This page contains a collection of patristic quotes as part of my reading and research on this topic. It is not an yet an organized article, but may still contain some of my notes and commentary on the patristic references.

Partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Pet. 1:4)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem understood “partakers of the divine nature” as partaking of the Eucharist

St. Cyril of Jerusalem – On the Mysteries. IV:  On the Body and Blood of Christ, Lecture Lecture XXII
Wherefore with full assurance let us partake as of the Body and Blood of Christ: for in the figure of Bread is given to thee His Body, and in the figure of Wine His Blood; that thou by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, mayest be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His Body and Blood are distributed through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, we become partakers of the divine nature.

St. Cyril of Alexandria understood “partakers of the divine nature” as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believers. The “divine nature” is the Holy Spirit:

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Glaphyra on the Pentateuch, Volume II, Exodus Part 3, P.94
Moses, then, was indeed a mediator, yet he was so as a type and a shadow. The real mediator is Christ, to whom we are firmly joined, since it is true that he came down into our estate and became a man, so that we ourselves “might become partakers of his divine nature,”  being united to him by sharing in the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God.

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Glaphyra on the Pentateuch, Volume I, Genesis 1-5, P.64
For through the mystical blessing we have indeed become fellow members of his body. Yet we have also been united with him in another way, because we have become “partakers of his divine nature” through the Spirit. For he resides in the souls of the saints, as the blessed John also says, “By this we know that he is in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”  He is himself, therefore, our life and our justification.

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Commentary on Gospel of St. John, Book II
For our Lord Jesus Christ called the new birth through the Spirit” from above”, showing that the Spirit is of the Essence That is above all essences, through Whom we become partakers of the Divine Nature as enjoying Him who proceeds from It Essentially, and through Him and in Him re-formed to the Archetype-Beauty, and thus re-born unto newness of life, and re-molded to the Divine Sonship.

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Commentary on Gospel of St. John, Book IX
But that the Spirit is both Divine and not of another essence, in reference I mean to the Father and the Son, is I imagine doubtful to no one who is right-minded; and furthermore a necessary argument will convince us thereof. For if a man say that the Spirit is not of the essence of God, how then henceforward would the creature in receiving the Spirit be a partaker of God? And after what manner shall we be entitled temples of God, and be so, if we receive a created or an alien spirit, and not rather That Which is of God? And how are those who have a share of the Spirit partakers of the Divine nature, according to the words of the sacred writers, if He is in the number of the things that are made, and does not rather proceed for us from the Divine nature itself; not passing through it unto us, as something foreign to it, but so to speak becoming in us a certain quality of the Godhead, and dwelling in the saints, and remaining for ever—-[as He does] if by cleansing the eye of their understanding by all goodness, and by unyielding earnestness in the pursuit of every virtue, they preserve the grace in their hearts.

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Commentary on Gospel of St. John, Book IX
For naturally am I in the Father—-for I am the Fruit of His Essence and Its real Offspring, subsisting in It, having shone forth from It, Life of Life—-and ye are in Me and I in you, forasmuch as I appeared as a man Myself, and made you partakers of the Divine Nature by putting My Spirit to dwell in you. For Christ is in us through the Spirit, converting that which has a natural tendency to corruption into incorruption, and transferring it from the condition of dying unto that which is otherwise. Wherefore also Paul says that He that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, shall quicken also your mortal bodies, through His Spirit that dwelleth in you. For albeit the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, yet He comes through the Son, and is His Own; for all things are through the Son from the Father. 

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Commentary on Gospel of St. John, Book I, v.13
But since some in mad peril dare to lie, as against the Son, so against the Holy Ghost too, saying that He is originate and created, and to thrust Him forth altogether from. Consubstantiality with God the Father, come let us again arraying the word of the true Faith against their unbridled tongues, beget occasions of profit both to ourselves and to our readers. For if neither God by Nature, O sirs, nor yet of God, is He Who is His Own Spirit and therefore Essentially inexistent in Him, but is other than He, and not removed from being connatural with things made, how are we who are begotten through Him said to be begotten of God? For either we shall say that the Evangelist certainly lies, or (if he is true and it be so and not otherwise), the Spirit will be God and of God by Nature, of Whom we too being accounted worthy to partake through faith to Christ-ward, are rendered partakers of the Divine Nature and are said to be begotten of God, and are therefore called gods, not by grace alone winging our flight to the glory that is above us, but as having now God too indwelling and lodging in us, according to what is said in the prophet, I will dwell in them and walk in them. For let them tell us who are filled full with so great unlearning, how, having the Spirit dwelling in us, we are according to Paul temples of God, unless He be God by Nature. For if He be a creature and originate, wherefore does God destroy us, as defiling the temple of God when we defile the body wherein the Spirit indwells, having the whole Natural Property of God the Father and likewise of the Only-Begotten? And how will the Savior be true in saying: If a man love Me, he will keep My Words: and My Father will love him and we will come unto him and make Our abode with him and rest in him? albeit it is the Spirit Who dwells in us, and through Him do we believe that we have the Father and the Son, even as John himself said again in his epistles, Hereby know we that we dwell in Him and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit. And how at all will He be called Spirit of God, if He be not of Him and in Him by Nature and therefore God? For if being, as those say, originate, He is the Spirit of God, there is nothing to hinder the other creatures too from being called spirits of God. For this will have already overtaken them in potential, if it is at all possible that originate essence should be Spirit of God.

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Commentary on Gospel of St. John, Book XI
For He brought Himself as a Victim and holy Sacrifice to God the Father, reconciling the world unto Himself, and bringing into kinship with Him that which had fallen away therefrom, that is, the race of man. For He is our Peace, according to the Scripture. And, indeed, our reconciliation to God could no otherwise have been accomplished through Christ that saveth us than by communion in the Spirit and sanctification. For that which knits us together, and, as it were, unites us with God, is the Holy Spirit; Which if we receive, we are proved sharers and partakers in the Divine Nature, and we admit the Father Himself into our hearts, through the Son and in the Son. Further, the wise John writes for us concerning Him: Hereby know we that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And what does Paul also say? And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father, as, if we had chanced to remain without partaking of the Spirit, we could never at all have known that God was in us; and, if we had not been enriched with the Spirit that puts us into the rank of sons, we should never have been at all the sons of God. How, then, should we have had added to us, or how should we have been shown to be partakers in, Divine Nature, if God had not been in us, nor we been joined to Him through having been called to communion with the Spirit? But now are we both partakers and sharers in the Substance That transcends the universe, and are become temples of God. For the Only-begotten sanctified Himself for our sins; that is, offered Himself up, and brought Himself as a holy Sacrifice for a sweet-smelling savour to God the Father; that, while He as God came between and hedged off and built a wall of partition between human nature and sin, nothing might hinder our being able to have access to God, and have close fellowship with Him, through communion, that is, with the Holy Spirit, moulding us anew to righteousness and sanctification and the original likeness of man. For if sin sunders and dissevers man from God, surely righteousness will be a bond of union, and will somehow set us by the side of God Himself, with nothing to part us. We have been justified through faith in Christ, Who was delivered up for our trespasses, according to the Scripture, and was raised for our justification. For in Him, as in the first-fruits of the race, the nature of man was wholly reformed into newness of life, and ascending, as it were, to its own first beginning, was moulded anew into sanctification. Sanctify them, He says, O Father, in Thy truth; that is, in Me, for Thy Word is truth; that is, I once more.

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Commentary on Luke, SERMON XII (4:1-2)
And whereas of those in old time who without restraint gave way to fleshly lust, God somewhere said, “My Spirit shall not dwell in these men, because they are flesh:” now because all things have become new in Christ, and we are enriched with the regeneration that is by water and Spirit;—-for no longer are we children of flesh and blood, but rather call God our Father;—-therefore it is, and very justly, that as being now in honour, and possessing the glorious privilege of adoption, we have been made partakers of the divine nature by the communication of the Holy Ghost. But He Who is the Firstborn among us, when He became so among many brethren, and yielded Himself to emptiness, was the first to receive the Spirit, although Himself the Giver of the Spirit, that this dignity, and the grace of fellowship with the Holy Ghost might reach us by His means.

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Glaphyra on the Pentateuch, Volume I, Genesis 1-5, P.78
Though being of the earth, we have been called to adoption as children of the Master of all and to be brothers of Christ, who for our sakes became one of us, so that thanks to him we may possess a better estate, transcending that which is human, and through his grace and love for humankind become ‘gods,’ and enjoy his glory. For he declares, “I said, ‘You are gods, and you are all sons of the Most High’” 

St. Athanasius – Letter To Maximus
Accordingly it is no good venture of theirs to say that the Word of God came into a certain holy man; for this was true of each of the prophets and of the other saints, and on that assumption He would clearly be born and die in the case of each one of them. But this is not so, far be the thought. But once for all ‘at the consummation of the ages, to put away sin’ ‘the Word was made flesh’ and proceeded forth from Mary the Virgin, Man after our likeness, as also He said to the Jews, ‘Wherefore seek ye to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth?’ And we are deified not by partaking of the body of some man, but by receiving the Body of the Word Himself.

St. Paul explains that our bodies will be fashioned like unto his glorious body (not to His glory, but his glorified body)

Who shall change our humble body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Phil 3:17)

St. Athanasius explained that because Christ “has taken to Him the flesh, and being in the flesh deifies the flesh.” Therefore, we have “become partakers of a divine nature”. That “divine nature’ is our humanity which is now deified by Christ when He became flesh and made our humanity His own. In other words we are “deified” because God exalted our humanity through His incarnation

St. Athanasius – Against the Arians, Chapter XXVI
Therefore this is plain to every one, that the flesh indeed is ignorant, but the Word Himself, considered as the Word, knows all things even before they come to be. For He did not, when He became man, cease to be God; nor, whereas He is God does He shrink from what is man’s; perish the thought; but rather, being God, He has taken to Him the flesh, and being in the flesh deifies the flesh. For as He asked questions in it, so also in it did He raise the dead; and He shewed to all that He who quickens the dead and recalls the soul, much more discerns the secret of all. And He knew where Lazarus lay, and yet He asked; for the All-holy Word of God, who endured all things for our sakes, did this, that so carrying our ignorance, He might vouchsafe to us the knowledge of His own only and true Father, and of Himself, sent because of us for the salvation of all, than which o grace could be greater. When then the Saviour uses the words which they allege in their defence, ‘Power is given to Me,’ and, ‘Glorify Thy Son,’ and Peter says, ‘Power is given unto Him,’ we understand all these passages in the same sense, that humanly because of the body He says all this. For though He had no need, nevertheless He is said to have received what He received humanly, that on the other hand, inasmuch as the Lord has received, and the grant is lodged with Him, the grace may remain sure. For while mere man receives, he is liable to lose again (as was shewn in the case of Adam, for he received and he lost), but that the grace may be irrevocable, and may be kept sure by men, therefore He Himself appropriates the gift; and He says that He has received power, as man, which He ever had as God, and He says, ‘Glorify Me,’ who glorifies others, to shew that He hath a flesh which has need of these things. Wherefore, when the flesh receives, since that which receives is in Him, and by taking it He hath become man, therefore He is said Himself to have received….Also the power which He said He received after the resurrection, that He had before He received it, and before the resurrection…From all this it is plain that what He had as Word, that when He had become man and was risen again, He says that He received humanly; that for His sake men might henceforward upon earth have power against demons, as having become partakers of a divine nature; and in heaven, as being delivered from corruption, might reign everlastingly. Thus we must acknowledge this once for all, that nothing which He says that He received, did He receive as not possessing before; for the Word, as being God, had them always; but in these passages He is said humanly to have received, that, whereas the flesh received in Him, henceforth from it the gift might abide surely for us. For what is said by Peter, ‘receiving from God honour and glory, Angels being made subject unto Him,’ has this meaning. As He inquired humanly, and raised Lazarus divinely, so ‘He received’ is spoken of Him humanly, but the subjection of the Angels marks the Word’s Godhead.

St. Athanasius explains even more clearly that the way Christ deified men was by becoming man, and by making us sons of the Father

St. Athanasius – Against the Arians, Chapter XI
Therefore, if, even before the world was made, the Son had that glory, and was Lord of glory and the Highest, and descended from heaven, and is ever to be worshipped, it follows that He had not promotion from His descent, but rather Himself promoted the things which needed promotion; and if He descended to effect their promotion, therefore He did not receive in reward the name of the Son and God, but rather He Himself has made us sons of the Father, and deified men by becoming Himself man. Therefore He was not man, and then became God, but He was God, and then became man, and that to deify us…And how can there be deifying apart from the Word and before Him? yet, saith He to their brethren the Jews, ‘If He called them gods, unto whom the Word of God came.’ And if all that are called sons and gods, whether in earth or in heaven, were adopted and deified through the Word, and the Son Himself is the Word, it is plain that through Him are they all, and He Himself before all, or rather He Himself only is very Son, and He alone is very God from the very God, not receiving these prerogatives as a reward for His virtue, nor being another beside them, but being all these by nature and according to essence. 

St. Athanasius explains that our exaltation and “deification” is in Christ, since He took our humanity and is worshiped as man.

St. Athanasius – Against the Arians, Chapter XI
And so too the words ‘gave Him’ are not written because of the Word Himself; for even before He became man He was worshipped, as we have said, by the Angels and the whole creation in virtue of being proper to the Father; but because of us and for us this too is written of Him. For as Christ died and was exalted as man, so, as man, is He said to take what, as God, He ever had, that even such a grant of grace might reach to us. For the Word was not impaired in receiving a body, that He should seek to receive a grace, but rather He deified that which He put on, and more than that, ‘gave’ it graciously to the race of man. For as He was ever worshipped as being the Word and existing in the form of God, so being what He ever was, though become man and called Jesus, He none the less has the whole creation under foot, and bending their knees to Him in this Name, and confessing that the Word’s becoming flesh, and undergoing death in flesh, has not happened against the glory of His Godhead, but ‘to the glory of God the Father.’…For whereas the powers in heaven, both Angels and Archangels, were ever  worshipping the Lord, as they are now worshipping Him in the Name of Jesus, this is our grace and high exaltation, that even when He became man, the Son of God is worshipped, and the heavenly powers will not be astonished at seeing all of us, who are of one body with Him.

Christ deified our humanity in Himself and brought us into the Father’s presence by putting on our body:

St. Athanasius – Against the Arians, Chapter XXI
For therefore did He assume the body originate and human, that having renewed it as its Framer, He might deify it in Himself,and thus might introduce us all into the kingdom of heaven after His likeness. For man had not been deified if joined to a creature, or unless the Son were very God; nor had man been brought into the Father’s presence, unless He had been His natural and true Word who had put on the body. And as we had not been delivered from sin and the curse, unless it had been by nature human flesh, which the Word put on (for we should have had nothing common with what was foreign), so also the man had not been deified, unless the Word who became flesh had been by nature from the Father and true and proper to Him. For therefore the union was of this kind, that He might unite what is man by nature to Him who is in the nature of the Godhead, and his salvation and deification might be sure.

The flesh became Word by reason of God’s word Who became flesh. God took what is ours and gave us what is His:

St. Athanasius – Against the Arians
Who will not admire this? or who will not agree that such a thing is truly divine? for if the works of the Word’s Godhead had not taken place through the body, man had not been deified; and again, had not the properties of the flesh been ascribed to the Word, man had not been thoroughly delivered from them; but though they had ceased for a little while, as I said before, still sin had remained in him and corruption, as was the case with mankind before Him…and thus man remained mortal and corruptible as before, liable to the affections proper to their nature. But now the Word having become man and having appropriated what pertains to the flesh, no longer do these things touch the body, because of the Word who has come in it, but they are destroyed by Him, and henceforth men no longer remain sinners and dead according to their proper affections, but having risen according to the Word’s power, they abide ever immortal and incorruptible…For no longer according to our former origin in Adam do we die; but henceforward our origin and all infirmity of flesh being transferred to the Word, we rise from the earth, the curse from sin being removed, because of Him who is in us, and who has become a curse for us. And with reason; for as we are all from earth and die in Adam, so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit, in the Christ we are all quickened; the flesh being no longer earthly, but being henceforth made Word, by reason of God’s Word who for our sake ‘became flesh.’

St. Cyril explained that because the Lord became man, He might ennoble “the nature of man, rendering it participate of holy and Divine dignities” 

St. Cyril of Alexandria – That Christ is One 
That the Nature of God the Word has been filled with true glory, Royalty and Lordship, how can one doubt ? and that He is firmly to be conceived of as being in heights the most God-befitting? but since He appeared as man to whom all things are a gift and imparted: therefore He, Full and giving to all from out His own fullness, in human wise receives, making our poverty His own : and in Christ was an unwonted and strange marvel, in servant’s form Lordship, in human mean estate God-befitting glory, that which is under the yoke (as to the measure of manhood) crowned with the dignities of Royalty, and in Supremest Excellences that which is low. For the Only-Begotten hath been made man, not in order that He might remain in the measure of the emptying, but in order that taking along there with what is its, He might thus too be known to be God by Nature and might ennoble because of Himself the nature of man, rendering it participate of holy and Divine dignities. And we shall find the saints themselves too calling the Son even when He was made man, the glory of God the Father, and King and Lord.

St. Ambrose – Exposition on the Christian Faith, Book V
Cursed He was, for He bore our curses; in subjection, also, for He took upon Him our subjection, but in the assumption of the form of a servant, not in the glory of God; so that whilst he makes Himself a partaker of our weakness in the flesh, He makes us partakers of the divine Nature in His power. But neither in one nor the other have we any natural fellowship with the heavenly Generation of Christ, nor is there any subjection of the Godhead in Christ. But as the Apostle has said that on Him through that flesh which is the pledge of our salvation, we sit in heavenly places, though certainly not sitting ourselves, so also He is said to be subject in us through the assumption of our nature.

St. Athanasius – Against the Arians, Discourse III
So, if it is said in the Proverbs ‘He created,’ we must not conceive that the whole Word is in nature a creature, but that He put on the created body and that God created Him for our sakes, preparing for Him the created body, as it is written, for us, that in Him we might be capable of being renewed and deified.

St. Athanasius – Against the Arians
For if you object to my being rid of that corruption which is by nature, see that you object not to God’s Word having taken my form of servitude; for as the Lord, putting on the body, became man, so we men are deified by the Word as being taken to Him through His flesh, and henceforward inherit life ‘everlasting.’

St Athanasius – De Decretis (Defense of the Nice Definition), Chapter III
Wishing to annul our death, He took on Himself a body from the Virgin Mary; that by offering this unto the Father a sacrifice for all, He might deliver us all, who by fear of death were all our life through subject to bondage. Hebrews 2:15 And as to the character, it is indeed the Saviour’s, but is said of Him when He took a body and said, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways unto His works Proverbs 8:22.’ For as it properly belongs to God’s Son to be everlasting. and in the Father’s bosom, so on His becoming man, the words befitted Him, ‘The Lord created me.’ For then it is said of Him, as also that He hungered, and thirsted, and asked where Lazarus lay, and suffered, and rose again. And as, when we hear of Him as Lord and God and true Light, we understand Him as being from the Father, so on hearing, ‘The Lord created,’ and ‘Servant,’ and ‘He suffered,’ we shall justly ascribe this, not to the Godhead, for it is irrelevant, but we must interpret it by that flesh which He bore for our sakes: for to it these things are proper, and this flesh was none other’s than the Word’s. And if we wish to know the advantages we attain by this, we shall find them to be as follows: that the Word was made flesh, not only to offer up this body for all, but that we, partaking of His Spirit, might be made gods, a gift which we could not otherwise have gained than by His clothing Himself in our created body; for hence we derive our name of “men of God” and “men in Christ.” And as we, by receiving the Spirit, do not lose our own proper substance, so the Lord, when made man for us, and bearing a body, was no less God; for He was not lessened by the envelopment of the body, but rather deified it and rendered it immortal.

St. Athanasius – To Adelphius, Bishop and Confessor: against the Arians
For the Flesh did not diminish the glory of the Word; far be the thought: on the contrary, it was glorified by Him. Nor, because the Son that was in the form of God took upon Him the form of a servant was He deprived of His Godhead. On the contrary, He is thus become the Deliverer of all flesh and of all creation. And if God sent His Son brought forth from a woman, the fact causes us no shame but contrariwise glory and great grace. For He has become Man, that He might deify us in Himself, and He has been born of a woman, and begotten of a Virgin, in order to transfer to Himself our erring generation, and that we may become henceforth a holy race, and ‘partakers of the Divine Nature,’ as blessed Peter wrote. [ 2 Peter 1:4 ] And ‘what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh [ Romans 8:3 ].’

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Against Julian, Book 2
It is impious to claim that God the master of the universe allowed false divinities to share a glory which is his, and his alone, since He said: “I will not give my glory to another, nor my virtues to graven images!” Come! in few words let’s oppose the truth to the writings of Plato, as follows. I wish indeed that we could agree that the spiritual powers On High, born of God, were honoured with the name of ‘god’, since we say that there are in heaven those who bear the names of ‘gods’ and ‘lords’; and besides we ourselves received the honour of such a title, when God spoke thus to us: “I said: You are gods, and you are all the sons of the Almighty.” But, in this case, there is an explanation which is essential, and this declaration of God on this subject could be well the most obvious proof of his benevolence. In fact, when the Creator of the world had made the thinking and reasonable creature, according to His own image and His own semblance, in His great kindness He honoured it with the name of ‘god’: and there was nothing wrong with this, since we also are accustomed to giving, say for example to a portrait of a man, this same name of ‘man’! Therefore the thinking and reasonable creature, because God holds it in greater regard than those lacking reason and thought, seems to have received in part a higher glory since the denomination of ‘god’ haloed it with gold; in any case, absolutely no other creature was named ‘god’.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem – PROCATECHESIS
See, I pray thee, how great a dignity Jesus bestows on thee.  Thou wert called a Catechumen, while the word echoed round thee from without; hearing of hope, and knowing it not; hearing mysteries, and not understanding them; hearing Scriptures, and not knowing their depth.  The echo is no longer around thee, but within thee; for the indwelling Spirit henceforth makes thy mind a house of God.  When thou shalt have heard what is written concerning the mysteries, then wilt thou understand things which thou knewest not.  And think not that thou receivest a small thing:  though a miserable man, thou receivest one of God’s titles.  Hear St. Paul saying, God is faithful.  Hear another Scripture saying, God is faithful and just.  Foreseeing this, the Psalmist, because men are to receive a title of God, spoke thus in the person of God:  I said, Ye are gods, and are all sons of the Most High. But beware lest thou have the title of “faithful,” but the will of the faithless.  

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke, Sermon LXXI
Let us then proceed to what follows; for the Saviour said, “When ye pray, say, Our Father.” And another of the holy evangelists adds, “who art in heaven.” O boundless liberality! O incomparable gentleness, and that befitteth Him alone! He bestows upon us His own glory: He raises slaves to the dignity of freedom: He crowns man’s estate with such honour as surpasseth the power of nature: He brings that to pass which was spoken of old by the voice of the Psalmist: “I said, Ye are gods: and all of you children of the Most High.” For lo! He rescues us from the measure of slavery, bestowing upon us by His grace that which by nature we possessed not: and permits us to call God Father, as being admitted to the rank of sons. Of Him have we received this, together with all our other privileges: and the wise John the Evangelist witnesses thereto, thus writing of Him: “He came to His own, and His own received Him not: but to all who received Him He gave power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe in His Name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Commentary on the Gospel of St. John
Now convicting the Jews, that not because He said: I and the Father are One, they were stoning Him, but without reason; He says: “If, because I said I was God, 1 seem to blaspheme; why, when the Father said by the Law to certain men: Ye are gods, did ye not judge that to be blasphemy?” And this He says, not as instigating them to say anything against the Father, but to convict them of being ignorant of the Law and the inspired Scriptures. And seeing that the difference between those who were called gods and Him Who is in His Nature God is great, through the words which He uses, He teaches us the distinction; for if the men unto whom the Word of God came were called gods, and were illumined with the honour of the Godhead, by admitting and receiving the Word of God into their soul, how could He through Whom they became gods, be other than in His Nature God? For the Word was God, according to the language of John, Who also bestowed this illumination on the others. For if the Word of God through the Holy Spirit leads up to superhuman grace, and adorns with a Divine honour those in whom He may be, Why, saith He, say ye that I blaspheme when I call Myself Son of God and God? Although by the works I have done from Him I am borne witness to as in My Nature God. For having sanctified Me He sent Me into the world to be the Saviour of the world; and it is the attribute only of One in His Nature God, to be able to save men from the devil and from sin and from corruption.

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Commentary on the Gospel of St. John
But profitably does he affirm that the Word dwelt in us, unveiling to us this deep Mystery also: for we were all in Christ, and the community of human nature mounteth up unto His Person; since therefore was He named the last Adam,, giving richly to the common nature all things that belong to joy and glory, even as the first Adam what pertained to corruption and dejection. The Word then dwelt in all through one that the One being declared the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, the dignity might come unto all the human nature and thus because of One of us, I have said Ye are gods and all of you are children of the Most High might come to us also. Therefore in Christ verily is the bond made free, mounting up unto mystic union with Him Who bare the form of the servant; yet in us after the likeness of the One because of the relation after the flesh. For why doth He take on Him not the nature of angels but the seed of Abraham, whence in all things it behoved Him to he made like unto His brethren, and to become in truth Man? Is it not clear to all, that He descended unto the condition of bondage, not Himself giving thereby ought to Himself, but bestowing Himself on us, that we through His Poverty might be rich, and, soaring up through likeness to Him unto His own special good, might be made gods and children of God through faith? For He Who is by Nature Son and God dwelt in us, wherefore in His Spirit do we cry Abba Father.

St. Gregory Nazianzen – Second Oration on Easter
And that was that the Word of God Himself, Who is before all worlds, the Invisible, the Incomprehensible, the Bodiless, the Beginning of beginning, the Light of Light, the Source of Life and Immortality, the Image of the Archetype, the Immovable Seal, the Unchangeable Image, the Father’s Definition and Word, came to His own Image, and took on Him Flesh for the sake of our flesh, and mingled Himself with an intelligent soul for my soul’s sake, purifying like by like; and in all points except sin was made Man; conceived by the Virgin, who first in body and soul was purified by the Holy Ghost, for it was needful both That Child-bearing should be honoured and that Virginity should receive a higher honour.  He came forth then, as God, with That which He had assumed; one Person in two natures, flesh and Spirit, of which the latter deified the former.  O new commingling; O strange conjunction! the Self-existent comes into Being, the Uncreated is created, That which cannot be contained is contained by the intervention of an intellectual soul mediating between the Deity and the corporeity of the flesh.  And He who gives riches becomes poor; for He assumes the poverty of my flesh, that I may assume the riches of His Godhead.  He that is full empties Himself; for He empties Himself of His Glory for a short while, that I may have a share in His Fulness.  What is the riches of His Goodness?  What is this mystery that is around me?  I had a share in the Image and I did not keep it; He partakes of my flesh that He may both save the Image and make the flesh immortal. 

St. Gregory of Nazianzus – Five Theological Orations
§ 14. In the ninth place, they cite this text: [Christ] always lives to make intercession for us. How good and truly mystical and generous to humans! For to intercede does not imply, as it ordinarily does for most mortals, to seek vengeance – there would be a hint of inferiority in that – but it is to act as a representative for us by virtue of His mediation, just as the Spirit also is said to intercede for us. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human. For He still pleads even now as human being for my salvation; for He still has the body which He assumed, until He makes me God by the power of His incarnation, even though He is no longer known according to the flesh – I mean, the passions which belong to the body, the same as ours, except for sin. Likewise, we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, not in the sense that he prostrates Himself for us before the Father and falls at the Father’s feet like a slave – away with a notion so truly slavish and unworthy of the Spirit! For the Father does not require this, nor does the Son submit to it. Has anyone the right to think such a thing of God? But by what He suffered as human being, He as the Word and the Counsellor persuades me to endure. I think this is the meaning of His advocacy.

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Commentary on the Gospel of St. John 
“For He is Very Son, existing from the Father; we adopted by His Kindness, through |grace receiving I have said, Ye are gods and all of you are children of the Most High. For the created and subject nature is called to what is above nature by the mere nod and will of the Father: but the Son and God and Lord will not possess this being God and Son, by the will of God the Father, nor in that He wills it only, but beaming forth of the Very Essence of the Father, He receives to Himself by Nature what is Its own Good. And again He is clearly seen to be Very Son, proved by comparison with ourselves. For since that which is by Nature has another mode of being from that which is by adoption, and that which is in truth from that which is by imitation, and we are called sons of God by adoption and imitation: hence He is Son by Nature and in truth, to Whom we made sons too are compared, gaining the good by grace instead of by natural endowments.”

” God was transfused throughout our nature, in order that our nature might, by this transfusion of the Divine, become itself divine” – Gregory of Nyssa

Orthodox Study Bible – Christology
He acts both as God and as man, doing what is appropriate for each nature in the unity provided by His one divine Person. Never does divine nature and activity become changed into human nature and activity. The two are in union without confusion. Christ does, however, “energize” human nature with divine energy so that human nature is redeemed from sin and death and brought into union with God. He thus “deifies” humanity.

Clement of Alexandria – The Instructor, Book 3
But that man with whom the Word dwells does not alter himself, does not get himself up: he has the form which is of the Word; he is made like to God; he is beautiful; he does not ornament himself: his is beauty, the true beauty, for it is God; and that man becomes God, since God so wills. Heraclitus, then, rightly said, “Men are gods, and gods are men.” For the Word Himself is the manifest mystery: God in man, and man God. And the Mediator executes the Father’s will; for the Mediator is the Word, who is common to both — the Son of God, the Savior of men; His Servant, our Teacher. And the flesh being a slave, as Paul testifies, how can one with any reason adorn the handmaid like a pimp? For that which is of flesh has the form of a servant. Paul says, speaking of the Lord, “Because He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant,” calling the outward man servant, previous to the Lord becoming a servant and wearing flesh. But the compassionate God Himself set the flesh free, and releasing it from destruction, and from bitter and deadly bondage, endowed it with incorruptibility, arraying the flesh in this, the holy embellishment of eternity — immortality.

Orthodox Study Bible – What Deification Is.
Deification means we are to become more like God through His grace or divine energies. In creation, humans were made in the image and likeness of God (Gn 1:26) according to human nature. In other words, humanity by nature is an icon or image of deity: The divine image is in all humanity. Through sin, however, this image and likeness of God was marred, and we fell. When the Son of God assumed our humanity in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, the process of our being renewed in God’s image and likeness was begun. Thus, those who are joined to Christ, through faith, in Holy Baptism begin a process of re-creation, being renewed in God’s image and likeness. We become, as St. Peter writes, “partakers of the divine nature” (1:4). Because of the Incarnation of the Son of God, because the fullness of God has inhabited human flesh, being joined to Christ means that it is again possible to experience deification, the fulfillment of our human destiny. That is, through union with Christ, we become by grace what God is by nature—we “become children of God” (Jn 1:12). His deity interpenetrates our humanity. Historically, deification has often been illustrated by the example of a sword in the fire. A steel sword is thrust into a hot fire until the sword takes on a red glow. The energy of the fire interpenetrates the sword. The sword never becomes fire, but it picks up the  properties of fire. By application, the divine energies interpenetrate the human nature of Christ. When we are joined to Christ, our humanity is interpenetrated with the energies of God through Christ’s glorified flesh. Nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, we partake of the grace of God—His strength, His righteousness, His love—and are enabled to serve Him and glorify Him. Thus we, being human, are being deified.

Theodoret Bishop of Cyrus – The Immutable 
“‘I have said ye are gods and all of you children of the Most High but ye shall die like man.’ This He says to them that did not accept the gift of adoption, but dishonour the incarnation of the pure generation of the word of God, deprive man of his ascent to God, and are ungrateful to the Word of God who for their sakes was made flesh. For this cause was the word made man that man receiving the word and accepting the adoption should be made God’s son.”

Maximus The Confessor, in the below excerpt, speaks of deification as something that will happen in the future. This is clearly evident in his use of the words “hope for divine transformation”, “shall be made divine”, “will deify”, etc. This is not exactly the theology of St. Athanasius, who stated that we are already “deified” when Christ became flesh– that is the flesh of our humanity became divine in Christ when God became man, and when we become sons of God via adoption.

The fact that God became a human being is a firm confirmation of our hope for the divine transformation of human nature. Humanity shall be made divine just as God himself became a man. He who became man without any sin (Heb. 4.15) will deify human nature, yet without changing it into divine nature, and he will personally exalt it as high as he was once brought low for humanity’s sake. This is the mystical teaching of the great apostle Paul who said: ‘In the age to come he shall make manifest the overflowing riches of his grace.’ (Eph. 2. 7). Maximus The Confessor. Centuries of Various Texts. 1. 62. Philokalia. 2. pp. 101- 102.

St. Athanasius – Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse III
Therefore because of the grace of the Spirit which has been given to us, in Him we come to be, and He in us; and since it is the Spirit of God, therefore through His becoming in us, reasonably are we, as having the Spirit, considered to be in God, and thus is God in us. Not then as the Son in the Father, so also we become in the Father; for the Son does not merely partake the Spirit, that therefore He too may be in the Father; nor does He receive the Spirit, but rather He supplies It Himself to all; and the Spirit does not unite the Word to the Father, but rather the Spirit receives from the Word. And the Son is in the Father, as His proper Word and Radiance; but we, apart from the Spirit, are strange and distant from God, and by the participation of the Spirit we are knit into the Godhead; so that our being in the Father is not ours, but is the Spirit’s which is in us and abides in us, while by the true confession we preserve It in us, John again saying, Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him and he in God. What then is our likeness and equality to the Son? Rather, are not the Arians confuted on every side? and especially by John, that the Son is in the Father in one way, and we become in Him in another, and that neither we shall ever be as He, nor is the Word as we; except they shall dare, as commonly, so now to say, that the Son also by participation of the Spirit and by improvement of conduct became Himself also in the Father. But here again is an excess of irreligion, even in admitting the thought. For He, as has been said, gives to the Spirit, and whatever the Spirit hath, He hath from the Word. The Saviour, then, saying of us, As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they too may be one in Us, does not signify that we were to have identity with Him; for this was shewn from the instance of Jonas; but it is a request to the Father, as John has written, that the Spirit should be vouchsafed through Him to those who believe, through whom we are found to be in God, and in this respect to be united in Him. For since the Word is in the Father, and the Spirit is given from the Word, He wills that we should receive the Spirit, that, when we receive It, thus having the Spirit of the Word which is in the Father, we too may be found on account of the Spirit to become One in the Word, and through Him in the Father. And if He say, as we, this again is only a request that such grace of the Spirit as is given to the disciples may be without failure or revocation. For what the Word has in the way of nature, as I said, in the Father, that He wishes to be given to us through the Spirit irrevocably; which the Apostle knowing, said, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? for the gifts of God and grace of His calling are without repentance. It is the Spirit then which is in God, and not we viewed in our own selves; and as we are sons and gods because of the Word in us, so we shall be in the Son and in the Father, and we shall be accounted to have become one in Son and in Father, because that that Spirit is in us, which is in the Word which is in the Father. When then a man falls from the Spirit for any wickedness, if he repent upon his fall, the grace remains irrevocably to such as are willing; otherwise he who has fallen is no longer in God, (because that Holy Spirit and Paraclete which is in God has deserted him,) but the sinner shall be in him to whom he has subjected himself, as took place in Saul’s instance; for the Spirit of God departed from him and an evil spirit afflicted him. God’s enemies hearing this ought to be henceforth abashed, and no longer to feign themselves equal to God. But they neither understand (for the irreligious, he saith, does not understand knowledge) nor endure religious words, but find them heavy even to hear.

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Against the Synousiasts
The all-wise Paul hath written of Christ, Who shall transfashion the body of our low estate conformed to the body of His glory. Then what will they say to this who say that His flesh changed into the Nature of the Word? will the bodies of the saints too pass by a change into the Nature of Godhead that they too may become conformed to the body of His glory? yet how is this not a frigid speech replete with the uttermost unlearning? for when the flesh is wholly changed (as he says) into the Nature of Godhead, what body will the Word being God use? For somewhat un-embodied is Godhead, and it is true that No one hath ever seen God.

St. Cyril of Alexandria – Against Julian
“He gives to the nature of man what is His, permitting it to call God Father: Himself taketh the properties of the human nature calling the Father His God.
Yet neither do WE deny our bondage that is by nature when we call God Father nor will the SON lose His Natural Dignity by likening Himself to us for our good.” Thes. cap. 15 p 160 e. “Commixing therefore in a way and commingling us in Himself and Himself again in us, Himself descends into what is ours, catches us up into what is His. Thus, we are men by nature, He hastening down for His love’s sake into what is beside Nature was made man: God’s bondmen by nature we as things made, He too is called bondman, borne unto what is beside Nature when He was made man. Yea and on the other hand, He GOD by Essence, we too gods mounting up unto what is beside nature for grace’s sake (for we are men): He SON by Nature, we too sons by adoption called unto brotherhood with Him.” Thes cap. 32 p. 330 fin.

2 thoughts on “Deification”

  1. I don’t understand if you are against deification as a whole or just saying the eastern orthodox has perverted it. because if you against deification in general then you are not really defending it properly.

  2. Nathaniel, this page is mostly my notes as I read through the fathers and analyze what they said. I’m not necessarily trying to make a point. But since you mentioned it, I’m definitely seeing a sharp contrast between the EO version of theosis and what the Alexandrian fathers actually explained. For example, St. Cyril of Alexandria explained “partakers of the divine nature” as receiving the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies us. He sees the “divine nature” as the Holy Spirit, not our nature. Additionally, and contrary to the EO view, that we do not partake of God’s essence, St. Cyril saw us as partaking of God’s essence since we partake of the “divine nature” which He explained as the Holy Spirit. (2 PET. 1:4)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *