Philo on God being the First Cause

Philo, On the Cherubim 125–6

God is a cause, not a tool, and it is certain that what comes to be comes to be by means of a tool but by a cause. For many things need to come together if something is to come into being: that by which, that from which, that by means of which and that because of which. That ‘by which’ is the cause; that ‘from which’ is matter, that ‘by means of which’ is the instrument, that ‘because of which’ is the explanation. [126] So, if someone were to ask what needed to come together for the building of any house or city, we would say a craftsman, stones and timber, and tools, wouldn’t we? But what is the craftsman but the cause ‘by which’? What are stones and timber but the matter, ‘from which’ the construction comes? What are the tools but those things ‘through which’? And what is it for but shelter and safety – this being that ‘because of which’?

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