Origens Commentary On The Gospel Of John by Origen
7. Of Things Not Made Through the Logos.
Let us see, however, why the words are added, |And without Him was not anything (Gr. even one thing) made.| Some might think it superfluous to add to the words |All things were made through Him,| the phrase |Without Him was not anything made.| For if everything whatsoever was made through the Logos, then nothing was made without Him. Yet it does not follow from the proposition that without the Logos nothing was made, that all things were made through the Logos. It is possible that though nothing was made without the Logos, all things were made, not through the Logos only, but some things by Him. We must, therefore, make ourselves sure in what sense the |all things| is to be understood, and in what sense the |nothing.| For, without a clear preliminary definition of these terms, it might be maintained that, if all things were made through the Logos, and evil is a part of all things, then the whole matter of sin, and everything that is wicked, that these also were made through the Logos. But this we must regard as false. There is nothing absurd in thinking that creatures were made through the Logos, and also that men's brave deeds have been done through Him, and all the useful acts of those who are now in bliss; but with the sins and misfortunes of men it is otherwise. Now some have held that since evil is not based in the constitution of things -- for it did not exist at the beginning and at the end it will have ceased -- that, therefore, the evils of which we spoke are the Nothing; and as some of the Greeks say that genera and forms, such as the (general) animal and the man, belong to the category of Nothings, so it has been supposed that all that is not of God is Nothing, and has not even obtained through the Word the subsistence it appears to have. We ask whether it is possible to show from Scripture in any convincing way that this is so. As for the meanings of the word |Nothing| and |Not-being,| they would appear to be synonymous, for Nothing can be spoken of as Not-being, and the Not-being can be described as Nothing. The Apostle, however, appears to count the things which are not, not among those which have no existence whatever, but rather among things which are evil. To him the Not-being is evil; |God,| he says, |called the things that are not as things that are.| And Mardochæus, too, in the Esther of the Septuagint, calls the enemies of Israel |those that are not,| saying, |Deliver not Thy sceptre, O Lord, to those that are not.| We may also notice how evil men, on account of their wickedness, are said not to be, from the name ascribed to God in Exodus: |For the Lord said to Moses, I am, that is My name.| The good God says this with respect of us also who pray that we may be part of His congregation. The Saviour praises him, saying, |None is good but one, God the Father.| The good, then, is the same as He who is. Over against good is evil or wickedness, and over against Him who is that which is not, whence it follows that evil and wickedness are that which is not. This, perhaps, is what has led some to affirm that the devil is not created by God. In respect that he is the devil he is not the work of God, but he who is the devil is a created being, and as there is no other creator but our God, he is a work of God. It is as if we should say that a murderer is not a work of God, while we may say that in respect he is a man, God made him. His being as a man he received from God; we do not assert that he received from God his being as a murderer. All, then, who have part in Him who is, and the saints have part in Him, may properly be called Beings; but those who have given up their part in the Being, by depriving themselves of Being, have become Not-beings. But we said when entering on this discussion, that Not-being and Nothing are synonymous, and hence those who are not beings are Nothing, and all evil is nothing, since it is Not-being, and thus since they are called Not-being came into existence without the Logos, not being numbered among the all things which were made through Him. Thus we have shown, so far as our powers admit, what are the |all things| which were made through the Logos, and what came into existence without Him, since at no time is it Being, and it is, therefore, called |Nothing.|