“No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit..”
Father Matta El-Meskeen (Matthew the Poor)
ITH THE COMING OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, Son of God, born
of the Spirit and the Virgin Mary, there came an end to the period in
which flesh was given birth by a physical father and physical mother and was
replaced so that every one born of the Spirit is spirit and the one born of the flesh
God arranged for man a baptism of water and the Spirit so that he might be
born, like Christ, of the Spirit. The baptism of water and the Spirit became
man’s new birth, and those baptized of water and the Spirit were counted as born
from above, the homeland of the Spirit. Those not born of water and Spirit
remain born of the flesh and are considered fleshly, estranged from the Spirit and
the Spirit’s promise of heaven.
The first one to be baptized of water and the Spirit is the Son of God, the Lord
Jesus Christ. For you were the words spoken by the one who baptized him, John
the Baptist, “I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to
baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down
and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify
that this is the Son of God.”1
The evidence is clear that before Christ there was no baptism of the Spirit,
and the first time the Spirit came down upon one baptized of water was that of
the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that He himself would be the one who
baptizes every man with water and the Spirit. The priest immerses the one
baptized three times in the water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit, according to the Apostolic tradition, as Christ commanded before his
ascension, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very
end of the age.”2 This is so that, when the one baptized is under the surface of
the water and the name is called upon, death with Christ is declared. When he is
raised out of the water, this is the resurrection. For this reason we know that in
baptism there is fellowship with Christ in death and resurrection, and this the
tradition of baptism as received from Christ. It is spiritually and theologically
known that when the priest baptizes, Christ is secretly present and he himself
performs the baptism.
By the hand of Christ the one baptized comes out of the water born anew of
water and the Spirit. The one baptized stands and renounces Satan, who forcibly
controls the fallen creation.
When a man keeps the treasure and mystery of baptism he is considered a
new son of God.
According to what was received of old, those baptized meet and go to the
church to partake of the body and blood to become members of the Body of
Christ and partakers of life and glory and inheritance.
This church tradition, received by Christ and his teaching, is what colors a
man with the mysterious and divine pigment to become one of God’s chosen
children, if he meets the conditions of this mystery which is to walk in this world
as children of God in the Spirit until the end.
If the one newly baptized is grown he is given a New Testament in order to
receive it as the constitution of his life and to learn it in his heart and in his spirit.
It is not just to be read, for the one baptized is now held accountable for his life,
meaning that his life must by necessity be a testimony to Christ in every word
and action. The reader must know and be certain that the Holy Spirit is the one
who directs and drives his life. Paul the Apostle wrote, “Those who are led by
the Spirit of God are sons of God,”3 so the reader can be assured that he will not
face life alone, for the Holy Spirit of God will manage, inspire and lead his life.
Adorned with the cross, each one baptized of water and the Spirit is clothed in
a pure white robe, as an expression of him putting on Christ, because each one
baptized in the Spirit is considered to be clothed in Christ, and this expression
gives the one baptized the sense that he has become completely Christ’s.
In the church ritual of old the church’s bishop gathered those newly baptized
before the appointed time to enter the church for celebrating the glorious
resurrection. He led them, carrying the cross, and the door of the church was
opened for him with praise and singing. When he reached the altar’s closed
door, the bishop stood, along with the lines of those baptized. They cried out to
the name of the Lord with a song which the church continues to use, although in
a different setting, saying, “Open up you ancient doors, that the King of glory
may come in.” From inside the closed door the chorus of deacons responded,
“Who is he, this King of glory?” The bishop and those baptized replied, “The
LORD strong and mighty—he is the King of glory” (Ps 24). The doors are then
opened in a beautiful enactment, on this festival eve, and the bishop enters and
serves the Eucharist to those baptized and the rest of the people.
July 22, 2005
St Cyril the Great
The Christ Risen from the Dead
is the Root of the New Creation
When our Lord Jesus Christ tasted death for the sake of all, and even arose on the
third day, he thus became “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor
15:20), and a root to those who are created anew by him for life, as a beginning of
a new human nature which has shed off corruption ...
On Isaiah 26:19
For Christ is the first man [in the new creation] and a root and first fruits of those
whose nature is changed by the Holy Spirit to the newness of life. Henceforth he
conveys to the whole human race, by means of communion with him and by
grace, the incorruptibility of his body and the unchangeableness of his divinity.
When Paul the Divine new this he wrote saying: “Just as we have borne the image
of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Cor
On the Incarnation of the Only Begotten
2 Matthew 28:19-20.
3 Romans 8:14.
1 John 1:33-34.
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