Saturday, December 16, 2017

Essence and Energies Summary

On ‘Essence’ and ‘Energies’

  1. Introductory metaphysics
    1. Argument
    2. Quotes from the Saints
  2. Application to the Godhead
    1. Argument
    2. Quotes from the Saints
  3. Further implications


Metaphysics is the study of what exists, in the most abstract possible sense. One important
distinction in metaphysics is between “Essence” (called “ousia” in Greek) and “Energies”
(called “energeia” in Greek). This distinction is applicable to all beings, and plays an
important role in the theology of Eastern Christianity. The terms
‘form’ / ‘nature’ / ‘essence’ / ‘(secondary) substance’ / ‘quiddity’ all refer to the same reality,
just under different aspects; form as opposed to matter, nature as the source of action,
essence as opposed to existence, substance as opposed to accidents, quiddity as answer to the
question “What?”.

Greek distinguishes Essence (the Nature of the thing acting) from Power
(the ability of the thing to act) from Energy (the action itself) from Work
(the effect of the action).

To explain these concepts, let’s look at an example.

Imagine a sword sitting beside a fire. If we ask what a sword “is”, we would say it is a long,
straight piece of sharp metal with a handle. If we ask what a sword "does", we would say that
it cuts when applied to something soft. What it "is" (Essence) and what it "does" (Energies)
are related (it cuts because it is sharp metal) but distinct, since a small obsidian knife also
cuts, and a pipe is also a long piece of metal, but does not cut.

The fire it is sitting beside has the power, to heat and give light. While a fire is always
exercising its power, the sword does not always cut, showing that power and exercise of
power are separable. Now let's say the fire heats the sword to the point of it glowing. The
sword has been changed to be fire-like in some way, without actually being changed into fire.

Since an essence (secondary substance) defines what kind a thing is, it cannot be changed
without destroying the original object, as when wood becomes ash. Individuality (being a
specific thing of its kind; primary substance) is by definition not communicable. So there
must be some other ontological category responsible for the sharing we imagine between the
fire and the knife. This seems to be what the Palamites mean by "Energy" -- the
communicable actuality which comes after the Essence, but is not yet an external change
taking place in some other substance.


AQUINAS says in several places that we cannot know the essences of things:
● De Veritate 10.1:
"Since, however, the essences of things are not known to us, and their powers reveal
themselves to us through their acts, we often use the names of the faculties and powers
to denote the essences."
And "Since, according to the Philosopher, we do not know the substantial differences
of things, those who make definitions sometimes use accidental differences because
they indicate or afford knowledge of the essence as the proper effects afford knowledge
of a cause."
● In Posteriora Analytica 2.13.10:
"But because the essential forms are not known to us per se, they must be disclosed
through certain accidents which are signs of that form, as is stated in Metaphysics VIII."
● In De Anima 1.1.15:
"If indeed the latter could be known and correctly defined there would be no need, to
define the former; but since the essential principles of things are hidden from us we
are compelled to make use of accidental differences as indications of what is essential."
● In De Anima 2.2.237:
"And because substantial forms, including the forms of natural bodies, are not evident
to us, Aristotle makes his meaning clear with an example taken from the  (accidental)
forms of artificial."
● De Spiritualibus Creaturis 11.ad3:
"As to the third, it must be said that because substantial forms in themselves are
unknown but become known to us by their proper accidents, substantial differences
are frequently taken from accidents instead of from the substantial forms which
become known through such accidents."
● Summa Theologiae 1.77.1.ad7:
"But because substantial forms, which in themselves are unknown to us, are known
by their accidents; nothing prevents us from sometimes substituting accidents for
substantial differences."

Several other Church Fathers also indicate our inability to know the essences of things:

John of Damascus:
"For the great part the heaven is greater than the earth, but we need not investigate
the essence of the heaven, for it is quite beyond our knowledge." LINK
And: "It is evident that both sun and moon and stars are compound and liable to
corruption according to the laws of their various natures. But of their nature we are
ignorant." LINK

Basil the Great:
(Against Eunomius I.12-13, available from CUA Press, but not online. I have a picture of it
from the book on my phone, and can type it out, but the argument amounts to that
sensation is only of accidental qualities, and doesn't provide knowledge of the inner essence,
nor can the rational mind come to that essence from the accidents, as the two are not
related in a way to allow it, specifically addressing the Earth, but in the context of why we
can't know the Divine or heavenly essences.)

Gregory of Nyssa:
"And as, when looking up to heaven, and in a measure apprehending by the visual
organs the beauty that is in the height, we doubt not the existence of what we see, but
if asked what it is, we are unable to define its nature”
And, from the same, "For who is there who has arrived at a comprehension of his own
soul? Who is acquainted with its very essence, whether it is material or immaterial,
whether it is purely incorporeal, or whether it exhibits anything of a corporeal
character; how it comes into being, how it is composed, whence it enters into the body,
how it departs from it, or what means it possesses to unite it to the nature of the body;
how, being intangible and without form, it is kept within its own sphere, what
difference exists among its powers, how one and the same soul, in its eager curiosity to
know the things which are unseen, soars above the highest heavens, and again,
dragged down by the weight of the body, falls back on material passions, anger and
fear, pain and pleasure, pity and cruelty, hope and memory, cowardice and audacity,
friendship and hatred, and all the contraries that are produced in the faculties of the
And, from the same, "Wherefore also, of the elements of the world, we know only so
much by our senses as to enable us to receive what they severally supply for our living.
But we possess no knowledge of their substance, nor do we count it loss to be ignorant
of it." LINK
And from On the Soul and Resurrection: "We hear the departure of the spirit, we
see the shell that is left; but of the part that has been separated we are ignorant, both
as to its nature, and as to the place whither it has fled; for neither earth, nor air, nor
water, nor any other element can show as residing within itself this force that has left
the body, at whose withdrawal a corpse only remains, ready for dissolution."

John Chrysostom:
"But we do not know what the essence of the sky is. If anyone should be confident that
he knows its essence and be obstinate in maintaining that he has such knowledge, let
him tell you what the essence of the sky is." LINK
And from the same, (Homily V, sometimes on Amazon or Google preview) "We do
not perfectly know the essence of the angels. Even though we seek to know their
essence ten thousand times, we cannot discover it. But why do I speak of the essence
of the angels when we do not even know well the essence of our own souls? Rather, we
do not have any knowledge whatsoever of that essence."

Aquinas (On the Creed, prologue), Basil (Letter 16), and Gregory (Against Eunomius 10.1)
all reference that we do not even know the nature of an Ant, in giving reason why we cannot
know the essence of God.


Aquinas, representative of the Catholic tradition, says that in God, there is active potency.
Active potency is a "potency-to-some-actuality"; the real ability to do some action, like the
ability of someone who already knows English to speak it. Second actuality is the actual
execution of the action, as when a person is currently speaking English.

All of the Divine Powers are not actualized in all possible ways, as the distinction between
what God knows and what He wills and what He creates, makes clear. So at least some of the
powers are in some ways not in second actuality, while the Divine Essence is always in all
respects in second actuality, as it is Pure Act. Because of this, the Divine Powers must be
distinct from the Divine Essence.


See this section of this page, as well as this section of this page, both from his Thesaurus.

The first pair of links show him, in the context of the Godhead, saying “phusis de kai
energeia ou tauton”; "but nature and energy are not the same", which he says in order to
distinguish begetting and creating.

The second pair of links show him ascribing all definition to "ton peri tis ousian"; "what is
around the essence". This "what is around the essence" (which cannot be accident, as there
are not properly any accidental attributes to God) is what we talk about and describe, not
the essence, which means that they must be related, but not the same entirely. This is
exactly what Palamas and others defended.

Cyril clearly distinguishes the two, immediately before the first quote. He says "alla to men
poiein, energeias esti, phuseos de to gennan"; that is, "However creating is of the energy,
and generation of the nature". This will have implications later.

All from his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith

Book I

1.4 In this section, he says:
"But all that we can affirm concerning God does not shew forth God’s nature, but only
the qualities of His nature. For when you speak of Him as good, and just, and wise,
and so forth, you do not tell God’s nature but only the qualities of His nature."

"Qualities of His Nature" here is in Greek, "ta peri ten phusin"; "what is around the
nature". This phrase, "peri ten phusin" is used by many Fathers as being truly God,
yet not the Essence of God.

1.8 In this section, he says:
"For the creation, even though it originated later, is nevertheless not derived from the
essence of God, but is brought into existence out of nothing by His will and power, and
change does not touch God’s nature. For generation means that the begetter produces
out of his essence offspring similar in essence. But creation and making mean that the
creator and maker produces from that which is external, and not out of his own
essence, a creation of an absolutely dissimilar nature"

1.9 In this section, he says:
"Each then of the affirmations about God should be thought of as signifying not what
He is in essence, but either something that it is impossible to make plain, or some
relation to some of those things which are contrasts or some of those things that follow
the nature, or an energy."
And: “Again, goodness and justice and piety and such like names belong to the
nature(1590), but do not explain His actual essence.” (Note 1590: “παρέπονται τῇ
φύσει; follow the nature, are consequents of the nature, or accompany it.”)

So he says anything positively said of God as referring not to the Divine Essence, but
to the Divine Energies. This is a distinction -- one is intelligible, the other is not, and
so they cannot be the same thing, which is why he sets the two up as a pair of

1.12 In this section, he says:
“The Deity being incomprehensible is also assuredly nameless. Therefore since we
know not His essence, let us not seek for a name for His essence. For names are
explanations of actual things. But God, Who is good and brought us out of nothing
into being that we might share in His goodness, and Who gave us the faculty of
knowledge, not only did not impart to us His essence, but did not even grant us the
knowledge of His essence. For it is impossible for nature to understand fully the
supernatural. Moreover, if knowledge is of things that are, how can there be
knowledge of the super-essential? Through His unspeakable goodness, then, it
pleased Him to be called by names that we could understand, that we might not be
altogether cut off from the knowledge of Him but should have some notion of Him,
however vague. Inasmuch, then, as He is incomprehensible, He is also unnameable.
But inasmuch as He is the cause of all and contains in Himself the reasons and
causes of all that is, He receives names drawn from all that is, even from opposites:
for example, He is called light and darkness, water and fire: in order that we may
know that these are not of His essence but that He is super-essential and unnameable:
but inasmuch as He is the cause of all, He receives names from all His effects.”

1.13 In this section, he says:
“That God Who is invisible by nature is made visible by His energies, we perceive from
the organisation and government of the world.”

Also in this section it is described how God's Energy is communicated, but His
Essence is not (since then all would be God-by-Nature, and no longer a creature,
destroying the creatures as such). This can only be the case if the two are distinct.

1.14 In this section, he says:
“Further the divine effulgence and energy, being one and simple and indivisible,
assuming many varied forms in its goodness among what is divisible and allotting to
each the component parts of its own nature, still remains simple and is multiplied
without division among the divided, and gathers and converts the divided into its own
simplicity…. But it is itself above mind and reason and life and essence.”

Book II

2.23 In this section, he says:
“All the faculties we have already discussed, both those of knowledge and those of life,
both the natural and the artificial, are, it is to be noted, called energies. For energy is
the natural force and activity of each essence: or again, natural energy is the activity
innate in every essence: and so, clearly, things that have the same essence have also
the same energy, and things that have different natures have also different energies.
For no essence can be devoid of natural energy.”

Book III

3.14 In this section, he says that from sameness of Energy we infer sameness of Essence --
one is recognized, and the other is only inferred, meaning they are distinct.

3.15 In this section (limited quotes, but the whole thing is worth reading), he says:
"1. Energy and 2. capacity for energy, and 3. the product of energy, and 4. the agent of
energy, are all different. 1. Energy is the efficient and essential activity of nature: 2. the
capacity for energy is the nature from which proceeds energy: 3. the product of energy
is that which is effected by energy: 4. and the agent of energy is the person or
subsistence which uses the energy."

So we see John here distinguish between nature (capacity for energy), energy (which
proceeds from the nature), product (the result of the activity), as well as from

"In connection with our Lord Jesus Christ, the power of miracles is the energy of His
divinity, while the work of His hands and the willing and the saying, I will, be thou
clean, are the energy of His humanity. And as to the effect, the breaking of the loaves,
and the fact that the leper heard the “I will,” belong to His humanity, while the
multiplication of the loaves and the purification of the leper belong to His divinity.
For through both, that is through the energy of the body and the energy of the soul,
He displayed one and the same, cognate and equal divine energy. For just as we saw
that His natures were united and permeate one another, and yet do not deny that
they are different but even enumerate them, although we know they are inseparable,
so also in connection with the wills and the energies we know their union, and we
recognise their difference and enumerate them without introducing separation. For
just as the flesh was deified without undergoing change in its own nature, in the same
way also will and energy are deified without transgressing their own proper limits."

Here he specifically calls the Divine Energy the Divine Power. The power (first
actuality) of miracles is called the Divine energy, and this is then distinguished
from the effect (second actuality), which is the actual multiplication of loaves or
purification of the leper.

And: "We must, then, maintain that Christ has two energies in virtue of His double
nature. For things that have diverse natures, have also different energies, and things
that have diverse energies, have also different natures. And so conversely, things that
have the same nature have also the same energy, and things that have one and the
same energy have also one and the same essence, which is the view of the Fathers,
who declare the divine meaning."  

And: "For all energy is the effect of power. But it cannot be that uncreated and created
nature have one and the same nature or power or energy."

Now if, with respect to the uncreated (that is, the Divine alone), John says, after
quoting St. Gregory of Nyssa (and soon adding more supporting quotes), that,
"energy is the effect of power", then he is stating that in God there is some power
which has causal priority to some energy which is also uncreated.

And (with regards to the miracle of raising the daughter of Jairus) "The effect of His
human energy was His taking the child by the hand and drawing her to Himself; while
that of His divine energy was the restoring of her to life"

Again showing that the effect of the energy was the "restoring" (which we would consider
the action taking place in the girl) -- which means that the energy itself must be causally
prior to the effect which takes place in a created being.

And: "If Christ our Master has one energy, it must be either created or uncreated; for
between these there is no energy, just as there is no nature. If, then, it is created, it
will point to created nature alone, but if it is uncreated, it will betoken uncreated
essence alone. For that which is natural must completely correspond with its nature:
for there cannot exist a nature that is defective. But the energy that harmonises with
nature does not belong to that which is external: and this is manifest because, apart
from the energy that harmonises with nature, no nature can either exist or be known.
For through that in which each thing manifests its energy, the absence of change
confirms its own proper nature."

And: "If all energy is defined as essential movement of some nature, as those who are
versed in these matters say, where does one perceive any nature that has no
movement, and is completely devoid of energy, or where does one find energy that is
not movement of natural power? But, as the blessed Cyril says, no one in his senses
could admit that there was but one natural energy of God and His creation."

Which further show us that there is a Divine, Uncreated, energy which is an effect of the
nature, but not external to it.

3.28 In this section, he says:
“He, therefore, assumed the whole man, even the fairest part of him, which had
become diseased, in order that He might bestow salvation on the whole. And, indeed,
there could never exist a mind that had not wisdom and was destitute of knowledge.
For if it has not energy or motion, it is utterly reduced to nothingness.”

BASIL: (ca. 370)
In Letter 234, he says:
"The operations are various, and the essence simple, but we say that we know our God
from His operations, but do not undertake to approach near to His essence. His
operations come down to us, but His essence remains beyond our reach."
Or from the same letter: “But God, he [a Eunomian] says, is simple, and whatever
attribute of Him you have reckoned as knowable is of His essence. But the absurdities
involved in this sophism are innumerable.”

Against Eunomius (available from Amazon or via LibGen):

1.8 p101
“For if he [Eunomius] does not consider anything at all by way of conceptualization so as to
avoid the appearance of honoring God with human designations, then he will confess this:
that all things attributed to God similarly refer to his substance. But how is it not ridiculous
to say that his creative power is his substance? Or that his providence is his substance? Or
the same for his foreknowledge? In other words, how is it not ridiculous to regard every
activity of his as his substance?”

1.12 p109 -- 1.14 p113

He talks about how even the element “earth” is not known to us in its essence, much less
that of God, and then also says this:
“It is to be expected that the very substance of God is incomprehensible to everyone
except the Only-Begotten and the Holy Spirit. But we are led up from the activities of
God and gain knowledge of the Maker through what he has made, and So Come in
this way to an understanding of his goodness and wisdom.”


"Now that we have determined in what way we need to understand the commonality of
the substance, let's closely examine what comes next to see if it has any connection
with what came before. He says: "it is due to order and to superiorities based on time
that the one is a first and the other a second." In the case of things whose substance is
common, why is it necessary for them to be subject to order and to be secondary to
time? For it is impossible that the God of the universe has not co-existed from eternity
with his image who has radiated light non-temporally, that he does not have a
connection with him that is not only beyond time but also beyond all ages. And so he
is called the radiance [Heb 1.3] that we may understand his connection, and the
character of his subsistence [Heb 1.3] that we may learn that he is of the same
“Furthermore, there is an order which is natural and another which comes about by
deliberation. On the one hand, order is natural when it is a question of the order which
is arranged for created beings according to the rationales of their creation, the position
of countables, and the relation of causes to their effects. (Now it has already been
agreed upon that God is Maker and Creator of nature itself.) On the other hand, order
comes about by deliberation and art when it is a question of structures that are built,
subjects of learning, logical propositions, and such things. But Eunomius concealed
the first kind of order and mentioned only the second kind, saying that one ought not
to posit order in the case of God since "order is secondary to the orderer." He has
either not understood or purposely concealed the fact that there is a kind of order
which is not established by our imposing it but which is found in the natural sequence
of things. An example of the latter is the kind of order between fire and the light which
comes from it. In these cases we say that the cause is prior and that which comes from
it is secondary. We do not separate these things from one another by an interval, but
through reasoning we conceptualize the cause as prior to the effect. So, then, in the
case of things in which there is a prior and a secondary, how is it reasonable to deny
that there is an order which exists not by our imposing it, but from the natural
sequence that exists in them?
“Why, then, does he refuse to accept that there is order in God? He thinks that if he
has demonstrated that priority in God is conceivable in no other way, then he is
demonstrating that the only remaining option is that God has pre-eminence according
to the substance itself. But we say that the Father is ranked prior to the Son in terms
of the relation that causes have with what comes from them, not in terms of a
difference of nature or a pre-eminence based on time. Otherwise, we will deny even
the very fact that God is the Father since difference in substance precludes their
natural connection."

2.3 p134 -- 2.4 p135
He talks about how names do not tell us about substance, but rather hypostasis, as even
names based on actions are specific to that person.

2.29 p176
“But if we were to posit, on the one hand, the light or the life or the good as the substance of
God, claiming that the very thing which God is is life as a whole, light as a whole, and good
as a whole, while positing, on the other hand, that the life has unbegottenness as a
concomitant, then how is the one who is simple in substance not incomposite? For surely the
ways of indicating his distinctive feature will not violate the account of simplicity. Otherwise,
all the things said about God will indicate to us that God is composite. And so, it seems that if
we are going to preserve the notion of simplicity and partlessness, there are two options.
Either we will not claim anything about God except that he is unbegotten, and we will refuse
to name him 'invisible,' 'incorruptible,' 'immutable,' 'creator,' Judge,' and all the names we
now use to glorify him. Or, if we do admit these names, what will we make of them? Shall we
apply all of them to the substance? If so, we will demonstrate not only that he is composite,
but also that he is compounded from unlike parts, because different things are signified by
each of these names.”

2.32 p180-181
“ First of all, how is it possible to reason back from created works to substance? This is
something which I for my part fail to see. For things which have been made are indicative of
power and wisdom and skill, but not of the substance itself. Furthermore,
they do not even necessarily communicate the entire power of the creator, seeing that the
artisan can at times not put his entire strength into his activities; rather, he frequently
attenuates his exertions for the products of his art. But if he were to set
his whole power into motion for his product, even in this case it would be his strength that
could be measured by means of his products, not his substance that could be comprehended,
whatever it may be. If, because of the simplicity and incompositeness of the divine nature,
Eunomius were to posit that the substance is concurrent with the power, and if, because of
the goodness that belongs to God, he were to say that the whole power of the Father has been
set into motion for the begetting of the Son, and the
whole power of the Only-Begotten for the constitution of the Holy Spirit, so that one may
consider the power of the Only Begotten simultaneously with his substance on the basis of the
Spirit, and comprehend the power of the Father and his substance on the basis of the
Only-Begotten, note what the consequence of this is. The very points he uses to try to confirm
the unlikeness of the substance actually confirm its likeness! For
if the power has nothing in common with the substance, how could he be led from the created
works, which are the effects of power, to the comprehension of the substance? But if power
and substance are the same thing, then that which characterizes
the power will also completely characterize the substance. Hence the created works will not
bring one to the unlikeness of substance, as you say, but rather to the exactness of the
likeness. So, once again, this attempt confirms our account rather than his. Either there is no
basis on which to demonstrate his claims, or, if he were to draw his images from human
affairs, he would discover that it is not from the products of the artisan that we comprehend
the artisan's substance, but that it is from that which has been begotten that we come to know
the nature of the begetter. After all, it is impossible to comprehend the substance of the house
builder from the house. But on the basis of that which is begotten it is easy to conceive of the
nature of the begetter. Consequently, if the Only-Begotten is a created work, he does not
communicate to us the substance of the Father. But if he makes the Father known to us
through himself, he is not a created work but rather the true Son, the image of Cod
[2 Cor 4.4], and the character of his subsistence [Col 1.15]. So much for this subject.”

3.2 p188
“ Furthermore, when iron is placed in the middle of fire, while it does not cease to be iron, it
is nonetheless inflamed by the intense contact with the fire and admits the entire nature of
fire into itself. And so in both outward appearance and activity the iron is transformed into
fire. Likewise, the holy powers, from their communion with that which is holy by nature,
possess a holiness that pervades their whole subsistence, and they become connatural with
that which is holy by nature. The holy powers and Holy Spirit differ in this regard: for the
latter, holiness is nature, whereas for the former, being made holy comes from participation.
Those for whom the good is adventitious and introduced from another possess a nature that
can change.”

Against Eunomius
Book I, Section 17, final paragraph, sentences 2 and 3:
"We say a man works in iron, or in wood, or in anything else. This single expression
conveys at once the idea of the working and of the artificer, so that if we withdraw the
one, the other has no existence."

Here he distinguishes "the working" from "the artificer", and yet states that "if we withdraw
one, the other has no existence". So we see that the (in this case) person and their energy are
distinct. In the case of the Godhead, which has eternal existence, by his principle, so the
energy must also be eternal.

Book 7, Section 5, first paragraph, about halfway in:
"As, then, when we are taught by David that God is a judge, or patient, we do not learn
the Divine essence, but one of the attributes which are contemplated in it, so in this
case too when we hear of His being not generated, we do not by this negative
predication understand the subject, but are guided as to what we must not think
concerning the subject, while what He essentially is remains as much as ever

Here he states again that both positive and negative attributes are "predicates" which do
not allow us to know "the subject" or "the Divine Essence". Yet he is using them to refer to
God, all the same. So there must be some aspect of God which is not the Essence, but is
Divine all the same. This is the Energies.

See also: Book 2, Section 3,

AGATHO: (ca. 670)
Letter from the Sixth Ecumenical Council:
“For when we confess two natures and two natural wills, and two natural operations in
our one Lord Jesus Christ, we do not assert that they are contrary or opposed one to
the other (as those who err from the path of truth and accuse the apostolic tradition of
doing.  Far be this impiety from the hearts of the faithful!), nor as though separated
(per se separated) in two persons or subsistences, but we say that as the same our
Lord Jesus Christ has two natures so also he has two natural wills and operations, to
wit, the divine and the human:  the divine will and operation he has in common with
the coessential Father from all eternity:  the human, he has received from us, taken
with our nature in time.  
This is the apostolic and evangelic tradition, which the spiritual mother of your most
felicitous empire, the Apostolic Church of Christ, holds.”
And: “Since, as the truth of the Christian faith holds, the will is natural, where the one
nature of the holy and inseparable Trinity is spoken of, it must be consistently
understood that there is one natural will, and one natural operation.  But when in
truth we confess that in the one person of our Lord Jesus Christ the mediator between
God and men, there are two natures (that is to say the divine and the human), even
after his admirable union, just as we canonically confess the two natures of one and
the same person, so too we confess his two natural wills and two natural operations.”
And: “If therefore he had a divine and a deified will, he had also two wills.  For what is
divine by nature has no need of being deified; and what is deified is not truly divine by
And: “For it is impossible and contrary to the order of nature that there should be a
nature without a natural operation:  and even the heretics did not dare to say this,
although they were, all of them, hunting for human craftiness and cunning questions
against the orthodoxy of the faith, and arguments agreeable to their depravities.”
And: “For which reason we rightly believe that that same person, since he is one, has
two natural operations, to wit, the divine and the human, one uncreated, and the other
created, as true and perfect God and as true and perfect man, the one and the same,
the mediator between God and men, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Wherefore from the
quality of the operations there is recognized a difference void of offence of the natures
which are joined in Christ through the hypostatic union.”
And: “For how is it possible not to acknowledge in him two wills, to wit, a human and
a divine, when in him, even after the inseparable union, there are two natures
according to the definitions of the synods?”

(Questions to Thalassos, in Greek and Latin, p319, halfway into line three from top)
Maximos says that our person is deified in all but essence. If not essence, but also not
energy, there can be no Deification. And if human nature is made truly Divine in energy,
then the energy is shareable in a way the essence is not, meaning they are not the same.

Fifth Theological Oration: Section VI (tangentially related)


Either the Person of the Spirit is from the Father alone, the Son alone, the Father and
Son as from two principles, or the Father and Son as one principle. The Orthodox view
is that the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone.
This is manifest because the characteristics and actions of the Persons of the Trinity
arise either from Essence or Person, since there are no other qualities to differentiate
them (whereas two identical twins are still never in the same exact spot, and one can
be dirty and the other clean, etc.). If the Procession of the Spirit is from the Essence,
then it would be the Spirit's own essence from which it proceeds, which is absurd, as it
cannot be its own cause and not its own cause at the same time, and it cannot cause
itself to exist prior to it existing.
Therefore the Procession is from the Person.
But reviewing the possible Personal origins of the Spirit, either the Father and Son
both share a quality because of their common Essence, or they have the quality
uniquely, as only the Son was incarnate, and only the Father is uncaused in any sense,
whereas the Son is begotten. But if the Father and Son together share a quality which
the Spirit lacks (so that the Spirit may Proceed from them “as from one principle” as
the [Catholic] Second Council of Lyons and the [Catholic] Council of Florence both
stated), this necessarily entails that the two have a different Essence from the Spirit,
because, as John of Damascus says, "Things that have diverse natures, have also
different energies, and things that have diverse energies, have also different natures.
And so conversely, things that have the same nature have also the same energy, and
things that have one and the same energy have also one and the same essence, which
is the view of the Fathers, who declare the divine meaning." It is clear that if the
Father and Son are capable of causing the existence of another divine Person, but the
Spirit is not, that the difference in abilities means the Spirit doesn't have the same
Powers as do the other two, which proves it would have a different Essence, just as we
know a human is not a bird because it is unable to fly like they can.
So the Spirit cannot Proceed from the two “as from one principle”.
So we are left either with a procession from the Father alone or the Son alone, and it
is apparent that no one has maintained that the Spirit proceeds from the Son alone,
for this again would take from the Father His distinguishing quality as the Uncaused
Cause of all else, which requires that we believe the Spirit proceeds according to His
Person from the Person of the Father alone, in a manner different from the Begetting
of the Son, though, as the Damascene says, "we have learned that there is a difference
between generation and procession, but the nature of that difference we in no wise

If the office of the episcopate and the person exercising the office are identified, then
the charism of the office (to interpret spiritual matters) becomes applied to the person
as such. This perhaps played a role in the development of the notion of Papal

Beatific Vision
In the Catholic view, the Divine Energies and the Divine Essence are identical. Either
humans have participation in God as their eternal destiny or not. If we do, then this
means that humans receive the Divine Essence. But this is impossible without the
destruction of human beings as human (it would either be like a reverse Incarnation or
some kind of Nirvana-like subsuming into the Godhead and loss of personhood). If we
do not, then we are eternally separated from God by the Created-Uncreated divide.
However, if the Divine Energies and the Divine Essence are not identical, then we may
participate in the Divine Energies without encountering the problem that participation
in an essence brings up.
This is the teaching of Orthodoxy.
Thinking of our original example, let's say God is like fire, and we are like the sword.
The sword cannot become fire. Nor can fire become the sword. But fire, which gives off
heat and light, can give the ability to give off heat and light to a sword placed in it,
without changing the sword's natural cutting ability. Similarly, while we cannot
become God in Essence, we can take on some of His Energies like the sword takes on
some of the fire's traits. Our participation in the Energies of God is called “Grace”.