Through His incarnation, Christ becomes the new Moses Who leads the people of God in a different way. As the twelve tribes of Israel gathered round God through Moses, so now the twelve Apostles gather round Christ, through the incarnate Christ.
“In the Old Testament the Word (Logos) communicates through the Prophet. Now He does so through His human nature. This is what happens. The Apostles assemble around the Word made flesh. Now we have the twelve Apostles, as we had the twelve tribes of Israel in the Old Testament. All the twelve tribes of Israel gathered around God through Moses and the people of the Old Testament was formed.
Here, instead of Moses we now have Christ. Instead of the tabernacle of witness, which was the created image of the uncreated Law that Moses saw, is Christ Himself. Moses gave us the created Law, which is a tutor to bring us to the uncreated Law. There is no similarity between the two.”
Christ becomes the Spiritual Father of the Apostles, Who prepares them and cures them appropriately so that they may be glorified and behold God and become divinely inspired.
“Christ Himself becomes the Spiritual Father of the Apostles. Anyone who reads the New Testament sees that Christ is the Apostles’ Spiritual Father. What does He do for them? He leads them from purification to illumination.”
Through Christ, the Apostles progressed from purification to illumination and were exalted to glorification. They knew Christ in the flesh before His Ascension and they knew Him in the Spirit at Pentecost. There are not two separate Christs. Christ is one and the same, but the experience was different. We see this in the appearance of Christ to the two Disciples of John the Forerunner, who spent a day in the glory of God, but also on Mount Tabor during His Transfiguration, and after His Resurrection among His Disciples. Before Pentecost Christ’s Disciples saw Him according to the flesh, and sometimes through the human flesh they saw rays of divine glory. After Pentecost, however, they see the God-man Christ in the Spirit within the Light.
“This is why I think that the key to the whole question of the correct evaluation of the history of theology is understanding this distinction: Who Christ is according to the flesh, and Who Christ is according to the Spirit. Because someone knows Christ according to the flesh and sometimes someone knows Him spiritually. Are there two different Christs? No. There is one Christ. The Body is one. But all those who saw Him before the Ascension saw Him according to the flesh, and all those who see Him after Pentecost see Him according to the Spirit. For that reason the Apostle Paul also saw Christ spiritually and not in the flesh. He knew Him according to the Spirit. That is the key to the patristic interpretation, that He will send another Comforter, Who will lead us into ‘all truth’ (John 16:13).”
When Christ related the familiar parable of the Sower, His Disciples asked Him to explain its meaning. Then Christ said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom [vasileia in Greek] of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand'” (Luke 8:8-10). We see from this that knowing the mysteries of the glory and rule (vasileia) of God is not the same as being taught through parables. The Apostles obviously belong to the first category.
“Christ makes a distinction and says that those outside are taught through parables, but to the Apostles it is granted ‘to know the mysteries of the kingdom [vasileia] of God’. Teaching ‘in parables’ is something quite different from being taught ‘the mysteries of the kingdom [vasileia] of God’. It is not the same thing at all. So Christ teaches the multitude ‘in parables’, but to the Apostles He reveals the mysteries of the glory and rule (vasileia) of God in teaching.
The mysteries of the glory and rule (vasileia) of God are the specific subject-matter of the fourth Gospel. The Gospel according to John concerns the mysteries of the glory and rule (vasileia) of God. It is a mystagogical and dogmatic Gospel and there are parables in the other three synoptic Gospels. For that reason, John’s Gospel does not concern itself very much with the devil, nor does it spend much time on parables. There are very few parables, almost none, in the Gospel according to John. This is reflected in Christ’s teaching in the synoptic Gospels which says, ‘To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom [vasileia] of God’ and to those outside, ‘in parables’. The distinction is very clear.
Apart from this, there is a clear distinction between ‘knowing the mysteries of the kingdom [vasileia] of God’ and ‘seeing the kingdom [vasileia] of God’. Christ teaches ‘the mysteries of the kingdom [vasileia] of God’ with words. Afterwards, however, Christ makes a promise to the Apostles, saying, ‘There are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom [vasileia] of God present with power’ (Mark 9:1). In the three synoptic Gospels the Transfiguration follows immediately and is the justification of this promise. What did the three chosen Apostles see at the Transfiguration? They saw the glory and rule (vasileia) of God. Throughout the patristic tradition the glory of God is the glory and rule (vasileia) of God. This revelation of the glory of God in the Transfiguration is exactly the same revelation of Christ as in the Old Testament.”
During the illumination of Christ on Mount Tabor, the three Disciples were within the Light. The Light poured forth from Christ’s flesh, but this flesh was outside the Disciples, as Pentecost had not yet taken place. This is the difference between the Transfiguration and Pentecost. In both cases the Disciples attained to theoria of the Light. At the Transfiguration, however, the Body of Christ was outside the Disciples, whereas from Pentecost onwards the Disciples were members of the Risen Body of Christ.
At Pentecost the Disciples became members of the Body of Christ, so the Body of Christ acted from within them. After Pentecost the holy Apostles lived in the glory of Christ, in the uncreated Light. They received this Light and shone as light in the world. Christ is Light by nature; the Apostles had this Light by participation. Christ ‘works’ glorification; the Apostles ‘undergo’ glorification. When Christ said to His Disciples, “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14), He did not say it in a moralistic, sentimental and conventional sense, but in reality. They had the Holy Spirit within them. They had inner noetic prayer and had attained to theoria of the Light. This is the meaning of Christ’s words to His Disciples, “You are the light of the world.”
“I hear sermons now saying that all Christians are the light of the world. What do you mean by the light of the world? What light of the world? When Christ says, ‘You are the light of the world’ and so on, He means that now, now, now you are illuminated, you are the light of the world. Because they have become burning candles, they have unceasing remembrance of God within them, they have reached glorification in specific cases. For that reason they are the light of the world. Not that everyone is the light of the world.”
The Apostles were not wise according to the flesh — in a worldly sense — and their theology was not the result of their intellectual ability. They were not philosophers but theologians in the absolute sense of the term.
“Among the Apostles there is not a single philosopher who is concerned with the philosophical method of investigation.”
The Apostles became divinely inspired through the experience of Pentecost. Divine inspiration is not something temporary. The Apostles were not divinely inspired only at the time when they were writing the Epistles. They were divinely inspired on account of their vision of God before they wrote the Epistles.
“Was the Apostle Paul divinely inspired before he picked up his pen to write the Epistle to the Romans, and did he cease to be divinely inspired when he wrote Amen at the end?”
He was divinely inspired because he participated in the glory of God and theology issued from his very being. The Apostles were divinely inspired from the day of Pentecost onwards, and everything they did was the fruit and result of glorification (theosis).
—Protopresbyter John S. Romanides