Augustine Sokolovski

In the Gospel, the story of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus forms a semantic unity with the story of the temptation of the Lord in the desert from the devil. In other words, the story of Baptism immediately moves on to the story of temptation. ‘Immediately after that the Spirit leads Him into the wilderness, and He was there for forty days, being tempted by Satan’, says the Gospel of Mark (Mark 1:12-13). The word 'immediately' is extremely important here.

So it becomes obvious that in moments of greatest glory, faith on the part of the people, manifestations of messianism, signs and wonders, the Lord will be accompanied by trials, temptations from people, and attacks from the forces of evil. So gradually the tragic essence of life will be revealed on the pages of the gospel text. At the same time, the mystery of the Salvation will be revealed. For the Lord came ‘to deliver the world from evil’, - as it is said in the Lord's Prayer. 

According to the Gospel, the Spirit, who appeared in the form of a dove at Baptism, leads the Lord into the wilderness. The Messiah, Christ Jesus, was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. In moments of temptation, the devil spoke the language of Scripture. Being the personification of fanaticism and imbalance, he simultaneously shouted and whispered with the voice of the Holy Books.

Satan turned to sacred texts. It is important to understand and remember that the words of the devil to the Lord were consistent and had their own logic. So, in his evil way (Matt. 12:39) he showed himself as an interpreter of Scripture, that is, as an exegete.

1. The Devil started with the Law of Moses. From the Pentateuch he quoted Exodus. Offering to 'make bread out of stone', he 'reminded' the Savior of how God once fed His people: "And the Lord said to Moses: Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you, and let the people go out and gather daily as much as they need" ( Exodus 16:4).

2. From the law, the devil moved to the Psalms. From Law he moved to Prayer. ‘Using’ Psalm 90, in which God promised the Righteous with a capital letter, that is, the Messiah, His Protection, the evil spirit called on the Lord to throw himself down from the roof of the Temple.

3.Finally, after the Law and the Psalms, the devil turned to the Prophets. It was they who interpreted the Law in the Spirit, foretold the Coming of the Messiah, saw the New Heavenly Jerusalem. Quoting prophetic texts, the devil demanded that Christ worship himself. So he tried to appropriate God's Revelation. In fact, he quoted Isaiah, who, foreseeing the coming downfall of Satan by God, said of the devil's plan: I will ascend to the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High” (Is. 14:13-14).

The Lord Jesus rejected all the devil's temptations. He answered the devil ‘no’ and cursed him with a biblical curse: ‘Get away from me, Satan!’ (Matthew 16:23). As the Gospel says, the devil departed from Christ 'for a time'.

Following the word 'immediately' in the story of baptism and temptation, this 'until the time' is the key phrase.

The interpreters saw in this ‘until the time’ an indication of the time of Christ’s Passion on the Cross, when the Tempter brought down on the Redeemer all the forces of evil. It is important to remember that if God and the Father had not raised His Son Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:24), then the Lord's death on the cross would have been the greatest triumph of evil in history.

But some of the interpreters believed that the word 'until the time' refers not only to the Cross of Christ, but to the history of the world, and of mankind as a whole. They believed that these words applied especially to the Church. But Christ is risen indeed!

The Church Wandering in history will always, until the end of time, be attacked by the devil. And the temptations with which the devil tempted Christ will oppose the Church. These will be temptations from outside in the form of the blessings of the world, voluptuousness, wealth and power. These will be temptations from within - the most difficult to understand.

Thus, the great ancient interpreter of Scripture Ticonius (+395) wrote that the Church, here on earth, is a two-part body. In Latin - Ecclesia bipartitta. In it, according to the exegete, one part belongs to Christ, the other to the devil.

In turn, the teacher of the Carthaginian Church, St. Augustine of Hippo (+430), preferred to speak not of a two-part, but of a mixed body. The Church is a ‘mixed body’ (Ecclesia permixta).

“One should speak of the Lord’s true and mixed body (permixto), or of the real and imaginary body (simulato): for the hypocrites will not only not be with the Lord in eternity, but even now they are no longer with him, although, apparently, they are in his Church,” wrote the great Father of the Church (Christian Doctrine 3:45).

So Ticonius, whose seven exegetical rules later became the classics of patristic interpretation of the Scriptures, used the term "two-part body."

Augustine, on the other hand, preferred to speak of a "Mixed Body", since the term "two-part", in his opinion, created an ambiguity in the question of whether this "Imaginary", "Faigned Church" (Ecclesia Simulata) would be abolished in eternity.

Augustine's doctrine of the Two Cities speaks of the same. For a very long time it was assumed that by the City of God and the City of Man Augustine had in mind the Church and the State. However, this is absolutely not the case. According to the Father of the Church, the Two Cities oppose each other both in the world and in the Church. And only in the Second Coming of Christ the Lord will return to separate them.

Being with Christ and the Body of Christ, the Church, paradoxically, also contains something opposite. “Meanwhile, these two parts will not always be one,” writes the Father of the Church. The Lord will cut off and abolish everything false, will plunge you into weeping and gnashing of teeth (cf. Matt. 24:51).