The Creed of Chalcedon
as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning him
There is a passage of Scripture in the Gospel of Luke that is very enlightening concerning the Old Testament and what it is meant to convey to us. In 24:13-35, we are told that on the day of our Lord’s resurrection as two of his disciples were walking along the road to a village called Emmaus, they were joined by a stranger who enquired about their sad faces. We are told at the beginning of the account that the stranger is the risen Lord but that “their eyes were kept from recognizing him,” suggesting divine influence. Astonished that any visitor to Jerusalem would be ignorant of the goings-on there in the last few days, they tell him about Jesus—his crucifixion, burial, missing body, and the dashing of their dreams of his being the Messiah who would redeem Israel. Thereupon, the passage continues, “And [the stranger] said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
You know the rest of the account—how Jesus was finally made known to them in the breaking of bread, the opening of their eyes, and his vanishing out of their sight. What a Bible study that must have been! If only Cleopas or his friend had left us an account of it!
I wish to highlight the words, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” And what does this teach us? It teaches us that everything in the Old Testament is about Jesus Christ—his coming, his passion, his resurrection, and his glory—from Genesis to Malachi. Whether it be the promised seed who would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15) or the latter’s prophecy concerning the coming of the Baptist (Malachi 3:1ff), it’s all about the Coming One, Jesus Christ.
Some will cry, “Foul!” What did the Prophets or even the Apostles say about subsistences and natures? Well, nothing explicitly. Granted, the Creed of Chalcedon cannot be lifted from the pages of the Bible. Instead, the Creed represents the earnest reflections of learned and holy men who thought and prayed long and hard over the Scriptures and the tradition which the Church had passed down through its liturgy and teachers in order to meet a dire situation which threatened the very gospel itself. If the prophets never said anything about subsistences, it was because God’s revelation did not come all at once, for the fullness had to wait for the Coming One. And if the apostles did not use such language, that is no proof that the propositions of the Creed are not implied in their teachings (cf. Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-22). The apostles were not confronted with the questions and false teachings with which the bishops at Chalcedon had to contend. But once formulated, the Creed was recognized as representing both Scripture and Tradition, even if it had to employ language Scripture does not use. Granted, Monophysites and Nestorians walked away unconvinced, but that is always the way, for there must be divisions among us that we may recognize the true faith (1 Corinthians 11:19).
One person who is fully God and fully man (possessed of a human and a divine nature) sent by the Father to save sinners—this is the essence of the Creed of Chalcedon. I cannot improve upon it—and I doubt others can either.