
of violence. Therefore it seems most suitable that Christ should have
despoiled the devil solely by His power and without the Passion.
On the contrary, St. Augustine says (De Trin. xiii): "There was no
other more suitable way of healing our misery" than by the Passion of
I answer that, Among means to an end that one is the more suitable
whereby the various concurring means employed are themselves helpful to
such end. But in this that man was delivered by Christ's Passion, many
other things besides deliverance from sin concurred for man's salvation.
In the first place, man knows thereby how much God loves him, and is
thereby stirred to love Him in return, and herein lies the perfection of
human salvation; hence the Apostle says (Rm. 5:8): "God commendeth His
charity towards us; for when as yet we were sinners . . . Christ died for
us." Secondly, because thereby He set us an example of obedience,
humility, constancy, justice, and the other virtues displayed in the
Passion, which are requisite for man's salvation. Hence it is written (1
Pt. 2:21): "Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you
should follow in His steps." Thirdly, because Christ by His Passion not
only delivered man from sin, but also merited justifying grace for him
and the glory of bliss, as shall be shown later (Question , Article ; Question , Articles , 5). Fourthly, because by this man is all the more bound to refrain
from sin, according to 1 Cor. 6:20: "You are bought with a great price:
glorify and bear God in your body." Fifthly, because it redounded to
man's greater dignity, that as man was overcome and deceived by the
devil, so also it should be a man that should overthrow the devil; and as
man deserved death, so a man by dying should vanquish death. Hence it is
written (1 Cor. 15:57): "Thanks be to God who hath given us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ." It was accordingly more fitting that we
should be delivered by Christ's Passion than simply by God's good-will.
Reply to Objection 1: Even nature uses several means to one intent, in order to
do something more fittingly: as two eyes for seeing; and the same can be
observed in other matters.
Reply to Objection 2: As Chrysostom [*Athanasius, Orat. De Incarn. Verb.] says:
"Christ had come in order to destroy death, not His own, (for since He is
life itself, death could not be His), but men's death. Hence it was not
by reason of His being bound to die that He laid His body aside, but
because the death He endured was inflicted on Him by men. But even if His
body had sickened and dissolved in the sight of all men, it was not
befitting Him who healed the infirmities of others to have his own body
afflicted with the same. And even had He laid His body aside without any
sickness, and had then appeared, men would not have believed Him when He
spoke of His resurrection. For how could Christ's victory over death
appear, unless He endured it in the sight of all men, and so proved that
death was vanquished by the incorruption of His body?"
Reply to Objection 3: Although the devil assailed man unjustly, nevertheless, on
account of sin, man was justly left by God under the devil's bondage. And
therefore it was fitting that through justice man should be delivered
from the devil's bondage by Christ making satisfaction on his behalf in
the Passion. This was also a fitting means of overthrowing the pride of
the devil, "who is a deserter from justice, and covetous of sway"; in
that Christ "should vanquish him and deliver man, not merely by the power
of His Godhead, but likewise by the justice and lowliness of the
Passion," as Augustine says (De Trin. xiii).
Article 4: Whether Christ ought to have suffered on the cross?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ ought not to have suffered on the
cross. For the truth ought to conform to the figure. But in all the
sacrifices of the Old Testament which prefigured Christ the beasts were
slain with a sword and afterwards consumed by fire. Therefore it seems
that Christ ought not to have suffered on a cross, but rather by the
sword or by fire.
Objection 2: Further, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii) that Christ ought not
to assume "dishonoring afflictions." But death on a cross was most
dishonoring and ignominious; hence it is written (Wis. 2:20): "Let us
condemn Him to a most shameful death." Therefore it seems that Christ
ought not to have undergone the death of the cross.
Objection 3: Further, it was said of Christ (Mt. 21:9): "Blessed is He that
cometh in the name of the Lord." But death upon the cross was a death of
malediction, as we read Dt. 21:23: "He is accursed of God that hangeth on
a tree." Therefore it does not seem fitting for Christ to be crucified.
On the contrary, It is written (Phil. 2:8): "He became obedient unto
death, even the death of the cross."
I answer that, It was most fitting that Christ should suffer the death
of the cross.
First of all, as an example of virtue. For Augustine thus writes (Questions.
lxxxiii, qu. 25): "God's Wisdom became man to give us an example in
righteousness of living. But it is part of righteous living not to stand
in fear of things which ought not to be feared. Now there are some men
who, although they do not fear death in itself, are yet troubled over the
manner of their death. In order, then, that no kind of death should
trouble an upright man, the cross of this Man had to be set before him,
because, among all kinds of death, none was more execrable, more
fear-inspiring, than this."
Secondly, because this kind of death was especially suitable in order to
atone for the sin of our first parent, which was the plucking of the
apple from the forbidden tree against God's command. And so, to atone for
that sin, it was fitting that Christ should suffer by being fastened to a
tree, as if restoring what Adam had purloined; according to Ps. 68:5:
"Then did I pay that which I took not away." Hence Augustine says in a
sermon on the Passion [*Cf. Serm. ci De Tempore]: "Adam despised the
command, plucking the apple from the tree: but all that Adam lost, Christ
found upon the cross."
The third reason is because, as Chrysostom says in a sermon on the
Passion (De Cruce et Latrone i, ii): "He suffered upon a high rood and
not under a roof, in order that the nature of the air might be purified:
and the earth felt a like benefit, for it was cleansed by the flowing of
the blood from His side." And on Jn. 3:14: "The Son of man must be lifted
up," Theophylact says: "When you hear that He was lifted up, understand
His hanging on high, that He might sanctify the air who had sanctified
the earth by walking upon it."
The fourth reason is, because, by dying on it, He prepares for us an
ascent into heaven, as Chrysostom [*Athanasius, vide A, III, ad 2] says.
Hence it is that He says (Jn. 12:32): "If I be lifted up from the earth,
I will draw all things to Myself."
The fifth reason is because it is befitting the universal salvation of
the entire world. Hence Gregory of Nyssa observes (In Christ. Resurr.,
Orat. i) that "the shape of the cross extending out into four extremes
from their central point of contact denotes the power and the providence
diffused everywhere of Him who hung upon it." Chrysostom [*Athanasius,
vide A. III, ad 2] also says that upon the cross "He dies with
outstretched hands in order to draw with one hand the people of old, and
with the other those who spring from the Gentiles."
The sixth reason is because of the various virtues denoted by this class
of death. Hence Augustine in his book on the grace of the Old and New
Testament (Ep. cxl) says: "Not without purpose did He choose this class
of death, that He might be a teacher of that breadth, and height, and
length, and depth," of which the Apostle speaks (Eph. 3:18): "For breadth
is in the beam, which is fixed transversely above; this appertains to
good works, since the hands are stretched out upon it. Length is the
tree's extent from the beam to the ground; and there it is planted---that
is, it stands and abides---which is the note of longanimity. Height is in
that portion of the tree which remains over from the transverse beam
upwards to the top, and this is at the head of the Crucified, because He
is the supreme desire of souls of good hope. But that part of the tree
which is hidden from view to hold it fixed, and from which the entire
rood springs, denotes the depth of gratuitous grace." And, as Augustine
says (Tract. cxix in Joan.): "The tree upon which were fixed the members
of Him dying was even the chair of the Master teaching."
The seventh reason is because this kind of death responds to very many
figures. For, as Augustine says in a sermon on the Passion (Serm. ci De
Tempore), an ark of wood preserved the human race from the waters of the
Deluge; at the exodus of God's people from Egypt, Moses with a rod
divided the sea, overthrew Pharaoh and saved the people of God. the same
Moses dipped his rod into the water, changing it from bitter to sweet;
at the touch of a wooden rod a salutary spring gushed forth from a
spiritual rock; likewise, in order to overcome Amalec, Moses stretched
forth his arms with rod in hand; lastly, God's law is entrusted to the
wooden Ark of the Covenant; all of which are like steps by which we mount
to the wood of the cross.
Reply to Objection 1: The altar of holocausts, upon which the sacrifices of
animals were immolated, was constructed of timbers, as is set forth Ex.
27:, and in this respect the truth answers to the figure; but "it is not
necessary for it to be likened in every respect, otherwise it would not
be a likeness," but the reality, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii).
But. in particular, as Chrysostom [*Athanasius, vide A, III, ad 2] says:
"His head is not cut off, as was done to John; nor was He sawn in twain,
like Isaias, in order that His entire and indivisible body might obey
death, and that there might be no excuse for them who want to divide the
Church." While, instead of material fire, there was the spiritual fire of
charity in Christ's holocaust.
Reply to Objection 2: Christ refused to undergo dishonorable sufferings which are
allied with defects of knowledge, or of grace, or even of virtue, but not
those injuries inflicted from without---nay, more, as is written Heb.
12:2: "He endured the cross, despising the shame."
Reply to Objection 3: As Augustine says (Contra Faust. xiv), sin is accursed,
and, consequently, so is death, and mortality, which comes of sin. "But
Christ's flesh was mortal, 'having the resemblance of the flesh of sin'";
and hence Moses calls it "accursed," just as the Apostle calls it "sin,"
saying (2 Cor. 5:21): "Him that knew no sin, for us He hath made
sin"---namely, because of the penalty of sin. "Nor is there greater
ignominy on that account, because he said: 'He is accursed of God.'" For,
"unless God had hated sin, He would never have sent His Son to take upon
Himself our death, and to destroy it. Acknowledge, then, that it was for
us He took the curse upon Himself, whom you confess to have died for us."
Hence it is written (Gal. 3:13): "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse
of the law, being made a curse for us."
Article 5: Whether Christ endured all suffering?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ did endure all sufferings, because
Hilary (De Trin. x) says: "God's only-begotten Son testifies that He
endured every kind of human sufferings in order to accomplish the
sacrament of His death, when with bowed head He gave up the ghost." It
seems, therefore, that He did endure all human sufferings.
Objection 2: Further, it is written (Is. 52:13): "Behold My servant shall
understand, He shall be exalted and extolled, and shall be exceeding
high; as many as have been astonished at Him [Vulg.: 'thee'], so shall
His visage be inglorious among men, and His form among the sons of men."
But Christ was exalted in that He had all grace and all knowledge, at
which many were astonished in admiration thereof. Therefore it seems that
He was "inglorious," by enduring every human suffering.
Objection 3: Further, Christ's Passion was ordained for man's deliverance from
sin, as stated above (Article ). But Christ came to deliver men from every
kind of sin. Therefore He ought to have endured every kind of suffering.
On the contrary, It is written (Jn. 19:32): "The soldiers therefore
came: and they broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was
crucified with Him; but after they were come to Jesus, when they saw that
He was already dead, they did not break His legs." Consequently, He did
not endure every human suffering.
I answer that, Human sufferings may be considered under two aspects.
First of all, specifically, and in this way it was not necessary for
Christ to endure them all, since many are mutually exclusive, as burning
and drowning; for we are dealing now with sufferings inflicted from
without, since it was not beseeming for Him to endure those arising from
within, such as bodily ailments, as already stated (Question , Article ). But,
speaking generically, He did endure every human suffering. This admits of
a threefold acceptance. First of all, on the part of men: for He endured
something from Gentiles and from Jews; from men and from women, as is
clear from the women servants who accused Peter. He suffered from the
rulers, from their servants and from the mob, according to Ps. 2:1,2:
"Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things? The
kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the
Lord and against His Christ." He suffered from friends and acquaintances,
as is manifest from Judas betraying and Peter denying Him.
Secondly, the same is evident on the part of the sufferings which a man
can endure. For Christ suffered from friends abandoning Him; in His
reputation, from the blasphemies hurled at Him; in His honor and glory,
from the mockeries and the insults heaped upon Him; in things, for He was
despoiled of His garments; in His soul, from sadness, weariness, and
fear; in His body, from wounds and scourgings.
Thirdly, it may be considered with regard to His bodily members. In His
head He suffered from the crown of piercing thorns; in His hands and
feet, from the fastening of the nails; on His face from the blows and
spittle; and from the lashes over His entire body. Moreover, He suffered
in all His bodily senses: in touch, by being scourged and nailed; in
taste, by being given vinegar and gall to drink; in smell, by being
fastened to the gibbet in a place reeking with the stench of corpses,
"which is called Calvary"; in hearing, by being tormented with the cries
of blasphemers and scorners; in sight, by beholding the tears of His
Mother and of the disciple whom He loved.
Reply to Objection 1: Hilary's words are to be understood as to all classes of
sufferings, but not as to their kinds.
Reply to Objection 2: The likeness is sustained, not as to the number of the
sufferings and graces, but as to their greatness; for, as He was uplifted
above others in gifts of graces, so was He lowered beneath others by the
ignominy of His sufferings.
Reply to Objection 3: The very least one of Christ's sufferings was sufficient of
itself to redeem the human race from all sins; but as to fittingness, it
sufficed that He should endure all classes of sufferings, as stated above.
Article 6: Whether the pain of Christ's Passion was greater than all other pains?
Objection 1: It would seem that the pain of Christ's Passion was not greater
than all other pains. For the sufferer's pain is increased by the
sharpness and the duration of the suffering. But some of the martyrs
endured sharper and more prolonged pains than Christ, as is seen in St.
Lawrence, who was roasted upon a gridiron; and in St. Vincent, whose
flesh was torn with iron pincers. Therefore it seems that the pain of the
suffering Christ was not the greatest.
Objection 2: Further, strength of soul mitigates pain, so much so that the
Stoics held there was no sadness in the soul of a wise man; and Aristotle
(Ethic. ii) holds that moral virtue fixes the mean in the passions. But
Christ had most perfect strength of soul. Therefore it seems that the
greatest pain did not exist in Christ.
Objection 3: Further, the more sensitive the sufferer is, the more acute will
the pain be. But the soul is more sensitive than the body, since the body
feels in virtue of the soul; also, Adam in the state of innocence seems
to have had a body more sensitive than Christ had, who assumed a human
body with its natural defects. Consequently, it seems that the pain of a
sufferer in purgatory, or in hell, or even Adam's pain, if he suffered at
all, was greater than Christ's in the Passion.
Objection 4: Further, the greater the good lost, the greater the pain. But by
sinning the sinner loses a greater good than Christ did when suffering;
since the life of grace is greater than the life of nature: also, Christ,
who lost His life, but was to rise again after three days, seems to have
lost less than those who lose their lives and abide in death. Therefore
it seems that Christ's pain was not the greatest of all.
Objection 5: Further, the victim's innocence lessens the sting of his
sufferings. But Christ died innocent, according to Jer. 9:19: "I was as a
meek lamb, that is carried to be a victim." Therefore it seems that the
pain of Christ's Passion was not the greatest.
Objection 6: Further, there was nothing superfluous in Christ's conduct. But
the slightest pain would have sufficed to secure man's salvation, because
from His Divine Person it would have had infinite virtue. Therefore it
would have been superfluous to choose the greatest of all pains.
On the contrary, It is written (Lam. 1:12) on behalf of Christ's Person:
"O all ye that pass by the way attend, and see if there be any sorrow
like unto My sorrow."
I answer that, As we have stated, when treating of the defects assumed
by Christ (Question , Articles ,6), there was true and sensible pain in the
suffering Christ, which is caused by something hurtful to the body: also,
there was internal pain, which is caused from the apprehension of
something hurtful, and this is termed "sadness." And in Christ each of
these was the greatest in this present life. This arose from four causes.
First of all, from the sources of His pain. For the cause of the
sensitive pain was the wounding of His body; and this wounding had its
bitterness, both from the extent of the suffering already mentioned (Article ) and from the kind of suffering, since the death of the crucified is
most bitter, because they are pierced in nervous and highly sensitive
parts---to wit, the hands and feet; moreover, the weight of the suspended
body intensifies the agony. and besides this there is the duration of the
suffering because they do not die at once like those slain by the sword.
The cause of the interior pain was, first of all, all the sins of the
human race, for which He made satisfaction by suffering; hence He
ascribes them, so to speak, to Himself, saying (Ps. 21:2): "The words of
my sins." Secondly, especially the fall of the Jews and of the others who
sinned in His death chiefly of the apostles, who were scandalized at His
Passion. Thirdly, the loss of His bodily life, which is naturally
horrible to human nature.
The magnitude of His suffering may be considered, secondly, from the
susceptibility of the sufferer as to both soul and body. For His body was
endowed with a most perfect constitution, since it was fashioned
miraculously by the operation of the Holy Ghost; just as some other
things made by miracles are better than others, as Chrysostom says (Hom.
xxii in Joan.) respecting the wine into which Christ changed the water at
the wedding-feast. And, consequently, Christ's sense of touch, the
sensitiveness of which is the reason for our feeling pain, was most
acute. His soul likewise, from its interior powers, apprehended most
vehemently all the causes of sadness.
Thirdly, the magnitude of Christ's suffering can be estimated from the
singleness of His pain and sadness. In other sufferers the interior
sadness is mitigated, and even the exterior suffering, from some
consideration of reason, by some derivation or redundance from the higher
powers into the lower; but it was not so with the suffering Christ,
because "He permitted each one of His powers to exercise its proper
function," as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii).
Fourthly, the magnitude of the pain of Christ's suffering can be
reckoned by this, that the pain and sorrow were accepted voluntarily, to
the end of men's deliverance from sin; and consequently He embraced the
amount of pain proportionate to the magnitude of the fruit which resulted
From all these causes weighed together, it follows that Christ's pain
was the very greatest.
Reply to Objection 1: This argument follows from only one of the considerations
adduced---namely, from the bodily injury, which is the cause of sensitive
pain; but the torment of the suffering Christ is much more intensified
from other causes, as above stated.
Reply to Objection 2: Moral virtue lessens interior sadness in one way, and
outward sensitive pain in quite another; for it lessens interior sadness
directly by fixing the mean, as being its proper matter, within limits.
But, as was laid down in the FS, Question , Article , moral virtue fixes the mean
in the passions, not according to mathematical quantity, but according to
quantity of proportion, so that the passion shall not go beyond the rule
of reason. And since the Stoics held all sadness to be unprofitable, they
accordingly believed it to be altogether discordant with reason, and
consequently to be shunned altogether by a wise man. But in very truth
some sadness is praiseworthy, as Augustine proves (De Civ. Dei
xiv)---namely, when it flows from holy love, as, for instance, when a man
is saddened over his own or others' sins. Furthermore, it is employed as
a useful means of satisfying for sins, according to the saying of the
Apostle (2 Cor. 7:10): "The sorrow that is according to God worketh
penance, steadfast unto salvation." And so to atone for the sins of all
men, Christ accepted sadness, the greatest in absolute quantity, yet not
exceeding the rule of reason. But moral virtue does not lessen outward
sensitive pain, because such pain is not subject to reason, but follows
the nature of the body; yet it lessens it indirectly by redundance of the
higher powers into the lower. But this did not happen in Christ's case,
as stated above (cf. Question , Article , ad 2; Question , Article ).
Reply to Objection 3: The pain of a suffering, separated soul belongs to the
state of future condemnation, which exceeds every evil of this life, just
as the glory of the saints surpasses every good of the present life.
Accordingly, when we say that Christ's pain was the greatest, we make no
comparison between His and the pain of a separated soul. But Adam's body
could not suffer, except he sinned. so that he would become mortal, and
passible. And, though actually suffering, it would have felt less pain
than Christ's body, for the reasons already stated. From all this it is
clear that even if by impassibility Adam had suffered in the state of
innocence, his pain would have been less than Christ's.
Reply to Objection 4: Christ grieved not only over the loss of His own bodily
life, but also over the sins of all others. And this grief in Christ
surpassed all grief of every contrite heart, both because it flowed from
a greater wisdom and charity, by which the pang of contrition is
intensified, and because He grieved at the one time for all sins,
according to Is. 53:4: "Surely He hath carried our sorrows." But such was
the dignity of Christ's life in the body, especially on account of the
Godhead united with it, that its loss, even for one hour, would be a
matter of greater grief than the loss of another man's life for howsoever
long a time. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii) that the man of
virtue loves his life all the more in proportion as he knows it to be
better; and yet he exposes it for virtue's sake. And in like fashion
Christ laid down His most beloved life for the good of charity, according
to Jer. 12:7: "I have given My dear soul into the hands of her enemies."
Reply to Objection 5: The sufferer's innocence does lessen numerically the pain
of the suffering, since, when a guilty man suffers, he grieves not merely
on account of the penalty, but also because of the crime. whereas the
innocent man grieves only for the penalty: yet this pain is more
intensified by reason of his innocence, in so far as he deems the hurt
inflicted to be the more undeserved. Hence it is that even others are
more deserving of blame if they do not compassionate him. according to
Is. 57:1: "The just perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart."
Reply to Objection 6: Christ willed to deliver the human race from sins not
merely by His power, but also according to justice. And therefore He did
not simply weigh what great virtue His suffering would have from union
with the Godhead, but also how much, according to His human nature, His
pain would avail for so great a satisfaction.
Article 7: Whether Christ suffered in His whole soul?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ did not suffer in His whole soul. For
the soul suffers indirectly when the body suffers, inasmuch as it is the
"act of the body." But the soul is not, as to its every part, the "act of
the body"; because the intellect is the act of no body, as is said De
Anima iii. Therefore it seems that Christ did not suffer in His whole
Objection 2: Further, every power of the soul is passive in regard to its
proper object. But the higher part of reason has for its object the
eternal types, "to the consideration and consultation of which it directs
itself," as Augustine says (De Trin. xii). But Christ could suffer no
hurt from the eternal types, since they are nowise opposed to Him.
Therefore it seems that He did not suffer in His whole soul.
Objection 3: Further, a sensitive passion is said to be complete when it comes into contact with the reason. But there was none such in Christ, but only "pro-passions"; as Jerome remarks on Mt. 26:37. Hence Dionysius says in a letter to John the Evangelist that "He endured only mentally the sufferings inflicted upon Him." Consequently it does not seem that Christ suffered in His whole soul.
Objection 4: Further, suffering causes pain: but there is no pain in the
speculative intellect, because, as the Philosopher says (Topic. i),
"there is no sadness in opposition to the pleasure which comes of
consideration." Therefore it seems that Christ did not suffer in His
On the contrary, It is written (Ps. 87:4) on behalf of Christ: "My soul
is filled with evils": upon which the gloss adds: "Not with vices, but
with woes, whereby the soul suffers with the flesh; or with evils, viz.
of a perishing people, by compassionating them." But His soul would not
have been filled with these evils except He had suffered in His whole
soul. Therefore Christ suffered in His entire soul.
I answer that, A whole is so termed with respect to its parts. But the
parts of a soul are its faculties. So, then, the whole soul is said to
suffer in so far as it is afflicted as to its essence, or as to all its
faculties. But it must be borne in mind that a faculty of the soul can
suffer in two ways: first of all, by its own passion; and this comes of
its being afflicted by its proper object; thus, sight may suffer from
superabundance of the visible object. In another way a faculty suffers by
a passion in the subject on which it is based; as sight suffers when the
sense of touch in the eye is affected, upon which the sense of sight
rests, as, for instance, when the eye is pricked, or is disaffected by
So, then, we say that if the soul be considered with respect to its
essence, it is evident that Christ's whole soul suffered. For the soul's
whole essence is allied with the body, so that it is entire in the whole
body and in its every part. Consequently, when the body suffered and was
disposed to separate from the soul, the entire soul suffered. But if we
consider the whole soul according to its faculties, speaking thus of the
proper passions of the faculties, He suffered indeed as to all His lower
powers; because in all the soul's lower powers, whose operations are but
temporal, there was something to be found which was a source of woe to
Christ, as is evident from what was said above (Article ). But Christ's
higher reason did not suffer thereby on the part of its object, which is
God, who was the cause, not of grief, but rather of delight and joy, to
the soul of Christ. Nevertheless, all the powers of Christ's soul did
suffer according as any faculty is said to be affected as regards its
subject, because all the faculties of Christ's soul were rooted in its
essence, to which suffering extended when the body, whose act it is,
Reply to Objection 1: Although the intellect as a faculty is not the act of the
body, still the soul's essence is the act of the body, and in it the
intellective faculty is rooted, as was shown in the FP, Question , Articles ,8.
Reply to Objection 2: This argument proceeds from passion on the part of the
proper object, according to which Christ's higher reason did not suffer.
Reply to Objection 3: Grief is then said to be a true passion, by which the soul
is troubled, when the passion in the sensitive part causes reason to
deflect from the rectitude of its act, so that it then follows the
passion, and has no longer free-will with regard to it. In this way
passion of the sensitive part did not extend to reason in Christ, but
merely subjectively, as was stated above.
Reply to Objection 4: The speculative intellect can have no pain or sadness on
the part of its object, which is truth considered absolutely, and which
is its perfection: nevertheless, both grief and its cause can reach it in
the way mentioned above.
Article 8: Whether Christ's entire soul enjoyed blessed fruition during the Passion?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ's entire soul did not enjoy blessed
fruition during the Passion. For it is not possible to be sad and glad at
the one time, since sadness and gladness are contraries. But Christ's
whole soul suffered grief during the Passion, as was stated above (Article ).
Therefore His whole soul could not enjoy fruition.
Objection 2: Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii) that, if sadness be
vehement, it not only checks the contrary delight, but every delight; and
conversely. But the grief of Christ's Passion was the greatest, as shown
above (Article ); and likewise the enjoyment of fruition is also the
greatest, as was laid down in the first volume of the FS, Question , Article .
Consequently, it was not possible for Christ's whole soul to be suffering
and rejoicing at the one time.
Objection 3: Further, beatific "fruition" comes of the knowledge and love of
Divine things, as Augustine says (Doctr. Christ. i). But all the soul's
powers do not extend to the knowledge and love of God. Therefore Christ's
whole soul did not enjoy fruition.
On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii): Christ's Godhead
"permitted His flesh to do and to suffer what was proper to it." In like
fashion, since it belonged to Christ's soul, inasmuch as it was blessed,
to enjoy fruition, His Passion did not impede fruition.
I answer that, As stated above (Article ), the whole soul can be understood
both according to its essence and according to all its faculties. If it
be understood according to its essence, then His whole soul did enjoy
fruition, inasmuch as it is the subject of the higher part of the soul,
to which it belongs, to enjoy the Godhead: so that as passion, by reason
of the essence, is attributed to the higher part of the soul, so, on the
other hand, by reason of the superior part of the soul, fruition is
attributed to the essence. But if we take the whole soul as comprising
all its faculties, thus His entire soul did not enjoy fruition: not
directly, indeed, because fruition is not the act of any one part of the
soul; nor by any overflow of glory, because, since Christ was still upon
earth, there was no overflowing of glory from the higher part into the
lower, nor from the soul into the body. But since, on the contrary, the
soul's higher part was not hindered in its proper acts by the lower, it
follows that the higher part of His soul enjoyed fruition perfectly while
Christ was suffering.
Reply to Objection 1: The joy of fruition is not opposed directly to the grief of
the Passion, because they have not the same object. Now nothing prevents
contraries from being in the same subject, but not according to the same.
And so the joy of fruition can appertain to the higher part of reason by
its proper act; but grief of the Passion according to the subject. Grief
of the Passion belongs to the essence of the soul by reason of the body,
whose form the soul is; whereas the joy of fruition (belongs to the soul)
by reason of the faculty in which it is subjected.
Reply to Objection 2: The Philosopher's contention is true because of the
overflow which takes place naturally of one faculty of the soul into
another; but it was not so with Christ, as was said above.
Reply to Objection 3: Such argument holds good of the totality of the soul with
regard to its faculties.
Article 9: Whether Christ suffered at a suitable time?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ did not suffer at a suitable time. For
Christ's Passion was prefigured by the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb:
hence the Apostle says (1 Cor. 5:7): "Christ our Pasch is sacrificed."
But the paschal lamb was slain "on the fourteenth day at eventide," as is
stated in Ex. 12:6. Therefore it seems that Christ ought to have suffered
then; which is manifestly false: for He was then celebrating the Pasch
with His disciples, according to Mark's account (14:12): "On the first
day of the unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the Pasch"; whereas it
was on the following day that He suffered.
Objection 2: Further, Christ's Passion is called His uplifting, according to
Jn. 3:14: "So must the Son of man be lifted up." And Christ is Himself
called the Sun of Justice, as we read Mal. 4:2. Therefore it seems that
He ought to have suffered at the sixth hour, when the sun is at its
highest point, and yet the contrary appears from Mk. 15:25: "It was the
third hour, and they crucified Him."
Objection 3: Further, as the sun is at its highest point in each day at the
sixth hour, so also it reaches its highest point in every year at the
summer solstice. Therefore Christ ought to have suffered about the time
of the summer solstice rather than about the vernal equinox.
Objection 4: Further, the world was enlightened by Christ's presence in it,
according to Jn. 9:5: "As long as I am in the world I am the light of the
world." Consequently it was fitting for man's salvation that Christ
should have lived longer in the world, so that He should have suffered,
not in young, but in old, age.
On the contrary, It is written (Jn. 13:1): "Jesus, knowing that His hour
was come for Him to pass out of this world to the Father"; and (Jn. 2:4):
"My hour is not yet come." Upon which texts Augustine observes: "When He
had done as much as He deemed sufficient, then came His hour, not of
necessity, but of will, not of condition, but of power." Therefore Christ
died at an opportune time.
I answer that, As was observed above (Article ), Christ's Passion was
subject to His will. But His will was ruled by the Divine wisdom which
"ordereth all things" conveniently and "sweetly" (Wis. 8:1). Consequently
it must be said that Christ's Passion was enacted at an opportune time.
Hence it is written in De Qq. Vet. et Nov. Test., qu. lv: "The Saviour
did everything in its proper place and season."
Reply to Objection 1: Some hold that Christ did die on the fourteenth day of the
moon, when the Jews sacrificed the Pasch: hence it is stated (Jn. 18:28)
that the Jews "went not into Pilate's hall" on the day of the Passion,
"that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the Pasch." Upon
this Chrysostom observes (Hom. lxxxii in Joan.): "The Jews celebrated the
Pasch then; but He celebrated the Pasch on the previous day, reserving
His own slaying until the Friday, when the old Pasch was kept." And this
appears to tally with the statement (Jn. 13:1-5) that "before the
festival day of the Pasch . . . when supper was done" . . . Christ washed
"the feet of the disciples."
But Matthew's account (26:17) seems opposed to this; that "on the first
day of the Azymes the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Where wilt Thou
that we prepare for Thee to eat the Pasch?" From which, as Jerome says,
"since the fourteenth day of the first month is called the day of the
Azymes, when the lamb was slain, and when it was full moon," it is quite
clear that Christ kept the supper on the fourteenth and died on the
fifteenth. And this comes out more clearly from Mk. 14:12: "On the first
day of the unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the Pasch," etc.; and
from Lk. 22:7: "The day of the unleavened bread came, on which it was
necessary that the Pasch should be killed."
Consequently, then, others say that Christ ate the Pasch with His disciples on the proper day---that is, on the fourteenth day of the moon---"showing thereby that up to the last day He was not opposed to the law," as Chrysostom says (Hom. lxxxi in Matth.): but that the Jews, being busied in compassing Christ's death against the law, put off celebrating the Pasch until the following day. And on this account it is said of them that on the day of Christ's Passion they were unwilling to enter Pilate's hall, "that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the Pasch."
But even this solution does not tally with Mark, who says: "On the first
day of the unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the Pasch."
Consequently Christ and the Jews celebrated the ancient Pasch at the one
time. And as Bede says on Lk. 22:7,8: "Although Christ who is our Pasch
was slain on the following day---that is, on the fifteenth day of the
moon---nevertheless, on the night when the Lamb was sacrificed,
delivering to the disciples to be celebrated, the mysteries of His body
and blood, and being held and bound by the Jews, He hallowed the opening
of His own immolation---that is, of His Passion."
But the words (Jn. 13:1) "Before the festival day of the Pasch" are to
be understood to refer to the fourteenth day of the moon, which then fell
upon the Thursday: for the fifteenth day of the moon was the most solemn
day of the Pasch with the Jews: and so the same day which John calls
"before the festival day of the Pasch," on account of the natural
distinction of days, Matthew calls the first day of the unleavened bread,
because, according to the rite of the Jewish festivity, the solemnity
began from the evening of the preceding day. When it is said, then, that
they were going to eat the Pasch on the fifteenth day of the month, it is
to be understood that the Pasch there is not called the Paschal lamb,
which was sacrificed on the fourteenth day, but the Paschal food---that
is, the unleavened bread---which had to be eaten by the clean. Hence
Chrysostom in the same passage gives another explanation, that the Pasch
can be taken as meaning the whole feast of the Jews, which lasted seven
Reply to Objection 2: As Augustine says (De Consensu Evang. iii): "'It was about
the sixth hour' when the Lord was delivered up by Pilate to be
crucified," as John relates. For it "was not quite the sixth hour, but
about the sixth---that is, it was after the fifth, and when part of the
sixth had been entered upon until the sixth hour was ended---that the
darkness began, when Christ hung upon the cross. It is understood to have
been the third hour when the Jews clamored for the Lord to be crucified:
and it is most clearly shown that they crucified Him when they clamored
out. Therefore, lest anyone might divert the thought of so great a crime
from the Jews to the soldiers, he says: 'It was the third hour, and they
crucified Him,' that they before all may be found to have crucified Him,
who at the third hour clamored for His crucifixion. Although there are
not wanting some persons who wish the Parasceve to be understood as the
third hour, which John recalls, saying: 'It was the Parasceve, about the
sixth hour.' For 'Parasceve' is interpreted 'preparation.' But the true
Pasch, which was celebrated in the Lord's Passion, began to be prepared
from the ninth hour of the night---namely, when the chief priests said:
'He is deserving of death.'" According to John, then, "the sixth hour of
the Parasceve" lasts from that hour of the night down to Christ's
crucifixion; while, according to Mark, it is the third hour of the day.
Still, there are some who contend that this discrepancy is due to the
error of a Greek transcriber: since the characters employed by them to
represent 3 and 6 are somewhat alike.
Reply to Objection 3: According to the author of De Qq. Vet. et Nov. Test., qu.
lv, "our Lord willed to redeem and reform the world by His Passion, at
the time of year at which He had created it---that is, at the equinox. It
is then that day grows upon night; because by our Saviour's Passion we
are brought from darkness to light." And since the perfect enlightening
will come about at Christ's second coming, therefore the season of His
second coming is compared (Mt. 24:32,33) to the summer in these words:
"When the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves come forth, you
know that summer is nigh: so you also, when you shall see all these
things, know ye that it is nigh even at the doors." And then also shall
be Christ's greatest exaltation.
Reply to Objection 4: Christ willed to suffer while yet young, for three reasons.
First of all, to commend the more His love by giving up His life for us
when He was in His most perfect state of life. Secondly, because it was
not becoming for Him to show any decay of nature nor to be subject to
disease, as stated above (Question , Article ). Thirdly, that by dying and rising
at an early age Christ might exhibit beforehand in His own person the
future condition of those who rise again. Hence it is written (Eph. 4:13): "Until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge
of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the
fulness of Christ."
Article 10: Whether Christ suffered in a suitable place?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ did not suffer in a suitable place. For
Christ suffered according to His human nature, which was conceived in
Nazareth and born in Bethlehem. Consequently it seems that He ought not
to have suffered in Jerusalem, but in Nazareth or Bethlehem.
Objection 2: Further, the reality ought to correspond with the figure. But
Christ's Passion was prefigured by the sacrifices of the Old Law, and
these were offered up in the Temple. Therefore it seems that Christ ought
to have suffered in the Temple, and not outside the city gate.
Objection 3: Further, the medicine should correspond with the disease. But
Christ's Passion was the medicine against Adam's sin: and Adam was not
buried in Jerusalem, but in Hebron; for it is written (Josue 14:15): "The
name of Hebron before was called Cariath-Arbe: Adam the greatest in the
land of [Vulg.: 'among'] the Enacims was laid there."
On the contrary, It is written (Lk. 13:33): "It cannot be that a prophet
perish out of Jerusalem." Therefore it was fitting that He should die in
I answer that, According to the author of De Qq. Vet. et Nov. Test., qu.
lv, "the Saviour did everything in its proper place and season," because,
as all things are in His hands, so are all places: and consequently,
since Christ suffered at a suitable time, so did He in a suitable place.
Reply to Objection 1: Christ died most appropriately in Jerusalem. First of all,
because Jerusalem was God's chosen place for the offering of sacrifices
to Himself: and these figurative sacrifices foreshadowed Christ's
Passion, which is a true sacrifice, according to Eph. 5:2: "He hath
delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor
of sweetness." Hence Bede says in a Homily (xxiii): "When the Passion
drew nigh, our Lord willed to draw nigh to the place of the
Passion"---that is to say, to Jerusalem---whither He came five days
before the Pasch; just as, according to the legal precept, the Paschal
lamb was led to the place of immolation five days before the Pasch, which
is the tenth day of the moon.
Secondly, because the virtue of His Passion was to be spread over the
whole world, He wished to suffer in the center of the habitable
world---that is, in Jerusalem. Accordingly it is written (Ps. 73:12):
"But God is our King before ages: He hath wrought salvation in the midst
of the earth"---that is, in Jerusalem, which is called "the navel of the
earth" [*Cf. Jerome's comment on Ezech. 5:5].
Thirdly, because it was specially in keeping with His humility: that, as
He chose the most shameful manner of death, so likewise it was part of
His humility that He did not refuse to suffer in so celebrated a place.
Hence Pope Leo says (Serm. I in Epiph.): "He who had taken upon Himself
the form of a servant chose Bethlehem for His nativity and Jerusalem for
Fourthly, He willed to suffer in Jerusalem, where the chief priests
dwelt, to show that the wickedness of His slayers arose from the chiefs
of the Jewish people. Hence it is written (Acts 4:27): "There assembled
together in this city against Thy holy child Jesus whom Thou hast
anointed, Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of
Reply to Objection 2: For three reasons Christ suffered outside the gate, and not
in the Temple nor in the city. First of all, that the truth might
correspond with the figure. For the calf and the goat which were offered
in most solemn sacrifice for expiation on behalf of the entire multitude
were burnt outside the camp, as commanded in Lev. 16:27. Hence it is
written (Heb. 13:27): "For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is
brought into the holies by the high-priest for sin, are burned without
the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people by His
own blood, suffered without the gate."
Secondly, to set us the example of shunning worldly conversation.
Accordingly the passage continues: "Let us go forth therefore to Him
without the camp, bearing His reproach."
Thirdly, as Chrysostom says in a sermon on the Passion (Hom. i De Cruce
et Latrone): "The Lord was not willing to suffer under a roof, nor in the
Jewish Temple, lest the Jews might take away the saving sacrifice, and
lest you might think He was offered for that people only. Consequently,
it was beyond the city and outside the walls, that you may learn it was a
universal sacrifice, an oblation for the whole world, a cleansing for
Reply to Objection 3: According to Jerome, in his commentary on Mt. 27:33,
"someone explained 'the place of Calvary' as being the place where Adam
was buried; and that it was so called because the skull of the first man
was buried there. A pleasing interpretation indeed, and one suited to
catch the ear of the people, but, still, not the true one. For the spots
where the condemned are beheaded are outside the city and beyond the
gates, deriving thence the name of Calvary---that is, of the beheaded.
Jesus, accordingly, was crucified there, that the standards of martyrdom
might be uplifted over what was formerly the place of the condemned. But
Adam was buried close by Hebron and Arbe, as we read in the book of Jesus
Ben Nave." But Jesus was to be crucified in the common spot of the
condemned rather than beside Adam's sepulchre, to make it manifest that
Christ's cross was the remedy, not only for Adam's personal sin, but also
for the sin of the entire world.
Article 11: Whether it was fitting for Christ to be crucified with thieves?
Objection 1: It would seem unfitting for Christ to have been crucified with
thieves, because it is written (2 Cor. 6:14): "What participation hath
justice with injustice?" But for our sakes Christ "of God is made unto us
justice" (1 Cor. 1:30); whereas iniquity applies to thieves. Therefore it
was not fitting for Christ to be crucified with thieves.
Objection 2: Further, on Mt. 26:35, "Though I should die with Thee, I will not
deny Thee," Origen (Tract. xxxv in Matth.) observes: "It was not men's
lot to die with Jesus, since He died for all." Again, on Lk. 22:33, "I am
ready to go with Thee, both into prison and death," Ambrose says: "Our
Lord's Passion has followers, but not equals." It seems, then, much less
fitting for Christ to suffer with thieves.
Objection 3: Further, it is written (Mt. 27:44) that "the thieves who were
crucified with Him reproached Him." But in Lk. 22:42 it is stated that
one of them who were crucified with Christ cried out to Him: "Lord,
remember me when Thou shalt come into Thy kingdom." It seems, then, that
besides the blasphemous thieves there was another man who did not
blaspheme Him: and so the Evangelist's account does not seem to be
accurate when it says that Christ was crucified with thieves.
On the contrary, It was foretold by Isaias (53:12): "And He was reputed
with the wicked."
I answer that, Christ was crucified between thieves from one intention
on the part of the Jews, and from quite another on the part of God's
ordaining. As to the intention of the Jews, Chrysostom remarks (Hom.
lxxxvii in Matth.) that they crucified the two thieves, one on either
side, "that He might be made to share their guilt. But it did not happen
so; because mention is never made of them; whereas His cross is honored
everywhere. Kings lay aside their crowns to take up the cross: on their
purple robes, on their diadems, on their weapons, on the consecrated
table, everywhere the cross shines forth."
As to God's ordinance, Christ was crucified with thieves, because, as
Jerome says on Mt. 27:33: "As Christ became accursed of the cross for us,
so for our salvation He was crucified as a guilty one among the guilty."
Secondly, as Pope Leo observes (Serm. iv de Passione): "Two thieves were
crucified, one on His right hand and one on His left, to set forth by the
very appearance of the gibbet that separation of all men which shall be
made in His hour of judgment." And Augustine on Jn. 7:36: "The very
cross, if thou mark it well, was a judgment-seat: for the judge being set
in the midst, the one who believed was delivered, the other who mocked
Him was condemned. Already He has signified what He shall do to the quick
and the dead; some He will set on His right, others on His left hand."
Thirdly, according to Hilary (Comm. xxxiii in Matth.): "Two thieves are
set, one upon His right and one upon His left, to show that all mankind
is called to the sacrament of His Passion. But because of the cleavage
between believers and unbelievers, the multitude is divided into right
and left, those on the right being saved by the justification of faith."
Fourthly, because, as Bede says on Mk. 15:27: "The thieves crucified with
our Lord denote those who, believing in and confessing Christ, either
endure the conflict of martyrdom or keep the institutes of stricter
observance. But those who do the like for the sake of everlasting glory
are denoted by the faith of the thief on the right; while others who do
so for the sake of human applause copy the mind and behavior of the one
on the left."
Reply to Objection 1: Just as Christ was not obliged to die, but willingly
submitted to death so as to vanquish death by His power: so neither
deserved He to be classed with thieves; but willed to be reputed with the
ungodly that He might destroy ungodliness by His power. Accordingly,
Chrysostom says (Hom. lxxxiv in Joan.) that "to convert the thief upon
the cross, and lead him into paradise, was no less a wonder than to shake
Reply to Objection 2: It was not fitting that anyone else should die with Christ
from the same cause as Christ: hence Origen continues thus in the same
passage: "All had been under sin, and all required that another should
die for them, not they for others."
Reply to Objection 3: As Augustine says (De Consensu Evang. iii): We can
understand Matthew "as putting the plural for the singular" when he said
"the thieves reproached Him." Or it may be said, with Jerome, that "at
first both blasphemed Him, but afterwards one believed in Him on
witnessing the wonders."
Article 12: Whether Christ's Passion is to be attributed to His Godhead?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ's Passion is to be attributed to His
Godhead; for it is written (1 Cor. 2:8): "If they had known it, they
would never have crucified the Lord of glory." But Christ is the Lord of
glory in respect of His Godhead. Therefore Christ's Passion is attributed
to Him in respect of His Godhead.
Objection 2: Further, the principle of men's salvation is the Godhead Itself,
according to Ps. 36:39: "But the salvation of the just is from the Lord."
Consequently, if Christ's Passion did not appertain to His Godhead, it
would seem that it could not produce fruit in us.
Objection 3: Further, the Jews were punished for slaying Christ as for
murdering God Himself; as is proved by the gravity of the punishment. Now
this would not be so if the Passion were not attributed to the Godhead.
Therefore Christ's Passion should be so attributed.
On the contrary, Athanasius says (Ep. ad Epict.): "The Word is
impassible whose Nature is Divine." But what is impassible cannot suffer.
Consequently, Christ's Passion did not concern His Godhead.
I answer that, As stated above (Question , Articles ,2,3,6), the union of the
human nature with the Divine was effected in the Person, in the
hypostasis, in the suppositum, yet observing the distinction of natures;
so that it is the same Person and hypostasis of the Divine and human
natures, while each nature retains that which is proper to it. And
therefore, as stated above (Question , Article ), the Passion is to be attributed
to the suppositum of the Divine Nature, not because of the Divine Nature,
which is impassible, but by reason of the human nature. Hence, in a
Synodal Epistle of Cyril [*Act. Conc. Ephes., P. i, cap. 26] we read: "If
any man does not confess that the Word of God suffered in the flesh and
was crucified in the flesh, let him be anathema." Therefore Christ's
Passion belongs to the "suppositum" of the Divine Nature by reason of the
passible nature assumed, but not on account of the impassible Divine
Reply to Objection 1: The Lord of glory is said to be crucified, not as the Lord
of glory, but as a man capable of suffering.
Reply to Objection 2: As is said in a sermon of the Council of Ephesus [*P. iii,
cap. 10], "Christ's death being, as it were, God's death"---namely, by
union in Person---"destroyed death"; since He who suffered "was both God
and man. For God's Nature was not wounded, nor did It undergo any change
by those sufferings."
Reply to Objection 3: As the passage quoted goes on to say: "The Jews did not
crucify one who was simply a man; they inflicted their presumptions upon
God. For suppose a prince to speak by word of mouth, and that his words
are committed to writing on a parchment and sent out to the cities, and
that some rebel tears up the document, he will be led forth to endure the
death sentence, not for merely tearing up a document, but as destroying
the imperial message. Let not the Jew, then, stand in security, as
crucifying a mere man; since what he saw was as the parchment, but what
was hidden under it was the imperial Word, the Son by nature, not the
mere utterance of a tongue."