16. Meaning of “Beginning.” (1) in Space.
“In the beginning was the Word.” 4528 It is not only the Greeks who consider the word “beginning” to have many meanings. Let any one collect the Scripture passages in which the word occurs, and with a view to an accurate interpretation of it note what it stands for in each passage, and he will find that the word has many meanings in sacred discourse also. We speak of a beginning in reference to a transition. Here it has to do with a road and with length. This appears in the saying: 4529 “The beginning of a good way is to do justice.” For since the good way is long, there have first to be considered in reference to it the question connected with action, and this side is presented in the words “to do justice;” the contemplative side comes up for consideration afterwards. In the latter the end of it comes to rest at last in the so-called restoration of all things, since no enemy is left them to fight against, if that be true which is said: 4530 “For He must reign until He have placed His enemies under His feet. But the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” For then but one activity will be left for those who have come to God on account of His word which is with Him, that, namely, of p. 306 knowing God, so that, being found by the knowledge of the Father, they may all be His Son, as now no one but the Son knows the Father. For should any one enquire carefully at what time those are to know the Father to whom He who knows the Father reveals Him, and should he consider how a man now sees only through a glass and in a riddle, never having learned to know as he ought to know, he would be justified in saying that no one, no apostle even, and no prophet had known the Father, but when he became one with Him as a son and a father are one. And if any one says that it is a digression which has led us to this point, our consideration of that one meaning of the word beginning, we must show that the digression is necessary and useful for the end we have in view. For if we speak of a beginning in the case of a transition, and of a way and its length, and if we are told that the beginning of a good way is to do justice, then it concerns us to know in what manner every good way has for its beginning to do justice, and how after such beginning it arrives at contemplation, and in what manner it thus arrives at contemplation.
John i. 1.305:4529
Prov. xvi. 5.305:4530
1 Cor. 15:25, 26.