According to 1 Timothy 1: 15: 'Christ Jesus came into the world in order to save sinners.' And Aquinas, of course, accepts this. 'The work of the Incarnation', he says, 'was directed chiefly to the restoration of the human race through the removal of sin.' 1 According to him, God became incarnate so that sinners might be brought back to God. But how can the Incarnation lead to this effect? How can the fact that Christ was God do anything to bring us anything we might think of as salvation? In this chapter we shall be chiefly looking at ways in which Aquinas answers these questions. In Chapter 17 we shall carry his thinking forward in order to apply it to the day-to-day lives of those who find their salvation in God incarnate in Christ.
To begin with, we can start with what he says of the passage in Isaiah in which we read: 'For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulder.' 2 Aquinas's Latin Bible (the Vulgate) translates 'to us . . . is given' as datus est nobis, and 'upon his shoulder' as super humerum eius. Treating what 'is given' to us as Christ (the standard Christian reading, of course), he subsequently comments:
Noting the phrase datus est nobis, it can be said that Christ is given to us first as a brother [S. of S. 8: 1];. . . second as a teacher [Joel 2: 23] . . . third, as a watchman [Ezek. 3];. . . fourth, as a defender [Isa. 19: 20];. . . fifth, as a shepherd [Ezek. 34: 23];. . . sixth, as an example for our activities [John 13: 15];. . . seventh, as food for wayfarers [John 6: 52];. . . eighth, as a price of redemption [Matt. 20: 28];. . .ninth, as a price of remuneration [Rev. 2: 17].